I’m a bit late with my New Year’s Greetings, but that’s nothing new! 🙂 (At least it’s still January) Here’s Snoopy, apparently fast asleep atop his doghouse, but in reality he’s thinking deep thoughts about the new year, and wishing the best for you and yours in 2014.We did a gingerbread decorating day with my sister and all of our kids, and after the frosting stopped flying, and the kids rumbled off to their next activity, I assembled this gingerbread doghouse for cookie Snoopy. I used the birdhouse pattern that I printed from the instructions here, and just trimmed in the roof sections a bit and cut out the doorway. Then decorated with royal icing and nonpareil snowflakes. Snoopy is such a comforting image from my childhood! Here’s Snoopy’s doghouse with some Christmas lights that I swiped from my nephew…..They didn’t stay on too long when my nephew finally noticed them….! I just love gingerbread!! YUM! I usually end up making some in February, too, not just for Christmas! Anyways, have a great New Year!
“Christmas time is here….” that’s the theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas, I can hear it playing inside my head. There’s something cozy and comforting about watching Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s Christmas cartoon (that’s older than I am! haha!) while snow falls outside. The kids love watching it to. Is it because it makes us think back to simpler times? Remember the sad little tree that Charlie Brown finds, and the kids give it a bit of love and spruce it up?
I really don’t know why I’m mentioning that cartoon, it just popped into my mind, and seemed to fit (in my mind anyway) with the home-made Christmas idea. This year I was trying to make a bunch of home-made stuff for Christmas, instead of buying new things. I keep finding amazing ideas online that I wanted to try, but have run right out of time!! So I thought I’d post some photos of the things that I did get done because I know it will make me feel better to see the loveliness on my blog, instead of surrounded by the boxes and mess and clutter that are here in my house!! (No I am not going to post a photo of the mess that surrounds the decorating…that would ruin all the loveliness, even though it would show my real life!)
Our Christmas tree is a “throw and go!” tree, as my son called it: throw the ornaments on and then go away! I let the kids do most of the decorating with only one box of ornaments….I don’t know why. I guess I was too exhausted to pull anything else out, and they were happy to do a “candy cane tree”. (Ok, I did buy something new, those wood & fabric words for a buck each!). This is the first time we’ve ever had a color-coordinated tree. So that was nice for a change! ;) Here are some ideas I found online to print out… Advent things, Cookie things (for teacher gifts and just for us to eat on a cold winter’s evening), trying out some new recipes…. Ornament things, Gift things…..I just had to snap some photos of the presents my daughter wrapped, they are so cute!! She wrote out all the tags with our names on in English and in Japanese characters! And a few anniversary things, Our six year old photographer took this 19th anniversary portrait of us, we had just kissed at 19 hours and 19 minutes on the 19th of December for our 19th anniversary! Now that’s home-made stuff!!
So that’s a few glimpses of our kinda home-made Christmas decorating and traditions and stuff….really, our life is not as together-looking as it seems in this blog…..I just have to mention that so that I don’t feel like I’m lying too much with all the perfect-looking photos. I have perfection ideals in my head, but just can’t make them work out….so I take photos of the stuff that turns out…and once-in-a-while of the things that don’t turn out! 🙂
Merry Christmas to you!!!
That’s what I’m calling them! “While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads…” mixed with snowflake ballerinas and the nutcracker’s Sugar Plum fairy…make a lovely Chrismas decoration. I found them on pinterest, of course, and just had to try them out!! Here’s the blog called Krokotak where I found them and printed out the patterns from, though the original idea came from here, though it’s not in English.
They are fairly easy to make, if you like cutting up paper! Cut out a ballerina silhouette from cardstock (or 2 pieces of paper glued together). Make a snowflake from paper. Cut a slit in the middle of the snowflake and gently pull it onto the ballerina, to make her “tutu”. Hang them up and watch them pirouette!!
I know, my sugar plum snowflake ballerina fairies are hanging by large clothespins gripping their heads….it wasn’t meant to be, but I was in a rush, and the clothespins hanging on twine have been there since Henry’s bday ( I had photos hanging from them). So the season changed and now it’s Christmas ornaments and Sugar plum fairies!
The only different thing I did from the original version was to cut out one silhouette from paper printed with that Christmas Mouse story I did the other day…I thought text on a ballerina would add visual interest…and it does. (no, they are not tatooed fairies!!) I love watching them “dance” in every little breeze (from the hot air registers) that comes their way! After Christmas (if I ever get the Christmas stuff taken down and packed away) they will make cute hanging ornaments for the girls’ room until winter’s over….still lots of time left!!!
This time of year especially, I seem to get the sweet munchies (translation: I feel like eating sweets after meals!) The other day we were up to “Christmassy” things and it seemed like we really should have a special sweet something to munch on…but I didn’t have any butter or other main ingredients needed for something yummy.
Then I saw this easy little recipe for peppermint patties….only ingredients needed: cream cheese, icing sugar and chocolate chips (and peppermint extract!) All of which I happened to have. (I still have a stash of mint and peppermint extract from when I was craving peppermint awhile ago!) Here’s the blog called She Wears Many Hats, where I found the idea (recipe and how-to) very cute!
In no time at all the cream cheese was beat up with the sugar and extract and we were making little balls and indenting them with a forth of a teaspoon measuring spoon. (Refridgerate for awhile…no baking required!! yay!) Some we tried rolling in crushed candy cane for a more festive look! Then melt some chocolate chips and pipe the chocolate into the hollows, easy enough!Let the chocolate set and ready set go!! Yum, I thought they were great! Even our cream-cheese-hater liked them!! (even after being told the “secret ingredient”!) I thought the recipe yielded plenty….but then I saw that it was supposed to make about triple what we made!!! So I guess the original recipe peppermint patties are quite tiny….ours were about 2 to 3 bite peppermints, or one large mouthful!
That day the kids unwrapped The Nutcracker storybook and read through it. There’s something that captures you about that fairy tale!! None of the kids have seen the ballet, only read this book. Sure it has the weird and creepy rat king in it, but the underlying story of Fredrick and what happens to him is very interesting!It seemed like a good time to give the kids their ornaments for this year:A few years ago I had given them larger (dollar store) nutcrackers, and they were great, until they all lost an arm or arms!! So in their memory, I found these small ones that can hang on the tree! Here’s one of the armless ones still hanging around…You have to read the story to find out why the nutcrackers have such staring eyes, wide mouths and big heads…. 😉
So what do nutcrackers and peppermint candies have to do with each other?? In the blog post where I found the how-to for the candies, the lady was saying that she thought that Peppermint Patties were named for someone named Patty….but was surprised to find out that they weren’t named for a person. Then she suggested that you could name them for anyone, like Peppermint Jorge or something……..so we decided on Peppermint Fredricks (in honor of the nutcracker)! I guess this is another “sensory memory” to add to our stash of Christmas Memories, peppermint and chocolate and nutcrackers. 🙂Oooo boy, just writing about it and seeing the photos makes me want some mOORE!! I thought they were super yummy! (a bit rich for little kids, so I had to sacrifice and finish Tassy’s second one for her!) Hmmm….wonder if there’s any cream cheese in the fridge??…
What smells bring Christmas to your mind?? Gingerbread? Hot apple cider? Candy canes? Turkey roasting? Mandarin oranges?
My favorite is an obvious one: the smell of real evergreen Christmas trees!! This year we have a real tree and I’m just loving the scent of it!! I can put up with all the shedding for that wonderful spicy smell that transports me back to Christmases past!
Other smells that remind me of Christmas in my childhood are ones found in Guatemala: the smell of aserrín=sawdust! (dyed many different colors and used for making nativity scenes), the smell of manzanilla (little yellow fruit that is strung into garlands for decoration), the smell of crushed pino (clusters of long-needled pine that are scattered on the floor at parties), the smell of ponche simmering on the stove (a cooked fruit punch full of fabulous fruitiness), the smell of tamales in their green leaves (this now reminds me of Christmas, but I wouldn’t touch them when I was a kid!) and one of my favorites: the smell of gunpowder from cohetes!!-fuegos artificiales-! (we always lit off fireworks at Christmas and New Years! And even today the smell of gunpowder immediately makes me think of Christmas and celebrations and fun!!)
I was thinking about the smells of Christmas and wondering what scents will remind my kids of the Christmases we have spent together…..baking shortbread? gingerbread cookies? pine tree?
And so I decided that we should make a few “smelly” crafts this year, just to make sure that when my kids are all grown up, they will be transported back to family Christmases every time they smell…….cloved oranges!! And cinnamon apple decorations!!
I remember working on cloving oranges when I was a kid and my mom would supervise us as we stabbed the hard oranges with cloves…or large needles before we could get the clove in! This year I found a helpful idea on pinterest, so just had to try it with my kids. The secret: make grooves in your oranges first!! The photo I saw said something about paring the oranges, and I tried it with the end of my peeler, but that didn’t work, so I just used a knife to cut a “v” groove down the side of the orange…then let the kids at them with the cloves!! Ahhh what a lovely smell!!
Another oderiferous craft that I thought we should try was cinnamon and applesauce oranments. Yes, that’s all they are, cinnamon (lots of it) and applesauce. I used the recipe found here. It turned out to be a very crazy craft!!! I guess we must have done something a bit wrong, because the “dough” was too soft…needless to say, there were a whole bunch of “potty jokes” flying around the table as we worked with that soft brown dough…..(shudder shudder!)We put a tablespoon too much of applesauce, then kept adding cinnamon to try and make it firm up….the dough was so damp that it was super hard for the kids to make shapes out of it or cut it with cookie cutters.. It was so funny to work on these!!! But it was a little strong and my son’s hands started to turn a bit red and itchy! 🙂In the end, I scooped up all the mushy ornaments and pressed it bit by bit into a small heart shaped cookie cutter and then used a drinking straw to make a hole in each heart…..no one seemed to mind that I did that…..and when the ornaments were slowly baking it made the house smell fabulous!! Everyone enjoyed that part!!P.S. the recipe says that the ornaments are not for eating, but my oldest daughter thought they tasted great and kept nibbling at the dough and consumed several baked ornaments!! Craziness! There’s like a half a cup of cinnamon in there!
So it was a messy crazy craft, but I think I would do it again, for the laughs and the great aromas that it brought!! And they look so cute on our little white tree and still smell so nice…. Fun Christmas crafts, and did you notice that we didn’t have to buy anything “special” to make them (I happened to have a new large container of cinnamon on hand!!)?? It gives a nice homey, handmade feel to our decorations…..and the smells!! For sure those smells have become part of our Christmas memories! 😉
I don’t quite get the whole “Christmas in July” thing. I’ve been seeing it everywhere. I guess it’s great for those people who can think that far ahead and have space to keep all their early Christmas preparations….I just can’t. I’m afraid that I just took my Christmas tree down in May, so I’m really not feeling like thinking about Christmas!!
But I did just happen to find a draft of a post I did in December, but never posted. So in the spirit of Christmas in July, here is something we made up to do at our house, to use in our Advent countdown to Christmas…it has been fun, and we have been doing it enough years that each child has made each puzzle!
Maybe July isn’t such a bad time to start thinking about things like Advent countdowns, just in case you see something on a summer sale!! (I’ve already been searching for things for my daughter’s bday in the fall!) Anyways, check these out:
(these are some of my digital scrapbook 12×12 layouts using Creative Memories digital content)
Looking for a cute idea to make an ornament¿ here´s something to try. I recently posted on the Creative Memories Digital 411 blog, about how to make these little personalized ornaments, you can read it here: http://blogs.creativememories.com/software_solutions/2011/12/cute-printed-pillow-ornaments-for-your-tree.html
¿Buscando una idea bonita para hacer un adorno de Navidad¿ aqui hay un lindo adorno de almohadita personalizada. Haz clic arriba para ver las instrucciones y fotos.