Sunday, December 12, 2010

snow day

I have some more advent activities to share, but my mind is a bit sluggish tonight so I'll have to work on that post tomorrow. In the meantime, here are a few photos of the "snow" day we had back in November.

They canceled school due to fears of icy roads - the snow was only a few inches deep, but the temperature was below freezing for a while. Poor Chris had to walk all the way to work because the bus never came. It will become his "when I was your age, I walked four miles in the snow!" story he can tell the kids when we're old and cantankerous and lamenting the end of the good old days.

The kids had fun using baby spoons to scrape the snow off the car, then had a snow tea party on the back deck while I stayed warm and toasty with my cup of coffee and watched them from the back door. It was a perfect day, and a much appreciated break!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent activities days 3-5

Advent DAY 3: make bead necklaces
 One of Maryn's best friends from school came over to play and we made some necklaces and decorated cookies. I love watching the kids form their own friendships at school (the one between Maryn and her friend E is so sweet!) but I hope no matter how many friends they have, the relationship they share as sisters will always come first.
 My Aunt once gave my mom a jewelery box with the saying "A sister is a special friend." I loved that idea, and am having so much fun watching these two and the way they love each other!

I just can't get enough of that dimple!

DAY 4: Put up Christmas lights

This is our second Christmas at our house and our first time putting up lights. I think I would have preferred white icicles, but the kids love color so we went with the big bold ones! I ran out of lights about 3 feet from the end of our house, and while the perfectionist in me cringes at the last unlit stretch I don't think I care enough to climb a ladder again. They're "good enough!"

DAY 5: Pick out our Christmas tree
We went to the same family-run tree farm as last year and found a perfect tree. Last year we had to put the camera on a timer and take a picture ourselves, but this year my mom joined us and took a great family photo for us. Thanks, mom!

Along with our daily Advent activity, we also read part of the Christmas story (or another related verse) from the Bible. Tonight it was Luke chapter two which describes Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem and Jesus' birth in the stable. Maryn asked the question "did Jesus save the world when he was a baby?" To which I responded "God sent him to save the world, but he had to grow up first." Maryn thought about it a bit and said "yeah, he was probably one or two at least." By that logic, Maryn is well past her prime at the ripe old age of five!

I hope you had a good, family fun filled weekend as well! Now to think up some more ideas for this week's Advent activities...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent days 1 & 2

Here's a picture of our Advent calendar:

They're the same paper cups from last year, but hung on a ribbon with mini clothespins instead of hanging from a tree branch (which kept falling over, or dropping the cups on the floor). The ribbon is over the chalkboard so I have to lift the kids up to pull out the paper with the day's activity. Having it placed out of reach also keeps them from taking out all the papers and shuffling them up!
Day 1 - Paper countdown chain
We used the same pack of Christmas scrapbook paper (bought at Target last year) to make our paper chain. Does anyone have a good idea of something to do with the paper strips once they've been pulled off the chain? So far the girls are using them as bracelets.

Day 2 - hot chocolate
In adorable little santa mugs - $.50 each from the Goodwill. We'll get lots of use out of these tiny mugs this month!

Christmasy cranberry muffins

I made these muffins with my girlies yesterday to celebrate the first day of advent. They are the perfect morning muffin - not too sweet, slightly spicy, with a nutty crunch and a bit of a tart bite (not to mention lovely color) from the fresh cranberries. The recipe is originally from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I cut the recipe in half, used slightly less sugar, omitted the figs (although I bet they'd be great, we didn't have any on hand), substituted pecans for hazelnuts and added a bit of orange zest. I'll post the modified recipe here. Enjoy!

Christmas Cranberry Muffins (adapted from Ina's cranberry harvest muffins)

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted and cooled
3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 9 muffin cups with paper liners, or use non-stick spray. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients (egg, milk and melted butter) in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Stir in the sugars, then fold the cranberries and nuts into the batter. Fill muffin cups to the top with batter and bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

They're also delicious as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea!