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Family Movie Night and Two Books: The Snowman, Some Snowflakes and a Craft

12 Dec
The Snowman movie based on the book

This movie is quick, 23 minutes long and is based on the book by Raymond Briggs


Today is Friday, our wind-down night and often-times we have a Family Movie Night, as I said in last Friday’s post. Yesterday’s recipe was for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, which I said make me think of snowflakes, even though they are chocolate based cookies. That thought of snowflakes leads me to today’s movie, book and craft for kids.

When I was an elementary teacher, the book, “The Snowman” by Raymond Briggs was one of my favorites to use as a wintertime activity with the kids. A wordless book, it had gorgeous illustrations, depicting a boy’s journey with a snowman. I used to love having the kids make their own version of the words to go along with the pictures.

That book is now a movie, and although I have not seen it, I wish I had it! According to the description on Amazon, it is based on live action flying footage. It sounds fantastic!

This is the same book that our family had for years until just last week.

The book that I used to have is now gone, donated just a couple of weeks ago, by my generous kids who each year have to make a big pile of books and toys for children who don’t have much, just before Christmas.

Clearly they couldn’t read my mind and know that I was going to use that very book in my blog post this week. When I heard it was gone, I almost went after it but my husband assured me they were putting the boxes on a truck as he was dropping them off, it was gone. So, instead, I am including the picture from Amazon. Sigh…I loved that book.

Speaking of books and snowflakes, when my daughter Caroline was in first grade, she checked out this very cool book about William Bently, a man who studied snowflakes. It includes really amazing photos of snowflakes and my kids were thoroughly intrigued by it. It truly shows that every snowflake is unique.

To me, nothing says winter crafts like paper snowflakes. One year I had my kids make snowflakes for all of the windows in the house (this was not an overwhelming task, we don’t have a ton of windows!) Each of their snowflakes was different and unique, just like real snowflakes. I loved the ones they put up on my bedroom windows so much that I never take them down. My side of the bed is the window side and I happen to sleep on my left side so I look out the window all the time when I’m laying there in the mornings just waking up. I love seeing those snowflakes.

Therefore, my craft for the day is just that: simple.paper.snowflakes.


Paper snowflakes made by the kids

Every snowflake is different and unique, just like the children who make them!

Paper snowflakes made by our girls

I keep my paper snowflakes on my window all year long!

A word about re-runs

19 Oct

Yup, I’m already thinking now about my holiday baking!

Fall is here, and winter is coming. Last year I began posting daily around this time of year, in order to fit in all of my holiday-worthy and seasonal recipes.

I also featured winter crafts and children’s book recommendations to go along with each of the recipes in December.

This year I will be re-running some of those recipe posts as I see fit, in order to let my newer followers in on those yummy treats. Although I do try out new recipes once a week or so, when it comes to my holiday baking, I am steeped in tradition and I do not veer off that path very often. Therefore, I won’t have 20 new Christmas Cookie Tray recipes for you again this year, since I shared most all of my tray treats with you last year. So if you are a regular, long-time reader, you may see a few things that ring a bell as looking awfully familiar. I hope those re-runs will remind you that you always wanted to try that recipe last year and never got to, or that you loved it so much you can’t wait to make it again.

In the meantime, if you’d like to look back at my holiday treats from last year right now, you can type in Pumpkin Palooza (Thanksgiving) or Your Tray or Mine? (Christmas), or even click on November and December 2011 to take a look!

As always, if you have a recipe you’d like me to try, feel free to email it to me and I’ll add it to my list, which is super-long, of things I want to try one day! Thank you in advance for sharing your recipes with me and for being such a great, supportive blog audience!


*The* Christmas card revealed…Liz’s big debut

24 Dec
Warm Winter Wishes 2011 Christmas Card

Liz's idea for this year's card: a snowman

I’ve been getting word that the 100 cards we made and mailed have been arriving at homes around the country, so now I think it’s fair to reveal this year’s Christmas card, designed by Elizabeth. Last year when we were making the cards, she said to me, “Mommy I have an idea for next year’s card: A Snowman. There’s three of us so each of us can be one part of the snowman.” That worked for me! I printed out 100 copies of one photo that had all three of them and our new dog in it, so as not to waste ink and then I started punching out 1″ circles of each of them. I chose some plum paper and some celery ribbon, just to be different than the typical reds and greens, and then we began our assembly line.

We now have a dog, so I did have to amend the card design to be a snowman plus a little snowball off to the side as well.

2011 snowman card

It takes total concentration to tape 100 little circles onto cards.

Each girl was responsible for putting their own photo onto each card so they sat in order and passed from one to the next. They also had to each sign the cards too. Alex really experimented with her signature, and the girls were quite concerned that no one would know what she wrote, but I told them I thought people would be fine.

Alex helped me put the glue dots on the ribbons and Elizabeth stamped all the “Warm Winter Wishes.” Caroline helped me to assemble the card stock layers.

I thought it was funny that I printed out and punched out exactly 100 cards and circles, but at the end, they all ended up with different numbers left. One had only three photos left, one had four and one had six. So, if anyone gets a card with a missing kid or puppy, that would be why.

Merry Christmas everyone!

There were three of them and one of me so I kept getting behind. Caroline helped out by assembling the card fronts with me as well.

card making 2011 snowman card

We all, but especially Elizabeth, hope you enjoy our cards this year!

Bonus Post: Story time, a cookie recipe and a craft

23 Dec
The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

A very funny story to read tonight!

It’s Friday night!! Even though we’re not doing Family Movie Night tonight, I do have a story for you: “The Night Before The Night Before Christmas,” a funny story by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Mike Lester.

This is a great story to read on Christmas Eve-Eve, different than your typical actual Night Before Christmas stories, which you can read tomorrow night.

In addition to reading, here’s a cookie recipe for you as well:



1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp grd. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick or oldfashioned oats
1 2/3 cup (or one 11 ounce bag) butterscotch chips

Oatmeal Scotchie Cookies

These use butterscotch chips and oatmeal. They're a yummy, crunchy cookie!


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in large mixing bowl.

Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Stir in oats and chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 7-8 minutes for chewier cookies, 9-10 for crispier cookies.

Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes, transfer to rack to cool completely.


If you’re looking for some fun, homemade ornament ideas to do during the day on Christmas Eve to help the kids pass the time on what can be a very long day, waiting for the “big event,” here is a collection of photos of some of my favorites from this year and years past. These make great last minute gifts or “tags” to add onto a gift package, or…to add to your tree!

handmade ornament using a container cover

My sister-in-law always makes a handmade ornament each year. This year she collected all kinds of covers, all year long, to create the ornaments.

Popsicle stick ornament

Here is the ornament Elizabeth brought home today, made out of popsicle sticks and paint.

Photo ornament

Caroline's second grade photo ornament using her school photo and a painted frame.

glitter ornament

A fun, easy ornament for young kids to make using glue, glitter and tissue paper.

*The* Christmas Card…day three

23 Dec

As promised here’s a look at the last few years’ handmade Christmas cards. Up next will be…this year’s card, designed by Liz, revealed!

Double Time stamped card

2006 Double-Time stamped card: super fast and easy!

All in the Family card

2007: All in the Family card, the hardest card I ever made. I had to stamp each head and each body. I ended up stamping it once and photo copying the finished image 100 times because I couldn't get it right more than once! I did let them each color their own outfits on this card that year!

2008: The first year the girls helped with the cards

2008: The first year the girls helped with the cards. This one was colored by Alex.

2009 Ornament Punch card

2009 Ornament Punch card: as soon as I saw that punch in the Stampin' Up! catalog I knew it had to be my card that year.

2010 Snowglobe card

2010 The Snowglobe card that the girls and Don made last year when I was sick.

*The* Christmas Card…continued

22 Dec

Yesterday I explained my obsession with our Christmas cards, and I promised a look back at past years’ handmade cards while I waited for this year’s card to arrive in mailboxes around the country. Therefore, as promised, here are the cards going back as far as I’ve got them. There is one year missing, my first year as a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, when Caroline was a year old. Not sure where that one went, although I do remember making it.

2002 Brayered tri-fold card. Kids were 3 and 5 months

shaker card

2003 Shaker Card: "snow" fell when you shook it. The girls were four and one. I chose that stamp because it looked like them. Each image was hand colored by me.

2004 Gold Heat Embossed Card

2004 Gold Heat Embossed Card- I was pregnant with my third that year.

2005 Waterfall card

2005 Waterfall card, everyone's top favorite. The girls were 9 months, 3 and 6 I think.

Waterfall card

The cool thing about a waterfall card is that when you pull the ribbon the images "fall" in front of you.

Waterfall card

So...each girl got a chance to be front and center.

Tomorrow….cards from 2006-2010.

*The* Christmas Cards

21 Dec
Stampin' Up! Christmas Card 2010

This was last year's card... all three kids in the snow globe.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I am a former Stampin’ Up! rubber stamping and scrapbooking demonstrator. I did that job for eleven years. What that means is that I am unusually obsessive about making my Christmas cards. Soon after Christmas ends one year, I am already thinking, planning and scoping out ideas for what my card will look like the following year. I know… it’s unhealthy.

When my kids were little, like babies and then a toddler plus a baby…preschooler, toddler, baby (you see what I mean), I made them all by myself. I’d sit up nights for weeks making them. Each year my goal was to top the card from the year before and each year I did. I save one card each year in our family scrapbook, and as I look back each year, I truly do NOT know how I did it each year.

Girls helping with 2008 Christmas Cards

Three years ago, everyone wanted to help make the cards.

Girls helping out with cards in 2008

Everyone had a carefully chosen "job" in the assembly line of card-making.

Three years ago, all of my girls were old enough to want to help out making the cards. We send out 100 cards each year, so suddenly having three extra sets of hands was a blessing, but it also meant that I had to change my focus quite a bit. Instead of having an detailed, amazing “WOW” card, I had to come up with a simple design that everyone could help out with somehow, no matter how big or little they were. It also meant I had to *really* let go of some of my obsessiveness when it came to the cards. I had to remind myself (a lot) that they were not going to be perfect, but that it was going to mean more to my kids and to our recipients that the girls had made them themselves. And

Girls showing off cards 2008

The girls were incredibly proud of their cards in 2008.

110 cards from 2008

Their first year helping, the girls made 110 cards!

I must say not only did we get a ton of compliments on these cards that year, but the girls were SO proud to say they’d be an integral part of the process as well.

Last year, as is typical for me this time of year every year, I was sick. I’m still sick now, in fact! I was “this close” to giving up on the handmade cards. I told the kids I was too sick, I wasn’t going to be able to pull it off this time. My daughter Elizabeth said, “But Mommy it’s okay, you have us! We’ll do the cards!” And together with Don, they did all 100 cards, and off they went. It was at this same time last year that Elizabeth informed me that she had a design for this year’s card, and when I heard her idea, I told her we’d do it and I didn’t forget. That meant that this whole year I didn’t have to do ANY thinking about the design at all!

2011 Card making day

On our sick day last week, I put the girls to work making our 2011 cards.

So last week I was home sick AND all three girls were home sick. We stayed in our pj’s all day and we created our cards together. It took us about four or five hours but we pulled it off and by the end of the day they were done. It was so much easier, it gets easier each year, and the cards get to be a little less “me” each year and more “them” each year.

Since I’ve only just put my cards in the mail yesterday, I’m not going to show you the finished product yet. I wish I could make and send out several hundred cards so that everyone can get one, but I cannot. Therefore, in a few days I will post the big reveal of the girls’ card this year so that you can see.

Until then, for the next couple of days I will be posting some photos of Christmas Cards From Years Past, a timeline of sorts. In the meantime, we’ll start thinking about the Christmas Card 2012!

Your Tray or Mine: Kid’s Craft of the Day: Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

13 Dec
Snickerdoodle Cookies

Yesterday's post was all about Snickerdoodle Cookies

Yesterday’s cookie tray recipe was for Snickerdoodles, a simple cinnamon-sugar cookie. Since we were already talking cinnamon, I decided to make today’s craft idea suggestion all about the cinnamon as well.

I personally have not yet made this craft with my kids, but I do have a funny story about it, which will also explain why I currently don’t have a photo for it either.

One year in preschool my daughter made these. They smell wonderful but are very delicate when they’re done.

The following year she was in kindergarten and was asked to bring an ornament to hang on the school bus, an annual tradition that the bus driver does. My daughter asked to bring her cinnamon ornament for the bus.

I told her to consider bringing in a different ornament, that this one was delicate and she should consider taking something more hardy to hang in the bus window. But, this was in her head that she was bringing in this ornament and no other, so against my better judgement I let her.

I’m sure you can guess the end of my story….and imagine the tears that flowed the day she had to get off the bus with only half an ornament left on the red yarn. I’m not very good about NOT saying “I told you so,” so I’m sure I uttered that a time or three.

In the meantime….here’s the recipe for Cinnamon Ornaments. There’s no baking involved! And a word of advice: Don’t bring them on the school bus.

Handmade Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Thanks to Sabrina J. for submitting some photos to go along with this recipe!


Mix 3/4 to 1 cup of applesauce with one 4.12 oz. bottle ground cinnamon. It will form a stiff dough.

Roll out to 1/4″ thickness.

Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Make a hole at the top with a straw for the ribbon.

Carefully put on a rack to dry.

Let air dry for several days, turning occasionally.

Makes 12 sweet-smelling ornaments, great for your tree or for gifts.

This recipe card that I have is old and faded, so I’ve had it a long time and it says “McCormick” the spice company, at the bottom, so this is their recipe.

Drying cinnamon ornaments

Here are Sabrina's ornaments as they were drying out. Thanks again!

If you have ever made these or if you decide after reading this to make these, take a photo of them, send it to me and I’ll add it here and to my Photos from Fans page as well. I’ll credit you with the photo credits! You can email it to me at

Crafts for Kids: Story for the day today: You Can Do It, Sam

7 Dec

Today I posted a recipe for my brother’s favorite cookies, Brown Eyed Susans and I talked about how each of us in our family has a favorite cookie on the trays so that you can’t ever think of leaving one out or someone will be disappointed.

As a kid, we lived on a “country road” where the houses were kind of spread apart and our neighbors were sometimes down a long and winding road, or in a house we couldn’t see, even though they were nearby. On Christmas Eve each year, my brother and I would walk up and down the road, up and down the long, winding driveways for hours, delivering our trays of cookies to our neighbors. Some of these people we wouldn’t see very often during the year, even though we were neighbors, but everyone knew that on Christmas Eve Chris and I would be coming around with the cookie trays.

Elephant Ears were always Mr. Lussier's favorite.

It would take us hours because it wasn’t just a drop and run, it was a stop, stay and chat, and watch as the neighbors would exclaim over the cookie trays because they’d been waiting all year for their favorite cookie. I remember our one neighbor, Mr. Lussier, his favorites were Elephant Ears, and my mom only made just so many of those so each tray would get ONE Elephant Ear. The Lussiers knew that one cookie belonged to Mr. Lussier. As labor-intensive as those were, we could never leave them out or Mr. Lussier would be disappointed.

These memories of delivering the cookies are so, so special to me, I almost get choked up as I type this. Many of those people are now long gone, and my parents have since moved as well, but the memories…they stay forever and every single year when I make my cookies, I think of them fondly. It gets me through those moments at midnight the week before Christmas when I think to myself, “Why the heck am I doing this again?” Then I remember how much these cookies mean to the people we give them to, and how much the memories mean to me as well.

Today’s story is one that was given to my kids for Christmas in 2008 by my brother Chris and his wife, Nina, so I thought it was only appropriate to share today. It’s called “You Can Do It, Sam,” by Amy Hest and illustrated by Anita Jeram. Ours even came with a plush of the main character, courtesy of the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program that year. It’s about a mother bear and her baby bear, Sam. Together they make many cakes for their neighbors on Plum Street. Together they bake and together they wait as the cakes finish. And then, together, they put the cakes into bags for their neighbors. Sam is now old enough to deliver the cakes to the neighbors himself, as his mom waits in the truck for him as he delivers all twelve cakes to his neighbors.

It’s such a special story and it is so special that it was given to us by my brother and his wife, because whether they knew it at the time or not, it invokes such special memories for me of our days together, delivering our cookies to our neighbors. It’s a book to teach my kids about the special meaning behind baking for others, behind giving a piece of yourself to others, and creating memories of our own as a family during a crazy holiday season.

Crafts for Kids: Snowball Snowmen

6 Dec

Yesterday’s post was a recipe for Chocolate Chip Butterballs, oftentimes known as Chocolate Chip Snowballs. It was a recipe that the kids could help out with, by rolling the batter or even by doing some of the measuring of the ingredients or by dumping in the ENTIRE BAG of chocolate chips for the batter. When I bake with my kids I try to find at least one thing for each of the three of them to do.

For today’s kid’s activities, I thought I’d capitalize on the “snowball” aspect of these cookies. Last year another mom, Theresa and I ran the “Brown Baggers” book club for our daughters’ second grade classes. It was a group that met during lunch and recess once a month to hear a story and do a craft related to that story.

This is a great story that leads to endless hours of building "snowmen" inside your home!

We used to alternate planning the activities, each taking a month. One of the months the book that my friend chose was called “Snowballs” by Lois Ehlert. You can find it here on if you’d like to purchase it. (And no, in case you are wondering, I have no connection to at all.) I had actually not seen the book before, but she had it at her house, her kids loved it and it was perfect for the season. She came up with a simple, fun activity for the kids to do to go along with it and they loved it. That’s the activity I’m sharing with you today.

Alexandra and her friend Graycee recently made some snowmen at our house, reminiscent of the ones in "Snowballs."

The storyline in the book will encourage your children to find ordinary objects around your house to turn their “snowballs” into snowmen. They can use paper plates for their snowballs or you can cut white circles (or if they’re old enough, they can.) Some of the items you might want to provide for them for decorations (depending on their ages for choking hazards): buttons, popping corn, stickers, pom poms, sunflower seeds, scraps of paper, rubber stamps and inks, pipe cleaners, feathers, artificial flower petals bottle caps…the possibilities are endless! Your children can make a snowman or woman or an entire snow family, depending on how long you want them to be crafting.

The second graders that we worked with had tons of fun with this story and the super-easy snowman craft that went with it. I hope your children will too! And thanks again to Theresa, for coming up with this activity last year!