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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

  1. Spring Crafts

    March 31, 2015 by admin

    IMG_0390We recently stumbled upon a pinterest post on making Peep houses for Easter.  Inspired by the pin, we gathered up some materials to make our own version of a Spring Peep home.

    We used:

    • graham crackers
    • Peeps
    • construction paper
    • vanilla icing
    • chocolate chips
    • sprinkles

    We cut our green construction paper into long thin strips that we then further cut into 3rd.  This would be our Peep grass.  We used the orange construction paper as our house base.


    Plum and Bluey each had their own equal amount of supplies for construction and a butter knife for the icing.  They got to work executing their vision of the perfect Peep house.

    Tip:  An angled roof was quite the challenge and needed two people working together to make it work.  A flat roof is much easier and required no adult assistance.

    Plum and Bluey had a fantastic time and were more than happy to sample the supplies as they worked.

  2. Crafting And Science

    February 4, 2015 by admin

    IMG_0022 Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and our Bluey is very excited. We don’t really go out of our way for this holiday. But when our kids are jazzed about something in particular, we like to support their enthusiasm.

    Bluey is determined to create Valentine’s cards and to decorate for February 14th. But unlike our stock of Christmas and Halloween supplies, we don’t have a lot of love themed, sparkly heart stuff. So we decided that we’d try to make most of our Valentine’s Day stuff from scratch.

    This fun project combines Bluey’s desire to make Valentine’s decorations and his love of science!

    Tip1: Even though we made these decorations for Valentine’s Day, you can have fun creating them for any holiday or event! Think of snowflake or star structures, to name just a few variations.IMG_2768

    Shimmery Shapes (adult supervision required):

    3 cups boiling water

    ½ cup Borax

    Pipe Cleaners

    Ribbon or String

    Popsicle sticks or pencils (something stable that can extend over the lid of your container while supporting minimal weight)


    IMG_0013Manipulate your pipe cleaners into any desired shape.

    Tie one end of a string to your shape and then attach the other end of the string to the center of a popsicle stick.

    Add Borax and boiling water to a mason jar or other heat proof clear container. You want to utilize a container that you can see through as part of the fun of this project is witnessing the crystallization.

    Mix the borax and water if necessary. A lot of the borax will settle to the bottom of the jar and that is okay.

    Place your shape into the hot mixture and secure with the stick lying across the jar’s opening.

    Leave undisturbed for at least 8 hours.

    Tip2:  You can create colored crystals by adding food coloring to the mixture before you hang your shapes.

    This experiment/craft project gave us a chance to talk about crystals and how they are formed.  The boiling water holds more Borax than cold water would.  As the mixture cools, it can’t hold as much Borax.  As the Borax molecules group together, they form these beautiful crystals.  It’s related to what happens when it snows: warm clouds of water vapor get cooled, and become supersaturated.  The water molecules group together and make snowflakes!

    Tip3: Once your shape has crystalized, you may have to chip away at the bottom or the sides to release it from the container. And to clean your jars, you may have to add hot water to the hardened borax that has settled to the bottom.IMG_0032

    We hope that you enjoy your shimmery shapes as much as our family. We plan to add some to home decorating and the rest will be gifted during Valentine card deliveries.


  3. Holiday Tunes Update

    December 19, 2014 by admin

    fairy_10_mdWe are huge fans of holiday music.  Each year we try to seek out as many new songs as we can find to further fill out our extensive holiday playlist.

    And we attempt to do it for free.

    That’s right!  There is so much free holiday music out there, that each season we are able to add several hundred tunes to our collection.  You just need to know where to look.

    Free downloads are somewhat harder to come by than they used to be.   The big push to convince people to stream music instead of owning it outright has led many purveyors (like Amazon, for instance)  to offer “playlists” and streams, rather than true downloads.  But they are still out there.

    Here are a few starting places for you:

    Noise trade:  Many artists use free downloads from Noisetrade as a way to gain fans.  And this is no less true for the holiday season.  Head over to the Noisetrade website and type Holiday or Christmas into the search bar.  You’ll instantly see dozens of albums, eps and singles available for free download.

    iTunes:  Each week, the Apple iTunes store offers a free download from one of its many artists.  Stop by and add few free tunes!

    Let us know if you find other reliable sources for free holiday tunes and we’ll add them to the list!!

  4. It’s In The Bag!

    December 10, 2014 by admin

    IMG_8994Now that we are deep into the holiday season, gift buying and gift making are well underway in this TR home.

    We have a generous supply of wrapping paper. But our kids find wrapping gifts more of a hassle than fun. The tape usually fights back and ends up in an unusable sticky crumple. And the cut paper is either too big or too small and refuses to bend into neat folds.

    So what to do? Make your own gift bags!

    Tip1: Gift bags aren’t just for the holidays. Make them for birthdays, cookie exchanges, etc.

    We picked up a pack of 40 red paper lunch bags at a local box store for under $2.00. We thought red was fitting for Christmas but you can easily find an assortment of colors.

    Once home, we got out our supply of winter and holiday themed foam stickers. Our kids got right to work decorating bags for all of their friends and family.

    Tip2: A container of foam stickers from the box stores runs about $8 but you can usually find them on deep discount after each holiday. We’ve never paid more than $2 per container.

    IMG_8991You can make the bags as fancy as you wish. Punch out holes along the top and weave ribbon through the circles. Jazz the gift bags up with glitter or coloring. The possibilities are numerous.

    Bluey and Plum had a great time and were very proud of their creations. Adding a personal touch to any gift is always a move in the right direction!


  5. Cinnamon Ornaments

    December 7, 2014 by admin


    This TRFamily loves the holidays.  And we greatly enjoy spreading the holiday spirit with handmade gifts to our friends and family.  There is something special about the love and effort that goes into handmade gifts.  And our children take great pride in creating gifts for the special folks that impact their lives.

    Last Christmas, we made fantastic salt dough ornaments.  But even though that was fun and successful, we wanted to do something different this holiday season.  We decided to make cinnamon ornaments!


    • 1 cup of cinnamon
    • 1/4 cup of applesauce
    • 1/2 cup of glue


    Tip:  Your batch will yield about 15 ornaments

    Combine the cinnamon and applesauce, mixing until clumpy.  Then pour in the glue and continue mixing.  Dough will be incredibly sticky.  We found it necessary to mix by hand and add liberal amounts of flour until we could roll out our ornament dough.  Add decorations if you’d like.  Punch out a hole in the ornament with a plastic straw and then bake at 200F for 1 hour.  Let cool for at least 3 hours.

    Bonus – You’re entire house will smell like cinnamon!



  6. Pollyanna, The Submariner Reindeer

    December 1, 2014 by admin

    As the holiday season gets underway, we wanted share with you the interesting life of reindeer Pollyanna.

    Picture a reindeer.

    How does it move around?  Perhaps you are seeing it walk from place to place through the tundra.  Or maybe you know that reindeer are good swimmers, so you visualize it swimming across an arctic lake or fjord.

    And reindeer fly!  Everyone knows that.

    But did you know they also ride in submarines?

    Well, at least one did, back during World War II.

    Photo credit: Royal Naval Museum

    Photo credit: Royal Naval Museum

    Hard to believe?  Check out this true story:

    A British submarine named the HMS Trident was stationed as part of the British-Russian alliance at Pollyarnoe, a naval base near Murmansk on the Arctic Ocean.  The commander of the Trident, Lieutenant Commander G M Sladen, chatted up the local Russian Admirals about life back in England.  He mentioned his children and his wife’s difficulties in pushing the pram up the steep hills in the snow.  The Russian leaders, in a gesture of goodwill between the Allies, decided to try to help.

    When the Trident shipped out of Polyarnoe in August 1941, the Russians added a live baby reindeer to the provisions laded aboard.  If reindeer could pull Santa’s sleigh, surely one could help out moving a pram!  How could Lt. Commander Sladen refuse such a thoughtful gift?  The crew dubbed the reindeer “Pollyarnoe” in honor of their Russian home-port, but soon Anglicized the name to “Pollyanna.”

    Thinking the Trident would be returning to her base in Scotland in two or three weeks, the Russians provided a few bales of tundra moss for Pollyanna to eat.   But plans changed and the Trident was at sea for six weeks straight!  The whole time with a (growing!) baby reindeer on board.  When the moss ran out, the crew fed Pollyanna table and kitchen scraps.

    The crew took care of her and cleaned up after Pollyanna, but supposedly the deer would only allow Lt. Comander Sladen to be near her when the surface hatch was opened to allow fresh air into the sub.

    reindeer_2After six weeks at sea, the now rather large reindeer was extracted from the sub with some difficulty and returned to dry land.  After a few weeks with the Sladen family, Pollyanna took up residence at a Royal zoo, and lived out her life in peace and comfort.

    There are many stories old and new, some true and many fictional, that capture the true meaning of holiday cheer and spirit.  This is one of our favorites and we hope that you enjoyed it as well.

  7. Food Creativity Unleashed

    November 28, 2014 by admin

    IMG_8824_2Does your kiddo like to cook?  It’s a great thing at any age- having a young helper in the kitchen. They learn so much and you get to bond with them while mixing, stirring and measuring.

    IMG_2278We suggest that you to talk about different foods and discuss with your kiddos that cooking is a creative endeavor.  Recipes are guides– not the gospel, and everyone should develop their own idea of what tastes good.  If you have these conversations and encourage your kids to invent and create in other areas of their lives….Eventually, your kiddo might want to create a fully original food.

    What to do?  Well, encourage it, of course!

    For several weeks before Thanksgiving, Bluey started talking to TRDad about this great dish he wanted to make for the occasion: Peanut Butter Pie.  TRDad’s first response was: “Great!  Let’s talk about that.”  By staying upbeat and positive, we got Bluey to think through his dish further and explain his ideas.

    In talking it through with him, we helped him think about different ways to create his dish and different choices he could make.  We encouraged him to think of this as his test run.  Just like with his other inventions, it might not work perfectly the very first time.

    So on Thanksgiving, we plunged into this new recipe.  Bluey was happy that he was getting to make his very own holiday treat and that he was seeing his invention carried out.  He loved the process and that we all took his idea seriously.IMG_8829_2

    He ended up making a sort of PB&J pizza.  He liked it and the entire family thought it was pretty good, too.  But Bluey declares that it wasn’t EXACTLY what he wanted.  His dish was supposed to have a top dough as well.   Next time he’ll do it a little differently…

    Let your kids (and yourself) explore in the kitchen.  Food should be fun.  Cooking is a creative endeavor.  Who knows what amazing treats you might discover?

  8. Thanksgiving Buffet

    November 23, 2014 by admin

    54952_cornicopia_mdWe love Thanksgiving!  It’s one of the most popular holidays at the TR household.  We count down to it, decorate for it, and just love it!

    Bluey has been talking for weeks about his plans to watch the Thanksgiving parade and we all love the relaxed pace of the day.  We sometimes watch a bunch of movies, or even a little bit of a football game.  We’ve been excitedly going through the grocery store, taking note of special food items here and there that would be perfect for our feasting.

    One thing that’s not perfect for us?  A big sit-down meal.

    We’re just not into it.  We love food and we love eating.  But we don’t like to force ourselves into a drawn out holiday sit-down meal.

    And here’s why:  we’ve done the big Thanksgiving traditional meal and found that it hampers our day.  A day that could be spent in fun and games, silly TV, and walks in the woods instead becomes a day wrapped around a tight schedule.  In order for all that food to come out at the same time for a formal family meal, it needs to be carefully timed out.  The day is spent prepping food instead of relaxing and connecting with family.  We’d rather be free to look at one another and declare: “Let’s go for a walk!” and not worry about whether that means the potatoes will be done in time.

    And then there’s the matter of satisfying everyones tastes.  Rather than cook up a bunch of food that might not be eaten due to the whims of some family members preferences, we like to present a food plan that leaves everyone happy without any worries about who’s eating what.

    We offer a Thanksgiving buffet.

    Our buffet includes all manners of foods: hot and cold; salty and sweet; filling and light.  We select a wide range of items like homemade bread, cheese and crackers, nuts, various unique dips, chips, salad fixings and a few holiday favorites like mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  We bring everything out in waves, a few selections at a time, whenever we feel it’s time for something new.

    For our family, this plan leaves everyone well fed without anyone being stuck in the kitchen all day.  Our whole family is free to take up whatever activities we like without worries about getting home at a particular time, nor concerns about ‘spoiling your appetite’ before the big meal.  Everyone eats what they want, when they want, allowing us to enjoy our time as a family and appreciate what we have.

    And isn’t that the idea?

  9. Storage Solutions

    October 26, 2014 by admin

    Today we decorated our house and yard for Halloween.  What fun!  Mini tombstones, leaf bags colored like pumpkins, ghosts and pumpkin candles- we had a great time with it.  Decorating for the holidays is one of the highlights for this enthusiastic family.

    IMG_2170We make events easier by having a storage tote or two dedicated to each holiday.  The cry goes out: let’s bring up the decorations! And thanks to our simple system, in a just a few minutes every one is finding decorations to set up all about the house and yard.  No agonizing over crushed or broken cardboard boxes and damaged holiday treasures.  No worries that some decorations will be lost in the basement/attic/closet.  Everything is in one easy to find space.

    We use large 18 gallon bins for our storage system.  We looked for bins that were:

    1.  Sturdy:  We want our system to last for years, so we sought out heavy duty totes that wouldn’t need to be constantly replaced.

    2.  Stackable:  In a world of limited space, we wanted our system to be able to go vertical.  Originally, our items were stored in a hall closet, so full use of vertical space is essential.

    3. Big, but not too big:  We needed our totes to be large enough to hold a fair amount, but small enough to be easily carried up and down the stairs.

    We have a separate tote (or totes) for each holiday.  Keeping each event in a separate space lets you keep better track of what you have on hand and maintains order of your decorations.

    So as you swing into the holiday season, use this as a chance to reorganize your decorations.  You’ll love it next year when everything is safe and easy to find.


  10. Costumes

    October 5, 2014 by admin

    IMG_0996This TR Family adores Halloween. Our kids love dressing up and trick or treating. We all enjoy decorating the house and feeling spooooooky for a bit.

    We view Halloween as a chance to put our creative juices to good use. We ask the kiddoes for their costume ideas and brainstorm on methods to create their vision.  Over the years our kids have been giraffes, zombies, tigers, astronauts, housecats, witches, devils, vampires and more. It’s always great fun to bring their ideas to life.

    The process of choosing and making a costume helps make Halloween into a season, rather than a single night’s adventure.IMG_7219

    Most of our costumes are fairly simple (we are effective, but not extremely accomplished tailors). We start at the base: what articles of clothing do we need to make this work?

    A well chosen second-hand sweatshirt or pair of pants can become a great beginning to a costume. A yellow shirt fabric-painted with tiger stripes and the addition of an attached tail, and you are halfway to being a tiger. A different pattern and you could be a giraffe.

    Tip: We live where it is usually quite cold on Halloween, so we buy the base a few sizes too big to make sure we can fit some warm layers underneath.

    Once you have the basic framework, try to find a few small bits that clearly identify the character.  It’s little details, like the right tail for a giraffe, that are easy to construct and make all the difference for a successful costume. We use an inexpensive hair band as the mount for ears, antennae, or horns that we sew on ourselves. We just get small pieces of cloth in the right color from a craft store- easy cheesy!

    Tip#2: For little kids especially, but true as well for older ones, there’s not much need to worry about the design from the waist down. We just go with a pair of pants that match the general color scheme.

    Likewise, a small amount of make-up can be applied at home without needing a degree in special effects. Whiskers, vampire blood and zombie paleness are simply achieved.   A creative older kiddo might enjoy trying to make a scar or bleeding wound by sing some of the theater make up sold at a pharmacy or specialty store.

    IMG_2175So skip the store-bought costumes and put your creativity into gear for the month of October.  You’ll emerge with a fun costume that you and your kiddo made together, along with memories to last a lifetime.