Make Beautiful Snowflakes! It’s SO easy!

Blizzard!

While a huge blizzard of snow was coming down today, the kids and I pretty much made a snow flurry inside as well.

We’ve been making paper snowflakes all day and my floor is literally covered in snowflake confetti.

I’ve always wanted to make the perfect snowflake.  “Perfect” meaning not lopsided. Pretty is good too–I especially like those pretty 6 point ones.

The kids and I have spent a large portion of the day cutting, drawing, figuring, making messes, and making patterns.  I tried to make these as easy, clear and kid-friendly as possible.  The patterns are printed right on the paper you’ll be cutting.  No tracing, no guessing, no problem.  Each has an icon in the upper left that rates it’s difficulty level:  easy, medium or hard.

Oh, and if you’re feeling creative, I’ve included a blank pattern so you and your kids can design your own!

Enjoy!

Festival of Trees

This year was the 40th anniversary of the Festival of Trees in our community.

The Festival Board President has asked me to design the Festival of Trees  pins for the last four years and I  have loved being an itsy bitsy teeny weeny part of this amazing event.

The festival is a fun tradition as well as an amazing fundraiser for a children’s hospital.  Kind-hearted and generous people decorate and donate the most amazing trees and then they are sold at auction during the first day of the festival.  Often times, the trees end up selling for thousands of dollars!  The trees are amazing and range from elegant, whimsical, rustic, heroic, and just beautiful.  Here are some of our family’s favorites this year. (Get ready for visual overload!)

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The Candy Tree.  Sweet!

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The Fairy and Gnome Tree.  Very creative.

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The Tire Tree.  Unusual and fun!

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Cowboy Western Tree.  Loved this one!

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M&M tree.  Very cute.

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Elegant Pink and Purple tree.  Most of these trees are dedicated to children in the hospital.  This one was dedicated to a beautiful baby girl.

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Traditional Elegance.  I’d love this one in my home!

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Winnie the Pooh.  Classic character.

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Spider Man Tree.  Dedicated to a little boy who loves Spiderman.  Very cool.

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Surfin’ Santa Tree.  This one takes the cake!  I personally give this one the award for most creative!  The creators of this tree curved and shaped a row of blue trees to look like a wave.  The trees were loaded with ocean life ornaments, elves, and of course, Surfin’ Santa.  We had to stare at this one for a whole 20 minutes solid.

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Along with the trees, thousands of people donate handmade quilts, wreaths, goodies, crafts, and other items that are sold to raise money for the children’s hospital.  There are also performance groups, activities, bake shops, and more things to look at than you can ever get through in one night. ;)

“A Very Monkey Christmas”

Get out the blueberry pancakes and bananas, George is coming for breakfast!

I’ve had a fun weekend filled with Christmas parties, kids, and our favorite monkey!  Thanks to WGBH (Creators of the Curious George series) and PBS Kids who sent me this DVD screener!  This hour-long Curious George Special, “A Very Monkey Christmas,” will be airing on PBS stations Christmas Day.  That’s right, George is coming for Christmas!

(Image credit from A Very Monkey Christmas:  Curious George TM & © 2010 Universal Studios and/or HMH. All Rights Reserved)

You know that feeling you get when your very little kids come up to you with a picture they’ve drawn.  It’s adorable and sweet and you smile really big and tell them that it’s just wonderful!  In reality you aren’t sure what the drawing is, but you would never ask because you wouldn’t want your cute little artist to feel bad.  Well, the Man with the Yellow Hat  experiences this when George hands him a Christmas wish list of shapes.  Determined to be a good “monkey parent” the Man with the Yellow Hat works hard to understand George and to make George’s Christmas wish come true—whatever it is.

This movie features all of George’s friends including Hundley, Charkie, Professor Wiseman, Betsy, Bill, and even Chef Pisghetti! Each character sings a  lovable Christmas song in this gift giving adventure.  Even though it was the first time my kids saw this movie, they all tried to sing along because they loved “singing George friends.”  It was cute.

As for the kids and the movie, well, I had to call the best critics in town to review this Curious George Christmas Special with me.  They are monkey professionals.

(Oh wait.  Shhh.  The critics are reviewing right now….)

You’ll hear what the critics have to say at the end of this post in an exclusive interview.  But first…

Here’s a few ideas to make a perfect Merry Monkey Christmas breakfast for your kiddos.

Nothing says George like yellow, blue and red tableware, and balloon designed napkins are perfect.  A bowl of George’s favorite fruit makes a great side dish as well as a great monkey centerpiece.

The yellow hat is a must have!  (I was pretty giddy when I got this stroke of inspiration walking by the paper plates in the grocery store).  Just get a yellow paper cup and a yellow paper dessert plate.  Stick black electrician’s tape around the brim of the cup and turn it upside down on the plate, like this.

It’s so easy.

It’s so cute.

It’s so yellow!

The Man with the Yellow Hat would be proud!

Next thing.  We all know George LOVES blueberry pancakes, and the kids love ‘em too.    Don’t do this from scratch!  Make your Christmas morning relaxing!  My favorite recipe for blueberry pancakes is called blueberry muffin mix.  Look for a muffin mix that has a pancake recipe on the side.  (Don’t forget blueberry syrup and whip cream to top it off!)

You can find these cute Curious George printables HERE on www.PBSkids.org.  Print out and color with markers.  Get an empty paper towel tube and cut it into 1/2 inch rings to attatch to the cutouts so they stand up.  The table confetti can be found HERE on www.PBSkids.org.

And now, my little movie critics, what was your favorite part of the movie “A Very Monkey Christmas?”

And there you have it.  We give this show an official two thumbs up!  (Or if you’re a monkey, make that four thumbs up!)

Don’t forget to check out your PBS Station’s local listings for Curious George’s “A Very Monkey Christmas,”  airing on Christmas Day!  Enjoy breakfast with George and have a merry monkey Christmas!

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Curious George Giveaway!


Because It’s Christmas time.

Because I love Curious George.

Because your kids will love it too.

I’m doing a Curious George giveaway!

Just comment to this post and tell me what you love about Curious George.  You will automatically be entered to win Curious George 2:  Follow That Monkey! Post your comment by 10pm Wednesday (Mountain Standard Time).  Winner will be chosen at random and announced Thursday.

Just so you know, I own this movie and my family loves it.  It’s been viewed so many times a monkey can’t count how many!  This is something I’m doing just for fun and will personally pay for the winner’s DVD and shipping.  Be sure to check back Thursday to claim your prize!



Recycle

It’s here!  FINALLY, our city has an official recycling program!  Hooray!  We just got our bin, and you might as well think it was an  early Christmas present.  It was kind of amazing to see how excited the kids were about it.

So today, all the kids were in the kitchen and I was throwing away an empty box.  I suddenly remembered our big blue bin outside and neatly flattened the box and folded it in half.  I said, “Anyone want to take this out to the recycling bin for me?”  It was as if I  had just yelled “free ice cream!”  Sheesh.  I was bombarded with little hands trying to snatch the box.  I had to go find more stuff to recycle just to make peace again.   Seeing them compete like that to take out the trash was definitely a first for me.

I’m liking this bin even more than I thought I would.

I wonder if I could use this as a bribe.  Can you imagine?   “If you eat your vegetables, you can take out the recycling.” LOL.  This is gonna be great.

This week a family from L.A. just got an Angel Street Kids Go-Green backpack from our online store.  They told us they wanted this bag for their daughter who is really in to recycling.  Way to go girl!  I’m so proud of this bright generation of kids!  Our planet is happily in your hands! ;)

Click HERE, or click on the images for details.

Don’t forget to go green by taking a home lunch to school in our Go-Green lunchbox!

Snowman Pancakes

What can I say…a snowman pancake makes a person feel warm and fuzzy on a cold winter morning.

As I was about to take the milk out of the fridge for cold cereal, I noticed the canned whip cream we used a few days before.  I had a sudden stroke of breakfast inspiration, and breakfast snow people were born.  They were delicious! Especially  with blueberry syrup.  The kids were pretty happy about the menu change.  Who says you have to go outside to make a snowman?   Make a snowman in the kitchen!   ;)

New Crayons

Well, sort of new.

“Don’t take the papers off the crayons!” That was my echo.  I don’t know why taking the paper off crayons seems to be so fun for kids.  It’s seems like all my kids have gone through a crayon-peeling phaze at one point or another.  It’s like the second they come in the house they have to take their socks off.  The second the crayons are out, they have to take the papers off.  I don’t get it.  Well, this activity was great for my little crayon peelers.  For the first time ever I told the kids to go at it and take all the papers off the old crayons.  It was kid heaven.  Or at least kid crayon heaven.

I helped them with the  papers of course.  It can be a tad tedious.

After that we separated the crayons into like colors, or colors that would blend well together.  Then we broke them up into tiny pieces.

These little silicone trays are the best!  So nice, and I love the bright colors.  This one is actually a baking tray, but I’ve heard of other people using silicone ice cube trays for this and that works too.  It just works best to keep the shapes simple.  FYI:  Some of the colors do stain the silicone.  If you try this, I’d recommend using some trays that you plan on using just for crafts.

We placed the crayon tray on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes.  (If you try this, be sure to watch the oven and take out the tray whenever the crayons are all melted.  It may take more or less than 20 minutes, depending on your oven, the shapes, and the  amount of crayons in them.)

I used a toothpick to swirl some of them.

Let it cool for about 15 minutes on a cooling rack, then put the tray in the refrigerator until the crayons have completely hardened.  Here’s the result!  Our NEW crayons!

So bright and colorful! Love it.

We melted these ones in a muffin tin lined with cupcake papers.  It was kind of hard to get the paper off, and the pan was still hard to clean.  I definitely would rather use silicone trays for this activity, even if they do stain.

Next time I think it would be fun to try layered crayons, kind of like layered Jello.  I’d just have to melt each color separately in the microwave on low, pour into a shape tray, let it set and harden, then add successive layers the same way.  Wouldn’t that be just ‘kewl?’ ;)

A Christmas Book Pick-The Elf on the Shelf

The Elf on the Shelf

The Elf on the Shelf

By Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell

Illustrated by Coe Steinwart

My family absolutely loves this book! But it’s not only a book.  It’s a real Santa’s elf’s book!  That’s right, an elf.  Our elf’s name is Jack, short for Jack Frost.  He comes every year around the first or second week of December to keep an eye on all of us until Christmas.  He reports back to Santa if anyone is misbehaving.  He’s a well-trained elf, and can stay absolutely still, even if you are only 1/2 an inch away!  He won’t even laugh, no matter how many jokes you tell him.  Some people have claimed they’ve seen their elf move.  Once my kids thought they saw Jack blink.  But most of the time, the elf stays still.  No one is allowed to touch him, but anyone can talk to him and tell him about the good things they are doing (in hopes that he will pass on the good news to the big man in the hat).  Each morning the kids wake up to find Jack in a new place in the house.  He’s tricky, but always manages to be in a new unusual place.  Sometimes he’s on a cabinet, on top of a picture frame, or hanging from a light fixture.  Once he hid in the Christmas tree!

This book is a delightful read, as well as a great tradition and fun kid’s activity throughout the season.

The company who made this book also has a really fun, kid-friendly website.  You can enter your elf’s name on the North Pole registry, browse Santa’s workshops, find out what’s going on in the North Pole, and play fun holiday games online.  www.elfontheshelf.com

Jack…we’ll see you soon! ;)

Christmas Printables!

The season is officially here!  I created these printables in preparation for the cold snowy days when the kids like to sit around coloring.  (By the way, coloring printables goes great with hot chocolate and a warm fire nearby.)

One more thing, for those of you that live in warm places in December, what kind of Christmas decor and printables are you looking for?  A friend in California once told me she likes to decorate with snowflakes even in the warm weather.  How do you celebrate and decorate?

Click HERE to print all of the coloring pages, or click on each image to print individually.