Friday, November 30, 2012

'Twas the Night Before December...

...and all through this house, I've been scrambling to put the finishing touches on our brand new advent calendar. I've been meaning to make one for a few years now, and I've had heaps of fun scouring the Internet for ideas. I wanted something that we could use year after year but that we could change up a bit, and I also wanted something that would allow me to include advent activities along with treats. I loved this project on makoodle, and I've spent the last few weeks gathering the materials I would need to make it work. It did.


The step by step directions provided on the blog are quite good; I'll add a few tips for those of you who might be interested in taking this on:

  • I used the free printable advent calendar numbers provided on makoodle
  • The biggest expense was the party favor tins. They cost $20 for a set of 30 at Michaels. I used a coupon to save a bit on that.
  • The 2" squeeze punch may just be my new favorite thing. I used it to cut the numbers (which were modpodged in) and the activities (which were taped in so we can change them each year).
  • The biggest challenge for me was tracking down a magnetic square to hold the tins. I finally found what I needed on my third visit to Michael's. It's a 11.5 x 11.5 inch magnetic dry erase board. I loved the bright lime color so I skipped the directions about covering the magnetic surface with a decorative piece of scrapbooking paper. I also skipped the frame.
  • The directions do not mention the need to put magnets on the back of the tins. You will need a roll of adhesive magnetic tape. Stick a 1" strip on the back of each tin.
  • Sean and I had a lot of fun coming up with twenty-five advent activities to include in the tins. I wasn't able to use the free download for this part of the project because it is a PDF document and not editable (and I just don't think we'll be seeing the Christmas lights at Salt Lake Temple this year). So I made my own using Microsoft Word. You are welcome to download and customize them for your own use.
  • Each tin houses two Kisses. If your children are anything like mine, make sure they are the same color each day...

I'm super happy with how this turned out and, thanks to my procrastination efforts, I don't have to wait long to see my kids' excitement either. Tomorrow begins Christmas at our house (Activity #1 - cut down the Christmas tree). Here's wishing a happy start for all of you!




Thursday, November 15, 2012

Halloween Recap: Thing 1 and Thing 2

Be still this librarian mama's heart -- my boys dressed as Thing 1 and Thing 2 for Halloween. Do you remember Thing 1 and Thing 2? They are friends of the Cat in the Hat and make a late entrance in the book to wreak further havoc on the home. They are spirited and silly and they like to pretend they are completely innocent even as they are tearing up the joint...in short, the costumes were perfect for my pair.

We bought red union suits off of Amazon. They were $16 a piece and because I did not permanently attach the logos (see below), the boys can wear them through the winter. And yes, they do have a drop in the back. They are ridiculously adorable and I'm sure they'll show up in a holiday photo shoot or two.

I found the template for the logos on this blog. While my boys don't look nearly as sassy as these sisters, the templates were exactly what I needed. I printed them on fabric paper that you can run through an inkjet printer then cut them to size and whip-stitched them onto the front of the union suits. This made it a bit tricky squeezing the boys into the suits without being able to unbutton them all the way, but we figured it out. After Halloween, I pulled out the stitching, and the suits are as good as new.

The thing I am most proud of are the wigs:


Instead of purchasing blue wigs from the party store (which ran about $20 a piece), I wrapped blue feather boas (which I purchased from Jo-Anns) around old stocking caps and attached them with a hot glue gun. I particularly love how much height the wigs have with this process; Emmett in particular looks like a toddler version of Marge Simpson. As a bonus, the boys had warm hats for trick-or-treating. We'll be living with remnants of blue fuzz for the next few months, but that's okay.

And so, I leave you with memorable words of Theodore Seuss Geisel, who wrote:

"It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how."

These little guys certainly do.









Monday, November 12, 2012

A Change in the Weather: Creamy Tomato Soup

Eeee, gads...I can't believe it has been an entire month since I've posted. There are several draft posts that just didn't get finished, and an ever growing list of things I want to post about...but alas, time moves quickly in this new chapter for our family. I have definitely been cooking a lot less (our new motto is "We can't be out of food, we still have eggs") but in many ways enjoying the cooking I do a whole lot more.

Anyway, enough of that. I'm back with a delicious slow cooker recipe for creamy tomato soup. The temperature outside literally dropped forty degrees between Saturday and today; we were doing yard work in short sleeves then, and it is now hovering right around freezing. When I made my grocery list last week and asked Finn if there was anything he wanted me to make, he replied, "Homemade soup and homemade bread." He got his wish for Sunday dinner (and, before we started to eat, reminded us to thank him for the great idea...), and I'm happy to share this with you today. It is a family favorite. I highly recommend throwing down the extra change for good quality canned tomatoes; I love the Muir Glen Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes.

I'll be back soon with a fantastic advent calendar I've been working on as well as a few retrospective Halloween costume details. Thanks, as always, for reading!

Creamy Tomato Soup
From More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow

PRINT ME!

NOTE: This serves 4-6. My family of 4 ate almost all of it for dinner. If you want leftovers, it doubles beautifully.

2 14 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup broth (the recipe calls for beef, I used vegetarian)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 14 oz. can evaporated milk (to add later)
2 tbsp.  butter (to add later)

In a blender or food processor, puree tomatoes and onions then add to slow cooker OR if you have an immersion blender, do it right in the slow cooker.

Add broth, brown sugar, basil, Worcestershire, and cocoa powder. Stir. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 to 4. Stir in the milk and butter at the end. Cover and cook on high for fifteen minutes or until the butter melts and the soup is hot.

Enjoy!