Friday, December 31, 2010

Into the Woods

This morning we headed to Myakka River State Park for a family hike. Grace loves to explore new environments so this trip was totally up her alley. Upon jumping out of the car she immediately found each of us a hiking stick, then off we went... into the woods.

While at the park we collected a large bag of fallen wood, which we used to create a fire in our outdoor fireplace (we also added our yule log to the blaze and decided to make this a New Year's eve tradition). While the fire was burning we roasted homemade marshmallows and read Grace her bedtime stories - a perfect way to celebrate the final day of 2010. May you have a great 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Memories.....

Pouring milk for Santa without assistance

All smiles after revealing the contents of her stocking

The Rudolph costume she made, which was later used to lead a family parade

A little homemade goodness for family, containing treats and a snowflake ornament

An impromptu holiday show she performed in the backyard

It was a wonderful Christmas filled to the brim with memories!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Shortest Day

Grace has been requesting that we visit a forest to hike and such. So yesterday we headed to one of our local parks with a walking trail and explored the environment around us. We did have a goal in mind - to find a piece of fallen wood that could be made into a yule log for our winter solstice celebration.

During our walk Grace collected four "logs" (amongst other treasures) that she thought would be suitable for our project. This afternoon she narrowed it down to the one "perfect" log. Soon after, the drilling began and the candles were selected and set in place. This evening the candles were lit at the beginning of our dinner to signify the return of light (and hence longer days) in the coming season.

May your lights burn bright on this winter solstice evening!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weeked Recap

Our original plans for this past weekend would've had us visiting the place where dreams come true, Disney World. However, that all changed when Grace declared, "I no longer want anything princess or fairy", oh wait it gets better, "I don't like Minnie or Mickey anymore. Minnie's voice is too high pitched for my ears". So after a bit of discussion, the trip was canceled.

So instead of spending time together while on vacation, we've decided to do an activity, as a family, each day leading to our Christmas celebration on Friday (I work Saturday, hence the day early).

On Saturday we visited the Sarasota Art Center for holiday crafting......

Grace made: a Christmas tree collage, merry mouse ornament, and a noise maker that can be used for the new year.

Oh yes, I mustn't forget about the Christmas spider puppet, an idea that Grace devised entirely on her own after making the noise maker. Our holiday crafting session wouldn't have been complete without it!

On Sunday evening we were off to Selby Gardens to see Lights in Bloom......

We enjoyed seeing the many garden themed light displays. Of particular interest was the wishing tree - where each of us wrote our wishes for the coming year, then tied them on a basket in hopes that they'll come true.

And since Grace has had no real interest in visiting Santa this year, we had a family photo taken with him instead.

A family filled weekend indeed!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Making: Gifts for Classmates

Grace's teacher has requested that each child bring fifteen small gifts to class tomorrow to share with each of their classmates. Her suggestions included a piece of fruit or a bag of nuts.

We went out on a limb and opted to gift something a bit different than the suggestions. Each child will receive a handmade blank book and a holiday scented Smencil. Grace and I made the books together one weekday afternoon (the book covers were made from cardboard cereal boxes and the blank pages were drawing paper cut to size)- her favorite part of the process was binding the cover and pages together.

Grace has always enjoyed blank books, so we hope each of the children will like them as well. Hooray for merry making!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Tree for the Animals

Right before the holiday decorating commenced, visions of a natural Christmas tree came to my mind. You know, one in which all the decorations could be placed outside for the animals to enjoy once our celebrating was complete. Needless to say after some thought I put the large scale project aside and decided to go with a smaller version of my original plan.

We opted to decorate a little evergreen tree that finds itself growing on the edge of Grace's garden. After some discussion we decided to make cranberry garland and peanut ornaments, with plans for other decorations in the (very) near future. (In case you're interested... we found the evergreen growing in the middle of our lawn and decided to transplant it, for fear the lawn mower would run it over. Thankfully, it seems to enjoy its new location.)

Grace has been keeping a close eye on the "Christmas tree for the animals". But so far the only animal she has spotted sniffing and occasionally sampling the tasty treats is Sophie!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Nutcracker

After reading the story and listening to the music too many times to count, we finally saw "The Nutcracker" live on stage. The version we saw was performed by the Sarasota Ballet at the Opera House. It was beautifully done and had Grace sitting at the edge of her seat (literally) nearly the entire performance.

When the ballet was over, children were able to have their picture taken with members of the cast - hence the picture above. Soon after, Grace discovered that hot cocoa and cookies were being served in the courtyard. I'm not sure that the day could have been any better in her eyes and we adults enjoyed ourselves too!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bedroom Redo

In addition to all the merry making and birthday celebrating, we find ourselves in the midst of redecorating Grace's bedroom. It all started with some innocent peeling of wallpaper while a certain someone should have been sleeping. Yes, two seams found themselves a bit mangled. So with that and a new quilt in the works we decided to give Grace's bedroom an update. We'll keep you posted, but for now I'll be dreaming of purple paint!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dean's Birthday

We spent our afternoon in the kitchen preparing Dean's birthday dinner. On the menu was shrimp and scallop lasagna, bruschetta on toasted bread and for dessert, nothing other than a chocolate cake.

Grace was in charge of the cake making - she's quite the baker I tell you. She knew well enough to avoid the temptation of sampling the batter before the sugar was added, since it was made with the ever bitter tasting cocoa powder. It's one of those lessons that she learned the hard way several years ago.

After dinner, Dean opened his presents. I made him a wool scarf (which happens to be my first completed knitting project) and Grace drew him a special birthday card with a "giant chocolate cake".

We hope we made his birthday a bit more special by adding our handmade touches!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gingerbread House

We officially kicked off our holiday baking this week by making a gingerbread house. Grace and I have made a little house together for the past several years and this year was no exception (here's our house from last year). There was much fun to be had, which included sampling multiple pieces of candy and a certain someone finding the need to lick her frosting coated fingers on more than one occasion. Here are some pictures........

What do you think we should bake next? Oh the possibilities!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

(Grace's leaf girl creation using our pressed leaves from Michigan, inspired by (this) book.)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pomander Balls

Grace's teacher is a bit apposed to the traditional classroom parties during the holidays. Instead she prefers to complete a craft with the children which she believes will leave them with fond memories and perhaps a desire to develop new traditions within their own family. So yesterday, in celebration of Thanksgiving, the children (and myself included) made pomander balls.

The required supplies were minimal (an orange, toothpick, cloves, spices and ribbon) but the end result was truly beautiful. Making pomander balls was certainly a more enriching experience than a party could have ever been. Go ahead and make one for yourself, I think you'll agree too!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Cookies

When Grace arrived home from school this afternoon we immediately headed into the kitchen to make Thanksgiving cookies. Since we hadn't done any crafting or baking for the holiday, I thought sugar cookies would be a good place to start.

Grace came up with a novel idea - making turkey cookies from her hand print. She created a template of her hands using drawing paper. Then (with assistance) she placed the template on the dough and traced around it with a knife. Once the cookies were baked and cooled she decorated them.

She gobbled one up as her after dinner treat. So not only were they cute, but they were tasty too - you can't beat that!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Acorn People

Sorry for the lack of posting around here, but I've been up to my elbows in acorns. The acorn people have officially been made and each one has found itself a new home. Since they sold out so fast, I'm now receiving orders to make more.

And here I leave you with a picture of Grace, which was taken during one of our acorn collecting adventures......

Have a great day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Plants for Sale

Upon entering Grace's classroom this morning the teacher handed me three plastic shopping bags filled with bare-root plants. This is yet another component of the infamous "Unless Project".

When Grace arrived home from school we potted each of the eighteen plants and gave them a thorough watering. (Oh I neglected to mention that Sophie "helped" out too by rooting around the plastic bags and ingesting several mouthfuls of potting soil.) So now we're keeping our fingers crossed that we can keep these beautiful plants alive until they can be sold.

Would anyone like to purchase an aloe or snake plant? We assure you that it's for a great cause!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


During my latest brainstorming session I came up with the idea of making little acorn people for the "Unless Project". Since the goal of this project is to sell items made from natural materials, the acorn boys and girls fit the bill.

After receiving the teacher's approval, Grace set out into the backyard foraging for acorns. She was quite determined to find every brown acorn (most remain green) within reach on the tree, since they're "the ripest and most beautiful".

Now that our basket is brimming with acorns, the construction phase can begin - bring on the power tools and hot glue gun!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Unless Project

Grace's class has begun a new endeavor called the Unless Project. What's the Unless Project you ask... well it's community service project that was inspired by Dr. Seuss's book, "The Lorax". The teacher hopes it will increase environmental awareness and in turn have the children respect the gifts that nature gives to them. A quote from the book sums it up, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not!".

This afternoon Grace and I began the first phase of the project by making "Unless Necklaces". (You may remember my post about the mulch with the naturally occurring hole, well now that mulch is being put to good use.) She was quite eager to lend a hand and in no time we made twenty five necklaces together - she strung the beads and I tied the knots.

All of the money raised, (from selling necklaces to plants), will benefit the abandoned animals in our community. The teacher's goal for this year is $1,200 - perhaps I better get back to making necklaces!

Sunday, October 31, 2010


We're just getting Grace settled in bed after a busy day of pumpkin carving, cake making, trick-or-treating and everything in between.

We hope you had a wonderful Halloween too!