Category Archives: Winter

Our Winter Monthly Gnomes

Winter GnomesI’m finishing up the monthly gnomes that Dora asked me to make. As I mentioned previously, I opted to design different head attire for the gnomes, based on each season. Here are our winter gnomes for December, January, and February. I made knitted hats for these little guys, using this pattern from Anna Branford. It was fairly easy, especially given that I am a novice knitter that hadn’t done any knitting in almost a decade. It did take a couple of tries to get the hats the right size, since our peg dolls are a different size than the ones she used. I also learned that it is possible to invent knitting stitches that will actually create something, just with a completely different texture. I always thought that if I knit or purled incorrectly, my knitting wouldn’t stay together, but with me having to switch back and forth between knitting and purling, I somehow started doing both stitches completely incorrectly. So I ended up with a hat that fit right and was shaped right, but had a completely different texture from the other two hats. I was very confused for a while!

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Labels: Arts and Crafts, Gnomes, Knitting, Peg Dolls, Rhythm, Waldorf, Winter
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Seasonal Field Trips

Gingerbread Lane 4

This year, Dora has been at a wonderfully fun age for enjoying Christmas with. As such, we’ve been going on a ton of fieldtrips. We made our annual trek to Seattle to see some of the seasonal highlights there, starting with the 20th Annual Gingerbread Village, an event which raises money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Northwest Chapter. As always, the gingerbread “houses” were amazing! The theme this year is “Once Upon a Time”. The gingerbread castle above is a replica of the castle which the Beast, from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, lives in.

Gingerbread Lane 5

This is the Brother’s Grimm Castle of Fairytales.

Christmas Tree Display 3

While in Seattle, we also went to the Seattle Festival of Trees, which is hosted at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The Festival “raises funds for uncompensated care, which allows Seattle Children’s to provide quality medical care to all children of the Region regardless of a family’s ability to pay.”

Teddy Bear Suite 2

In addition to the Christmas Tree display/auction, the Festival of Tree includes the famous Teddy Bear Suite. This is a hotel suite that has been decked out for Christmas and is full of teddy bears. It makes a great photo-op, but can get really crowded later in the season. I am hoping that one of these years we might just stay at the Fairmont for a night and enjoy the seasonal displays without having to deal with parking, plus partake of their holiday tea while we’re there.

Gingerbread Festival 4

Last weekend, we went to a gingerbread house making workshop, which is a fundraiser for the local Children’s Museum, KidsQuest. If I have it my way, I will never again try to make a gingerbread house outside of these workshops. The houses are pre-assembled, which in itself, is worth the entry fee. They also have tons of candies, cookies, sprinkles, gum, etc. to decorate your house with. Dora decided that she hated the feeling of the frosting, so she nominated herself for dictator. She told us where things were to go, while Secunda and I did all of the actual work (Dora also noted that it was much easier to dictate if she was chowing down on candy at the same time). As you can see here, Dora had a one-track mind, which was saying “when can I get my mouth on that gingerbread house?”.

Reindeer Festival 3

Of course we had to go to the Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo, where we not only were treated to two new baby reindeer (only one shown here, with his mama rolling her eyes at me), but low and behold, we found a fairy house in the Magic Forest! This was a total surprise to us. Dora had just asked me why it was called the Magic Forest and I speculated that maybe fairies lived there or something. All of a sudden, we came around a corner and the fairy house, complete with Christmas tree and lights, was just sitting there. I guess it has been there all this time, bit we never saw it before!

Reindeer Festival 4Dora told everyone how disappointing it was that we never got to see the fairies that lived in this house, though we waited, and waited, and waited (oh yeah, did I mention that we waited?).

Seattle Symphony - Kindermusik Holiday Show

Another fairy-ish-themed event that we attended in Seattle was Dora’s first concert, which was the Kindermusik Symphony Serenade. One of the characters that was part of the show, was the Story Fairy. Dora fell madly in love with the Story Fairy and was crying in the bathroom, because the Story Fairy’s wings were “just so beautiful”. I kid you not!

Three Little Pigs Tickets

An event that we actually attended last month, was Dora’s first play, which was not Christmas themed, but fun nonetheless. She sat through the entire play with no problem. It was a highly-adapted version of The Three Little Pigs. I had planned to buy a CD of the play’s music, but after listening to Dora sing “Piggy Power” all day for several days in a row, I decided that such a purchase was not in my best interests, psychologically speaking.

This weekend, we will be off to ride the Santa Train at the Northwest Railway Museum. This picture is one of the museum’s from several years ago, I only wish we would be greeted by so much snow tomorrow, that would make for a truly memorable affair (in fact, Dora’s memories of Mommy freaking out from driving down the mountain in so much snow, would probably be permanently seared into her brain and result in many hours of future therapy for her).

Labels: Christmas, Things To Do Around Seattle, Winter
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Our Christmas Book Basket

Christmas Book Basket

Recently, Secunda was roughhousing with Dora and they accidentally ripped two of our wall bookshelves off the wall. In all honesty, I was kind of relieved. The shelves were not cheap and were from a very popular children’s furniture manufacturer, but Dora’s books were always falling forward off the shelves (they were like the rain gutter shelves that you see all over Pinterest). So now, I am highlighting special books for Dora by using book baskets (we still have regular shelves-full of books). Thus far, the baskets are easier for Dora to access, but don’t seem to grab her attention as well. So I’m going to try to work on locating them in more eye-catching places. In the interim, I thought I would share some of our favorites from our Christmas book basket.

A St. Nicholas Story: The Fiercest Little Animal In The Forest, by Terri Reinhart, is a new-to-us book. The book contains some definite religious undertones, which you  may or may not feel comfortable with, so I recommend that you read through it before passing it on to your children. The story is about the real St. Nicholas, who “tames” a pine marten to use it help deliver gifts to the needy. The illustrations in this book are superb and the story is a sweet one. Since it is a forest-based story, it was an immediate hit with Dora. She loves to re-enact stories with puppets and we have a good set of forest creatures.

In our household, anything that combines fairies with Christmas is bound to be a hit. So, needless to say, Little Fairy’s Christmas, by Daniela Drescher, has been a popular Christmas read with Dora this year. In it, Little Fairy gets lost and her wings freeze. She receives some help from some forest friends and finds a small elf boy, who is also lost. The two are rescued by Father Christmas, who takes them to the elf boy’s house, where Little Fairy decides to stay for the winter.  I have to say that Daniela Drescher has become my new favorite children’s author and illustrator. Were this story to have no words, it would still be a treasure to behold.

Continuing along with nature-themed Christmas books, in The Snow Tree, by Caroline Repchuk, a small black bear cub wakes to find the world covered in white. The local animals, however, come one by one to bring a piece of nature to decorate a tree with. Each animal contributes a different colored item and tells what the items represent. In the end, the bear is left to guard the tree. Not only is this story endearing and the illustrations wonderfully realistic, but all of the pages have raised relief designs that provide a texture that Dora couldn’t resist gently rubbing her fingers over.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas, by Holly Hobbie, celebrates what I consider to be the most important part of Christmas, being gathered together. Toot, as usual, has been gallivanting around the world, but has promised Puddle that he will be home in time for Christmas. Life seems to conspire against Toot getting home for Christmas, but then a mysterious stranger provides a miracle, in the form of a ride home.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas, by Karma Wilson, stars the bear from Bear Snores On series. It is another truly sweet story about Bear’s friends keeping Bear awake from hibernation long enough to enjoy Christmas. An emphasis is placed on traditions and giving, more than on receiving, gifts. The illustrations are as beautiful as those contained in the rest of the series. It also has been a fun story to re-enact with our forest puppets.

I have to say that I have enjoyed having some different Christmas reads this year. I’ve read over and over, so many of the popular children’s Christmas books with my older children, so it is a Christmas gift for me just to be able to read something new.

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Christmas, Literature, Winter
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Natural Christmas Crafts

Making Lemon Pomanders 6

This year, we made a couple of Christmas crafts out of natural materials that went well. The first craft we did was to make lemon pomanders. I’ve seen some where people made them much fancier than ours and ended up with beautiful decorations for their tree, but we just kept ours simple. First we poked the lemons with toothpicks to make holes. Then we stuck whole cloves into the holes. Their smell has been heavenly!

Making Lemon Pomanders 2

Making a Garland From Dried Orange and Apple Slices 5

We also made a simple garland out of dried oranges and apple slices by using an embroidery needle to string a red ribbon through the dried fruits and tying them on with a simple knot (do the knot before you move on to the next fruit or else the fruit will slide all over and you’ll have to go back and restring them all so that you can tie knots – I say this from experience).

Making a Garland From Dried Orange and Apple Slices 6

To dry the fruits, first cut them in 1/4” slices. Then lay the slices out on a cake cooling rack or cookie sheet, so that they are not touching each other (we actually put ours on a cooling rack and then put the cooling rack on to a jelly roll pan, just to catch any juice drips). Cook the fruit slices on the lowest temperature your oven will go to (mine went down to 170 degrees F). Cook the fruit slices until you reach the desired texture, flipping and rotating the slices at least once every hour. We cooked our orange slices for about 4 hours and our apple slices for about 10. You can also dry the fruit by hanging them on thread or skewers and letting them air dry for several days. I sprinkled the apple slices with cinnamon, just to give them a better smell. It also so happens that they taste good this way! I had not planned on serving them, but Gohan and Mr. Mo grabbed them before I could tell them they were meant for decorations. Also, some people like to core their apples before drying them. I wanted the apple stars to show, but that meant that some of the apple could not be used.

Making a Garland From Dried Orange and Apple Slices 2

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Christmas, Winter
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff