Here's to a Peaceful, Healthy, Prosperous & Joyful 2009

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing the best in '09 for all my bloggy friends!
Now I had better drag myself away from this blasted computer, lest I miss the dropping of the ball. (My 6 year old is still awake! This may be the first year he makes it through midnight. Sweet little Brynie fell asleep in Daddy's big chair about an hour ago with the ipod in her ears, LOL and Happy Jack is snoozing away in sweet peace.) Hope you are snuggled close to a loved one tonight.

Wordful Wednesday

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The holidays were a blur this year. We had a blast and spent some quality time with extended family and old friends, which IMO is the most important thing. However, it went so quickly, and with such chaos at times, that I hardly got any decent photos. Most were too close or too blurry and we recorded no video at all. Contrary to years past, I really dropped the ball on capturing the moment in images. Big sigh. It makes me a bit sad that I'll have to rely on my own foggy memory to look back upon this Christmas. Unfortunately, I think that part of my brain is pretty well fried.
Here are a few pics that I salvaged from the cutting room floor:

Ready for 2009?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hmmm, not sure I am. Looking back, 2008 was a pretty good year. There were the usual ups and downs, and some heart break towards the end. But, all in all I have to say I am thankful for many joyous moments. I must be getting old though. It sure seemed to pass in a blink, and my kids seem to be growing before my eyes! Sheesh, I can hardly keep up.

Anyway, weather I'm ready or not, here she comes...2009 is rolling in. Find out how to wish a multi-linguistic Happy New Year here. Find some holiday puzzles and games here, here or here. And crafts and printables here as well as fun, kid-friendly recipes here. Looking for a little history? Find out more here and here. Cheers!

Have you made a resolution yet? Mine's always the be more patient and to yell less. I also need to buckle down and work on living in a healthier fashion. I'm no longer a spring chicken and though I really hate it, regular exercise would do me a world of good. Guess I'd better come up with something concrete though, or it'll get pushed to next year...again ;)

So, what's on your list?

The Daily Dog Bone

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: they miss someone very special to them; who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. The bright eyes are intent; the eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Maxwell Marmaduke Rich June 13, 2002 - December 22, 2008.
There are no words to describe how much you will be missed.

Track Santa's Progress Online

Click here to access some fun countdown activities, check out the specs for Santa's sleigh and track his progress around the world on Christmas Eve.
Ho! Ho! Ho!

A Little Holiday Fun

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This time of year I'm a sucker for all the classics: cartoons, movies, carols, cookies. You know what I mean. All the wonderful things that plant memories in your head from childhood. My favorite movie is A Charlie Brown Christmas, followed closely by the original The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story. I have to watch them every year. Along with the Rankin Bass holiday classics with Rudolph, Santa, The Miser Brothers, Baby New Year, Eon the Terrible, The Misfit Toys...oh I could go on and on. I adore them all and am thrilled to see my kids feel the same.
PBS has a fun online game where you can grown your own heart 3 sizes by delivering toys to Whoville. Give it a try when you need a break from rolling out your sugar cookies. Plus, find more fun crafts and recipes from PBS Parents.
And here's a secret...shhh...
Another cool site I recently came across offers photos of Santa in your own living room! How great is that?! (I wish I'd thought of it!) You can upload a photo of your room as it will look on Christmas Eve, then insert Santa into the pic and download a copy for about $10. What fun it would be to print one and leave it with the empty plate of cookies and stockings.
We're busy here wrapping and baking and cleaning and making gifts. What fun it is to see the kids really in the spirit of the holidays. With family coming in town this week and old friends to visit, it's sure to be a special (and interesting ;P) holiday. My best wishes to you all for peace, joy and many blessings throughout the season.

Our greatest blessings (and our Christmas card photo).

Wordful Wednesday

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waiting to see the big guy on a cold's winter's night at Winter Wonderland...

The Symbols of Christmas Unit Study

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In searching for some reference materials on Christmas symbols for a lapbooking project, I came across a couple of great unit studies on the subject. The second is designed for four weeks and it is a little late in the game for that, but there are many useful lessons that could be selected from the lot and used a la carte.

Homeschool Christmas Unit Study
Christmas Symbols Unit Study
apples4theteacher Christmas Symbols
Christmas History and Symbols

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake

Monday, December 15, 2008

This cake is so moist and yummy, I think you'll love it. It makes a nice loaf cake to give as a holiday gift, or tasty addition to your dessert tray. I first tried this recipe last year and it was a big hit with our family and friends.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat)
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips ( I think the mini chips work best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9 x 5 inch pan or 4 mini loaf pans.
In medium bowl mix dry ingredients. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla.
Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream. Mix until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour in prepared pan(s) and bake on center rack of 350 degree oven for 45 minutes for one loaf, or 30 minutes for 4 minis. Time may need to be adjusted according to your oven. When done top will be golden brown and toothpick inserted into center will come out clean. Cool completely before removing from pan.
You could frost it or make a powdered sugar glaze to drizzle over the top if you wish. I don't think it needs it so I serve mine as is.

I hope you enjoy this recipe with your family this season!

Our Favorite Pit Stop

The kids at The Daily Grind

Christmas Around the World

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The holidays offer wonderful opportunities for exploring other cultures and religions, as well as, geography and history. The music, ceremonies, decorations, foods, and festivities all create endless possibilities for research and discovery.
Here is a small collection of places to explore:

Christmas Around the World
Christmas Traditions of the World
Many Ways to Say Merry Christmas or How Merry Christmas is Said
Hanukkah for Children
Christmas Cultures
Holidays Around the World: A Festival of Lessons
Also, check out the great deals on history DVD's from The History Channel Shop, including many on the Christmas Holiday.

From Christmas to Kwanzaa Holiday Crafts
Or, try these internet scavenger hunts to launch your learning...happy searching!

Perigee Moon Friday December 12th, 2008

This Friday night the sky will be aglow with the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. If you have clear skies overhead, check out the moon several times during the evening and night and take an opportunity to discuss this occurrence with your kids. This Friday's full moon will be 14 % bigger and 30% brighter than the other full moons of this year.
It would be a great night to sit outside and sip some hot cocoa and enjoy some family time together. Learn more about the perigee moon at

Holiday Deals on Gifts

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ever the bargain-hunter, I thought I'd share a few deals I've come across. After all, who couldn't use a little help this season?

A while ago I posted about Brain POP and how much we enjoy the site which features educational shorts. Well, they are offering a 25% discount on subscriptions if you subscribe by January 10th. If you were thinking about signing up, now's the time to do it. This would also make a great family gift from the grand-parents.

Another gift deal comes from Artscow. I recently discovered this site and ordered a photo book from them. I got a great deal and the book turned out very nicely. With the book they sent me 10 coupon codes for more books which I can share with anyone! If you visit and sign up for a free membership, you can upload your photos and create a 30 page photo book using their software (also free and with some great layout options). Once you are happy with it, save your book, add it to your cart and order using one of these codes:

You'll get the book for $11.99 with FREE shipping, plus you can order additional books (same design OR different) at 50% off! That is an awesome deal and I haven't found another that comes close. The coupons can be used only once so leave a comment if you use one and let me know so I can take it off the list. They expire on 1/10/09 so order a Christmas gift, or order after wards to showcase your memories.

If you are shopping for books, check out and if you order by Dec 13th you can get 30% off the list price of one book priced $10 or more, plus free shipping if you order $25 or more. Use coupon code: SAT5604A.

And, of course, be sure to check out the great sales on Usborne books (my personal favorite :P)! There are some wonderful holiday books and sets for gift giving, as well as books on just about any subject you may be studying. And you can enter to win $50 in Free books even if you don't make a purchase.

If you love Starbucks, and what mom doesn't?? You can use google checkout when you shop online and receive $5 off your purchase of at least $30. Now's the time to stock up on the Christmas blend (my absolute favorite coffee) before it's gone for another year. They have some great gifts too, which are a nice option for those hard-to-buy-for folks on your shopping list.

In addition, google is offering cash back deals on a whole list of stores when you use google checkout to pay. Check it out. Or, browse cybermonday's deal list to find the best online deals before you shop. My motto, "never check out online without a coupon code" there's almost always a deal to be had. And most often you can double your savings by shopping through my points, ebates or upromise and using a coupon code at check out.

Spend less. Smile more.
Happy holidays!

Crafting Christmas

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I have fond memories of making salt dough ornaments at Christmas time with my family and our neighbors. I have been making them with my own kids for the last few years and we always enjoy this project. It is such a fun and easy thing to do and we usually attach them to a basket of homemade treats to give to friends and relatives.

Here's the recipe we use:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups hot tap water
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix well with spoon until a ball forms. Then dust hands with flour and press or roll dough to desired thickness. Cut out shapes or create your own using pencils, rulers, cookie cutters, a butter knife, a comb or whatever you like. Anything goes! Use a straw or pencil to create a hole if you plan to hang your creations.

Bake shapes in 200 degree oven for 1-2 hours or until firm. Let dry over night before painting. Use acrylic paint and varnish to finish.

Wordful Wednesday

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My dear friend, faithful guardian and sweet companion: Max.

Holiday decorating and baking

Monday, December 1, 2008

I know I said I'd be getting back in the swing of blogging, then have been silent here for a few days. I am trying to get it together, really. It has been a hectic few weeks and dear old Max has taken a turn for the worse. So, honestly, I haven't felt much like writing lately. I was hoping he'd hang on through the holidays, but I no longer think that will be the case. (In case you are new on the scene, Max is our lovable giant great dane who has been diagnosed with bone cancer.) So, this will be another short post as I feel my energies are best spent on my family at the moment. We are trying to keep in the spirit of the holidays though, and counting our blessings.

I have been searching for and planning some projects for gift making with the kids. We are on a fixed budget, which is small this year and I think it is a great lesson for the kids to create handmade gifts for the family. Here are a few ideas I have come across that I thought would be fun and worth while.
Love these cookie recipes from Good Housekeeping...the basic dough is a great base for making several kinds to share with friends. Incidentally, if you have the Joy of Cooking, their basic recipe for 13 cookies (variations on a basic dough) is one I have used in the past with much success.
I also like these ideas for decorating with pine cones. We have a stash to paint along with acorns and walnuts. We'll be painting them silver, adding a little glitter and filling a lined basket for an easy centerpiece (it's on my list anyway.) Find more simple decorating ideas here (more cookie recipes as can never have too many cookies, I say.)

For Christmas crafts and printables for kids, try Kaboose. And the Countdown to Christmas Advent calendar from is an easy fix for filling a lull in your day. Find lots of fun ideas at your fingertips each day. For more easy fun, check out holidaycrafts4kids where you'll find crafts, word puzzles, hidden pictures, color by numbers and more for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Wishing you all many blessings and happy moments.

Dec 2nd: Adding this info: Tons of home made keepsake and gift ideas here. This should keep you busy all month! Enjoy :D


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