Saturday, January 7, 2012

Groundhog Day!

I realize that few people truly celebrate Groundhog Day, but I absolutely LOVE it!  Did you know that Groundhog Day was actually Candlemas?  Candlemas is a Christian holiday which celebrates one of the earliest events in the life of Jesus Christ ~ his presentation at the Temple 40 days after his birth.  This was also the time that Mary was "ritual purification".  Jesus was presented to Simeon.  The significance of the presentation to Simeon in particular is that it was prophesied that Simeon would live to lay eyes on the Savior.  

In older times Candlemas was a day to have your candles blessed by the priest.  This is connected to the fact that Jesus is known as The Light of the World.  Candlemas was also a day that was to foretell the weather.  This is a traditional German poem about Candlemas Day:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

The Germans used a hedgehog, but when they came to America, they had to settle for a groundhog.  So, what exactly should one do on Groundhog Day?  Well, first the day should be spent by candlelight!  Kids, especially, will have a ball with this, but who doesn't love to have dinner by candlelight?  Since it is still so dark in the morning, a candlelight breakfast is a must! Now, I have read about many connections between pancakes and Groundhog Day, but I have yet to understand exactly WHY pancakes are traditional on Candlemas/Groundhog Day.  But, since it is a celebration, why not go all out?  I found this post about Groundhog Pancakes that I thought was adorable:

Alison, the author of the AMAZING blog HowDoesShe has some great ideas too!  And how can I talk about Groundhog Day without mentioning Secrets of a Super Mommy's blog!?!  She does an awesome Silly Socks Valentine Day Advent/Countdown that includes lots of Groundhog Day fun!  They dined on the floor and ate a groundhog-shaped meatloaf!  

I decided that I would extend the fun to my students this year and made them Groundhog Grub treat bags filled with gummi worms.  I really like how they came out:

Last year, we planned on attending the Groundhog Day ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo to see what Staten Island Chuck's prediction would be, but we had a bad snowstorm!  So we didn't attend, but we did stay home and have fun anyway!  We cooked chocolate chip pancakes and I picked up a store-bought cake that I decorated with a groundhog statue that I have and buried him in graham crackers to make it look like he was coming out of the ground.  It came out cute!  And our daughter had a lot of fun too :)

I would love to hear about any fun things/traditions or ideas you have for Groundhog Day!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

La Befana

Befana comes tonight!  This holiday really involves very little as far as preparation.  Befana comes and leaves a basket of goodies (and some small toys if you wish).  I made a broom bag with candy that I saw on Pinterest.  I also left a poem/letter from Befana.  Lastly, our daughter is getting three more animals to add to her Little People Zoo Talkers.  Here are some pictures:

 This is the broom bag filled with candy :)

 Close up of the poem...please note this is an original work protected by copyright :)

Have a blessed Feast of Epiphany!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Very few people celebrate what was originally the Christmas season of Christmastide.  This time was traditionally celebrated from December 25th through Epiphany on January 6th.  I always feel so sad when all the Christmas decorations come down and I really prefer using Christmastide to gradually take down the decorations.  As I blogged about earlier, our Christmas tree is transformed into a New Year's tree.  I decorate with clock faces and these adorable little ornies I purchased from Etsy last year:

I also purchased some silver glitter butterflies and snowflakes as well as purple icicles that were on clearance this year.  The tree topper was a party hat.  I thought it came out really nice this year!  

I have been using the Twelve Days of Christmas muffin tin that I made to teach our daughter twelve different names for Jesus.  I am always amazed by how much she absorbs.  I realize that she cannot fully grasp the magnitude of these names and their meanings, but I am laying the foundation for future teaching.  On the eve of Epiphany (January 5th) Befana will come as part of our Christmastide celebrations and in honor of our daughter's Italian heritage.  I have been reading the book Old Befana by Tomie dePaolo to her at night before bed and she loves to tell us all about Befana sweeping and flying and carrying her basket.  Befana will bring Bella a few small toys and some treats (oranges mainly.)  Epiphany is also the day we celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings/Magi to bearing gifts to honor Jesus.  I'd love to do a Kings' Cake this year, but it may have to be a Pillsbury version ;)

On Sunday we are going to a storytelling event that we attended last year as well.  It was a fantastic free <3 event hosted at Staten Island's Snug Harbor Cultural Center.  Last year was fun although our daughter was afraid to go anywhere near Befana (as I suspect she will be afraid this year as well.)  I hope it is the same woman though because she did a fabulous job!
Oh, before I forget...the one thing that I did not get to post a picture of for Noon Year's/New Year's was the Oreo cookie clock platter that I made.  Our daughter loved it!

Happy New Year!  I wish everyone a GREAT 2012 filled with fabulous memories!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve Mantel

The Christmas decorations are down and the mantel is now all set for New Year's Eve!  I created four bags: one for each hour from 9 to 12 (of course this is 12 NOON since we do NOON Year's Eve for our toddler).  The first bag is filled with fun things to wear: silly glasses, beads, hats, etc.  The second bag has noise makers such as horns and clappers.  The third bag has games: Pin the Nose on Frosty, the Year-in-Review BINGO I spoke about HERE, the Scavenger Hunt I blogged about HERE and New Year's Eve trivia for the adults :)  I also found these awesome printable mustaches and props for a DIY Photo Booth that I am DEFINITELY going to use!  How adorable are these!?!
The fourth and final bag has confetti poppers, sparklers, and silly string.  We are going to toast with our champagne glasses filled with milk!  And of course we are going to eat milk's favorite cookie: OREOs!  
Here are some pictures of the mantel and the bags:
 REALLY in love with the stocking holders that spell out WISH!  Found them at Target 50% off :)
 The "i" is a candle which is perfect next to our New Year's Eve Bayberry candle.

The last thing I want to share is a bag topper that I created as a gag or a fun party favor.  The front has Baby New Year and is labeled BABY NEW YEAR POOP and says "Out with the old..."  The back has the year 2012 and says "Hoping too much shit doesn't happen to you in 2012!"  I tried to upload it on Google docs to share, but it changed the format on me :(  I will figure out how to share documents in the near future :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More New Year's Fun!

I have been crafting (and shopping!) all day long and I am really excited about what I have come up with to add to our NOON Year's celebration.  First, I made this awesome centerpiece.  Our daughter LOVES M&M, I had to find a way to incorporate them into the fun!  I found a HUGE champagne glass at Michael's and I had a 40% off coupon so I got it for $8.  The M&Ms were on sale at Target and the party horns were a rip-off at Party City :)  Here is the M&M Masterpiece"
There are also a few Dark Chocolate Hershey Kisses in there for Mommy ~ LOL!  The other thing I made was a New Year's Eve Wish Box.  This was quite simple...all you need is a box of your choice and you can put the words "Wish Box" on the outside in whatever manner you choose.  I found a purple glitter box on sale at Target and used silver glitter sticker letters and some embellishments I had.  Here is the New Year's Eve Wish Box:
This is our personal version of the New Year's Eve Wishing Wall in Times Square.  There is also a Virtual Wishing Wall!  My hubby and I are just going to fill in the blanks to answer the questions on these great cards I found here.  
Next, I made a simple NYE Scavenger Hunt.  Our daughter is only 2 and a half, so I wanted the items to be things she could easily find herself or with our help.
I can hardly contain my excitement over this next item!  I spent some serious time Googling a way to do this and finally found a teaching website that you can use to upload PHOTOS and create a BINGO card!  I uploaded favorite photos from 2011 and created a BINGO game for NYE:
Now, I suppose I am missing all the "magic" of Christmas already: Magic Mints, Magic Reindeer Food, the Magic Pillowcase...because I went ahead and made some Magic New Year Wishing Bubbles!  This is really simple ~ you just use a bottle of bubble that you already have and cover the label with any paper you would like and make a cute label that says "Magic New Year Wishing Bubbles."  I also have a beautiful pewter bubble wand that I purchased from Chasing Fireflies that goes perfectly with the Magic Bubbles :)
I also wrote a little poem to go with it.  Naturally, this is protected by Copyright, so please do not copy my work for any reason.  You may pin it or link to it :)

It’s New Year’s Eve
And the year is through,
It’s time to make new wishes
And your hopes and dreams anew!

Then close your eyes and make a wish
When blowing your magic bubbles
Focus on your hopes and dreams
And they will carry away your troubles.

Be sure to check back because I have some more to share before the New Year!  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year's Eve Traditions

I can hardly believe that Christmas Day has come and gone!  We had a fabulous Christmas this year.  On Christmas Day we brought cookies to the fire department and they were so gracious and sweet.  They invited our daughter to sit on the fire truck but she was too afraid.  Maybe next year :)  

We removed the Christmas ornaments today and converted it into a New Year's tree.  This is something that I started last year.  I purchased these adorable ornies on Etsy last year.  They are in storage at my MIL's house right now, but I am going to pick them up tomorrow.  
I can't wait to put them on the tree!  I do have pictures of the way it looks right now though: all silver and purple thanks to some incredible deals at Walmart today!
New Year's Hat as a topper:)
What better symbol of a new year than a butterfly!?!

I am feeling pretty crafty after creating this New Year's wreath today:
It was really simple: I purchased a clearance wreath at The Christmas Tree Shop and used a frisbee to cut out a large circle on silver glitter scrapbook paper and the clockface came from here.

The other New Year's tradition we do is the Bayberry Candle.  Here is a little background about the Bayberry candle I found on the internet (click for source):
Burning bayberry candles is a tradition dating back to colonial times. Early colonists came upon the bayberry shrub growing in the sand belt of the Atlantic coast, as well as the shores of Lake Erie. The berry-type fruit is crusted with a greenish-white wax, settlers found that boiling the fruit created a wax residue on the surface of the water. The wax had a fragrant aroma and burned magnificently. Many berries had to be boiled to get enough wax to make a candle, these candles burned longer, cleaner, and brighter than did the traditional candles of the time. Therefore, bayberry candles were saved and burned on special occasions only! One such special occasion was the celebration of the New Year.
If you have a New Year's tradition I would love to hear about it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Christmas Traditions

Around here the "Christmas Season" begins the day after Thanksgiving with the arrival of our Elf on the Shelf.  Her name is Elfie and she joined our family for our daughter's very first Christmas.  I immediately turned her into a feminine elf with a skirt, earrings, and a decked out hat.  Naturally, she didn't really have a clue what this elf was, but now she is becoming aware of our little elf friend and looks for her in the morning.  
The Sunday immediately after Thanksgiving begins Advent.  This year we did our family devotions each Sunday and lit a candle each week. We have also been doing Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands.  Our daughter has a lot of fun crafting these projects and, more importantly, she is learning the Christmas story!
Advent is a challenge for me because I have a TON of things I want to do and only four weeks to do them.  I keep reminding myself that we do not have to do EVERYTHING every year…we can do something new and fun each year as long as we keep the focus on CHRIST!  Another incredible and stunning book we added to our book collection in The Advent Book.  It is a bit expensive, but it is a true keepsake that is sure to become a family heirloom passes on for generations.  I highly recommend it!
Early on in the season, we participate in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse by preparing a shoe box of toys for a child.  This is one of my favorite things to do because it is so simple and yet, the impact is huge!  It truly reflects the spirit of Saint Nicholas and the REAL impetus for our present-day Santa.  

Speaking of Saint Nicholas, our family celebrates Saint Nicholas Day on December 6th.  On the eve on St. Nicholas Day, we leave out our shoes and carrots for St. Nick's horse.  Treats are left and a present that our daughter will be spiritually blessed by (typically a Christian book or toy).  This year St. Nick left her the Little People Manger.  

Last night we went on our Polar Express ride to look at the beautiful light displays in our area.  I adore these printable Polar Express tickets.  There is one particular light display in Staten Island that is very special.  The homeowner lost his wife on 9/11 and after a dark period he decided to create a spectacular light display and raise money for cancer patients. 
On Christmas Eve we attend our church's candlight service and it is always so beautiful to see!  Our pastor always has the children come to the front and he reads a special Christmas picture book.  It is pure joy to watch the children dressed in their finest clothes with that twinkle in their eyes in anticipation of the fun in store for them!  I am certain God smiles at this sight as well.

     When we get home we'll leave milk and cookies on our special plate just for Santa and Bella will rest her head on her Magic Chistmas Pillow.  We'll sprinkle Magic Reindeer Food outside too!
    When Santa arrives he will be caught in the act thanks to  Here is an early peak at Santa at our house:
      On Christmas morning we'll put baby Jesus in the manger and enjoy Jesus' birthday breakfast.  Although Elfie will have flown away with Santa the night before, we will welcome our Christmas Angel!  We also do the tradition of the Christmas Pickle!  This is a German tradition and the person who finds the pickle gets a special treat!

I hope you got some good ideas and I would love to hear about YOUR Christmas traditions!