I don't know about your corner of the world but in our corner of Utah it is January and it is BROWN. This is not a normal color for this time of year for us. Normally we are coated with lots of fluffy white stuff at this point in time but alas, this year we are not. Surprisingly Ohio is looking particularly brown this year as well. We've both been blessed with skiffs of snow but nothing that has stuck around or required shoveling (unless you aren't content to wait until noon just to see if it will melt off by itself). Maybe it's all our fault . . . Mason refuses to buy proper footwear for the elements ("Already gone an entire winter without boots, why purchase any now?" is his rationalization). I've prayed that he will stay warm and dry. Mom's have a lot of faith where their children are concerned. Hence, no snow.
Our lack of snow has inspired the latest fun package that we've been working on and I can't wait to hear from him on Monday to hear how his snowball fight went (don't you just love Monday's?).
Snowstorm in a Box
(hand cut and signed by his family, cousins and just about everyone who could and would hold a pair of scissors in their hands...and wanted to humor me - I have great family and friends)
(one for Mason and one for his companion)
Hot Chocolate mix
2 bags Snowflake Crunch
4 pkgs. Snowman Soup mix
(of our snowball fight - too fun! You have to do this)
(for their own snowball fight)
Click here for the "Where's the Snow" pdf for the top of your package
Click here for the "Where's the Snow" pdf for the top of your package
Who doesn't like to cut out snowflakes? There's something quite cathartic about all the folding and cutting. It's always a thrill to finally unfold your creation and discover the hidden beauty that lay within. I set out paper, scissors and pencils along with some printed instructions for creating snowflakes during an afternoon when family was over. It was fun to see the cousins gathered at the table cutting and chatting together.
I actually got this idea from Family Fun magazine while sitting in the doctor's office one day and it all snowballed from there . . . so to speak (see Family Fun Christmas, pom-pom snowball custom card, pg 83). This part of the package was so much fun to prepare! As family was arriving, we had them pretend to throw snowballs at the camera - just have them pose with their arms cocked and hands like they're holding a snowball. There was absolutely NO snow (though it did snow a few days later and I was able to have a few of the kids pose again). I told everyone that they could pose however they wanted so some posed like they were holding giant snowballs and I just purchased pom-poms of the appropriate size to match their outstretched arms. Have the photos developed then simply glue the pom-poms on with a tacky craft glue. I was able to find pom-poms in a variety of sizes for .49 each from the craft store. While there (remember, I was at the craft store?) I found the perfect solution for keeping my 3-D photos under control during mailing. This had been driving me a little crazy. . .
For less than $3 I purchased this cute little box in white that was the perfect size for my 4x6 photos. Add a little patterned paper and a couple of stickers and voila. Brilliant and cute. Problem solved.
The photo below are three adorable kids who have moved in down the block since Mason has been gone. My daughter Maren claims all three of them to be her very best friends in the whole wide world. We've kind of adopted them to be our surrogate grandchildren. Mason has never met them so we wanted to identify them in the photo. When I was on my mission in Hong Kong many moons ago, the members taught me how to sign my name on a photograph.
1. You will need a small amount of water, a soft cloth and a pen (NOT a fine point).
2. Dip your finger into the water and wipe it over the area that you wish to write on. Wait a few seconds for the photo ink to begin to soften - this doesn't take long. Write your message.
3. Using a soft, absorbent cloth, gently wipe or dab off the water from the photo.
My kids gave these out to their friends for Christmas this year so we whipped up a few extra to send to our missionaries. The contents are: 1 hot chocolate mix, 1 candy cane, three Hershey kisses and a handful of marshmallows. Easy and very inexpensive. We put everything in a clear cellophane bag - I love these bags and use them for lots of things. To me, they are a gift giving must have. I used the 3.5x7.5 bag (6.99 for 100) from Orson Gygi's in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tie it all together with a cute ribbon and attach the "recipe." Click here for the "recipe" in pdf form. The recipe reads:
1 hot cocoa mix
3 Hershey kisses
1 handful marshmallows
Combine all ingredients together
and stir with a candy cane.
My newly married daughter, Kiri found this recipe and it was our family "go to" treat during the holiday season. It is insanely delicious! Make sure to follow the recipe exactly and use the brands that are suggested. Let your Snowflake Crunch cool completely, the put in cellophane bags. Fold down the top twice (to seal in the yummy goodness) and staple a cute bag topper over the fold. You can download the bag topper here in pdf form. Don't forget to make at least one batch for you and your family. Better still! Make one batch for you and another for your family. It is that delicious. Enjoy!
1/2 of a 14 oz. box (approx. 6 cups) Rice Chex cereal
you can substitute the brand but it needs to be Rice NOT Corn
1 12 oz bag Nestle White Chocolate chips
except NO substitutions - you will be disappointed in the taste and consistency
2/3 cup crushed candy cane or peppermint swirls, divided
Measure cereal into a large mixing bowl. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate chips stirring every 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Do not overheat. Chocolate will burn easily. Stir 1/3 cup of crushed candy cane into the melted chocolate. Pour over cereal and stir until evenly coated. Spread onto parchment lined or greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy. Allow to cool completely. Break apart. This is where the parchment paper comes in handy. Grab the sides, gathering contents of the tray together and give it a lite squeeze. Keep doing this until the pieces are broken into more manageable bite-size pieces. Grab the sides of your parchment paper again making it into a funnel shape. Pour it into your container or cellophane bag then wipe off the cookie sheet and put it away. I love using parchment paper and it helps to keep my favorite cookie sheets nice and shiny. They tend to get dull when they are put into the dishwasher or over time from all the hot soapy water.
A couple of years ago, my sister Katherine and sister-in-law Lynnae came up with an awesome activity for our family Christmas Bash. We have a giant indoor snowball fight with homemade snowballs. It is truly a blast! They made lots and lots (remember I have a giant extended family) and lots of "snowballs" and after everything from the party is cleaned up, Frosty (who is not dressed up but just one of the nieces or nephews) brings in the bags of snowballs and the snowball fight begins. There is nothing fancy about these snowballs. They are just circles of white fabric - I used old pillowcases. Run a basting stitch around the outside, gather in slightly, stuff, pull the thread tight and knot off. Easy. My daughter, Rebekah whipped up 12 in short order - 6 for each Elder. They are going to have a blast having their own indoor snowball fight. A nice way to work out the frustrations of missionary work with a little FUN!