Archives for November 2013

Hunt Club Farm Christmas Displays

 

 

Hunt Club Christmas Displays

The holiday season officially starts for my family Thanksgiving Day.  The tree goes up and we’re planning holiday activities.  My daughter lives in Virginia Beach, VA.  A mile down the road is Hunt Club Farm.  They sit on 23 acres and cater to children all year.  Each year we take the grandchildren to see the Christmas displays.  Their displays are amazing.  They are full of automated elves, soldiers, reindeer and everything else you can image.  It’s a child’s delight.  Here are some of the displays from last season: 

 

Virginia Beach Hunt Club farm

 

It’s a great place for photo opportunities as you can see.  My granddaughter is not into picture taking for some reason.  She doesn’t like to cooperate for the camera, so I’m hoping I can get a few good shots.  This is my grandson last year in front of their Christmas tree.  Amazing how much he has grown in a year.  Precious I might add. 

 

If the weather is nice we move on to the Petting Zoo.  This is Mr. Llama.  He was on display last year.  The great thing about the Petting Zoo is you never know what animals you will come across.  The have great displays there too.  Last year they had an adorable little building that housed Santa.  Xavier was a little shy, but he gave Santa his wish list.  

 

We end our trip at the fire pit roasting hot dogs and making S’mores.  They have a stand that sells the hot dogs and buns and everything needed for the S’mores.  The roasters come with the package.  You can pick up hot chocolate or apple cider to wash it down.  If you live in the Hampton Roads area, plan a trip.  It’s a great way to start the holiday season and makes great memories for the kids.  

 

 

Calendar Gift Ideas


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2014 Calendar

I just made a calendar for one of my daughter’s Christmas gifts at Shutterfly.  I had so much fun going through pictures and finding ones that fit perfectly into each month of Xavier and Zarriah.  Although it’s not clear, this is the cover of the calendar.  The picture was taken at Zarriah’s Christening.  About 20 family members from my daughter and son-in-law’s side of the family attended.  The picture is a beautiful memory. 

This calendar will make a beautiful keepsake.  I’m thinking of making another for my office.  For January I selected a picture of Xavier playing in his first snow.  It was a great moment, January 2009.  My daughter and her family were visiting for a week-end and it snowed.  Xavier had just turned 1 the previous September.  I had a great time watching him play and trying to figure out what that white stuff was.   

                                                                 

                                                                       

How could I leave out Zarriah’s first birthday party, August 2012, and her looking at the clown.  OMG, it was hilarious.  The pictures brought back so many memories.  I’m hoping the calendar will do the same with daughter and son-in-law. 

I’ve been thinking of this calendar for years as a gift, but never made the effort to complete the calendar.  Finally in 2013 I do just that.  The Shutterfly site is easy to navigate.  To cut down on time, I would suggest that you go through your pictures and make a note of which ones you would like to use for what month.  If you’re like me, you have thousands of photos to choose from, so it can become time consuming. 

Shutterfly is currently offering free shipping.  Use Promotion Code SHIP30.  Also, new customers get 50 prints free.  The free shipping offer ends 12/23/13.  This is a great idea for your mom, a friend or yourself.  The calendar comes in 2 sizes:  8 x 11 and 12 x 12.  I choose the 8 x 11 for $21.99.  The 12 x 12 is $29.99.  They have numerous designs and layouts to choose from.  Check it out. 


                                                                    

Holiday Gift Ideas for Gardeners

gardener gift ideas, holiday gifts, gardener gift ideas

 

I’m into gift baskets this season.  I’ve found that my most memorable gifts have been homemade items and gift baskets that I’ve put together for my family and friends I’m an advent gardener and bird watcher.  If you have one on your list, a gift basket would be perfect for them too.  We have put together a list of holiday gift ideas for gardeners. Check  it out:
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Cabbage and Sausage Recipe


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cabbage recipes

I love cabbage.  If you’re a fan, here’s a recipe that you must try.  Did you know that cabbage is great for your health?  It’s actually considered to be one of the best health foods.

Besides being delicious, here a few reasons to try this recipe:  

  • Cabbage contains the least fat and the fewest calories of any vegetable
  • It helps lower cholesterol
  • It’s loaded with Vitamin C
  • It’s a great natural source of fiber
  • It’s a great source of antioxidants  
  • It’s expensive to eat 

 Now that we have the health benefits down.  Here’s the recipe: 

  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 small head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 pound polish sausage, sliced into round pieces (I use smoked sausage)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes  (Pull out a quart of your canned home grown tomatoes and chop) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 of chopped green pepper
  • few drops of hot sauce (optional)
  • chopped garlic clove (optional)
Melt butter in large skillet.  Add cabbage, onion, and green pepper and cook on medium high for about 5 minutes stirring to keep from sticking to pan.  Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes.  Season to taste. 
Note:  I brown my sausage in the oven and have it ready to add to the simmering ingredients.  I found the recipe rather bland, so I added garlic.  Serve with diner rolls and apple sauce.   Makes about 8 servings.

Toddler Girls Garanimal Sets


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Garanimals Baby Girls' 2 Piece Graphic...
We found these adorable 2 piece Garanimal sets at Wal-Mart on-line.  I’ve been a big fan of Garanimals since Xavier was a baby.  I purchased these for Zarriah to knock around in on the week-ends or lazy days.  They’re great for everyday play wear and adorable enough to head to the mall or grocery store when you have to run errands. 

I have found that Garanimals hold up well on the playground, lounging around the house and through the wash.  This I’m so Sweet set include a fleece top and pants, so Zarriah will be nice and toasty this winter while playing with her Disney Princesses. 


Garanimals Baby Girls' 2 Piece Graphic...

I fell in love with the Double the Fun set too.  This set is made of fleece as well.  Both will look adorable with a pair of sneakers or flats if your heading to the mall or grocery store.  I purchased both sets for $7.76 each.  I ordered additional items, so I was able to get free shipping to my house.  I love a bargain, especially when I don’t have to pay a fortune for cloths that my little sweeties will grow out of in months. 

Planting Fall Bulbs for Spring Color

                                                                                                                                                   

                                            
                                        
                               

I decided to expand my perennial garden next year and found these gorgeous flowers at Michigan Bulb.  I started the perennial garden below this year and want to add to it in the spring.  I fall in love with these pink bouquet tulips.  I’m going to add them along with Alpine Rosy Bells around the rocks in the garden.    


I currently have Knock Out Roses and Yarrow planted.  I will be adding more rocks to give it a more naturalized look.  I had a difficult time keeping the weeds down, so landscape fabric is must in the spring. 


I live these pink parfait lilies.  I’m going to plant these behind the birdbath and feeder shown in the picture.  I hope to mix in some wild flowers and add a bird house.  The great thing about bulbs, you plant them once and the plants come back each year.  Planting bulbs is a great way to add color next spring and summer and an inexpensive way to expand your garden.  The stock at Michigan Bulb has gotten low, but check out Lowes or Home Depot.  They usually have a good selection of bulbs for fall planting too.  Winter is around the corner, hurry before you miss your bargain.   

                                                                       

Great Find – Melissa and Doug Deluxe Standing Easel


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Melissa and Doug easel

Christmas is around the corner and Mother 2 Mother is in search of great finds.  I purchased Melissa and Doug’s Deluxe Standing Easel for my little Picasso Xavier for $57.00.  As a Prime member, shipping was free.  Xavier loves to paint, so this will be a perfect gift for him.  The easel is listed as one of Amazon’s 2013 best gifts for kids.  I agree. 


The easel includes extra-large chalkboard, dry-erase board, and easy-load paper roller.  You will need to buy the accessories kit for an additional $27.00.  The kit includes: 

  • 4 Bottles of Poster Paint and 4 Spill-Proof Paint Cups
  • Easel paper roll, chalk, paint brushes, dry-erase marker and eraser

  • The easel alone usually runs around $80.00, so this is a Great Find.  If your child enjoys drawing and writing, I encourage you to check out this deal and have Santa deliver this great gift Christmas Eve.  Your child can look forward to hours of entertainment on those cold, snowy, winter days.  This item is appropriate for ages 3 and up. 

    Cheese Ball Recipes


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    Holiday cheese ball recipes from Michelle Buffardi

    Cheese balls are back and just in time for the holidays.  I watched Access Hollywood, my first time, and they were making these adorable cheese balls which I love.  I’m a big cheese and cracker fan, especially during the holidays, so these are going on my menu this season. 

    Here’s the recipes that were used on Access Hollywood:

    Herbed Turkey
    • 8 oz. cream cheese
    • 6 oz. goat cheese
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. herbs de Provence
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1 tsp. mustard
    • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

    Note:  I will be substituting my Chipped Beef and Green Onion cheese ball recipe instead of the herbed.  Not a big fan of goat cheese, but I love the turkey idea. 

    For decorating:

    •  dark raisin for eyes
    • 1 whole almond for nose
    • 1 small piece red pepper
    • Thin pretzel sticks for feathers
    • Dried papaya for feet (I will be using an orange pepper)
    • Chopped almonds to roll cheese ball in.  (I’m going to substitute chopped walnuts)
    Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together the cream cheese, the goat cheese, the herbs de Provence, garlic, mustard and salt. Form the mixture into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
    Making the Turkey Cheese Ball: 
    Before serving, pinch a walnut-sized portion of cheese mixture from the ball; you will use that for the head. Re-form the remaining cheese ball and roll the ball in the almonds. Roll the remaining portion of cheese into a small ball and set it on top of larger ball – this is the turkey’s head. Cut the raisin in half and place each half on the head for the eyes. Place the almond in the middle for the beak, and arrange small piece of red pepper under the beak for the turkey’s wattle stick dried papaya slice into the bottom of the cheese ball for the feet. Last, arrange pretzel sticks on the back of the cheese ball to look like tail feathers

    Chilly Penguin

    • 16 oz. cream cheese
    • 4 oz. blue cheese
    • 2 tsp. chopped shallots
    • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
    • Dash hot sauce
    • 1/2 cup poppy seeds, for coating
    For decorating:
    • 2 dark raisins
    • 1 almond
    • 1 carrot
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • 1 scallion
    Using a stand mixer or a bowl and spatula, mix together the cream cheese, the blue cheese, shallots, salt and hot sauce. Form the mixture into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
    Before serving , remove a 2-inch piece of the cheese mixture, roll into a ball, and set aside, this will be the head. Re-form the remaining cheese mixture into an egg shape. Cut out a triangle shape roughly the length of your cheese ball from a sheet of wax paper. Press the wax paper into the cheese ball , with the widest part on the widest part of cheese ball. Roll the cheese ball in the poppy seeds and set the ball on a plate.
    Slowly remove the wax paper; the ball should be covered in poppy seed, except for the penguin’s breast. Set the head on top of the penguin’s body and add the raisins for the eyes and almond for the beak. Slice off 2 equal sized rounds of the carrot and arrange them on either side as earmuffs. Connect the earmuffs with the green part of the scallion. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 1 long strip off the carrot; winds this around the penguin’s neck as a scarf. Slice the remaining carrot into toes and arrange at the bottom of the penguin’s body to make its feet, or use two red bell pepper slices.

                                                                   

    Holiday Decorating Ideas

     

     

     

    holiday decorating


    Entertaining this holiday season?  Looking for holiday decorating ideas?  Mother 2 Mother found these center pieces and wanted to share the ideas.  If you’re like me, you have tons of extra Christmas ornaments in storage that you don’t use.  These center piece ideas will make a great conversation piece if you set them in the center of the dinner or buffet table.  How about the center of your coffee table.  You can use wooden or glass bowls or wood crates.  Be as creative as you like. 

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    Free Letters To Santa


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    letters to Santa

    Stop, don’t pay for that letter to Santa.  Christmas is around the corner, and every child dreams of writing a letter to Santa with his wish list.  This year I will be helping Xavier write a letter to Santa and I’ve found the perfect site, The Christmas RegistryIt’s free.  I’ve seen sites that charge as much as $9.95 for a child to write a letter to Santa.  Personally, I think it should be free too.  I know that everyone is looking to make a profit, but off the dreams of little children. 

    This site doesn’t have a profit in mind, only the happiness and excitement of the holiday season and helping to make a child’s dream come true.  It’s full of activities for children which includes games, crafts, and recipes from Mrs. Clause.  One of my favorites during the holidays is Candied Almonds.   They have the recipe on the site.  I’ve made this recipe with pecans when I didn’t have almonds on hand.  Are you interested in making a gingerbread house?  Here’s a link to making a, Gingerbread House, the site has step by step instructions.

    I played several of the games while I was visiting.  Xavier who is 6, will enjoy the Crazy Santa Racer game.  I rather enjoyed it myself after I figured out how to play it.  I’m looking forward to playing it with my grandson.  Another game that I enjoyed was the Match Game.  Children will have to remember where they’ve seen various pictures to make a match.  

    A few additional things about the site and the letter to and from Santa.  You will be responsible for composing the letter and the reply from Santa.  The site does give suggestions to help you compose the letter; however, the return reply will be sent via email rather than through the post office from the North Pole.  Possible drawback, but remember the site is free.  You can look at things from another perspective, Santa is now technically savvy.  Sending an email cuts down on the number of trips that his elves have to make to the post office to mail letters and emails are much faster.  After all we do live in a technological world.   Don’t want to write a letter, it has a message option.  Santa can also reply with a message.  Oh, the letter to Santa is delivered directly by one of Santa’s elves, so you won’t have to make a trip to the post office or worry about it getting lost in the mail.   I like the idea of having direct access to Santa via elf.    

    There’s a Wish List section.  You can help your child enter their wish list to Santa.  There’s also a Naughty/Nice Meter that you can play with.  It ranges from 1(Naughty) to 10(Nice).  This meter can keep your little ones on their toes during the holiday season.  You can adjust it accordingly. 

    Lets talk about setting up the accounts because it can be confusing.  You must register as the adult since you will be controlling your child’s activities on the site, but you must also create an account for your child.  When I was logged in as the adult, I was unable to access the games, recipes, or crafts.  It seems that only the child can access these activities.  Since they can’t cook alone or prepare crafts without assistance, this was somewhat confusing to me.  No worries though, the Activities Area is appropriate for children of all ages.  

    All in all, I think the site is great for composing a free letter to Santa and allowing the kids to play games.   I also like the Naughty/Nice meter.  Take a few minutes to check it out. 


    Note:  This review is my opinion, I was not compensated in any manner for this review.