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. 

                                                                                      

The Benefits Of Reading To Your Child


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To prepare your child for academic success, expose them to books early. Studies have shown that reading is one of the keys to academic success. Xavier and Zarriah love for me to read to them.  I’ve started a library for both.  I’m all for downloading books and apps, but I love seeing shelves full of books in the children’s rooms too.  It’s amazing how far we have come with technology. 

I read to my daughter when she was a child.  Her love for reading stayed with her.  As a child, she loved Strawberry Shortcake, The Berenstain Bears, and any classic bedtime story. As she got older she continued to read for hours. One of my fondest memories was our book fair excursions. We would plan a day where I would meet her at college and we would spend hours at the local book fair. Later we would discuss our finds as well as the latest happenings on campus over dinner. I do believe that our mutual love for books helped to create a strong mother – daughter bond.

My daughter was an honor student, a member of Who’s Who in America, and a member of the Spanish Honor Society. I believe that her early exposure to books helped her to excel in her academics.  Start reading to your child at an early age.  It’ never too soon.

reading to your child



I’m hoping that our love for reading will be instilled into Xavier and Zarriah.  I know that habit must be taught, and it starts at home.  It’s a great way for toddlers to learn word associations.  I ask Zarriah, who is 2, to point to cars, ice cream or whatever happens to be on the page.  She loves both hardback and books on the computer.  Xavier, who is 6, still loves for Mawmaw to read to him.  He’s now reading to me as well  now.  Here, he’s reading his iPad.  We also download books to his Kindle.   

early childhood development

We’ve taught Xavier how to access various sites on the computer.  He’s astute at navigating the notebook, laptop, Kindle and iPad.  Zarriah mimics everything her big brother does.  He has taught her the ABC’s, she can count to 10, and she knows various colors.  Our preemie has come a long way.  She just turned 2.  

Other Benefits of Reading to Your Child:

  • Reading together creates a bond.
  • Reading helps to build a child’s vocabulary.
  • Your child will learn to follow a story from beginning to end. (You won’t be able to fool them if you try to skip pages. If it’s one of their favorite stories, they will know it by heart).
  • Your child will have an appreciation for writing.
  • Builds a strong foundation for academics.

Reading Tips:

  • Start reading to your child as early as 6 months.
  • Select reading material that interest your child and is appropriate to his/her age group. Toddlers love bright colors and books that are simple.  Board books are perfect.
  • Use different voices and pitches (vary your tone) when you read. Young children usually prefer to hear the same story over and over.
  • Purchase a personalized book for your child. They love reading about themselves.  I had a personalized book made for both Zarriah and Xavier.
  • PBS has great programs where they focus on words, spelling, and their meaning. Check out you TV Guide for time slots and programs.
  • Have your child turn the page when you’re reading paper or hard back book. This gets them involved.
  • Allow your child to ask questions, and be sure to ask your child questions about the story.
  • Allow your child to select books from his or her age group.  This will work with buying in a store or downloading. 
  • Take them to the local library for story hour.
  • Set an example. If your child sees you reading, they will follow.  I read my Kindle while my Xavier is reading his Kindle or iPad.   
  • Don’t substitute books on tape. The true bonding experience and benefits come from you taking the time to read to your child.


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Girls Holiday Hair Styles

With holidays on the horizon, you and your brood have plenty
of parties to attend, and you know what that means—picture time! This holiday
season, it’s easy to keep your little angel looking cute, coifed and
camera-ready with simple yet stylish hair looks from Cozy
Friedman, author of Cozy’s Complete Guide to Girls’
Hair
.

The French Braid Headband

Besides being a great fuss free style, this braided band
makes its own accessory. Girls can wear it with their hair hanging down in back,
or with a ponytail. Complete this look for the holidays with fun beads or
barrettes.

 

The French Braid Headband

 

Props:

Wide-tooth comb
 
Fine-tooth comb

Ponytail holders

Jaw clip

Decorative bobby pins

 

Step 1: Start with damp hair (either towel –dried or
misted) and use a wide-tooth comb to detangle the hair.

Step 2: Use a fine-tooth comb to draw a horizontal
line across the crown from the top of one ear to the top of the other ear. From
the line, comb the hair forward to the face. Pull the hair in back of the line
into a ponytail holder or jaw clip so it stays out of your way.

Step 3: Choose which ear you want the braid to start
from. Tilt the head so the ear you’ve chosen is facing up toward the ceiling.
With your child’s ear tilted up, being making the braided headband using the
hair in front of the part.

Step 4: Once you’ve reached the other ear, secure the
braid with a ponytail holder. If you like, tuck it behind the ear and pin it in
place with a few bobby pins. Remove the ponytail holder or jaw clip use in Step
2 and style as you like. Finish by adding sparkly or decorative hairpins through
different parts of the braid.

 
The Heart Braid

This is a
must-have look for the holidays. To really make this look extra special add a
clip to the end of the heart that coordinates your child’s holiday outfit. You
can also use a colorful ponytail holder at the end or add decorative beads in
the braid.

 

The Heart Braid Compressed

Props:

Wide-tooth comb

Fine-tooth comb

Decorative hair clip

Ponytail
holders

 
Step
1: Starting with damp hair (either
towel-dried or misted), use a wide-tooth comb to detangle the hair.  Then, using
a fine-tooth comb, part the hair down the middle of the head.  Clip one side up
right above the ear.

Step
2: On the other side of the part, use the
fine comb to gather a thin section of hair from the crown.  This section should
measure about 2 inches from the hairline to the top of the
head.

Step
3: Divide this section into three, and
begin a French braid starting at the crown and curving toward the temple, then
toward the back of the head, like the top lobe of a heart.  You will be lifting
hair into the braid only from this side of the part.  Leave no loose hair in
front of the ears.

Step
4: When you reach the center part at the
back of the head, secure the braid with a ponytail holder.  If the hair is very
long, end the braid about midear; the ends will hang down the
back.

Step
5: Unclip the hair on the other side of
the part and repeat the process.  Secure with a ponytail
holder.

Step
6: Join the ends of the braids together in
the back with a decorative bow or ponytail holder to form the bottom point of
the heart.
Cozy Friedman is the creator of the So Cozy product line and
founder of Cozy’s Cuts for Kids. She is an expert authority on cool,
childhood style
and recognizes – and celebrates – that children today are
more style-conscious than ever. Decades ago, getting a child to take a bath was
a challenge but now, thanks to places like Cozy’s Cuts for Kids and
product lines such as So Cozy, children are embracing grooming from a
very young age
. Cozy has coined this trend the “metro mini”
phenomenon
and believes that encouraging it in a healthy way allows
children to be expressive and self-confident
.

 




Watch Santa’s Reindeer

Christmas activities, Santa's reindeer, reindeer

 

Want to watch Santa’s reindeer? You can tune into the live feed at  http://reindeercam.com/  It’s the perfect activity to get your children excited about Christmas.  Let them watch while you’re decorating the tree?  Each evening at 5:00 pm EST the reindeer are fed.  The children can watch the reindeer resting and gathering their strength for the big trip on December 25.

Also, you can also add your child’s name to the Nice List for a fee on the site or you can write Santa a letter per the instructions on the site.  Once the letter is received, your child’s name will be added to the Nice List.

Do you know the history of Santa’s reindeer, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, DonnerBlitzen. The 1823 poem by Clement C. MooreA Visit from St. Nicholas” (also known as “The Night Before Christmas” or “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) is credited for the eight flying reindeer and their names per Wikipedia. This portion of the poem introduces the reindeer:

“When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
with a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!
“On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Dunder and Blixem!

“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

So, we know the history of Santa’s reindeer now.  Reading The Night Before Christmas has become a favorite during the holiday season in my home.  Finally, be sure to print our Nice Letter and Certificate from Santa.  While you’re waiting for Santa and his reindeer to arrive, make a batch of your favorite holiday cookies.  What are some of your holiday traditions?

Birdseed Peanut Butter Pine Cones

feeding backyard birds

 

Our feathered friends need our help finding food during the cold months.  Insects are scarce and most berries are gone.  One way that I feed the birds is to make birdseed peanut butter pine cones.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds before you leave.

 

peanut butter pine cones for birds

 

This is an activity that is fun to make with your children or grandchildren.  You will need the following ingredients:

  • Medium – large pine cone(s) with a strong top  (Take a walk with your children and let them pick the pine cones)
  • Peanut Butter (Store Brand or whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 birdseed
  • string/twine
  • newspaper
  • Paper Plate or cutting board
  • Freezer bags

Step 1 – Spread newspaper to work on if children are assisting.

how to attract backyard birds

Step 2 – Wrap a piece of string or twine around the top of the pine cone.  You will be using the string to tie around a tree branch, so make sure the ends are long enough to tie around the branch.

 

feeding wild birds

 

Step 3 – Use a plastic knife to spread the peanut butter over the pine cone.  Normally, I use store brand peanut butter because it’s cheaper.  Unfortunately, I was out of the store brand. So I used my Jiff for this demonstration.   Spoon the peanut butter onto a paper plate.  Take this step to avoid dipping the knife that is being used on the pine cone back into the peanut butter.

Step 4 – Spread the peanut butter over the pine cone.   (Do not put peanut butter at the top of the pine cone near the string).   You don’t want the birds peaking at the string. 

 

 

wild bird feeder

 

Step 5 – Cover the peanut butter with the bird and/or sunflower seeds by spreading the seed on paper plate.  Spread it evenly on the paper plate and roll the pine cone until covered.  You can also use a plastic spoon to help fill in the gaps by spooning the seed over the pine cone.  Use your fingers to push the seeds into the peanut butter if needed.  (This can get messy with children, beware).

Step 5 – Next, place the pine cone(s) in a freezer bag for 1 hour before hanging outside.  If you’ve made more than 1 pine cone, leave the additional pine cones in the freezer until ready to use.

Step 6 – Last, hang the birdseed peanut butter pine cones in a place where you can watch the birds enjoy the treat.

Finally, keep plenty of birdseed peanut butter pinecones on hand.  They will devour the treat in a few days.

 

 

Holiday Gift Ideas for Bird Lovers

 

gift ideas for bird lovers

First, this post contains affiliate links.  If a purchase is made, I may be compensated.  All funds will be used to maintain Mother 2 Mother Blog.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds.

Second, the holidays are around the corner.  Have you started your holiday shopping?  If you have a bird watcher on your list, check out our gifts for bird lovers.  Next, gift baskets don’t have to be full of toiletries, candles, and food.  Here’s a few ideas that you can place in a gift basket for a bird lover:

 

 

gift ideas for bird lovers

 

 

  • Binoculars – Consequently, every bird watcher needs a pair of binoculars.  I purchased a pair of Bushnell Falcon’s binoculars from Amazon. I had a wonder time watching the American Gold Finch eat my sunflower seeds in the garden. They devoured every seed.  These binoculars are great for beginners.  Yet, they are getting good reviews from advanced watchers too.
  • A subscription to Birds and Blooms magazine – This is one of my favorite magazines. Each magazine contains articles filled with beautiful photos of birds, butterflies and flowers.  What bird lover wouldn’t want to curl under a cozy blanket this winter browsing the magazine for gardening and bird attracting ideas for the spring and summer.  Click on the link above, they’re offering a 2 year subscription for $15.00.
  • Birdhouses –  For this particular gift, I would suggest that you do a search to determine the backyard birds in the gift recipient’s area.  Make a selection based on your finding, different birds like different types of houses.  No need to purchase a bird house for a bird that doesn’t habitat in the recipient’s backyard.
  • Bird Feeders  – Another idea, check out your local Lowes, Tractor Supply or Home Depot for feeders.  Also, different birds like different feeders.  Buy according to the birds in the gift recipient’s area.
  • Gift Certificate – Great for purchasing seed, suet, a bird book or magazine subscription.
  • CD with bird calls – Bird calls are fun to listen to when gardening or working in the yard.  Great gift for beginners who are just learning the calls.
  • Book to identify backyard birds – Mine sure has come in handy.  I enjoy studying their habits and becoming familiar with the color and markings.  I bird watch from my bedroom window during the colder months while I’m watching TV or blogging.  It’s nice to flip through a book or Google to identify the birds.
  • Packs of sunflowers – Birds love them, they’re easy to grow, and they’re so pretty in a garden.
  • Coffee Mug  – Fill a coffee mug with the recipient’s state bird with a package of coffee or tea bags.
  • A Hummingbird Feeder and Nectar – Also, I would suggest a feeder with an ant guard they love the nectar too.  It may be difficult to find  a feeder this time of year in colder regions.  Try on-line if unsuccessful locally.

Last, place your gifts for the bird lover in a gift basket.  Furthermore, purchase a basket, filler, ribbon and holiday cellophane bags from the dollar store.  This material doesn’t have to be expensive, spend your money on the gifts.  Remember, put the larger items in the back and work forward with smaller items.  If you need to hold items in place, use clear packaging tape.  Finish off your gift with a twist tie to close the bag and a bow.  Now, you’re done and your bird lover will thank you for this great gift.

Finally, we hope you enjoyed our gift ideas for bird lovers.  You may also like:  5 Amazing Gifts From Your Garden.

 

Cookie’s Kids PJs – Great Finds


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Beverly Hills Polo Club “Rider Print” Fleece Pajama Pants (Sizes 4 – 7) - CookiesKids.com
Beverly Hills Polo Club “Star Print” Fleece Pajama Pants (Sizes 4 – 7) - CookiesKids.com

I found these Great Finds, Polo Club pajamas, for my grandson at Cookies Kids for a bargain, $5.99.   He’s getting older now, and moving away from the Car, Sponge Bob etc. characters, so   I was looking for PJs that were warm, stylish and he could throw on with a tee shirt.  I found these fleece PJs bottoms at Cookie’s KidsMy grandchildren do not like to sleep under covers long, so their PJs must keep them warm, but not overheat them. 

These were perfect for Xavier, especially on the week-ends when he plays video games and just relaxes with the family. 

I purchased this pack of Hanes tee shirts along with the pajama bottoms.  I like the colors, he can wear them with the pj bottoms as well as a pair of sweat pants.    

I couldn’t leave my granddaughter out.  She loves the Disney princesses and Dora so these pajamas were perfect for her.  These sets were $12.99 each.  She’ll get a lot of wear out of them  this winter.  I went with long sleeves for her, she shuns blankets more than her brother.   

Hop over to Cookie’s Kids and find your bargain.  I’m inviting all of my readers to Sign up for the Treats by Cookie’s Kids .  Tell them Rhonda@gigglesnsugarkisses.com referred you.  You’ll get $10.00 off your order of $50.00 or more order and I will get $10.00 toward my next purchase of $50.00 or more.  

Easy Homemade Vegetable Soup Recipe

                                                     

         
I love making soups and chili during the fall and winter months.  I adapted a soup recipe that you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen making and it’s delicious.  Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 package of stew beef
  • 2 cartons of Swanson’s Beef broth (32 oz.) or store brand  (I have used Food Lion brand)
  • 1 quart of your whole canned tomatoes or 32 oz. from the grocery store 
  • 1 package of Hanover frozen veggies or your garden veggies from your freezer
  • 2 -3 small potatoes cubed
  • 1/4 box of elbow macaroni (optional)
  • 1 cup water

Brown your beef in a tablespoon of butter or margarine. Drain, remove from skillet and place on a cutting board. Add your tomatoes, 1 carton of Beef Broth and 1 cup of water to a stock pot and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer.  (You can cut up your tomatoes before placing them in the pot if you like smaller pieces). 


While tomatoes are simmering, cut beef into bite size pieces.  Add  beef and additional broth to pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Peel and cut potatoes into cubes. Rinse and add to pot. Simmer until almost done.  (You don’t want them to be completely done or they may get mushy). Add frozen vegetables and simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  Stir pot occasionally. Add 1/4 – 1/2 box of elbow macaroni and simmer until tender.  Season to taste. 

This soup gets better if it sits for a few days. You can freeze it in mason jars or soup containers for a quick and healthy meal.  It’s Yummy!

                                                           

How To Bring Backyard Birds To Your Feeder

backyard birds

                                                       

First, I’m a bird watcher!  Watching birds go by, my, my, my.  Since I’ve started gardening, I’ve starting noticing the birds more.  As a matter of fact, I’ve placed several feeders throughout the yard.  And I love watching the birds enjoy the feed.  My favorites are the Blue Jays and the American Gold Finch.  The Blue Jays love peanuts and the Gold Finch love sunflower seeds.  I find their colors striking.  However, the Gold Finch loses it brilliance and turns a dull yellow after summer.  I have other posts on attracting backyard birds.  Be sure to check them out.

Male American Gold Finch

 

                                                                      Carolina Chickadees

                                                                  Red-bellied Woodpecker

 

                                                                            House Finch

Next, I’m learning the identity of various birds as I go along.  This particular feeder is located outside my bedroom window.  So, this is where I blog and watch my favorite TV shows.  Sitting by the window makes it easy to get great shots while they’re feeding.  Placing a feeder in the yard is a great way to get your children off electronics and interested in the birds.  They can learn their calls, and watch them interact with each other.  Their habits are quite interesting too.

So, to draw backyard birds to my feeder, I fill it with combination of raw peanuts, wild birdseed, and black oil sunflower seeds.  I purchased the regular birdseed from the dollar store, the raw peanuts from Amazon and the sunflower seeds from Lowes.  Tractor Supply has great prices too.  Additionally, I grew sunflowers in the garden this year.  But, they didn’t stand a chance with the American Gold Finch.


Downy Woodpecker

 


Male Cardinal

                                                                                          Blue Jay

 

As a result of the feeder, the feasting starts around 7:00 am and doesn’t stop until sunset.  Because there were no sunflower seeds left to harvest.  Now, I fill the feeder every 2 – 3 days.  I will be adding a suet feeder to the feeding station during the winter.  The birds need the fat during the colder months to help keep them warm.

Finally, I hope that you found my post on backyard birds helpful.  Follow tips and you will have feathered friends in your backyard in no time.  Also, if you missed my post on making Birdseed Cookies, just click on this link.  It’s a fun activity for the kids this winter and they will be helping nature feed our feathered friends.  Do you have your children involved in nature?  What activities do they do?