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?

Book Review – A Week At The Beach

 

 

One of my favorite pass times is reading.  I’m checking a few books off my reading list.  I just finished A Week at the Beach, by Virginia Jewel. It was a big deviation for me because I’m a true crimes reader.  I loved the book, it’s an easy read and great if you like romances.  

First, the book is about 2 friends, Chrissy and Cami, who are from New York.  Chrissy’s stepfather owns a beach house in the Outer Banks, so they head there for a week’s vacation. The house is occupied when they arrive. Darren, who is related to Chrissy’s step father, and his friend Nick have also decided to use the family beach house. Let the fun begin.   

Next, Chrissy is party girl who seems to have things handed to her on a silver platter. Cami is the complete opposite.  She’s the good girl who doesn’t party much or hook up with guys that she just meets.  She comes from a middle class family and is a school teacher.  In spite of their differences, they remain friends and share life’s ups and downs.  As a result, a week in the Outer Banks brings thrills for both of them.   

Most of all, the author does a good job of keeping the reader engaged with each of the characters.  The story takes several unexpected turns, so bring a bowl of popcorn and your favorite drink. You may not want to put it down. The language is appropriate ,and it doesn’t go into too many details during the sex acts.  I downloaded the e-book from Amazon for free; however,  I would recommend purchasing the paperback.   

In conclusion, the book is a great read in the airport or on the plane. Not traveling, curl up in front of the fireplace or during that much needed break in the bathtub.  I will be checking out more of Virginia Jewel’s e-books.  I’ll keep you posted. 

Boo – Happy Halloween!

My adorable Minnie Mouse and Ninja.  Happy Halloween from my family to yours. 
                                                                             

Thirty One Tote Review

I received this Thirty One bag for review, and it’s a keeper.  It was larger than I expected, but I’ve found that the possible uses are endless.  I love the plaid, it’s a classic design.  The bag is well made and can serve as a week-ender, diaper bag, and would be great for carrying supplies to a scrap book party or beach bag. 

It has a hard bottom, which helps to ensure the content stays in place and the bag keeps its shape.  The bag is deep, which makes it an excellent week-ender.  The material is study enough to handle the beach.  Notice the pockets on the side.  It’s great for carrying baby’s bottle and sippy cups.  Toss in a bottle of water or drink for yourself.  You don’t have to worry about the liquid spilling inside, but if it does the fabric on in the sides are made of a vinyl like material.  Wipe it clean.   

Back to utilizing the bag for the beach.  Carrying a few beach towels won’t be a problem in this bag.  It’s big enough to handle the sun screen, tanning lotion and the shells that the kids find on the beach too.  Although I didn’t try it, I believe the sand can be easily wiped off.   

The only issue that I had with the bag were the straps. I wasn’t particularly happy about the material.  I’m not sure how to describe the material, they look similar to straps that you would find on a backpack.   They actually look nice going down the center of the bag, my problem was the handles.  Would that be a deterrent to purchasing the bag, no.  I’m a big fan of Thirty-One products.  I encourage you to check out the products at Thirty-One  and take a look for yourself.   They have great bags and accessories. 

Note:  I received this bag as compensation for this review, however, my opinion of the bag is my opinion only. 

Finding Love Again



I’ve met a man that could potentially be my soul mate.  I may be falling in love again!  After my on-line dating fiasco, I had just about given up on love.  When it was the least of my concerns, I met a gentleman that has potential.  I met this gentleman through my Uncle, who had met him on his job.  For some reason, he believed that we would be perfect for each other. 

I was leery, but also intrigued.  My Uncle had never involved himself in my love life in any way.  I was curious as to why he believed this person was a match for me.  He also has tons of other nieces, I wondered why he chose me.  After chatting with him to get answers to these questions, he said he believed that we had many things in common and I should at least meet him.  I agreed to give up my cell phone number, and I would take it from there.  I received a call the next night, but I decided not to answer the my phone when the call came through.  

The gentleman left a message, and I must admit his voice captivated me.  I decided to wait until the next day to  return his call.  When I did he was unavailable, so I sent a text.  He responded immediately.  I soon learned that he was a weapons expert and was teaching a class.  We texted off and on for the next 2 hours.  We decided to exchange pictures, we both liked what we saw.  We talked on the phone and texted each other for the next two weeks.  We decided to meet and we’ve been inseparable ever since.  We’re hitting the seven month mark.  He believes that I’m the one, and he’s going to marry me.  We’ll see about that, but I’ve decided to enjoy the ride. 

He currently lives in the next state; however, he will be relocating to my area.  I learned that he has been teaching in my area and along the east coast for about a year, and plans to relocate to my town.  That was a plus.  We found out that we had many things in common.  He’s divorced and has 3 children and 1 grandchild, I have 1 child and 2 grandchildren.  We both love seafood, wine festivals, amateur photography, travel and the Lord

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to get my hopes up because I’m afraid of another disappointment, but there’s another part of me that’s saying take the risk.  He may truly be the one.  Things have already gone better than what I encountered on the on-line dating sites.  He’s a romantic, holds my hand, opens the door for me,  pulls out my chair, he conducts himself like a perfect gentleman.  A man who has a job and is a gentlemen, nice start.  I was curious to see what was under the exterior. 

I felt that I needed to do thing differently in hopes that I would attract someone worthy of my time.  You may be wondering what I did.  I read Steve Harvey’s book Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man and decided to follow his rules.  I decided that I would not lower my standards.  If he wanted to be with me he would raise his if necessary.  I can’t say that he raised his, but he respected mine. 

Secondly, I didn’t let my emotions get the best of me.  I followed my head and stuck to my guns on becoming intimate too soon.  He pressed initially, but I held my ground.  I made it clear that I wanted to wait and get to know him and I wanted him to get to know me before we took that step.  Becoming sexually involved too soon clouds a woman’s judgment.   He backed off and actually said he respected my decision and he would wait until I was ready.  Ladies, if he respects you he will wait.  There’s times when we meet someone that we’re attracted to, and get involved too soon because we’re afraid they’ll go elsewhere.  My attitude was go, but you won’t be visiting candy land anytime soon. 

As we spent more time getting to know each other, I leaned that he has been divorced for 10 years, and has had time to heal.  No excess baggage and no baby’s mama drama!  He clearly stated that he has a 13 year old; however, he doesn’t allow her mother to interfere in his relationships.  Another plus.  He’s ready for a permanent relationship.  He also stated that if I wasn’t ready for a serious relationship he would accept that, but he would have to move on. During one of our conversation, he said there were three ingredients to a successful relationship, God, trust and respect and they must be in that order.  If any of the ingredients were missing, the relationship would fail.  Wow, he really got my attention there. 

Another thing that I really like about him is that we can talk for hours about nothing in particular.  We burned the phone lines for 4 hours one night and I think we hit the 1,334th text message in a three month period.  We’re still going strong.  Stay tuned for periodic updates on my journey to love. 

How did you meet your significant other/husband?  I’m always up for a good love story.