Snow Day Fun

Have you heard of snow cream before? If you have then you’re well aware of it’s magical transformation from plain old pretty white stuff into a deliciously sweet treat. If you haven’t, you simply have to try it One of our absolute favorite Snow Day traditions is making snow cream. The kids love to watch as the snow magically turns into ‘ice’ cream right before their eyes. Sometimes, to preserve the magic, we will even store some extra snow in the freezer to pull out in the summer heat for a cool treat. It’s fast and fun, and the kids love it, even though the texture is different from traditional ice cream.

Once you’ve made this for or with your kiddos, they will be asking for it as soon as the first flake falls whenever winter weather approaches.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Snow Cream

1 cup half and half or milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (adjust to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 6 cups clean, freshly fallen snow

Directions

1. In a large bowl combine half and half, vanilla extract and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
2. Stir in snow, a cup at a time, until the ice cream magically forms! Freeze for several minutes if desired before serving.

We’re on Snow Day # 3 here, and I thought I’d share some of our other Snow Day activities that have been keeping us entertained. We made ice ‘marbles’. I thought these were pretty darn cool. Sons 1 & 2 just wanted to watch them explode into a million shards of colorful little ice daggers when dropped from the highest vantage point. We just filled some balloons with water, added in a few drops of food coloring, tied them off and left them outside to freeze.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ice Marbles

Son # 4 loves bubbles. The older sons wondered what would happen to his blown bubbles in the freezing temps. They had a hypothesis. A little experiment proved their theory to be true. Blown bubbles do in fact freeze when it is freezing outside.

4 Sons 'R' Us: frozen bubbles

And last, but not least, the sons opted out of a snowman this year. Instead, they made a snow car.

4 Sons 'R' Us: snow car

A Candy Cane Craft: Teddy Bear Sleds

I used to look at candy canes and see one of two things. A. cute, simple, and in-expensive tree decorations, or B. something gross I wouldn’t eat and would most likely collect dust in the Christmas bin until next Christmas. Boy, was I missing out! Still inexpensive, candy canes are great for Christmas-time crafts, like these adorable Teddy Bear Sleds. Who wouldn’t be tempted to eat these sledding teddies? They’re just so adorable. The youngest son loved these, so much so that he wouldn’t even eat his for a whole day. He’s never not eaten candy IMMEDIATELY. That’s never happened before, like not in the history of ever.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Teddy Bear Sleds

These little guys are so ‘bear-y’ cute! Sorry, I couldn’t resist 🙂

4 Sons 'R' Us: Teddy Bear Sleds

They’re almost too cute to eat. Almost.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Teddy Bear Sleds

A Candy Cane Craft: Teddy Bear Sleds

fun size snickers bars
mini candy canes
mini teddy grahams
chocolate frosting

Directions

1. Attach candy canes to the sides of unwrapped candy bars, using frosting, to look like sleigh rails. Let dry.
2. Again using the frosting, attach 1-2 teddy grahams to the top of the sleigh. Let the frosting dry again.
3. Enjoy your sleigh-riding teddy bears!

Easy Eggnog Fudge

I love giving gifts at Christmas. There’s something so special about watching a persons face light up with joy when they first see the gift you’ve given them. Gifts from my kitchen are always nice, and typically a ‘sure-thing’. I absolutely love this recipe. The rich, creamy goodness of homemade fudge + the satisfying flavor of eggnog = a mouthful of magic. It’s the perfect gift to share with family and friends.

Easy Eggnog Fudge

4 Sons 'R' Us: Easy Eggnog Fudge

recipe from Cindy at Skip to my Lou

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup eggnog
12 oz white baking chocolate
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

1. Bring sugar, butter and eggnog to a full boil in a heavy medium-size saucepan. Continue to boiling over medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stir constantly to prevent scorching. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use a glass of cold water. Drop a few drops of the ‘syrup’ into the glass, if the syrup forms a doughy ball, it is done. If the syrup gets hard and brittle in the water, it has been over-cooked.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate and nutmeg, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla extract. Beat until well blended.
3. Pour into a buttered 8 or 9-inch square pan. Cool, then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. May be frozen for up to three weeks.

Christmas Wreath Cookies

After years and years of the same, we were tired of leaving Santa the same old boring chocolate chip cookies every Christmas eve. Last year, by unanimous vote, we decided that these fun, fancy ‘cookies’ were the perfect thing for a change.These are so simple, they’re a perfect Christmas break activity for the kids. Even the youngest son got in on the action.

The sons were so happy last Christmas morning when the woke up and discovered that Santa had liked them so much, he ate almost the entire plate. Poor Santa. That (and all the milk) probably led to a giant belly ache. I wouldn’t know or anything. Just a guess. The big guy and I are tight and everything, but not that tight. Shake things up for Santa this Christmas Eve at your own house with these colorful Christmas ‘cookies’ or just have them as part of your celebration. However you decide to use them, whenever you decide to bake them they will be sugary sweet and perfect for the occasion.

Christmas Wreath Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: Christmas Wreath Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 10-ounce package of miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 teaspoons green food coloring
1 cup white chocolate chips
4 cups toasted rice or corn flake cereal
1/4 to 1/3 cup cinnamon candies (such as Red Hots®)

4 Sons 'R' Us: Christmas Wreath Cookies

Directions

1. Prepare baking sheet with wax paper. Spray wax paper with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir continuously until melted, scraping sides of pan so sugar crystals don’t form.
3. Turn heat to low. Add peppermint extract and green food coloring and mix well. Add white chocolate chips and stir until melted. Add cereal and mix well until all cereal flakes are well coated.
4. Coat hands with some of the non-stick cooking spray. Take about 1/4 cup of cereal mixture and form wreath shapes on wax paper coated baking sheet. Decorate each wreath with 3-6 cinnamon candies. I opted for 3 so they looked like Poinsettia leaves. Allow to cool for about an hour before serving. Store in an airtight container in single layers separated by wax paper or on baking sheet covered in plastic wrap for 4-5 days.

Christmas Grinch Punch

Christmas Grinch Punch is the perfect holiday drink to get your family in the mood to CELEBRATE!

My kids love it, and it’s a hit at every holiday party.

It’s a fun way to bring the Dr. Seuss Christmas classic to life. It’s a great teachable moment, and a yummy nod to an important message.

I typically make this several times during the holiday season, and it’s a must on Christmas movie night. I love adding a little maraschino cherry ‘heart’ to each glass, but my kids hate them and convinced me to leave them out this year.

Settle in to watch your favorite Christmas movie with a delicious glass of this. Pop in a movie, check out Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas, or check out some Christmas lights; get festive and get your ‘Grinch’ on with Christmas Grinch Punch !

Christmas Grinch Punch 

Christmas Grinch Punch
Punch is a holiday party staple- this Grinch version is perfect for Christmas.
Ingredients
  • 1 carton frozen green punch base
  • several scoops lime sherbet to taste
  • lemon-lime soda or ginger ale
  • maraschino cherries optional
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • green food coloring
Instructions
  1. Mix thawed punch mix, sherbet, and soda together. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl add sugar. Add a few drops of green food coloring, stirring until evenly combined.
  3. When your sugar is satisfyingly green, dip the rim of a glass into water. You just want to get the rim wet. Dip the rim of the cup immediately into the bowl of sugar. Remove and set sugar-coated cup right side up. Repeat for the number of cups you're using.
  4. Add desired amount of punch to each cup, and if using add 1 maraschino cherry to each glass for the Grinch's heart that was 3x too small.

 

Super-Soft Eggnog Cookies

I remember growing up and seeing all the adults drinking eggnog on Christmas Eve & Christmas day. Us kids were left at the ‘kids table’. It was a table. It was also in my grandmother’s laundry room/pantry/sewing room off of the kitchen. It didn’t bother us though. The grown-ups didn’t see us sneak a glass of the good stuff for ourselves or notice it make it’s way quickly around our little table as we each took a sip. I know what you’re thinking. Shame on you! It was non-alcoholic. Being an adult now with four boys, I totally get why they hoarded the stuff. I’m pretty stingy doling it out myself as well.

To this day, my kids and I (still) love eggnog. We wait all year long for the creamy concoction to hit the store shelves again. My husband, he hates it. This cookie won him over. He was impressed. It was moist, chewy, and the eggnog taste was just right. Seriously, he ate 12. In less than 5 minutes. He may not be ready to actually drink a cold, frothy glass full but he’s behind eggnog a little bit. And that’s enough for me! For now. Before he avoided it like that little milk jug was hiding the Ebola virus in our refrigerator.

As for me, and my family, we’ve seen the light. Eggnog is so much more than just the nectar of the gods a drink. It’s an amazing, drool-worthy addition to multiple recipes. Cookies today. Tomorrow, the world! It’s time for an eggnog revolution. What do you say?

Super-Soft Eggnog Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: EggNog Cookies

recipe originally from I Heart Naptime

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, slightly softened
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup eggnog

Eggnog Icing

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp eggnog
ground nutmeg, for garnish

4 Sons 'R' Us: EggNog Cookies

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks and vanilla to the mixture and beat until smooth. Finally, add eggnog and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Slowly add flour mixture into the eggnog mixture and stir until combined. Chill dough for 20 minutes.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use a cookie scoop or drop spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Do not over cook. Remove cookies from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
4. For icing, whisk powdered sugar and eggnog together. Add more sugar or eggnog, depending on the consistency you prefer.
5. Drizzle icing on cooled cookies and sprinkle with nutmeg. Store in a air tight container in the refrigerator.

Holiday-Themed Sensory Bags

According to Buddy, the elf, “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” While I certainly believe this to be true, I can’t always just break out into song. I mean I could, but then everybody in the middle of Target would probably stare and there’s no way my kids would ever, EVER go out in public with me again. So, in the interest of self-preservation I have to reign it in. Sometimes. Like in public.

Still, I absolutely love to get my family, and pretty much everyone I know, into the holiday spirit, even the little ones who still aren’t quite sure what’s going on and why Mom’s dancing around and singing about a fat man with a scratchy beard. A holiday-themed sensory bag was my compromise with myself, and a favor to my kids. I mean, come on, spreading the love cheer and stimulating little minds and developing gross motor skills? That’s what I’d call winning!

The ‘Holiday-Themed’ Sensory Bag

4 Sons 'R' Us: The Holiday-Themed Sensory Bag

hair gel
ziplocking bag
decorative buttons or beads
strong tape

Directions

1. Squirt hair gel into a zip-locking bag.
2. Add in your decorative buttons, beads, etc and zip the bag closed making sure it’s secure.
3. For extra peace of mind re-enforce the top with tape so the bag can’t accidentally open.
4. Let your little ones squish it around and explore the different pieces included.

The ‘Snowman In A Bag’ Game

4 Sons 'R' Us: Snowman In A Bag

a large ziplocking bag
shaving cream
orange foam sheet
black felt
glitter, optional
glue

Directions

1. Cut 6 small, ‘lumpy’ circles (you’re going for the lumps of coal look) from the black felt for the snowman’s mouth. Cut out two larger lumps for it’s eyes.
2. Glue the lumps onto the outside of your ziplocking bag to resemble a face. Let dry.
3. If using, add a little glitter to the inside of your bag. Squirt in a little shaving cream. Securely seal the bag closed and squish it around to mix up the glitter and shaving cream.
4. Cut a carrot shape out of the orange foam.
5. Put the carrot shape into the bag, making sure you securely seal the bag closed again.
6. Have fun watching/helping your little ones move the nose around until they’ve completed the face.

Don’t you just love ‘baggie’ projects? They’re so simple, but so fun, and all for practically free! These are great manipulative toys that all ages love. They are great for a rainy, dreary days when you can’t go outside. Let these help keep those little hands busy. You can squish and wiggle that snowman all afternoon. 🙂

How do you spread the cheer & get your family into the Holiday Spirit?

The Sock Snowman Tutorial

Christmas & Crafts. Two of my most favorite things EVER. Combined. This is what I’m talking about people. This is what I live for! These little guys, just the idea of them, stole my heart.

My best friend called me right after we’d put our kids on the bus to tell me about them, and I spent the rest of they day working on my own set in my spare time. Our four year old even got in on the action, helping me fill the socks, dress them, and glue on accessories. Of course, then I spent the rest of the day removing contraband (stolen rubber bands) from his possession as he tried to shoot things with them. Thanks, older sons for teaching him that little gem.

Either way, these adorable little creatures found their way into our home and are here to stay, at least until spring. Who knows, maybe they’ll even bring us a little luck and a little snow. (I walked in on son # 4 rubbing it’s belly and wishing for some of the white stuff to come our way. I’ll keep my fingers crossed along with him) This is the perfect craft idea for kids (and adults) this Thanksgiving day/weekend as we usher in the Holiday season. Plus, it helps to have something constructive for them to do and be entertained while the adults wait out their tryptophan carbohydrate-induced coma. 😉

The Sock Snowman Tutorial

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sock Snowman Photo Tutorial 2

one white tube sock, or more depending on how many snowmen you’re making
decorative socks (optional)
rice, for filler
rubber bands
buttons
something for the nose, I used different buttons but feel free to be creative (the tip of a wooden skewer painted orange would work VERY well

Directions

4 Sons 'R' Us: sock snowman photo tutorial

1. Cut the foot part off of your sock and set aside.
2. Turn the tube part of your sock inside out and wrap a rubber band around the bottom.  Make sure it is wrapped tightly.  Then turn it inside out again so the rubber band is on the inside.
3. Fill the sock with rice.  Be sure to push the rice down as you go.  This will help stretch the sock a bit and ensure that you get a nice plump snowman in the end.  Then, close the top by wrapping another rubber band around the top as shown in the photo above.
4. Squeeze the middle of your snowman until you’ve created an indention to separate it’s ‘head’ and ‘body’. Wrap another rubber band around the indention to create a ‘neck’.
5. Using the foot part of the sock, put on your snowman’s hat/nightcap.
6. If desired, remove the hat and cut a thin strip to use as his scarf. Otherwise, use a scrap of fabric.
7. Tie the scarf and make sure it’s covering up the rubber band neck.
8. Add button eyes and buttons down the body. If you want to get creative, use an old sock that’s lost it’s mate to make a sweater and matching cap. Again, cut the foot away from the tube of the sock. Use the foot as the cap and cut the tube part to fit the belly of your snowman.

Quick Tips:

-Using old socks with missing mates will prevent you from having to buy new socks for the project
-Rice isn’t the only option as a filler. Beans would work well too.
-Consider adding some potpourri to the inside with the rice or beans to help scent the room you’ve chosen to display your snowman in.
-All of my socks came from  The Dollar Tree. They have a large variety of color and designs to choose from, and can help keep this craft on a budget. Also, consider checking the dollar bins at Target.

Seriously, how cute are these little guys?!

4 Sons 'R' Us: sock snowmen

While I love all of my snowchildrenmen, I do have a favorite. (I can’t tell them that though!) The sock ‘sweater’ just tickles my fancy. Isn’t he just too cute? All bundled up and just absolutely adorable! What a dapper little dude. Here he is all ‘up close, and personal’. You just can’t help but love himthem.

4 Sons 'R' Us: sock snowman

Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Centerpiece & Tutorial

I love decorating for the holidays. I just can’t shake that ‘festive’ itch. When the mantle, walls, and doors are properly decorated, and only then, I get to the kitchen table. Afterall, I wouldn’t want it to feel any holiday-envy. Imagine trying to eat dinner at a grumpy table that had been left-out. It might just decide to leave me out of dinner. I can’t have that. Every available surface should be decorated equally.

This year though, I wanted to do something a little different for our Thanksgiving centerpiece. I opted for these adorable scrapbook paper pumpkins. They’re cute, easy, and quick. Is your table looking lonely? Trying to get it up to snuff for Thanksgiving dinner? Begin creating your own fun, festive table-scape with a scrapbook paper pumpkin today.

Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Centerpiece & Tutorial

4 Sons 'R' Us: Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Cneterpiece

  • circular item to trace, I made two sizes of paper pumpkins and used a cake pan for the large one and a bowl for the smaller
  • 8 or 16 pages of scrapbook paper, the large pumpkin only got one circle per page, the smaller got two
  • scissors
  • glue stick

Before I give you the verbal tutorial here are some step-by-step photos for you as well.

4 Sons 'R' Us

Directions

  1.  Trace and cut out 16 identical circles from scrapbook paper.
  2. Fold each circle in half with right sides together.
  3. Glue one side of the circle and place another circle patter on top of it until you have glued all the circles together.
  4.  Once you have glued all the circles together, you will have one stack of folded circles.  After the glue has dried, about 2-3 hours, unfold the circles and lay flat.  You will have two sides that have not been glued.  Glue them together so it creates an accordion.
  5. Decide which end of the pumpkin will be the bottom. Using an exacto knife or sharp scissors lay the pumpkin flat and cut a straight line about 1/4-1/2 inch from the bottom. This will enable it to ‘sit up’.
  6. Roll up a small piece of the scrap paper from where you cut out your circles to make a stem. Stick it into the tiny gap at the ‘top’ of your pumpkin.

Seriously, how cute are these little guys?!

4 Sons 'R' Us: scrapbook paper pumpkin

Mummy Dogs

I love seeing the look on the littlest son’s face when I make him ‘fun’ food. Holidays provide the ultimate opportunity to surprise him. Still, sometimes I just don’t have the time, or the energy, but these Mummy dogs are so simple and quick. From start to finish it took less than 20 minutes. Add some fun to your Halloween lunch or dinner with this adorable idea.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Mummy Dogs

recipe adapted from Pillsbury

  • 1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls, or homemade crescent roll dough
  • 2 1/2 slices American cheese, quartered (optional)
  • 10 large hot dogs
  • cooking spray
  • mustard or ketchup

Directions

  1. If using Pillsbury crescent roll dough, unroll the dough sheet. Press together at the perforations to seal it into one large rectangle.
  2. Cut the rectangle into ten ‘bandages’. Stretch the bandages a bit to elongate them.
  3. Wrap one bandage around one hot dog and 1 quarter of cheese. Repeat for each hot dog.
  4. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate the ‘bandages’ so that the hot dog shows through for it’s ‘face.’ On an ungreased baking sheet, place wrapped hot dogs (cheese side down).
  5. Spray the dough lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 13 to 17 minutes or until the dough is light golden brown and the hot dogs are hot.
  6. With mustard, draw features on the ‘face.’