April Fools’ Day Ideas

March 28, 2014 in KIDS CORNER

April Fools’ Day (sometimes called All Fools’ Day) is an informal holiday celebrated every year on April 1. Popular since medieval times, the day is not a national holiday in any country, but it is widely recognized throughout European cultures and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other, called April fools. Hoax stories are also often found in the press and media on this day.

Your head in a jar, in the fridge prank.

Your head in a jar, in the fridge prank.

Amazing. Full instructions here.

Be a chair.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

The belongings-in-the-vending-machine prank.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day
Via nbc.com

As played out on Dwight in The Office. Bonus if you’ve got volunteers to purchase the stuff.

The classic airhorn as door/wall protector trick.

The classic airhorn as door/wall protector trick.

The Post-it notes prank. Step 1: cover victim’s car with Post-its.

Step 2: Once they drive the thing home, they’re in for a bigger shock. Possibly even worth the effort.

The old toothpaste-in-the-Oreos prank.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Desk in the bathroom.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day
Via nbc.com

Simple, classy, effective.

You need this costume.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Available from a variety of outlets.

Soy sauce and Sprite just aren’t Diet Coke.

Soy sauce and Sprite just aren't Diet Coke.

Add baking soda to ketchup.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Fake head in the bed.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Mayo in the doughnuts.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Nicholas Cage calling.

Nicholas Cage calling.

Knock, run, win.

The insta-date prank.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Worth the effort.

Office balloon party.

Office balloon party.

The evil prankster fills them with glitter.

This, if you happen to be a street performer.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

The wrapping-paper-desk joke.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day
Via nbc.com

Dinosaur rampage.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Large toys available here.

Hiding in a box is almost always a winner…

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Give them a wet crotch.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Simple shop-window trolling.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

You needed to start this one a couple of days ago, but hell, there’s no more unexpected April Fool than the one that’s running a couple of days late.

The joy of toilet trolling.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

And finally, you’d be amazed how effective a gorilla suit can be.

27 Pranks You Need To Really Own April Fools' Day

Who Was the Man Behind St. Patrick’s Day?

March 14, 2014 in KIDS CORNER

Can you believe that Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner? St. Patrick’s Day and its promise of spring is an especially welcome relief for millions of Americans who have suffered through one of the coldest winters in recent memory.

Who Was the Man Behind St. Patrick’s Day?

Bundled up or skimpily clad, few of the revelers lining parade routes and filling Irish pubs have a clue about St. Patrick, the historical figure, according to the author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography. “The modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man,” classics professor Philip Freeman, of Luther College in Iowa, said in 2009. (Take an Ireland quiz.)

For starters, the real St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was born in Britain around A.D. 390 to an aristocratic Christian family that owned a townhouse, a country villa, and plenty of slaves.What’s more, Patrick professed no interest in Christianity as a young boy, Freeman noted.

At 16, Patrick’s world was turned upside down: He was kidnapped and sent overseas to tend sheep as a slave for seven years in the chilly, mountainous countryside of Ireland. “It was just horrible for him,” Freeman said. “But he got a religious conversion while he was there and became a very deeply believing Christian.”

What is Saint Patrick’s Day anyways?

Much of what is known about St Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he “found God”. The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.

According to legend, Saint Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.

According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands”. Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.

Wearing of the green

On St Patrick’s Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the “wearing of the green”).

St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many triple deities.The triple spiral symbol appears at many ancient megalithic sites in Ireland.

The colour green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640s, when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation. Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St Patrick’s Day since at least the 1680s. Green was adopted as the colour of the Friendly Brothers of St Patrick, an Irish fraternity founded in about 1750. However, when the Order of St. Patrick—an Anglo-Irish chivalric order—was founded in 1783 it adopted blue as its colour. This led to blue being associated with St Patrick. In the 1790s, green became associated with Irish nationalism when it was used by the United Irishmen. This was a republican organization—led mostly by Protestants but with many Catholic members—who launched a rebellion in 1798 against British rule. The phrase “wearing of the green” comes from a song of the same name, which laments United Irishmen supporters being persecuted for wearing green. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick’s Day grew.

Using Christmas Lights this Valentine’s Day

February 7, 2014 in CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Love is definitely in the air with these pretty Valentine light decorations! Whether you need to add a cute love-heart theme to a Valentines party or want to create a romantic atmosphere for a special meal, the right choice of lights can add the finishing touch. Set the mood this Valentine’s Day with these Christmas Lights ideas:

Dinner for 2 – Plan a romantic at-home dinner date for Valentine’s Day with some Christmas lights to set the mood.

 

Romantic Bedroom – Getting the ambience right is key to creating a romantic bedroom and fairy lights can do the trick, giving the room a touch of magic with twinkling lights.

 

Decorate – Use simple crafts and delicious recipes for the perfect Valentine’s Day. Red and warm white lights are great as Valentine’s Day decorations.

 

Christmas Light Ideas for the Bedroom

January 31, 2014 in CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Are you one of those people who can’t bear to take down your Christmas lights at the end of the holiday season? I can tell you that I definitely am! The house always feels so cozy and festive through the holiday season while the Christmas lights are up. Then feels rather cold and boring once all the Christmas lights are packed away.

What is it about Christmas lights that creates an ambiance that is so warm and welcoming? When you walk into a room they give off an air of magical wonderment and even though they are inexpensive, they can instantly make a space feel cozy and romantic. String lights create an atmosphere that we just can’t help but want to be in and around.

So this year, I vote we all keep that festive spirit alive by giving classic Christmas lights new life! To start I am going to tackle Christmas light ideas for the bedroom.

There are numerous ways Christmas lights can be incorporated into your bedroom, from putting them above the bed or near it, they can be placed around a mirror, along the ceiling, or even around a window. You can create an inviting space, pair string lights with sheer white curtains and hang them around the bed.

If you want to adorn your bedroom with Christmas lights, not only can they be used to decorate for the holiday season, but as you can see they can also stay up all year round if they fit in with your decor. Have a look at the pictures below to get some creative Christmas light ideas for the bedroom to make it cozy and even romantic.

HOW TO KEEP THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR LONG

January 14, 2014 in CHRISTMAS

After the presents have been opened, the carols have been sung, and the festivities of Christmas day are over, most of us tuck our Christmas spirit along with Christmas tree. To me the Spirit of Christmas is about spending quality family time doing what you love with who you love. You don’t need a tree and carols to bring good cheer to your family. You can keep that warm family togetherness year round.

During the holiday season our smiles are just a little wider, our handshakes a touch heartier, our purse strings a tad looser, and our creative juices overflow. We expend a lot of energy towards making this festive season memorable and enjoyable. Wouldn’t it be nice to spread some of the cheer throughout the year? It’s possible to keep the Christmas spirit alive long after the tree is dead—and we can encourage our kids to help out in these endeavors, too!

Staying in a Christmas state of mind for twelve months of the year is probably unrealistic. Let’s be honest: we can’t be carol-singing, gift-giving little elves all year long. But there are a few elements of the holiday season that we can keep with us throughout the year, giving every day a chance to have just a bit of the magic that comes along with Christmas Day. Here are some of the best ways to keep the spirit alive every day of the year:

Focus on what you have. The holiday season often reminds of all that we have to be thankful for: our friends, family, and the collective joy many of us experience at this time of year. If we keep that feeling of appreciation with us all year long, we’ll prolong the wonder of Christmas on a daily basis. The trick is to focus on what you have, not what you want. Through the year, whenever you find yourself thinking, “I wish I had…” replace that with, “I’m so thankful I have…”

Know what really matters. At Christmas—at least on Christmas Day!—most of us prioritize matters most: spending time with those we love and celebrating a season that means something to us. During the rest of the year, it can be hard to keep our priorities straight with all of the various aspects of life vying for our attention, but when you bring yourself back to what matters most, you make the most of every day.

Treat strangers with kindness. At Christmastime, people are often a bit kinder, merely based on the fact that it’s Christmas. Treating others with kindness—especially those you don’t know, and especially those who don’t necessarily treat you with kindness—is a wonderful way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive every single day of the year. When someone bothers you, imagine how you would treat him or her if it were Christmas Day.

Look for the good. Christmas is a time for taking note of things we love—the people we care about, the gifts wrapped just for us—and it’s also a time for noticing special things—the little traditions, the pretty, glittery decorations.The season brings out a sense of childlike wonder. Trying to embrace that wonderment all year long, by looking for good bits in every day, is another great way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive.

Charity. Likewise, while we tend to be more charitable during the holidays, our help is needed all year long. Consider serving meals during the long, hot summer or donating much needed items, such as toiletries, household goods, and toys monthly. Financial gifts are always welcome. Your nickels and quarters from bottle deposits can add up to significant assistance to many organizations.

Get involved. Just about everyone in our small town gathers in the Center for the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. Festivities kick off with performances and presentations by the high school band, the local school for performing arts, and the Chamber of Commerce. At dusk, fireworks explode overhead to herald the opening of the holiday season. But your involvement in community activities does not have to be limited to festive holiday occasions. Get involved in programs which have a positive impact on your city. Join your neighbors in clean-up and improvement projects, attend municipal meetings and support local initiatives.

Crafting. Christmas crafts are available throughout the year, but even if you prefer to adapt your creativity to each season, homemade decorations and gifts brighten the darkest winter day. And they are a great hobby for every member of the family.

Keep the holiday spirit alive all through the year as you celebrate the joy of being with family, trying new things, giving to others and becoming a little better every day. Let this holiday season be a starting off point for renewed commitment to your loved ones. After all, you get a new Christmas every year, but you only get one family.

Creative Christmas Wrapping Ideas

December 20, 2013 in GIFT IDEAS

We all love receiving beautifully gift-wrapped boxes almost as much as the gift itself. Add a personal touch to Christmas gifts for friends and family with our simple Creative Christmas Wrapping Ideas. Imagine wowing them with unique wrapping ideas, those which will make them appreciate the gift even before they open it!

Below is a list of Creative Christmas Wrapping Ideas to keep your gift-giving even more unique and exciting

Add a DIY Picture Gift Card to your Gift Wrap
gift wrapping with photo tags

Gift Wrap with Organic Items from Nature
wrapping with natural finds
Doily Holiday Gift Wrap Make a Yarn Pom-Pom
Doily Holiday Gift Wrap Make a Yarn Pom Pom

Layer Your Gift Wrapping with Multiple Wraps
Layered DIY Gift WRapping

Monogram Gift Wrapping Topper
monogram gift wrapping topper

3-D Christmas Tree Gift Wrapping Idea
3-D Christmas Tree Gift Wrap

DIY Scrabble Tile Gift Tag
DIY Scrabble Tile Gift Tag

Chalkboard Gift Tag
Chalkboard Gift Tag

DIY Eraser Snowflakes and Snowmen Gift Wrapping Designs
Morgan-Levine-snowman-gift-wrap

DIY Christmas Wrapping with a Map
DIY Christmas Wrapping with a Map

Draw Your Own Christmas Light Garland Gift Wrap
Draw Your Own Christmas Light Garland Gift Wrap

What a great way to decorate humble brown bags as fantastic gift bags. Use buttons, wool, strips of craft paper leftovers with a pinch of creativity.

Eco-friendly and perfect for Christmas! Love the cute pine cones and pine leaves, tied with some twine. Cottage chic and so elegant.
Use printed decorated tins that can be reused for storage. Perfect for cookies, or small gifts and gorgeous result with little effort. Look for miniature baubles and old Christmas light bulbs to use as accent.
Are you a proud owner of crazy bunch of buttons? Great way to reuse and decorate in a jiffy. Don’t have buttons..punch out round colorful circles and use to similar effect.
Brown paper is a classy, inexpensive alternative. Make them unique by adding embellishments. Use stamps, like snowflakes to create designs. Kids will love to help out!
Another impressive gift wrapping idea. Punch holes to make a delicate lacey ribbon out of paper. Use the colorful punched out ‘circles’ as confetti gift decoration.
Leftover yarn to tie a gift box, and gorgeous pom poms as accents.
How cute is this vintage cookie cutter tag/embellishment!
Vintage Christmas lights arranged as bow. Amazing way to upcycle a busted string of lights.
Use newspaper, comic book pages or magazine center folds to wrap small gifts. Use ribbons in gorgeous bright hues to add the pop of color.
If your kids love to cut out paper figures this might be a lovely gift wrapping idea. Draw/print-Snip-Stick!
Punched out paper snowflakes on a string to tie around a gift. Use paper punches to create delicate doilies, or make paper snowflakes to add as embellishments
Tutorial to make an embellishment out of newspaper or craft paper. It would look so cool made in colorful paper. Good craft idea for a dull winter day.
Sponge paint triangular trees in red. Decorate these Christmas trees with tiny pom poms and ribbons. Another idea would be to use ‘used’ dryer sheets dyed red for a lovely texture. Love!!
Kids and preschoolers craft idea. Cut out the Christmas Tree landscape and let them punch holes. Easy diy !
Each of these tags are elegant and eclectic at the same time. Good way to add the extra jazz.
This whole bunch of curled newspaper is so stylish! Easy craft idea for unique gift wrapping.
Use ‘Gift-tag’ stamp the year round!! Easy, fun way to accessories. Love the candy cane detail.

Ways to Spread Christmas Cheer

December 16, 2013 in GIFT IDEAS

Christmas cheer is all about giving! It shows our love, warms our hearts, and represents the true spirit of the holidays. But sometimes in the height of the season, when there are gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, and what seems like more social events than the whole year put together, it’s hard to keep that generosity in mind. Fortunately, there are many ways to spread Christmas cheer without adding more stress to your already crazy calendar.

Here are some quick ideas to spread Christmas cheer that won’t take too much time or blow your budget. And the best part? They can all be accomplished while you’re already out shopping or running errands.

Warm their hearts

When do you know the Christmas season has officially begun? It’s not the Black Friday sales or even all that leftover turkey. It’s when you hear the tinkling of bells from The Salvation Army volunteers, standing guard over their red kettles. Why not stop by with a steaming cup of hot chocolate or other goodies, which you can pick up on your daily coffee run? And don’t forget to donate your loose change too.

Give out greetings

While out shopping, purchase a gift card at your favorite store, then look around and find a worthy recipient. Walk right up to the person, hand them the card, wish them a hearty Merry Christmas, and be on your way.

Fuel them up

Traveling during the holiday season can be a bit crazy and even anxiety-filled as traffic gets busier and busier. Why not make someone’s season by offering to pump and pay for their gas?

Order a pizza

What? Stick with us here. If you know someone who’s going through a difficult time, financially or emotionally, send them a little comfort food—a pizza. These days, you can go online and order a pizza and have it sent to them without ever picking up the phone. They don’t even have to know who the pizza is from if you don’t want them to. That’s just a small, easy gesture that could make someone’s evening.

Bless your friends

Before going to the grocery, copy or print out one of your favorite easy-to-make dinner recipes. Pick up the ingredients at the store and drop them off, along with the cooking instructions, at a friend’s house who’s had a crazy shopping day. If it’s a meal for the slow cooker, send it over the day before.

Baked Goods

Who doesn’t love some baked Christmas goodies. Put some in a tin and walk them over to your neighbor just to say Merry Christmas.

Anonymously Donate

Give money through your church to give to a specific family that has fallen on hard times.

Christmas Carols

Gather up some friends & family to sing Christmas carols. “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” -Buddy the Elf

No matter how big or small, a random act of kindness can not only make someone’s day but could possibly change a life. So take a few minutes and give. We promise—it will make yours and their holiday season even brighter.

 

7 Christmas Tree Care Tips

December 13, 2013 in CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

Christmas Tree Care Tips

Real Christmas trees are a magical part of the holiday season and can be a beautiful ornament to your home, but they do take a little extra effort to maintain. If not properly maintained, your tree can turn into a dried-out mess of shed needles and waning fragrance. Using these Christmas tree care tips will reduce that annoying needle shedding and help extend your tree’s life and lovely scent: 

1. Make sure you have a fresh tree to begin with

To be sure you’re buying a fresh tree, the National Christmas Tree Association recommends doing a ‘branch/needle test’: “Run a branch through your enclosed hand—the needles should not come off easily,” the NCTA says. “Bend the outer branches—they should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.”

2. Store It Outside Before Installation

You should store your tree outside while waiting to put it up in your home to ensure it holds moisture.

3. Use the right amount of water

Water is the best gift you can give your Christmas tree. It can absorb up to a gallon of water a day in the first few days and needs to be kept well hydrated. Make sure it is placed in a tree stand made for fresh cut trees where you can place water.  A traditional reservoir stand is the way to go, says the NCTA. Be sure to place the tree in water as soon as you get it home, and as a rule of thumb, you should use 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Check the water levels daily to ensure the trunk is still fully submerged. The temperature of the water is not important.

4. Be Sweet

A mixture of one cup of 7-Up and four cups of water is a great to keep your tree hydrated. The Cork News says the combination provides nutrients that will keep the tree at its healthiest — sugar and citric acid. 

5. Trim Your Tree (from the Bottom)

The Daily Local recommends trimming close to an inch off the base of yourtree’s trunk ahead of setting it up in your home. This allows the wood’s pores to take in more water and reduces the shedding of needles. 

6. Keep It Cool

Much like flowers and other live, decorative plants, your tree should be kept far away from all heat sources. Other than being a possible fire hazard, heat also dries the tree out. The NCTA recommends using low-heat lights, such as miniature lights, to reduce drying. Keeping the room temperature low and keeping your tree away from heating vents and direct sunlight will also reduce the amount of water the tree must use each day, slowing the drying process. And, of course, keep your tree away from fireplaces and heaters to reduce the risk of fire.

7. Dispose of your tree the right way

When it’s time to take down your tree, don’t throw it in a dumpster or leave it on the curb. Christmas trees can be recycled for mulch, and many communities have recycling programs that accept trees after the holidays at no charge. Some areas also offer mulching programs that allow you to use the mulch from your tree in your garden. The NCTA provides some other creative recycling options, such as placing your tree in the yard for use as a bird sanctuary. “Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter,” says the Association. “Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.”

Christmas Coal Rice Krispy Treats

December 13, 2013 in CHRISTMAS RECIPES, KIDS CORNER

Christmas Coal Rice Krispy Treats

What do kids that have been naughty all year get for Christmas? Coal. You could take pity on that person and at least make the lumps of coal be edible. These Coal Rice Krispie Treats are very simple to put together – so simple in fact that the kids can even help make these themselves. They’re just like regular ol’ Rice Krispie treats, but with a few added extras to make them look like coal.

Coal Rice Krispy Treats
3 Tbsp butter
6 cups marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla
5 cups cocoa krispies
1 cup crushed oreos
black food coloring

Pour the rice krispies and oreos in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat until melted. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add the marshmallows. Stir until the marshmallows are mostly all melted (this will take a few minutes–low and slow is key for perfect texture). Add in the vanilla and black food coloring (keep adding until you get the color you want) and finish melting.

Once fully melted, take them off heat and pour over the rice krispies. Stir to combine until everything is black. Dump everything by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, so they look like funky coal shapes. Allow them to cool about 20 minutes.

When the coal is completely cooled it can be wrapped in cellophane, plastic wrap, or foil. Give it to that naughty boy or girl, or just set some lumps of coal out for all to enjoy. After all, all of us have a little naughty in us!

Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt

December 12, 2013 in KIDS CORNER

Do you like to drive around and ohhh and ahhh over sparkly Christmas lights? Every December we load the kids up in the car and drive around our town to check out the Christmas lights, but this year I wanted to spice up our tradition, so we tried this Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt game. We drove around town and check things off the list as we spot them.

Layers of Learning made a FREE printable scavenger hunt checklist of items for you and the family to go find together.  You could divide up into 2 teams and make the scavenger hunt a contest, but we’re just going to out as a family, list in hand, to spot things together.  We do have the rule that you can only find one item per house though.  Once our list is all checked off we’ll head home to discover hot cocoa and cookies for our prize.

Make it a fun family evening by turning on some Christmas music and bringing some snacks for the car – Christmas cookies, snack mix, popcorn, etc. and maybe even hot chocolate in spill-proof cups.

Click below to download the scavenger hunt as a PDF file.  The document is in color if you want to print it that way – we only have a black and white laser printer so ours are more boring.

Fun family Christmas activity

Here’s a link to the printable if you want to go on your own Christmas lights scavenger hunt.  Hope you have lots of holiday fun with your kiddos.