Getting a Head Start on Planning for Thanksgiving

Do you have plans for Thanksgiving? As usual, our family will get together at our house. I am starting my planning for Thanksgiving early this year and hopefully getting things organized well ahead of time so on Thanksgiving Day I will be able to enjoy most of the day with family, some I don’t get to see very often.

My favorite idea for starting a great family Thanksgiving Tradition is to have each family member bring at least one old picture. I have the perfect place in our sunroom to display all of them. I’m not sure if we should just have the person who brought the picture tell us about it or if we should make a game of it and have people choose a picture and then tell everyone who they think is in the picture and what is going on. In either case, I think it will be fun to hear some family stories and maybe learn a little more about the family. Thanks to InspiringHomeStyle.com for this family picture idea.
Family Activity CollageSomething else I will have ready for each guest to do while we are getting dinner ready is to make a Thanksgiving Hand Wreath. Thanks to ToysInTheDryer.com for the idea. I am going to put the kids in charge of getting everyone to trace their hand on a colored piece of paper and cut them out. I think it will be fun to have everyone sign their handprint and if they want, to write something they are thankful on it also. Then, I have a wire wreath that the kid’s can attached all the hands to. This should make a festive Thanksgiving decoration.

Another quick activity I plan to have to keep guests entertained is to fill a jar with candy corn and have each guest guess of how many pieces of candy are in the jar. After dinner, the person with the closest guess wins the candy. This is so easy to do ahead of time, as long as I can hide the jar of candy so no one eats any of it before Thanksgiving.
Candy Corn in jarAdditionally, I’ve planned just to give the kiddos something to do when they start to get a little bored called Pin the Feather on the Turkey. I found a cute Pin the Feather on the Turkey printable at LakeshoreLearning.com. I’ll just print out one turkey for each of the kids and let them color the turkey and feather and cut out their feather. Then all we need to do is choose one of the colored turkeys for everyone to pin the feather on. I’m sure this won’t take very long, but it will be something to occupy them for a little while anyway.

In closing, I want to remind everyone to remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Be thankful for all your blessings throughout the year. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, think about sharing your blessings with your neighbors and friends. Maybe make an extra loaf of bread and send it to a neighbor with a note of Thanks. However you celebrate, hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family, friends and many blessings.

Two Healthy Halloween Treats and A Not So Healthy One

Halloween is such a fun holiday for the kids. Of course they like the Trick-or-Treating and getting a giant sack full of candy, but more and more these days it’s also about having a great Halloween party for all the neighborhood kids and friends and family. If you are like me, I am always on the lookout for cute Halloween treats that are healthy but something the kids still want to eat. That’s not always the easiest thing to do. But I have two really cute treats that your kids will gobble up and one not so healthy one, but it’s so cute and easy why not add it to your party treats.

First of all I love these Frankenstein Kiwis. Looks easy enough to make. Just cut the end off the kiwi so it will stand flat. Next use a vegetable peeler to peel the bottom 2/3 leaving an uneven hairline for Frank. Add a couple of raisins for eyes, a pretzel stick piece for the mouth and a pretzel rod end on either side of the head to give him the finishing touch. Looks good enough to eat!
Kiwi FrankensteinThe second easy healthy snack is this cute pretzel stick/cheese broom. Your favorite little witch will want to pack several on her plate before they all fly away. Well, mostly easy to make, just a pretzel stick and a third of apiece if string cheese. Poke the end of a pretzel stick partially into the cheese, not too far or you will split the cheese. Then just shred the cheese to look like the end of a broom and tie a thin piece of chive around to finish it off. Granted, this shredding of cheese can take some time, but if you have kids that like to help out in the kitchen, you could assign them the shredding task.
Pretzel Cheese BroomsticksFinally, the not so healthy, but so cute little ghosts sitting on a chocolate brownie. Just bake a pan of brownies and cut them into small squares. Place a large marshmallow on top of the brownie and then heat some vanilla frosting in the microwave just until it is runny. Drizzle one tablespoon frosting over each marshmallow to coat. Let stand until frosting is set, about 30 minutes. Use black gel to make eyes and mouths. Looks pretty tasty to me.
Ghost BrowniesHope you all will have a Scary Good Halloween this year. And if you try out any of the ideas listed here, let us know how they turned out. Thanks to the following creative bloggers for these tasty Halloween treats.

Shadow Picture Father’s Day Project

I enjoy doing crafty things with the kids and I hope they also enjoy the little projects I come up with. I’ll admit that most of what I do with them is something I have found on line and more specifically on Pinterest. The craft possibilities on there are endless. So, with Father’s Day fast approaching, I found the perfect Father’s Day project for this year’s gift giving. It is a shadow “We Love You” picture that I have seen several times on Pinterest. DiscountQueens.com helped me with directions on how to take the picture and not have to just make it a trial and error shoot.
shadow picture
Here’s what you need to do to take your picture, if you decide this is something you want to try.
* Cardboard or poster board,
* Exacto knife or scissors,
* Kids and a sunny day.

Decide what you want your sign to say and write it on the cardboard. Make sure the letters with inside space such as: d, a, e, b, o, and p stay connected so you will be able to read them in the shadow. Use the Exacto knife or scissors to cut out your message. Then round up the kiddos on a sunny day and find a place to take your picture. (On the driveway seems to work pretty well.) Position the kids with the sun at their backs and you in front of them. Have the kids hold the sign upside down so the shadow will be readable. Take several pictures until you think you have something you like. All that’s left is to print the pictures to fit in your picture frame.

Here is where the kids get to do their thing. Because we have two granddads to celebrate Father’s day with along with my husband, we will do an individualized picture frame for each of them. I’ll let the kids get creative with how they want to decorate the frames. (There were some awesome frames that I saw that would be fun to do if we can’t come up with anything on our own.)
golf frame Lego framenuts frame rocks frame Scrabble frame
This Shadow Picture would work for many other occasions other than Father’s Day so don’t limit yourself to just this time of year. But in the mean time, Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome Fathers and Grandfathers.

More Things To Do With Family In Charleston, SC

We had a wonderful time during our visit to Charleston, SC. Of course our big thing was to visit as many wonderful restaurants as possible during our stay, but as the saying goes, you can’t live by bread alone. A previous article highlighted many of our adventures, but there were three more fun places I want to recommend that we enjoyed while we were there.
Folly Beach Pier
Our first stop was at Folly Beach Pier. I really enjoyed our time here. One nice advantage for a family friendly visit is that there was no admission to the pier. I know we appreciate places that don’t cost a fortune to visit. It is a long pier (2nd longest on the east coast) and has a second story at the end with beautiful views of the shore. If your family is into fishing, you can fish from the pier and there are cleaning stations at several locations along the pier.
Lady With Seagulls
The day we visited, it wasn’t very crowded and we enjoyed watching a lady surrounded by seagulls in a feeding frenzy as she was tossing out dried bread for them. If this is something your kids would like to do be sure to have something they can toss out to the birds.
Girl With Seagulls
There is a restaurant for refreshments and a nice gift shop along with clean restrooms at the entrance to the pier. The beach is quite nice and as always we had to take some time to walk along the shore and look for shells. This would be a great place for a picnic lunch on a blanket in the sand.
Lighthouse And Rocks
Our next stop was at Morris Island Lighthouse. If you love lighthouses like a lot of us, this is a beautiful place to visit. It is at the end of Folly Beach and there is a limited amount of free parking at the end of the cul-de-sac. To get to the lighthouse there is a short walk (about a ¼ to ½ mile) on a paved old roadway. Then there is another walk through sand dunes to the beach. Once at the beach you will see a beautiful serene and secluded beach with the old lighthouse out in the water. It’s a great place to just sit and relax and take in all the beauty or if you are like me, take lots and lots of pictures.
Lighthouse
We were even told that you can see dolphins swimming in the bay, though we didn’t see any while we were there. We were also told that getting in the water is not advised as the currents are very treacherous and not worth the gamble. This is also designated a wildlife preserve, so don’t disturb the flora or fauna.

Our third and final stop was at the Angel Tree. It was a little bit hard to find, but was worth the stop. Located on John’s Island, the property is maintained by the city of Charleston. There is no admission to see the tree and there is a little gift shop where you can purchase some souvenirs. Other than looking at the tree, there is really nothing else to see. But what a beautiful tree!
Angel Tree
Although you might think the name comes from the way the tree spreads its branches, it is really named for the property’s previous owners, Martha and Justice Angel. It is 66.5 ft. tall, has a circumference of 31.5 feet and provides shade for 17,000 square feet. It is the largest Southern Live Oak east of the Mississippi and is estimated to be 300 to 400 years old or maybe even longer. The life expectancy of Live Oaks can be 700 to 900 years old.

I hope this gigantic tree will be around that long to show off it’s beauty for families for generations to come.

If you are looking for a great family vacation trip, I hope you consider stopping in Charleston, SC. There is so much to see and do, I’m sure you will love it as much as our family did.

Things To Do With Family In Charleston, SC

On our last visit to Charleston, SC we had such a great time just had to go back! We like to go when things aren’t real busy with tourist traffic, or when it it’s too hot, so we went there the beginning of February. I guess the weather could have been a little better, a little warmer temperatures would have been welcomed, but overall, it was a nice vacation. On the last trip we went to the Aquarium, Patriots Point and Battery Park and the Waterfront Park. The kids and adults all had a fabulous time. If you haven’t had a chance to read about that trip, here’s a link to that article.
Middleton Place
We only had a few days to spend sightseeing but we managed to find some great places everyone just loved! I think everyone’s favorite was Middleton Place Gardens. Although the kids weren’t too excited to be going to a garden in the winter, we were all pleasantly surprised how beautiful it was and there were camellias blooming. Because it is a formal garden, even without flowers, the trees with the hanging Spanish moss and the ponds and all the statues makes for a peaceful place to spend some time. We only had time to go through the garden and stable area, but there are horse drawn carriage rides, a home tour available for an additional fee, and a restaurant. I think we spent three hours just exploring the grounds.

horse
Of course the kids liked the stable area the best. Our first stop was at the textile room. A woman was there explaining how the textiles were made. They have sheep that they sheer and get the wool, and angora goats that they also get material from to weave into cloth. The woman was great and answered all the questions the kids had about how she used the resources that were available to make things.

goat
On our way to the barn, we stopped to talk to a volunteer who began telling us all about the tools that the slaves used in their everyday jobs. The coolest thing was the corn grinder: two very large stones stacked on top of each other, with a hole in the center where you put the corn. You use a wooden pole to turn the stones, which grinds the corn. Of course you can’t just put the corn through the grinder one time, NO, you have to do this several time to get a fine grind. When I tried to do some grinding, I could hardly move the stones. Just imagine a slave doing this all day long!

Grinding corn
Once we had some corn ground, the guide used some of it to coax two female peacocks out of the rafters to the ground. They were really cool to see, fanning out their feathers and gobbling up the corn.

Peacock
Our next stop along the way was at the potters shop. He was very informative about all the different pieces of pottery that he had found on the property. The kids loved the arrowheads and the pieces of pipes that he had found. They even guessed what the pieces of small white tubes were. (They were the stems of an old pipe.) The potter encouraged the kids to pick up and look at different pieces of old pottery. They really enjoyed that.

Potter
But the big draw was the day old twin lambs and the week old lambs in the barn. They were so cute and even a bit curious. For just being a week old they were up and exploring their space.

Baby lambs
It isn’t everyday the kids get to experience all this great interaction with animals. They loved it.

There were horses that the kids got to pet, a pig, goats that were close enough for them to pet too, along with cows and water buffalo. We stayed quite a distance from the cows and the water buffalo, though.
Water Buffalo
After checking out all the animals, we went exploring more of the grounds. They used to grow rice there and you can see a little area where they still grow some. It is quite fascinating all that is involved with growing rice.

This place must be just gorgeous in the spring. They have one hillside that is planted with thousands of azaleas. I would love to go back and see that.

So, with all the beautiful gardens, the wonderful animals, we all enjoyed Middleton Place. And I haven’t even touched on the history of the place. So much to see and do and so little time!

If you are ever in the area with your family and looking for something fun to do, be sure to consider taking a tour at Middleton Place.

I have more fun things to tell you about our time in Charleston, but you will just have to check back for my next installment. There’s even more things to keep you and your family busy when you are in the area.

NOTE: We had more adventures on this trip and you can read about them here.

Creative Easter Ideas For Kids

While I was checking out Pinterest, my favorite place to get Easter ideas, I found some fun things I want to do this Easter. Oh, sure I found lots of great Easter recipes and who knows, I will probably end up trying out one or two new tasty treats again this year. But right now I am all about something new and fun, and here are three FUN, creative Easter ideas for kids.

Easter Bunny Door

The first thing I want to do is decorating the front door with this giant bunny face. Isn’t he just adorable? I know the kids will have a great time making him and enjoy him hanging around until after Easter. Thanks to EastCoastMommyBlog for the fantastic idea!
The ears, eyes, nose, whiskers and bow tie were made of Bristol board and attached above the door and on the door with painter’s tape. Pom poms were added to the bow tie to give it a 3-D effect. The kids will have so much fun making this.
Easter Bunny Door

Peep S’mores

The second fun idea from StyleBlueprint.com is something so simple I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it myself. Making Peep S’mores: The kids love S’mores and we always have the cute little peeps handy at Easter. I think the kids will love heating the colorful chicks up and then smushing the sugary treats between two graham crackers and some chocolate. YUM!

We will make them in the microwave, but use caution if you are attempted to roast the little critters over an open flame. The sugar on the outside of the Peeps starts to burn then caramelizes, making them almost dangerously hot. Burn with caution!
Easter Smore With A Peep In It

Walking On Eggs

Lastly, this one looks really cool, and I’m sure the kids would love to give it a try. I don’t know if I am brave enough to have them try it though. It is a great science experiment though! What kid wouldn’t get a kick out of walking on eggs!

If you are brave enough to have your kids give it a try, here is what you will need and some scientific background to talk to them about the strength of arches.

* 4 to 8 dozen eggs.
* Something to protect the floor.
* A towel to clean up any mess should you have a miss step.
* Have the kids wear socks to keep their feet from sticking to the eggs.

To begin, inspect all the eggs to be sure there are no cracks in any of them. Place all the eggs in egg carton pointed side down. This will make it easier for the kids to walk on them. Before you let them take the walk, take a few minutes to talk to the kids about why they will be able to do this.

If they take the egg in their hand and try to break it, they will have a hard time doing so. If they take an egg and hit it against the side of a bowl, it will break. Why? When your hand squeezes the egg evenly over the shell, the shell was able to withstand the pressure of the force. The bowl hit just one part of the shell and the force wasn’t spread out, causing it to break. That’s why when a hen sits on her eggs, she applies an even pressure (like your hand did) but when a chick pecks its way out, it applies force to a small part of the egg with its hard beak (just like the bowl).
Easter Walk On Eggs
So what will happen if you stand on the eggs with flat feet and even pressure? Will they break?

This would be the time to give it a try! Just be sure to remind whoever is going to be the first guinea pig to keep their feet flat and not dig their heels down. Hey, good luck with this, and thanks to PlaydoughToPlato.com for the great idea and science lesson!

Hope your Easter is EGG-celent !