Saturday, December 13, 2014

Elf Food

Christmas is my most favorite time of year! The good cheer, lights, presents, candy canes, hot cocoa, and music make it a true winter wonderland. But for me, the most exciting part about it all is experiencing Christmas with my children.  They believe so completely in Christmas magic that, for a moment, I believe in it again too.

I have very vivid childhood memories about Christmas. I remember how deeply I believed and how excited I was in the days leading up to Christmas. I can close my eyes right now and see the colored lights lining our house, smell the candles that were always lit on Christmas Eve, hear Nat King Cole Christmas carols playing on some cassette tape, and feel the increasing anticipation as we waited for Santa to arrive at our house. We always stayed up late on Christmas Eve celebrating our childhood while making the best family memories possible. I love my parents so much for giving this to me. It was a full sensory experience that is so ingrained into me that I have no choice but to recreate it for my children. I want to see them jump for joy when they spy Rudolph's nose in the distance,  burst with excitement when they hear the ringing bells of Santa's sleigh and squeal with delight at the sight of all their presents piled around the tree.

One thing that did not exist when I was young was the Elf of the Shelf. It is such a simple idea that it is brilliant (another million dollar mommy idea that I missed out on!) I have really run away with this idea trying to make it bigger and better (and sometimes totally inappropriate.) Here are some of the fun antics:

Contrary to popular opinion Elves are not limited to the 4 main food groups of candy, candy corn, candy canes and maple syrup. They love smores but hate the idea of getting close to an open flame (elves are fearful of fire so never but your elf near the flames!) Luckily I have a solution that is so easy even an elf can do it! And really whats not to love about this...marshmallows, chocolate, cereal... oh my goodness!

What You Need:

  • 2 Cups Golden Grahams
  • 1/4 Cup Marshmallow Bits
  • 1/4 Cup Milk Chocolate Morsels
  • Handful of Red M&Ms (picked and sorted out of a bag of Christmas M&Ms)


Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and serve. Seriously, how easy is that!! 

My little elves absolutely love this! Though this elf picks out and eats all the chocolate pieces (she`s smarter than I thought!)

Food Play: Peppermint Play Dough 

It is a rainy day here and we wanted to do a Christmas craft. I scrolled through Pinterest with my 4 year old and she rejected every art activity that had paint (thank goodness! that is always a mess!) and zoned in on the play dough idea. I had never made scented play dough and was up for giving it a try. We were all out of red play dough so we couldn`t make a full on candy cane theme. Green was just as lovely though. Pop the Elf even got involved!

What You Need for Play Dough:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • food coloring
  • drops of peppermint oil

I added the first 4 ingredients to my mixer and began mixing. I than added the hot water followed by the food coloring until the desired color was achieved. Put in some peppermint oil to give it a nice elvish smell. Top it all off with a lot of glitter. The more the better!! If it feels a little tacky add some more flour.

Add in some cookie cutters and candy canes and you have yourself a play date.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hoot! Hoot! Cupcakes

I love owls! It might not be apparent to people who know me, but I do. My affinity for these creatures can be traced back to one place: Chi Omega. This is the sorority that I joined way back in college at the University of Oregon. Our main symbol is the owl. For those of you that joined a sorority maybe the thing that you love is an anchor, key, dolphin, lyre, crescent moon, or arrow. If you did not join a sorority you may have no idea what I am talking about, but stay with me. My sorority meant a lot to me back then.  It gave me a sense of belonging at a large university but more importantly it was a place to call home. I got to share my college experience with some truly amazing women.  Oh the stories they could tell about me... Oh the stories I could tell about them! But, behind every chapter house is a national organization that works to ensure that the women who join their ranks are provided a fulfilling experience filled with ideals to which to aspire and purposes by which to live their life (it isn't all social!) Chi Omega still means a lot to me.

One of the few roles I hold outside of 'Mommy' is as an adviser at the University of Arizona's chapter of Chi Omega. It has been a way to connect to the community, to meet new friends and to remain an active part of an organization that I love. Moreover, it has helped me remember that I am more than just a mother (something that is easy to forget during the formidable toddler years.) So, last weekend I hosted about 20 of the active members from the U of A chapter at my house for an overnight retreat. They are some of the brightest, most hard working, and determined young women you could ever meet... they give me hope for the future! To honor them I made some Owl cupcakes. They weren't super fancy as I used whatever I already had in my pantry. I literally just winged it. (ha! ha!)

What You Need:

box of cake mix
jar of frosting
food coloring
assortment of toppings
  • Fruit loops
  • M and Ms
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Slivered Almonds
  • Cherrrios
  • White Chocolate discs (these are the kind you get for melting)
  • Marshmallows

Preheat oven as directed on the box. 
Mix cake mix. I mixed half the cake mix with lots of red food coloring. Then, I filled each cup cake with a scoop of each color to create a marbled effect. (Chi Omegas colors are cardinal and straw hence the 2 colors. But you can do this for any color combo you desire, or not at all.)

Once the cupcakes are out of the oven allow them to cool completely before frosting.

Once frosted begin to decorate your cupcake. I used a dab of frosting to stick the M&M to the white chocolate disc (or marshmallow.) I also used a Fruit Loop for the nose and eyebrows.

I think they turned out pretty cute considering I had a very unhelpful helper at my side trying to stick her finger in EVERYTHING and eat what she could.