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Saturday
Dec272014

Stay up Late and Celebrate

 

Five – Four – Three – Two – One!

The countdown is on to make plans to ring in the New Year!  Dancing? Dining Out?  House Party? Family Gathering?  There is no shortage of fun events and outings going on around town this year.  For me, a cozy New Year’s Eve at home with my family beats all. 

Kids love to create, celebrate and stay up late.  So I am giving them lots of options this year.  We are going to have a party in our own living room and whoop it up until the ball drops to ring in 2014. 

Create

Let kids decorate and personalize their own party hats and noisemakers with markers, glitter, and tissue.  Use plain paper cones or wide headbands for the hats.

Make a Memory Book or Time Capsule.  Give each child a photos of some their favourite 2013 memories.  Gather fun keepsakes and use an old jar or scrap book put them together.  Encourage kids to comment on photos and tag items with their memories. 

Create a special kids table.  Set up a fun kids table giving them a fun place to sit.  Decorate it with garland and other Christmas stuff you already have around.  

Decorate.  Add a little sparkle to your table by lighting a couple of sparklers as the countdown starts.

Celebrate

Bake a Wish Cake. This is a fun Greek tradition in which you bake a cake with a lucky coin or other trinket hidden inside.  The recipient of the coin is said to have good luck for the upcoming year.

Watch home movies and reminisce. Cuddle up with some popcorn and look over your favourite moments from the past year together. 

Dress up and have a dance party.  Kids love to dress up, so let them put on their best clothes, push the furniture back and have a dance party.  Make it even more fun by wearing boas, tutus, silly hats and glasses. 

Make Memory Books.  Provide each child with a small notebook and have them write and draw their memories from the year.

Talk about resolutions and what they mean.  Have kids write down what theirs are for 2013

Stay up Late

Celebrate Midnight in Another Country.  Let’s face it, some of our kids are just too young to make it until midnight.  Why not celebrate the New Year earlier in the day alongside another country in another part of the world.  If you are in CAnada for example, you could celebrate alongside Paris which would be 6:00 p.m  Oh La La.

Ring it In. Set all the clocks, alarms, and cell phones to go off at midnight.

Keep them Busy. Do hourly activities to help kids count down the time.   Write them on a slip of paper and put them inside of a balloon or envelope.  

Midnight Milk and Cookies Toast

Have a balloon drop at midnight.  You can make your own balloon drop using a drawstring garbage bag.  Till it with balloons and hang it upside down.  Then undo the drawstring at midnight and let the balloons shower down. 

 

Events Around Town

If you are the type that can’t live without the fireworks and full scale festivities, Ottawa has a number of family friendly events to choose from. 

Head down to Sparks Street for their Capital Countdown.  There will be food, favours, entertainment and the midnight Maple Leaf Drop.  Dress warm. It is forecast to be a cold one. 

Rick Chiarelli’s Alcohol-free Family New Year’s Eve party has a pirate and princess them this year.  What fun?  The party starts at 6:00 p.m. at Centerpoint – Ben Franklin Place with Fireworks at 10:00 p.m.  Kids will love the magicians, dancers, face painters and other live entertainment. 

Closer to the downtown area?  Celebrate at Ottawa City Hall Scottish style.  The 2nd Annual Scottish Hogmanay starts at 6:00 p.m.   There will be Scottish dancing and music, the Glengarry Pipe Band, Scotch tasting, skating on the Rink of Dreams and fireworks at midnight.

However you celebrate, my wish is that you and your family enjoy a fun-filled evening and that 2014 be filled with health and happiness.

 

Julie

 

 

Make a New Year's Time Capsule

 This is a fun and easy project that the whole family can do together.

Start by asking a few questions to get the kids thinking about what they would like to add to the box:

  • Where do you think we will live in the future?
  • What will you remember about this year?
  • What do you like best about your world right now?
  • Are there any major events happening in your life this year?
  • What do you think that world will be like in the future?

 

Now have them collect things that they would like to save in the time capsule.

  • A 2014 penny
  • A recent photograph
  • A Christmas or Valentine card they received recently or a birthday invitation
  • A newspaper clipping.
  • A ticket stub
  • Their hand / foot print.

 

  • Their age and grade
  • Their teachers name
  • Their best friend
  • Their favourite food
  • What they got for Christmas
  • What they plan to do for their birthday this year.
  • Their favourite place to be
  • Have them draw a picture of how they think they will look in four years. 

 

Tuck the items and letters into your decorated box and tape it up. Hide it in a safe place

Thursday
Dec112014

Fun and Festive Christmas Ornaments to make with the Kids

Cookie Cutter Ornaments

You will need:  
  • Aluminum cookie cutters
  • Patterned paper
  • Color-photocopy pictures
  • Card stock
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • White craft glue
  • Needle
  • Ribbon
  • Beads
STEP 1
Choose patterned papers or color-photocopy pictures onto card stock. Trace cutter on top; cut out. Dab white craft glue along cutter's edge. Press paper in place; let dry.
STEP 2
Thread narrow ribbon through needle; poke between paper and cutter, and wrap ribbon around top of cutter. Slip a bead over ribbon's ends; knot.

Button Ornaments

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Buttons
  • Felt
  • Craft glue
  • Thread
STEP 1
Bend a pipe cleaner in half and twist once at the top for a loop.
STEP 2
Slide buttons over pipe cleaner ends, slipping one end into each hole (if the button has four holes, use two diagonal ones). Use larger buttons for bellies and hat brims.
STEP 3
When finished, twist ends of pipe cleaner to secure, and trim.
STEP 4
For reindeer legs and antlers and for Santa's arms, bend 2-inch pieces of pipe cleaner in half, slip on between buttons, and twist.
STEP 5
Glue on felt for Santa's beard and the snowman's nose.
STEP 6
To hang the reindeer, loop a thread around its middle and tie.

Pipe Cleaner Snowflakes

These directions yield a snowflake that is 6 inches in diameter, with three arms attached to each spoke. To create larger or smaller snowflakes, simply adjust the proportions of the pipe-cleaner pieces accordingly. You can also use more or fewer arms on each spoke.
  • Wire cutter or pair of old scissors
  • Three 6-inch pieces of pipe cleaner, plus six 2 1/2-inch pieces, six 2-inch 
  • Needlenose pliers
STEP 1
Using a wire cutter or old scissors, cut three 6-inch pieces of pipe cleaner. Then cut six 2 1/2-inch pieces, six 2-inch pieces, and six 1 1/2-inch pieces. 
STEP 2
Twist 6-inch pieces together at their midpoints to make a six-spoked asterisk. Tighten twist by clamping down with needlenose pliers. 
STEP 3
Center one 2 1/2-inch piece at the midpoint of a spoke, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. 
STEP 4
About 1/2 inch from an arm attached in step 3 (toward spoke's tip), center one 2-inch piece, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. 
STEP 5
About 1/2 inch from an arm attached in step 4 (toward spoke's tip), center one 1 1/2-inch piece, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. Trim arms if needed.
STEP 6
To hang, glue a loop of cord to the back of a spoke.

 

 

 

STEP 1Choose patterned papers or color-photocopy pictures onto card stock. Trace cutter on top; cut out. Dab white craft glue along cutter's edge. Press paper in place; let dry.STEP 2Thread narrow ribbon through needle; poke between paper and cutter, and wrap ribbon around top of cutter. Slip a bead over ribbon's ends; knot.

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Buttons
  • Felt
  • Craft glue
  • Thread

STEP 1Bend a pipe cleaner in half and twist once at the top for a loop.STEP 2Slide buttons over pipe cleaner ends, slipping one end into each hole (if the button has four holes, use two diagonal ones). Use larger buttons for bellies and hat brims.STEP 3When finished, twist ends of pipe cleaner to secure, and trim.STEP 4For reindeer legs and antlers and for Santa's arms, bend 2-inch pieces of pipe cleaner in half, slip on between buttons, and twist.STEP 5Glue on felt for Santa's beard and the snowman's nose.STEP 6To hang the reindeer, loop a thread around its middle and tie.These directions yield a snowflake that is 6 inches in diameter, with three arms attached to each spoke. To create larger or smaller snowflakes, simply adjust the proportions of the pipe-cleaner pieces accordingly. You can also use more or fewer arms on each spoke.STEP 1Using a wire cutter or old scissors, cut three 6-inch pieces of pipe cleaner. Then cut six 2 1/2-inch pieces, six 2-inch pieces, and six 1 1/2-inch pieces. STEP 2Twist 6-inch pieces together at their midpoints to make a six-spoked asterisk. Tighten twist by clamping down with needlenose pliers. STEP 3Center one 2 1/2-inch piece at the midpoint of a spoke, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. STEP 4About 1/2 inch from an arm attached in step 3 (toward spoke's tip), center one 2-inch piece, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. STEP 5About 1/2 inch from an arm attached in step 4 (toward spoke's tip), center one 1 1/2-inch piece, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. Trim arms if needed.STEP 6To hang, glue a loop of cord to the back of a spoke.

Festive Cookie Totes

Pringles Can Cookie Totes

You will need:

  • Pringles Can
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Wax Paper
  • Parchment of Freezer Paper
  • Ribbon
  • Blue
  • Muffin Liners

 

Cut the wrapping paper to fit around the can and glue it in place.   Cut the ribbon and wrap it around the top and bottom of the tube.  You may want to use a little glue here too.   Cut the wax paper a similar size and roll it so that it fits inside of the can. Put your cookies into the muffin cups and then slide them into the tube.

 

Foil Box Cookie Totes

  • Empty Aluminum Foil, Wax Paper, Plastic or Parchment Boxes
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Tissue Paper
  • Buttons
  • Hole Punch
  • Ribbon or Twine

Start by cutting off the sharp edges from the boxes. Wrap all the way around with decorative paper and line the inside with tissue. Fill cookies. Glue button to the top lid and Punch a hole in the bottom lid.  Tie to button to close box.  

 

Handmade Keepsake Ornaments

How our tree has grown since the kids have come into our lives.  Each year, as we put up our tree, we take time to look at the ornaments that we have collected over the years.  There is the one we got for a wedding gift, our first home, baby’s first Christmas times two – one pink and one blue.  We have received some ornaments as gifts over the years as well.  There are ballerinas and Legos, drum sticks and running shoes.  Our tree tells a story of us, our family. 

Every time we visit a new or interesting place, we try to pick up a souvenir ornament in the gift shop. It is a great way to remember some of our adventures.  Some years, the kids have made beautiful keepsake ornaments at school.  I also like to make a few at home.  The salt dough handprints are my absolute favourite.  I try to do them every couple of years as the kids grow.   Last year we decorated shells from a trip to Mexico and this year we are making  time capsule ornaments for the year 2013! 

Time Capsule Ornament

You will need:

A clear plastic ornament (available at craft stores)

You child’s school picture

Paper

Small piece of ribbon

Modge Podge

Sponge Brush

I started by helping the kids to write out their memories and milestones from this year – what grade they are in, their teacher’s name, their best friend, favourite book and tv show, trips we took and what they did for their birthday are all  good things to record. You could also print these out on the computer.

I gently took the top off the ornament by squeezing the metal prongs. Then I cut the lines of printed memories into strips and slipped them into the ornament and replaced the top.

MITK Tip:  Buy more than one ornament.  You never know!

I cut the school picture into a circle and painted modge podge on the back to stick it to the ornament.  Then I brushed another layer of modge podge on the edges of the picture and smoothed it out with my fingers.  Once the edges dried, I brushed another coat of modge over the entire photo. 

I topped it off with a pretty ribbon hanger.

Salt Doug Hand Ornament

This is what you need:

4 cups of flour
1 cup salt

Food coloring
Large Mixing Bowl
Water to moisten
Cookie sheet
A little oil 
Small rolling pin 
A drinking straw
Ribbon
A plate for a guide
Paint to decorate

This recipe will make three ornaments.

In your mixing bowl ~ gradually blend in your flour & salt with water to make the dough. 

MITK tip *Remember to add gradually, because you can always add more water but it is hard to take it away.

Divide dough mixture into three parts, lightly oil the cookie sheet, form and roll out dough. Be sure to make the dough thick enough to form the handprint.

Use the drinking straw to put a hole in the top for the ribbon. 

The best part is letting the kids press their hands into the dough to make their prints.

Place in a 150* degree oven for an hour. Or you can air dry overnight  for 24 hours.

Once dry, paint or decorate as you like. 

Shell Keepsake Ornaments

This is a simple way to keep memories of your family vacations.

While away on vacation last year, we collected shells on the beach.  I tried to find ones with holes in the top to make it easy to hang them on the tree.  When we returned from our trip, I tucked the shells into the Christmas box. 

What you need:

Shells

Ribbon

Sharpie

Sparkly paints

All you need to do to make this holiday ornament is to write the name of the place where you collected the shells and the year.   With writing on the shell, I gave the kids some sparkly paint and had them decorate as they liked.  Last, I tied a pretty ribbon to the top to ready them for the tree.

I hope that you and your family will enjoy creating these ornaments for your tree and that you will continue to add stories as the years go buy.

 

Happy Holidays. 

STEP 1Choose patterned papers or color-photocopy pictures onto card stock. Trace cutter on top; cut out. Dab white craft glue along cutter's edge. Press paper in place; let dry.STEP 2Thread narrow ribbon through needle; poke between paper and cutter, and wrap ribbon around top of cutter. Slip a bead over ribbon's ends; knot.

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Buttons
  • Felt
  • Craft glue
  • Thread

Bend a pipe cleaner in half and twist once at the top for a loop.STEP 2Slide buttons over pipe cleaner ends, slipping one end into each hole (if the button has four holes, use two diagonal ones). Use larger buttons for bellies and hat brims.STEP 3When finished, twist ends of pipe cleaner to secure, and trim.STEP 4For reindeer legs and antlers and for Santa's arms, bend 2-inch pieces of pipe cleaner in half, slip on between buttons, and twist.STEP 5Glue on felt for Santa's beard and the snowman's nose.STEP 6To hang the reindeer, loop a thread around its middle and tie.These directions yield a snowflake that is 6 inches in diameter, with three arms attached to each spoke. To create larger or smaller snowflakes, simply adjust the proportions of the pipe-cleaner pieces accordingly. You can also use more or fewer arms on each spoke.STEP 1Using a wire cutter or old scissors, cut three 6-inch pieces of pipe cleaner. Then cut six 2 1/2-inch pieces, six 2-inch pieces, and six 1 1/2-inch pieces. STEP 2Twist 6-inch pieces together at their midpoints to make a six-spoked asterisk. Tighten twist by clamping down with needlenose pliers. STEP 3Center one 2 1/2-inch piece at the midpoint of a spoke, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. STEP 4About 1/2 inch from an arm attached in step 3 (toward spoke's tip), center one 2-inch piece, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. STEP 5About 1/2 inch from an arm attached in step 4 (toward spoke's tip), center one 1 1/2-inch piece, and twist onto spoke. Tighten twist with needlenose pliers. Repeat on remaining 5 spokes. Trim arms if needed.STEP 6To hang, glue a loop of cord to the back of a spoke.

Friday
Nov282014

Home for the Holidays? - Solutions on how to Create the Space

BLOGPOST by Designer Veronica Martin

The holiday season is fast approaching and I, like many others, am starting to realize that before the festivities get underway, we have to make the annual effort to clear away all that accumulated clutter that we have ‘ignored?’ and that is sure to be inconveniently visible.  So, before Dec. 1st. I like to spend time organizing the house for all the family and friends who will come by for eggnog, fruit cake and the usual spiritual glasses of cheer.  Since I can never find one weekend to fully devote myself to the de-cluttering tasks, I usual break it down into three areas to tackle over the month:  1. My kids’ spaces, 2. My mudroom (or foyer) and 3. My kitchen.

Tackle your Kids Space first!

 

Get rid of toys you’re not using! Remember the Island of Lost Toys from the kids Christmas TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Last year I had a room in my house that literally became that island 10 times over.  I had been keeping baby toys for my mommy coffee mornings and for my sister’s visits with her three kids, but it came to a clutter point where I realized I didn’t need to hold onto all of them, and I didn’t need to keep them out for my kids to inevitably spread them further around the house.  It was simply time to purge the playthings.

 

So, sort through the toys that your kids are no longer playing with (if they haven’t been played with in six months they certainly are candidates) and begin by grabbing a handful, a small one of 4-5 items, and store these in a decorative box or hidden bin (in a corner of the basement) for those times you have guests with smaller children.  Then simply bundle up all the others and give them to the amazing toy drives that are held at this time of year.  You will feel great for cleaning up all that excess plush and plastic, and feel even better for giving toys to those who can truly use them!

 

My Mud Room! 

Organize your Clothing!  Sadly, my family members have summer clothes and other summer items still in rotation. The result is my mud room is looking more like a holiday down south than a weekend at Tremblant.  Once the temperature drops, winter jackets, snow pants, hats, mitts, scarves, all pop-up in our mudroom, ending up piled on top of rain coats, rain boots, sun hats and summer jackets.  And the challenge here isn’t just all the piles; it’s what my girls want to wear right now, despite the weather.  My objectives immediately become, reduce their options… reduce the debate… and now I stand a chance of getting them to school and myself to work. As the saying goes: out of sight, peace of mind!  Besides, who needs a reminder about hot summer days when it’s -40 anyhow?

Get a grip of your gear! This is Tim the Toolman Taylor time!  There are innumerable solutions for the organization of storage rooms and garages, but here’s one I found most efficient. I sent my husband shopping for hooks, bins, shelves, boxes, anything to stop the piles on the floor from growing and making our garage looking like a scene from TV’s Hoarders.  If you have a garage, lucky you!  But if not perhaps you have a shed, porch, basement, or mud room.  It’s amazing how tidy an area can look if you have shelves and clearly labelled storage bins.  But it isn’t just about bins in the garage or shed. I haven’t snowboarded in 10 years, but this is my year to get back into it.  I’m sure we have goggles, knee pads, helmets, gloves, littered throughout the house.  I’m gathering it all, and have purchased small gorgeous inexpensive boxes to sit on my closet shelves.  Now, when I open my closet door, I grab and go instead of duck and cover.  

 

The Kitchen, our hub of the house

 

This is the season for baking, family dinners, parties, and in our house, a lot of breakfasts with pancakes!  Without an organized kitchen, I would be setting myself up for failure every December. 

By no means am I suggesting I know my way around a kitchen when it comes to baking or large dinner parties.  But I can pour a mean glass of wine, and fill anyone’s belly with a plate of food.  We had a dog three years ago and she was on a special diet for health reasons, so I had bought a rice cooker to help feed the 120 

 

pound beauty.  After she passed away we put that cooker in a cupboard and never used it again.  We like rice, but our portion is nothing a pot can’t handle.  Go deep in your cupboards, clear out all the gadgets, gizmos and rice cookers you haven’t used in the last year.  If you’ve hit every holiday and haven’t needed something, get rid of it!  Counter clutter is a big no-no in my house.  Once your cupboards are cleaned up, you all of a sudden have room for small kitchen appliances.  I don’t have to see my toaster to know I have one.   

 The holidays are busy enough, these few tips can help create orderly space and in turn maximize your festive time. Take this time it sit and enjoy that glass of wine, or two if you’re my guest. 

Veronica Martin Design Studio

www.veronicamartindesignstudio.com

613.769.4222

 

Friday
Nov212014

Help Santa Toy Parade

November 22rd, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. 

 Parade Route Below

Help Ottawa firefighters collect toys for those in need.  The Help Santa Toy Parade of lights is a tradition in Ottawa.  Local firefighters walk the route collecting toys from spectators. 

Starts at National Archives on Wellington Street, heading east on Wellington until Bank. The parade turns right, continuing south on Bank Street then turns left on Laurier Avenue. It heads east on Laurier until Elgin Street, where it ends near City Hall.

http://www.toyparade.org/ 

Here are some great tips for enjoying the parade 

  • Don't underestimate the crowds.
  • Arrive early if you want a good spot.
  • Be prepared for long waits.
  • Check the weather forecast before you head out.
  • Have a plan with your kids in case you get split up.

 

Here is a link to a list of other Santa Claus Parades in Eastern Ontari

Tuesday
Nov042014

Get Out and Be Active

November is in full swing and the holidays are fast approaching. The days are much shorter, the weather is getting colder and it’s officially the season for hibernating, eating more and exercising less.  When curling up on the couch seems far more appealing than heading outside, it takes a little motivation and preparation to keep the family active throughout the winter months.

Here are some ways to keep your family active as the weather cools down. 

Take your kids climbing. There are lots of indoor places to climb, a perfect activity for days when the weather is not so agreeable. A quick lesson on the basics of climbing and you’ll be set. Kids use their whole bodies while climbing and it is a great activity to teach problem-solving and help build confidence. And if the kids love it, you can move the adventure outdoors in the spring or summer.  Try Vertical Reality or Coyote Rock Gym.  There is also a small rock climbing wall at Fun Haven

Make a splash. Kids love to make a splash in the winter time.  There is nothing more exciting than swimming at an indoor pool while it is cold outside.  Family swim times are available throughout the week  at city pools.  City of Ottawa Website.   It can also be an adventure to visit the indoor water park at Travelodge or the Wave Pool in Kanata.  

 

Bring it inside:  There are so many wonderful indoor playgrounds in the Ottawa area and each one is unique.  From trampolines to bumper cars, bowling and everything in between, there are many great offerings to keep a family active.  Keep your eye on their websites to find specials and coupons that come up from time to time.  

Funhaven 

Star Gymnastics 

Tubes & Jujubes 

Brinkeetos 

Funatorium Explorium 

Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park 


Walk around the block.  Bundle up and get out for a walk with your family.  Take a look at all of the beautiful decorations going up around your neighbourhood.  Gaze at the stars or just have a great talk while you walk. 

 

Celebrate the first snow.   Make tracks. Make snow angels. Make a snowman. Often the first snow does not last, so embrace it. Kids will be excited to get out there and catch snowflakes on their tongue and dance around. Find your inner child and remember just how fun those first snowfalls can be. 



Try skating as a family. Ottawa has many indoor and outdoor ice surfaces that offer family and  recreational skating. The website has searchable schedules by community. Family skating is a great way to meet people from your neighborhood and keep active. Always remember to wear your helmets when ice skating.  Ottawa Public Skating Schedule.  

 

Visit the Community Centre  The city of Ottawa operates over 50 Community centres that focus on recreational, social, and cultural activities for everyone.  Check the schedules for each location to learn more about ways you can stay in shape and learn new skills.  Many centres offerer special programs during school breaks and holidays.  Ottawa Community Centres.  

Getting outside and being active with your kids is important. It sets them up for a lifetime of active living. If you make it a habit for them now, it will continue as they get older. Weather can make this challenging, but if you get out as the weather gets colder, it will be even easier when it warms up again. Being active as a family also creates so many great memories they will cherish and keeps the conversation going as the kids get older.