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Archive for December Bucket List

December Bucket List: Got Purple Santa?

December Bucket List IdeasHmmm. December bucket list? Got Purple Santa? Just a reminder that this weekend it is FREE to download on Kindle. Or if you want to skip that and order, we like that too. 😉 You can do that here. So check it out and see if you want to add some of our activities to your December Bucket List once you get the hard copy version. Meanwhile I decided to get busy with my own December Bucket List! Should I really do it this time? Make a purple tree?December Bucket List purple-tree

I decided this year to get a head start on my December Bucket List.  I was kind of late last year not thinking about it until December was half way over.  But this year I am sitting in a warmer than what I find appropriate climate for November and I am dreaming of December activities.  Before I get too far- Let me say that number one on my list is of course to read A December Bucket List. I suppose that goes without saying. So I’m ready to get to it.  Some are repeats. Some are new hopeful ideas. I hope you enjoy!

1)Find a great new holiday read aloud. I know Mariah Carey has one. And there is a new Eloise one. I’m sure there is something waiting for me to find it, but I’m determined to find it.  For me Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) was new last year, but if it is new to you it is free this weekend on Kindle I still love the original Night Before Christmas and Snowmen at Night! I can’t wait to find a new one!
2)Make Christmas Pajama pants for everyone to have on Christmas Eve. I don’t know if I will get there but I found a great post that might lead to a short cut! Check it out!December bucket list: Making pajama pants

 

3)String cranberries and popcorn for the tree.  This always puts such magic on our tree. And the chatter as we do it is so much fun!  It’s like baking cookies but without feeling guilty for eating all the dough! Just buy fresh cranberries, pop the popcorn the old fashioned way on the stove, get needle and thread and away you go.

4)Make a silly family Christmas card. December Bucket List: This year I'm making a fun family Christmas Card. Sending Christmas cards is such a hassle. But I really want to work on sending one out and making it fun! I wonder if I can get as creative as these folks?

5)Have a cookie exchange! December Bucket List: Host a cookie exchangeI’m getting started early and I’ve done it before.  Wouldn’t it be fun to bring SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES.  Need I say more?  Baking is on most everyone’s December Bucket list! And having a cookie exchange is such an easy short cut. Yum and fun!  Every year we love to bake cookies, but of course I will have to bake the special ones that were created just for us. Recipe here! And won’t it be fun to serve grown up milk?December Bucket List: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

6)Go sledding.  December Bucket List: Go SleddingOr on a sleigh or hay ride. Or horse and carriage ride.  Whatever the vehicle, it is always a special night out! What December Bucket list treat!

7)Have a Santa party.  We used to do this when the kids were little.  We had a very special Santa who would stop by.  Every parent would secretly leave a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it on our front porch.  Then a little bit into the evening Santa would arrive, gather the presents, put them in his bag, and then come inside and deliver them.  It was such delight to see the kids light up when Santa came with something they wanted and delivered it in person.  I need to do this again soon!

8)Make a Gingerbread house.  Darn it.  I’ve not done this one STILL.  Oh how I want to try!

9) Have a popcorn party and serve hot cocoa from scratch for either a Christmas book reading night, or movie night. (check out December Bucket List: Make pink popcorn to go along with all the other zany ideas in our book Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)this yummy pink popcorn which will go perfectly with the zany upside down antics of Santa’s Night Before Christmas….) Pink Popcorn December Bucket List: Have a popcorn partyOf course there isn’t much better than fresh regular popcorn popped in oil drizzled in fresh butter and salt right on the stove either.  And I’ve been making popcorn cakes for years, but I may have to all of try these on for size this year. December Bucket List: Have a popcorn partyIn my opinion Emeril’s popcorn cake is the best. This is the one I like to make.

December Bucket List: Have a bring your toppings pizza party10)Have a bring your own toppings pizza party.  I want to have a pizza party and serve cool holiday pizzas! I’ve seen snowmen and trees. Maybe we can watch the “old” Peanuts specials! I could invite folks and I can provide the crust and they can bring the toppings! How hard can it be?

11)Build a snowman.  I saw one already this year and I was jealous! Maybe I can finally build an upside down one, like in the book. Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) December Bucket List: Build a snowman

12)Drive around and look at Christmas Lights! This goes on every year! With the internet and  mapping so easy at our fingertips, we can look them up and really go find the great ones!  Maybe there is an app for that!?!? I’m thinking of making it into a game.  Maybe tied in with the scavenger hunt idea below.

13)Christmas Scavenger Hunt– I have been determined to do this for years.  It’s something we used to do often as kids. December Bucket List: Go on a scavenger huntThere are lots of places to find lists and riddles on the internet.  So many ways to do it, easy or really complicated. Can’t wait to try this one out!  Here is an easy one I liked. There are ones you can incorporate with the light watching and more and more. Sounds so much fun!

14)Hang Mistletoe– I’ve never done it.  But I really want to this year.December Bucket List: Hang Mistletoe

15) Set an amazing Christmas table. I am no Martha Stewart. And it may use paper plates. But just once I’d like to do something a little over the top. I love this idea I found of folding the napkins into trees. Festive! I found it here.December Bucket List: Set an amazing Christmas Table

17) Make ornaments and decorate a tree– and enjoy it!  Do I really need to put it on the December Bucket list? No, but somehow over the years this has turned into a chore instead of something to be enjoyed.  I said this one last year, but I think it might need to be said again. I want to get back to making it a festive afternoon or evening. Maybe starting with going to pick out the tree together as a family!

18)Take a special family photo– This is different than the card. This is for our own documentation. Christmas is a great time to document the years as they go by.  Maybe do something extra special each year, or maybe record it the same.  Just make sure you do it!

19)Start a new holiday tradition. Years ago we started making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve so they would be ready on Christmas morning. December Bucket List: Start a new tradition like making homemade cinnamon rollsFor other ideas see my blog post on that. But I assure you your family will remember. So I’m looking for a new one, but if you want to try the cinnamon rolls this looks promising. It’s a knock off of Cinnabon, and who doesn’t like those?

20)Make homemade simmering potpourri- December Bucket List: Make Simmering PotpourriI love candles, but since I’m starting earlier this year wouldn’t it be nice to try something fresh and not artificial?  Google and I are going to have a date.

Whew! That’s a lot to tackle.  I’m glad I got started earlier this year! What are you going to do?

I reserve the right to expand this December Bucket List……….and it may take me some years to get to them all, but I am so excited to start trying, AGAIN!

Don’t forget if you want to discover our purple Santa, this weekend is FREE on Kindle.

 

Purple Christmas Cookies Revisited

Purple Christmas cookies revisited.  Why you might ask? So many great things have happened since we released this book. But probably my very favorite must be the delicious cookies developed by one enthused reader.  And since this weekend we have a great special going on it is a perfect time to check our book out.  So get your FREE Kindle version of the book this weekend, and see what activities you dream up to go with it.  We would love to hear from you! Got Purple Santa? #BlackFridayin3words #GotPurpleSanta  Meanwhile, enjoy this one again!

Baking in the classroom: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

Purple Christmas Cookies Revisited – to go along with our book!

Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies??  Ever since we began dreaming of all the things that would go wrong with Christmas if Santa’s suit turned purple, the ideas have snowballed.  You can see many of them of course in the book.  Like upside down snowmen, and jets instead of sleighs.  We imagined tea and honey instead of milk and cookies.  But the things that we have imagined are probably only just beginning.  We challenge you to come up with your own zany, wacky inspirations of how Christmas might be different.  We challenge you to do them at home. We challenge you to use them in the classroom.  And this week, one very inspired reviewer has done just that! Check out Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas cookies!  They have made it to our recent December Bucket List for sure!  And they easily can be used in the classroom for an art project and a fun Santa’s Night Before Christmas Cookie party!  We just want to run to the kitchen and get baking.  We’ve posted enough to get you started, but please for full recipe (and many other fun recipes!) please see A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!  If you need a copy of the book to go along with these treats, of course you can get more information about the hardback, or kindle on the Book page here.

SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES
INGREDIENTS:                                                                           yields 2-3 dozen cookies

  • 1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1.5 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2.5 C All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • Purple Food Coloring (I recommend gel coloring)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar together with the paddle attachment on low-speed so that the sugar doesn’t fly up in a cloud. Once the sugar has been mostly incorporated into the butter, turn up the speed, beating the butter mixture until it is creamy and thoroughly incorporated.

Then add the egg to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda and once that is thoroughly mixed in, add the flour, one cup at a time until it is all mixed in. This creates a batter-like dough that will be very soft. Dab in the purple food coloring and mix at a low-speed, or by hand, until the entire dough is colored to your liking. Remember that the color will brighten as it rests in the fridge.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead it into a soft ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour while kneading. Transfer the dough to a wax-paper lined plate, then press another piece of wax paper on top of the dough, flattening it into a round disc, the size of the plate between the two sheets of wax paper. Tuck the extra ends of the wax paper under the dough disc to keep the dough from drying out. Place the dough in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight to firm-up.

Once it has rested in the refrigerator, tear off a one-third section of the dough and place it on a floured work surface and keep the rest of the dough in the fridge. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness, making sure to flip the dough to keep it floured or it will stick to the work surface. *I prefer a 1/2 inch thickness in a roll-out cookie because they will remain soft and fluffy, even after decorating. If you prefer a more crisp cookie, I recommend rolling the dough to a 3/8 inch thickness*

Use a cookie cutter to cut the desired shapes. Place the cut cookies on the baking sheet, two inches apart as you prepare them. Once the baking sheet is full, place it in the oven and bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until the edges just start to darken. If you try to lift the cookies and they are still very soft, give them another minute or two. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack until they are cooled to room temperature. Repeat with the dough in the fridge until you have made all of the cookies you desire.

Now on to decorating!! Use your imagination! We made a batch of Purple Royal Icing to pipe the details onto our cookies and to help our sprinkles and candy buttons and ornaments to stick to the cookies. But feel free to mix up any color you like and add any decorations you desire! I’ve included the recipe for the Royal Icing below which makes more than enough icing for 3 dozen cookies, we made just a half batch and still had plenty more icing leftover.  For full recipe for Santa’s Just Not Right Christmas Cookies again see …..A Mama, Baby, and Sharpei!Santa's Just Not Right Christmas cookies at home or in the classroom!

 

Great Christmas Eve Read Aloud: Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

If you are looking for a great Christmas Eve Read Aloud to read to your family while you try to settle everyone down for bed, this is it. Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) It is a beautifully illustrated tale that has kids and adult laughing out loud.  If you have it on your December Bucket List to find a new book to add to your holiday book collection, you may have found one worthy of consideration!  December Bucket List: Find a new great read aloud for Christmas EveIf you haven’t got it already, this is a great chance.  We are still offering FREE Priority shipping today and tomorrow, in hopes that you will receive just in time for your holiday traditions.  I love reading our favorites year after year, and this is sure to become a favorite for many this year!  Order your book here!

And if you miss out on getting the hardback book delivered in time, you can always check out our interactive version which is really great fun for your iphone, or ipad!  Check it out here!  You will have the chance to break ornaments on the upside down tree, turn snowmen upside down, change Santa’s suit color, hear funny carolers, and listen to jets and bells ring.  It will even read the story out loud to you.  Not to be missed! Even the app makes a really great Christmas Eve read aloud!

 

Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas!

 

December Bucket List: Reading Santa’s Night Before Christmas

A December Bucket List? Are we here already? Wow!  Is it really already December 13th?  I feel like I am still in Thanksgiving mode.  I have been busy doing all kinds of things though in anticipation of Christmas in which we are now in the downhill stretch.  I found the cutest pin on Pinterest awhile back about a December Bucket List.  I decided to make my own list of things I hope maybe to get done this December (or maybe next…or next..or next!!)  Maybe it is a lifetime December Bucket List.  Here goes 20 to work for!December Bucket List: Reading Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

1)Read Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right), and many of our other favorite Christmas books (we still love the original Night Before Christmas and Snowmen at Night!) out loud to my own kids, as well as to some other kids who aren’t my own. (Nieces and nephews, kids in a classroom, kids at a library, maybe at a children’s hospital – or wherever might feel good!) For me a December bucket list would not be complete without this, and I probably won’t have to try hard to remember to do it.

December Bucket List: Make pink popcorn to go along with all the other zany ideas in our book Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)2)Make homemade pink popcorn and serve hot cocoa from scratch for either a Christmas book reading night, or movie night. (check out this yummy pink popcorn which will go perfectly with the zany upside down antics of Santa’s Night Before Christmas….) Pink Popcorn Of course there isn’t much better than fresh regular popcorn popped in oil drizzled in fresh butter and salt right on the stove either.  I may have to squeeze in both!

3)String cranberries and popcorn for the tree.  This always puts such magic on our tree. And the chatter as we do it is so much fun!  It’s like baking cookies but without feeling guilty for eating all the dough! Just buy fresh cranberries, pop the popcorn the old fashioned way on the stove, get needle and thread and away you go.

4)Go ice skating on an outdoor rink.  There is something magical about doing this.  It always makes me feel like I’m in the holiday spirit. This makes my December Bucket List, but if I miss, I’ll be happy to make up in January or February.purple-chocolate-chips

5)Bake SANTA’S JUST NOT RIGHT CHRISTMAS COOKIES.  Need I say more?  Baking is on most everyone’s December Bucket list!Yum and fun!  Every year we love to bake cookies, but this year I have to say I’m going to have to try these special ones that were created just for us. Recipe here!  Of course some really want to get crazy and make the purple chocolate chips. Who can blame them?? Hoping for blueberry blue reindeer this year myself.  In any case make some to go with the book.  Super darling.December Bucket List: Santa's Just Not Right Christmas Cookies

6)Go Christmas caroling.  I always want to do this.  It has been so long since someone has rang my door.  But I love it when they do!

7)Go on a sleigh ride.  Or hay ride. Or horse and carriage ride.  Whatever the vehicle, it is always a special night out! What December Bucket list treat!

8)Have a Santa party.  We used to do this when the kids were little.  We had a very special Santa who would stop by.  Every parent would secretly leave a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it on our front porch.  Then a little bit into the evening Santa would arrive, gather the presents, put them in his bag, and then come inside and deliver them.  It was such delight to see the kids light up when Santa came with something they wanted and delivered it in person.  I need to do this again soon!

9)Make a Gingerbread house.  Darn it.  I’ve not done this one STILL.  Oh how I want to try!

10)Eat a candy cane.  Wow, when is the last time I actually did that?December Bucket List: Eat a Candy cane while reading Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

December Bucket List: Build an upside down snowman to go along with the book, Santa's Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)11)Build a snowman.  Olaf has become somewhat of an obsession for me this year, and I can’t help but singing “Do you want to build a snowman?” every other day.  (Or a myriad of other tunes from Frozen!) Just waiting for the flakes to fly!   If you must hear it again now- like I did as I was writing, click here.  Maybe you can build an upside down one, like in the book. Santa’s Night Before Christmas (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!)

12)Sit on Santa’s lap.  We took a great group photo a few years back with my then teenage kids.  It is still fun!

13)Drive around and look at Christmas Lights!  I’m ready.  With the internet and  mapping so easy at our fingertips, we can look them up and really go find the great ones!  Maybe there is an app for that!?!?

14)Sit by a roaring fireplace. Drink hot cocoa or hot toddies.  But put on the Christmas music and enjoy!

15)Christmas Scavenger Hunt– I have been determined to do this for years.  There are lots of places to find lists and riddles on the internet.  So many ways to do it, easy or really complicated. Can’t wait to try this one out!  Here is an easy one I liked. Scavenger Hunt

16)Write a letter to Santa– or help someone else write one.  It seems like a lost art, but I think it would be fun to get creative, make it artistic.  Maybe we will write one and leave a Thank you note this year instead!

17) Make ornaments and decorate a tree– and enjoy it!  Do I really need to put it on the December Bucket list? No, but somehow over the years this has turned into a chore instead of something to be enjoyed.  I want to get back to making it a festive afternoon or evening.  Maybe starting with going to pick out the tree together as a family! Maybe have a snowman pizza when you get done!December Bucket List: Have a snowman pizza after putting up the tree!

18)Take a special family photo– Christmas is a great time to document the years as they go by.  Maybe do something extra special each year, or maybe record it the same.  Just make sure you do it!

19)Go to the Zoo lights, or botanical gardens lights. This is so enjoyable.  It is fun to walk around and have fresh hot roasted nuts and cider.

20)Go to the Christmas Parade- Nothing like a parade to make me feel like a kid again!  And nothing quite like taking the kids to see one to make them super excited about Christmas!

I reserve the right to expand this December Bucket List……….and it may take me some years to get to them all, but I am so excited to start trying.

UPDATED for 2015 Here.