Tag Archives: traditions

Two and a Half.

Today my baby girl is officially two and a half.  

One of the little traditions we started when Gracen was born was the celebration of her half birthday.  Because well, why not really?  That extra ‘half’ is a big deal when your age is still in the single digits.  It’s nothing fancy… Just a fun day with “cupcakes” after dinner. This year was extra special as it fell on a weekend which meant Papa got to join in on the fun.

It started with Miss G waking up to a doorway full of balloons, ended with chocolate coconut banana muffins topped with freshly whipped cream and candles, and had muffin making, playing in the rain, an awesome presentation of The Cat in the Hat, and a sushi dinner sprinkled throughout the middle.

Balloon DoorwayIMG 5933IMG 5936IMG 5942IMG 5946Oh, and there was this…  A bath filled with bubbles, balloons, and a shrieky jumpy excited girl.

Happy half birthday, my love.


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Our 3rd Annual Valentine’s Tea

IMG 5583A little tradition we started back when Gracen was just 5 months old and we were living in Kuwait is an annual Valentine’s tea.  Today we hosted our third celebration with a bunch of Grae’s good buddies, some awesome mamas, delicious treats, and some messy fun.  The sun was shining, us mamas got to sneak in conversations in between chasing toddlers, and the kiddos played happily.

Here are some snapshots from our morning…

IMG 5589Tea.

IMG 5545Heart-shaped pretzels made especially for us by SweetSalt.

IMG 5544Banana berry muffins {adapted from this recipe}.

IMG 5542Mmmm… Fruit.

IMG 5543Strawberry crispy hearts.

IMG 5584Hearts.

IMG 5585Treats for the mamas.

IMG 5598Tea for toddlers.

IMG 5580Berry-scented play dough.

IMG 5548Hard at play.

IMG 5550Water bead fun.

IMG 5567Aftermath.

IMG 5569Crafting.

IMG 5560A happy girl post-party.

Kind of crazy that we’ve had two teas here in Vancouver and next year we’ll be back to where it all started, but I’m looking forward to it.

Take a peek at last year’s tea here.


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Valentine’s Day {2013}

IMG 5513With a Valentine’s party earlier this week, and our annual Valentine’s tea happening tomorrow, when Miss G asked to have a special day at home today instead of attending our Valentine’s celebration at Strong Start, I was more than happy to oblige.  It was a day of cooking together and doing special activities, topped off with a few hand-picked gifts for each of us at the end of the day.

Here is our day in photos…

IMG 5480Little breakfast helper.

IMG 5483A breakfast full of hearts.

IMG 5486A special drink.

IMG 5490Jello play dough experiment.

IMG 5500Play time.

IMG 5509A special project for Papa.

IMG 5511“Love soup”.

IMG 5523Proud.

IMG 5525Papa’s pizza topping.

IMG 5526Heart-shaped bacon warrants a regular rectangular pizza.

IMG 5527Regular roasted veggies means the pizza needs to be heart-shaped.

IMG 5531Finishing off the day with a few little gifts. A beautiful picture frame and some David’s Tea goodies for Papa, Fauberg macarons for Mama, and a handmade purse, a new book, and some scented stickers for Miss G.

Check out last year’s Valentine’s Day with my little lady here.


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A Yearly Tradition: Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments

I know I’ve said it before, but becoming a mama has given me an overwhelming urge to create special traditions with our little family of three.  Things that we look forward to each year…  Memories Gracen will hold onto for a lifetime.  The holidays are extra special when looked at through the eyes of your child, aren’t they?

Looking back on my own childhood, the holidays were filled with special traditions I still remember vividly now as an adult.  Trudging through the snow out at Imperial Oil (where my Dad worked) in the freezing cold and selecting the perfect tree to cut down and take home…  Having a special evening dedicated to decorating the tree together…  Visiting ALL of my grandparents’ houses over the course of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day… Staying up as late as we wanted on Christmas Eve with our cousins…  It all seemed so magical. The thing is, the times I remember most have nothing to do with wish lists, Santa visits, or presents received.  All of the memories that stick out in my mind are about doing things as a family…  Just us spending time together.

And that’s my hope for Gracen when it comes to the holidays…  That she’ll come to cherish the time we spent doing things together more that any of the material indulgence that inevitably comes with Christmas.

Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments

This past weekend, we carried on a tradition that we began last year… An afternoon filled with holiday music and handcrafted ornaments. The hope is that one day we’ll have a giant tree filled with beautifully mismatched homemade ornaments that mean more to us than store bought ones ever could.  

Here are this year’s additions…

IMG 2800First up are some very simple, but very beautiful beaded candy cane ornaments.  

IMG 2798To make these, we used sparkly pipe cleaners cut in half and colourful iridescent pony beads Miss G selected at the store herself.

IMG 2790To get started, I simply folded over one end of the pipe cleaner to create a little nub to hold the beads on, and Grae began adding beads.

IMG 2791The wonderful thing about making these ornaments is that little ones get to sneak in a ton of fine motor skill practice while making them.

IMG 2793Once the pipe cleaner is nearly full, just flip over the open end to create a nub on the opposite side.

IMG 2801Then gently bend your beaded pipe cleaner to form a candy cane shape. (This is the one that Gracen made – start to finish – by herself).

IMG 2813Next, we did a remake of an ornament we made last year… A glass bulb decorated with a family of thumbprint reindeer. To make this one, select a solid-coloured glass bulb (one with a matte finish will photograph much better – duh!), then cover your thumb with a thick layer of brown crafter’s acrylic.

IMG 2818Carefully press your thumb onto the glass ball.

IMG 2826Hang your ball somewhere or carefully set it on a small cup and allow it to dry completely.

IMG 2845Once dry, use red crafter’s acrylic to add noses and a black paint pen or Sharpie to add eyes and antlers. Easy peasy!

IMG 2828The last batch of ornaments we made were out of cinnamon dough (2 cups of applesauce, 3 cups of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla mixed like mad by hand ).  With these ones, we used extra cinnamon to prevent sticking, assorted cookie cutters, stamps, straws to create ribbon holes, a rolling pin, and parchment paper.

IMG 2835This dough was quite tough and much easier to work with than last weekend’s baking soda clay.  

IMG 2836It could easily be rolled, handled, and stamped without sticking at all, which was nice.

IMG 2834On the downside, handprints and thumbprints were out of the question.  The dough just simply didn’t have enough give to it.

IMG 2839Once we’d filled our baking sheet, we popped the ornaments into the oven on the lowest setting and let them stay in there for several hours, flipping them once and a while.

IMG 2870I wish I could somehow bottle the smell of our house while they baked and share it with you all here… It was divine.

IMG 2876Before going to bed, I turned off the oven and let the ornaments sit in there overnight, just like I did with the baking soda clay ones.

IMG 2873When we awoke, they were fully dry and hard as a rock, but still smelled delicious.  (These are a few of the ones G made all by herself).  We added small loops of baker’s twine, and voila – they’re ready for hanging.

IMG 2867And how sweet is this little initial bunting Bradley made for Gracen?  

Now we just have to get a tree so that we’ll have somewhere to hang all of these beautiful new ornaments.  

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I am so thrilled to be sharing this family tradition as a part of ‘12 Days of Christmas Traditions with Vancouver’s Top Mommy Bloggers‘.  If you haven’t already, please pop over to JulieNowell.com to read her post about carrying out traditions in a new home, and be sure to pop over to The Write Mama tomorrow to read all about Lori’s Christmas Village tradition.  Enjoy!
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Baking Soda Clay Ornaments

My personal rule?  All things Christmas wait until December 1st.  Well, besides crafting or purchasing the odd little gift here and thereI guess…

This year though, I’ve broken my own rule. I’m not sure how it happened, but we were looking for a fun afternoon activity and somehow I ended up whipping up a batch of baking soda clay without giving any thought to the fact that it’s still November. Oops…  It’s okay, though.  We started the tradition of making special handcrafted ornaments together as a family last year, and I already have {more than a} few new types in mind for this year, so we’ll just call this our practice round…

Baking Soda Clay Christmas OrnamentsI’ve always been a fan of salt dough ornaments.  The dough is easy and inexpensive to make, it’s really easy to work with, and you can shape and mould it almost any way you like.  The only downside to salt dough, however, is that it loses some of its appeal when it dries out.  Last year we made several different salt dough ornaments, and though they are special because they are handmade, they did crack / puff up / brown a little bit during the drying process.  So when I started seeing baking soda clay pop up all over Pinterest just after Christmas last year, I knew we’d have to give it a shot for our next round of ornament making.

IMG 2463The dough itself is very easy to make.  It involves just three ingredients (baking soda, cornstarch, and water) and a little heat, and before you know it, it’s done.  I followed this recipe almost exactly, but added about a tablespoon more cornstarch.  The result is this amazingly soft, smooth, bright white dough that feels silky in your hands.

IMG 2464Once the dough was made and was cooling, I collected a few things from around the house to use to create shapes.  Cookie cutters were the obvious first choice, but mason jar lids, the rims of glasses, and butter knives all work well for the job too.

IMG 2466Next, I gathered some materials to make impressions in the dough.  After a visit raiding Gracen’s stamp collection and nature shelf, this is what I had.

IMG 2467I also got out a rolling pin, some kitchen scissors (for freehand shapes), some straw pieces (for creating holes to tie twine through), and some extra corn starch to prevent the dough from sticking to everything.

IMG 2473IMG 2479We got started by giving Gracen a chunk of the dough to just play with and explore at first, but of course she requested a cookie cutter and stamp and was right down to business.  That’s just her style.

IMG 2480Now anywhere you read about baking soda dough, the instructions will clearly advise to leave the dough sit until completely cool, but we were too impatient for that.  As a result, our dough was still a tad bit warm and sticky, which made it a little bit tricky to work with.  My advice? Wait until it’s completely cool.  Lesson learned.  

IMG 2481What we found worked really well, even with our warm sticky dough, was using the bottom of a flat dish or glass to flatten the dough, rather than using the rolling pin.  The rolling pin was just too sticky for our dough, but the dish bottoms worked perfectly.

IMG 2483IMG 2489IMG 2492As far as making the impressions went, we found that lightly dusting the stamp or object with cornstarch first, then pressing it into the dough and removing it slowly turned out great results.

IMG 2494The same technique worked best with the cookie cutters too – dust cookie cutter with cornstarch, then push the dough out of the cookie cutter gently and slowly.

IMG 2503When we’d used up every last bit of dough, I popped the ornaments onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and put it into a just-warm oven to dry out.  We left them in there for several hours, flipping them every now and again, and before going to bed, I turned off the heat and left them sit in oven overnight.

IMG 2507IMG 2525The next day, we got out our paintbrushes and acrylic paints, and painted away.

IMG 2524These are some of my very favourite ornaments that Grae made.  She pressed the dough, cut the shapes, and decorated them all by herself.

IMG 2515This little reindeer family was made by making 3 small balls, flattening them down with the bottom of a cornstarched bowl, and then pressing our thumbs into the middles.  I cheated a little bit and used a Sharpie for the antlers and names, because well, we all know how they would have turned out had I used paint…

IMG 2522This heart ornament also started as a flattened ball, and then I used a cookie cutter to push just part of the way through to the dough to make the heart shape.

Once our paint was dry, we added some string to hang them from.  Ribbon or jute would be pretty, but I have a thing for baker’s twine currently, so we went with that.  Here are some of our finished ornaments…

IMG 2534IMG 2538IMG 2542IMG 2546Aren’t they pretty?

IMG 2562And because our yearly ornament making tradition is bound to leave us with heaps of special, handcrafted tree decorations one day, we added the year onto each.

Though we didn’t do it this time around, giving the ornaments a light coat of Mod Podge or spray-on sealant make protect them and help them last longer.

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