I must have read “Little House in the Big Woods” 20 times growing up. It wasn’t until I became a parent, however, that I decided to try and make maple syrup snow candy myself. Now it’s something that we do every year, without fail. In the book, the making of maple syrup brought the whole extended family together for a dance and hard work, of course. There was the hauling in of the sap buckets, the heating of the big kettles, the stirring for hours on end. Fortunately for us, making it now is as simple as grabbing syrup from the store and waiting for a good snowfall.
To start, heat up about a cup of real maple syrup on the stove until it begins to bubble. Add one tablespoon of butter and stir until melted. Keep stirring for 6-7 minutes so it doesn’t boil over. (You’ll know it’s ready when the syrup mix starts to form hard balls when it drips off the spoon.) Remove from heat. While the syrup mixture is cooling for a few minutes, run outside and fill several plates or roasting pans with snow. Bring in and drizzle spoonfuls of the syrup mixture over the snow. (Just make sure everyone stands back for this part, especially the little ones. Although the mix has cooled a bit, it’s still very hot!) That’s it â€” instant maple candy. Want an even easier way? If the first snowfall happens to hit right before bedtime, you’ll get no complaints if you drizzle syrup straight out of the fridge over the snow. It won’t be quite as candy-like, but it’s still the perfect winter treat of sweet and cold. â€” Sarah L.
Mr. Claus is a busy guy. Heâ€™s making a list, and then meticulously checking it over more than once. Take the global population into account, do some quick math and youâ€™re realizing he must be running that tight schedule on some pretty calculated military time. So how does he also have time to see us when weâ€™re sleeping and know when weâ€™re awake? Easy. He sends scout elves. This week I was introduced Elf on the Shelf, a concept that is apparently a very popular Christmas tradition. The book, written by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell, explains how Santa resolves his logistical issue by sending elves that watch children by day and report back to him at night. The elves return to their assigned houses by morning and assume a different hiding spot each day to keep kids guessing while on their best behavior. Crafty and effective! Reviews seem to show that many families love the tradition; others think itâ€™s silly, while still others ask the tough questions, like, why doesnâ€™t the elf have feet? What do you think readers? Do you have an elf on your shelf? â€“Sarah C.
While surfing the web for some new holiday recipes recently, I stumbled upon this listing for Santaâ€™s Whiskers Cookies. The source? The Mrs. herself! The link brought me to Mrs. Clausâ€™ Cookbook at Northpole.com. Further investigation unearthed a world of holiday cheer for those who celebrate Christmas. Festive recipes, crafts, games and even letters to Santa and ElfChat with chief correspondents Bif and Bonnie are a few of the features on this massive site dedicated to ringing in the holiday for parents and kids alike. Looking for the weather at the North Pole? Get the five day forecast here and track Santaâ€™s epic flight via NORAD starting December 24! â€“Sarah C.
Bring home anything and kids always seem to think that the cardboard box it comes in is the coolest part. (Growing up, I remember when my best friendâ€™s parents bought a new refrigerator and we got a new fort out of it. Score!) But, in this case, the cardboard really is the best part — because itâ€™s designed to be a tree, a cooker, a playhouse, a rocket or a dollhouse. Unlike cardboard nursery gear, which raised some safety concerns when we posted about it earlier this year, these imagination-boosting cardboard products for toddlers and school-aged kids are getting positive buzz on design sites and making appearances in interior design magazines. The concept and price tag won me over â€¦ weâ€™ll have the Color Me House playhouse under our tree this year — the moon and star cutouts in the roof are definite upgrades from my fort days! –Ginny F.
It’s not that I’m worried about catching a dread disease from my toothbrush — I’m really not, even though the video on this page from the Rachael Ray show talks about the “germy droplets” that can fly onto your toothbrush if it’s stored near the toilet. (This is part of the reason mine lives inside the medicine cabinet.) But hey, I haven’t done all the research, and I have to admit these Zapi toothbrush sanitizers — they do their work with UV light — are just cute as heck to look at, and only $30. Check out ZapiPOP — like a happy Humpty Dumpty! And who wouldn’t want the help of a ninja in fighting germs? You can find them all at Violight. — Mary T.