Haunted Dollhouse

Get ready, it’s almost here!

Check out this haunted dollhouse.

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Trick or Treat!  We’re waiting for you…

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My friend (to your right) dieted a little too much this year.

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Candy anyone?

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Yes, I’m talking to you little girl.

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Please don’t step on the flowers!

 

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Pick a room and spend the night with us.

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How about a little treat?

 

Have you been “Booed?”  This is fun!  Our daughter and her family were “Booed” for the first time last year.  This involves making up gift bags, placing them at the doors of friends/neighbors with a note attached, ringing the doorbell and running! There are lots of fun things for Halloween already on sale, be creative and conjure up some fun.  You can use candy, but we preferred not to use edibles. My grandson and I packed little bags with Halloween projects for three families in his neighborhood.  When it started to get dark, he did the running and we strolled along behind him.

For details go to http://www.beenbooed.com/ for details.

Woohoo…….what fun.

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BOO!!!

This is a great time of year to tell stories and read.

Hot cider, donuts, a big fuzzy blanket, and a good book are the ingredients for the perfect Halloween potion.

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Tales of Tails

IMG_1093The lazy, hazy days of summer have caught up with me!  All I feel like doing is reading.  A perfect day for me is one spent under the pergola with a good book and listening to the hummingbirds buzz around my head.

I pulled out another one of my favorite childrens’ books, Brambly Hedge, Summer Story, by Jill Barklem.  If you have never experienced her books, I highly recommend you run right out and get one – OR – let your fingers do the shopping on the internet.

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Ms. Barklem is a British author and illustrator with incredible talent.  As a child she suffered an eye injury that prevented her from having an active life so she turned to art and books.  Her stories are about the Brambly Hedge mice who live in the bucolic world of the English countryside.  When reading you forget the characters are mice and feel like you are a member of their community.  The mice are too charming for words and the illustrations exquisite.

As much as I love her stories, I find myself spending more time studying her drawings.  The detail draws you in like a seek and find game.  I’ve tried to show some of her work here, but for better pictures google her.

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You can purchase her books individually, but I particularly like, The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge.  This book includes her four seasons books, as well as a conversation with the artist and studies of her art in progress.

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If you’re into sewing or crafts, you will enjoy The Brambly Hedge Pattern Book, which includes patterns and instructions for making the mice.  I’m considering making my dollhouse a mouse house…hmmm, do I really need another project?

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I wonder how Emerson would feel about living with a few mice in her house?

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Share these wonderful books with the ones you love!

 

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Don’t forget to encourage your middle-graders to read the Emerson’s Attic Series.

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Please visit the Blue Velvet book trailer.  Copy and paste into your browser:   https://www.youtube.com/embed/Jf_AkD1nG2g

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the trailer and the books.

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Collecting

IMG_0814The definition of a collection is pretty general in any dictionary.  Simply put, a collection is the action or process of gathering items of like kind.  I’ve read that having three or more of any similar object is considered a collection.  At any rate, collecting is one more way families can enjoy time together.  Pick an item of interest to all and start collecting.

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Postage stamp collecting is one of the best known hobbies.  Did you know it began at the same time stamps were first issued, and by 1860 thousands of collectors and stamp dealers were appearing around the world.  Stamp collecting is a less popular hobby today but it is still estimated that about 25 million people enjoy the hobby in the United States and 200 million worldwide.  Whew, that’s a lot of people not to mention stamps.

Some people collect memories in the form of matchbooks and napkins from favorite places, ticket stubs to concerts or movies, and most importantly photographs of family and friends.

I once did a bug collection for extra credit in biology.  Poor Mr. Yoder, I think he was sorry he ever suggested it.  His office was hidden in an obscure part of the school (probably to hide from students like me) where I would pop around the corner and stick my head in to see if he was there.   My sudden appearance startled him many times which hopefully was the reason for the look of disdain on his face, which equaled my feeling about the subjects of my collection and the process of mounting them.

Summer is the perfect time to start collecting…bugs, rocks, butterflies, fossils, and in the case of little boys just about anything that wiggles, hops or squirms. What mother of a boy hasn’t put her hand in a pocket on wash day to find something she would have rather not.

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Plan ahead for a leaf collection by identifying and preserving leaves this summer for school in the fall.  Start teaching your children to cook and make a notebook or special box for their favorite recipes.  The possibilities are limitless!

 

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Whatever you decide to collect, make it fun!

 

Copy and paste the link below into your browser to see my new video for Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet.

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=313b437fb0a5648f!31325&authkey=!ADgGKEu8XzRN0xA&ithint=video%2cwmv

 

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Build Your Own Library

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I first learned about roadside libraries from a cousin who sent me a few pictures and hooked my curiosity.  What a wonderful example of being neighborly!  The premise is simple, build or buy a weather-proof box, erect it close to the sidewalk or road in front of your home, and fill it with books.  TA-DA…you now have your own free library.  Post a sign telling passersby to take a book and leave a book.  Don’t fret if a few books go missing without replacements, just remember you made someone’s day a little better.library2Since the first one in Hudson, Wisconsin, the simple, yet profound idea of sharing books via these little structures has spread across the U.S., Mexico, Canada,and Europe.  The Little Free Library goal is to build more libraries than Andrew Carnegie, who built 2,510.  That goal shouldn’t be hard to reach considering how many of us love to read and love to share.

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This truly is the perfect project for the entire family.  Now’s the time to plan and build your library so that it’s ready for summer.  How big, what color, where to put it?  Fancy smancy or plain Jane, it doesn’t matter.  Let everyone help.  Go wild and crazy with your design and be sure to let the kids help.

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This old British phone booth has to be the ultimate roadside library.

These pictures evoke memories of warm summer days under a shady tree reading, talking to neighbors over the back fence and

riding a bike aimlessly along a country road.

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Wouldn’t it be fun to mark each book with it’s original location?

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How thoughtful to add a chair for a weary traveler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check with your municipality or zoning board to be sure you’re allowed to erect such a structure.

Here are a couple sites you might like to check out:

littlefreelibrary.com and shareable.net

Send me pictures (emersonsattic@gmail.com) of your library and I’ll post them on my blog and FaceBook.

Happy Reading!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Many, many years ago when I was in elementary school we didn’t have teacher’s aides or traveling teachers who taught music, art, and physical education.  What we did have were teachers who did it all and still found time to give us parties, Christmas programs, and really fun projects.  It was those special things that we looked forward to.  One of my favorites was making a valentine box.  I distinctly remember looking at a plain shoe box and having no idea where to begin.

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I can’t throw away an oatmeal container without feeling guilty that some child needs it!

 

In those days, we had only the basics materials with which to work; colored paper, glue, and if you were lucky a paper doily and crepe paper.  Mommy Note: Crepe paper color runs when it gets wet and using glue makes for sticky, colored fingers.  I felt inferior because the other kids’ boxes were more beautiful than mine.  Happily, I have gotten over that with no psychological damage.  Surprisingly, the boys really got into this project and came up with very inventive designs.  There was one little girl who always out-did everyone else with everything she made.  To this day, I’m pretty sure her mother hired an artist for her projects because I’ve yet to see third grade work that equals hers. I didn’t know until I Googled valentine boxes that the tradition has continued.  If I was amazed at the boxes in my elementary school, I was speechless at the pictures of boxes made by children today.  They’re valentine boxes on steroids!  And, I must say, more creative than ever.

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The best part of the Valentine’s Day tradition was giving and receiving valentines.  Poor Dad had to make a special trip to the store so that we could pick our valentines to give friends.  They were inexpensive and not fancy, but I loved the little envelopes.  Again, that little girl who always had the best valentine box had the expensive valentines, urrrrr…okay maybe I’m not over it!  Before signing my name, every valentine was carefully chosen for a particular friend by the cute little animal or in the case of boys, the least romantic message on the card.  Separating the valentines in this manner made for a large pile of questionable valentines that eventually had to go to someone or I would not have enough!

 

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I swear I remember these exact valentines.

The teacher would give everyone a list of the names of all the children in the class to make sure no child was forgotten.  On one hand I wanted a valentine from someone special, and on the other hand I knew if a boy wrote anything other than his name on the valentine my brother would never let me forget it.  Thankfully, the boys had no interest in doing any such thing; well, maybe one or two.  There were two boys named “Jimmy” in our class which made for a bit of confusion at times like this.  Yes, you know the feeling…which one was it…the one you wanted it to be or the other?  Most exciting were the special items tucked inside the envelope; heart candies with messages like “Be Mine,” or if you were really lucky a stick of gum which you were not allowed to chew in school.  If you got one of those heart shaped candies that said anything close to being “mushy,” you had several options.  You could quickly shove the little heart into your mouth and destroy the evidence or you could reveal it only to your very best friend and hope she kept her mouth shut about it.  I usually chose the former.

When my children brought home valentines with minuscule heart confetti, that I picked up for weeks, I found that less than clever.  Whoever came up with that idea obviously didn’t have children or had a cleaning lady. Those little hearts rank right up there with Easter grass and Christmas tree needles!

Going back even further than my childhood, as hard as that is to believe, the Victorians had beautiful, romantic, over-the-top valentines.  These were very typical of the Victorian saying, “too much is not enough.”

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 Look closely, they too used paper doilies!

 A Little History On Victorian Valentines

In the language of St. Valentine’s Day, a red heart symbolizes a holiday of love and romance.

Lacy valentines of the Victorian era reached their peak in the years 1840-1860. On delicate lace paper hand-painted motifs such as; cupids, birds, flowers, hearts, and darts may be enhanced with chiffon, silk, satin, tulle, or lace. Novelty valentines might feature a tiny mirror, an envelope, a puzzle purse, or a slot to hold a lock of hair. There were valentine checks drawn against the Bank of Love, and valentines printed to look like paper money. One of these looked too much like a real five-pound note and was quickly recalled.  Some valentines were decorated in watercolor or in delicate pen and ink. Often the handwriting was a thing of beauty as fine penmanship was considered a form of art.

I found the puzzle purse valentine very unique.  Following are the instructions for you to make one at home.  Using your very best handwriting, write a message or a poem and/or draw pictures of your favorite things.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to make one for Mom and Grandma.

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Google Valentine’s Day projects for more ideas.

Happy Valentine’s Day

 Don’t forget International Book Giving Day also on February 14th.

When life gives you lemons…

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The October 1927, Reader’s Digest, attributes this idiom to Elbert Hubbard who said,   “A genius is a man who takes the lemons that Fate hands him and starts a lemonade stand with them.”

That being said, I would like to offer my own timely thought, “When nature gives you snow, make more.”  Crazy right?  The truth of the matter is, it’s winter here in the Northeast and you can either complain or you can find ways to enjoy it.  If you’re not the outdoors type, which is too bad because there’s nothing like breathing the pollen-free, crisp air from a mountain top or a frozen lake, then get creative.IMG_0529

There is no better time to read and play games with your family.  Dig out the old Monopoly game and have a Monopoly Marathon.  Teach a child to cook or bake.  Have fun with crafts and puzzles.   OR…MAKE SNOW!

Yes, you really can, and for children who have never seen snow this is as close as they might ever get without living in snow country.

Ingredients For Making Snow

500 g (approximately 2 cups) of bicarbonate soda

1 can of shaving cream

silver or blue glitter (optional)

Cover your kitchen table with an old plastic tablecloth.

Pour the bicarbonate soda and glitter into a very large, clean bowl.

Add most of the can of shaving cream and mix well.

This is not an exact science, measurements are approximate.

Mix and add shaving cream until

you get to a snow consistency that can be molded into a ball.

That’s it.  Dig in and make a snow man!

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If that’s not enough to keep the little people busy on a snow day try this:

Snow Ice Cream

1 gallon CLEAN snow

1 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups milk

The directions say when it starts to snow place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the flakes.  Hmmm….it would have to be a massive snow storm to collect a gallon of snow that way.  I would suggest scoping up as much fresh snow as possible.

I bet the jokes are flying about yellow snow about now.

Please, avoid yellow snow at all costs.

When you have your gallon of snow stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency.  Serve at once.

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And there you have it, a few ideas to help you get through snow days!

Have fun!

Don’t forget International Book Day coming up on February 14, 2015.

Give a child a book and you give them the world.

Visit me at http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com/

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Gifts From The Heart

So, what do you give the person who has everything or the friend who drops by with an unexpected gift?  Ah ha, always a dilemma this time of year.   As any mother will tell you, that little hand print preserved in clay or the homemade card are the gifts she cherishes the most.  I always loved the “make it, bake it, grow it” theme because it meant someone really put some time and effort into their gift.

This time of year is always synonymous with homemade cookies and crafts which I hope you enjoy as much as I do.  When I was in elementary school and most moms were stay-at-home moms, cookies were the big thing and still are today. Someone must have thrown a spatula into the street as the gauntlet for the cookie wars to begin, and so they did.  Before the Thanksgiving turkey was cold, women for blocks around were pulling on their oven mitts and eyeing up the competition.  As children we had to stand single file in a line, monitored by a “patrol boy,” until a certain time before walking to school.  While standing “in line,” the conversation or rather bragging, was totally out of control.  “My mom made 75 dozen cookies.”  “Well, my mom made 90 dozen.”  “Yeah well, my mom wins because she made 120 dozen.”  No, these numbers are not exaggerated, they really did make that many cookies.  I know this because as fast as my older brother would down 2 dozen cookies and a quart of milk, we still had Christmas cookies at Easter.  Hundreds of the cookies went to what we called “shut-ins” in those days.  These were the elderly or ill, who I’m sure re-gifted the cookies or fed them to their dogs because they received so many.  Plates piled high and covered with plastic wrap accompanied us on our visits to friends and family.  If we weren’t visiting another family then they were coming to our house nearly every night from the week before Christmas until New Year’s Day.  This was great fun when you knew and enjoyed the kids of the people you were visiting.  Unfortunately, I remember more times than I care to admit, of feeling hot and sweaty in my new, usually velvet, Christmas dress, sitting stiffly on someone’s sofa praying the adults would stop talking so we could go home.

I inherited the cookie gene and used to do the same thing; however, never to the extent my mother did.  Once I started working full time and a second job at Christmas, the oven was never turned on.  Can’t remember how the kids got fed!  This is when I learned the true meaning of “gifts from the heart.”   Every Christmas, as long as she lived, our dear friend Audrey baked as many cookies as the moms from my childhood.  She was envied by many for being the best baker in our church.  Without fail, the week before Christmas there would be a knock at the front door and Audrey’s husband or one of her sons would be standing there with a large box filled with delicacies and nestled in the center was one of her famous coffee cakes.  She didn’t just do this for us, she did it for everyone she knew and I’m pretty sure some people she didn’t know.  As a working mom, this was truly a treasured gift.  She treated my family with the tradition of cookies and helped me overcome the guilt of not baking.  None of us could resist the temptation of a cookie, or four, the day they were delivered, but her coffee cake was sacred and saved for Christmas morning.  Thirty-seven years later my kids still remind me not to forget to bake Audrey’s coffee cake for Christmas morning.

Mom stored her cookies in gallon size tin cans on closet shelves, in the laundry room, in the mud room anywhere she could find room and hide them from us.  We had to  search high and low to find them when we wanted to “sneak” a cookie.  I inherited the container gene too! I am a confessed container junkie (as you will see in the following pictures), glass, paper, tin, cardboard, doesn’t matter.  If it’s pretty, has an interesting shape, or is simply well-made I can’t resist.

Our oldest daughter, picked up that old gauntlet lying in the middle of a slushy street, and decided we should give cookies as gifts.  Interpreted this means, mom did all the baking.  However, she took it further with her famous spiced pretzels which filled the second tin.  I can’t remember what we put in the third tin, but we ended up with a tower of treats.  Shopping trips looking for beautiful Christmas tins became another one of our holiday escapades.  If the tins were on sale…we were there, along with dozens of other women grabbing for the prettiest tins.  You gotta love being tall, it gives you a longer reach and we always managed to get the tins we wanted and have fun with the other shoppers.

And so, I share with you a few simple ideas that are fast and easy that you can have ready for that last minute needed gift.  Display the finished product on your mantle, a table or a window sill and you’ll be ready.  Great for teachers, the unexpected friend, or the “shut-in” down the street.  Go for the cookies or try one of the following.

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 The small jars contain hot chocolate mix and the large jar contains turkey noodle soup mix.

Hot Chocolate Mix

1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 c white sugar

1/2 c chocolate chips

Miniature marshmallows

One small mason or jelly jar

The jelly size mason jar is a little tight so go for bigger or cut down on the chocolate chips or marshmallows;

 a 12 ounce size jar is perfect.

Directions:  In a small mason or jelly jar, layer cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate chips, and as many miniature marshmallows as you can squeeze in.  Just picture those marshmallows popping out when the lid is removed…hehehe.  Tighten the lid and decorate as desired.  Attach a note with the recipe and the following directions to the jar.

To Heat:  Place the contents (all but the marshmallows) in a medium saucepan with 8 cups of milk.  Simmer and stir until the chocolate is melted and the cocoa warm.  Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows; add a candy cane as a stir.

Turkey Noodle Soup

3 T chicken bouillon granules

1 t pepper

1/2 t dried whole thyme

1/4 t celery seeds

1/4 t garlic powder

1 or 2 bay leaves

Noodles to fill jar.

Directions:  Layer the ingredients in the order given into a wide-mouth, 1-quart canning jar.  Slide the bay leaves down along the sides of the jar as you add the noodles.  Screw on the lid, decorate the jar, and attach a tag or card with the directions.

To Make Soup:  Place the contents of this jar (turkey noodle soup mix) in a large pot.

Add:

12 c water

2 carrots, diced

 2 stalks of celery, diced

1/4 c minced onion

Bring mixture to a boil.  Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf.

Stir in 3 cups cooked, diced turkey and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

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And there you have it!  Fast, easy gifts for everyone on your list.

There are tons of recipes on line and in books with similar ideas that you and your family can work on together.  Have fun.

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More gifts from the heart.

Hand knitted slippers and hats packaged with toiletries by a church youth group for a local shelter.

Gifts are even better when given to someone you don’t know.

Joy is in the giving, not the receiving.

Quote of the day:  “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

Winners of Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet

                                                 Madison, Ohio

                                                   Amy, Pennsylvania

digitalbookcoverupdated (2)Kaylee, Virginia

Evelyn, Florida

Juanita, Maryland

Sophia, Oklahoma

Elizabeth, California

Eva, Pennsylvania

Alexis, Pennsylvania

Chloe – Massachusetts

Congratulations and thank you for entering.  Watch for future contests with questions from the book.

If you haven’t visited my website please do:  http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com/

Merry Christmas and may your New Year be filled with happiness.

Don’t forget to visit my site at:  http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com/

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