Gift Guide : Games for Preschoolers

Today we’re sharing some of our favorite games for preschoolers. I’m on a mission to start family or family+friends game nights in our house. It hasn’t happened yet, mainly because I’m (almost) all talk and no game (hah!). I haven’t invited anyone over, and I haven’t opened an adult game box in years. But behind the scenes, I’m cultivating a few young game-lovers and am slowly building my game-night momentum.

With a 4yo and 2yo in the house, we’re still slightly new to the kids’ game section. Fortunately, I think we’ve already found some great ones. Sometimes we play in the evenings as a family, and I love the together time. But the mom in me also loves that playing games can be used to reinforce other skills that they’re learning. Read on to see what I’m talking about.

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This guide contains a few games that we’ve played and liked. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for a 3-5 yo, I really don’t think you can go wrong with anything on our list. A few are card games, making them perfect stocking stuffers.

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Ginger + Citrus Cocktail

First the good news : Ginger is still our ingredient of the season! We chose it as the featured ingredient this past fall, but felt that we didn’t spend nearly enough time experimenting with this gem. So, we’re holding onto it as the first two-season ingredient.

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Now, the bad news : I’m making a recipe today with an ingredient that has been discontinued. The news broke in early 2017, but as you can see, it’s hit me hard, and I just can’t quit SNAP… or the other Art in the Age Cocktails. (ROOT? My love. Will I ever find a forgotten bottle of you on the liquor store shelves? I can only hope and dream.)

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Welcome December

Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us. Over time, these posts have transformed into a little op-ed about what’s going on with us each month.

We’re only five days into December, and I feel like it’s been here for ever. It must be the Christmas invasion.

December can create such a mix of emotions in us. There’s the obvious joy and celebration of the holidays, but there’s also the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas and New Years. There’s the cozy feeling of evenings in front of the fire, but also the pent up energy and angst from short days and not enough time spent outside.

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Just reading that probably gave someone the shivers. Sorry.

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Winter Face Oil

The cold and dry air of winter has a way of wreaking havoc on our skin and nails. Our remedies include drinking plenty of water and creating barriers to moisture loss.

For our hands, we’re a huge fan of balms. Most of ours are made at home with a combination of beeswax, moisturizing carrier oils, and nourishing extracts and essential oils (think calendula, lavender, comfrey).

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We won’t shy away from using a balm on our cheeks if we’re heading out for a day in the elements, but for everyday use, we want some thing a touch lighter than. And that’s when we grab a DIY face oil.

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DIY Christmas Crafts

This post was originally published in 2015, we’re re-posting it again today to give you a few ideas to jump-start your holiday crafting.

Today we’re rounding up past Christmas crafts. While Sarah was busy ordering gifts yesterday, I was finishing up the decorating. I love to get everything up as soon as possible so that there’s plenty of time to enjoy it (plus, I need the decorating out of the way so that I have every extra moment left to think about gift shopping!). If you’re taking your time and in need of decorations, we put together a list of past DIY projects that we made, love, and were excited to put out again this year.

This list provides a range of projects from those that can be finished in 30 minutes to others that may take a few hours, and the skill-level required varies from the simple to the more complex. In addition to decorating your house, some of these projects like the felt and cinnamon ornaments make great gift tags. What we have here is a little bit of something for everyone.

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Gift Guide : Play Kitchen

We’re sharing a variety of themed gift guides this year. Check out Dinos in the KitchenHeard You Like Cats, Ice & Drink Pairings, and DIY Edible Gifts.

**Quick note – all of the items below include an additional 15% off coupon on Amazon, but we’re not sure how long it will last.**

Last Christmas the boys received a play kitchen, and it’s become one of the most-used toys in the house.

Kitchens are such a great toy for creative and make-believe play. Sometimes our boys are making us coffee and toast for breakfast. Other times they are serving me ice cream cones for an afternoon treat or acting as waiters and chefs in their own restaurant.
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I love big ticket toys like this kitchen because it’s a themed toy that you can slowly can add to over time. For us, this meant buying a few items to play with Christmas morning, and then letting our family give them additional kitchen elements on Christmas and again at their birthday.

The slow giving method is also a great plan if you’re not sure about how much your kiddos will love the big toy. For us, the kitchen’s a winner, and we’ve been happy to buy them quality items for it.

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Below is a list of the exact items in our play kitchen with info about why we like them. *Notice that our list contains more items than are pictured above. It’s all so good!

  • kitchen (pictured above) : this retro blue kitchen is the exact one we have. We picked it because of looks and also because it seemed to have slightly more storage than others (key for all of the awesome accessories below!). The one downside to this kitchen is that it comes with a million pieces and takes a billion hours to put together. Keep that in mind when on Christmas Eve and pour yourself a big glass of eggnog before starting.
  • broom & mop set (pictured above) : the boys love this set and use it often. Almost never for cleaning, but always for sweeping out the marbles that roll under the couch. Patting myself on the back for encouraging them to be self-reliant.
  • cut-apart fruit (pictured above) : our boys love cutting apart this fruit. We also have this cut-apart food set.
  • espresso machine (pictured above) : if your kids love to help make your morning coffee, then they will love this! And you’ll always be caffeinated.
  • mixer (pictured above) : so cute and comes with a few cake-baking accessories. Our kids are always mixing up mini dinos. #boys
  • toaster (pictured above) : comes with bread and butter. A complete meal!
  • ice cream (not pictured) : BUY THESE! Even if you don’t buy the kitchen, this set is so much fun. They ice cream, spoons, and cones are magnetic, creating a bit of magical fun and driving the kids crazy as the ice cream tumbles when they try to make a four-scoop cone.
  • cookies (not pictured) : so cute and creative. The only bummer is that the tray is too long to fit in the oven (they’re different brands). Our boys don’t seem to mind, but some might.
  • canned food (not pictured) : a great food filler for the fridge, and all of the cardboard cans can be opened again and again, letting them do double duty as little storage containers.
  • tea set (not pictured) : comes with cups, wooden tea bags, kettle, etc.
  • pots & pans (not pictured ) : all metal and awesome
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Gift Guide : Ice Cubes

We’re sharing a variety of themed gift guides this year. Check out Dinos in the Kitchen, Heard You Like Cats, and DIY Edible Gifts.

 

I know, who gives ice? We don’t.

BUT we do like a clever ice cube in our drinks, and so, we have a few ice cube tray + drink pairings that are perfect for that last minute gift or that dad mom that really doesn’t need anything other than a good drink.
ice_cubesice shot glass : perfect for your nephew going off to college. You are the cool uncle after all. Maybe don’t include the alcohol with this gift. Just get some gatorade for the morning after.

buddha : looks wise sitting in a good whisky

gin and titonic : Why don’t I own these yet? Pair it with a good gin, obvs.

polar bear and penguins : pair them with Kahlua because these would look awesome floating on a White Russian.

diamonds : champagne with the suggestion to make OJ ice cubes for a classy mimosa

The awesome thing about many of these molds is that they could easily do double-duty for someone that likes to experiment in the kitchen. Imagine juice-colored jewels for a summer day, chocolate shot glasses filled with a dessert, chocolate buddhas with gold leaf… talking myself into a few trays right now.

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Gift Guide : Cats

This year we’re doing a few gift guides that blur the line between whimsical and practical. See our Dinos in the Kitchen guide for further evidence. But if prefer making over buying, check out our ideas for edible gifts.

Do you know someone who likes cats? We do. (like ’em and know ’em)

You know how when you know that someone likes a “thing” then sometimes whenever you see something with that “thing”, then you have the urge to get it for them? Hold back.

But just a little, because if that “thing” is cats, then we have a few gifts that are totally worth giving this year.

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cat umbrella : because sometimes it’s raining cats and dogs!

candle : this thing burns down to unveil a metal cat skeleton… not sure if you’re supposed to buy it for the cat lovers or haters?

cat ring : subtle bling

mug : perfect for so many reasons.

paperclips : a stocking stuffer that will make them smile when they return to that boring cubicle

I’m proud of this list because we tried to go for some of the more tasteful cat gifts out there. We spared you guys the cat sweaters (for your cat, not you, silly), but can’t make any promises about what’ll happen next year.

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Sparkling Cider Mocktails

 *republishing this today ’cause cheers even if you don’t drink beers! Amiright?
Apples was our ingredient of the season during the autumn of 2014. Check out our complete archive of apple drinks, recipes, and crafts.

If your holiday dinners are anything like ours, there will be at least one bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling cider or grape juice on the buffet. We may have outgrown the kids’ table, but we haven’t outgrown the kids’ bubbly. This year we suggest adding a bit of grown-up flavor to your juice in the form of cranberry and ginger-rosemary simple syrups, creating mocktails worthy of the adult table… of course, we won’t bat an eyelash if you add a touch of your favorite vodka or gin too!

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Each of these drinks gets their flavor from Martinelli’s Organic Sparkling Cider and an infused simple syrup. We’re sure your holiday menu is already full, so we purposefully kept these mocktails simple to make using ingredients that we always have on hand for Thanksgiving. As such, there’s no need to add an extra item to the mile-long grocery list, and if you’re short on time, you can assign the syrup-making to the first guest to walk through the door.

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 Rosemary-Ginger Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 4-5 1/4 inch slices fresh ginger
  • Place all ingredients in a sauce pot, bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 1-2 minutes until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Strain the rosemary and ginger from the syrup once it cools.

Cranberry Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • Place all ingredients in a sauce pot, bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 1-2 minutes until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Strain the rosemary and ginger from the syrup once it cools.
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Time to Mix!

The Martinelli’s on its own is too sweet for my taste and adding these simple syrups would create a drink that would make my teeth hurt, so I always start by cutting the cider 50-50 with seltzer water. I would suggest you do that, or, if you’re the drinking type, take our suggestion and add vodka.

  • 1 part sparkling cider
  • 1 part seltzer water
  • 1 Tbsp simple syrup
  • rosemary, fresh cranberries, and crystallized ginger for garnish

Place all ingredients except the garnish in your glass and  give it a gentle stir.

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I think my favorite part is coming up with the garnishes! Is professional garnish-er a job? If so, I’m available for your next party. A note about buying the ginger: I never keep crystallized ginger on hand, because it always seems to dry out and get hard before I have a chance to use it. Instead, I buy only what I need for any recipe from the bulk foods section of the grocery store. On this particular day I only bought 8 or 9 pieces; considering my love for buying in bulk, this seems silly, but it’s always so nice having fresh and soft crystallized ginger for a recipe.

In the ginger-rosemary drink I used a sprig of rosemary. It matched the flavor of the drink, and the green and gold combination looked beautiful. My rosemary stems were a bit flimsy, but if your rosemary stems are firm, use them to skewer some of the cranberries and ginger.

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For the cranberry drink I put a couple of cranberries and a piece of crystallized ginger on a toothpick. Even though there’s no ginger in the drink, the sparkling gold candy looked so pretty on top of the red berries. Don’t you think?

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Of course, even if you don’t have time to mix up these syrups, just adding a bit of garnish to your sparkling cider will make every feel special! Especially if you add something like the sprig of rosemary ~ each time your guests take a sip of cider they’ll get an added bonus with the rosemary aroma.

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Cheese + Ginger

Ginger is our ingredient of the season. You can find a variety of drink, main dish, and dessert ginger recipes here. This is the second ginger spread pairing that we’re sharing.

Today we’re coming at you with a suggestion to spice up your holiday cheese plate.

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If you don’t know it already, putting out a good cheese plate, or taking one to your next party is a sure-fire way to gain admirers. Our trick is to pair your cheeses with the right condiment.

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