Saturday, December 20, 2014

Longest Night Celebration & Neighbourhood Lantern Walk this weekend

Happy solstice!  For the longest night of the year we love to gather outdoors with friends, with candles, lanterns, a bonfire to warm ourselves, and some wood-fired baking from the cob oven.  How will you celebrate the longest night? 

For anyone here in town, don't forget about the annual  neighbourhood Lantern Walk on Dec 21.  Anyone is welcome!  Bring a lantern, and join a slow wintery walk around the snowy streets.  What a lovely idea!  Here are some beautiful ideas for making your own lanterns.  And 10 more ideas for making your own simple lanterns from jars, coloured paper, brown paper bags, paper mache, and more recycled materials.

Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Favourite Children's Winter Reads

We love reading, and shorter wintery days give us many more opportunities to cozy up near the fire with a good book.  We have a basket of winter reads nearby, and our daughter can choose books to help us celebrate and enjoy the winter season.  Here are 12 of our favourites.

The Mitten, by Jan Brett (and so many other Jan Brett books!)
Ollie's Ski Trip, by Elsa Beskow
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
The Tomten and the Fox, by Astrid Lindgren
First Snow in the Woods, by Carl Sams and Jean Stoick
The Story of the Snow Children, by Sibylle von Olfers
Findus at Christmas, by Sven Nordqvist
Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner
Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
The Night Before Christmas, by Barbara Reid
The Elves and the Shoemaker, by Jacob Grimm and Jim Lamarche

and all the lovely winter poems found in
Outside Your Window: A Child's First Book of Nature, by Nicola Davies

There are just so many lovely winter stories.  As an alternative to reading out loud together, we have also been enjoying listening to the audio winter stories by Sparkle Stories.   Sparkle Stories offers inspiring simple beautiful audio books about nature, family, community, celebrations, fairies, and more heartwarming themes, through their website (with lots of free sample stories as well).

Easiest Chocolate Vegan Fudge

There's been all sort of gift making going on this week - including sweet treats for friends and neighbours.   Here is a new favourite that works for almost any diet - it's gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, and even can be sugar free - and delicious, beautiful, versatile.  Chocolate vegan fudge made with coconut milk, and additions like dried sour cherries, dried blueberries, salted toasted seeds (or nuts), and whatever you like to add.

Here is our recipe:

2/3 cup organic coconut milk (full fat)
12 oz dark chocolate chips (we like 70% minimum)
1 tsp pure vanilla (optional)
 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit (sour cherries, dried blueberries) or nuts/seeds

1) Warm the coconut milk over low, and stir in the dark chocolate chips.  Stir constantly until chocolate is melted.
2) Take off heat, then stir in vanilla. 
3) Add 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit (sour cherries, dried blueberries, cranberries) or other seeds/nuts. 
4) Pour into 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper.  Let firm up in fridge.  Then cut into small squares.  Enjoy!