Sunday, December 30, 2012

Holiday In Hainan

 Nothing says Christmas like the islands!

Since Canada was out of the question for Christmas this year, we decided to do something different and go to the beach.

 When O wasn't running...

 ...she would plop herself in the sand to play.

 Beach Tuk Tuk

 Fruit Vendor

 Taking off with Mama's hat
 Beach Buddies
 Checking her out like an old friend!

 Poolside Snack
 Ocean Snugs

 The beloved hammock!
 Fragrant Egg-flower

 Hat Swap

Happy Holiday!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Handmade Holiday: Doll House To Go

Traveling Doll House

Take a look at this Mama's talent!
Her work is adorable! 
She has multiple versions; mixing and matching the material.

Personally, I never make this doll house again. I had hoped to create a few extra for friends daughters, but that, I am afraid is not happening.

First, I need a few actual sewing lessons. 
Adam is tired of hearing the sewing machine crank away and my choice words that follow. I used a heavy felt liner for this project not appropriate for my little machine.
Second, it looks like a humble abode, but it was tedious business!
Third, I did not follow Charlaanne's pattern and instead concocted my own cock-a-meemie creation.

But it is the thought that counts. And O loves imaginary play!
She has already tested all the clasps and had the little felt people co-sleeping. 
Since there is a boy and girl doll, her father is none too thrilled!


I opted for non-girlie colours of lime, blue & yellow.
The blankie is sewn down the left side only, so the dolls can hide under. The pillow is also permanently attached, to prevent missing pieces.
In place of a dresser, one of O's choice reads, "Where is Spot?" inspired the wardrobe which opens. 
The drawers below is constructed as one pocket to store doll clothes (which I have yet to attempt!)

 Wardrobe & Bunting

Backyard View

Some burlap served well as a laundry basket, sewn pocket-style like the dresser drawers to store socks and undies. Thought it would add an extra element to include a clothes line with mini clothespins; help along some fine motor skills. 

Intended for travel, this doll house is fully mobile and suitcase packable!
Kudo's to Charlaanne! Ingenious!


Christmas with Garfield

Chilly Sunday in the Park

One of our favourite neighbourhood parks is hosting a week-long Christmas festival.
We bundled up and headed outdoors for some holiday cheer.

This was the only Santa in sight.
The rest of the market featured Garfield.

I would tell you that we were surprised by this, but we weren't.
Living in Shanghai, we have very little that actually surprises us anymore!

However, genuinely surprised at the fact O let us pose near "Cat".
Though, she insisted on being in the carrier before getting close!

Vegan Bites: Gingerbread Round Two


Round two of vegan gingerbread was a success!
Thanks to my head chef, Dominic.
Domi was in my first class of ESL students in China when he was three years old. We have remained friends with his family and he never misses the opportunity to help us celebrate Christmas.
He is now ten, speaks English like a pro and loves to bake!

See that smile!

I left him in charge, as per his request and he produced a whole workshop of little gingerbread peeps!

...and we got to eat the results!

Vegan Gingerbread
Mix together...
~2 1/4 cups flour
~1/2 cup brown sugar
~1 1/2 t baking soda
~1/4 t salt
~1 t cinnamon
~1/3 cup soy milk
~1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
~1 T fresh ginger juice

Mix together wet & dry ingredients.
Use lots of extra flour (Domi's tip) to knead & roll the dough.
Roll 1/16 of an inch thick and bake at 275 degrees Celsius for 10-15 minutes.

Big Box of Happiness

O with "Baby Sarah"-All the way from Michigan

'Tis the season to get mail;)
Between O's December birthday and Christmas weeks later, this is our jackpot month, not in the sense of 'getting stuff', but the happiness that hearing from your friends & family brings. I love mail, like a little old lady who waits for the postman! I could receive an empty box and be thrilled someone was thinking of me!

Today we received what I refer to as a Big Box of Happiness from a friend in Ireland. We met over a decade ago as fellow nanny's in Denmark and have not seen each other since, but keep our friendship in tact through letters and phone calls. Among the treasures she sent, was a carefully crafted Christmas ornament made by her and her daughter and a ten-page long letter I waited for all year long;) 
That letter is more precious to me than gold! 
Adam and O found me so absorbed; laughing, smiling and crying I was oblivious to their presence!
Until O started singing "Happy Birthday to Nipple!"
Child knows what makes me laugh!

O is so familiar with the Post Office, I can't be certain these were not her first words! We had to assure her that is where Santa is delivering this year, due to her uncertainties of why the strange bearded man would come to her home after she falls asleep!
You should see the child's eye's light up when the mailman arrives at the door! 
Almost more than she can handle!

If everyone received a loving piece of mail every day of the year, the world would be a happier place. 
I am sure of it.
Is there anything that says love like good old-fashioned Snail Mail?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good All Year

O Meets Snow

Vegan Bites & Toddler Tales: Cookies

O hamming it up for cookie cutting

A lovely gift jar from friends came to our door last week with ingredients for baking gingerbread and a cute cookie cutter attached. We made the dough to incorporate into our Monday playdate with Baby C. We omitted the egg (in case of wee pre-tasters!) and made them vegan-friendly.

Though the girls were not too intent about rolling or cutting cookies, they were surprisingly willing to eat the burnt results! I am no Master Baker and these little things only require a few minutes in the oven!

O getting a head start; tasting dough

When O comes into the kitchen and see's that the oven is on, her immediate reaction is to scream,
I guess she hears this a lot! 
And on this occasion (okay, okay...and many others!) it happened to be true!

Vegan Gingerbread Loaf. Looks yummy and crumbly, if you are not into crunchy little cookies.

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies. Where it reads ; "rolling the dough very very thin" I translate, keep an eye on the oven! We'll try these today because O seems really into the "cookie" season (a.k.a. very deprived of sugar!)

The Business of Gingerbread Cookies. Great opportunity to practice motor skills of cutting and decorating, comparing similarities and differences, size and shape. If you are fortunate enough to burn cookies as well as I do, transform them into tree decor to have memories for years to come;)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Deck The Halls

Friday with Friends

On Friday we celebrated Christmas with friends by going out for Japanese noodles! O and Baby K had the chance to pose near some Christmas tree's and we (finally) had the chance to see Shanghai by night. The lights in this city make it feel like Christmas every day!

"Cutting down" our tree!

Cutting down our tree in Shanghai, involves opening a box of numbered branches! Dabby is so distraught at the fact that our Christmas tree is a make-your-own, he insisted we burn pine oil to give O some more of the authentic experience that she is missing!

Our favourite decoration

O emptied the boxes of ornaments and made herself a vehicle.

"Oh No! Broken!"
Then she quickly learned that broken candy canes means "treat time!" and then took it upon herself to fix them all up so they would be edible. We found her breaking each one and putting them in her treat pile (which later became Santa's treat pile!)

And so the holiday begins!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Toddler Tales: Turning Two

My sweet little baby's turned two!

...losing the girlie get-up!

December 4th, 5am in bed.
Mama: "Is it someone's birthday today?"
O: "Lida!!! Every (body) sing!!"

December 4th, 7pm back in bed.
O:  "Tea, Dabby?"  
(she is requesting her Dad go downstairs and return with her sippy cup full of ginger tea!)
As Daddy leaves the room, O shouts out,
"No water, please!"

Mama and O start counting from 1-20 in anticipation of Dabby's return, but when we reach 20, O asks that she continue herself.
So I shut up.
O: "Funny one. Funny two. Funny free. Funny eight. Funny nine. Funny ten. HMMM!? Funny ten?!"