I've never been a huge fan of The Nutracker, not the story or the ballet. I always figured it just wasn't for me.
Until this year, when I received a review copy of this version which is based on the original Nutcracker story and is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. This version of the Nutcracker story is absolute perfection.
Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816, is a fascinating story, which I was surprised to find when reading that it is not that similar to the perhaps more famous ballet production on which it is based.
As much as I was enthralled by the words (translation by Ralph Manheim), it was Maurice Sendak's amazing illustrations which were truly enchanting.
And funny. How could you not love this depiction of the Nutcracker?
While the book itself is a little bit of a difficult read for kids, they will be so entranced by the illustrations and by the general story you might just pull off skipping a bit. (Or not.)
Nutcracker is $24.99 and published by Crown in 2012. I highly recommend it, but don't take my word for it - New York Times Book Review called Nutrcacker one of the ten best illustrated books for kids this year.
Another New Year's Eve is almost here, and I'm hoping to celebrate with my kids in a way that works out better than last year's epic fail - spoiler alert: if you give sugary mocktails and noisemakers to eight toddlers, no amount of champagne will make your night turn out OK.
This year instead of relying on my own craft fail-esque ideas, I've consulted the experts on Pinterest.
Here are five ideas for fun ways to celebrate New Year's Eve with kids:
Let them stay up until midnight. Yeah, real midnight. Not some fake midnight at noon or some "8pm is the new midnight" bullshit. Just let the kids stay up till midnight. Honestly, how many New Year's Eves will there be when the kids will be content to watch TV and hang out with their parents? Enjoy these few years when a late bedtime is enough for it to be the Best. New. Year's. Ever.
For lots more ideas, visit New Year's Fun for Kids on Pinterest. And if you have ideas for amusing the children on New Year's Eve, please share them below!
I recently got a very awesome book in the mail to review: Candy Experiments, by Loralee Levitt. In a word the book is awesome. My kids and I spent an afternoon doing just about every experiment in the book, and they were totally and completely engrossed.
And the side-effect of the experiments that I liked the most was that they used candy. Candy for science instead of for eating.
One of the easiest and most fun experiments we did was fill a bowl with water and then see what candy floated, and which sunk. You'd be surprised by the results, and I was surprised by how much candy this particular experiment was able to use up as the kids kept asking to try "just one more!" Of course, kids. Of course.
If you want to try your own candy experiments, here's a fun one from the book that uses Candy Canes, Crazy Canes:
Time: 10 to 30 minutes Skill Level: Get a grown-up
Snap! That’s what happens
to your candy cane if you try to bend it. Is there a way to bend candy canes
without breaking them?
What you need:
Candy cane or straight candy stick
What to do:
1. Preheat the oven to
2.Tear off a square of aluminum foil. Fold it
in half, then fold again and again to make a rectangular strip about 3 inches
wide (wider than the candy cane). Bend this strip into a fun shape, like a
zigzag, an S-curve, or a bowl.
3. Place the foil shape on
the baking sheet and put the candy cane on the foil shape. Heat in the oven for
5 to 20 minutes. (The melting time will depend on the size of the candy cane.)
Check frequently until the candy cane has softened and curved into the shape of
When you’re melting an ice
cube, you can see it turn to water. An ice cube is a solid, made from molecules
locked together as crystals. When it melts, the molecules break apart. The
solid becomes a liquid.
The molecules in a candy cane don’t make crystals. Instead, the
candy cane contains lots of kinds of molecules jumbled together, like the fruit
Life Saver in the Life Savers Melting Race experiment on page 96. When it gets
warm, it doesn’t turn liquid right away. Instead, it gets softer and softer as
the molecules shift around. That’s why you can turn a warm candy cane into a
In fact, your candy cane has already been heated and bent. A
candy cane is made from a straight candy stick that’s bent into a cane shape
while it’s still warm.
I've been online too much today watching too closely the unfolding of the Newtown tragedy. The massacre is even worse than first imagined, with a death toll of close to thirty that includes twenty children.
How can anyone, anywhere be OK with twenty children dying? And more honestly, not just twenty children dying, but twenty children murdered. Murdered by a lone gunman with horrifically powerful guns.
I've read (and then read some more) about the need for greater gun control, the need for better mental health services, and about how we can all try to identify the warning signs in potential perpetrators. I've read about how schools can lock doors, install metal detectors, and have no visitor policies. I've read about why issues of school safety are why some choose to home school.
But what are we really saying by offering all of these potential solutions? Nothing, really. Just hoping against hope that there is an answer that would mean something like this won't happen again.
And while there will always be tragedy and evil in the world - it's always been there, I do believe there could be less.
I do believe there is hope, and I do believe there are solutions.
But I also believe it won't be easy.
Maybe people will decide it's time to change the gun laws, even if that means the loss of their constitutional right to bear arms.
Maybe people will decide it's time to change how schools operate, even if that means kids lose their right to attend a school free of alarms and metal detectors.
And maybe, we will all agree that whatever we lose in this process of change is meaningless when we think about today's truly unfathomable losses.
My heart and thoughts with all who are suffering. May the memory of those lost today forever be a blessing.
We are just a few nights away from the end of Hanukkah, so the majority of my gift wrapping is already finished. This year, I've (of course) used Duck Tape to wrap them all instead of regular scotch tape.
Since the awesome people at Duck Tape Central sent me rolls of EZ Start Duck Tape I also used it to decorate the packages. The Tape comes in lots of festive colors, some Christmas-themed and some good for year-round gift wrapping.
I paired the tape with brown Kraft Paper and was really happy with how the gifts all turned-out. These decorative tapes also are great for decorating cards, gift bags, and shipping boxes.
These EZ Start Duck Tapes are also used to make easy photo frames and other cool projects, like this one.
And of course, I need to post soon about the epic crafts my tweens and I made with mustache Duck Tape.
Disclosure: Duck Tape sent me samples, but I think we all know how much I adore this stuff.
All photographs from Duck Tape, ShurTech Brands except for the last one.
Jen covers all of the hot areas of holiday drama and comedy, with chapters that dissect the annual holiday cookie exchange (her thoughts on the whole thing are succinctly summed up in the chapter title, You Can Keep Your Cookies, I'm Just Here for the Booze), photos with Santa, humble brag Christmas letters, and her most well-known rant, how she really feels about Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies.
Want your own copy? You can buy the book here AND.... one lucky winner will receive an autographed copy!
To enter, just leave a comment below with your favorite (or least favorite) holiday tradition.
Enter now! Giveaway closes at 9:00pm EST on Tuesday, December 18, 2012.
Small print: Contest open to U.S. residents age 18 and over.
Contest ends at 9:00pm EST, Tuesday, December 18, 2012. Winners will be
randomly selected via Random.org and announced here as well as emailed with the
good news. Entrants must provide contact information in their comment. If winner
does not respond within twenty-four hours, a new winner will be selected. I was not compensated for this post or for
promoting this giveaway. I did receive a review copy of the book.
And the result of Hanukkah + Advent Calendars at my house? Yeah, that's right, a punch board filled with Hanukkah gifts for my kids to enjoy during the middle five nights of the eight night holiday. If that's not winning, I don't know what is.
I've also got where to see holiday lights all over New Jersey in Garden State Glow, so if you're in Jersey you're all set for a Tacky Light Tour.
It's true. While I'm not an extreme couponer, or even a couponer at all, I do like to get a good deal.
Duane Reade has a new in-store magazine, Happy and Healthy, and it makes it so easy to find out the Happy and Healthy items of the week, which this week are Ology - Laundry.
If you like to plan your shopping before you go the magazine is available online, but there are also plenty of magazines available when you enter Duane Reade.
After taking a meander around the store to check out things like their awesome collection of New York-y Holiday cards,
I literally followed the deals down the escalator.
I headed to the Ology section where I quickly found the sale priced Ology laundry detergent and Ology fabric softener, both which are running low at our house
and both which were priced $2 off at $4.99 instead of the usual $6.99 for the detergent, and $5.99 instead of $7.99 for the fabric softener - which I knew from having checked in the circular at home beforehand.
And of course, I'm so glad that Ology products don't have harmful chemicals.
I got a Nine candle for a certain person with a birthday at our house, and some Ology tissues in a very cute box, and at a very good price ($1.49 marked down from from $2.79), and my shopping was done.
Just in time to meet my husband for lunch, and then to see the Macy's holiday windows.
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric #cbBigApple #DRHappyandHealthy
We had a great time, we were all happy to see Grandpa (and he, us of course), the warm weather was delightful, and we got to introduce the kids a lot of cool stuff in Florida - a trip to Miami, a visit to famous beaches, and grits and fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast.
But I think one of their favorite memories will be of just chillin' in the big hammock.