Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Jokes For Kids

If your little one is already going stir crazy on Christmas break, give him a laugh with a joke. These twelve are compliments of www.activityvillage.co.uk.

I’ll post again in the new year. Until then, have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What do you call an old snowman?

What goes ho-ho whoosh, ho-ho whoosh?
Santa caught in a revolving door!

What goes “oh, oh, oh”?
Santa walking backwards!

Why does Santa have three gardens?
So he can ho ho ho!

When does Christmas come before Thanksgiving?
In the dictionary!

What’s the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?
The Christmas one has no L (noel)!

What do you have in December that’s not in any other month?
The letter D!

Why is it always cold at Christmas?
Because it’s in Decemberrrr!

What Christmas carol is a favorite of parents?
Silent Night!

What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
Frosted flakes!

What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?

How many presents can Santa fit in an empty sack?
Only one, after that it’s not empty anymore!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Days of Hot Chocolate

I love hot chocolate all year round, but at Christmas time it is fun to experiment with different recipes. Let me know if you find one that it is a family favorite!

Skinny Santa Hot Chocolate

• 1 cup lowfat milk
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons water
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat the milk and the cinnamon stick until just simmering. In a mug, stir together the cocoa powder, sugar and water until a paste forms. Pour the milk into the mug and stir to mix well (remove the cinnamon stick if desired). Stir in the vanilla. Top with shaved dark chocolate if desired.

Plump and Jolly Elf Hot Chocolate

• 6 cups whole milk (or use half and half for an even jollier elf!)
• Chocolate Sauce, (recipe below)
• Whipped cream, optional
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate shavings or small pieces

Bring the milk to a simmer and whisk it into the chocolate sauce. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream.

Chocolate Sauce:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 1/8 teaspoon grated orange zest

Over low heat, bring the cream, sugar, cinnamon and butter to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it melts. Add the orange zest before serving.

White Christmas Hot Chocolate

• 1 cup white chocolate chips
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 4 cups half-and-half
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the white chocolate chips and heavy cream over medium heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted, then add the half-and-half, and vanilla extract. When it is heated through, it is ready to serve.

Jingle All The Way Hot Chocolate

• 2 1/2 cups whole milk
• 2 cups half-and-half
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder (leave this out if kids are sharing!)

Heat the milk and half-and-half over medium heat to just below the simmering point. Remove from the heat and add both chocolates. When the chocolates are melted, add the sugar, vanilla extract, and espresso and whisk vigorously. Reheat gently and serve immediately.

I Caught Mommy Kissing Santa Claus Hot Chocolate

• 4 cups whole milk
• 4 cups half and half
• 1 pound white chocolate, chopped
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• Seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans
• 1/4 to 1/3 cup orange flavored liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) but this is for Mommy only!

Over medium heat, bring the milk and half-and-half to just below simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate. Add the vanilla to the melted chocolate, along with the vanilla bean seeds, and 1/4 to 1/3 cup orange liqueur, according to taste, and whisk vigorously. Gently reheat, then serve.

Sleigh Ride Hot Chocolate

• 4 cups whole milk
• ½ cup water
• ½ cup sugar
• 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 ounces butterscotch chips
• Whipped cream for garnish
• 1 toffee bar (such as a Heath bar) crushed for garnish

Bring the milk, water and sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butterscotch chips until they melted. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and crushed toffee.

Feliz Navidad Hot Chocolate

• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
• 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• cayenne pepper

Bring the milk and sugar to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and a small pinch of cayenne pepper with a wooden spoon and let steep for 3 minutes. Reheat over low heat until it simmers.
Strain the chocolate before serving.

Winter Wonderland Hot Chocolate

• 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 6 1/2 cups hot water
• Mini Marshmallows

In a large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in hot water; Heat thoroughly, but do not boil. Top with marshmallows.

Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Hot Chocolate

• 3/4 cup milk
• 3/4 cup half-and-half
• 2 strips orange peel
• 2 strips lemon peel
• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
• whipped cream, for garnish

Heat the milk, half-and-half, orange peel and lemon peel to simmering, and simmer for about 2 minutes. Do not let it boil.
Remove the peels and add chocolate, whisking until melted.
Serve topped with whipped cream.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Hot Chocolate

• 2 cups hot milk
• 1 serving cocoa mix
• 1 tablespoon crushed peppermint stick
• 1 whole peppermint stick

Stir together milk, cocoa mix and crushed peppermint stick in a large mug. Garnish with a whole peppermint stick.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Hot Chocolate

• 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
• 1 cup half-and-half
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine chocolate chips, half-and-half, and cinnamon over medium heat. Stir frequently with wooden spoon until the chocolate chips are meted; about 5 minutes. Do not let it boil.
Serve and enjoy!

Deck The Halls Hot Chocolate Tea

• 2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon loose-leaf Earl Grey tea
• 1 teaspoon loose-leaf Darjeeling tea
• 1 star anise
• 1 cinnamon stick
• Pinch ground ginger
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 6 ounces chopped dark chocolate
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the tea leaves, turn off the heat, and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the tea, then return in to the pan and add the star anise, cinnamon stick, ginger, and heavy cream. Heat over medium heat until cream scalds, but do not let it boil over.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and strain the cream mixture into the chocolate. Add the vanilla and whisk until the chocolate is melted. This can be served hot or chilled.

Monday, December 6, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Fun

Okay, I know it is cliché, but I love the whole “12 Days of Christmas” list thing, so for the month of December I am posting lists of Christmas related ideas. This week we are looking at fun things to do around the Denver metro and surrounding areas (I apologize to my readers living in other states – perhaps a google search will reveal similar activities in your neck of the Christmas woods).

Wishing you a fun Christmas season with your kiddos!

1) Denver Zoo Lights (Denver)
I assume everyone living in Colorado knows about this since it has been around for years, but here are the details you’ll need if you are planning a visit.
Runs December 10 – January 2, 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Non-Member prices:
Adult: $8, kids 3 – 11: $4, seniors: $6
Members save $2 per ticket.
Bring a non-perishable food item donation and save $1.
Go to www.denverzoo.org for more information.

2) Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado Springs)
Similar to Denver Zoo Lights for our friends in Colorado Springs.
Open December 17 – January 2 (not open Christmas Eve), 5:30 – 8:30 pm with last admission sold at 7:30.
There is a Santa’s Brunch on December 18. See website for details.
Don’t miss the Santa Zone with live reindeer!
Admission without a skyride is $8.25 for adults, $5.25 for kids 3 – 11. Kids under two are free.
Visit www.cmzoo.org to learn more.

3) Trail of Lights – Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield (Littleton)
Blossoms of Lights – Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street (Denver)
Runs December 3 – January 2, 5:30 – 9:30 pm
Adult tickets are $9.50, seniors are $7.50, kids 4 – 12 are $6.50, and kids three and under are free.
Learn more at www.botanicgardens.org.

4) Winter Wonderlights at The Wildlife Experience (Parker)
Visit December 10 – 24, 5:30 – 8:30 pm.
Adult admission: $9, seniors: $8, kids 3 – 12: $6, kids two and under are free
Members receive a $2 discount per ticket. Also, I have seen coupons for a free child’s admission with the purchase of an adult admission, so keep an eye open for one in you plan to attend.
Find more details at www.thewildlifeexperience.org.

5) Winter Wonderland at the Denver Children’s Museum (Denver)
Daily themed activities included with regular museum admission through December 31. Open Monday – Friday 9 am to 4 pm (stays open late on Wednesdays), Saturday – Sunday 10am – 5 pm.
Kids under 1 are free, one-year-olds are $6, those ages 2 – 59 are $8, seniors are $6.
Go to www.mychildsmuseum.org for more.

6) Civic Center Lights (Denver)
Drive downtown to see the beautiful lights on the Civic Center Building, right across from the state Capitol. There is a nice nativity scene, as well as a menorah. I like to drive around the city looking at lights, then have dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory on 18th Street.

7) Georgetown Christmas Market (Georgetown)
Runs the first two weekends in December from 10 am – 6 pm, free admission.
Get information at www.historicgeorgetown.org

8) Olde Golden Christmas On Parade (Washington Avenue, Golden)
Every Saturday through December 25, parade starts at 11:00 am.
Free admission, parking and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Find the details at www.2hourvacation.com

9) Santa On The Square (Larimer Square, Denver)
Your little one can make requests of Santa every weekend until Christmas Eve on Saturdays from 10 am – 7 pm and Sundays from 11 am – 5 pm. This is free and there is no charge to take photos with your personal camera.

10) A Charles Dickens Candlelight Christmas Tour at the Molly Brown House (Denver)
Tours start at 6 pm and 7 pm on Saturday, December 17.
Tours start at 5 pm, 6 pm, and 7 pm on Sunday, December 18.
Adult admission is $16, children are $13
Go to www.mollybrown.org for more information.

11) Tea at the Brown Palace (Denver)
A fun and fancy tradition for mothers and daughters.
Daily 12 – 4 pm. Reservations required (weekends fill quickly)
Go to www.brownpalace.com for details.

12) Ice Skating
There are loads of places offering seasonal outdoor rinks, and some indoor rinks hold special events in December. Check with a rink near you, or visit one of these:

The Pond At Southlands (Aurora) Open Monday – Thursday from 3 – 9 pm, Friday from 3 – 10 pm, Saturday from 11 am – 10 pm, and Sunday from 12 – 6 pm.
Admission is $8 without skate rental, $10 with skate rental

One Boulder Plaza (Boulder) Open Monday – Tuesday from 2 – 7 pm, Wednesday – Thursday from 10 am – 7 pm, Friday – Saturday from 10 am – 10 pm, and Sunday from 10 am – 7 pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for kids ages 4 – 12, kids three and under are free, and seniors pay $5. Rent skates and helmets for $3. Go to www.bouldericerink.com to learn more.

Winter Wonderland Skate Night and Festival at the Parker Fieldhouse (Parker)
December 11, 5:30 – 9:30 pm, Admission is $6 but you save $1 if you bring a canned food item to donate. They do NOT have skate rentals at this event, so bring your own.