THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2015: Days 15-23

Another week went by, and lo! It’s almost Christmas!

 

What we’ve been up to December 15-23:

Letter to Santa, as always D. is all about Star Wars and C. had some unexpected wishes which I am not sure Santa can make happen.

We made homemade gingerbread cookies, kids’ dad made the dough and we did the baking. Kids refused to decorate them, though so they look a bit plain. But so delicious!

TBSOA 2015: gingerbread

 

We got so much snow!!! Fun with friends, games, giggles and sledding!

TBSOA: Snow Day!

 

C. turned 7! Hard to believe that my baby is so big already. We had a quiet celebration at home, plus C’s Spanish class at homeschool program had Las Posadas party. We also went to look at holiday lights displays nearby.

She chose Yule Log for her birthday cake :D I didn't bake it obviously

She chose Yule Log for her birthday cake 😀 I didn’t bake it obviously

 

blurry pic, but those were very very pretty lights

blurry pic, but those were very very pretty lights

Family game night! Dixit rules our lives, C. is getting better at submitting her cards too.

Kids made a holiday mobile and decorated candles

 

TBSOA 2015 : mobile

nothing fancy- mod podge and glitter

nothing fancy- mod podge and glitter

We had a joined birthday party with C’s friend L. Their birthdays are very close. Fun, warmth and yummy food.

each girl got a little letter art from me

each girl got a little letter art from me

C. made some clay keychains to give out to her friends and D. read holiday books out loud to us (Ollie’s Ski Trip remains a favorite after so many years)

very abstract but each hasa backstory :D

very abstract but each has a backstory 😀

 

So here we are, it’s Christmas Eve, I am hoping for a quiet and sweet evening, the morning will most likely be a chaos :DDD

TBSOA 2015: 3 weeks of December

Wishing everyone Happy Holidays!

 

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THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2015: Days 8-13

Another week flew by and half of December is gone. We had lovely week of small, quiet celebrations. Here what it was like:

On Tuesday there was another lovely concert with D.’s choir- his division performed in the nursing home nearby and as always, wonderful singing and warm, holiday atmosphere.

 

Wednesday kids opened their new winter books.

TBSOA 2015: new booksFor C. it was “Snow Rabbit” by Camille Garoche- a wordless picture book about a paper rabbit that turned real and two sisters that went chasing after him.

Snow Rabbit

D. got Neil Gaiman’s “Odd and the Frost Giants” and he loved it.

Odd and the frost giants

 

On Thursday we tried finger knitting, I must say it was crazy difficult for me and C., I am not a knitter at all and crochet but a little. C. didn’t have patience. But D. got a hang of it and had fun finger knitting for a while.

TBSOA: fingerknitting

 

On Friday D. and his dad had a lovely family karate class and we got our tree after. We usually get a small tree to fit into our tiny living room, but this year the choice was either microscopic or 6 feet tall. So we got 6 feet tall one. It’s weird to have such a big tree again and it takes up half of the room, but ids are absolutely thrilled.

On Saturday we made a few decorations as per our annual tradition and decorated our tree.

D. went for a paper house, inside tha box is colored as a room

D. went for a paper house, inside tha box is colored as a room

C. painted a shell with acrylic paints. As always, I love her colors and especially how she incorporated gold paint

C. painted a shell with acrylic paints. As always, I love her colors and especially how she incorporated gold paint

I of course went with felt and made a simple heart

I of course went with felt and made a simple heart

 

our not at all tiny tree

our not at all tiny tree

Sunday was a card making day, kids made a bunch of cards for their friends and teachers.

Monday they started their annual lego village display

TBSOA 2015: Lego village

 

We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life!”, kids for the first time. Elves have been visiting and putting tiny presents for kids under the tree…I draw some holiday cheer too

TBSOA 2015 :mama draws

I keep doodle diary this season and it’s filling up little by little

two weeks of events

two weeks of events

Wishing wonderful holidays to everyone!

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Art Students League of New York on Painting

As someone deeply interested in art, both as an observer and aspiring artist, I greatly appreciate the Art Students League of New York on Painting book. A collection of lessons, philosophies, wisdom from some of the most recognized artists, this book will delight anyone with interest in art.

9780385345439

This book is so beautiful! Gorgeous paper, binding,  and full page reproductions of works of art are combined into a wonderful and heavy volume. First part is comprised of lessons and demos by Henry Finkelstein, Mary Beth McKenzie,  Frederick Brosen and others. The lessons in print cover still life, landscape, portraint  (most of the lessons focus on portraits). Part 2 is Advice and Philosophy. Participating artists include Charles Hinman, Deborah Winiyarski, James L. McElhinney and others.  I found this part of the book especially interesting, each essay gave me something new to ponder. The artworks of the students were extremely interesting to look at. Part 3 is Interviews is another wonderful opportunity to look into creative process of each artist interviewed ( Frank  O’Cain, Ronnie Landfield and Knox Martin).

Overall impression: This book is a treasure. It provides a wonderful opportunity to look deeper into process of creating art, the variety of topics covered is wide too.This book makes a wonderful gift.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2015: Days 4-7

Our season of small celebrations continues.

Day 4: Family movie night! Kids watched Home Alone for the first time, I haven’t seen this movie in more than 20 years so it was nice to return to childhood for a little bit (but I do admit I cringed at injuries of unlucky thieves, ugh).

Day 5: We put a little bit of lights outside

TBSOA 2015- lights outside

 

Day 6: D. and his choir performed in Christmas Concert and it was absolutely amazing. Well done once again!

TBSOA 2015- CHoir

 

Day 7: It was our “Winter Art” day. We read one of our most beloved winter books – “Buying Mittens” by Nankichi Niimi, such a lovely, kind tale and Kurai Ken’s illustrations are gorgeous!

Kids then painted their own illustrations- splitting the task, D. painted background and made a tissue paper foxes applique on it and C. created mittens for the little fox.

TBSOA 2015- winter art

 

I did a little bit of winter art myself, comparing forest scenery and what it’s like in the city

more at instagram

We listened to a lot of holiday tunes, kids also watched Russian movie “The Snow Queen”, beautiful fairy tale.

The song of the first week of holiday celebrations is Ukranian song Shchedryk (more known to English speaking friends as “Carol of the Bells”

 

THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2015: Day 1-3

We have successfully started our December celebrations.

It feels very nice to ease into days of candlelight, baking side by side and slowing down to watch the year end.

 

Day 1-3 of our December went well, kids cut out some paper snowflakes, we put up lights at home and today we baked our first batch of cookies.

 

BSOA -snowflakes

 

rolling out lights is probably just as much fun as hanging them up

rolling out lights is probably just as much fun as hanging them up

 

Vienna crescent cookies, the recipe is very easy -  2 1/3 c of all purpose flour +1/3 c of almond meal +pinch of salt - mix together; 1c of softened butter +1/3 c of sugar - mix until fluffy; slowly add flour; chill for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F and bake about 12 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Vienna crescent cookies, the recipe is very easy –
2 1/3 c of all purpose flour +1/3 c of almond meal +pinch of salt – mix together; 1c of softened butter +1/3 c of sugar – mix until fluffy; slowly add flour; chill for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F and bake about 12 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar.

I made some holiday sketches:

TBSOA- drawing 1

 

TBSOA- drawing 2

 

We read “Snow” by Uri Shulevitz and “Tiger in the snow” by Nick Butterworth. It’s amazing how kids are still enjoying picture books that they loved as babies.

We also read e.e. cummings’ “Little Tree”, from Literary Advent by Book Riot. I read The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry  on my own and will re-tell this lovely story to kids too.

Overall we had good three days and looking forward to more.

Wishing a most wonderful Advent to all!

Wishing a most wonderful Advent to all!

Goodbye November- The Best Season of All 2015

November flew by even faster than October, who knew it was possible, yet here we are. We had some awesome outings, kids participated in our homeschool program’s annual science fair, we were very sick with nasty respiratory bug that is going around, welcomed first real snowfall of the season and a few after that, had a very quiet Thanksgiving…. And it’s December tomorrow, which means The Best Season of All 2015 is starting!

Every year we have a very special month of December, having some holiday fun every day. I usually make a calendar of activities and kids are excited to find out what will each day bring. Last Year’s calendar and list of fun things to do can be found here. Follow the tag to see what we actually managed to do.

This year’s calendar is all drawings of mine

advent fun calendar 2015

 

Activities are spread through the whole month (don’t ask what it takes to come up with them, every year I try to add something new to old faves). None of these are mandatory for us of course, life happens and most of the month will be very busy with various things, so we’ll do what we can.

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BOOK REVIEW: Donabe by Naoko Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton

Japanese home cooking is one of a few traditions that I like the most –ingredients, processes of cooking and consuming the meals make sense and bring comfort.  Donabe is the book that opens a new range of possibilities for me — to cook traditional Japanese hot pot meals the way they are supposed to be cooked. The book is written by Naoko Takei Moore, a Japanese home cooking enthusiast and teacher , and Kyle Connaughton, chef and culinary educator.

9781607746997

First of all the book explain all about donabe (Japanese clay pot), the process of creating them (very interesting read), the varieties (some are all-purpose, some are meant only for rice, steam etc), the specifics of choosing one, how to properly use it. There is a very interesting section on Iga, the region donabe is made. Chapter 1 focuses on classic-style donabe dishes. This one was the most interesting to me because classic style donabe is the one I am getting soon. Chapter 2 is about double-lidded rice cooker, so naturally it’s all about rice. Oh, some many amazing and easy recipes! I love rice and I am absolutely excited for the possibilities. Chapter 3 focuses on soups and stews  and seems more challenging to me, what with pork shoulder and steaks and curries. Chapter 4 is all about steaming, interesting and healthy recipes are full of variety from veggies to pork belly and shrimp on tofu, even cakes are included (although only 2). Chapter 5 is about tagine style donabe and again, some recipes look like lots of work, but some like Japanese style bibimbap I can’t wait to make. Chapter 6 is dedicated to donabe smoker. Everything looks delicious, but I am not sure I will ever try any of the recipes from this one. The t shorter chapter on dashi, sauces and condiments finishes the book.

Overall impression: absolutely love this book. The author emphasizes that donabe style meals can be cooked in regular pots as well, and ingredients can be tweaked to suit one’s preference and pantry. All the recipes are wholesome and most are simple enough to put together. Cooking times vary, but again, most do not require hours of prep work and can be thrown together quickly. I am getting a donabe pot soon and I can’t wait until it arrives, it will be especially handy in winter for slow family meals.  Loved the photography. 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange to a fair and unbiased review.