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Wednesday 26 December 2012

Santa's Footprints

Christmas morning is always filled with such anticipation. The first thing the kids always want to know is "Has Santa been?". Well, this year it was obvious that Santa had visited as soon as the girls opened the bedroom door. There on the ground, leading from the front door to the lounge room was a set of footprints. White, glittery, snowy footprints made by someone wearing big boots. Who else other than Santa could have left such prints?

Looks like Santa's been!

Much like the Easter Bunny this Easter, Santa left a trail of footprints leading from the emergency stairwell in the hallway straight to our Christmas tree. The girls were excited to see that Santa had left footprints and happily hopped along them all the way out our apartment to see where they started. Of course, the were happiest following the footprints to the Christmas tree to see what else Santa had left!

Wondering how Santa left such glittery footprints? Here's how you can make your own...

Christmas 2012

Well, Christmas is over for another year. I hope you all had a lovely day.

We had a nice Christmas shared with friends who were visiting from Australia. The day was pretty grey and rainy so we spent it inside which, being Australian, we're not really accustomed to. I guess cold Christmases spent indoors are the norm in the Northern Hemisphere but I'm still getting the hang of it! What we certainly are accustomed to however, is the copious amount of food that goes hand in hand with Christmas. Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cauliflower gratin, sweet potato bake, green beans, sparkling apple cider, Christmas pudding and custard. If it wasn't for the Christmas pudding and custard it pretty much would've been a repeat of Thanksgiving! 

And then of course, there were the copious amount of presents! Both girls were spoiled by Santa, friends and family. Oh, and by us! Ava was super excited that Santa brought her Bouncy, the "electric" dog that she has been going on and on about for months. The damn thing yapped and jumped around in circles all day but Ava didn't seem to mind. She cuddled it all day and even took it to bed with her - where she worked out that turning it off might be a good idea!  Lola had asked Santa for "a present and a ball and a bus". She was pretty excited when the first present she opened was a wooden school bus. Two birds with one stone! The ball was also crossed off her list thanks to a gift from our visiting friends. 
Both Ava and Lola received new wheels for Christmas - a scooter for Ava and a balance bike for Lola. The girls were pretty keen to get out in the courtyard and practise riding but the rain made this a little tricky. An incredibly late lunch followed by Lola's afternoon nap and a bout of vomiting (Lola) then kept us inside for the rest of the day. Luckily Lola was feeling much better by evening. Too many grapes and blueberries for breakfast I think. 

All up we had a nice day - if you don't count the girls going a little stir crazy from being cooped up inside all day or Lola projectile vomiting twice :( 

Here's a look at our Christmas day - minus the vomit...

Christmas family photo

Friday 21 December 2012

Little Bags of Honey Biscuits

Today was Ava's last day of school for the year. Roll on the start of the two week winter break!

Ava's class celebrated their last day of school before Christmas by making Christmas crafts, watching a movie and, the kids' favourite part, wearing their pyjamas all day! Not a bad day of school.

And if all that doesn't sound good enough there was just one more treat...

Ava took bags of honey biscuits to school to give out to her classmates and teacher.

Bags of honey biscuits

Technically sweet treats like biscuits/cookies aren't actually allowed at school but we got around this by bagging the biscuits up for the kids to take home. Ah, loopholes! To make the bags of biscuits a little more festive I made cards from one of Ava's Christmas drawings and tied them on with red and white baker's twine. Ava personalised each bag of biscuits by writing a message on the back of each card. I was quite impressed that she was able to recognise each of her classmates names on the cards when handing them out. It's good to know that she is learning at school!

Merry Christmas

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Christmas Tradition: Honey Biscuits

Every year in the lead up to Christmas my Mum bakes honey biscuits. They've become one of my family's Christmas traditions, taking the place of gingerbread.

In keeping with tradition, making honey biscuits was one of the Christmas activities in Ava and Lola's advent calendar; the most delicious activity in the advent calendar!

Honey Biscuits

Sunday 16 December 2012

Christmas Tree Hunting

Yesterday we finally got our Christmas tree!

Ava and Lola had been hanging out all month to get a Christmas tree but knew they had to wait until it appeared in the advent calendar. Well, day 15 was finally the day.

Day 15: Time to choose a Christmas tree!

Washi Tape Christmas Decorations

I love washi tape.

It's the one thing I feel compelled to buy whenever I see it in a store. It's the one thing that you might say I "collect". It's my go-to for decorating presents and one of my favourite crafting materials.

So when I saw a post on Modern Parents Messy Kids about a DIY washi tape christmas tree I knew I had to get out the tape collection and start decorating!

Washi tape Christmas tree, presents and wreath

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Four days in Tuscany

Time for a break from the Christmas posts...

Back in September Lola and I went on a whirlwind trip to Italy to attend the wedding of our friends Amy and Andrew in the stunning Tuscan countryside. I've been meaning to write about it and share some photos since, well... September but I keep getting distracted with other things; Halloween preparations, Thanksgiving preparations, Christmas preparations and of course Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc etc etc. Even now I'm being distracted by my blog feed!

Ok, enough procrastinating, let's get these photos up...

Our trip to Italy was short but sweet. Only four full days in total. Along with the bride and groom travelling from London a handful of good friends had travelled from Australia for the wedding. It was lovely to catch up in such an amazing location.

Amy and Andrew's wedding was held in a little Tuscan town called Greve-in-Chianti. Our accommodation was located a short drive away in Rignana which is not really a village but rather a few farm houses, a villa and a restaurant all accessed by narrow and bumpy dirt roads. Lola and I stayed in Fattoria di Rignana, a lovely old farm house converted into a B&B. The bride and groom, along with many other guests, stayed in nearby Villa Rignana about a 10 minute walk away.

Our first evening in Italy was spent doing just what Italy is best for: eating delicious food and drinking great wine with good friends. Then, of course, a big sleep to recover from our fifteen hour flight. Fifteen hours with Lola on my lap - what was I thinking?!

Our first full day in Italy was spent doing the tourist thing in the nearby medieval village San Gimignano. The entire village (or at least the medieval part) is completely enclosed within a stone wall. We ate pizza and gelato, posed for photos, bought souvenirs... all the touristy stuff.

Lola and I outside the walled village of San Gimignano

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Snow Day!

On Sunday we had snow!

That's right, snow. Here in Berkeley.

I know what you're thinking... It doesn't snow in the Bay Area.

Ok, so it didn't actually fall out of the sky. And it was probably made by a snow machine - but that counts as snow in the ski resorts back home in Australia so I'm counting it as snow here!

Sunday was the annual "Snow, in Berkeley?" fun day.

A car park in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto district was transformed into a Winter Wonderland for a day of snow ball throwing, snowman building and general snow fun.

Ava had a ball playing in the snow even though it was a little compacted and wet by the time we arrived. She made lots of snow balls - which were mostly thrown at me - and attempted to make a snowman. I say attempted because the snow was not really powdery enough to do much with. She started making the base of the snowman but got a little bored and turned it into a snow ball - which of course was thrown at me!

Lola wasn't too sure about the snow. She was keen to play in it but had refused to wear socks, boots or anything else warm on her feet. She discovered pretty quickly just how cold snow can be when you're wearing Summer shoes. While attempting to make snow angels her little shoes filled up with icy cold sludge. Now we have another thing to add to Lola's list of things she hates getting in her shoes: sand, bark chips and snow! She did however, enjoy throwing snow balls at me too!

Here's a look at the girls and their day of fun in the snow...

Lola with her first snow ball  

Monday 10 December 2012

Giant Gingerbread House

Just like last year one of the activities on this year's advent calendar was to visit the giant gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

And just like last year, the giant gingerbread house did not disappoint. Standing at over 22 feet high and 23 feet wide and made of thousands of gingerbread bricks it is quite a sight to see. The girls were enchanted by the masses of gingerbread with its, wait for it... two thousand pounds of royal icing and candy. My teeth are aching just thinking about that number!

Giant gingerbread house and Christmas tree in the Fairmont Hotel lobby

Friday 7 December 2012

A new Christmas Tradition...

I just stumbled upon a new Christmas Tradition for our family that I'm quite excited about. Ok, so it's probably not a new tradition for most Americans but it's new to us.

This tradition that I'm talking about is the story of "The Elf on the Shelf". Have you heard of it?

I hadn't heard of it before but kept seeing little elves popping up everywhere in the stores and online. Books, DVDs, figurines, plush dolls and Christmas ornaments everywhere. Even Pinterest boards devoted to Elf on the Shelf crafts! 

I was intrigued so after a little research online I purchased a box set with the book and our very own elf. Both Ava and Lola enjoy the book. They like looking for the elf on every page - not that he is always hiding, mind you! The elf that comes with the book has a cute vintage feel about him. Plastic moulded head and long, floppy felt body. He looks straight out of a 1950's toy store!

Our elf on the shelf  "Elfie Pokie Nokie"

The Little Things: Living Small

As of last week we've been living in our apartment for a year. This got me thinking about how well the girls have transitioned from living in a relatively big house to a relatively small apartment. I had initially been worried about how they (and I!) would cope with the major downgrade in living space but they adapted to it really quickly and without fuss.

In Australia we lived in a 3 bedroom house with a decent sized backyard. Our living room, dining room and kitchen were all distinct separate spaces (although fairly open plan) and the girls had their own bedrooms. Our backyard wasn't huge by Australian standards but had enough space for a large cubby house, fruit trees and vegetable patches, a verandah, a paved area for the outdoor setting and BBQ, a double garage and lots of lawn for running around. Ok, by San Francisco Bay Area standards that sounds huge!

Ava in our old backyard with her cubby house and veggie patches (and very patchy lawn!)

Tuesday 4 December 2012

A visit to Santaland

Day 3 on our advent calendar was home to the voucher that Ava had most eagerly awaited: Visit Santa at Macy's!

"Visit Santa at Macy's" - the voucher we've been waiting for!

For weeks Ava has been asking if we can go see Santa. For weeks I've been telling her that she has to wait until it comes up in the advent calendar. You can imagine how excited she was when she saw the name Santa on the voucher. She couldn't read the rest of it but she recognised that one word and that was all she needed!

So, last night after Ava's iceskating lesson (and Holiday Ice Spectacular rehearsal) we headed to Macy's to meet the man.

Ava was pretty excited but Lola was a little apprehensive, especially after seeing a particularly seedy looking Santa here in Berkeley last week! The REAL Santa at Macy's however, is friendly and inviting and engages with the kids in a way that really warms them to him. Ava popped up on his lap straight away and started reeling off the list of things that she'd like for Christmas: an electric dog called Bouncy, a scooter, a fortune cookie maker... Lola hung back a little and when asked what she'd like for Christmas she yelled across the room "A present and a ball and a toy truck"!

After a little while Lola felt more comfortable with Santa and was happy to stand in front of him and pose for photos - but only if she could be on the same side as Ava. For the first time ever we ended up with photos of both girls smiling with Santa. Woo hoo!

Here's a look at the girls with Santa.

Our "official" Santa portrait

Sunday 2 December 2012

My Advent Calendar 2012

Yesterday I shared my friend Daniela's fantastic advent calendar garland. Now it's time for a look at our advent calendar for this year...

Do you remember the advent calendar that we used last year? You can see it here. This advent calendar was purchased from my favourite Swedish stationery store Kikki.K before we left Australia last year. I really wish that Kikki.K would open stores here in America. Anyway, I'm getting side tracked...

I love the simplicity of this advent calendar. The design is minimalistic and modern while still festive with its red and white colour theme. As with last year I have made vouchers for holiday activities to include in the advent calendar. Last year's vouchers were very simple (hand written on card) as my craft supplies, computer, printer etc were still in transit from Australia.

This year I decided to design something a little more stylish for the advent calendar. Keeping with the simplicity of the calendar I went for a simple, modern design: blackboard background, red banner, white text and fine white borders. To help the girls pull each voucher out of the advent calendar I added some red and white baker's twine as a pull string. Nothing fancy but I think it goes quite well with the calendar.

Christmas activity vouchers ready for the advent calendar

Saturday 1 December 2012

Guest Post: Advent Garland

Today I'm excited to be sharing something special with you. My first guest post!

Usually the craft projects that you see on Little Hiccups have been made by me - or my kids - but today I'll be sharing a fantastic Christmas craft made by my talented friend Daniela. It's an advent calendar and garland all in one. How clever is that? No need to take it down once the countdown to Christmas has finished.

Daniela's Advent Calendar Garland
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