Celebrating Winter

Winter seems to be hitting much of the U.S. in full force this coming weekend, but here in Florida, we’re still wearing shorts. Since we couldn’t experience winter outdoors, we decided to have a bit of it inside this week. We did that by making play snow–which requires only 2 simple ingredients, both of which I had in abundance:  hair conditioner and baking soda.

conditioner-bottles

We found the recipe here, and although it seems to be designed as a sensory activity for younger children, my 2 boys enjoyed it. Until the aroma of conditioner began to be a little overpowering, but the smell faded after a while. Garfield even played with it 2 days in a row, but I don’t think this play snow has another day left in it.

Mike brings home copious amounts of travel-sized toiletries from his ministry trips, and we have a grocery bag full of them in our bathroom cabinet. I’m the only person in the house who uses hair conditioner (and I haven’t washed my hair daily in…well, never..so I don’t go through it very fast). So this ingredient was free! The other supply–baking soda–I had on hand because I bought a 13-pound bag of it at Costco last fall. I use it to make washing soda that then goes into homemade dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent–as well as for baking needs, of course.

Overall this play snow felt delightfully squishy, and the boys played with it for a long while as they listened to an audio version of The Secret Garden. I love providing them with audio books to hear as they have a few minutes of “feet off the floor time” after lunch during our school days, while they build with LEGO bricks, or–in this case–play with sweet-smelling pretend snow.

Besides creating our own winter experience, we also celebrated Epiphany on Friday (January 6). The 12 days of Christmas aren’t just a song title–although we as a family don’t do much to celebrate Christmas after December 25–but those 12 days lead up to January 6, which is honored as Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day–the three kings (or wise men or Magi) who brought gifts to worship the Christ child. Our celebration involved baking a cake with this recipe from the Pioneer Woman (and substituting this homemade icing recipe, called ermine icing, that I used in making Garfield’s birthday cake last October). {Thanks to friend and fellow blogger Aimee for sharing the cake recipe.}

What makes it an Epiphany cake is the hiding of trinkets inside it. We didn’t buy anything special, just used (non-plastic) objects from around the house:  a pearl, a metal pendant from a necklace, even a cap from a bottle of Red Stripe beer (the boys like to collect bottle caps, for some reason). I looked up Scripture verses inspired by each object. The bottle cap, for instance, pointed us to Isaiah 1:18, since the cap’s colors are red and white. Isaiah 1:18 speaks about our scarlet sins being washed white as wool–I thought it was fitting.

Woodrow found 2 trinkets in his piece of cake, so we read the verses I’d assigned to the items he discovered. Nobody else found a buried treasure, but there’s plenty of cake left (with 6 remaining trinkets). And I made both the cake and icing with less sugar than the recipes called for, so when I watched the documentary Sugar Coated about the dangers of sugar on Netflix tonight, I didn’t feel quite so bad.

I didn’t grow up knowing much about the liturgical church calendar, but I appreciate being able to mark celebrations in our family–and even start new traditions–centered around our faith. Valentine’s Day goodies and Super Bowl parties might result in tasty food, but I cherish the idea that our celebrations can draw us to gaze more upon Jesus (instead of on a football team, for instance).

leaf-on-jeans

There’s so much joy to be relished in the prosaic moments of life:  a game of Go Fish with a child; finding edible weeds in one’s backyard; and a cake that offers up its own little treasure hunt as we talk about how God revealed His redemption plan through Jesus.

Cheers!

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