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Updated throughout the week, Kim's Blog combines home front experiences with informative updates on area events, unique opportunities and of course, dynamic deals! 

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giganti-200gnomeCheck out Giganti and Giganti's beautiful new location and follow Gnorm, the gnome, on his journey to get there. He makes a few stops at some of Springfield's favorite places…including SpringfieldMoms!

Stop by for special holiday gifts for all budgets and choose something special! The Pandora line is a wonderful collection to start and build upon as the years go by. When you stop by the store, don't forget to bring your coupon from our Mom's Choice Directory for a complimentary spa treatment for your favorite piece of jewelry!  

 

LiveWell Cube 200x120Healthy Holiday Treat Ideas for Classroom Parties

Believe it or not, winter parties for the preschool and elementary crowd can be fun AND healthy. Memorial's LiveWell Blog offers great suggestions on how we can move away from the “icing sugar cookies” station, candy canes and gingerbread houses. Instead, offer nutritious alternatives that will tickle their taste buds.

Christina Rollins, nutritionist and director of Memorial Medical Center’s Food and Nutrition Services department, offers these tips for festive and fun holiday party treats for kids.

  1. Kid-friendly "cocktails"
  2. Naturally sweet fruit dishes.
  3. Raw vegetables or pita chips with homemade hummus.
  4. Pretzels, granola bars and dried fruitclassroom party

Read more details and see some inspiring recipes for your child's next classroom party: livewellmagazine.org

 

2014 Winter Classroom Party Ideas from SpringfieldMoms

Our annual tradition - advice on winter class parties: a long list of fun activities, including games, crafts and snacks!

moms-pinterestCheck out our Pinterest board for more ideas!

 

Tips for the Best Gifts for Teachers – from SpringfieldMoms

Read advice here — what teachers like, and what gifts are overdone.

Gifts don’t have to be tangible things!  Activity Gifts to create memories

globetrotters

  • Families appreciate event tickets Harlem globetrotters Jan 7th.  Use the Spmoms promo code to save $7!
  • 2015 Illinois State Fair Megapass on Sale through Dec. 31,
  • Knight’s Action Park Season Pass: discount passcode Use SPMoms promo code SANTA 15,  YMCA holiday workshop classes, gymnastics,  karate, $$ for activities is a very practical gift and supports our local businesses.

Local Museum Gift Shops are a Year-round hit

  • Illinois State Museum Artisans gift shop — educational  gifts, puzzles and books.  Quality toys that will last and very unique stuffed animals. Year round go to for kids gifts. Beautiful selection of art, jewelry for adults as well.
  • Abraham Lincoln museum gift shop:  for the historians in your family, all things and, China setting to desk accessories and toys from Lincolns' era. You can shop in the store even if you're not visiting the exhibits but the new one is spectacular!  So linger :-)
  • Moms, Friends, Colleagues: Popular choices for unique home décor and jewelry from local artists.
    Studio on 6th downtown Springfieldmoms jewelry and home decor
    Gypsy soul on Montvale drive: great baby corner, home decor, huge natural life section great for Tweens and teens. tons of cool jewelry– affordable/unique clothing.
  • Urban Sassafrass, converts old items into art! antique toys, paintings and beautiful photographs (on Broadway downtown
  • District 23 on MacArthur: affordable collection of cool décor, furniture, clothing, and profits go to the Cochlear Implant Foundation
  • Murphy’s Loft new on Monroe Street, check them out on facebook

Beginning today and continuing through all of 2015, it will be family day the 10th of every month. Family Day ALPM

Share a Pair—of socks! Enjoy $5 off admission cost/$10 off membership to the museum when you donate a brand new pair of socks. All socks collected will be distributed to the students of District 186. This collection drive will begin today and run through the end of the month. Come on December 10th and families get a free cookie and hot chocolate.

More information here.

So many things happening at the YMCA to keep away cabin fever this summer!YMCA general 2014

Holiday Mini Sessions – December 22 – January 5

SpringfieldMoms readers have been asking–what do you do when school is out but you have to work? Springfield YMCA to the rescue! From day camp to sport-specific camps, there are choices! Read more here.

 

Winter One Session – January 5 – February 22

Registration opens Dec. 8 for members and Dec. 15 for the public. Classes for this session run from Jan. 5-Feb 22. Check out all of the classes and programs here.

photo-4If you have had any of your online holiday purchases arrive, you may find yourself with an abundance of bubble wrap.  While popping the bubbles is always entertaining for the kiddos another fun way to use them is to make these easy icicle ornaments.

 

Materials:  Bubble Wrap, scissors, tape, blue or silver paint, paint brushes, and ornament hooks.photo-3

 

  • First cut your bubble wrap into strips. 
  • Shape them into icicles with tape.
  • Paint the bubble wrap
  • After they are dry place by lights on the tree.

 

photo-4 copy 2

 

For even more fun holiday decorations follow us on Pinterest  unnamed-1

 

unnamedCongratulations!  St. John’s Children’s Hospital, your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, raised $109,056.60 during the ninth annual Cares for Kids Radiothon on November 20thand 21st, 2014. This is a new record total!    

This year, two radio stations,WDBR and The Wolf aired the live Radiothon broadcast from the Carol Jo Vecchie Women & Children’s Center.  Radio personalities, Dylan and Julie with 103.7 WDBR FM and Dave and Dina with 101.9 FM The Wolf, interviewed families of patients, staff from the hospital and representatives from local businesses that raised funds to help improve the lives of children in central Illinois served by St. John’s Children’s Hospital.  Building Blocks Day Care and Preschool raised more than $4k alone.

All of the funds raised during the Cares for Kids Radiothon will stay local to support the pediatric programs for the 50,000 children treated each year at St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

holiday-traditionsOur childhood memories around the holidays become cherished traditions that we pass on to our own children.  Sometimes as we incorporate our own new ideas that will become our children's fondest memories of the holidays.  We asked our readers to share their traditions. 

 

  • Lots of Readers listed Holiday Movie Classics as their traditions.  A Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story,Rudolph and A Charlie Brown Christmas were a few of the favorites.Charlie_Brown_Xmas_tree
  • Our readers' families enjoy spending some quality time with hot cocoa, driving around looking at all the Christmas lights.
  • Several readers would look at the Christmas lights after coming home from Christmas Eve Church Services.  Bell ringing services and singing Joy to the World were extra special parts of some of the services. 
  • Festival of Trees main logoMemorial's Festival of Trees was a cherished tradition among many of our readers. 
  • Visiting Santa at the Holiday walk in Springfield and taking a picture gives our readers a great keepsake.
  • Listening to Christmas Carols while baking Christmas Cookies or Christmas Crafts with their kiddos is a great memory our readers share. 
  • Trimming the Christmas Tree is a much loved holiday tradition. 
  • Going to Grandma's house is a way many of our readers celebrate. 
  • Playing Board Games or Nerf Gun Parties were some really fun ways people enjoyed quality time with their family. 
  • Some readers give their children a new ornament for the tree each year.  When the kids are older they will have plenty to put on their own tree.  Unknown-2
  • New Holiday Christmas Pajamas for those cozy days we stay inside with our family.
  • A lot of families in Springfield are getting visits from their Elf of the Shelf, this holiday season. 

We asked our readers to share their favorite Holiday Recipes with us.  These delightful treats and dishes are sure to spread holiday cheer. 

Sweet Treats and Snacks:  

  • Mandy Alavazarez:  "I make the pretzel cookies. You take round pretzels, put a Hershey kiss in the middle, bake in oven (400 degrees) for 5 min or less. Take out and let cool for a min or two, then put a green or red m&m on top of the Hershey kiss and squish it down. It makes the kiss fill the round and when they cool.. Yummy!"
  • Kimberly Eades shared this adorable recipe for cream cheese penguins.580469
  • Katie Mefford: "I make pretzels dripped in chocolate and rolled them in heath crumbs, nuts, sparkles, and mini chocolate chips. So simple and so yummy!"
  • Kristi Whitcomb: Christmas Crunch 
    1/2 cup popping popcorn kernels, or 2 bags tender white popcorn
    1 (12 oz) bag Vanilla Candy Melts (such as Wilton Candy Melts)
    1 1/3 cups broken pretzel pieces
    1 (12 oz) bag green and red Milk Chocolate or Mint M&Ms
    Red, green and white Sprinkles (I used Jingle Mix Nonpareils)
  • Melissa Benedict shared this tasty recipe for layered pumpkin cheesecake pie.
  • Sara Meyer Thornsbrough shared this recipe for Andes Mint Cookies 
  • Jenny Frohn makes a dish called Snowflake MixChex Mix,Honey Roasted Peanuts, Pretzels, Christmas M&Ms, and Coat with almond bark.
  • Jenna Stewart likes the classic Chex Mix.
  • holly wreathsJessica Boehler Bliss shared this yummy recipe for Holly Wreaths
  • Jennifer Self: Cherry cheesecake. Box of crushed gram crackers layered at the bottom mixed with half cup of melted butter. Whipped white cream and cherries on top!
  • Nicole Gray shared her husband's favorite recipe for Strawberry Pretzel Salad.
  • Sara Shillinger Amos likes this recipe for fudge. 
  • Kim Walton: "I make lots if candy. I think the big hit is chocolate covered ritz. Put peanut butter on a ritz cracker. Cover with another ritz making a peanut butter sandwich. Melt chocolate almond bark and dip sandwich until covered. Lay on wax paper to dry. Yum. Enjoy"
  • Abby Bugg shared this yummy recipe for Pumpkin Pie Squares
  • Jennifer Jackson Gordy:  Strawberry Candies:1 can of Sweetened condensed milk, 3 sm boxes of, strawberry jello, Almond slivers, 1 cup of Sugar, Green food coloring
    Soak almonds slivers in green food coloring in small bowl for 1 hour. Remove and place on paper towel to dry.In a medium bowl mix together the sweetened condensed milk and strawberry Jello. Mixture is very sticky! Place sugar in a small bowl.Scoop Strawberry mixture by teaspoonfuls & roll into a ball. Shape into a "strawberry" by pinching bottom in lightly & pressing down slightly on top while inserting the almond sliver to make a "stem". Roll your "strawberry" in sugar to coat evenly. Place on waxed paper. Store air tight in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • giganti_300Mandi Allgood's favorite holiday recipe is cheese fudge:1/2 pound Velveeta cheese, sliced,1 cup butter,1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 cup chopped nuts, pecans, walnuts, 2 (16-ounce) boxes confectioners' sugar,1/2 cup cocoa powder. Directions: Spray lightly the bottom of a 9 by 2-inch square pan with a nonstick spray.In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the cheese and butter together, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and nuts. In a large bowl sift together the sugar and cocoa. Pour the cheese mixture into the sugar and cocoa mixture and stir until completely mixed. The candy will be very stiff. Using your hands, remove candy from bowl and press evenly and firmly into pan. Because of the amount of butter in this recipe, pat the top of the candy with a paper towel to remove the excess oil. Place pan in refrigerator until candy is firm.To serve candy, cut into squares.
  • Tina Johnson Dart: Peanut Butter Cup Brownies. "I just buy a regular favorite brownie mix. Mix it as the box says. I then put the batter in a mini muffin pan(each cup about 3/4 full). Follow baking instructions on the brownie box. As soon as you take them out of the oven push a full size peanut butter cup onto the top of each muffin. It will melt as it cools. I promise these will be a huge hit. I have also heard of people using a peppermint kiss instead of a peanut butter cup."

 

UnknownHoliday Savory and Side Dishes: 

  • Niki Blair: Corn Casserole: 1 can whole kettle corn- drained, 1 can of cream style corn, 1 package of corn muffin mix- jiffy works best, 1 cup of sour cream, 1/2 stick of butter- melted, 1 cup cheddar cheese.
    Pre heat oven to 350, Mix both cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and butter in large bowl. Grease a 9×13 in casserole dish.Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Top with 1 cup cheddar cheese and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted. "Absolutely delicious!!"
  • Jessica Koegler Yeager: I make cranberry sauce. 1 lb of cranberries, 1 cup of water, 1 cup if sugar, 1 tbsp orange zest, optional crushed walnuts. Add everything to a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 min or until sauce starts to thicken.
  • Amber Goodall: "This sweet potato casserole is heaven! More like dessert than a side dish!" 
    6 cups sweet potatoes cooked and mashed, 6 eggs beaten, 2 cups sugar, 2 tsp vanilla,4 tsp baking powder,1 cup melted butter. Beat ingredients in a large bowl until light and fluffyPour into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove froUnknown-1m oven and spread on topping-recipe below. In a large zip lock bag mix and crunch: 6 cups Crispix cereal, 1 cup packed brown sugar,1 cup melted butter 1 1/2-2 cups chopped pecans. Add topping and bake an additional 20 minutes until lightly browned!
  • Angie Henson: "My favourite recipe is deviled eggs. Boil 12 eggs let cool then take the shell off and slice in half,put the yoke in a bowl and the white part on a plate then add miracle whip, mustard stir all together then fill the white part with the yoke."
  • Courtney Braun: "Potato casserole!!! 1 pkg of frozen hashbrowns, 1 – 16 oz container sour cream, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 2 cups (or more if you like) of shredded cheddar cheese. Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients except cheese in a large bowl. Dump them into 9×13 baking pan, then sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for 30 min!!!!"
  • Carrie Tomso: Crockpot Corn: 3 – 16 oz frozen corn,11 oz cream cheese,6 slices of American cheese, 2 Tablespoons milk, 2 Tablespoons water, 2 Tablespoons sugar. Cook on low 3-4 hours till corn is done.
  • Becky Maynhart-gebhardt: Sweet potatoes: 2 cans of yams,1/4 c brown sugar,2 tbsp maple syrup,2 tsp honey, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice,Ginger bread men marshmallows. Mix all ingredients together (except marshmallows) beat until lumps are gone. Put in baking dish and level it. Layer marshmallows on top and bake at 350 for 30 mins. Make sure you get your serving before you place it on the counter because it goes fast!
  • Jackie Barnes Gillock: "My grandma's homemade Cranberry relish. 2 bags of fresh cranberries, rinsed and pick out bad ones, 1 orange, peel and all, 2 granny smith applies, washed and cored. Grind all of the above together then mix one small box of strawberry jello according to package and pour over ground mixture. Then sweeten to taste with splenda. Then I place in Grandma's specail trifle dish that is only used for this dish, it looks so beautiful in the dish on my table. Enjoy!!!"
  • Barry and Angie Wiser: "Make a homemade giant turkey pot pie w/the leftover turkey scraps. Just get 2 frozen pie crusts, layer turkey, frozen stew vegetables (about 1 lb) & cream of potato soup (a can /can & a half, I don't really measure out) in 1 shell until full (salt & pepper) then flip the other shell on top & smash together the edges until sealed & poke w/fork (brush w/egg white on top if u want). Cook in oven about 375 until crust is golden and hot all the way thru in the middle".
  • Alicia Kirby Norris:"Grandma's cranberry jello1 can jellied cranberries mashed 2 sm. boxes of black cherry jello dissolved into hot water. Pour hot jello mixture into mashed cranberries and wisk until combined. Pour into glass serving dish, cover and (refrigerate) allow to cool overnight. 
    Very pretty and Takes the bitterness out of the canned cranberries. Even my picky girl will eat it!"images

Make plans for Friday – The YMCA is having a BLACK FRIDAY SUPER SALE!YMCA

50% OFF the annual fee (family and adult memberships only)

First 100 new members at each location.
Re-Activate! Re-Energize! Re-Charge!
* Restrictions Apply: Must pay 50% of membership joiner fee in addition to 50% of annual membership fee. Must pay in full, cash, check, or charge. Customer will receive gift card to be redeemed for membership. Absolutely no rainchecks. Non-refundable. May not be applied to youth memberships. May not have been a Y member in past 30 days. May not be applied to or used for membership renewal. Must purchase in the facility only, no online or over the phone sales.

Perfect Christmas Gift for Loved Ones!
8 a.m.-12 p.m., or until all 100 memberships are sold at the branch!

www.springfieldymca.org