By Joanna Campbell Slan
Snow, snow, snow. The weather report sounds like a broken record. As I write this, the Boston area is bracing for yet another blizzard-like blast, adding more flakes to the growing mountains of white fluff.
Even though I now live in Florida, I remember those winter days "up yonder" when we could get out the front door because the snow was piled up high. I can still hear the sound of a snow shovel scraping the concrete of our walk. My nose prickles to the smell of the diesel fumes that wafted over the neighborhood as husbands vroom-vroomed from behind their snow blowers. And I'll never forget how my son would send up a cheer at the words, "Snow day!" Meanwhile, I would groan, wondering, "How am I going to keep him busy?"
So I used these memories in my newest book—Shotgun, Wedding, Bells—to create a scene where Kiki Lowenstein's children are going stir-crazy, thanks to days of inclement weather. Because Kiki has a criminal to track down, her good friend Laurel helps out by babysitting Anya Lowenstein (age 13) and Erik Detweiler (age 5). Laurel is a kid at heart, so she comes up with these terrific ideas for indoor fun:
1. Snow candy – You need good, clean snow for this. So the badder the weather, the gooder the treat! Scoop up enough to fill a cake pan. Stir together ¼ C. butter to 1 C. maple syrup in a sturdy pot. Bring to a boil, watching constantly. (This is a job for grown-ups, of course!) After it bubbles for six minutes, pour it over the snow. The candy will harden. Once it is cool, break it into pieces and enjoy. Alternately, you can use ½ C. honey and ¼ C. brown sugar for your mix.
2. Newspaper sailboats – Grab some newspapers out of your recycling bin. Or grab some paper out of your printer. I could explain it, but instead, go here http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Paper-Boat and follow the directions! Now fill a bath tub with warm water and sail your boat.
3. Fashion show – Throw open your closet doors and invite the kids to play dress up. Be sure to take lots and lots of photos.
4. Catalog memory album -- If you're like Kiki, you get a zillion mail order catalogs every week. Since the US Postal Service will keep delivering, no matter what the weather deals us, here's a jiffy way to have fun with those catalogs. (You can also use a magazine in a pinch.) Start with one that isn't too thick, preferably one with a staple holding in the pages. Glue pages together in sets of two or three to make stronger, less flexible pages. Now cover the pages with scrapbook paper--and use those pages as the base for your layouts! This is perfect for kids because there's a lot of activity, but it doesn't need to be precise. They can use a glue stick to add photos, words, or even images they like.
5. Pistachio nut boats (miniatures) -- Going nuts? Why not put those shells to good use? You'll need shells, paper, toothpicks, glue, scissors, markers, acrylic paint and a brush, and buttons. Begin by painting the outside of your boat. (Tip: Tape a piece of masking tape sticky side up to your work surface to hold the shells down.) Now snap your toothpicks in half and paint them. While those pieces are drying, work on your sails. Snip off a corner of your piece of paper so that you have a triangle about 3/4 inch on the longest side--this will be your sail. (Play with these! They should vary according to the size of your empty shell.) Use your markers to add stripes to the sail. Glue the long edge of your sail to your toothpick. Glue the toothpick to the hull of your boat (the painted shell), and finally glue the sailboat to a button or a small piece of balsa wood.
6. Curl up and read as a family -- Your children will be more likely to read if they see you doing it! Need a good book? Send an email to my assistant Sally Lippert at SALFL27@att.net and she'll "gift" you a copy of Ink, Red, Dead for your e-reader.
7. Plan for better weather--or more of the same! I suggest you pre-order a copy of Shotgun, Wedding, Bells, so you have something fun to look forward to. When the book is released on Valentine's Day, you'll get a special treat—along with this e-book comes a second e-book, your free copy of Tear Down and Die (the first book in my new Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series with 48 five-star reviews on Amazon).
Meanwhile, stay safe and stay warm!
PS Just in case the link to Shotgun, Wedding, Bells doesn't work, try this: