Hello! My name is Shannon Taylor. I'm a long-time writer and editor from Minnesota surprised to find myself on an island in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, three younger children (the oldest is attending college in Chicago), and two dogs.

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Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
+ Robert Fulghum

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Winter Fun

Harry Potter Christmas Countdown: Week One

Our Advent Box has been at the heart of our Christmas celebrations since the kids were small. They’d take turns opening the doors to reveal Hershey’s Kisses and a little slip of paper with anything from a joke to directions for a Christmas project or the announcement of a fun outing or party taking place that day. They also took turns unwrapping a book from our collection of Christmas picture books.

But of course as they got older, life started to interfere with this tradition. I kept it going but with their busy schedules and then one off at college, I wanted to come up with something fun and new. Enter Harry Potter. The books lend themselves well to creative activities and Christmas was always a big celebration at Hogwarts.

So here’s Week One. Some days just need a little imagination or items you have around the house. For some activities, I’ve included links to websites that provide free print-outs. A big thank you to those people for sharing their creative talents!

Day 1: Gringotts Galleons

It’s always good to start off with chocolate! Most gold-foil-wrapped coins seem to have President Kennedy on them, but I found one that’s a little less obviously Muggle. I printed four of the “Gringotts” labels (I wish I could credit the original artist) and tied them up with a cute ribbon.

Day 2: Dobby Activity

Dobby the House Elf was such a sweet little guy. So today, do something nice for someone in his honor: make a sibling’s bed, do a chore for someone, walk the dog without being asked. For older kids, send a text saying something you appreciate about them.

Day 3: Mrs. Weasley’s Fudge

We made real fudge this year for the first time. Like, we used a candy thermometer and everything. It took a couple of tries to get right, but this recipe worked well. And of course, you could make the kind with marshmallow fluff—it’s delicious, too.

2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup finely chopped chocolate
½ tsp salt
1 cup half and half
2 TBSP unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
2 tsp vanilla

Lightly grease and line an 8×8 pan with parchment.

In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, chocolate, salt, and half and half. Let come to a simmer over medium heat. Stir gently to make sure the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and let the sugar continue to cook until it reaches soft-ball stage (236 F).

Turn off the heat and dot the top with butter. Let cool to 110F without disturbing (about 1 hour). Add vanilla and stir until the mixture gets thick and starts to lose its sheen. Then pour it into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Let the fudge set for at least 2 hours and then cut into small squares. Enjoy!

Day 4: Harry Potter Chapsticks

This was a little splurge, but you can never have too much chapstick in the winter.

Day 5: Harry Potter Trivia

There are lots of links to Harry Potter Trivia online that you can print out. You can ask questions about general knowledge or play “Which character said it?” Or you can go all out and buy an official Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit game.

Day 6: Golden Snitches

These are so cute! You just have to buy some Ferrero Rocher chocolates in gold foil and print out these wings. I used glue dots to stick the wings on. Super easy.

Day 7: Weasley Sweaters

This is my family in Weasley sweaters! I made the ornaments using a pattern from Purl Soho’s Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, but you can find similar ornaments ready-made on Etsy. Or you can make felt ornaments or a cookie version out of sugar cookies and frosting. Lots of options to choose from.

Next up: Week Two

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