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 Three

We’ve just finished the Harry Potter Christmas Countdown: Week Two, so now it’s on to Week Three.

Day 15: Levitating Lemon Drops

I bought a good-sized bag of lemon drops on Amazon and made simple “Levitating Lemon Drops” print-outs. And then I just filled four of the incredibly useful clear cellophane bags that I keep on hand, tied them all with a bit of baker’s twine, and done. (What is it about baker’s twine that makes me so happy?)

Day 16: Patronus Ornaments

If you don’t know your Patronus, you can head over to the Pottermore website to take a quiz and find out. And then do a quick search for a template, cut it out, and tie a string so you can hang it on the tree. If you don’t have felt, you can always draw, color, or paint your Patronus.

Day 17: Gifts of the Animagi

Animagi have the power to turn into a particular animal at will. Ask your kids: What animal would you want to be if you were an animagus?

Day 18: Chocolate Pretzel “Wands”

For this, you just need those big stick pretzels, some chocolate in whatever flavor you like (dark, milk, or white) and some goodies to roll them around in. You could use sprinkles, jimmies, crushed peppermints…whatever’s your favorite. These make a nice gift, too, if you’d like to make extras to share. Just put them in those handy cellophane bags with a cute label.

Day 19: Gingerbread Dog Biscuits

In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Aunt Marge gives Harry a box of dog biscuits for Christmas. Not a great gift for a human, but our dogs would love it. So if you have a dog or know one, you can make these ginger- and cinnamon-flavored biscuits as a special treat.

Gingerbread Dog Biscuits

(Makes about 24-36, depending on the size of your cookie cutters)


3 cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
slightly more than ¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup molasses


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, and cinnamon. Add in the oil, molasses, and ½ cup water. Roll into a ball and chill for 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut out cookies using holiday-themed or bone-shaped cookie cutters. Transfer to the prepared sheets. Bake until firm, about 20 minutes.

We have the kind of dogs who can—and do—eat everything, but please check with your vet if you have any concerns about this recipe being okay for yours.

Day 20: Patchwork Quilt

In The Order of the Phoenix, Hermione gives Kreacher a patchwork quilt for Christmas. If you’re handy with fabric, you could make a real quilt. Or you can have everyone draw a favorite scene from one of the books or sketch out some related images like Harry’s glasses and the Sorting Hat and then tape them together. Have fun with it!

Day 21: Tea with Trelawney

Have a tea party and, if you can manage loose tea, take turns “reading the leaves” to make fun predictions for everyone. Or if you prefer tea bags, share what you wish for each person in the new year.



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