Winter Nature Hikes and Hot Chocolate!

nature hikes and hot chocolateThis was the wacky week of two seasons! Rain-boots and bikes . . . snow-pants and mittens . . . mud and snow . . . lemonade and hot chocolate!

spring winterNo matter the weather, we always seem to find something to do! Yesterday, we started our day with a winter nature hike. Donning our cold weather gear, we marched outside to see what we could see!

January 16 220The first thing Colin noticed were the pine boughs gently curved to the ground from the weight of the snow. He gave them an intentional whack with a stick and giggled at how they popped up from the ground like toast from a toaster!

January 16 193As we continued to walk, I challenged the boys to find 5 interesting things. “What’s interesting?” Colin asked.

“Interesting is when something catches your attention and you want to look at it a little longer.”

5 interesting thingsIce formed on a wreath, snow melt that resembled a Valentine’s Day heart, a Black-capped Chickadee boldly singing his winter song, and a ragged Gypsy Moth Caterpillar nest – all interesting! To them, the most interesting thing of all was the stream, and they played “beaver dam” near it until we were good and cold and ready for:

Vanilla Sugar Hot Chocolate adapted from Martha Stewart

January 18 033

You Need:

  • 3 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups cocoa
  • 1 TBSP sea salt

1. Pour all of the ingredients into an airtight container and shake to mix.

2. Use 2 TBSP of hot chocolate mix to 1 cup of heated water or milk (2 minutes in the microwave is sufficient to heat 1 cup of liquid in a mug). Stir well. Add homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows and enjoy!

To make vanilla sugar, slice many vanilla beans in half and gently scrape out the seeds. Store the seeds and the beans in an airtight container filled with sugar for about 1 month, stirring occasionally. When it is ready, your sugar will smell like vanilla and you will see vanilla beans distributed amongst the sugar crystals.

January 16 019Vanilla sugar is worth having on hand as a pantry staple, as it can also be used in baking to replace plain sugar, and for adding a subtle scent to DIY shower scrubs (teasers for next week!).

7 thoughts on “Winter Nature Hikes and Hot Chocolate!

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  3. Hi Melissa, I loved reading this post. Your life looks a lot like ours, expect you capture it with much better pictures than the ones I take! 🙂 We’re in eastern Canada so our winters are similar to yours. We love getting outside and exploring the woods here. I agree with you that the simple things make childhood magical.

  4. Pingback: Winter Play Tips | Fireflies and Mud Pies

  5. Pingback: Valentine Nature Hike | Fireflies and Mud Pies

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