Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy 2015

She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means "God is with us." - Matthew 1:23

We wish you a very Happy Christmas holiday and good health and happiness for 2015!
We are heading up into the mountains after Christmas for a winter break and will see you back here in the new year with lots of new ideas for your family. We leave you with two gifts from artist Brenda Gilliam to keep little ones busy! As always, many thanks for reading!

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.
- Charles Dickens

Click here for downloadable PDF

Click here for downloadable PDF

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

love yer local: last minute stocking stuffers - Part II

"I love that place. The owner threw a stuffed monkey at me!"
-child commenting on their shopping experience at Magnifilous Toy Emporium

I'm always impressed by the fact that whenever I pop into Magnifilous Toy Emporium in downtown Charleston on King St, "Mr. Magnifilous" (that's Blane Sommer pictured) is always there,  ready and willing to help me find the perfect gift. He doesn't just make a suggestion, he tempts you to try before you buy! Not only would these wiggly eyebrow glasses make a great stocking stuffer, there's also an entire wall of options at a low price point...

I love stocking stuffer shopping here (without my boys) because it's... well... fun! They have a lot of old school items you may remember from your childhood and there's always a happy energy about the place. Parking is easy right along King St - stop in for everything from a rubber chicken, to a pig popper, to blinged-out swim goggles. I promise you will leave smiling and laughing! 

*Thanks for the laugh, Mr. Magnifilous! All opinions are my own.

Magnifilous Toy Emporium (click link for details)
 525 King Street in historical downtown Charleston.
Hours: Tues-Sat  10-6pm
Sunday - 12-5pm

This post compiled to You're Here - Francesca Battistelli

Monday, December 22, 2014

love yer local: last minute stocking stuffers - Part I

This post compiled to Still Still Still - a favorite German Christmas carol performed here by the Vienna Boys Choir

If you're like me, there are certain Christmas gifts that are left to the last minute. I like to leave some of the stocking stuffers to the very last because it's one of my favorite parts of Christmas... all the little traditional things that make Christmas morning extra special. In a British/American family, it's important to get those little details right by hunting down chocolates that we savor once a year and there's always a tangerine in the toe of the stocking. What are your traditional stocking stuffers?

There's still time to shop locally for a few extra treasures. Take a look inside a favorite spa we know - Stox & Co on Coleman Blvd in Mt. Pleasant...

This is my go-to spot for trinkets for girlfriends (to all my Dad readers: this is quick and painless - you can't go wrong here!) or you could go big, Santa, and stuff in a gift certificate - I recommend a massage by Nicole and the pedicures are great and very private here too. There are lots of mini Aveda products to choose from that are perfect for a stocking (Dads: try Aveda's Shampure  - you'll love the way your wife's hair smells!) Stox & Co is an easy one-stop drop in to knock off the rest of your list!

At the Boulevard
725 Coleman Blvd
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
843.884.7233 phone

*special thanks to Margaret at Stox & Co for your generousity. All opinions are my own.

Make it Monday: peppermint playdough

This post compiled to Baby, It's Cold Outside - Johnnyswim

Need something therapeutic on a cold day? There's nothing like the feel of warm, home-made playdough hot off the press - no matter how old you are!

Use our playdough recipe here for perfect playdough and add a touch of peppermint for the holidays.

Older kids love taking over the science experiment of making the playdough (no matter how old they get, never, never stop making playdough) ... have fun!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

PMK printable - Christmas code

Have you been following along with our Pluff Mud Kids original printables for kids? These are great activities for fine motor skills and build attention and focus - plus they're a lot of fun! Find all the activities archived under "printable art projects".

When my boys are sick, this sideline production shuts down. The flu this year is a sneaky drift strain - to read more about it click here for an interesting article sent by a reader/friend. It has swept through schools here like the plague and wiped out a lot of pre-Christmas cheer. 

If you've been stuck at home with little ones like we have, here's an activity for a break from screen time! Test your child's  reading and letter recognition... and focus too. Print out this sheet and decode a secret Christmas message: 

Click here for link to PDF version

Have a warm and cosy, HEALTHY weekend!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

the scent of Christmas

Did you see our list of top 25 books for kids for Christmas? And a few more here too! Here's another that's been around for ages and is a hit with every child I've ever met...

Would your child know the sweet smell of Christmas with their eyes closed? Test their senses with a tray of herbs and spices, evergreen, orange, and peppermint. Preschool teachers have been using this game for generations and pair it with this favorite book...

Start the tradition at a young age and then let older children set up the tray for younger siblings as the years go by. Get the book linked here and give it as a gift with this favorite candle (pictured above - a subtle scent of fir tree that last forever!)

This post compiled to O Tannenbaum - Nat King Cole

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 days of fever... and a partridge in a pear tree

Not even a toppled Christmas tree and smashed ornaments can knock the stuffing out of pre-Christmas cheer quite like a double-barreled bout of twin flu. 5 days of fever in, we are quarantined with only the company of Christmas movie classics and games we had long forgotten.

Here are a few natural home remedies for flu season:

  • Local honey, lemon, and 'Throat Coat' tea - honey and lemon are both go-to products known for their anti-bacterial properties. Throat Coat tea is our favorite soother.
  • Badger Balm Aromatic Chest Rub - one reader recommends this great natural eucalyptus balm for rubbing on feet, chest and back at night to help calm a cough associated with flu. It really works!
  • Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Soak with Eucalyptus - for aches and chills, this bath is the best!
We wish you well during this dreaded flu season!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Make it Monday - Life and Art in Charleston 109: Brenda Gilliam

Brenda Gilliam has designed the Kiawah Island Marathon t-shirt for the past 6 years.

Charleston artist Brenda Gilliam worked her magic once again designing this year's Kiawah Island Marathon t-shirt graphic. Depicted here, the colorful palms perfectly captured the run on Saturday as runners worked their way through the island on a gorgeous, crisp, sunny Lowcountry morning. I ran the 1/2 marathon to raise money for MUSC and my husband ran the full marathon and we couldn't have asked for more perfect conditions. *Special thanks to everyone who contributed to my fund raising effort!

First light - December 13, 2014 - Kiawah Island Marathon

I'm so lucky to have Brenda's endless creativity here on Pluff Mud Kids! She has conjured up another challenging  maze (we just stand back and scratch our heads wondering how in the world she comes up with this stuff!). Here's the next installment of Christmas art to print out and enjoy with your little ones...

email us a picture of your child's creation or a favorite Christmas book title and you could win a PMK local goodie bag! 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

local gifting (Part I)

We shopped around for some local gifts and here's what we came up with!

For your friend who can't keep anything that blooms alive:

Have you seen this beautiful Talavera style pottery around town in places like Royal Ace Hardware and Boone Hall Farms? It's handmade and signed by artists from Delores Hildago, Mexico and brought to us locally by Palmetto Moon Products (read more here about this unique company based here in Mt. Pleasant, SC). Succulents are a great gift for friends who don't have a green thumb!

For your niece who isn't a teen anymore and you just can't believe it:

Eleven year old Daniel Island resident Claudia of Claudia's Creations has handmade a variety of super soft, super cute scarves with trademark "handles" - something so unique any girl would love them. These are available at Paisley on Seven Farms Drive, Daniel Island, SC.

Made in America, Alex and Ani at 346 King St. downtown has the latest lotus peace charms. We love the whole collection and so will she...

For your shore girl friend who moved from the beach and some how ended up in the middle of the desert:

These gorgeous original Lowcountry oil paintings are created by Summerville artist Barbara Sawyer. Each piece of jewelry takes many hours to create in a painstaking process of baking clay and layering paint. You can find these locally at North Charleston City Gallery and at Yellow Door Gallery in downtown Charleston, SC

When all you want for Christmas is a little help:

Looking for a great gift idea for kids that turns into a bonus for you? This Developmental Duffle Chore Chart is perfect for rewarding good deeds done around the house. My little friends Ava and Mary were thrilled to test out this mom favorite - start the new year with a new routine and a little more help with daily chores! Developmental Duffle is based here on Daniel Island, SC!
*priced at $30, Developmental Duffle offers free shipping on all orders placed before December 16th. Check the website linked above for more great deals.

*special thanks to sweet Mary and Ava for jumping in to help!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

books and adaptations: read it, love it, see it

Looking for a great book for a reader on your list? 1) We loved Gone Girl and the movie adaptation was just as good.

This post compiled to Sugar Storm - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

2) For the art lover, The Goldfinch is one suspenseful read and I'm still thinking about it months later. Hopeful for an adaptation on the big screen.

3) For the wanderer at heart, Wild is such a well written, true, deeply personal story by author Cheryl Strayed (pictured) - can't wait to see how Reese Witherspoon puts her spin on this. 


4) Unbroken was unbelievable. If you haven't read it, grab it here. The movie adaptation with director Angelina Jolie comes out Christmas Day - can't wait to see it over the break!

5) Who's not excited about Paddington (trailer here)? Two little boys over here have loved him for a lifetime and we can't wait to see this wacky adaptation...


Our favorite Paddington book makes a great gift. Get it here Paddington Treasury.

*This PMK post contains affiliate links for quick, easy purchase. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Make it Monday - Gingerbread Men

This is my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe - so simple, kid-baking friendly, and oh so yummy. *pmk tip: Don't panic when the mixture seems very granular like sand. It all comes together very smoothly once it hits the counter top and you get your hands into it!


  • 1 and 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 pkg Jell-O butterscotch instant pudding mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1/2 or whole tsp cinnamon (to taste)
  1. Beat: butter, sugar, dry pudding mix and egg until well blended in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Mix together the remaining ingredients and gradually add them to the pudding mixture. Beat well with each addition. Now wrap the mixture in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or until firm. I usually break off handfuls at a time to roll out, leaving the remaining mixture in the fridge to stay chilled until needed.
  2.  Heat and Cut: Set oven to 350 degrees. Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into gingerbread shapes and place on a greased or parchment paper covered baking sheet.
  3. Bake: 10 to 12 minutes bakes these cookies to a golden brown. Let the cookies stand for a few minutes once removed from oven and then cool on a wire rack. Decorate as desired. We like our's with just a very light dusting of powdered sugar!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

December artwork: printable punched paper cards

Need a little help with Christmas cards? Employ your kids to help you by making these punched paper cards - perfect for teacher gifts. These are also ideal for thank you notes as you can make them ahead of time and your child can just sign their name and drop them in the mail! Taking a trip to the post office to choose their own stamps and mail their very own cards gives kids a great sense of accomplishment.

For crisp, clear printable pages, select the links below:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

cut a tree with Shine and Lee

This post compiled to Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee

Three years ago we had a bit of a Christmas tree crisis. We took two little boys and a new puppy to cut down a tree on a gorgeous Lowcountry December afternoon. On first sight, the tree seemed a little odd - sort of spindly and fragile. It was certainly not your typical sturdy evergreen. It survived the short drive home and we decked it with tons of ornaments, lights, and garlands weighing down it's withering boughs. 

In two days time, the sorry little tree was completely dead. With heads hung low, we undressed the tree with little ones in floods of tears. Like the gesture of burying a beloved goldfish, my husband dug a hole in the back corner of the yard, piled it with fresh compost, and replanted the tree in a last ditch show of hope and joy to the world. I had to wonder, are bad ideas evergreen?

 The new puppy made a bee line for the compost pile, tearing out the tortured tree, and tarring and feathering himself in a happy coating of compost and pine needles until he was unrecognizable. More tears and many baths of tomato soup and suds later as if drowning the smell of a skunk, we headed out to buy another tree and begin the process all over again. Ahhh, sweet Christmas memories...

This year, we did our homework and decided to take another swing at the self cut tree. With a little help from Shine and Lee's Christmas Tree Farm in Newberry, SC, we were in good hands and things are looking good!

Sharon Shine and husband Lee Ringer started a modest little tree farm six years ago with a tent and a few chairs in their front yard for passers by to stop and choose a tree. The couple and their family have purposed their thirteen acres of land to grow several types of Cypress and Cedar trees and also offer traditional pre-cut Fraser Fir trees from North Carolina. This is a small "Mom and Pop" operation  - such a nice family. Grab your pole and saw and choose your tree and then stick around for a hot chocolate and candy cane. Be sure to head up the road to Newberry to check out the famed Opera house and wander Main St.

Shine and Lee's Christmas Tree Farm
20670 US Hwy 76. Newberry, South Carolina 29108
(see link above for all the details and directions)

PMK recommended books before you go:

  • Winter Trees by Carole Gerber (click to buy). What constitutes an "evergreen"? A beautifully illustrated story that helps to teach children about seven types of trees that hold on to their needles all year long.
PS- The pup's still a monster...