Shenanigans ~ The Game

Every time I go home to New York, I get the rare privilege of catching up with old friends, and sometimes meeting a few new ones on top of that. Add that in to the nutty mix of the Adams Family Holidays, and you usually wind up with a bizzarre group of at least 10 people (usually spanning at least 3 generations) eating leftovers in my living room at around 11pm. One of my absolute favorite inadvertent holiday traditions usually happens during these late-night reunions. . . if we can’t find the sleds, or if my brother + co. don’t feel like taking some death-defying plunge off of a nearby waterfall, we usually wind up laughing until we cry while we play a rip-roaring game of (what we’ve always called) . . .


The Basics:

Shenanigans is a FANTASTIC game for any group of over 5 people. All you need to play is paper, pens/pencils, a clock/watch/timer-of-some-kind, and some sort of container (a bowl, a hat, etc.). 

index cards work!


This is a game of 4 rounds . . . although there are a few optional add-in rounds, to spice up the end if you feel up to an extra challenge. Here’s how it goes:

To get started, find (or make) about 30 small slips of paper and give everybody in the group as close to an even number as you can. On these blank pieces of paper, every person should write five words or less – This can be a word, a phrase, a quote, a movie title, a random joke, a name, anything! I’ve seen everything from “That’s what she said” to “Message in a Bottle” to “George Washington” to “sledding” to “Doug’s shirt” to ” Tommy Boy” to “Muffin-top”  to “You’re making me uncomfortable”. . . the sky’s pretty much the limit, just make sure everybody knows to keep it under 5 words, or it can get pretty tricky to play with!

Once the slips are written, everybody should fold them in half so the words are hidden, and put them into the container. Last time I played, we used a pot in lieu of a bowl, actually.



Once all the clues are in the “bowl”, everybody sits in a circle (if they aren’t already), and every other person is on the same team. This makes up the two teams in a slightly random way, which is the point! Pick a person (probably the one with the smartphone handy) to keep track of time, and pick another person to keep track of the score. Pretty much every cell-phone made now has some kind of stop-watch feature, so I’d recommend going with that. You could also go for a free online stopwatch, if you’re of the cognitively-delayed-phone ilk.

The goal of every round is to get your teammates to guess as many of the slips of paper as possible, using only the specific methods designated per round. Each team gets 60 seconds per turn, alternating until all of the clues have been guessed. 

Round 1 is played a lot like Taboo, or Catch Phrase. Basically, you can say anything except what is written on the paper (not even a little bit of it!) in order to get your teammates to guess what’s written. When you’re done with all the clues and have tallied the points, return the papers to the bowl for Round 2!

Round 2 is exactly like Charades. You can point, use props, act, make hand gestures, contort your face lake a monkey having a seizure, and pretty much do anything that involves no sound. Do not make a peep, people. (Ahem: When you’re done with all the clues and have tallied the points, return the papers to the bowl for Round 3 . . .)

Round 3 is played like Pictionary. Using a pen/pencil/marker/eyeliner and whatever paper you have handy, you draw pictures to get your teammates to guess the right clues. You can use pictures and symbols, even arrows, but no words.  Not to sound like a broken record, buuuut, when you’re done with all the clues and have tallied the points, return the papers to the bowl for Round 4.

Round 4 is the One Word Round, and my personal favorite. In this round, you can say JUST ONE WORD in order to get your teammates to guess the right answer. You have to choose your word well, but be speedy about it to use your time well! Sometimes you get really random associations throughout the game, and it makes for some easy silly one-word clues. The catch here is, IF you say the word “um” (which happens at LEAST once to every poor person who plays this game – so don’t feel too bad when it happens to you), it counts as your one word. This means that your teammates can still randomly guess, but unless they get lucky, your crew is screwed for that 60 second turn. If you goof/try to salvage an um-situation, and accidentally/intentionally say more than one word, your team forfeits the rest of their turn. Cut-throat? Yes. Brilliant? You betcha.

If you’re feeling up for a challenge, there are two options for a fifth round, both of which are pretty ridiculously hard. By now you’ve probably realized that each round gets harder because you have less and less information to go on, right? Well, round 5 follows that crazy trend.

Round 5 is wordless and body-movement-less. You must get your teammates to guess the word/phrase using EITHER only facial expressions (no movement allowed from the shoulders down – slightly impossible, truth be told) OR (and this was HYSTERICAL) sound effects. No words that express sounds, either, folks. You don’t say “sizzle”, you make the actual frickin’ sound of that bacon in the pan! If you go with sound effects, everyone whose turn it is to guess has to keep their eyes closed while they listen. I legitimately laughed until I cried listening to someone try to make sound effects for “Melty Melty Snowman” last night.


know the rules, people!


1.) You cannot Cannot CANNOT  look at the slip of paper before it is your actual turn to get your teammates to guess. That means if you peek, then you have to put it back in the bowl and pick a new one. Even if the clock is running and your team is going, you can’t look at the clue and prepare – there is no prep-time for Shenanigans, people. Players who are guessing their teammate’s word/phrase can (and really should, for efficiency’s sake) hold a closed-clue in their hand, but they cannot look at the clue unless or until it is their turn.

2.) Alternate which team starts each round. Team A should start 2 of the rounds, and Team B should start 2. If you decide to do a fifth round, courtesy dictates that the losing team starts.

3.) All clues have to be guessed word-perfect (if it says “Gretchen loves her butter”, you don’t get the point if your teammate guesses “Gretchen loves butter.”), but for Round 1, once a word in the phrase is guessed/said by a teammate,  the person giving clues can use it to help their teammates get the right phrasing.

4.) If your teammates don’t guess the word or phrase before their minute is up, you cannot announce the right answer after the turn is over. You just put the slip of paper back in the bowl for someone else to pick. Announcing it might inadvertently give the answer to the other team, so we play everything pretty secretive so there aren’t any whoopsie-losses!

Advice from a Veteran Player (Moi):

Very Expert, I assure you...

Try not to put siblings who are close on the same team. . . it makes for wicked advantages.

I wouldn’t play with more than 10 people, it’s just a liiiitle to chaotic.

If you play with a big crew, remember to decrease your number of paper-slips per person! This is possibly the most fun game of all time, but it can potentially lose its luster if it takes eons to get through all the papers!

The Classroom Extension

IF you happen to be a teacher who at any point in your curriculum needs to plan an engaging activity which reviews terms/words/phrases/vocabulary . . . And IF you feel like spicing up your class with a little fun-yet-effective game . . . AND if you’re a fun teacher who wants your students to remember content . . . well, then this is an awesome game to adapt for review classes! I use it in French class quite a bit, actually, usually with vocab lists (like a list of 30 verbs whose meanings I want kids to remember). I let them use their notes on the first round if they need them, but by the time they get to round four (we don’t go for a fifth in my classes!), it is incredible how much students know the words! It takes a little time the very first time you play, because the set up is more complex than some, but it is WELL worth the effort.




There you have it! I hope you all enjoy some Shenanigans as much as I do. If you’re with some people and y’all are bored, give it a chance, seriously, you won’t regret it!

A Little Irreverent Fun. . .

Whilst decorating cookies with my big Brother, we may have traveled a little off the beaten-path of traditional frosting!

It all started with salvaging a broken bear cookie . . .

armless cookie

Then, my Dad might have made a little comment that brought on un unorthodox (but still somehow beautiful) nativity, featuring:

Mary, Snowsef, and Baby Treesus

irreverent cookies

Then, last, but certainly not least, there was one cookie which was absolutely a mystery shape. I think it came from a United-States-Shaped cookie cutter, but I didn’t know this at the time. So, I played the what-do-you-see game, and wound up with  . . .

George Washington!

George/America Washington

Perhaps it was a little odd, but making these was a LOT of fun!

The Icing on the Christmas!

Okay, I know I’ve posted about these before. . . but just in case you need a little inspiration to give My Mom’s fool-proof sugar cookies a chance, I am re-sharing the recipe, and some of the fun I had decorating this year!

I love decorating!

Mom’s Cut-Out Sugar Cookies


  • 1 and 1/2 C. butter, softened
  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter (or, in dire straits, the top of a drinking glass!). Place cookies 1 inch apart on lightly greased cookie sheets.
Bake 6-8 minutes in preheated. Tip: It’s always better to take them out before you think they’re totally done. Cool completely before frosting!
Then eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next several days. . . It’s good stuff, trust me.
cookies are delicious

Merry Baking!

decorate lots of christmas trees this year!!!

The Twelve Days of Sickness . . . er, Christmas.

you can count on me . . .

On the first day of Christmas, my doctor gave to me


On the second day of Christmas my doctor gave to me :

Prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis!

On the third day of Christmas, the sulfa gave to me,

hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa and a flu diagnosis

On the fourth day of Christmas my body gave to me

a temp of 103 (hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis!)

ON the fifth day of Christmas my Doctor said to me:

BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA (?!), a temp of one-oh-three, hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis.

On the sixth day of Christmas, while walking out the door,

I fell down the stairs, BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA, a temp of one-oh-three, hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my doctor gave to me,

inhalers to help my cough, I fell down the stairs, BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA, a temp of one-oh-three, hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis.

On the eighth day of Christmas, some toddlers gave to me . . .

strep throat with Abscesses, inhalers to help my cough, I fell down the stairs, BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA, a temp of one-oh-three, hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis.

On the ninth day of Christmas, mass general took from me:

xrays and blood samples, strep throat with Abscesses, inhalers to help my cough, I fell down the stairs, BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA, a temp of one-oh-three, hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my doctor said to me:

“You really don’t half-ass this”, xrays and blood samples, strep throat with Abscesses, inhalers to help my cough, I fell down the stairs, BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA, a temp of one-oh-three, hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my lymph nodes gave to me . . .

inability to swallow, “You really don’t half-ass this”, xrays and blood samples, strep throat with Abscesses, inhalers to help my cough, I fell down the stairs, BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA, a temp of one-oh-three, hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my worry is just this:

Will I make it to Christmas??? inability to swallow, “You really don’t half-ass this”, xrays and blood samples, strep throat with Abscesses, inhalers to help my cough, I fell down the stairs, BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA, a temp of one-oh-three, hives and puffy lips, prescriptions for sulfa, and a flu diagnosis.

so darned sick...

(As usual, click on picture to see source!)



brokenA poem written by Cameo Smith of Mt. Wolf, PA.


Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
When 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there
They were filled with such joy; they didn’t know what to say
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day
“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“This is heaven.” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
But Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy that only heaven can bring
Those children all flew into the arms of their King
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
One small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools”
“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“Come now my children let me show you around.”
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”
Psalm 147

Permanent Snowflakes

Snow is sheer miraculous stuff.

Now, in all honesty, I’m the first to grumble when those freezing pre-dawn car-scraping sessions are required . . . but . . .

I love lace.

And what is snow if not the most perfect of all laces? Have you ever managed to catch a snowflake or two on the outside of your mittens and then really looked at it before it melts? They’re downright exquisite! Check out these photos!

snowflakeThey’re from 1885, when a guy named Wilson A. Bentley decided to take the first successful pictures of single snowflakes!


Now, since snowflakes have the tragic tendency to melt, there’s (alas) really no successful way to make beautiful (or lasting) jewelry out of them, SO, I decided to content myself with a lace-y substitute for the season at hand!

First, I snipped out some favorite bits of lace!

lace bits

Second, I laid them out and sprayed them . . .

(perhaps overenthusiastically) with something called “Stiffen Quik” (I think I got it at A.C. Moore!), which took some time to dry!

stiffen magic

Third, I had to assemble a few other tidbits!

jewelry making

Fourth, All the bits and pieces were assembled into LOVELY jewelry

(in my humble opinion)

earrings flowers

All that’s left is to wrap them up and share them with friends!

pretty earrings

. . . and maybe just maybe, I’ll save a pair for myself, too!

Christmas Shopping – What a Find?!

While Christmas shopping this year,

I have seen several interesting (read that euphemistically) gift options I might recommend to you… these particular gifts are for very specific people in your lives, those hard-to-shop-for ones that I have taken the liberty of identifying on behalf of the stressed-out shopping population . . . you know, just to save everyone some time.

For the ghetto-fabulous child in your life:

For that ghetto kid in your life . . .

For the obsessive dog-lover:


For the politically-correct or Seinfeld-loving friend:

politically correct

For the too-quiet Coworker:For the Coworker

For the most Obnoxious person you know:

(Warning: Passive-Aggressive gift alert!)


For the young and stupid person who says “YOLO” too much:

oh please

And last, but not least, for the person who believes that the Pope is also a wizard who hangs out with Fairy Princesses:


Advent-ures: Going Nutty!

So, What Do Nativities Have  To Do With Nut Cookies?

Bear with me, they connect in my mind (somehow ) . . .

Not everyone knows that the French nativity scene, or La Crèche de Noël, is more than just your average Mary-Joseph-BabyJesus-Shepherds-Angel deal. Most American people (like me) grew up with your average nativity scene, which has about nine people and assorted barnyard animals.

traditional nativity

This nativity-tradition-thing all started back in the 6th century  as a way to help people see what the actual birth of Jesus looked like (or at least, what they thought it looked like). THEN, during the French Revolution, outdoor  Nativity Scenes were outlawed, and the innovative French people started carving their own figures, but they took on a kind of nutty spin (if you will). Instead of just the traditional figurines, all sorts of funky people started showing up in in the mix! The Cow and The Donkey got promoted in importance and started being seen as watch-guards for the Baby Jesus! On top of that, fishermen and town criers, musicians and bakers, lantern-bearers and lavender-farmers . . . you name a small-town role and it pretty much cropped up in the Crèche de Noël.

des santons

Now, how this relates to my nut-cookies. WELL . . . 

You know how the purest intentions of celebrating a season with an observed tradition (like having a nativity scene) sometimes get a little bit of the individualized flavor of the celebrants mixed in? Wellllll, my family mixed various traditions in with our more reason-for-the-season traditions, and one of those lovely not-biblical-but-still-enjoyable advent traditions is Cookie Baking!

Today, I tackled two delicious Christmas Cookie Treats, both acceptably nutty!!

First Up: Christmas Crescents


These are pretty straightforward – I barely follow the directions anymore, because all you really need to do is mix it all together play-dough style (aka, wash you hands and then smash it all up!). Then you roll it into crescents, or that’s what my family did, you can also do other shapes if you want!

the line-up!

Once they’re in the oven, you have only one last step to prepare for: The Powder. You pour a slew of confectioner’s sugar into a bowl and get ready to roll the still-hot cookies in it to complete the process!


Something magical happens when the hot cookies get all mixed up in powdered sugar – It’s like a kind of frosting forms from the melted sugar, and (in addition to being highly powdery) there is a little sweet layer that winds up being on the cookies! So tasty!


Second: Pecan Pie Bars

Simple and Scrumptious

This recipe is new to me – a pass-along from a coworker who was kind enough to share after I ate about 5 of the ones he brought in to school! The first step is making the “crust”, which is a lot like a sweet shortbread.

How firm a foundation. . .

Then, while that is baking, you throw together the other filling-like ingredients in a bowl (in no particular order!). It’s quick going, so you might actually wait until the base-layer is almost done!

I'm obsessed with Pecans.

When you’re ready, you pour the “filling” onto the “crust” and bake for another 20. Then you have to let them cool a little before you cut them, but not totally, or they “set” a little too much! The result is unbelievably delicious.

Gah, so darn delicious!

Seriously, let’s take another look at this:


(I’m sold. But then, I love pecans like it’s my job.)

I hope you make these cookies and enjoy them as much as my roommates and I have been. . . Don’t lose sight of the real reason behind all the preparations for Christmas (aka the coming of Jesus to earth!), but all the same, I think it’s fitting to appreciate the sweet traditions that have cropped up over the years! They are our way of setting this season apart as particularly wondrous!

Advent-ures: A Very Netflix Christmas

Back when I was new to being a kid, I remember getting disproportionately excited on those two nights in late November/early December when I was allowed to stay awake and watch Christmas Specials! As the youngest of 4 (later to be displaced by my darling bouncing baby brother), it was always a big deal to get to stay up late with the big kids. Nowadays, all that old magic has been guillotined by the DVR and The Reign of Comcast, but I still love Christmas Specials!


Since I have had the latest beastly cold/virus/fever/misery that is going around, I decided to check out what Netflix has to offer in the way of Christmas Specials. Based on the way-too-much-quality-time I spent perusing Christmas Films (Classic and Novice alike), here are my top new recommendations*:

*Please note that these do not take the place of A Charlie Brown Christmas, The claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or the two animated Frosty The Snowman specials!

#1)VeggieTales: St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving

Hoe Hoe Hoe???

Kudos to teaching kids about the actual origins of Santa Claus, VeggieTales. . . I was delightfully surprised by this one . . . plus, I really liked the not-so-subtle integration of Hoe Hoe Hoe!

#2) Christmas Classics: Volume 1

This is a collection of “Classics” I had never seen before. . . quite the line-up, if I do say so myself. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen old-school Rudolph’s “BRB” letter to his parents.

Screen Shot 2012-12-08 at 8.51.55 PM

And what about Professor Inventor-Claus and how he saved Christmas-at-the-Orphanage with nothing but his noggin, a bottomless-box of cotton puffs, and his uncanny ability to spit nails? Or Jack Frost’s ability to save errant bear cubs by transforming ice into candy using special paint? And the otter-chorus singing about winter? And what about the doll that inhales a balloon and becomes a rotund night-club singer? Cala lilies that dispense chocolate syrup? There’s really no end to the fascinating things you can see in this compilation set-up, friends. I didn’t even get into the ridiculous racial and cultural stereotyping that happens – downright educational.

#3) Yes, Virginia


This is the story of a highly skilled young découpage artist who grows up with the misguided-yet-timeless, ever-perpetuated belief in the infallibility of the print media. . . okay, just kidding. . . sort of. It’s also about Santa Claus being real, particularly because he represents an idea that individuals can make real. It’s all very well-made and lovely.

Those are my top Netflix three! Hope you enjoy as much as I did, Friends!

Happy Merry Day-in-Waiting to you all!