Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Melting Marshmallow Snowmen

 
It's that time of year again, CHRISTMAS PARTIES!!!! I love when my son has parties at school because it gives me a chance to get creative in mass form. My son gets so excited over the treat he is bringing as do I. I usually try and keep these treats as healthy as possible but this time we broke the rule. I was researching ideas and I came across these cute little melting snowmen at the Cute Food For Kids blog that I visit often. This is where my inspiration started for my snowmen. These were very easy to create but they are time consuming. I did all the steps in an assembly line fashion, and did it over two days. The first night I made the hats & heads and the second night I made the bodies. This is how I did it.


First you need to get the groceries ready. Here’s the shopping list:


Rolo candies
Chocolate melting discs
Marshmallows
White canned icing
Black icing colouring
Orange icing colouring
Graham Crackers
Pretzel sticks

Once you have everything ready, you start with the icing.
1.   Take a portion of your icing from the can and mix with black food coloring. I used Wilton Icing Colours because when it comes to making black icing, you need it to be the truest colour and not have it come out purple or grey. Add desired amount until you have the shade of black you like.
2.   Place Ziploc bag in a cup and bend the seal of the bag over the edge of the cup, this will keep the bag in place while you fill it with icing.
3.   Load your Ziploc bag up with icing, seal and cut a tiny hole in the bottom of one corner of the bag.
4.   Draw your eyes and mouths on as many marshmallows as you are making.
5.   Repeat steps 1-3 using Orange Icing Colour.
6.   Draw your noses on your snowmen. Tip: Express a fair amount in the center of face like you are making a ball and then quickly and gently pull the bag to the side. This will create your tapered carrot nose.
 




 


Next you will assemble the hats.
1.     Take your chocolate discs and place a bead of black icing on the flat side.
2.     Place a Rolo candy with the skinny side down on top of the icing.
3.     Place a bead of black icing on top of the snowman’s heads and affix the hats on top.




 Next step will be the bodies.

  1. Preheats oven to 325-350 degrees. My oven is a convection and runs hot, adjust your temperature and timing depending on your oven, I used lowest temp and time. Place your graham crackers in a baking dish with a marshmallow on top. Cover with tinfoil. Bake covered for 8-12 minutes. 
  2. While marshmallows are heating, cut Fruit-by-the-Foot into 5 inch lengths to create the scarves. Cut each 5 inch piece into 3 scarves lengthwise. You can also cut little slits in the end of the scarves to create fringe.
  3. Break your pretzel sticks into desired arm lengths.
  4. Remove dish from oven and place snowmen heads on top of hot marshmallow bodies to squish them down like they have melted. I did find that not all my heads stayed attached so I got a lighter and carefully heated the underside of the head and attached it to the body. Be careful not to heat too long or it will catch on fire.
  5. Attach pretzel arms to your snowmen bodies.
  6. Wrap Fruit-by-the-Foot scarves around neck of snowmen and press together to seal.
  7. With black icing, apply buttons to front of snowmen.
  8. Refrigerate snowmen to solidify.
  9. YOU'RE DONE!!

Post seen at Polkadots On Parade Link Party. (Sorry, having issues with buttons lately)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Sandwhootchies

Hoot Hoot! These are a super simple, fun lunch for the kidlets. First thing you need is an owl cookie cutter and my favorite tool...food writers. I purchased my cookie cutter at the bulk barn and the food writers I get at Micheal's.


Make your sandwich first and then stamp out your shape, this helps hold the sandwhootch together better. Any kind of sandwich your kids like is fine, this one is ham & cheddar cheese which goes great with the pickle.
Once you have them stamped out, draw your details on. I find when I squish the bread down, the writers work better because there's less holes for the pen to drag in.
After that, get a pickle, slice it in half and slice out some shapes around the edge to form your branch. If transporting in a lunch pail, I often put a tiny bit of mayo or butter on the bottom of the sandwhootch and branch to act as the 'glue'. That's it. Happy Hooting!!! 

*Side note: If you have never tried pickles in your grilled cheese, you need to, it's amazing.*

Monday, 12 December 2011

Hot dog People & Animals

When we have hot dogs around here (unless it's a BBQ), they do not come to the table in their 'normal' form. We make the some-what boring dogs into people and squids. The people are on the top of the hit list because the kidlets use their teeth to cut the hair off them. This I can attest is VERY FUN to do! The only snag is the hair doesn't grow back, which is a bummer, until hot dog people return again.

It is a rather simple process, first you need some hot dogs and some uncooked spaghetti noodles. Boil a pot of water with 1/2 tbsp of oil, large enough to fit the length of hot dog plus pasta. If you omit the oil the noodles will stick together. Insert the hard noodles into one end of the hot dog. Make a slit down the middle of the opposite end for the legs and two slits on either sides for the arms. Make a slit for the mouth and two tiny 'x' marks for the eyes. Place hot dog and noodles into boiling water and the features will curl out as shown in pic. Add your kids favorite veggies or side and you are ready for Hot dog people.

For the squid I used the same technique as above but with little sections of the hot dog. I made slits for the eyes and mouth and after the hot dog had boiled, added pieces of pickles or relish to the open areas. I just used veggies I had in the fridge to create the sea. Carrots for the sea bottom, pickles and peppers for the seaweed and cucumbers for the fishes. Give these guys a try, I'm sure they'll be a hit!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Binky Fairy-Saying Goodbye to Binky

Both of my kidlets have had binky's since they were babies. Before I had kids I was sure that I would not be giving binky's to my children but that quickly changed, along with a lot of things :). When my son was born he was placed in the NICU and was not aloud physical contact for the first 8 days of his life. One night a nurse had given him a binky when he was crying. I was upset to find it in the morning and asked why it had been given to him, the nurse responded with "It is his only comfort right now." After I picked my heart up off the floor, I agreed (how could I have been so silly) and he had it ever since.

When my daughter came along, she received a binky too. They had their binky's only at nap and bedtime, when they came out of the crib the binky stayed behind. We decided that the transition into their big boy/girl beds was the perfect time to do away with the binky.
video

 We spent a good amount of time before hand letting them know that they were getting a big boy/girl bed and once that happened we would be mailing the binky's to the Binky Fairy who would give them to babies who needed them. Once the day arrived and the new bed was up, we would have our bedtime routine and then go mail the binky's. At our apartment we stuck them in our mailbox downstairs (as seen in video) and at our home we put them in our outside mailbox. You are not actually mailing the binky's anywhere but the kids don't know this. After they go to bed, make sure you remove them from the mailbox for safe keeping incase they want to check and make sure the Binky Fairy came. My son asked for his binky once with this technique and my daughter asked a few times. She had a little more trouble with the concept but after a week of a little whining at bed time, she was good to go and we haven't looked back ever since.

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Friday, 9 December 2011

Kids Art Display Place

I might be one of those Mom's who wants to display absolutely everything their kids have ever made forever. I am a huge artsy-fartsy gal myself and maybe it's the physical proof that they have a little of me in them. Until recently, their art was hung on any square inch I could find, the fridge, the bulletin board, the office, anywhere. Then I found an idea that I fell in love with and I just had to run with it. I originally saw the 'clothes line' idea here. I loved the country rustic feel but I wanted mine to be interchangeable by theme or season so this is what I came up with. I omitted the flags (which I love) due to pure space, no flags = more art! Maybe in the spring I will do cloth flags on the clothes pins.
I placed four screws into the wall and hung and secured twine between the two. I then hot glued the current themed wooden decorations on top of the screws (that pop right off when I change them) and to cloths pins as well. The snowflakes and gingerbread men are buttons and the Santa hats are scrapbook embellishments. When the season or theme changes I change out the clothes pins and save them for the next year.  The newest addition to the display area is my wall decal. I purchased it through a Uppercase Living Party I attended, I had the paint splat colour coordinated to the rest of the house and now it has a happy home displaying art work.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Christmas Make-A-Gifts

I am a huge fan of making Christmas gifts. We started doing it several years ago with my husbands family and this year will be our second go around with my Mom's side of the family. I love thinking about what to make for the other person, planning for it, making the gift and ultimately, if the choice was a good one or not. Everyone comes up with some pretty neat ideas. One year my sister-in-law made homemade spaghetti sauce for my husband. My other sister-in-law made lamps for my in-laws out of birch wood. My Uncle made a collage of pictures I hadn't seen since I was a little kid for me. Anything goes, napkin ring holders, homemade candles, cookies-in-a-jar, photo books, silly joke gifts, jewellery, whatever you can think of. It is not supposed to be hard, it's supposed to be fun...I hope. Everyone's name who is participating goes into a hat, and then every one draws. We do the draw at the annual Christmas get together for the following year. However, with all that said, I do not make gifts for everyone, that would be crazy. We still do the traditional gift exchange with our 'core four', as well as my mom and my in-laws as well. A little of both is a nice mix I think. Here are a few make-a-gifts I have done in the past.

My Aunt is a huge fan of anything Mickey & Minnie Mouse, and everyone needs a tote bag, so I put the two together. I purchased the tote bag at a craft store, you could even get one at the dollar store. I purchased some felt, printed off a Mickey Mouse silhouette and blanket stitched the felt onto the bag. I did the same with the letters of her name. My grandma found a little stuffed Minnie Mouse at a thrift store, so I removed the bow from that and voila!

The first year we started making gifts I made a photo book for my sister-in-law. It was actually made out of cardboard covered with craft paper. I used a twig and some twine to bind the book and some leaves and a scrapbook embellishment to finish it off. I could have Mod Podged the leaves but I was an early crafter and had no idea what that was. I will post this years make-a-gifts after their reveal...we don't want to spoil the surprise ;)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Indoor Winter S'mores Fest




Who says camp fires are only for summer months, or for that matter an outdoor activity only? Every year around Christmas time, we have our annual Indoor Winter S'mores Fest. We are very lucky to have a wood burning fireplace in our home and we take full advantage of it. Usually the first S'mores Fest of the season is on the night we trim the tree, so with tradition we followed suit again this year. We typically have another S'mores Fest on Christmas Eve. My husband and I have made a pact that no activities occur on Christmas Eve with any one else other than our core four. This is the one day at Christmas that we have no plans  and purely focus on our family. I will blog later about that shindig! So, back to S'mores fest. We light the fire, get our marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers & marshmallow sticks ready. I use my cooling rack as an 'oven rack' for the chocolate to warm up while we are toasting the 'mallows (see pic). The kids love doing this as do we, and really, who doesn't love an ooey gooey S'more? WARNING!!! This is a VERY MESSY EVENT. Get your paper towels ready.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

3-Day Potty Training

I potty trained both my children successfully in 3 days. This is how I did it.

Supplies:
  • Musical Potty (adds to the excitement)
  • Flushable wipes
  • Stickers
  • Smarties
  • LOTS of undies 15-20
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Soil bag
To prepare:
  • Clear your entire schedule for 3 days, no one comes in or out
  • Place potty in very accessible area (ie. kitchen or dining room)
  • Pull up any rugs you may have
  • Get all supplies ready and waiting
Two weeks prior:
Talk about going Pee & Poop on the potty soon. Make this a big exciting deal. Go shopping for the potty together, pick out the big girl/boy undies together. Get your supplies ready and waiting. Put the potty in the living room (clean of course/unused) and let your child play with the potty, put their dolls/stuffies on the potty. Let them get used to the potty & get all the curiosity of tipping it over, putting the lid up and down now.

Night Before:
Remind child that tomorrow is the big day that they become a big girl/boy!

**First I want to address the reward system. When I trained my son it was more difficult & frustrating mainly because it was the first time either of us had done this and my initial sticker reward just wasn't doing the trick. In a talk with one of my girlfriends, I was explaining my frustration with the stickers. She suggested giving my son smarties as a reward like her sisiter-in-law was doing and was seeing results. I replied to her suggestion with "I don't want to reward my children with food!". Like we have read 100 times and everyone says don't do that. The problem I was having is that stickers are always readily available to my kids in their craft area, this wasn't a reward to them at all. After I made my reply, my girlfriend said "You're not going to do it forever!" I thought, she's right. My kids are not going to become messed up if I reward them with Smarties for potty training. I obviously would not be applying this strategy to everything in life, I was going to give it a try. So with that said, this is how I potty trained my children.**

Day One:
  • Tell child that today is the day they go pee & poop on the potty. Remind them that they do not pee or poop in their undies. 
  • Take off their diaper and put their new undies on (make a big deal)
  • Do not go back to diapers for any reason at all. Have child say goodbye to diapers, this is a cold turkey approach. 
  • Give child a huge glass of milk or water
  • EVERY 15 MINUTES PLACE CHILD ON POTTY (set a timer)
Note: Your child IS going to have accidents. My son had nine before he picked up on the concept, my daughter had 5. Your child may have more.
  • With every accident, remind child that they don't pee or poop in their undies, they do it on the potty.
When you have your first success...
  • Congratulate child and tell them what a big girl/boy they are. 
  • Wipe childs bum and get undies back on. 
  • Bring child with pee/poop bowl to the toilet and have child flush toilet, congratulate again
  • Put potty back together and wash hands in the sink. Teach proper hand washing at this point, I tell my kids "Fronts & backs & in between"
  • Once hands are clean, have child pick out their Smartie (we did one Smartie for pee & two for poop)
  • Once they have ate the Smartie, sing the potty song. Clap hands, dance and sing "Pee Pee in the Potty, Pee Pee in the Potty" or "Poo Poo in the Potty, Poo Poo in the Potty" Repeat several times. Clap & cheer at the end of the song.
  • Give child sticker to place on their potty (We did jewels for our daughter, anything they like)
  • Call Daddy if he's at work or Grandma or Grandpa, the child has great pride in doing this step (as do you ;))
Continue above for rest of day, potty every 15 minutes. If your child becomes resistant to every 15 minutes, push to 30 minutes, this is not supposed to be stressful. Place pull-up on at night, not a diaper!

Day Two:
  • Continue as you did day one, every 30 minutes on potty and this point. Make sure you are giving child lots to drink.

Day Three:
  • This is a training day for the rest of the days to come. There is no time limit to being placed on the potty. Ask the child frequently if they need to go potty. Place them on when they need to go. Voila!! Trained!!!
Tips:

ALWAYS do the reward & potty dance for ~1 month at least then tapper off
ALWAYS congratulate
EVERY SUCCESS is as exciting as the first one, ALWAYS make them feel so proud
ALWAYS tell them you are so proud of them
EVERYONE in the house at the time of potty training takes part in the Potty Song & Dance
TRY and relax, this will be trying but it will be worth it in three days
STICK to the plan, do not waver, put a diaper on, or stop being excited for them. This needs to be done in 3 uninterrupted consecutive days.
PUT A POTTY IN THE CAR or van so the child can go at anytime.

Hope this was helpful!

*UPDATE*-I have had a few questions on how long to leave the child on the potty for a 'try'? I would leave your child on the potty for only a few minutes, if nothing happens, praise them for a great try and start the clock from then.

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Saturday, 3 December 2011

Winter Wonderland Lunch

We had our first snow fall of the year the other day, not that it was needed to get me in the Winter spirit. I am an avid lover of winter. I love everything about it. The sweaters, the boots, the beauty, the hot chocolate and mostly the fires. When I was a kid, every morning my Dad would wake up and start the fire in our centralized fire place in the house. This was not done out of beauty alone, it was done to keep the house warm. Thus, I have a fond memory of open fires. The smell of the wood, the crackle of the flames. I am lucky enough to have one in our home and have very frequently shuffled furniture and just recently (three years later) figured out how I can view the fire place while snuggling on the couch (the fireplace is in a very weird location). So with all that said, I collected my supplies for a Winter Wonderland lunch and this is the result. I used a toothpick to hold the snowman together and food writers for the details. The snowman in the grapes is just a toothpick as well and the kebob is held together by skewers of course.