Category: Holiday Posts

Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping
Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping

Let’s be honest, back-to-school shopping may easily be the best part about going back to school! But with multiple kiddos to buy for, it can get very expensive. There’s a statistic that states an average American family can spend over $600 during this season! If you have children in college who need textbooks and dorm accessories, that could easily double. Here are some creative and cost-effective ways to make that end of summer shopping just as enjoyable.

Utilize What You Already Have

You may not realize it, but there’s a chance you already have school supplies in the house! An in-home office is a great place for kids to find old binders and folders that are never going to get used again and re-decorate or repurpose them. It can make a way to teach children how to make something their own and can even free up much-needed space in the office as well.

Trends are Fluid

If last year’s pencil box is just as functional as it was when it was first purchased, do not opt for a stylish brand new one that they are bound to get sick of in another 3 months. It’s a vicious cycle not worth getting caught up in. If it works, keep what you have. Kids can be very competitive in nature and change their minds quickly – seeing their friends have something trendier than them, trying to keep up, will just be throwing cash down the drain.

Lunchbox

Davidmerkoski – Own work

The good news is that trends tend to recycle. An example of this would be a metal lunch box. A very old design that was not really seen during the childhood of most Millennials; these have made a strong comeback in the last five years or so as a popular collector’s item.

End of Summer Sales

Before you rush to the advertised back-to-school clothing section – usually long-sleeved and autumnal in style – check out the summer clearance section first. These are going to be the cheapest because of the closing season. Kids typically wear t-shirts well into fall and even early winter, depending how they layer their clothes. The difference in style is not going to be that drastic and can be accommodated for colder temperatures. For example, if a girls’ brightly colored summer dress is on clearance, find a neutral pair of leggings that can match. Throughout the year, solid-colored layering pieces can be anybody’s best friend.

Stick to the List

Your child may want to buy extra supplies, but if they are not on the list chances are an opportunity to use them in school may never present itself. Tip: a lot of notebooks, pencils, erasers, crayons, etc, can be located at the local grocery store for much cheaper than well-known department stores. When it comes to simple school supplies, try to find as many as you can the next time you go grocery shopping. It could potentially save not just money, but time as well! If the local grocery store does not have everything you need, also check out your local dollar store. Not only do they have a wider selection, but a lot of them have fun and colorful themes.

Don’t Just Buy, Sell!

If your child does not have younger siblings or cousins of the same gender to give their outgrown clothes to, sell them online for cheap. The little extra work it takes is a win-win: you get the items out of the house to make more room and you make a few bucks. Gently used clothing, especially name-brand, can be in high demand when other parents like yourselves are trying to find cheaper clothes online. 

If you aren’t that internet-savvy, garage sales can be used to sell unwanted items and also buy used clothing. End of summer is the perfect time to hold a garage sale and to go shopping in them. If you have lots of children in your neighborhood, you might be surprised on how much you can find and sell!

Go back to school in style and save money. Regardless of house size and ages of kids, end of summer shopping can be a breeze!

Summer Fun For Kidds in Spokane & Coeur d’ Alene
Summer Fun For Kidds in Spokane & Coeur d’ Alene

Is running through the sprinklers just not cutting it? Summer opens up a whole new avenue of fun activities for children. But if your little ones are aching to see more outside their backyard, here are some awesome family fun activities happening in the area.


 

 


 

Upcoming events in Spokane, WA:

August 1st | Tennis Summer Camp

Recurring every weekday 8/1/16 – 8/26/16 8am-12pm
tennis summer campMission Park

1208 E Mission Ave
Spokane, WA 99202
509-991-0696

$35-$149

Kids 6-17 years old are invited to have fun, be active, and learn to play tennis. USTA-trained instructors use age-appropriate equipment and games to get kids moving, having fun, and learning tennis. Summer Camps provide a rotation of activities focused on tennis, movement, and off-court games. Additional activities include frisbee, multi-sports, reading, and more. All equipment is provided and sneakers are required

 

August 4th | Animals In Art
Recurring every day of the week except Monday. Through September 4th, 2016
10 am-5 pmanimalsinart_1889

$10/adults, $7.50/seniors, $5/students with ID, Free for children under 5. Half price admission on Tuesdays

Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture
2316 W 1st Ave
Spokane, WA 99201
509-456-3631

In this engaging exhibition, birds, horses, sheep, cows, bears, and more serve as the subjects of works of art from the 17th century through the late 20th century. Perennially popular as an artistic theme, animals have been depicted in works of art since pre-historic times. This exhibition examines etchings, engravings, lithographs, sculpture, oils and watercolors that depict the tremendous variety of the animal kingdom.

 

Go to Sky High!

sky-high-sports-spokane-51cdaa547f3d777fb700a8771322 E Front Ave
Spokane, WA 99202
509-321-5867
Open year round

Friday 11AM–12AM
Saturday 11AM–12AM
Sunday 11AM–8PM
Monday 11AM–10PM
Tuesday 2–10PM
Wednesday 2–10PM
Thursday 2–10PM

Kids of all ages love going to Sky High to jump around, practice tumbling, or diving into a giant foam pit. It’s great for parties or on a rainy day!


 

Upcoming Events in and near Coeur d’ Alene:

August 5th | Art on the Green
Through August 7th – All day
Free

Downtown Coeur d’ Alene & North Idaho College Campus

A marketplace, performance space and a gathering place for friends and families, this yearly event is the highlight of the summer in Coeur d’Alene. Art on the Green is held at the old Fort Sherman Grounds on the North Idaho College Campus, just a short walk from Downtown and City Park. Shuttle bus service to the west side of the NIC campus from downtown is also available during the festival. No dogs are allowed at Art on the Green.



Event_ColorRun_360x360_32516August 7th | Huckleberry Color Fun Run & Walk
11am-5pm – One day

Schweitzer Mountain Resort
10000 Schweitzer Mountain Rd
Sandpoint, ID 83864
208-263-9555

You can run or walk on this super fun and family friendly course.

 

August 11th | The Little MermaidMermaid
Recurring August 11, 2016 – August 28, 2016
Thur-Sat: 7:30 pm, Sun: 2 pm

$49/adults, $42/seniors, $27/child – GET TICKETS NOW

The Kroc Center
1765 W. Golf Course Road
Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815
208-660-2958 (CdA Summer Theater)

In a magical kingdom beneath the sea, the beautiful young mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. Based on the classic animated film, Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. With music by Academy Award winner Alan Menken, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs. Ariel, the daughter of King Triton, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above and bargains with the evil sea witch to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends to restore order in the ocean’s depths. This dangerous mission leads to a showdown between good and evil, which only love can remedy.

Triple Play

triple playPrices vary
175 W Orchard Ave, Hayden Lake, ID 83835
(208) 762-7529
Hours:
Friday 10AM–11PM
Saturday 10AM–11PM
Sunday 10AM–9PM
Monday 10AM–9PM
Tuesday 10AM–9PM
Wednesday 10AM–9PM
Thursday 10AM–9PM

Indoor water park, bowling, arcade, race go-karts, and even stay the night!

Silverwood Theme Park & Boulder Beach Water Parksilverwood
Kids (3-7): $25.00 (ages 2 and under free)
General Admission (ages 8 +): $48.00

27843 North Highway 95, Athol, ID 83801
(208) 683-3400

Hours:
Friday 11AM–8PM
Saturday 11AM–8PM
Sunday 11AM–7PM
Monday 11AM–7PM
Tuesday 11AM–7PM
Wednesday 11AM–7PM
Thursday 11AM–6PM

Over 60 rides and attractions, with 6 awesome roller coasters, 2 wave pools, loopy water slides, an amazing magic show, and endless fun!

4 Fun & Unique Ways to Eat Fruit This Summer
4 Fun & Unique Ways to Eat Fruit This Summer

School is almost out! That means that kids will be spending a lot more time eating at home or out on vacation with family. A lot of times this season can get us off our regular schedules and sometimes even our crucial daily habits! It can also bring about more opportunities to indulge in tasty summertime favorites that can cool us off, but contain a LOT of sugar- ice cream, slushies, popsicles, etc!

Luckily, there are ways to satisfy your little one’s sweet tooth without taking a chance of cavities and without the “sugar crash” later. The best way to eat sweets AND take care of your teeth and body is to eat fruit!

The best time of year to eat fruit? Summer! Warmer weather makes seasonal fruit (pineapple, watermelon, mango, etc) more readily available and ripe to consumers, allowing you and your family to expand your options.

***Please take note that the saying “too much of a good thing” still applies here! While fruits are most likely the least harmful sweet treat they can still be overdone!

1. Smoothies

Happy children with fruits, healthy eating kids concept.  Isolated on white background.

A classic favorite, with endless variations. Set aside fruit you want to use for smoothies and store them in the freezer. For whole fruits, such as mangoes, pineapples, bananas, etc, make sure you peel the skin and chop them up before freezing! As for berries, make sure they have been cleared of stems and leaves.

First, choose fruits that are complimentary. Strawberries and blueberries go well with almost anything, as do bananas. Try to avoid mixing all citrus fruits (too acidic), or all tart fruits (too sour).

Next, pick your base. The juice inside the fruit is not enough, otherwise your smoothie will be too thick! For a creamy flavor, use coconut, almond, or regular milk. For an added citrus flavor, use orange juice. Add water for the purest taste. If it is still too tart, add a tablespoon of honey to your mix.

Finally, make sure that the base you have picked fills up the blender enough to just barely cover the top of the fruit before blending. This will ensure the smoothie will not be too thick or watery. Blend and enjoy!

2. Fruit Sushi, or “Fruishi”

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Source: Tasty on Buzzfeed

 

A new trend – fun and very pretty! Boil sticky or sushi rice (1 cup rice to 1 ¼ cups water). Then, mix 1 ¼ cup coconut milk, and add ¼ cup sugar (this is the only added sugar in the recipe, and you may use less if desired).

On a sushi mat, spread out the rice flat into a square, covering the mat. Cut desired fruit into thin, lengthy strips. Roll tightly, chop into pieces, and viola!

If a sushi mat is not something you have at have at home, you can try a variation of Fruishi that looks like sashimi. Roll balls of sticky or sushi rice into ovals, and thinly slice fruit to lay on top. It looks so fancy and the kids will love the taste.

 

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Source: princessandthefrogblog.blogspot.com

3. Fruit Kabobs

Easy, simple, and relatively self-explanatory. Use berries and chop fruit into bite-sized pieces and stick onto a wooden or plastic kabob. This can be fun for kids because they can create patterns of fruit and add however much they want of each fruit onto the skewer.

For more visual appeal check out this caterpillar grape kabob. They’re cute, and its something kids can create as well! 

Using red and/or green grapes, spear each grape on its short side. For eyes, use miniature chocolate chips and attach with very small amounts of vanilla frosting. For easy placement, simply dip the flat edge of the chocolate chip into the frosting before sticking it to the end grape.

 

4. Rainbow Whole Fruit Popsicles

You will need: a popsicle mold, popsicle sticks (optional), 2 kiwis, 1 cup of chopped watermelon, 1 cup of chopped mango, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of chopped strawberries, and 1 cup raspberries.

IMG_1135

Source: The View from Great Island

In small food processor, use the “puree” setting for each portion of fruit. Be sure to rinse between uses.

Next, take only 1 cup of pureed fruit and fill the bottoms of a popsicle mold in equal portions. Freeze overnight or until solid. Then, repeat using different fruits. For the second layer, remember to add a wooden popsicle stick (some molds come with reusable ones too so this step may not be necessary.)
Keep adding layers and freezing until full. Once the last layer is added and solid, remove from the freezer and dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for an easier release of the popsicle. Remove and enjoy!

St. Patrick’s Day Fun and Treats

St Patrick’s Day is here and marks the beginning of our long-awaited Spring season! Whether you’re Irish or not, many of us like to celebrate by wearing something green for the sake of not getting pinched, and looking for rainbows and a pot of gold. St Patrick’s Day history isn’t common knowledge, however, so here is a little bit about the holiday before we get into some fun ways to celebrate with your kid’s and family!

In America, St Patrick’s Day started with the Irish soldiers who served in the British Army; a celebration of Irish Patriotism. The first Parade was held in New York in 1762 and continued to grow with the immigration of the Irish during the Great Potato Famine. Previously in history, this day was celebrated as a pause from the season of Lent with a religious feast in Ireland honoring St. Patrick and his Christian evangelizing of the Irish Country. Today, celebrations are decidedly less religious and continue to showcase the strength and pride of the Irish heritage.

 

Clover Prints

Four leaf clovers, the symbol of luck and fortune! Capture your little one’s growing hand prints and create some luck of your own. You will need:

  • a canvas paint board  
  • a brush
  • some pretty green hand paint, that’s all you will need!

St Patrick's Day shamrock

Pot-O-Gold Twirler

This colorful craft is nice to hang in an open window or even on your porch. Who say’s there isn’t gold at the end of this rainbow?

  • Paper plates
  • Black and yellow construction/craft paper
  • Paint colors of your choice
  • Scissors
  • glue stick
  • Paint brush

Pot of gold craft

Another variation of this if you would like to forgo the paint. You will need:

  • Construction paper pack of various colors
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • Glitter glue (optional)

paper-chain-pot-of-gold_Large400_ID-853853

Play dough is something you can use anytime and it’s especially fun for the rather rainy Spring days when outdoor play is limited. You will need:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 ½ – 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Food coloring of choice
  • Large, gold glitter flakes
  • Pot, wooden spoon, and a stove

Stir together dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients including the coloring. Stir continuously until the mixture has formed one large clump. Dump out onto your counter and knead with your hands. Let cool and let the kids play! Sprinkle gold flecks onto the dough before you knead or let the kids have fun with the glitter! Create rainbows by making different color dough and use a shamrock cookie cutter to make it festive. This makes about 1 ½ cups of play dough and will last up to 6 months stored properly in a ziplock bag with little air as possible inside the bag.
playdough shamrock

Leprechaun Faces

If you’re already crafting with construction paper for the Pot-O-Gold craft mentioned above, why not join in on this one too? Anyways, everyone needs a little leprechaun on St. Partick’s Day as well as a pot of gold with a rainbow! You will need:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Googly eyes (optional)

Cut your construction paper in pieces like those shown here. Glue away! You can even hide these around the house and let your little ones hunt for a leprechaun!

leprechaun craft

 

leprechaun craft

Green Shamrock Smoothie

What’s not to love about green on St. Patrick’s Day? Even your kids will like this one, and it’s full of nutrients and greens your kids may otherwise bulk at eating. What you will need:

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 green apple, peeled and core removed
  • 2 cups water or milk, nut milk, or use ½ amount of 100% apple juice
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 handfuls spinach (about 1-2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Honey to sweeten (optional)

Blend until smooth. Add more water or milk to make a thinner consistency. Makes a great snack or breakfast addition!
Shamrock smoothie

You don’t have to be a magical artist to make some cute and nice crafts with your kids, so have fun and make something together. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

An EveningOut: Father Daughter Dance in Liberty Lake
An EveningOut: Father Daughter Dance in Liberty Lake

A Valentine’s Day Gift

Fathers and daughters have a special connection, no doubt. From the time she is an infant, dad is one of the most influential people she will ever have in her life. If you have a daughter, this Valentine’s Day will be a special day for her too; a special day with dad.

Make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one with your daughter by presenting her with a special invitation. This March 7th, the Liberty Lake Kiwanis Club is partnering with Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation to host the 10th annual 2015 Father/Daughter Dance! The theme this year is centered around “Alice’s Evening in Wonderland” and it will be an area-wide semi-formal event. Semi-formal attire is recommended, but not required for entrance.

Register

This dance will take place in CenterPlace at Mirabeau Point in Spokane Valley, from 7-9pm. Tickets are $45 per couple and $20 for each additional daughter. The ticket price includes a long-stem rose, favors, and refreshments! If your daughter doesn’t have dad to take her; uncles, brothers, and role models are very welcome to attend. Photo packages are available by Dorian Studio and music by Complete Music DJ Services. You may purchase $1 raffle tickets at the event.

To register or ask further questions, you can call the number below, or register online. We ask that you please call us to register at 509-688-0300 if you are bringing more than 2 daughters. We look forward to seeing you and dancing the night away!

2015kiwanisfd.jpg

Christmas Games That Don’t Involve Technology
Christmas Games That Don’t Involve Technology

Nativity_tree2011Unplug the iPods and turn off the iPads, because it’s Christmas and this means it’s to spend quality time with family and friends and create memories that will last a lifetime. Below we have outlines some fun games for the whole family that do not involve the use of technology.

Christmas Stocking Guessing Game

Fill a stocking with a collection of small items and pass the stocking around in a circle, letting each person guess what is inside. They may shake the stocking, smell it, or simply feel the shape of what is inside. Fill the stocking with simple party favors that the children can keep (if they guess correctly), such as crayons, Christmas candy, oranges, a pack of cards, and other things that members of your family would like.

The ABC’s of Christmas

Give each person a piece of paper or 3×5 card with a few letters of the alphabet on it. Split the letters according to how many members participating, each person could get more than a few. They can come up with a holiday- related word for each letter. You may want to set the children up to work in teams depending on their age. The first team to complete their list wins a prize. Some of the words they come up with may seem like a bit of a stretch, but it can be fun!

Snowball Race

For this game, you will need either a styrofoam ball or a ball of white yarn and some spoons. Try carrying the object of choice on the spoon across the room without dropping it.  This is a great game for large families as it is more fun when there are teams.

Pass the Parcel

The first thing that needs to be done is to wrap, wrap, wrap (and wrap again and again) a small gift.  There is no reason to spend a lot of money, use newspaper, brown bags, or even leftover wrapping paper. Similar to musical chairs, music will indicate when a player needs to pass the parcel to the next player. When the song ends, the player holding the parcel will unwrap only one layer of paper and the game will continue “in reverse” until the last wrapping is removed. The last player with wrapping wins!

Christmas Scavenger Hunt

This is an easy game that is fun for all ages.  The host, whether mom or dad, needs to decide on the items that are to be found and take a picture of each item so that the hunters will know what they are looking for and set them loose!  The first one to bring all of the items on the list wins! Use the whole house or just one room, the choice is yours!

Christmas Trivia

Christmas comes with much tradition and history, so let’s test your knowledge with a little holiday trivia. The questions can range from general to specific questions relating to Christmas movies, Baby Jesus and even trivia about Christmas Trees, traditions, and history. Make a dedicated time where everyone is relaxed, settled with a cup of chocolate and ready to play some trivia.

The important thing to remember is to do something fun and memorable as a family!

 

Building Family Traditions For Christmas
Building Family Traditions For Christmas

Family traditions are basically rituals done each year that are passed down generation-to-generation.  They help form a sense of family unity and create happy memories. You may already have Christmas traditions in place for your family, but there is no rule that says you can’t add on and create more! When we are part of a family tradition, we are part of something special.  For example:

Visit a Tree Farm

There are pros and cons to having a real tree in the house, but visiting a tree farm is a fun outing for the whole family, like the pumpkin patch in October.  Even if you decide against purchasing a real tree for Christmas, you can still enjoy other great activities as a family such as sleigh rides and warming up over a cup of hot apple cider.

tree farm

Decorate the Tree Together

Whatever type of tree you decide on, it will be the main attraction in your home for a few weeks and everyone should have a chance to fluff the branches, hang an ornament and toss some tinsel. For the little ones in your family, set aside a space on the lower branches for them to hang non-breakable tree ornaments.

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Personalize an Ornament

Personalized ornaments are easy to do and the will last year after year.  Remember to put dates and names on each one.  As the box of ornaments is opened each year, they will trigger memories of the year before. You can create many types of ornaments; using pine cones, popcorn, candy canes, and craft supplies, your family will not only save some money and spend time together, but have fun memories to look back on.

diy ornaments

Bake Cookies with the Kids

Cookie making with my grandmother is a fond memory for me and a tradition that I now pass onto my own children. Young children can do age appropriate tasks like pouring ingredients into a bowl and using a cookie cutters to make fun cookie shapes. Older children can measure both dry and wet ingredients, roll dough and crack eggs. Decorating is something that everyone can do and it is fun to see how each cookie is designed. Sharing your cookies with friends and neighbors is also a wonderful way to give and teach your children about the true joy of the season.

cookies

Make a Gingerbread house

Along with baking your cookies, why not make a gingerbread house? These fun crafts usually come in kits you can get at some grocery stores and craft stores as well. Gingerbread homes are fun to personalize and kids can have a tasty treat while they are at it, since everything that goes into it is edible. Some communities and stores even hold competitions that you can enter your gingerbread home into and win a prize!

gingerbread house

Caroling

Bundling up and going around town singing Christmas carols is a fun family tradition and appreciated by the whole neighborhood, especially those who are elderly.  Don’t worry if you can’t carry a tune, the point is to just have fun!

caroling

Christmas Morning Pajamas

Christmas morning is an exciting time for many families, so before going to bed on Christmas Eve allow everyone to open one present and make that gift a pair of brand new PJs!  Not only does it ease the excitement, but everyone will sleep in a nice new outfit and the pictures in the morning will be great!

pjs puppy

New Year’s fondue

No need to limit family traditions to Christmas, you can ring in the New Year with a fondue!  It is fun to make and a memorable tradition that the whole family will look forward to as the New Year approaches.

 fondue

Thanksgiving Recipes You Won’t Want to Miss
Thanksgiving Recipes You Won’t Want to Miss

Thanksgiving recipes are cherished classics in every kitchen, whether it be an old family recipe or the back of a pre-packaged box, we all enjoy this hearty holiday meal. Having these recipes on hand before the big feast is important, after all, good cooking is mostly preparation! If you are looking for some interesting twists on Thanksgiving classics, or simply need a fun recipe for those little mouths at the table these recipes are for you, and they are kid-friendly too!

Breakfast

Thanksgiving morning usually comes early for those of you preparing the Turkey. From the moment you wake up, you begin your preparations and sometimes, you just don’t have time (and oven or stove space) to grab some breakfast! Cereal is quick and easy, but it can get boring and doesn’t provide the nutrition you need to get through your cooking marathon.

Freezer egg bakes

Try out some of these delicious breakfast ideas for your busy morning. These freezer-bite recipes involve some preparation the night before, which will free your time for the most important preparations the morning of Thanksgiving. They are convenient, easy, and healthy for you and your family! Follow this link for three easy, cheesy ideas:

Freezer Egg Bakes

omelets

“Gobble” some Pancakes

Who couldn’t enjoy pancakes for breakfast? If this classic breakfast is a staple for the weekends home with your kids, then here is a fun twist!

Turkey Pancakes

turkey

Snacks

When you’re busy cooking such a yummy meal, it can be tough to keep your fingers out of it which is why we are providing some great recipes and ideas for snacks to munch on, pre-dinner. Of course, you want to save room for all that turkey and stuffing, but sometimes you just need something to hold you over until then.

Caramel/dulce de leche dip

If you have an extra can of sweetened condensed milk, a staple in Thanksgiving dessert recipes, than you can make one yummy caramel dip, or dulce de leche, if you prefer!  If you have never tried this before, you must try it now. See the link for the recipe on this mouth-watering dip.

Caramel/Dulce de Leche

caramel

You can do this a couple days before, or the night before, just give it a few hours (very little work, we promise) its well worth it! Be sure the dip is very cool before opening. Take a few of your kid’s favorite apples (try Honeycrisps), slice them up on a tray, and you have a wonderful apple dip! While you are at it, drizzle over some popcorn for a sweet and salty treat, or spoon it over some yogurt.

Trail mix

For an easy-to-grab snack, try this trail mix! It’s easy to make and easy to take with you around the kitchen (if need be). Mayflower Munch

munch

Cheese/fruit/meat “turkey” platter

Another easy snack would be a party-type tray. Though simple, they can be quite versatile and customizable to any occasion. All you need for this one is some pepperoni and different cheeses of your choice! You could also use fruit and vegetables of your choice. This is a very simple and quick snack when you need to focus on the meal preparation.

cheese

Mini cornucopias

This next option is not only creative and festive, but its also easy entirely edible. You could make your own variations with this one and customize it to your child’s favorite finger snacks. Or, if you are one for ice cream year-round, try some fun holiday flavors such as pumpkin or eggnog ice cream with a spoon of the homemade caramel listed above! Check out the “Mini Cornucopias” using waffle ice cream cones at this link:

Mini Cornucopias

cornucopias

Dinner Sides

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest meals you will probably cook through the year and though it’s all so tasteful, sometimes it can get a bit messy for kids, especially stuffing and gravy. Here are some recipes to put a little user-friendly twist on the ordinary recipes.

Stuffing Muffins

Whether you’re cooking your stuffing in the turkey,  a crock pot, or the stove, this handy tip can prove useful for all the little mouths at the table. All you need is a cupcake pan and you can turn the stuffing into a “muffin” that can be easily held by toddlers and small children. Check out this link for the how to, as well as a simple stuffing recipe from scratch!

Herb Stuffing Muffins

stuffing

Mashed potato puffs

Finger food really is the best for kids, especially when it comes to large feasts and a table full of kids. Whether you need to make it quick with instant potatoes, or you already have a pot of mashed potatoes for those who may not be fond of yams, this is a great variation for messy little eaters and babes learning how to feed themselves. Here it is:

Mashed Potato Puffs

mashedtaters

Honey glazed carrots

This sweet dish is full of great nutrients for your little one who may prefer to pass up the yams. Use baby carrots or chop full-size carrots for an easy-to-eat dish. See this link for a delightful recipe:

Honey Glazed Baby Carrots

carrots
Thanksgiving is a day of appreciation and spending time with our loved ones, and we want to keep it that way with some quick, easy, and convenient meals and snacks with items you may already have on hand. As you prepare for this year’s festivities, remember to be present in all things and thankful for all things, especially those we love… and great food!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Halloween Safety
Halloween Safety

The tricks to making it a treat

halloweenpumpkinSpooky, late-night graveyards, walk-through haunted houses, and thrilling horror movies can all come as fun and games at Halloween. People usually get a thrill of fun with intentionally frightening experiences, but don’t be tricked! Halloween ranks as the third most dangerous night of the year, especially with Halloween falling on a Friday night. So, treat yourself and your family with the knowledge of keeping it safe! Here are some helpful tips to spell out some safety rules for a “spooktacular” Halloween:

  1. Swords, knives, hammers, and any other costume accessories should be short and flexible. If costumes consist of weaponry, this is a must. You may want your costume to look rather real and defined by using realistic replicas, or even the real thing, but instead, let your costume be the real deal and keep weapons of any sort to basic toy status. If a toddler can’t play with it, its probably too dangerous to walk around with.
  2. Avoid trick-or-treating alone, especially after dark. Stay in groups and try to make it a larger group of friends and family. Make sure there are adults and older teenagers with little ones to help them navigate roads and crossings safely. Creepy prowlers are far less likely to pick on groups with adults and older kids in the mix. Drivers are much more likely to see a mass of people.
  3. Fasten reflective tape to your costumes, front and back! Depending on your costume, you can also tape it to your candy bag, just keep it in hand at all times out on your walk. If your kids aren’t keen on using reflective tape, then make it fun and use glow sticks! Tape them to your costume or purchase the glowstick necklaces and wear it effortlessly around your neck or costume hats. If you will be driving, keep in mind that many neighborhoods have narrow roads and/or no sidewalks so trick-or-treaters may be walking close to or on the road. Drive slow, scan for pedestrians, and make sure your headlamps are properly lit for visibility.
  4. Examine all your candy as you receive it to ensure it has not been tampered with. Every year, there have been reports of candy that has been tampered and ridden with sharp plastics and metals, that is the last thing you want in your mouth!
  5. Hold a flashlight as you walk to help others see you and watch where you step! You wouldn’t want to step down in any mud, holes, or pet waste! Help others navigate, especially little children who are not savvy about walking around in the dark. Lastly, alway walk, do not run, especially across driveways and streets.
  6. Always test your costume outfits and makeup first. Don’t find out that your costume is the wrong size, scratchy, or defective while you are out. Make sure that masks have enough visibility for you to see where you are walking as well as allow you to use peripheral vision. Also, test costume makeup to make sure it won’t irritate your skin or eyes!
  7. Look both ways upon crossing the street. Use crosswalks when you can and if they are not available, cross in a well-lit area.
  8. Leave valuable items at home. Carry only your wallet if you are driving, but leave it all at home. You don’t want to lose anything while you are walking out on the street in the dark. Halloween also carries a high car-theft rate because many people park in unfamiliar places, in the dark, for long periods of time. Don’t leave valuables in the car either! You can reduce the risk by returning to your car and re-parking closer to another location you would like to trick-or-treat, thus not leaving your car unattended too long. Try also to park in a well-lit area or in front of homes receiving a lot of foot traffic.
  9. Only trick-or-treat in areas that you or a friend/family member you are with, are familiar with. Walking in an area you are not familiar with poses many additional risks such as injury and losing your direction.
  10. Wear a sweater or coat. Halloween is often a cold night in our area and the weather changes rather suddenly so keep close to your car and bring warm clothing should you need it. Also be sure that your shoes are comfortable for walking.
  11. Eat candy wrapped only by the manufacturer, avoid homemade treats passed out by strangers. If you would like homemade treats, t is best to make your own or nibble on those made by well-known friends and family.
  12. Enter no one’s home, even if you are invited inside. Kindly decline and move on to the next home. Stick to visiting well lit homes and respect the homes of those with the porch light turned off; this usually means they are not welcoming trick-or-treaters. Also, avoid entering someone else’s car that may offer you a ride. You have no control where someone you don’t know may drive you. Stick to your own two feet and your own car or a friend you came with.
  13. Never walk near decor candles on lawns, under low hanging branches, or through dark tunneled areas. Regarding candles, which are often used for Halloween decor and in Jack-o-lanters, keep your distance should they be near the walkway. Most costumes are made from flame-resistant materials, but also be weary of wearing costumes with a lot of excess and loose, flowing fabric. This excess could catch and snag on things like branches, sticks, rocks, fences, and cause you to trip and fall, as well as catch a flame.

That about spells out your Halloween safety! Keep these tips in mind as you go out tonight and remember to have some fun and take care of your teeth after eating candy!

Falling for Creativity
Falling for Creativity

Autumn crafts for kids

The days of dashing through sprinklers, playing at the park, and in general, spending the majority of your time outdoors are quickly coming to an end. For many of us, fall weather has already descended. In the midwest, temperatures are already low enough to warrant light jackets. For moms everywhere this means finding fun and educational indoor activities – FAST! For many, it means breaking out some hands on crafts that allow the little ones to exercise creativity, motor skills, and excess energy while learning a thing or two.

Depending on which part of the country you live in, the fall provides a unique opportunity to engage in some fun and frugal crafts by using items found in nature such as leaves and pine cones. Here are some crafts that are easy, fun, and kid friendly!

Bird Feeders

Pinecones

 

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MATERIALS

  • Pine cones – Look for those that are open to make spreading the peanut butter a lot easier.
  • Peanut butter – Don’t be afraid to buy off-brand or cheap peanut butter…the birds won’t mind!
  • Twine
  • Bird seed

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Cut a length of twine for each pine cone. The twine should be long enough to tie around the top of a pine cone and then hang from a tree branch (12-20″)

2. Tie the twine around the very top part of the pine cone. NOTE: Do this first because doing it last (after the pine cones are covered in peanut butter) would be super messy.

3. Using a small spatula or butter knife, spread peanut butter over the pine cone. NOTE: A little goes a long way so you don’t need a lot and the less you give the kids the less mess they make! 4. Pour some birdseed into a bowl wide enough for the pine cone. Roll the pine cone in the birdseed. You can also sprinkle birdseed directly onto the pine cone to make sure it is well covered.

Pumpkins and Squash

 

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You can also make a pretty unique bird feeder out of pumpkins or any squash! Not only are these unique but they are a lovely seasonal touch to a tree right outside a window.

  1. Cut a 3- to 5-pound pumpkin in half; scoop out, leaving a 1/2-inch thick wall.
  2. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep groove in the rim for pumpkin seeds.
  3. For perches, poke holes and insert twigs.
  4. To hang, knot two lengths of twine together in center; tack knot to feeder bottom.
  5. Fill with bird seed.

Leaf Wreath

 

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Create a leaf wreath this season… so easy to do! This is a wonderful craft project for any age. It is quick to put together and brings some of the outside in. This is an easy craft, so it works well as a daycare or preschool craft. Take a walk with the children and have them enjoy the color of the leaves and collect those that have fallen on the ground. Try to pick up the ones that are still fresh, and avoid the dry ones.

This craft isn’t just for children. Any age will enjoy a walk outdoors, collecting leaves this time of year. Senior centers and nursing homes can use this a craft for their residents. Each senior can decorate their own nature wreath to hang on their door.

Things Needed:

  • Fresh Fall leaves in various colors
  • Paper plate
  • White school glue
  • Scissors
  • Pretty ribbon
  1. Begin this Autumn craft by collecting about twenty colorful leaves from outside. Try to get nice fresh ones that have just fallen… they will be easier to glue on.
  2. Cut the middle out from a paper plate. Fold the plate in half to get the cut started in the middle, then cut along the rim to make about a 2 inch paper plate border (young kids may need help with this part).
  3. Continue building the wreath by gluing each leaf to the paper plate. Slightly overlap each leaf. For this leaf craft, I had each leaf point in the same direction, with the stems pointing inward.
  4. Next, clip off the stems from each leaf using scissors.
  5. Tie a pretty Fall ribbon in a bow, then glue the bow on to the wreath.

A handy tip to extend the life of your leaf wreath is to dip the leaves in wax to “preserve” their freshness. Heat some white or cream colored wax over a wax warmer and dip the leaves to coat them thoroughly. Hold the leaf vertically to allow it to drip excess wax as it dries. The wax will dry in about 30 seconds, there you go! Dip the leaves before you begin gluing them to the paper plate and you will have a wreath that will remain “soft” and fresh looking for weeks. You can also use clear acrylic spray which can be found in hardware or craft stores along with the spray paint. Clear acrylic spray can give the leaves a nice glossy finish.

 

Easy, safe homemade paint

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Sometimes the best Halloween costume is as simple as great face paint. Instead of picking up expensive kits made with questionable ingredients that may be harsh on skin (and leave lingering marks the next day), try making your own. It’s easier than you think and only costs a few dollars to pull off.

What You’ll Need:

  • Corn starch
  • Face lotion
  • 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Washable paints, natural food coloring, or homemade dyes
  • Small containers
  • Small bowl
  1. Start by making a base for the face paints by mixing together equal parts cornstarch and your favorite face lotion until it forms a thick mixture. Add the vegetable oil, which keeps the paint from caking. You want things to be smooth without being too watery.
  2. Now add a spoonful of the mixture to a small container and add a pea-sized amount of washable paint. You can find packs of colorful washable paints at your local craft store or Walmart for only a few dollars. Using washable paint instead of natural food coloring creates solid colors that won’t stain clothes — or your face. Most are nontoxic, when diluted, and are safe to use on skin. Just remember to avoid using around the eye and mouth areas. You can also swap for a few drops of natural food coloring or homemade dyes.
  3. Continue adding colors until you’ve got an entire set of face paint. For a bit of shimmer, sprinkle glitter eye shadow into containers or swipe over finished face paint for allover glitter.
  4. Apply using face sponges or lip brushes for creating details. Paint will dry creating a smudge-free look. For a smoother application, add a few drops of water to the paints. As with any new makeup, rub a bit of the face paint on skin to check for reaction before applying.

Don’t feel like picking up a set of washable paints? Substitute with a few drops of natural food coloring, which also creates vibrant face paints. Just be warned that using food coloring may stain skin and clothing.

Scented playdough

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We know kids love play dough, and this recipe for scented play dough might just be the best thing around. The directions are so easy, you’ll forget all about that stuff from the store.

Encourage your little one’s budding fine motor skills and entice their noses with scented play dough that is wonderfully soft and perfectly squishy. Along with offering a great scent, using small powdered drink mixes such as Kool-aid, gives this dough seriously vibrant color. And this recipe makes just the right amount for lots and lots of scented play-dough fun. Tis the season, try adding some cinnamon or pumpkin spice with some red food coloring, or mix a few to make some lovely fall colors!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 0.13-ounce packets powdered drink mix or a few hearty dashes of cinnamon, pumpkin spice or, nutmeg.

Directions:

  1. Measure out then add the ingredients to a saucepan and stir together over medium-high heat. Continue stirring for another two to three minutes while the dough comes together.
  2. Once the dough pulls together into one big ball, turn off the heat and allow the scented play dough to cool in the pan for five minutes.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a flour-dusted work surface and knead for one minute or until completely cool. Add additional flour as needed.
  4. Offer the scented play dough to your tot and get squishing! When it’s not in use, keep the play dough in a plastic bag or container. This dough will stay soft and playable for months if properly stored.

As the weather gets colder and we approach the end of daylights savings, try out some of these crafts with your kids and enjoy the way they adorn your home for the col months to come!