Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mashed Potato Snowman

A few days ago, I decided to do a little something different with Thanksgiving leftovers. I was only going to add fresh steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes to what we had left over. I saw an idea on my friends blog which I thought was so cool and stored it in the back of my head for later. She took boring old mashed potatoes and made them into a snake on the plate during Halloween time. Here is the link to her blog: She also has many other cool ideas so check her out!

So this is what I did to make our boring leftover meal fun! First, I wanted to show you how I added veggies to our mashed potatoes. I steamed potatoes and carrots together and when they were soft I added them to my food processor. I added a little milk and butter (almond milk and earth balance for dairy free) to make them a little creamy. Then let you processor do the rest of the work! YUMMY!

Here is what my meal looked like: Left over turkey and sweet potatoes with fresh steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes and don't forget the gravy! The kids have seen a meal or two just like this already so this is what I did to theirs!!!!

I put a few scoops of mashed potatoes into a plastic ziplock bag and then cut one corner of the bottom of the bag. 

Since it's christmas time I decided to make a snowman with what we were eating! Here he is! I used broccoli for the arms, buttons and eyes. I used a sweet potato for the hat and  I used turkey for the scarf! This was so much fun and you should have seen their faces when I showed them dinner! My son practically LICKED the plate clean!!! This was so easy, just use your imagination and what you have in front of you! Another idea you could do at christmas time is make a huge snowflake all over the plate with all of the things you made for dinner!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Tree Skirt Keepsake

Every Mommy or Grandma LOVE projects done with handprints. It's so fun for you and your child to look back on and to remember how little they once where and how big they are getting. I just never know where to keep all of the handprint projects from year to year. A few years ago I came up with a way to put my children's handprints on something we bring out each year! I bought a white tree skirt. You don't have to buy white just make sure it's plain! Then EVERY Christmas, when you start decorating, have your children put their handprint on it along with the date. We just put the first letter of their name on their hand but you can write out their name in puffy paints if you like. It's so easy and one of the best Christmas decorations in our home and will be so much more fun as the years go by and as our family grows! 
Another idea you can do with this is get all of the Grandchildren to put their handprints on a Tree Skirt with the current year and give it to Grandma for Christmas!
Here is a new picture of our Tree Skirt! This year I have THREE little hand prints. My husband and I also decided to add our handprints by the trunk of the tree. We wrote Mommy and Daddy on top of our print!

I also want to share another fun decoration idea. Since you already have the paints out for your Christmas Tree Skirt then you can also make this cute Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer. You just need two googly eyes and a red puff ball to add to your child's foot and hand prints!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beaded Wreath

Here is a simple holiday craft that is very good for little ones! Beading helps to develop fine motor skills and can be frustrating for younger children but doing it this way will help your child feel proud that they can bead AND by themselves! What you will need to make Beaded Wreaths:
  • Different types of beads (I chose a green package and metallic stars)
  • 16 Gauge craft wire
  • wire cutter (out of your tool box)
  • ribbon
  • hot glue gun

Here is the secret! When you use craft wire your child won't have that many problems trying to get the bead on by themselves! You know how frustrating it is using string!!! First step is to measure out your wire and cut it with wire cutter. I measured the kids at about a foot (12 in) and mine I just went longer and didn't measure. Then the next step is to take one bead and wrap the wire around it so when your kids are beading, it will stop at that end. Give your child a plate of beads and let them create!

Here's my girl with her finished circle of beads!

 As you can see, at the top of my sons wreath, I left a little wire and made a loop so you can hang it from there! I also wanted to show you that my son, by himself, made this a school lesson without even knowing it! He counted out green beads 10, 9, 8, 7,,,,down to zero and placed stars in between them! That's his pattern! Patterns are a HUGE part of early math!

Then I took a piece of ribbon and hot glued it into a bow and hot glued it to the top of the wreath. Another idea you could do for this is one of those already made bows that you just stick on presents!

Here are all of our homemade wreaths! There is a different bow on mine for another way to make it! Finishing touch is to puffy paint the year and child's named on their wreath! REMEMBER: this is also a wonderful gift that your child can feel proud of to give to a family member!
Another idea you could do with this is make a bunch of small wreaths and you can hang them as ornaments on your tree!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eggnog French Toast!

Here is a simple idea to spice up your morning French Toast! Around the Holiday season when they are selling Eggnog, Silk nog, or pumpkin spice milk just add a little to your egg mixture and there you have it, Eggnog French Toast! If you have never made french toast before I will tell you my normal recipe for our family of four.

Mix 3 eggs in a bowl, add about a half a cup of eggnog, and whisk together. Dip your bread into the mixture on both sides, one piece at a time. This makes about 6 pieces of french toast. Cook on a skillet or hot pan with just a little butter and as it's cooking add a dusting of Cinnamon!
Such a simple suggestion but the eggnog really adds to the flavor and is a family favorite around the holidays!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Game and/or Craft!

This past Friday I was watching four kids ages 5, 4, 3, and 3 years. We had lots of fun playing! I made up an activity that could be fun any day around Thanksgiving but it would be perfect for the actual day when all the family is together. It's very simple and helps to keep the little ones entertained. There are two steps to this, a game and then a craft. You can decide to just do the game but if you wanted to take this a little further, I will show you how! 

Give each child a brown or white paper lunch sack to decorate. Get out stickers and markers and let them create! While they are doing this, go to another room or if it's nice, go outside. Get a bag of feathers from the craft store and hide them everywhere. You can make it harder for older kids and easier for younger kids!
After they are done decorating make up a story about a Turkey who lost all his feathers in the other room and how they get to go collect them! This is the fun part, let them run crazy trying to collect feathers! This is kind of like an easter egg hunt on Easter! =)

The next step I added because I wanted them to do a craft with their feathers they found. If you want to make things easy just give them paper, markers, and tape and let them create whatever they want! I wanted them to make turkeys with their feathers so here is what I did.

IMPORTANT: If you are planning to make the turkey, I got all of this stuff ready BEFORE we even did the feather hunt!

I made my favorite playdoh, which I used to make the the golf pen holder! If you have another easy self drying dough recipe, you can use that also but for this all you need is:
  • 2 cups of corn starch
  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
You mix all the ingredients together in a small pot over medium heat and stir for about 2-3 min until the mixture looks like mashed potatoes (photo on the right). 

I added brown paint to the mixture because I didn't want to deal with the kids painting on this project. This dough will be the turkeys body.

I took an orange pipe cleaner and cut it in 2 inch strips and twisted it in half. You will need two of these per turkey, they are the feet! I also got out two googly eyes per turkey and cut one small triangle, per turkey, for the beak out of thick paper.

 Separate out the playdough in equal parts on a paper plate for each child. Tell them to make one big ball, which will be the body, and one small ball, which will be the head. Place the head in the front of the turkey and then let them put their feathers behind the head however they want to. Then have them place the eyes and beak on their face and stick the orange pipe cleaners below for the feet. There you have it! A cute Thanksgiving Turkey!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Many Ideas For A Simple Mason Jar!

As you've seen before, I love Mod Podge! You can do so much with this stuff! How about decorate a Jar, either for your home or to give as a present!? I'll show you how we decorated our jars and then I'll give you some fun ideas to do with them. The only things you will need are a few pieces of scrapbook paper to match the theme you are going for and Mod Podge!

The next step is to rip the paper up into pieces. However you would like them, big or small, it doesn't matter. 
 Paint the Mod Podge on your jar and start placing your ripped paper all over, overlapping the paper so no glass shows through.
 After you are done adding any last touches (example: stickers or pictures) then paint Mod Podge over the whole jar!
Here is one of our finished products! We made this for Brenden's Kindergarten teacher. She expressed she wanted a school theme and we also knew her favorite color is purple so we had to add that into it! What a perfect present to give to a teacher that would look pretty sitting on his/her desk!

 Here is how we got started with these jar projects. We made a special jar for Brenden to keep his marbles in. It's a reward system for him! He LOVES marbles so whenever he does a good deed that is noticed by someone else, not by him telling us about it, he will get to keep a marble from his jar!
To make this jar I printed out free coloring pages of ironman and he colored them. You can look up any character online and get a free coloring page so you and your child can make the Jar unique to what they like!
More Ideas For a Jar at home:
  • Good choice jar: Buy glass beads from the dollar store or even collect rocks from outside and whenever you notice your child doing something good, let them put a bead or rock in the jar you made! When it is full do something fun as a family. Some examples could be go out for frozen yogurt, your child's favorite restaurant, an indoor playground, or go out to see a movie. Anything to let them know that their good choices will bring positive consequences!
  • Rainy day Jar: Get some craft sticks or slips of paper and start writing on them things you enjoy doing inside. When the weather is bad and you need an idea of things to do, pull out this jar and pick one out! Here are some examples of things you could write! Hide and seek, Plastic cup bowling, freeze dance, make a fort out of blankets, jump rope, or one of my own craft games (Indoor Tennis: see october 2011). 
Ideas you can do as Christmas gifts are:
  • Fill your jar with christmas candy! A yummy treat to whoever receives it!
  • For those on your list who are animal lovers, fill with doggie or kitty treats!
Thanksgiving Gift in a Jar:
  • Here is a yummy recipe for pumpkin butter in a jar! Good for everyones Thanksgiving meal! 
  • You can also fill your Jar with pumpkin spice sugar scrub, a great hostess gift! All you need is:
2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 cup + 1 Tablespoon of oil (sunflower, safflower, or vegetable)

Mix the sugars and spice together, making sure there are no lumps. Then add oil and mix well! This will keep well in a sealed clean glass for months! Just keep out of direct sunlight as you would with oil.

Have fun with this, get creative on the outside and inside of your jar!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Craft/Gift: Easy Golf Bag Pen Holder

Let's face it guys, no one wants to admit it but CHRISTMAS is next month!!!!! We all want to find cheap ways our kids could give presents to the ones they love. I am going to give a few ideas over this month of things you can do with your kids to make gifts for family members. 
This first idea is for all the men in your life that LOVE golf! This idea could also be used for Fathers Day. I'm going to show you the finished product first and then explain what I did to make it!

Here is a cute Golf Bag Pen Holder personally painted by your child.

The first thing you will need to do is make homemade playdough. Over the years I've made a lot of different dough recipes but this one is my favorite! It's so soft and smooth and so much fun to play with! What you will need is:
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup cold water

Have your child mix baking soda and cornstarch in a pot. Then gradually add water till it's smooth. On medium heat, stir constantly until it has the consistency of mashed potatoes. Dump out dough on a plate and cover it with a damp cloth to let cool. When it's cool you can knead it and it's ready to go!

While you are doing this next step let your kids create whatever they want with a lump of this soft smooth dough.
You will form you golf bag over a toilet paper roll. I drew a picture of the shape I created around the TP roll. It's really not that big of a deal if you get the shape exact! They will get the point of what it's supposed to be.

Here is a picture after I formed the dough around the TP roll. Once it dried a little I drew some lines in it with a toothpick to make it look more realistic. 

Let your "Golf Bag" sit in a safe place for a few days until its's all the way dry. Then have your child paint it. If you have a younger child I would suggest you only allow 3 or 4 colors (not black or brown). After all the work put into this, you don't want them to go crazy mixing colors and it turn out all purplish/brown.

I found these pens during Fathers Day season in the dollar section at Target so you will not be able to get them as cheap as I did BUT I found them for sale at Pier One! Here's the link:

I also came up with an idea if you don't want to buy these pens! Just make your own!!! All you will need is the cheap pens that come with a removable cap and masking tape.

Put a few strips of tape on the top of the pen, folded over so there is no sticky sides exposed.

Then cut it into a shape of a club. If you have a silver sharpie, you can let your children color the taped end! 

There you have it! A cute cost effective present for a man who loves golf!

*Another cute idea, I had to add, for dad for Christmas or even Fathers Day would be this cute picture for his desk! "We're watching you!" Just have your kid/kids pose for the shot and put it in a double frame!
Aimee from featured my picture and also compiled many other CUTE ideas for pictures for Daddy! Remember, these cold be used for Father's Day, Christmas, or even Daddy's birthday! Check it out HERE!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Healthy Biscuits & Gravy

Healthy Biscuits and Gravy
Biscuits & Gravy is one of my families FAVORITE meals!!! We were eating it so much, I decided it needed vegetables!!! =) Here is what you will need to make this yummy and healthy dish!
  • One pound of sausage (here is where you can go healthier or not, don't forget to read the ingredient label on the package. We don't want sodium nitrate, MSG, artificial coloring or chemical preservatives. Also, would be good to get hormone free meat but that is not always cost effective.)
  • biscuits (pack or homemade)
  • about a cup to 1 1/2 cups of milk (or almond milk for dairy free)
  • about a cup of whole wheat flour (or almond flour for gluten free)
  • about 1-2 cups of ground up veggies (Use whatever you have in your kitchen) 

Preheat your oven to whatever temp your biscuit package says or follow the directions in making your own biscuits. It's always a healthier option to make your own biscuits because you know EXACTLY whats going in them. I found a great biscuit recipe for my gravy that I added below.

The next step is to grind up your veggies. This time around I used a carrot, two celery stalks, a few pieces of broccoli, a few mushrooms, and a piece of zucchini. Zucchini, celery, and eggplant are good because they are light in color so your family wont be able to SEE them when ground up with the sausage! Make sure you grind your veggies up REALLY FINE!!! 

 Here is my veggies ground up! No large chunks!

At a regular grocery store, Turkey breakfast sausage is probably your healthiest option. Start browning your sausage meat.
*update* I found additive free (Never Any) pork sausage at Aldi that is AMAZING

As your sausage is cooking, get your biscuits on a cookie sheet and throw them in the oven! The quick option we used this time around is Trader Joes Buttermilk Biscuits. They have a lot less added stuff. Whole foods has their brand also. The only thing I don't like is they used enriched flour but it's WAY better than Pillsbury!!!!
Also, if you are going dairy free, these biscuits wouldn't be good because they use real buttermilk.

Then add your ground up veggies to your cooking sausage. I wait for it to brown a little bit but not fully cook.

 Here is what your veggies and sausage will look like when almost fully cooked! Just make sure you have no raw meat!

Then I grab about two large handfuls of whole wheat flour and sprinkle it over top of the meat mixture. You can use other types of flour if you have them. Check my post in October 2011 about White Vs. Whole Grain for best options.

This next step I used my almond milk (Dairy free) but you can you your regular milk!

I am so sorry that I don't have exact measurements for this, I just pour the milk over the meat mixture till it covered. I would just guess its about a cup or a little over. It needs to simmer for 5-10 min so it will thicken. Stir constantly! If you like thick gravy add more flour, if you like it on the runny side, add more milk! My husband and I ALWAYS do this different because I like to make it thicker than he does.

Here it is after ALL the milk is poured in! Remember stir and let simmer for 5-10 min and then your done!!!

Healthy Biscuits and Gravy

Here is my family chowin' down!!! I know it's funny but we do sit and eat dinner a lot at this kids table! =) 
December 2017: I now eat dairy free and gluten free! I found the best Paleo biscuit recipe to go with my gravy. Just click on the picture below to take you to the recipe!
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