Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Wishing your family a safe and fun Halloween!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Getting Crafty with Kids - Make Your Own Supplies

The weather is getting colder and we are going to be spending more time inside.  I always find that crafts are a great way to keep the kids entertained, add colour to an otherwise drab day and kill a few hours at the same time.  These are great recipes for making your own craft supplies or organizing the ones that you already have. 

This post was originally published on my old blog on February 27, 2012.  It has been modified slightly.............................................................................

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - No Spill Paint Cup:

With summer coming to a close we won't be drinking all of those yummy frozen drinks from coffee shops anymore.  Now is the time to start stocking up on their plastic cups and keeping them for the winter. This idea for re-using them as paint cups is brilliant. The kids can easily see the colour and the lid prevents spills and drips.

These are perfect for home and I'm sure a few preschools and kindergarten classrooms would be happy for cup donations!

DIY - Make Your Own Sidwalk Chalk:

The recipe is simple and uses limited ingredients but the fun you can have with the kids on warm winter days will be limitless. 

Liquid Sidewalk Chalk Recipe:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • food coloring (any colors you desire!!)

DIY - Homemade Finger Paints:

These finger paints are easy to make, inexpensive and the ingredients are all found in your pantry.

Source: Easie Peasie

You can make a rainbow of colours easily with a little food colouring and using old baby food jars is a great way to recycle too!

Build It - Lego Table:

An IKEA Lack table can be transformed into the perfect Lego building station.  This is a great spot to display those amazing structures your kids make.  Even better, this project can be done pretty inexpensively and requires little to no DIY skills. 

Source: Ordinary Mom

Tools Needed:
  • 1 IKEA Lack table
  • 4 large lego bases
  • Strong Glue (she used Gorilla Glue)
Janet Murphy (Ordinary Mom) had a great tip for gluing down the bases - "Make sure you use a lego piece to space them properly apart. I started to push them flush together before I wondered if the pieces would work across the seam. I am glad I did as there is a TINY gap required between the plates."

Add a bin that fits under the table to store all the Lego pieces and you have the perfect Lego building station! 

What are your favourite crafts to do with the kids when you're stuck inside?


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Online Halloween Fun - Cool Tools

I am getting into the Halloween spirit and there are a few online tools that can make your family totally ghoulish this Halloween.  It looks like we're heading for a few days of rain so these online activities will be fun for the family.  If you can upload a photo, you can create fun and memorable Halloween treats for your family. 

Halloween Manipulation of Photos:

The first tool I tried was the Halloween editor on PicMonkey.  It is free and it lets you manipulate a photo to make it as creepy as you like.  All you do is upload your photo and choose from a huge selection of options to make your own unique and spooky Halloween avatar. 

I went from the Creative Mama on a Dime with her trusty sidekick to....

...the Scary Mama on a dime with her little ghoul

They have Day of the Dead and Halloween options to choose from.  Play around with the different themes; Zombies, Day of the Dead, Vampires, Witches, Demons and Trick or Treat.  I used a little bit of this and a little bit of that in my picture.

I had so much fun playing with this that I can't wait to see what the kids can do with their photos.

Virtual Family Dance Party:

The second online tool I played with was JibJab.  It allows you to upload photos of your family and with a few clicks of the mouse it takes your faces and imposes them on characters who dance and sing to fun tunes.  When you're all done you can email the card to a friend, post it to Facebook and just replay it over and over for the family. 

This is my family doing the Monster Rap.

The kids and their friends thought it was hilarious.  They begged me to make another one with all of them so that is my task today.

They have cards for every occasion and no occasion at all.  Your 'heads' are saved so once you do the initial upload of photos you can make cards in no time at all.

I remember that this used to be a free tool but now there is a fee associated with it.  You can make it for free and see the first few seconds without paying but if you want to share it and see the whole video there is an annual fee of $12 US which provides you unlimited access. 

I found the Promo code: GoPromo10 that I found online and it worked.  I figure the amount of laughter this tool elicited from my kids made it well worth it, even for a Creative Mama on a Dime.

I hope you and your family have some fun playing around on these sites.

What other sites do you use to play with your photos online?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Monster Games for Halloween Fun

If you are throwing a Halloween party, try one of these fun monster activites.  Toddlers will love smashing down a tower of monsters they created.  Pre-schoolers will rock out during this mummified dance party.  School age children will love making and wearing their Mitten Monsters to school, trick-or-treating, or just playing outside in the leaves.

Monster Smash

Best for: Ages 1 to 3 

You’ll Need:

  • 6 large, empty, clean and dry juice cans or large soup cans
  • Coloured construction paper – pre-cut to the size of the cans
  • Add-ons such as; Googly eyes, fabric trim, felt pieces, stickers, feathers, paper streamers, etc.
  • Craft glue
  • Bean bag(s)

 Directions for Making the Monster Cans:

  1. Prior to the party, empty, wash and dry the cans.
  2. Cover each can with a piece of coloured construction paper (purple, green, and orange work best) using craft glue. Allow to dry.
  3. At the party, provide each child with one of the covered cans.
  4. Have the children create their own “monsters” using the add-ons provided. If they’re having trouble coming up with an idea remind them that monsters don’t always have one eye, human shaped mouths, etc.
  5. Allow the cans to dry for about 15 minutes.

Directions for Playing Monster Smash:

  1. Stack the monster cans in a pyramid. 
  2. Have the children stand in a line a few feet back from the monster pyramid.
  3. Give the first child in line a beanbag and allow them 3 tosses to try and knock down the monsters.


  1. Put each child’s monster at the top of the pyramid when it is their turn. They are more likely to “smash” their monster down with it in the top position.
  2. If you have a lot of kids at the party:
    • You can use smaller cans such as pop cans which are easier to collect quickly. *NOTE - Put masking tape or duct tape over the opening to ensure no one cuts their fingers.
    • Create a few different pyramids to allow multiple Monster Smash games to go on at a time.
  3. Increase the difficulty by having the kids try knocking them down from further away.


If you don’t have a beanbag, substitute a ball instead and play Monster Smash bowling. All the other directions and tips apply!

Mummy Wrap

Best for: Ages 3 to 5


You’ll Need:

  • 1 roll of white crepe paper (streamers) for each child.
  • Music source
  • Fun Dance Song - "The Monster Mash" is a great option

Directions for Playing Mummy Wrap:

  1. Divide the group into teams of 2-4 kids.
  2. Provide each group with a roll of crepe paper.
  3. Have each group decide who is going to be their first mummy.
  4. When the music starts, the rest of the group will begin using the crepe paper to wrap the child up like a mummy.
  5. After approximately 1 minute, turn off the music. The mummy wrapping must stop.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until each child has been ‘mummified’.
  7. Turn the music back on and have the children show off their best mummy moves by with a mummy dance party.



  1. Once the kids have taken off their crepe paper and de-mummified themselves, keep the paper to use as stuffing for crafts, mailing parcels, animal bedding, etc.
  2. You can substitute toilet paper for crepe paper but it is a bit more delicate to work with.

Mitten Monsters

Best for: Ages 5 to 8

You’ll Need:

A pair of gloves for each child in a variety of colours
Add-ons such as; Googly eyes, fabric trim, felt pieces, feathers, pipe cleaners, etc.
Scissors for each child
Fabric glue or glue gun

Directions for Making the Mitten Monsters:

  1. Provide each child with a pair of gloves, a pair of scissors and fabric glue (if using).
  2. Kids can trade a glove with each other prior to starting the craft to make two different coloured monster mittens each.
  3. Make sure that the kids have the mittens laid out with the thumbs touching when they decorate them. You want to make sure you end up with a left hand and a right hand.
  4. Allow the children to cut out designs from the felt, fabric, feathers etc. and design their monster mittens.
  5. If you are using fabric glue, the children can glue as they go along. If you decide to use a glue gun, have the children layout their designs and then an adult can go around afterwards with the glue gun to secure everything. 
  6. Once the gloves are dry, have the children put them on to show off their designs.



  • Magic mini gloves work great and are very inexpensive.


If you are working with an older group that you think can sew in a straight(ish) line with yarn, then you could make Mitten Monster Pets by stuffing the gloves with cotton batting or cotton balls then sewing them shut at the wrist!


What are your favourite Halloween Party activities?


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Earth's Own Almond Fresh - Recipe & Review

This weekend I attended the She's Connected conference in Toronto.  While there I was able to meet and interact with many brands.  One of the best parts was learning about new products (or new to me) such as Earth's Own Almond Fresh. 

Being perfectly honest I had seen it at the grocery store but had never picked it up and put it in my cart.  I hate waste and sometime find myself hesitant to give new things a try (don't tell my kids).  Having the opportunity to try it without commitment was perfect for me.  Gotta love a sample.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised.  I was expecting it to be really heavy tasting and thick but it wasn't at all.  It was light and refreshing.  I tried the Original flavour and really enjoyed it.  I have a feeling my kids would especially love the chocolate flavor so next time I'm shopping I'll pick some up.  Their newest flavor is Noël Nog just in time for the holidays.

It is the benefits of almonds that make this drink even more appealing.  Did you know that almonds are:
  • Low Fat & Cholesterol Free
  • Excellent Source of Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Source of Vitamin E:
  • Antioxidants
I love that they now have single serve portions.  Unfortunately the product contains nuts so I can't throw the single serving packs in the kids' lunch bags but we can keep them in the house for drinking on the go.  
Their website has some delicious sounding recipes using Almond Fresh.  I love the idea of the Almond Fresh Apple-Tini.  It contains no alcohol so would be a really fun treat to serve up to the kids, especially when entertaining.

Almond Fresh Apple-Tini Recipe
(1 serving)

  • 2 oz apple juice
  • 1 oz Almond Fresh Unsweetened
  • splash caramel syrup
  • dash fresh lemon juice

1. Combine ingredients over ice in a martini shaker.
2. Shake vigorously and serve in martini glass.
3. Garnish with a cherry or apple slice.

If you haven't given it a try yet I encourage you to do so.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween Cake Pops - Cheater Version

With Halloween just over a week away and Halloween Parties on our minds, this easy method of making cake pops using timbits (donut holes) may come in handy.  Imagine how much easier it will be to make killer Halloween cake pops like these.

Image & Idea: Oh Goodie Designs

Image & Idea: Bakerella
Image & Idea: Family.Go.Com

 This post was originally published on June 6, 2011.

As you probably remember, a few months back I made Cake Pops for my daughter's bake sale at school. While they were a huge hit with the kids, making them was time consuming and not as easy as I had originally thought.

I ran into a problem where the cake balls would start breaking when the stick was inserted and I was decorating them with the chocolate and sprinkles. Also, for my taste they were a bit too sweet with all that icing mixed in with the cake however the kids didn't seem to mind.

Fast forward to June and my son's bake sale at school and our street party. Not one to give up that easily, I decided to try my hand at it again, this time using a little 'SECRET' from a blog I love, "Aubrey & Lindsay's Little House" .

What is this "SECRET" you ask? Well, instead of cake balls, you use TIMBITS (or donut holes, for our American readers). I followed Lindsay's instructions for her 5 minute cake pops outlined in the link above and they were SOOOOO much easier (I personally thought that they were way tastier too but I'm not an icing girl). Evidently I'm not quite as proficient in the kitchen as Lindsay because mine took a little more than 5 minutes (20 minutes perhaps?) but compared to the 1/2 to full day production of the originals, this was a snap.

I covered a piece of floral foam bought at the dollar store with some wrapping paper and stuck the sticks in to keep them up-right. I think it looked really cute and festive. The reviews from the crowd were amazing and I was on a little bit of a high from all the praise but I had to admit to everyone that this was an idea that was borrowed, not created. So, next time you have an event coming up that you need to bake for, make the 5 minute cake pops. You and your guests won't be disappointed.

What are your tips to make killer cake pops?

Friday, October 19, 2012

You've been tagged - Taming the morning chaos

Can you believe that some of your weekday morning chaos could be eliminated with a simple tag?

We all know that weekday mornings can be cruel to us moms.  Remembering who has what on what day, who needs what on what day and heck, remembering what day it is at all can prove challenging at times.  I try to encourage my kids to take responsibility for their things, to pack their school bags and to make sure they have everything they need but it doesn't always go as planned.  We all know who gets blamed at school don't we?  Yup, you know it...dear old mom!

Every day my kids and I look at the calendar to figure out what day it is.  (I know, you're beginning to think I've lost it - checking every day?!?)  Our school runs on a 5 day rotation - not Monday to Friday.  This means that any time we have a day off from school, the rotation shifts by a day so it is always changing.

Once we've discerned what day it is, we have to remember which special classes each kid has that day.  Basically we're trying to remember whether we need library books, instruments, running shoes, sharing items, etc.  When I had one child in school I could usually remember these things on my own but now with multiple kids, I'm finding it a challenge.

The other day I was in a (dollar) store when I saw these adorable luggage tags.  In an instant I knew how they could help me tame the morning chaos. 

When I got home I measured the size of the tag opening.  I printed out a schedule for each kid and added any extra information they might forget (i.e. Monday - homework folder).  I slipped them into the luggage tags and attached them to their school bags.  Now in the morning we quickly consult the school calendar to see what day it is (no, that hasn't changed) and then they check their school bag tag to make sure they are putting in everything they need for that day. 

It has certainly taken some of the stress out of the morning chaos and it is teaching them to be responsible by ensuring they have everything they need for that day. 

The same premise could be used for after school activities.  If you have a dedicated bag for hockey, dance, piano, etc.  You can create a list of items that they need to ensure are packed each time they go to their activity.  You've done your part to help them get organized and it puts the onus on them to be prepared.  This is a skill they'll need forever so why not help them master it now!

How do you keep your family organized?  Share your ideas below!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The art of collages - Making scissor skills fun

Last year when we met with my son's kindergarten teacher she provided us with a set of cutting exercises sheets so that he could practice his cutting skills at home.  We did a few of them but the truth was it seemed like work to him and he was very disinterested.

He was obsessed with all things hockey so I pulled out the sports section of the newspaper, a few Sports Illustrated magazines, some glue and a long piece of paper (IKEA easel paper).  I showed him how he could cut out words and images to create a collage. He was hooked. He spent the next two hours happily cutting and never once thought of it as practice or work.

When he finished we hung the collage on his door. He was so proud.  As the weeks went on I often found him cutting out more pictures and filling in any white space that he had left.

It turns out I created a collage monster. This is the bin that he keeps under his bed with all his collage supplies...

The under the bed bin full of collages in progress
that I've culled many times to ensure it fits under the bed

...and this is the book he keeps working on. I'm not sure it will ever be finished in his eyes.

Collage, collage, collage - hockey, baseball, basketball, football.

Sometimes it just takes a little thinking outside of the box to help our kids hone their skills and turn play into a learning opportunity.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Mesmerized Monday - Week of October 15

I am slowly transferring over posts from my old blog to Creative Mama on a Dime.  This post was originally published on February 6, 2012. 

It is that time of the week again. Time for another installment of Mesmerized Mondays.

Smiles All Around:

This is a simple and delicious snack for the kids that is bound to make them smile. Someone suggested substituting the mini-marshmallows for pieces of a mozzarella cheese-string, love that idea. I can't wait to make these for the kids!

Photo and Idea: Disney Family


I stumbled upon this video the other day when I clicked through to Lil Blue Boo's blog for the Homeopathic Hot Pack I highlighted in last week's Mesmerized Monday blog. I was prepared to meet an amazing woman who is talented, creative and generous in her knowledge. I wasn't prepared for what else I'd find.

Ashley and her family have been thrown a curve ball, the super scary "C" word. Her story is developing daily and she is documenting her battle in her blog.

Photo & Video: Lil Blue Boo

Her Rite of Passage video above had me sobbing at my desk. It marks a huge milestone in her battle with cancer. It highlights her bravery but also the vulnerability and uncertainty facing herself, her husband and young daughter. I am following her journey, wishing their family well and praying for her health.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle = Fun & Games:

In my house bubble wrap garners almost as much excitement as Christmas presents. I don't know what it is about kids and bubble wrap but they all seem to love it. When I saw this idea for a hopscotch game made from bubble wrap I knew we had a hit.

Photo & Idea: Giver's Log

I'll have to scour the office for some bubble wrap and try this with the kids. For safety reasons I would make sure to do this on carpet or tape the bubble wrap to the floor so it doesn't slip.


The photo says it all, use old milk or bread tags to help identify which cord is which in your power bar.

Photo & Idea: Apartment Therapy

But what about all those cords we have lying around that aren't plugged in? I'm talking about the cords for the battery chargers for my camera, the kids cameras, cell phones, video cameras, etc. Here is a great idea.

Photo & Idea: There I Fixed It

An old shoebox and toilet rolls can fix that problem. The crazy jumble of cords in my desk drawer be warned, I'm coming after you!!


This last week I couldn't have been without my H2O Steam Mop X5. I only got it a few weeks ago and I know it sounds CRAZY but it makes me so happy. We were a house full of germs last week, we had step, ear infections, stomach bugs, etc. You name it, we had it. I became fanatical about sterilizing everything in the house using the attachments on my new H2O Steam mop.

Photo: H20 Mop X5

Not to mention, my floors have never been so clean and I love that it uses nothing more than water (very hot water) so there are no chemicals floating around after cleaning. I got mine at the Showcase store at the local mall but I'm sure you can get them other places too. Just an FYI - I in no way get anything for promoting this product except for sheer joy at sharing how much I love this mop.

There you have it, another week, another round-up. Until next week...

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