Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Here a turkey, there a turkey!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the kids will have a few days off school.  They can help decorate the house for your Thanksgiving dinner with these fun ideas.  Best of all, you probably have most of the supplies you'll need already at home.

Thumbprint Turkeys:

All you need is paint or ink in yellow, orange, red and brown.  Grab a marker an orange marker and some card stock to make adorable place cards for everyone at your dinner table.

Thumbprint Turkey cards
Image & Idea:  The Charmed Mom

 

Hand print/Footprint Turkeys:

You already know that I love projects that use hand prints.  Here is an adorable way to feather your turkey.


Hand and foot print thanksgiving turkeys
Image: Peterson Stories

Or try this version.

handprint turkey craft
Image & Idea: Meet the Dubiens

The Italian Turkey:

Okay, maybe he's not from Italy but the addition of coloured Rotini pasta makes this guy perfect for Thanksgiving.  By turning it into a book you can capture what everyone is thankful for each year.

turkey craft made from pasta
Original Source:  Unknown

Pine cone Turkey:

The kids will have fun collecting pine cones and then creating their lists of what they are thankful for.  Each feather they add helps them remember to count their blessings.

Pinecone place holders
Image & Idea:  Creating Couture Parties

Hand print Turkey Cookies:

If you are a little more adventurous (and better at cookie decorating than I am) this idea would make a great place card at the table that would double for dessert.  Or, send them home with everyone at the end of the night.  You know they'll be thankful!

Handprint turkey cookies for Thanksgiving
Image, Idea & Instructions:  Bee in our Bonnet

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Gobble Gobble!
What's your favourite Thanksgiving turkey craft your child has made?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Get in the know...

I feel like I'm back in school and it is exam writing time. Just like in those nightmares we've all had where you're totally unprepared for an exam I have to admit that is how I was feeling when I was recently given these three questions to answer from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
 
Image Courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada
 
  • Q1: Are Ontarian paying more for auto-insurance, but getting less coverage?

  • Q2: Is the money I pay for insurance set aside just for me to cover any claims I may have in the future?
     
  • Q3: Is flood damage caused by a spring thaw covered by your home insurance?

Here are my answers:

 
  •  A1: Yes. We are paying more but our coverage has gone down in the last few years. I know that the insurance industry has changed the limits for accident benefit coverage and that the definition of what is considered a catastrophic injury has changed.
     
  • A2: No. The money we pay for insurance is pooled so that it grows at a better rate for the insurance company and can be accessed by those that require it.
     
  • A3: Yes. Your home insurance will cover flood damage.

Well, it turns out that I did know more than I thought but I definitely didn't score an A on this test.


  • Q1 Explained - I had insight into the changes in auto insurance coverage because our policy renewal (and increase) came with information about the updates (ahh, it pays to read the inserts). What I had forgotten was that these changes were put in place to keep the cost of our policies from increasing further. So, in reality, yes, we are currently paying more and getting less than we had in the past. 
     
    What shocked me though was the information about fraudsters. Did you know that there was a gang that had a $25 million staged collision ring out there making claims from our collective insurance money???? Despicable!
     
  • Q2 Explained - I was right. Everyone's money is pooled together. So our insurers 'spread the risk' by using the payments of many to cover the losses of a few. Good to know it is there for you when you need it.
     
  • Q3 Explained - I was totally wrong. I thought that water damage was water damage but it turns out that a Spring Thaw is considered "floodwater" and it isn't covered by your home insurance. It goes back to the explanation above about 'spreading the risk'. This type of water damage is only a risk to a small population (those close to rivers, streams, and bodies of water) so there aren't enough people to spread the risk across, therefore it isn't included.
     
    Keep in mind, freezing pipes (indoor or outdoor) are not usually covered nor is damage caused by melting snow and frost. Not good news when you see all the basement waterproofing signs on peoples' front lawns this year. So what water damage does my home insurance cover???  I was happy to read that water damage from a sudden and accidental escape of water (i.e. indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioner, appliance) is covered by most policies.  Good news as those are the situations most of us would be likely to experience.   

Insurance isn't something we like to think about or something we really like to pay for. It often feels like we're paying out money but getting nothing in return. I don't often give a lot of thought to my current insurance coverage and my potential insurance needs. This was a good exercise that made me really read the fine print and assess whether we should be making changes that better suit our family. Reading up on insurance may not be the most exciting job you've had lately but it is important and it is always better to know upfront what to expect rather than getting an unwelcomed surprise down the road. You can find more information at:  http://getintheknow.ibc.ca/Insurance-Explained.aspx
 
 
  







 
Although this post has generously been sponsored by the Insurance Bureau of Canada,
the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect
the Insurance Bureau of Canada.



Monday, September 24, 2012

Gobble..Gobbled...Gone...Turkey Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes a few years back at Thanksgiving and they were a HUGE hit with the kids.  I totally cheated and used a boxed cake mix and a can of frosting but they didn't care one bit.


 

Ingredients:

  • Baked and cooled cupcakes
  • chocolate frosting
  • 6 candy corn for each cupcake
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • 2 silver dragées (silver candy balls) for each cupcake

Directions for Decorating:

  1. Ice each cupcake with the chocolate icing. 
  2. To form your turkey's head, create a found dollop of icing at the front of each cupcake.
  3. Sprinkle behind the dollop with chocolate sprinkles.  These are your feathers.
  4. To create a beak, insert 1 candy corn sticking out horizontally from your turkey's head.
  5. To create tail feathers, insert 5 candy corn sticking up vertically from the back of each cupcake.  Make sure the skinny tip of the candy corn is the part that is sticking up into the air.
  6. To create eyes, add 2 dragées onto each head.

Voila, you are done.  They look impressive but by taking the shortcut with the cake and icing, they are truly simple and quick to make.  Just don't tell anyone your little secret.  I know they'll be gobble gobbled up!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No oil Zucchini/Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

This recipe takes  me back.  I started making this banana bread when I lived in Mexico in my early 20's.  My roommates and I always seemed to have bananas ready for baking (doesn't everyone have a freezer full of black bananas?) and it took very few ingredients. 



Because I was making it for adults back then I always made a loaf (truth be told - probably the only baking pan we had).  But now that I'm making it for my kids, mini-muffins are my go-to pan.  They are the perfect size for snacks,  school lunches, and small tummies.  They freeze perfectly so I always have them on hand. 

This week I tried the zucchini version for the first time.  I was inspired to pick some up when I was grocery shopping then perplexed as to what to do with them.  Then I remembered this recipe.  The kids were leery of the zucchini but they LOVED them.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. plain yogurt (any yogurt works.  I've had delicious results with strawberry)
1 egg
1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla
*1 1/2 c. grated zucchini
1/2 c. chocolate chips.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk brown sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla together.
  3. Add dry mixture and mix.
  4. Add zucchini and mix.
  5. Add chocolate chips and mix.
  6. Pour into greased mini-muffin tins. 
  7. **Cook for 14-18 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

* change for 2-3 bananas (mashed)
** bake 45-50 minutes if making a loaf.

Simple, delicious and perfect with a glass of milk after school.  Enjoy!



Monday, September 17, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year...

My favourite day of the year is not my birthday or Christmas, it is the day my family goes apple picking. I don't know what it is; the fresh air, the delicious apples, or the drive through the country but this day always seems magical to me.



We tend to go at the beginning of October although apple picking season in Ontario starts in September .  For me, waiting is all about the amazing varieties of apples we can choose from and a lot of my favourites seem to be late September varieties. 

It is the perfect family outing.  We get to run around, chase each other through the orchard, pick (and eat) amazing apples, play on the hay bales, pick a pumpkin and best yet, take home amazing locally grown fruit and support our local farmers. 

I always get carried away and pick a million (barely exaggerating) but we all love them.  I try and get some smaller ones for school lunches and apple recipes are endless.  Who doesn't like apple crisp, apple pie, apple sauce, caramel apples? 



As you can see, the fall offers all kinds of weather.  It has been hot (notice the tanks and bare tummies last year), it has been downright cold (toques, gloves and still cold) but it is a day I look forward to all year long.

 

The air is beginning to have a crisp feeling in the evenings now.  This is a sure sign to me that apple picking season is upon us.  I can't wait for our annual visit to the apple orchard.



Friday, September 14, 2012

Art Party Ideas for Kids - Coffee Filter Butterflies for Preschooler Activity

 Coffee Filter Butterfly Magnets

 Best for: Ages 1 to 3


 


Materials:

  • coffee filters
  • scissors
  • water based markers (i.e. Crayola)
  • wooden clothespins
  • small googly eyes
  • pipe cleaners - cut in half
  • craft glue
  • spray bottle filled with water
  • small magnets

Instructions:

  1. Fold your coffee filter in half.  Cut along the two longest sides so that you end up with the 'wings' of your butterfly.
  2. Place butterfly wings, a clothes pin, a set of googly eyes and a half a pipe cleaner at each child's place.  Make sure each child can reach a variety of markers.



     
  3. Have the children fill the entire coffee filter with lots of colours.  The patterns can be random; the colouring doesn't need to be pretty but you want to fill as much white space as possible.

  4. Once a child has filled the white space, take the spray bottle and lightly spritz the wings with water so that all the colours bleed together.



     
  5. Place the wings in a warm spot to dry.
  6. While the wings dry, have the children colour their clothespins.  These are the bodies of their butterflies.



     
  7. Glue a set of googly eyes on the short end of the clothespin (the end that opens).
  8. Glue a magnet to the back-side of the clothespin near the top of the short end.
  9. Have the children fold their pipe cleaners in half forming a 'v' shape.  They can wind the edges around a pencil or marker to form the antennae.
  10. When the wings have dried, simply open the clothespin and trap the middle of the wings in the clip part of the clothespin and then tuck in the antennae.

  
Voila!  A beautiful butterfly the kids will love to take home.

Don't miss our other Art Party Activities for 3-5 year olds and 5-8 year olds.


Art Party Ideas for Kids - Styrofoam Art Prints for Kindie Kids

Foam Print Making

Best for: Ages 3 to 5



Materials Needed:

  • styrofoam containers, plates, or trays from meat (washed and dried)
  • pencils - not too sharp
  • craft paint in a rainbow of colours
  • plates for the paint
  • foam brushes or rollers
  • 8 x 12 paper or canvas
  • Scrap paper for testing the designs
  • paper towels

Instructions:


  • Provide each child with a flat piece of styrofoam.

  • Have the children use a pencil to etch a design into the styrofoam.  Remind them not to press the pencil all the way through the styrofoam. Alternatively, the children can also cut their styrofoam into a shape then etch a design.


  • Pour each colour of paint into its own plate.
  • Use the foam roller/brush to apply a light layer of paint to the styrofoam template.

  • Turn the styrofoam template over and press onto the paper.  Rub the template all over being careful to keep it in place.


  • Gently lift the template from the page making sure not to drop it or smudge it.
  • Clean the template with a paper towel and continue printing using different colour paints.
  • Let the prints dry.


Tips:

  • A roller produces smoothest results.
  • Before printing on the final paper/canvas, do a few test prints on your scrap paper to determine how much paint you need. If necessary, at this time have an adult go over some of the lines with a sharper pencil to add more definition.
  • Remember, the final picture will be a mirror image of your design so have the kids stay away from words and stick to images.
  • Because it is important that the template doesn't shift when placed on the paper, it is advisable to keep the size of the template small to fit small hands. 4" x 6" pieces of foam work well and allow for 4 versions of the print on the final canvas.

Don't miss our other Art Party activities for 1-3 year olds and 5-8 year olds.

Art Party Ideas for Kids - Silhouette Vases for School Age Children

Silhouette Flower Vases
Best for: Ages 5 to 8


You’ll Need:

  • Patterned paper – i.e. Scrapbook paper, wallpaper samples, magazines, or wrapping paper
  • Scissors for each child
  • flashlight
  • painter’s tape
  • pencil
  • 11” x 14” coloured paper or art canvas
  • craft glue
  • small foam brushes

Instructions:

  • Fold a piece of patterned paper (approx. 5” x 7”) in half vertically and tape to the wall.
  •  Have a child stand in front of the paper so that their face is in profile with their nose facing the folded side of the paper. 

  • Aim the flashlight at the child and paper so that you can see their shadow on the patterned paper. There should be about ½” - 1” from the fold of the paper to the tip of their nose.
  • Trace the outline of their face onto the patterned paper. 
  • Cut their profile out of the patterned paper. When it is unfolded you will see that it resembles a vase.



  • Glue the ‘vase’ to the large piece of coloured paper/canvas using the foam brushes and craft glue. Ensure it is centered at the bottom of the page. 




  • Cut out a variety of flowers, petals, stalks and leaves from the extra patterned paper. Encourage children to layer their flowers for depth and interest.




  • Glue the flowers onto the large paper/canvas so it looks like they are coming out of the vase. Children can embellish the picture with ladybugs, bumblebees, etc. also cut from patterned paper.





Tips:

  • If girls have long hair, have them put it in a ponytail so that it is off their necks when tracing their profile.
  • No one needs to be idle. While one child is having their profile traced, the other children can cut out their flowers, petals, stems and leaves. 
  • Before the party, figure out the best spot for tracing profiles including practicing where the flashlight will sit.
  Don't miss our other Art Party activities for 1-3 year olds and 3-5 year olds.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Books, Bags, Homework...Oh my!

As you've learned about me in past posts, I am a little clutter averse.  Case in point, my experience on the first day of summer vacation.  Now that the kids are back in school I'm looking for a few new organizational tips to make me breathe easier and the household run a little smoother.

Utilizing Vertical Space:

This could actually be a photo of my daughter's room (minus her clutter of course).  I love the use of vertical space.  We have a painting above her desk but I love the spice racks from Ikea turned into book shelves lined up vertically.  Our bedrooms are tiny so these along with the bulletin board and a specific spot for pens, markers, etc. keeps everything organized and right at hand.  I see a trip to Ikea in my future this weekend. 

Image & Idea: Mijn Hobby


Seat Sack for School Work:

With school back in the dining room table is now being used for homework.  We only have a dining room table, no kitchen table so at dinner time I need it cleared and cleared quickly.  The question becomes where do we put all their books and supplies?  I love this idea because it gets the table cleared quickly but keeps everything together in one specific place and easily accessible after dinner if there is more work to be done.



Image & Idea: Scissors & Spatulas



Prep Lunches & Let them Choose:

Okay, lunch prep is already one of my most dreaded activities of the week and we're only just getting started.  That is why I love the idea of setting out the main lunch items of the week in a schedule; i.e. turkey & cheese sandwich Monday, soup Tuesday; sunflower butter and jam wrap Wednesday, etc. then have snacks and drinks organized for the kids in the fridge and pantry with instructions that they can choose 1 veggie, 1 fruit, 1 yogurt, 1 drink and 1 item from the snacks.


Image: Crate & Barrel


Image & Idea:  I heart organizing

By organizing the items in their groups in both your fridge and pantry, the task is simple.  This also puts them in charge of the majority of their lunch which hopefully translates into them eating it.  Let's keep our fingers crossed they come home with empty lunch bags.

I hope these ideas help in your home too.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Grandparents Day

Next Sunday, September 9th is Grandparents Day. 

It is a day for us to celebrate the grandparents (lord knows I'd be lost without ours!) and show them how much we care. Did you know that there is actually an official song for Grandparents Day?!?

I came across this poem and thought it would be a great gift for the kids to make and present to their grandparents next week. If you've got older children and a handprint seems a little young, have them write out the poem in a card. You know how much grandparents miss the written note!


Image & Idea: Kindergarten Rocks


The poem is a little difficult to read so I've written it out below.

A Grandchild's Hand

 

The promise for tomorrow
And the hopes of dreams come true...
A reminder of the childhood
That is still a part of you...

The wonder of a miracle
From which this love began...
There is so much found in the touch
Of a grandchild's hand.

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