Monday, December 31, 2012

The New Year's List

I am not really a resolution kind of girl.  I feel like making a resolution just puts more pressure on me and as a mom I'm sure you can relate, we put enough pressure on ourselves without adding the pressure of keeping a resolution on top.

So this year instead of a resolution I decided to think about things I really want to do and make a list.  Now that fits my personality MUCH better.  I really am a list girl.  I love making a list and crossing things off as I go along.  Whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed I write a list and suddenly I am seeing each item for itself and not part of the bigger picture.  It lets me focus on one item at a time.

My New Year's list is comprised of a variety of things and really there is no rhyme or reason to it.  I don't need to do it in order and they aren't all related in any way.  Just things I want to do.  So, here it is...


I'm excited to say that I've already knocked one thing off my New Year's list before I even started.  I had wanted to learn how to make chalkboard art and voila...here is my first attempt.  Not perfect but hey, who's perfect?  I'm happy with how it turned out.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you sparkle,

Wishing you cheer,

For a bright Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year!


Just like at Canada Day my family has a tradition of taking a photo in the same spot every year at Christmas.  I love seeing how everyone changes and grows.  It seems my hair colour changes more than my clothing from year to year.  Can't wait to see this year's photo.

2004 - Baby Girl 12 days old!
 
2005

2006

2007
 
2008
 

2009

2010

2011

I hope you are enjoying time with your family on this special day!  Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the Night Before "Christ"-mas - Nativity Activities for the Family

Twas the night before Christ-mas! While it is true that Santa is the highlight of Christmas for many people including my kids, I still want to make sure that we honor the true reason for Christmas, the birth of Jesus.
 
I mentioned to a girlfriend in passing that I was disappointed that I didn’t have a nativity. On my birthday she surprised me with this sweet little set she bought while travelling in Peru. It was such a thoughtful gift and one I’ll always treasure. It is perfect.



To get an idea how tiny it is, I put a Lego man in for this photo. A Ninja shepherd perhaps?



I’ve put together a group of easy nativity projects you can do with your kids today to remember the reason for Christmas and kick off your celebrations.

Popsicle Stick Nativity:



Image & Idea: What to Expect

  Nativity Printable:


Image & FREE Printable: MelonHeadz

Toilet Roll Nativity:


Image & Idea: Sublime Shambles of a Shell

Nativity Gingerbread Stable:


Image: Katherine Marie Photography Idea: AOK Corral

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Slow Down Mommy - a child's advice!

What a great reminder and ever so true!  I stumbled upon this poem "Slow Down Mummy" written by Rebekah Knight and it just hit home. 


I feel like I am constantly rushing from one task to the next and I feel (no - I know) I am missing out on some of the little day to day joys that come with motherhood.  Between working, keeping a home, writing a blog, driving to school/lessons, being a good wife and keeping up friendships, I am constantly on the go.  I must admit that while I am there in body, sometimes my mind is already racing ahead thinking about everything else I need to do. 

My daughter turned 8 last week and it really hit me how fast the years go by. Rebekah hit the nail on the head, 'our childhood is not here to stay'.  So today I am going to take a breath, make a cup of tea and just spend some time enjoying my kids.  We're not going to rush out the door to a class, a party, an event.  We're not doing groceries, we're not checking emails.  Today we're just going to hang out, bake some cookies, make a mess, lick the spoons and just enjoy being together.

 
 
slow down mummy, there is no need to rush,
slow down mummy, what is all the fuss?
slow down mummy, make yourself a cup tea.
Slow down mummy, come and spend some
... time with me.

slow down mummy, lets put our boots on and go out for a walk,
lets kick at piles of leaves, and smile and laugh and talk.
slow down mummy, you look ever so tired,
come sit and snuggle under the duvet and rest with me a while.

slow down mummy, those dirty dishes can wait,
slow down mummy, lets have some fun, lets bake a cake!
slow down mummy I know you work a lot,
but sometimes mummy, its nice when you just stop.

sit with us a minute,
and listen to our day,
spend a cherished moment,
because our childhood is not here to stay!
 
R.Knight 2011
 

I hope you can take time to 'slow down mommy' and enjoy a little time with your family. 




PS - Rebekah's words are beautiful.  She shares her thoughts on life,  her poems and lyrics over at her blog, Shine Like Stars

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Waterslides, Wave Pools and a Winter Wonderland

This past weekend my family turned a cold, grey and wet weekend on its head with a birthday visit to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark and the Sheraton on the Falls Hotel.  What better way to trick the mind into believing it is warmer and sunnier than it really is than by barreling down a six storey waterslide and taking a dip in a wave pool? 


The kids’ jaws dropped as we entered the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark.  There were slides everywhere, a 1000 gallon tipping bucket, the Beach House Rain Fortress (essentially an enormous water playground for kids) and a giant wave pool.   
 

We didn’t even know about the outdoor heated pool until we literally stumbled upon it.  Picture us running out into 0C weather in our soaking wet bathing suits to then jump into a very warmly heated pool with basketball nets to practice our shots.  The kids thought it was awesome.  I have to admit, I braved it only for a moment or two.  I could however picture myself lounging out there in warm weather and soaking up a few rays.
 

My son’s favourite thing at the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark was called “The Bowl”, affectionately known by our family as “The Toilet”.  You get on your single or tandem inner tube and start down a fairly typical waterslide.  All of a sudden you’re dumped into this bowl where you circle around and around until finally you are sucked down into the final portion of the slide.  It looked and felt as if you had just been flushed down the loo, hence our nickname, the toilet.
 

My daughter on the other hand was over the moon with the Extreme slides, especially since she hit the height requirement and my son missed it by an inch.  I like a little extreme slide action myself so we had a lot of fun having a little “extreme” girl time.

I personally think my favourite part of the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark was the Beach House Rain fortress.  My kids asked me to come in and play with them.  It was a blast!  It took me back to more of the carefree days we’d spend at the playground only now we were getting wet.  We raced on the slides, tricked each other into getting soaked by the tipping bucket and spun till we were dizzy. 
 

After many, many, many hours of fun at the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark we were finally feeling a bit waterlogged so we headed over to our room at the Sheraton on the Falls.  It was so nice to have a tunnel connection to the hotel so we didn’t need to go out into the cold with wet hair. 

As we entered our room our jaws literally hit the floor once again as we took in the floor to ceiling windows overlooking Niagara Falls.  It was as if we had a bird’s eye view.  The room felt luxurious, the beds were super comfy (even if my daughter did kick me most of the night) and the view was priceless.  We all had showers (I admit I took the shampoos – mandarin mint – YUM!) and cleaned up for dinner.  We were starving by this point.
 

While there are a variety of restaurants to choose from, many attached to the hotel by the tunnel, we decided to eat at the Fallsview restaurant.  It is a buffet with windows overlooking the falls.  It was perfect for our family because it offered a wide variety of choices and even better because kids ate free between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.  We just squeaked in under the 6:00 p.m. mark. 

After dinner we took a walk down Falls Avenue and the Niagara Parkway to take in the Festival of Lights running now through January 31, 2013.  It was magical to see all of the trees and decorations.  I personally loved the World Religion display that incorporated the Pilgrimage to Mecca, The Menorah, and the Journey to Bethlehem side by side.  It had my (Christian) children singing their Hanukkah songs for the rest of our walk. 
 

This was the perfect vacation getaway for us.  It didn’t involve lengthy travel times, airports, passports, or even lost luggage.  But in the end we still got away, got refreshed and had an amazing time doing it. 


I am a firm believer that the best gift you can give isn’t a thing but an experience.  So this year instead of opening up lots of presents, my 8 year old (and the rest of us) got to spend time together, get silly and create memories that will last a lifetime.    They are already asking when we can go back.  I'd say that is the best compliment you can give.  My family highly recommends a family get-away to the Fallsview Hotels and Waterpark. 

Tips for Visiting the Falls Avenue Resort:

  1. Take advantage of a hotel/waterpark package.  The hotels are linked by tunnels to the waterpark so you don’t need to go outside.  The Fallsview Indoor Waterpark (www.fallsviewwaterpark.com) has packages with the Sheraton on the Falls, Crowne Plaza Fallsview, Skyline Inn or Hampton Inn by Hilton at the Falls.  We stayed at the Sheraton on the Falls (http://www.sheratononthefalls.com) and we weren’t disappointed. 

  2. Pack your waterpark items in a separate bag. (See below)
  3. Enjoy the waterpark even before your hotel room is available.  You get access to the waterpark from 10:00 a.m. on the day of arrival through 3:00 p.m. on the day you check-out.  This means that although check-in time at the hotel isn’t until 4 p.m. your family can arrive in the morning and head straight to the waterpark.  Leave your luggage (and jackets) with the concierge and then head directly to the waterpark. 
  4. During high season (approx. March – October), hotel guests get access to the waterpark 1 hour before it opens to the public.
  5. Rent a locker.  I would say rent a large locker ($8 rental + $10 deposit) as a family.  In fact, with 4 winter coats, boots and clothes it was too small.  Next time I’ll leave the jackets in the car.  If you are just a single person, a small locker ($5 rental + $10 deposit) would be fine.
  6. If you can, try and incorporate a Friday night into your visit.  The Fireworks over the falls go every Friday night at 9:00 p.m. between November 9th, 2012 and January 25th, 2013.
If you’re interested in more information visit their websites by clicking on their logos below.

          



Although this post has generously been sponsored by Canadian Niagara Hotels, the fun and excitement, giggles & memories, opinions and language are all my own.  And yes, I was the lady who kept sticking her camera in her bosum as she slid down the slides.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Easy & Delicious Gingerbread

I love Christmas because it always provides an excuse to bake up a storm.  One holiday favourite at our house is this gingerbread recipe.  It is quick, easy, rolls out really well and best of all it tastes delicious.


Gingerbread Cookies - Makes approximately 50 cookies.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 large teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 5 cups flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325C
  2. Cream together the sugar and butter
  3. Mix in the molasses
  4. Stir and add the water, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and flour.
  5. Roll the cookie dough out on a floured board or counter to 1/4 inch thickness.
  6. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters (dust them with flour first).
  7. Place them on a non-stick cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes
If you want to take them up a notch you can frost them with this boiled frosting recipe.

Boiled Frosting:

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • tiny pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 egg white (very well beaten)

  1. Boil the sugar, water and cream of tartar until it threads. 
  2. Pour gradually over 1 egg white (very well beaten)
  3. Continue beating until mixture begins to thicken
  4. Colour if desired using food colouring
  5. Spread on cookies.

You can half the recipe but why?  Give some out as gifts.  They freeze beautifully so you can make them ahead and  pull them out as you need them.  Enjoy!


Friday, December 14, 2012

30 years of Baking Memories

Baking at the holidays is something I can remember doing since as far back as my memories go.  Pretty apropos considering it is Robin Hood's 30th anniversary of their Holiday Recipe Collection and I'm 30-something.  
 



You can imagine my excitement when a box of baking supplies showed up at my door just in time for the holiday baking season! 




When I was young I would bake with my mom, later I baked with friends and now I'm baking with my kids.  It is always fun, the results are delicious and if you're really tricky you can sneak in a math lesson or two as you measure your ingredients. 

One of my favourite things about baking at this time of year is that you can try new recipes and pull out your old favourites. There are always small gifts to be given, parties/pot-lucks to attend and baked goods are the perfect thing to keep on hand for all those occasions.

Included in my box was the Robin Hood Holiday Recipe Collection. This year's edition didn't disappoint. I'm am already salivating at the thought of the Chewy Bacon Butterscotch Cookies as well as the Chocolate PB Bites. 


 
 
 


The great thing is, there are some savory recipes too such as the Tuscan Inspired Pesto Pasta.  If you don't have a copy of the Holiday Recipe Collection you can download it at the Robin Hood website.  Try to get your hands on a hard copy though because there are lots of great coupons inside which will save you some money and that is always a good thing.




I have already used some of my ingredients in my Santa's Favourite Cookies and my Cranberry and White Chocolate Scones.  Next on my baking list is some truffles with a twist.  Look out for those next week!


Have you tried any of the delicious Robin Hood recipes yet?






Thursday, December 13, 2012

When You Turn...

When my daughter was about 4 she told my husband that she wanted her ears pierced. Not wanting to say 'no' outright but again not wanting to do it then, he said , "when you're 7 you can get them pierced". At the time 7 seemed so far away but 3 years went by quickly and the big day finally came. She held him to his word and last Friday asked for earrings for her 7th birthday.


We all went along with her to get them done. I think she was a little nervous but also felt very grown up. We talked about how it would likely hurt, and reiterated the importance of cleaning and caring for new earrings. With that information in hand, she chose a cute pair of flower studs and bravely sat in the chair.


The woman who did them was amazing. She really took her time lining up her markings and treated my daughter as if she were her own. I couldn't have felt more comfortable. She sat completely still and didn't flinch when they were done. Amazing! The smile on her face afterwards was the best gift she could have given her father and me.



Before...during...after!


I love seeing her with her earrings. The little sparkle reflects her personality perfectly. It just goes to show though, be careful what you promise because kids have the memory of elephants and will hold you to it every time!
What have you promised your kids that they kept you to years later?
 ...........................................................................................................
Update - This was originally posted on my old blog Colours To Go a year ago. One year later and it is all about the earrings.  I say we change them at least once a day!



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cranberry & White Chocolate Scones...in a jar!

The other day we made Santa's Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie jars.  The big guy is taken care of but what about everyone else?  How about some Cranberry and White Chocolate Scones for Christmas morning? 

These scones are a little less common than the traditional cookies in a jar and make a wonderful gift for teachers and friends.  By putting the dry ingredients together, you have made a daunting recipe simple for those who receive it.




Cranberry & White Chocolate Scones: (approx. 6 scones)


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/3 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 425C.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients(first 5 ingredients) in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix the egg, butter and milk in a separate bowl.
  5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  6. Stir until just moistened.
  7. Mix in dried cranberries
  8. Scoop 1/2 inch balls of dough and place on the baking sheet a few inches apart.
  9. Bake about 15 minutes, until light brown.
  10. Cool on a rack.

To make Cranberry & White Chocolate Scone Gift Jars:


Layer the ingredient as follows in a 1 Litre mason jar.

  • First: flour
  • Second: oats
  • Third: sugar
  • Fourth: baking powder
  • Fifth: salt
  • Sixth: white chocolate chips
  • Seventh: place cranberries in a small plastic bag and lay on top of the dry ingredients

  1. Roll a piece of paper into a funnel and use it to pour the ingredients into the jars.
  2. Pack each level down really tightly by tapping firmly on the bottom of the jar with your hand.
  3. Include a label with instructions on the jar.
I created a PDF that you can download and print at home with the baking instructions. The kids and I glued the paper onto a thicker piece of card stock, punched a hole in the corner and tied them onto the jars with ribbon.





Download the PDF tags here!
Do you have a traditional Christmas morning breakfast year after year?
Happy Baking!



    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    Santa's Favourite Christmas Cookies...in a jar!

    It is Cookie Jar week here at Creative Mama on a Dime!  These are so easy to make and are always a welcomed gift.  I hope you find some inspiration and make up some jars to use as hostess gifts, share with friends and give as gifts this year.

    ...................................................................................................

    The kids and their friends made these for a charity fundraiser.  They were a HUGE hit.  We are going to make more as gifts this holiday because everyone loves cookies!  These cookies are loaded with chocolate and festive looking with the addition of the red and green M&M's.




    Santa's Favourite Christmas Cookies: (approx. 24 cookies)


    • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup oats (not instant)
    • 3/4 cup red and green M&Ms
    • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1/3 – 1/2 white chocolate chips
    • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
    • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    1. Preheat oven to 350C.
    2. Stir all the dry ingredients(first 10 ingredients) in a large mixing bowl.
    3. Add the egg, butter and vanilla into the dry ingredients.
    4. Mix well.
    5. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a baking sheet.
    6. Bake between 8 and 10 minutes.

    To make Santa's Favourite Cookie Gift Jars:


    Layer the ingredient as follows in a 1 Litre mason jar.

    • First: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
    • Second: oats
    • Third: red and green M&M's
    • Fourth: semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • Fifth: brown sugar
    • Sixth: white sugar
    • Seventh: white chocolate chips

    1. Roll a piece of paper into a funnel and use it to pour the ingredients into the jars.
    2. Pack each level down really tightly by tapping firmly on the bottom of the jar with your hand.
    3. The ingredients should be flush to the top of the lid when you seal it up so use more or less of the white chocolate chips to fill the space at the top of the jar.  These are really a bonus ingredient so you can modify the amount to fit the jar.
    4. Include a label with instructions on the jar.
    I created a PDF that you can download and print at home with the baking instructions.  The kids and I glued the paper onto a thicker piece of card stock, punched a hole in the corner and tied them onto the jars with ribbon. 




    Download the PDF tags here!
    What are your traditional cookies to bake at Christmas?  Do you leave them out for Santa?
    Happy Baking!
    

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