Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Monthly Crafting Book Club: Have You Seen My Monster?

A few weeks ago I joined a Monthly Crafting Book Club hosted by Raising Fairies and Knights.
The idea of it is to read the book of the month and then prepare a craft or art project for your kids to do and blog about it.
My girls and I love books and doing art, so I didn't need to think twice about joining!

The book for October was Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve Light.

It was kind of perfect that the book this month was about a monster, because my girls have been loving monsters and we've been doing monster art projects for the last few weeks!
It was tough to choose just one to blog about, but I ended up picking their Coffee Filter Monsters!

Lauren and Olivia had so much fun doing this.
It included all the things things they love when doing art - it was colorful, messy, wet and there was lots of glue involved!

Supplies Needed:
  • Coffee Filters
  • Felt pens
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Glue
  • "Monster" collage items such as:
    • Googly eyes
    • Teeth 
    • Arms and Legs - I did them accordion style
    • Random shapes - triangles, circles, ovals, squares etc.
  • Have You Seen My Monster? book
This was actually done over a couple of days as the coffee filter needed time to dry. That being said, the coffee filters do dry very quickly, so I'm sure that if the craft was started in the morning, it could be completed in the afternoon. My girls just have short attention spans!

1. I gave the girls a coffee filter and felt pens and they got busy coloring!

2. Next I gave them a spray bottle with water to wet the coffee filters.
Lauren took full advantage of using a spray bottle, she drenched hers! Which is fine, because it makes the color run more. Olivia didn't really care about spraying her coffee filter, she just wanted to spray her sister!

3. Once the filters were dry, I put out some glue and a tray of collage items and they started creating!

Lauren went a little super heavy on the glue (she's very passionate about everything she does!), so I had to put her monster on a piece of black construction paper so it wouldn't stick to the table cloth or rip!

My little monsters with their monsters!

One girl loves her picture being taken...

And the other one?

For more fun "Have You Seen My Monster?" arts and crafts ideas, click here!

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Granola

With no shame, I fully admit that I'm one of those people that jumps on the pumpkin bandwagon as soon as that first leaf falls off the tree.
It's not just the cookies, pies, muffins and loaves that I like, I just like pumpkins in general.
I'm not too sure why I like them so much...maybe it's because it means that it's fall? Or that Halloween is coming? I don't know, but there's just something about them that makes me happy!

So needless to say, the last few weeks it's been all about pumpkin!
I've made a few dozen pumpkin muffins, a loaf (coming soon!) and this amazing Pumpkin Spice Granola!

So far, this is my favorite homemade granola recipe I've tried. Lauren gave it the thumbs up too. Olivia on the other hand, she's not a fan. But she's picky and doesn't like granola unless it's in the form of a sweet, chocolate covered bar...

This pumpkin spice granola is perfect in the yogurt, fruit and granola parfaits that I make for Lauren as a snack or a quick breakfast.
It's also good by the handful. But unless you have amazing will power, I don't recommend doing that because it's SO good and seriously addicting!

Pumpkin Spice Granola
Recipe adapted from Annie's Noms

3 cups rolled oats*
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1-1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp Watkins Pumpkin Spice Extract OR Watkins Maple Extract
1/4 cup vegetable/sunflower oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup pumpkin pureé, not pie filling
1/2 - 3/4 cup add ins (optional): pumpkin seeds, cranberries etc.

*I used one cup of large flaked oats and 2 cups of quick oats because I ran out of the larger oats. I suggest using the larger oats because they tend to "clump" together better.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Place oats, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin spice extract into a large bowl and stir until the oats are coated.

Add in oil, maple syrup and pumpkin purée and mix until well combined and the pumpkin and oil has coated everything.

Place onto prepared baking tray and spread out evenly. It's not necessary to flatten the granola into one layer as you want some clumps of oats. Loosely spread it out to fill the baking tray.

Place in the oven for 35-45 minutes, taking out every 15 minutes to stir and make sure the oats toast evenly.

When the granola has darkened and is crisp to the touch, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

If using add ins, mix in once cooled.

Can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature for up to one week. If it lasts that long...

As much as I love pumpkin, I have to say, I'm not a fan of pumpkin spice lattes. But, if you are and you want to try making your own, here's a recipe for you to try. The latte also uses the same Watkins Pumpkin Spice Extract that I used in this granola.


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Sunday, October 9, 2016

What the Girls Ate: October 3-7, 2016

October 3, 2016

Lauren's Snack:

October 5, 2016

Lauren's Snack:

  • A Mandarin 'Pumpkin'
  • Grapes
  • Turkey and Cheese Skewer

Olivia's Snack:
  • A Croissant
  • Grapes
  • Celery

October 7, 2016

Lauren and Olivia's Snacks:

  • Homemade Pumpkin Muffins
  • Celery
  • An Apple for Olivia
  • A Mandarin 'Pumpkin' for Lauren

Check out my 'What the Girls Ate' page for more kids snack ideas.

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Activity Books!

This post has absolutely nothing to do with baking or food. But it is about something I made...

At the end of August, we went our first family road trip.
The cabin we were staying at was about a 5 hour drive from our house.
Five hours isn't that long, but when two of your travelling companions are incredibly active, restless, non-stop talking little girls (2.5 and 4 years old), that think driving on the highway is the worst thing ever, five hours can feel like a loooooong time!

So a few weeks before leaving I decided to make them activity books for the drive. I also thought they'd be good to have at the cabin in case there was down time.

My background is Early Childhood Education, so as time consuming as it is, I like to make all those fun preschool activities like felt board stories and file folder games.

Our 4 year old Lauren tends to get bored with things pretty quickly, so I knew I had to step it up and make something that would keep her interested.

Here's what I made!

Coloring Books:

I had the girls each pick out a special binder.

Lauren is all about animals, so she picked the puppy.
And Olivia, she didn't really care. I guess purple was
her favorite color that day? 

Then I printed off a whole bunch of coloring pages of things that they like such as; Alvin and the Chipmunks, princesses, cars, superheroes, Lego Friends, My Little Pony, Shopkins and a lot more (a lot more!).

They also got to choose a pencil case that I filled up with regular crayons and the kind that twist up (below).

I made sure to get them pencil cases with 3 ring holes so they could go in the binders. They were similar to this.

Beading Kits:

These were a last minute idea that turned out to be a huge hit with both girls!

I got plastic pencil boxes from the dollar store and filled with pony beads and pipe cleaners sthey could make bracelets.
They made several bracelets while we were away. 

Activity Books:

Again, the girls chose the binders that wanted, this time they were 2 inch ring binders with zippers.

In the binders I put the following:

Alphabet Sticker Game:

I don't know what to actually call this one
, but I'm so glad I made them!
They were simple to make and the girls, Lauren in particular, loved them! 

I just printed out the alphabet and then drew little circles on each letter for the girls to put the stickers on. I also put them in page protectors so they can reuse them.

Stickers & Paper:

Another really simple activity to make.
I put a bunch of stickers and plain paper in folder so the girls could do some free art if they wanted.

File Folder/Felt Activities:

I bought some file folders and felt at the dollar store and got busy cutting and hot glue gunning!

Cupcake Math Games:

For Lauren's Cupcake game, I glued little jewels on the top of each cupcake and numbered the bottoms.

The object of the game was for her to count the jewels and then match them with the correct number.
I glued the bottoms of the cupcakes to the folder and put a little piece of Velcro on the back of each 'top' of the cupcake as well as on the folder so it would stick.

Olivia's was a little bit easier - she just had to match the numbers.

To attach the cupcakes, I did the same as Lauren's game. 

Gumball Machine & Gumballs:

This isn't really a game, I just wanted to make a gumball machine because I thought they would be cute. And they are right?!
Even though they are really simple and there's no "game" to play, the girls had so much fun with these!

I put little Velcro stickers on the left side to hold the gumballs as well as on the white part of the gumball machine.

Dress-up Dolls:

I think this was my favorite to activity to make!

I made one doll and one set of clothes for each girl. 
They were the exact same right down to the blond and brown hair pieces, because heaven forbid one girl has a purple dress and the other doesn't! 
I had two extra pencil cases lying around, so that's where the clothes get stored.

It's not shown in this picture, but I ended up painting shoes on the girls with fabric paint, because to me, they seemed unfinished.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the girls using their books while we were away, but they were a bigger hit than I expected. 
I was kind of relieved because I spent quite a few late nights making them and quite a few trips to the dollar store!

The girls are actually playing with them right now. 

The office floor behind me!

That's pretty much the only reason why I'm able to be working on this on a Thursday afternoon!

And FYI, the little stickers from the alphabet game, can double as  nail polish!!

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