Monday, April 25, 2011

They CAN Do It: Breakfast

For some breakfast independence and honestly who doesn't want and extra 20 minutes snuggling their pillow in the morning on occasion(think Saturday mornings)..this idea has worked fabulously for us.

Take some cereal containers(like the ones below) or any plastic airtight container you have available.


Add plastic sticky back hooks and 1/2 Cup measuring cups(I use 1/2 Cup you can use any size) to the container like pictured below:

Most cereals are 1 Cup servings and so I taught my children that they can have 2 scoops.  My children have not liked milk on their cereal so I never had the issue of them not being able to pour milk until recently. One of my little darlings loves milk on his cereal now.   He used to be so frustrated that he couldn't pour his own milk and he certainly didn't want his mothering older sister to help him he wanted to do it himself.  I came up with this as a solution: I have a water bottle with a pull top lid full of milk in the fridge for him to be able to squirt on his own milk and because it has a pull top no lost milk jug lid!!! 
They have fruit for breakfast too and you can refer here for how I make their fruit available for them and here to see where there bowl and spoons are located so they CAN do it!!!.


Linked at:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt Children's Lunch

 We had an Easter Egg Hunt at my home with one of my sisters and her children and I just happend to be watching my friends children too.  We had an egg hunt, dyed eggs, and they each played with some glittery silly putty. since it was raining on and off all day(I had planned on bubbles and egg shaped sidewalk chalk).

I had the most fun putting this lunch together....


Here's the menu:

Carrots and bunny shaped pb&jumpers


I had 4 of these for the centerpieces of the table:
I found the buckets at the one spot at Target and added clay to the bottom to stick the egg shaped sucker in,  and covered it with easter grass.  The table clothe is also a Target purchase and I love it.  After 9 years of looking I finally found a tableclothe for spring I love!!!

These were to decorate the food area:

To make the peep topiaries I added clay at the bottom of these Dollar Tree finds(I use them all the time) and filled them with jelly beans.  I took a long suckers stick and added a peep to the top and then tied ribbon just under the peep. Then stuck it into the center of the vases. 

Garden Carrots(and hummus)

Take a terra cotta dish and add 5 small pots around the edge and then add 1 tot he middle.  Put small green cupcake liners in each pot and fill with hummus add carrots to the pots and around the bottom edge.

Bunny Trail Mix:

To make the mix:
Annies cheddar cheese crackers(they are shaped like bunnies), jelly beans, and bunny gummies by sweetarts)

We also had deviled eggs, Annies fruit snacks, fruit salad, and juice!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Upcycled Easter Basket and a Quick Peep Pop Tutorial

I needed a small Easter basket for my nephew and I didn't have time or want to run to the store to buy one and so I started looking around to see what I could reuse which was perfect with Earth Day right around the corner so this is what I came up with.

We all have one of these gladware disposable containers sitting around somewhere with a broken lid. 


I took it and cut a slit in the side and pushed a ribbon through the slit.

Then tie a knot in the end of the ribbon. Do that with both sides.

I added some circles I cut out of printer paper and used double sided tape to attach them to the front of the container(his favorite color is orange so I was trying to get colors that went with orange and use what I had at home)


Add some Easter grass and some fun goodies and there you go.

*if you look in the basket carefully you can see a peep pop(he loves peeps), you can make them by taking a long popsicle stick and push one peep on and then wipe down the stick with a damp cloth.  Repeat the process until you have filled the stick to the top, I found 5 worked the best


Mini "Carrot" Treats

I made these and my daughter loved them so much she wanted us to make them for all the children in her class for snack time.  I didn't have enough of the bags(icing bags) to make them for her whole class and so I ran to the store to pick some up and this is when my dilemma began.  The bags now had the companies emblem on it in purple not conducive for my carrot treats.  Something about me you might not know is if I have a vision about how something should be it is going to be that way.  The search began and every store that carried the bags had the emblem so now I had to improvise and come up with my own cone shaped bags and here it the tutorial to make them.

Take a sandwich bag or whatever size bag you would like and cut the zipper off.

Cut the bag in half diagonally.  The one of the halves will need to have one side cut to create an open triangle.

Add Double sided tape to one side and

roll the one edge to the edge of the tape and roll it on to the tape.

Then you will have a cone like this.

Add Annies Bunny Cheese Crackers and tie the top with green ribbon and you have you cute small carrot snacks.



Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce

Wednesday night is my "Facile Food" night or easy food and this is one of my favorite easy quick things to whip up.  You can use it to make a quick pizza out of english muffins or to add to some hot pasta. 

6 oz can tomato paste
1/3 C water
1 tsp garlic powder(we like garlic adjust to your taste)
1 Tbs Italina seasoning
1 Tbs parmesan cheese

Add ingredients to a bowl and whisk until ingredients are well blended.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

They CAN Do It!!!! Snacks

Snack time recently got a bit crazy around here and when things get a bit out of hand you need to reign it back in again, which I did.  Around the same time I wanted to make the switch to organic snacks.  Which if you have ever checked out the organic snacks they can cost you a small fortune escpecially if you have a large number of children or 1 teenager, I have both!  I began pondering how I could make it work within a budget and came up with a system which I hoped would work and then I rolled out the plan to the children the first day of spring break and then the system would truly be tested with all children home all day.

I found these fabulous containers and the Dollar Tree for $1 for ten(they also come in rectangles, this was just the only package not open)


 I bought the boxes of organic crackers and we put them in the containers based on about 1/3 of the serving size.  This cut down the cost significantly because I can tell you if we opened a bag of goldfish crackers it would be gone that day( hear they eat but until you see it you truly won't believe it). 

 On the top shelf you can see we placed the containers in open front bins I already had. To the right of the bins are containers that they can make their own trail mix.  I placed an extra tablespoon in one of the containers and they know they can have one scoop of each item.  The bottom bin has organic fruit snacks and fruit leather. 


I have the same system in place in the refrigerator.  The containers in the fridge have a rotation of yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese sticks, laughing cow cheese wedges, baybel cheese circles, applesauce, grapes, strawberries carrots, broccoli, celery, hummus, and peanutbutter.  Of course the fruit drawer is always available for apples and clementines and bananas are also available.

The rules are you can have one from each bin a day or if you pick trailmix you can only pick one other item from these bins in the cupboard.  From in the fridge you can have as many fruit and veggies as you want and only one dip a day and one dairy product a day. 

This might seem like a lot of work but I am finding I am only having to replenish the snacks every 3 weeks in the cupboard and every week in the fridge.  The children love to help me take care of it and it only takes about 20 minutes to take care of the snacks in the cupboard and then the fridge is about 10 minutes.  My children are learning a lot about making healthy choices, serving sizes, and food prep along the way also a sense of independence and responsibility and that makes it all worth it


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easter "Carrots"

My children love these crackers and they are perfect for making cute Easter treats.


Take a cone shaped bag and add crackers to them and tie them closed with green ribbon to make the cutest bunny filled carrots!!!!




Monday, April 11, 2011

They CAN Do It!!!!

I have always been of the mindset that I needed to teach my children to learn to do things for themselves(I am not going to college with them) and provide them opportunities to do so.  I feel like it is never too early to start and so I have went about making my home very child friendly and in the attitude of They CAN Do It!!!  Over the course of the next month or so I am going to share the small opportunities that I have given my children in everyday life to feel like they CAN do it and the look on their face when they realize they CAN is priceless and when they CAN do anything it is amazing what they CAN accomplish!!!

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,  and 2 snacks is a big part of young children's day.  You almost make your schedule around those 5 things and bed and nap times so there really is no better place to start than mealtimes!!!

  In my pantry I devoted this shelf below to my children. As you see everything is plastic so there will be no breaking.  They can get their own cups, plates, bowls(missing in the dishwasher currently), and silverware. They can make choices of color and size.  Do they want a straw or not?  Do they need a fork or just a spoon? Do you know the question: I am thirsty?  That question will disappear altogether with a well placed stool in a nearby bathroom(teach them to use the faucet). Now have I picked up spilt water?  Yup they helped the floor is cleaner where that spill was.  Have they dumped straws on the floor 100% YES they became paper flower stems. I am not saying they are going to be perfect at these things at first that is unrealistic but over time they master these new skills and feel super about themselves in the process. As an added bonus it makes it easy for them to help me put away their dishes as well after they have been washed. 



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Going Green

2 years ago we made some changes in our family to help the environment.
We started out not really intending to be greener it just happened with little changes along the way but what I discovered was not only were we being kinder to the planet we saved a lot of money too!!!

Thank you to my friend for loaning me a book that opened my eyes a lot, a class that taught my son about global warming, and Curious George(the cartoon)for going to the recycling center. It truly has been a family effort and I am grateful for their efforts. I thought it would be a huge sacrifice for us but it was little changes  that made a huge difference.

We have accomplished a lot over the last few years. We have more we can do as I look around and every light is on in the house as we speak but we will work on that this year!

Take a look and see how we went Greener..........

1. The Gas Tank

I used to fill my tank every 10 days now every 21 days.

What I did not to drive around so much...I used to run an errand everyday. Now if I am in one spot of town anything I have to do there gets done. If I were needing to go to return something to the library I would also take the kids to The Center of the Arts or send it with my husband when he went to Young Men's or if I needed to run to go to Lowes or Home Depot I would grocery shop at Meijers, stop at Micheals, and Target. The funny thing was not only did I save money on gas because I was getting things done in one area, I also saved money because I was trying to get the things done before the kids errand timer ran out and there was no time to browse. It was here's my list, get the stuff, get out, go to the next place, next store.

We got netflix so no more running back and forth to the movie store. This movie is due the next day, this one in five days, this one is a 2 day rental you get the picture we would run to the movie store 4 days a week and not to mention the late fees that would sometimes happen.

No more shopping out of town- which is a big one. If I really needed something from a specific store not in our town I usually could just find it at their on line site and the sites always have a clearance section(guess what I never ordered a thing all year, there was never anything so special that I had to leave this town to go get it or have it shipped to me either). I started going to Sam's quarterly instead of monthly and now I go bi-annually and to the cannery once a year or whenever my can of carrots runs out then I know it is time to go!

Just staying home-we have a ton of fun stuff to do just at home and my kids love being here. We have movie nights at home complete with popcorn,pop,and movie candy. We have game nights. We color and paint and we love playdough. We sing and dance around the house. We have adventures..did you know the tree outside our house has a troll and there are goblins in our yard, thank goodness we have the safety of our tree house. We sidewalk chalk and blow bubbles. Honestly what more could we ask for than our kids loving Fun at Home!

This is how I quit driving so much and went GREEN!

2. Reusable Shopping Bags

The hardest part about this one was remembering to bring them. I finally hung one of the 3M hooks(that come off without leaving a mark)on my back door and hung them there so I wouldn't forget them when I left. I still do sometimes but not as much! I found ones I love at Target for $1.00 and a large one at Ikea for .79.

3. Fluorescent Lights

They are more expensive than regular bulbs but it is true they last longer. We bought 1 or 2 packs every couple of weeks until our house was converted as much as it could be. I have not changed 1 of my fluorescent bulbs since we put them in over a year ago and before I was changing them about every 3 months. They certainly have paid for them self!

4. Buy Local-(within a hundred miles)

This has truly been the hardest.  Over time I found local bakeries and dairies and a store that carries mostly local produce.  I take advantage of the local farmers market and other farms and orchards in the area canning and freezing my finds.  I even froze my own pesto and besides the Parmesan it was all local.  I don't know if I have saved one penny in this endeavour but I know I have contributed to my local economy and that makes me happy.
* did you know that if every US citizen ate one meal a week organically and locally grown or raised (with in 100 miles) we would reduce our country's oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels of oil a week! Think for a moment how much it cost to ship bananas to the local grocery store. They are harvested, trucked, flown, shipped, and trucked before they get to our local grocery store all using oil!

5. Recycling

This we love we started out slow and worked up to full blown recycling right down to the tags on clothes. We use our roadside program but they only come every other week and we are a family of 6 so we visit the local recycling center at least once a week and the kids love it! The love sorting the recycling and learning more and more about it every time we go. We have went from 2 heaping garbage cans a week to one partly full one. It makes wish we had been doing it all along!

6. Buying Used Clothes

This is not my favorite event in my life but I truly have found some great basic pieces for a steal-a jean skirt for .50 and silk PJ's for a 1.00 I am not great at this one but I will continue to buy more and more used clothing. I even know some people that trade clothes amongst themselves and that works for them I however am not that organized enough and will not pick up that habit in the near future.

7. Shorter Showers and Shallower Bathes

This was hard for some in our home. The shallower bathes came easier and shorter showers were harder but we have one that could take a 30 minute shower no problem and now is down to 10 minutes. We all shave at the sink now and we turn the water off when we are brushing our teeth. I researched a little bit and it takes less water to run our particular dishwasher which I will add I was grateful for because I don't know if I could make that sacrifice. All in all we cut our water bill down over $10 a month.

8. No More Water Bottles

I used to be a huge consumer of water bottles(did you know it takes oil to make plastic). Those days are gone. We started with cute Dora, Spiderman, and Diego water bottles in Easter baskets. Then added to the grown up collection some we found at Walgreen's for .99(they were full of emergency stuff so they really were a steal, because we took the stuff out and added them to our 72 hour kits-extra bonus for you they still have them). . I was at a local dollar store one day and quickly added Nemo, Cars, and Princesses to our water bottle collection. We have a spot for them in our cupboard just like plates and every other thing and my kids now fill them up for themselves every morning and they find their spot lined on the back of the counter.  This was one of the easier things we did to go green!

9. Greener Cleaners

There are a lot of these out there. Some of my favorites are Method at Target, Seventh Generation(if you have child with eczema this laundry detergent is for you) at Walgreen's, and Simple Green has a naturals line I love. Vinegar is great too and baking soda works well too. Do I still use bleach and Lysol? Of course I do just not as much and all the time in the winter. I just use them less.

10. Task Lighting

This started a few years ago and we weren't even thinking about saving energy it was just more of a convenience and had under cabinet lighting installed. We have added lamps in key places and we still have more to add. I don't know if this really saves energy but it makes me feel better.


Earth Day Projects

We all have these random items ready to be thrown into the recycling bin or even the garbage can..lets see what we can do with them....


I saw the most fun looking game called Find It. I unfortunately didn't like the price tag so I created these:

1. I have a son who runs track and drinks several powerades a week. I took the powerade bottles and cleaned them out, removed the label and let them dry.

2. Once dry I reused the rice from the water table and filled the bottles almost full. Leaving an inch of space near the top.

3. I found different buttons at Micheals and added them to the bottle.

4. Print up clues to find each button in the bottle, laminate, and attach with ribbon or yarn

5.. Hot glue lid closed or don't and you can guess what could happen!


I love how these turned out. They are for in my laundry room for all the "stuff", you know change, box tops for the kids schools, the button without a home, the screw that goes somewhere, etc.... I debated painting them and opted not to and if I change my mind I can paint them someday.

1. I have a can opener that cuts on the side of the can and make the perfect lid so I had been saving the lids and cans.

2. I cleaned, delabeled, and goo goned the cans

3. I hot glued wood balls on top of the lids and the letters on the cans.


How many of platic baggies do we use a week? If you pack lunches like I do more than I care to admit. Why do we use them because the fit so nicely into the lunch boxes. So I began to search and for roughly $7 a pop I found some reusable bags again I didn't like the price tag. I even started rationalizing if I only bought 1 I could figure out how they were made and make more and then inspiration struck. And now we have the following:

1. Carefully cut the bag open, right under were it is sealed, making sure not to cut all the way through.

2. Clean the pouch out and remove the plastic strip behind the straw opening and let dry.

3. Take a piece of sticky back velcro and and cut both sides in half length wise and then cut to width of drink pouch.

4. On the top of the drink pouch adhere the velcro and then attach the other side of the velcro to it. Peel the backing off and then fold it over making the cutest little reusable bags for next to nothing!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tortellini Soup

This soup is so is like a party in your mouth and everyone is invited!!!!

I received this recipe from a missionary that was serving here and it was his favorite that his mom made(talk about pressure to remake moms favorite for a homesick missionary) and I fell in love with it and made it all the time.

Since that time I  have had 3 more children and every other one has been a picky eater and so I quit making it altogether because quite honestly picky eaters can be exhausting and it was easier not to make something I knew was not going to be readily accepted(why I made that descion I have no idea but I have learned from my mistakes).  A recent happening at our house has been my picky eaters have turned a huge corner and are willing to try one bite of anything and so I was able to make one of my favorites again and as an added bonus they ALL LOVED it, I hope you do too!!!


1/2 stick butter
1/4 C olive oil
4 carrots peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery washed and chopped including leaves
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
32 oz organic chicken broth
2 C water
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 bunch cilantro rinsed and chopped
1 9oz package of tortellini
grated paremsan cheese
salt to season

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large stock pot and once the butter is melted add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and sautee for 10 minutes on medium heat.  Add the broth and water and bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.  Add nutmeg, cilantro, and tortellini and simmer until tortellini is cooked.  Season with salt to taste.  Serve with grated parmesan cheese...


Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Day

Okay we had some April fooling going on around here today.  We started off with a wonderful breakfast of "ostrich eggs" !!!  Some of the children refused to eat them but some tried it and realized ostrich eggs taste a lot like vanilla yogurt and peaches and when this was discovered I thought the cat was out of the bag but nope but everyone started eating them right up!!!

This was easy to do I added vanilla yogurt to a bowl and then added a half of  a peach round side looks like and egg doesn't it???


The second thing was at snack time the kids were so excited to get one of their favorite treats(that we usually only get at grandmas) but when they opened them....


all they found was CARROTS!!!!


I opend the bag fromthe bottom and removed the cheetos and added carrots.  Then I just hot glued it back shut.  Now they knew something was up because the air was out of the bag and it wasn't as full as cheetos are but if I filled them too full they would have been too heavy..they still however got a chuckle and then wanted to know where the reall cheetos were!!!