Monday, December 21, 2009

Sweet Treats!!

Every Christmas season our family has a tradition of baking Christmas goodies! We love to package them up and choose a few families and friends to share them with- and of course we love to save some for our own family! This year we are way behind on our holiday baking. Come to think of it, we are way behind on a lot of things this season. (I guess I didn't do enough editing of my to-do lists)
While the snow fell outside, we were able to get a few of our favorite goodies made! With a snow day today and the kids home from school, I'm hoping to sneak in a few more batches of sugary goodness!!
Marshmallows dipped in chocolate or white candy coating..then dipped in nuts, chocolate or sprinkles.

Chocolate covered Caramel

Caramels with nuts...and we did some white chocolate with chocolate on top as well.

And one of our new favorites, White Chocolate cherry shortbread cookies....dipped in white chocolate of course!!! (are you seeing a theme here?) We dipped them in white non-perils and red edible glitter. I ate three of these in the process of photographing them. Shameful, I know. I should have had breakfast first!

I'll try to get pictures of more goodies as we get them made.
Hopefully we'll get our caramel corn (with chocolate and nuts) and chocolate covered toffee done today.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Keeping the kids out of the Christmas gifts

I've learned, in my 17 plus years of Christmas' with kids, that the best place to hide gifts are under the tree. I've lost gifts in the back of closets, under beds, and hiding in the rafters in the garage..what a surprise it was to find them later in the year!

But how do you keep those gifts from being shaken, and their contents discovered, especially when some of the kids are old enough to know what a box of Lego's or video game sound sliding in a box sound like?

I've learned a few tricks that not only keep the gifts a surprise, but also build more anticipation.

If you see it, you don't get it! This one has worked more perfectly than I ever expected it to when the words first left my tongue. Honestly though, the first time I had to take a gift back to the store was a sad time. I was really excited to give my daughter a toy I knew she'd love, but she wandered into the closet before I had a chance to wrap it and dove right into the bag it was in. She was super excited- a look I had hoped to see come Christmas morning. After a few times of gifts being taken back, the kids run the other direction when they hear there are gifts entering the house for fear of accidentally seeing something and ruining their chance of getting it! For those of you who need to motivate your kids to clean their room- try this one "clean it before dinner or I'll show your your Christmas present" ;)

We do allow them to shake the gifts (carefully) and try to guess what's inside. That's part of the magic of Christmas!

Don't put their names on the packages. This has become a tradition that the kids really look forward to! Every year, I come up with a different way of marking the packages so they don't know who they belong to. Not only does this make guessing the contents more difficult because they don't know if the gift is theirs- .....; they also look forward to cracking my code!

Ways I've done it in the past:(be sure to have a key so you know how you've marked them)

1. Swap the kid's names around.
2. Give them a new name entirely- one year we did Wiseman, Shepherd, Angel, Star; or you can use regular names not associated with Christmas or your family.
3. Use a different wrapping paper for each person. All of Sara's gifts are in the red paper, while John's are in gold with green stripes.
4. Use a specific ribbon for each person
5. Use a specific gift tag- with nothing written on it
6. Write a number or letter on the package
7. Write their real names on the package after you've mixed them all up a few years- they'll never know you didn't switch

Even the little ones who can't read love trying to guess if it's their gift. They count on older siblings to tell them what the gifts say (or don't say). Christmas morning, before the gifts are opened, we open a small box that has the code I used that year. It may contain name tags with their new names, a ribbon to put on their wrist, or a swatch of wrapping paper to pin to their pj's. Whatever the code was, the answer is in the box. Having a visual for each person will help a lot when you need to pass out gifts. It makes it easier to remember who had what.

Change the packaging- We always put batteries in toys, and get rid of the impossible twist ties before wrapping to save us some sanity Christmas morning anyway, so taking things out of the box it came it or adding things to it to help conceal the contents is a pretty easy trick. We may put tissue paper in a Lego box to keep it from rattling as much, or tape a video game to the bottom of a shirt box so it won't slide. Extra large gifts that are hard to conceal (a bike comes to mind) are hidden in a nearby room or closet and a box with a paper giving it's location are put under the tree in it's place. One year, we even took a high chair out of it's box and replaced it with the new Wii console. The kids didn't even want to open the box, because they didn't care about the high chair. It was a gift for the baby....wasn't it?? We had to talk them into delving further. We used an old printer cartridge box for our daughters new camera lens. She didn't open the box...and was surprised when she didn't get a printer to go with the cartridge- until she opened the box at the end and was doubly surprised to find the lens! (she didn't want a printer anyway)

Hide large items at a neighbors home or other location If you don't plan on wrapping that bicycle (maybe Santa is bringing it??) and are planning to get it put together before Christmas Eve so you can sip eggnog and watch "It's a wonderful life" instead of wrestling with a wrench- you may need to stash it off location. We have asked neighbors to hid it at their home, or put the items in other locations not at our home (my husband's office, the trunk of his car..).

Give little ones gifts they CAN open I've learned that my young ones really just want to open a gift-and waiting until Christmas is a long time. They love to open a gift, and then want to put it back and open it again. I bought a set of nesting prefabricated Christmas boxes for them to play with, and it keeps them happy for the several weeks before Christmas. They fill them with gifts for each other- toys from their bins, books, socks, whatever. They are then gifted, and refilled. The magic of a secret gift is satisfied all season long with the gifts they are allowed to open. From time to time, I'll even put a little something in them, like fruit snacks or other little things so they have a real gift.

Above all, try to remember that you were once little and anxious for gift opening. It's better to have Christmas spirit than be stressed about your kids getting into gift before you want them to. Try to find ways to keep them excited about the secret of gift giving!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ornaments every year

We have a tradition in our family of giving our kids an ornament every year. They also get one from their grandparents. We try to select something that will have special meaning and/or is related to something which happened during the year. We have given a bus ornament for a child starting kindergarten, 1st Christmas to a new baby, Flute to our new flute player (who quit a few months after Christmas- now its a great story teller), new driver, braces, etc. There are a lot of places to get ornaments that have to do with events, places, etc.

We continue to give them to the kids until their 18th year. At that time, they are on their own to create their own memories- and may very well be out on their own. When they do leave the nest, they take their box of ornaments with them to decorate their own tree with lots of memories!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ruffled Apron- with handprints

While making homemade Christmas gifts this year, I ran across the instructions for a super cute apron. I loved it and decided would be perfect for our project. The site I got the idea from is this The instructions are simple to follow. I did tweak mine a bit to adjust not only the size, but to add a personal touch. The apron I made is for Jedi to give to his older sister Doodle. I wanted to do something with hand prints, but steer away from the fabric paint avenue. This is what I came up with. I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

The flowers are hand prints and can droop down or lay flat against the apron. I personally think it looks cute drooping. I used fabric I already had, but the flowers would be cute in different colors.
I love that the apron ties in the front! Doodle is a lefty- which is why the pocket is on the left.

The flower on the top is where the snap is and it has two snaps on the strap so the size can be adjusted.

I added the sheer ruffle to make it a little more fun.

Bottom ruffles
I am definitely making an apron for myself! I thought that it was a cute pattern for any recipient, but adding the hand prints would be a great gift for Mom's, Grandma's, Aunts, etc. I also thought it would so easy to secretly get hand outlines from children of a friend/neighbor too. Who would guess that you are doodling their kid's hands to make them a gift?
Let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Turkey

I posted about putting the bird on the grill and freeing up the oven. Here is one of three turkey's we are grilling this year. We love how juicy it tastes. The gravy I make with the drippings has such a great flavor! Turkey's will still be a great price between now and Christmas. Give it a try!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Photo Christmas Cards

I got my Christmas cards from FedEx today! They look great. The paper is a little thinner than what I'm used to, but I'm not complaining since they were totally and completely free. The quality is otherwise fantastic! I'm very pleased. If you haven't ordered your 100 free photo cards, it's not too late! You have until November 30th. I ordered mine late Thursday night and got them today (Tuesday). Not too bad! Three business days for free shipping, free cards, free envelopes. Freeeeeeeeeeeeee!

If you need the info on how to order your own, scroll down two posts. Now....if only the postage was free......

Friday, November 20, 2009

Free Photo Christmas Cards

I don't usually post deals that I've found on my favorite couponing website, but this one is going to be gone soon and something that almost everyone uses.

You can get 100 Photo Christmas cards including envelopes for absolutely nothing. Shipping is included as well.Just sign up at Seehere (Fuji Films website) and follow the instructions from this wonderful post!

Hurry!! You only have until the 30th to order them. I ordered mine last night. It took me a while to get my card set up because the website didn't agree with my version of explorer...but I did finish it up. It cost me nothing, and this morning I got an email letting me know it shipped already!!
Unless their paying you to let them make your can't beat this deal!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey BBQ style

Growing up, we cooked our turkey on the bbq. It began when I was young and we were living somewhere with a oven too small to fit the turkey. Dad put it on the grill. It was the most wonderfully tender and juicy turkey we'd ever had and a new tradition was born!

Besides the best tasting turkey ever, grilling it frees up the hottest commodity on Thanksgiving - the oven! It makes preparing the meal so much easier, not having to work around a turkey in the oven for 4 hours.

If you're brave enough to give it a try this year, you won't be disappointed! Here is the information you need, provided by Weber BBQ:


Thanksgiving recipes we love!

These are tried and true, must-have favorites at our house for Thanksgiving. I posted our Apricot stuffing recipe in a previous post. At our house, it's about flavor....and we save the healthy for another day!

By far, the biggest must-have is the Turkey! We grill it on our Weber. See this post for details:

Sweet Potato Soufflé

3 large sweet potatoes cooked and whipped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 bag marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Peel and cook potatoes until tender. Drain potatoes and whip. Add sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla. Mix well and put in a greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 minutes. Place marshmallows and pecans on top and return to oven for about 5 minutes or until brown on top.

Cranberry Chutney

1 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 cup apple - peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
In a medium saucepan combine the water and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add the cranberries, apples, cider vinegar, raisins and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring often.
Pour mixture into a mixing bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce. Cool to room temperature and serve or cover and refrigerate. Bring chutney to room temperature before serving.

Layered Fruit "Salad"

2 cups crushed pretzels
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar

Middle layer:
1 large container (12-16oz) Cool whip
8oz cream cheese
¼ cup sugar

2 cups water
1 large box strawberry Jell-O
20 oz frozen strawberries or other berries


Preheat oven to 400.
Combine crust ingredients and press into 9x13 pan. Cook for 10 mins.
Meanwhile, combine middle layer ingredients and spread on cooled crust.
Boil water, Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Remove from heat and dump frozen berries into Jell-O. Place in fridge until soft-set (about 5-6 mins.) Pour over cream cheese layer carefully. Refrigerate for at least one hour. (Easy to make ahead and store in fridge overnight)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

White Elephant Gift Exchange

A White Elephant is an item that is unwanted by it's owner, or whose maintenance exceeds it value. Traditionally a gift that you would give as a white elephant would be something that someone else may enjoy or could put to better use than you have. That being said, my experience is that gifts at a White Elephant gift exchange are usually a gag gift, or food item, such as candy. There are usually a few items in the mix that are so useless that the new owner is not pleased with the chore of having to get rid of it on their own. These sometimes make it back to the gift exchange held in a following year. Items that are of value (either by popularity or actual value) get the highest amount of "stealing".

If you are planning to hold an exchange, here are the basic "rules":

1. Decide if you will have a theme for the gifts. Gift should be used in good condition, or purchased for set amount.
2. Set a monetary value for items that are purchased (ie $5). White Elephant gifts should be inexpensive.
3. Gifts must be wrapped, but not labeled in any way, so as not to disclose whom they are from.
4. Gifts should be something that someone would actually use or want.
5. Designate an area that guest can put their gifts as they arrive, so those already present cannot see who them are from.

To play the game:
Each guest who wants to participate must contribute a gift. Everybody sits in a circle with the gifts in the center. Prepare pieces of paper with numbers clearly written on them, one number per paper. There should be the same amount of numbers as their are participants. Each guest should then draw a number (from a hat or bowl).

The game begins with number one. That guest picks a gift from the center. They must keep the first gift they touch. There is no shaking gifts, etc. They open the gift and show it to all in attendance. It is now number two's turn. Number two has the option of stealing the gift from number one, or picking a new gift from the center. If they steal from number one, number one must go back to the center for a new gift. A gift cannot be immediately stolen back from the guest who just stole it. Number three then begins, but either stealing from one or two, or going to the center for a new gift.

Continue playing following the rules outlined below:

1. In a single round, gifts can be stolen twice, and the third person must go back to the center for a new gift (ie. 5 steals from 3, 3 steals from 4, 4 goes to the center) A new round begins when a gift is opened from the center.
2. A single gift can only be stolen three times. The person who stole it for the third time (the fourth owner- because the person originally opening the gift is number 1) keeps the gift and it becomes "dead".
3. Any gift that is still "live" must be out where it can be seen, and there is no consuming of any edible gift until the game is over.
4. When the last number has had their turn and the gift stealing has ended, the guest holding slip number 1 may swap evenly across with any one guest of their choosing. Play ends. Guests are then welcome to swap amongst themselves if desired.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quiet book page 9

Did you think I gave up on the quiet book? Not a chance! I have been super busy with so many other things going Christmas shopping.
Here is my Autumn page:

Obviously the leaves come off and are attached with very small pieces of Velcro. I sewed some of the leaves to the tree, which I made smaller than the ones that come off. Someday I'll make apples to go on the tree to "harvest", so I wanted some leaves to stay on for that.

The little basket holds leaves, and the grass can be moved and grasped by little fingers.
My little girl tried this page already and loved pulling the leaves off, she also tasted them repetitively....and didn't find them tasty at all. I don't think she enjoyed the Velcro on her tongue.

"Family" for Thanksgiving

Growing up, Thankgiving was a huge deal that involved tons of cousins, aunts, uncles, and fun. It was a big crowd smashed into a small space and we loved every minute of it. We continued the tradition as we all grew up and started our own families.

Then our family moved across the country- away from the huge Thanksgiving festivities. It's pretty expensive to fly a family our size to a weekend event. But it wouldn't be the same with just our family.

Our Thanksgiving tradition is to invite other families who are far from their own to our home for the holiday. We enjoy the time with friends and for a day (sometimes longer) they become our family.

If you are far from your family, adopt someone else in the same boat. Holidays are meant to be shared with others you care about.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Be a kid again

Do something together you loved as a kid...and chances are your kids will love it too! Our favorite is hide and seek. We play it in the house. Sometimes we play it in the dark, other times in the light. Or we'll switch it up and play sardines. Most of the time we play for hours until it's bedtime or someone gets hurt.

Games we love are; go fish, slapjack, duck duck goose (proves interesting with older kids), tag, train game (with dominoes), jump rope, musical chairs -with many variations, and red light- green light.

We still love to make blanket forts, rice krispie treats, cookies, and s'mores- which we make in the oven if the weather doesn't agree with our plans.

Horsey rides and wrestling around on the floor are some of the kids favorite things to do as well. When we all get together- the older kids coming for a visit, we watch movies all night and quote them the next day. We can't get enough of the Emperors New Groove.

But the place you will find us the most, is hanging around the island in the kitchen making/eating/stealing food from each other while laughing and having a great time.

Family Time really is about that. Being a family.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Apricot Stuffing

This is our family's favorite stuffing! It taste great and has a nice tangy flavor to it from the apricots. Give it a try this Holiday season.

Apricot Stuffing

1 box stuffing mix (like Stovetop)
15 oz can apricots with juice, chopped and juice reserved
3 TBS apricot jam
½ stick butter

Pour juice from apricots into measuring cup and add water to make 1 2/3 cups liquid. Pour into saucepan. Add butter and heat on medium high until butter melts. Add jam and stir until melted. Add chopped apricots and continue to heat until boiling. Stir in stuffing mix, cover with lid and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christmas Gift Exchange

*I'm posting this ideas now in case anyone wants to adopt it into their own Christmas plans*

Every year among the regular gift giving, our family has a gift exchange. We are assigned a person in our immediate family and are charged with the task of MAKING a gift for that person. We don't really have a set amount that we are allowed to spend on whatever supplies are needed, and there really aren't any other restrictions other than it has to be made by you.

Little ones too young to make things themselves have had help from mom or dad. Some things we've done for preschoolers and under: Hand prints...on an apron, shirt, etc. Picture collages of that child (would be nice with them placed around a piece of art made by them as well). Sticky back gems place on a frame of a mirror. A decorative candy jar with colorful candy art layered inside.
Other things that have been made by our family members to give each other are:

Rice sock
Puppet theater and puppets
Cloth Tee Pee
Road rug for toy cars to drive on
Decorated wooden jewelry box (can be purchased at craft store then decorated)
Decorated magnetic memo board
Recipe file

There are so many ideas on the Internet and in books on homemade gifts and the possibilities are endless.

This is our favorite part of Christmas morning. We open the homemade gifts together. It has really changed the way we think about gift giving. There is so much thought, time and love put into these gifts and they are always received very well. I think the biggest joy comes from making them.
Do you have any gift giving traditions?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rain Painting

I posted this on my family blog a while back, so this may be a repeat for some of my readers.

A great rainy day activity that may make your kids hope for rain!

I read about a great rainy day activity in Family Fun magazine (or maybe it was Parenting...) and we gave it a try.

Use water based markers- like crayola washables. Make a drawing on a piece of paper or cardstock. Your picture should cover the entire page. I found that skipping on any black or brown is a must, and that you shouldn't do anything too detailed- even petals on flowers can be a rough shape. My kids had a great time making their pictures, although I had to color in a lot on my 4 year old's page because it was too much for him to do on his own.

When you are done drawing the picture, you take it out in the rain. I placed them on cake cooling racks to keep them out of the pooling water. Let them get rained on as much as you'd like to make the desired effect. Then bring them inside to dry. They look very "Monet"

Next time it's raining, give it a try!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Baby stains

Stains are a fact of life when you have a baby. I know some folks who have given up completely on having stain-free baby clothes. Here are some tips to get the stain out and keep baby's clothes looking new.

1. Use a good stain remover. I LOVE Dreft Stain remover. If I could find it around here, I'd still be using Totally Toddler.

2. Wash protein stains in cold water. That's milk/formula, meat products, (blood-hopefully not an issue with baby), etc.

3. Wash veggie based stains in hot water. Vegetables, fruits, grains, etc.

4. Don't dry stained clothing in a dryer until you are satisfied with the results of stain removal. The heat from the dryer will set the stain. If you need finish trying to remove the stain at another time, line dry.

5. Spot bleach what you can't get out in the washer. **** I take no responsibility for what happens to your baby's clothes using this method. I use it when it comes down to having a stain or possibly having a bleach mark.****
Use a q-tip dipped in bleach to apply to stain directly on color safe fabrics. Rinse generously taking care to ONLY expose the stained area to the bleach, not allowing water to run down garment. Wash again without other clothing.

6. Wash clothes that have a "permanent" smell to them with vinegar. Pour it into the compartment for bleach. This also is a great way to remove smells from dish cloths and dish towels.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quiet book inspiration...and so much more

I should never had happened upon this blog because it has caused hours of creativity and a list of projects that I want to do instead of things I SHOULD be laundry. But here is my official applaud for a blog well done and more wonderful ideas than I will ever have time to do.

PS- I am so making that little house for my little girl's first birthday!

homemade by jill: the finished quiet book

Asian Chicken Salad

My family loves this recipe so much we have it once a week and there are never any leftovers. Everytime I take it to a potluck or serve it to guests, they ask for the recipe. I've changed the recipe several times over the years, and this is the one that gets rave reviews! The wonton noodles are not chow mein noodles. I have only found them at our local Weis supermarket, but I bet you could also find them at any Asian market.

Let me know if you like it!

Asian Chicken Salad
1 lb chicken breast cooked and chopped
1 head iceberg lettuce thinly sliced
¼ cup green onions, chopped
2 cans mandarin oranges
½ cup slivered almonds
1 T sesame seeds, toasted
1 package wonton noodles (the cooked type)

¾ C rice vinegar
1 T sesame oil
½ C either brown sugar, white sugar or honey
1 T either plum or hoisen sauce

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat on high stirring constantly. When sauce begins to boil, continue to stir and heat until it becomes bubbly and foams on top (approx ½-1 min). Remove from heat. Do not continue to heat or the vinegar will evaporate and you will lose the tangy flavor.

Toss all ingredients in salad bowl and pour sauce over it. Serve immediately.
Approx. 6 servings as a main dish

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quiet book page 8

This is now my favorite page! I am a huge s'mores fan. I tried to think of what would portrait summer for us, and s'more won as the favorite thing of summer. We love to camp, but make s'more at home too.

The page lays flat of course.

But then the fire and tent can stand up.
The fire quietly "crackles" when the flame is wiggled. (crackly plastic is inside)

Marshmallows and chocolate bars hide in the tent which attaches with velcro.

The graham crackers and roasting stick hide in the sleeping bag which is sewn on two sides and and a quarter way across the top. They fit in quite snug.

The marshmallows can lay flat and are "roasted" on one side, and fresh on the other.

They can be folded in half and attached with velcro around the stick.

I may make some little bears to "play" on this page as well, but am calling it done for now.

Quiet book page 7

I've been busy with other things lately and a sick kid at home. My quiet book got pushed off of the priority list!

I am working on a page for each season. Here is spring!

All of the flowers unbutton and the leaf on the left lifts up to see a butterfly underneath.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thanksgiving appetizers

One of my favorite traditions for Thanksgiving when I was a kid was the "appetizer" we were given at the beginning of the meal. Each child was given a cup full of fruit cocktail with lemon-lime soda. It was a delight! Little did I know at the time, that while we kids were having our special treat, it allowed our parents time to fill both their own plates and a plate for those of us who couldn't fill our own. The older kids served up themselves while parents began eating and tending to younger children's needs.

Another benefit of the brilliant plan, was that the adults had first pick of the meal, and were then guaranteed to get a bit of jello goodness and candied sweet potatoes that were always devoured by children who took triple portions in lieu of creamed spinach and green bean casserole.

What holiday family traditions do you enjoy?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Feeding baby family food

My little girl is 8 1/2 months old now and I'm feeding her homemade baby food. While I have batches of food cubes made for her in the freezer, for the most part I try to feed her what we are eating. I think most moms (and dads, for that matter) start incorporating their meals into baby's diet about the same time.

Introducing spaghetti, warm cereals like oatmeal, and rice are things that are an easy transition. Eventually you'll want baby to eat everything that you do and exposing them to a variety of flavors that are familiar in your family's diet is the best way to do that. Of course, as with anything you are feeding your baby, you should be sure that they have not had a reaction to any foods that you are feeding them. Don't introduce several new things at the same time, and wait two to three days before giving them something else new.

The phase were in right now, I use my food mill the most. (
These are some things our family has had in the past few weeks that we've adjusted for her little palate. Hopefully it will get you thinking about what your own family eats that you could be sharing with your little one.

Chicken, rice, and veggie soup (broth omitted until the end, then used for thinning)
Chicken taco salad (chicken, cheese, black beans, corn, olives, avocado, sour cream, chips smashed and softened with a little water)
London broil with baked potatoes and sauteed mushrooms (each kept separate)
Pumpkin bread (smashed with a fork, then water added to make a "mush")
Tilapia with rice
Buttercup squash (looks like a flat dark green pumpkin and is so sweet)
Mango and banana
Avocado and banana (I use banana as a sweetener)
Fried rice (we don't really fry it. It has very little oil added and I feed it to her pre-soy sauce because of the salt content)

Don't skip on the spices. While bland foods are easier on a tummy and a palate when trying things for the first time, as baby gets used to new tastes, begin expanding even more. (do leave out the salt- its hard on baby kidneys)

Right now my little girl's favorite thing to eat is a bowl of old fashioned oatmeal (the kind that you cook for 5 minutes) with fruit like apple, peach, or berries stirred in and pumpkin pie spices. It's getting chilly in the mornings, and her tummy gets filled up quick with oatmeal. She takes the longest nap after breakfast.

I use what's in the freezer pre-made for days when we are having something difficult to separate and share with her, or when we are in a hurry.

If you have some things that you've shared with baby that they just loved, I love to hear about it. I'm always interested in finding new things to feed her, and us for that matter!

Quiet Book page 6

Hey! Your shoe's untied!

Another happy page! As you can see, it's not a dress up page-exactly....but one is in the planning process. I really need to stop looking at more great ideas and then I could get the pages done I originally planned to make.
For this page, I totally borrowed the idea from this blog (minus the converse star- I'm not a complete pirate!)

I have also seen on several blogs pages dedicated to seasons, and am in the process of doing the four seasons. More on that hopefully tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quiet book page 5

Took a break from the quiet book to get some shopping and housework done...priorities ruin the fun sometimes!

Here is page five. I used a pattern for this one- Simplicity. I bought the pattern thinking I would do most of the pages that came with it, but then after seeing so many other really cute ideas, I was really only sold on this one.

Next I'm thinking about a dress up page. We'll see what the fabric decides.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Ghosts

Every year my mom makes these treats and sends them across the country for my kids to enjoy. They wait anxiously for Grandma's package to arrive. I have to admit, she earns extra brownie points for sending enough for my husband and I. We love to make them ourselves as well...but usually resist the temptation and let Grandma cover it for the holiday. It's great fun seeing what creative accessories she's added each year and the kids love picking which ghost they will devour in 10 seconds flat.
(sorry- the ghosts were eaten before I had a decent picture of them. I'll try to find one from last year to post that is up close.)

You can make the Rice Krispies treats yourself, but since my focus here is the actual ghost, I'm not including those directions.

Halloween Ghost Recipe

Rice Krispies Treats
Marshmallow creme fondant
Circus Peanuts candy
Chocolate chips
Gum drops

Cut a Circus peanut candy in half and attach to front of a rice krispies treat at the base for the shoes. Drape marshmallow fondant over top of treat. Push two chocolate chips in front for eyes. Make a hat or other item by smashing a gum drop for the brim and attaching another to the top center. Place on Ghost. Everything is really sticky and you shouldn't need frosting to attach any items.

Marshmallow Creme Fondant

Planning Tip: Keeps well up to 1 week at room temperature in closed container

1 tub or jar (7 or 7 ½ oz) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff or Crème)
2 ¾ to 3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar

(Tip: Before measuring or stirring the marshmallow cream, lightly coat measuring cups and utensils with nonstick cooking spray.)

Scrape marshmallow cream into a large bowl. Stir in as much sugar as possible, kneading in remaining sugar until a smooth dough forms. (Dough should be stiff yet pliable.) Wrap airtight in plastic wrap until ready to use.
(Originally from a recipe in Woman’s Day magazine in 1980’s or so; I got it from Mom!)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quiet book page 4

I saw a cute purse idea on this page and probably a few others. My kids have always loved digging through my purse and pulling everything out. I just had to add it!

I put a few things in it we already had, but plan to hit the $$ store sometime before Christmas and pick up a few other things to put inside, like plastic lipstick, bracelets, maybe some rings. I am going to make some fabric car keys for it too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chinese Chicken Salad

I've had tons of requests for my recipe for Chinese chicken salad. Here is my version of it. Try different combinations for the dressing to see what your family loves.

1 lb chicken breast cooked and chopped
1 head iceberg lettuce thinly sliced
¼ cup green onions, chopped
2 cans mandarin oranges
½ cup slivered almonds
1 T sesame seeds, toasted
1 package wonton noodles (the cooked type)

¾ C rice vinegar
or ½ C distilled vinegar + ¼ c apple cidar vinegar
1 T sesame oil
½ C either brown sugar, white sugar, or honey
1 T either plum or hoisen sauce

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat on high stirring constantly. When sauce begins to boil, continue to stir and heat until it becomes bubbly and foams on top (approx ½-1 min). Remove from heat. Do not continue to heat or the vinegar will evaporate and you will lose the tangy flavor.

Toss all ingredients in salad bowl and pour sauce over it. Serve immediately.
Approx. 6 servings as a main dish

Our family loves the dressing with brown sugar, plum sauce and rice vinegar. The other vinegar combination make for a nice tangy taste as well.

Quiet book page 3

This page was a lot easier to do than the others so far. I used the idea from this page to do it.
Scroll down to the puzzle.

I saw on another blog an idea that I will most likely do. It had three pockets on the previous page with different puzzles in them. I didn't do anything else to my page, since I'm not sure if I will add the additional puzzles to it.

I have not added velcro to the page yet either, because the pieces stay really well on it. I may change my mind and add it. I don't like to overuse velcro because the "ripping" sound is distracting at church. If I do add it, it will just be the rough side added to the puzzle pieces, and no backs attached to the puzzle board. I think it will stick well enough that way.

So far, I'm pretty happy with how the book is turning out.

Quiet book page 2

I finished the second page in my quiet book. I definitely was inspired by the space page from this blog

I had the space fabric from long ago when my son was little and had a space bedroom. (I pack rat fabrics and craft items).
On Jill's blog, she mentioned that her little boy wanted to take the rocket ship off- not a feature of the page. I decided to make our rocket removable. While attached with a snap, the rocket can slide up and down the ribbon. I also made two planets removable and added crinkle plastic to them so my daughter would have fun making quiet noise with them.

More pages to come!

Quiet book

I've been wanting to make a quiet book for Lovebug and finally decided to jump right in! I looked for ideas on the internet and found that there are some pretty talented and creative people out there making some really great books! I borrowed some ideas for inspiration and some were so adorable that I had to make one just like it!

Here is my first completed page. We have lots of little finger puppets, and I am going to make more for this puppet stage!

I'm making my pages 11x11 so that the cover will be 12x12. It gives me more room for fun things I want to include. If you'd like to peruse some of the pages that I have fallen in love with, visit the following websites: Love the fish puzzle and flower vase! This is my biggest inspiration. Click on quiet book on the sidebar, then "my quiet book" at the top to see all her pages. cute, I'm going to do one thing from here, not sure what yet.
So that's where most of the ideas that got my own wheels turning came from. The barn with puppets idea on Jill's page is what made me think of doing a theater.
I'll post more pages as I get them done. Hopefully if you are working on one too, you'll get some good ideas from mine and these others.