Monday, March 30, 2015

The Important Things

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Sometimes it can be easy to forget the important things in life. Two of the most important things in my life are my two grandchildren.  As a grandma, a family childcare provider, and a blogger, I do have some high expectations of myself.  It's easy for me to forget that I don't have to do it all to be a good grandma.  I don't have to hand make everything, or even do everything  in order for my grandchildren to have fun.  We can create wonderful memories in the simplest ways.

When my grandchildren stay the weekend I like to do some special, out of the ordinary things, but I'm not always able to do everything I want exactly the way I want.

Such was the case when I bought glow in the dark bubble solution.  I KNOW that there are recipes online that I could try.  I actually felt bad purchasing it, too.  That's those high expectations standing in my way.  They did not stand in the way of my grandchildren's fun, though. We mixed up the solution and we went outside to blow bubbles in the dark.  Although the solution glowed, the bubbles didn't glow a lot, really. That wasn't important. They were having a blast blowing the bubbles and being outside in the dark!  When they came back in they were splattered with glow in the dark solution and they, themselves were glowing... and giggling themselves silly.  I sent them for a warm bath with the remaining solution, and of course, we had to turn the lights off.

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It didn't matter one bit to them that we hadn't made the bubble solution from scratch, that it had come in a kit where we only had to combine pre-measured ingredients.  What did matter was that they got to do something out-of-the-ordinary, something special, and just for them.  I think that is what they will remember.  That's what's important.

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We also did some baking that weekend. Now, my daughter and I, and my mother all know how to make cinnamon buns from scratch. In fact, we have a great family recipe. But we didn't make those cinnamon buns that weekend. We made the kind that you buy in a can. Of course, I was disappointed in myself.  Not only was I making a less healthy choice for my grandchildren, but we were sacrificing family traditions and learning opportunities as well! Then I realized that my granddaughter was able to do most of the work herself, and was proud to serve the cinnamon buns she had made.  I hope that she will keep this memory and that she will always enjoy cooking.  That's what's important.  

We finished up the weekend by making popcorn and watching a movie.  Nothing terribly special, but it gave us some cuddle time before bed.  It was an enjoyable weekend and I was able to relax and enjoy my grandchildren while making memories and remembering just what is important.  

Do you sometimes forget the important things?  What's important to you and your family?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Chocolate Rice Crispy Eggs

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I wanted to make an easy Easter treat for my grandkids and thought I could combine their favourite rice crispy cake with an Easter theme.

We started by mixing up a batch of Rice Crispy Squares following the recipe.  My grandkids helped measure and pour the marshmallows and while I stirred them on the stove they measured out the rice crispy cereal that we would need. They also greased a pan.

When the marshmallows had completely melted and combined with the margarine, we added the cereal and poured it in the pan, allowing the mixture to cool before I shaped them into egg shapes. I made the eggs flat on the back to make them easier to decorate.

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After shaping the eggs I melted some milk chocolate chips in the microwave on low.  I put the melted chocolate into a ziploc bag and pressed out the excess air.  Then I snipped off a small corner of the bag.  

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I think they would have been great drizzled with pretty pastel coloured candy melts, too, or with tubes of coloured frosting.  My husband and grandkids thought they were very tasty as they were and that's all that matters to me :)   Will you be making Easter treats?  I'd love to hear what you're making.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Banana Muffins

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If you haven't come across the Crazy Banana Cake from Jackie of Happy Hooligans, you are missing out and should go get it.

I'm sure you already know that all Jackie's ideas are great.  Knowing that, I felt confident enough to DOUBLE the recipe.  That made a lot of cake batter.  I ended up with one 9 x 13, one 9 x 9 and a dozen muffins!  I was thinking if you take crazy cake batter and put it in a muffin tin, what do you get?  Mad Muffins? ha! Get it?  See, that's a little cooking humour!

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Seriously though, each took a different amount of time to cook, so I had to watch the oven.  The muffins were finished cooking in about 45 mins, the 9 x 9 was done in about 55 mins and my 9 x 13 took 120 mins.

I didn't have enough ingredients to double the frosting recipe so I only made one and it was lots.  I didn't put frosting on all the muffins because it's hard to pack them in a lunch once they are frosted and they really don't need the frosting, though it is very tasty and you might want to frost everything,,, or just eat if off the spoon.  It's all good.  I hope you'll try this recipe out & let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Easy Easter Basket Art

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I had seen a great activity for kids with a printable Easter basket that the kids could use fingers to print eggs with paint. I pinned it and planned on using the free printable with my buddies. If you'd like to use the printable, you can find it at Crafty Morning : Fingerprint Easter Craft.  

Suddenly, Spring Break was here. On one busy day, I was breaking up some cereal boxes for recycling and I decided I would like to use the boxes for painting. I love using this heavier paper for painting because it holds up so well.  I remembered the fabulous activity I had seen on Crafty Morning.  

I cut my boxes into sheets of cardboard, and I ended up with quite a few pieces, of various sizes. I couldn't put the cardboard through my printer so I simply drew baskets onto them.  Obviously, I'm no artist, but my buddies are not judgemental. :)

My buddies really enjoyed this activity and they each worked in their own way.  For some, it was primarily a sensory activity and they simply enjoyed smearing the paint and mixing the colours. Some stamped their fingerprints into the baskets making perfect little coloured eggs.  My granddaughter took it a step further and made her basket into a stand-up decoration.

I really enjoy providing only the basic ideas for activities and then allowing my buddies to take it from there.  Having buddies of varying ages means they all have different abilities, too.  Allowing them freedom means that they are able to confidently work at their own level. They often come up with ideas that are far more creative than I had intended and it's fun for everyone!  

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I hope you enjoyed this idea & that it's inspired you, too! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cheesy Crisps

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As I'm sitting down to write this post I am looking at the photos and all I want to do is stop writing and go make these again. They are soooo yummy!

I've developed a love for the flavour of cheese..... but I only like it once it's been melted.  I have tried to like cheese in it's natural state but I just don't like the texture.

When I first saw these made, I was skeptical but I thought I'd try them out anyway.  They are amazing!

And so EASY!  Best of all, they make a great snack for my buddies and I can feel pretty good about serving these.  WAY better than those orange fishies that they are so fond of.  Yes, EASY and HEALTHY, too!

All you need to do is grate some cheese and put little spoons of  it onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. For these ones, I used pre-grated cheese from a bag! (Not quite as much flavour as grated cheddar, though.) Bake at approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I don't think that even qualifies as a recipe.  It's just a beautiful transformation of a food into a more delicious food.  

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See?  Easy.  Yummy.  Healthy, too!  I've got to go make some now!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Online Story Sites

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I love books and own many of them. Enough that my husband and certain family members have politely suggested that I might own too many books, most especially children's books. I'm not sure that it is possible to own too many books of any kind. I will certainly agree that my book storage space is much, much too small! 

I've just rejoined Scholastic Book Club, and I know space is really going to be an issue, I'm going to have to make some room if I want to bring in new books.  Though it is hard letting go of my books, I'm thankful that my local library has tons of books for borrowing.  It's important to me that my buddies have a lot of exposure to a variety of stories.  I want them to be familiar with the classic stories and also many of the new and popular stories.  

It's easier to let go of  books when I know I will still have access to a large variety of stories.  Of course, we will keep using the library, but I have also discovered several online sites that offer stories. Some have only the print and you read them aloud, and some are read aloud for you. Though I like reading aloud, I also like hearing how others read.

Here's a list of the FREE sites I have found:  

  1. Storyline Online - A lovely site where you can watch and listen to famous people read stories.
  2. Just Books Read Aloud - A great selection of over 600 stories read aloud.
  3. Unite for Literacy - this site offers stories in several languages
  4. Ready Teacher - A very small collection of only 8 stories
  5. Read to Me - Celebrities reading stories 
  6. We Give Books - A wonderful selection of books that you can read to children and each time you do, you can help the organization donate a book to charity.  
  7. Tumblebooks - This site is a paid subscription site BUT with a library card, many of you can probably access it for free!
  8. StoryNory - Some original stories on this site
  9. Oxford Owl - You do have to register to use this site but the you have access to 250 stories!
  10. Magic Keys - Stories for all ages, some with audio.
  11. iStorybooks - A welcoming site that asks your name at the beginning of the story.
  12. I'll Tell You a Story - Some stories with audio, and some with video, and with registration you can submit a story.

I'm sure there are probably more story sites out there that I haven't discovered yet.  I hope you'll share any that you find with me.