Month: May 2018

Chocolate Almond Squares

Chocolate Almond Squares

Hey, folks! I’ve been keeping healthy gummies and chocolates in stock for when the kids need a quick snack, but yesterday we ran out of our homemade peanut butter cups (recipe coming soon). I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with making a solid milk chocolate, so this was a lot of fun!

Chocolate Almond Squares

Course Dessert, Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Author Kristy

Ingredients

  • 2-4 Tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1 Cup Salted butter 1 stick
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut oil
  • 1/4 Cup Erythritol
  • 1/4 Tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon For extra flavor
  • 1 Tsp Moringa greens powder or collagen powder Optional, I just like packing it in for the kids
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Almonds Whole or crushed
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. With a mortar and pestle or rolling pin, crush the almonds into a coarse consistency.

  2. In a microwave safe bowl combine butter and coconut oil. Microwave for 15-30 seconds. If butter and oil are soft already you can skip this. We don't want melted, only softened, so watch it closely.

  3. Mash the two together with a fork. 

  4. Add cream and vanilla and mix.

  5. Add cocoa powder, greens powder, and erythritol. Stir the dry ingredientd in well. You should have a pretty, milk chocolate with a mousse-like consistency.

  6. For setting the chocolate, either line a container with parchment paper or use plastic or silicone, something that you can pop the chocolate out of easily. Mix the almonds into your chocolate or spread them on top afterwards.

  7. Using a spatula or spoon, spread the mixture evenly in your container or mold. Place in the fridge to set for 4-6 hours.

  8. Remove from refrigerator. Pull parchment paper out and, with a sharp knife, slice into squares.

  9. Store in refeigerator for up to a week.

Educational Nature Scavenger Hunt

Educational Nature Scavenger Hunt

Learning about nature and understanding the outdoors is an important and often underestimated component of a well rounded education. My children love to be outside, but on the rare occasion that they need a little bit of motivation to get moving, this is what we use!

A nature scavenger hunt is an ideal way to get kids outdoors, moving, and engaged in the world around them. It encourages development of motor skills, spatial awareness, and identification skills. I am always astonished at their ability to identify and remember information about plants and animals that we do this with.

My girls are 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, so short and simple works best for us right now. If your children are older a longer list will work better.

You will need:

Paper (I use standard 8 1/2 x 11)
Colored pencils, clip art, or printed pictures

Google for some quick facts

Pen or dry erase marker

(Optional) Laminator or water protective sheet cover and tape

Making the List:

Choose the objects, plants, or animals to be found. I enjoy doing plant hunts, so a plant themed list for us might look like this:

Acorn

Catbriar

Elm leaf

Oak leaf

Dewberry leaf

Wood sorrel

A mixed list might look something like this:

Squirrel

Cactus pad

Sunflower

Flint

Cardinal

Butterfly

Have fun and be creative. The more fun you have the more they will enjoy it, too.
Hand draw, insert clip art, or print pictures and place them on a sheet of paper as a visual guideline. I like to hand draw, even though I’m not the best at it, because it helps demonstrate that what you’re looking for will not always look the same and encourage critical thinking. Print the name of the object next to the image.

On the back it’s great to include some information about the things that you’re looking for. Hit up google or Wikipedia for two or three interesting tidbits. I find that engaging in conversation about the hunt really excites my 2 1/2 year old and stimulates her curiosity much more than just telling her what to look for. So, for example, I might put:

Acorn: Nuts of oak trees. Can be processed to make flour.

Catbriar: climbing vine with tendrils and thorns. Soft tips can be eaten.

Elm: Grow very tall. mistletoe likes to grow on elm trees.

Oak: Oak trees grow acorns. Wood is used for building.

Dewberry: small, thorny shrub. Relative of blackberries. White flowers turn into edible berries.

Wood sorrel: commonly mistaken for clover. Has heart shaped leaves. Leaves and flowers taste like lemon.

Laminate:

Laminate the scavenger hunt page if you have access to a laminator so that you can check the list off with a dry erase marker as you go. You can forego laminating if you want to use a plastic sheet protector and tape the top. I like to reuse these, and they can be customized appropriately for your location. In California, for example, we found pine cones and sweet gum seed pods, but in central Texas those things are notably absent, so they’ve been replaced with local flora.

I skipped this step because I do not have a laminator and can’t find my sheet protectors.

The Hunt:

Take your (hopefully) eager participant out into the great outdoors and turn them loose.

If you are on private property it’s really fun to collect the items that are collectible as you go. Afterwards we set the page down, lay the objects on top over the pictures, and talk about everything we found. This is a great way to engage in active learning with the kids–lots of times I’m learning along with them!

If you’re in a state park or other similar location, however, you may have to simply check your list off as you go and take pictures if you can. My daughters really love talking about everything we saw on our walks, so I highly encourage you to review afterwards.

Safety Tips:

I do think that a list of things to be cautious of is very important to cover at some point. Snakes, scorpions, ticks, wasps, and centipedes are obvious dangers, but some inconspicuous aggressors may lurk in the underbrush. Plants that might be listed include poison ivy, oak, or sumac, cactuses, agave, giant hogweed, and hemlock. Things like lilies, oleander, datura, and azaleas are commonly used in landscaping and are lovely, but toxic. Children as well as adults should be aware of this.

Use caution with any kind of foraging/edible information with kids. I’ve had problems with my older girl wanting to eat stuff outside when I’m not looking, so I’ve been withholding that kind of stuff for now or only under supervised situations.

It’s always a good idea to have a safe word for when you’re out and about. We use “hot” as an all-encompassing signal for danger. (This was a tip from Merriwether at http://www.foragingtexas.com/)

Happy Hunting!

Originally written as an Instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/Educational-Nature-Scavenger-Hunt/

Bubble Painting

Bubble Painting

I wrote an instructable for paper flower bouquet last week. This project creates my preferred paper to use in those bouquets–bubble painted paper. I used to do this even before I had the kids just because it’s so much fun.

This is, however, my first attempt with the girls. I’m sure it’s going to be a bit messy. Heck, my kids are always messy, so it doesn’t matter much. Just be prepared for the cleanup. On the bright side, it’s soap! Cleanup is always better when what you’re cleaning up is soap.

Let’s do this!

Supplies:

white paper (8 1/2 x 11 printer paper is what we used)

Cups or bowls

straws

soap and water or bubble solution

water

food coloring

 

Steps:

 

1. Pour soap and water or bubble solution into bowls. Add a few drops of food coloring (adjust according to how bold you would like your colors to be). Give the cups or bowls a little swirl to distribute the color.
2. Distribute straws, bubble mix, and paper among all involved adults and kids. I had a 2 1/2 year old and an 18 month old participating. I quickly found out that the bubble mixture was inappropriate for my younger daughter, who tried to drink it. We then substituted her solution for colored almond milk, which she painted with and drank happily.

3. Blow bubbles onto your paper. They should cascade across your paper, clinging to it, creating fun marbling effects, and splattering color everywhere! It’s delightful.

 

4. Set aside to dry.

Once dry, these papers make lovely origami bases. I do suggest trying out a Paper Tulip Bouquet, which is fun and beautiful. Next week maybe we’ll do another related project!

Paper Tulip Bouquet

Paper Tulip Bouquet

Happy Mother’s Day, moms!

Last night I wrote up my first instructable for a gift I’m giving my mom tomorrow, and this morning it’s featured on the front page, so that’s awesome. If you don’t have something for mom yet you can find it here:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Paper-Tulip-Bouquet/

My other projects are on here but for this one I suggest looking at the link on Instructables, because you really need the pictures laid out with it and I love how their site handles it.

The Zebra Box

The Zebra Box

Hello and happy Friday! This week I’m excited about sharing something wonderful that’s been happening in our house. I hope that it might be of some service to you as well!

My kids hate to clean, which is fine–a lot of people don’t like to clean (myself included), and they’re both still very young. Nonetheless, it’s important that they learn to clean up after themselves. We ask them regularly to tidy up once they’re done playing, but they are oftentimes so busy having fun that my pleas go unnoticed.

One evening, after a particularly hectic day, I sat down on the bed and looked at the bedroom. Our girls sleep in our bed, but have two toddler beds as their own personal spaces. Clothes and toys littered the floor. As I was cleaning up the mess I had a multipurpose idea: what if someone left them each a small box to entertain them when they first woke up? I could wake up more leisurely and get dressed without hearing “mommy, pick me up,” and they would be happy. Perhaps the condition under which this occurs is that the floor is clean enough to walk through.

The first morning when we woke up I told them that on the way to bed I met a zebra that told me he’d like to do this for them, but it had been very hard for him to get into the room with so much stuff everywhere. If they kept it clean enough then he would make sure that they had new items in the box every morning. The box is very simple: a few quiet, low key items such as a book, a stuffed animal, and some blocks or figurines.

To my surprise, it’s working! Tonight before bed it was extremely messy in the living room, so daddy asked them to please pick up so that the zebra could fit through the living room, and to both of our astonishment they both tidied up the entire floor (while singing “Tidy Up” from Little Baby Bum).

The stray necklace came later.

My two and a half year old excitedly jumps out of bed to see what’s in her box! What other creative ways do you get your kids to help out? I’d love tips and new ideas!

 

Toddler Activities for Rainy Days

Toddler Activities for Rainy Days

Well, we had told the kids that we would go to the zoo today because it was supposed to be cooler. We woke up to a dark sky and pouring rain–no way was the zoo happening. Boo!

Oh well. I felt bad, though. I wanted to give them something different and engaging to do.


Activity 1: pom pom toss

I used painter’s tape to tape some toilet paper and paper towel rolls to the wall and handed each a cup full of pom poms. Karissa loved this and kept going back to it constantly.

Bonus Activities: Madilyn dropped a few through the tubes before deciding that it wasn’t really her thing. She decided to sit down and sort the pom poms instead (she really loves pom poms), and then wanted to stick and unstick tape to the wall for a while.

Relocated pom pom toss

Activity 2: Paper Basketball

My mom in law constantly gets junk mail clothing catalogues, so today we utilized them! We made some crumpled paper “balls” and tried to throw them in our bucket “baskets.” Alas, mommy doesn’t have great aim.

Oh well, still fun.


Activity 3: Straw Bead Necklaces

I still love crafts, but since we moved I’m not sure where everything is. This is really easy–all you need is some stiff string (we used paracord), plastic straws, and scissors to cut your straws into beads.  Give them to little hands for great motor skills practice. I was very impressed with both girls, Madi even strung the beads herself.

So proud of her work

I love getting to share what we do with you and I’m always looking for new fun and/or easy activities to do with my girls. What does your family do for fun on rainy days?