Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quick Summer Foods

It's picnic season, so BBQ's and cookouts are the norm, and coleslaw is on the menu everywhere.  I have never been a fan of coleslaw. I don't like soggy salads I guess. While experimenting a little bit though, I think I've found a version of coleslaw that I actually like! It's simple, fresh and crunchy--not soggy--and it's kinda pretty too.

Apple Slaw

1/2 purple cabbage
1 granny smith apple
1/2 cup poppy seed dressing
1 cup chow mein noodles

Thinly slice the cabbage, and cut the apple into thin matchsticks. Toss with the poppyseed dressing and the chow mein noodles, or you can serve with the noodles on top instead of mixed in. 

While we are thinking picnics and BBQs, let's talk leftovers. Sometimes it takes a while to eat through a watermelon. Don't let it go bad! Just chop that leftover melon into cubes and freeze. You can add them to any smoothie, or throw it in the blender with some seltzer water for a refreshing frothy drink, or make homemade froyo (like this).

The other thing we always have left over after a BBQ is 2-liters of pop.  We don't really drink a lot of pop, so rather than just letting it go flat and getting thrown out, I poured the rest into popsicle molds. The kids loved them! Waste not, want not : )

I hope you're enjoying good summer foods and friends. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Money Math Practice for Kids

Hello! Happy Monday! Like I said in this post, I try to sneak a little learning into our summer activities. This one isn't very sneaky, but it's hands on, not just a worksheet, and it could lead to something fun, like being ready to run a lemonade stand. : )

 I used large craft sticks and play money from the $spot. I hot glued a few coins to each one and then labeled them so he can just write down the letter and the answer.  

Every few days Thing One picks a few out and adds up the total. This would be a great classroom activity for a math center. 

Simple, hands-on and a skill that kids need; makes for a good learning activity in our book. Hope you are having a great day!

You are loved!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Five-Minute Fruit Froyo

I've always been a little jealous about that "frozen banana ice cream" that you just make out of bananas, because we can't eat bananas. So when I found a frozen yogurt recipe that uses just fruit and a little greek yogurt, I was excited to try it. I'm in love with it, so I'm sharing it today! The only thing better than froyo on a hot summer day, is healthy froyo that you can make yourself with just a few ingredients in five minutes (and you don't need an ice cream maker). I've seen lots of different versions of this on Pinterest. You can really use any frozen fruit, but they may produce different textures and require different amounts of sweetening. We made strawberry froyo first so here's the basic recipe. 

Whenever strawberries are on sale we buy a few extra boxes, wash, chop, and freeze them. This is much cheaper than buying frozen fruit and this way we are ready for smoothies or froyo any time! You can fit about two cups of chopped frozen strawberries in a sandwich bag, so one of those is all you need for this recipe.

Strawberry Blender Froyo

2 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 cup plain or vanilla greek yogurt
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. agave or spenda
optional: chopped fresh basil or mint

In a food processor, combine frozen fruit, lemon juice, yogurt and sweetener. Blend until smooth. 

You may need to stop and stir it a couple times or try adding a little water if it has trouble blending, but in about five minutes you should have smooth, creamy froyo. Plan to eat it right away if you want that soft serve texture.

I let the kids add some sprinkles

 for a more complex taste, try sprinkling on some chopped fresh basil or mint. It's yummy. : )

You can store it in the freezer for later, but know that it freezes pretty hard. You will need to let it sit out for 15 minutes or so to be able to scoop it, and the texture will be a little icier. Below, the dark pink is strawberry and the light pink is watermelon. The watermelon was a much icier, less creamy texture, and because of the higher water content--it freezes harder. It was also harder to blend, I think again, because it was frozen harder than the other fruit. But, I used Splenda in the watermelon batch and it was sweeter and had a great flavor. Both were delish, and the kiddos love them. 

We plan to try this with frozen peaches, pineapple and mango too. I think mango mint or peach with lavender would be delicious! It's fun to be able to pull garden herbs into every meal, even dessert. 

Hope you are staying cool and enjoying summer!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Curious George Party

We had a Curious George party a while back and I thought I'd just share the simple decorations and food we did. Since it can get so hot outside in the summer, we decided to have a party early in the day and make it a breakfast party. I used my Silhouette to make the invitations, but you could just print a pattern and cut them out with scissors. The outside layer was yellow card stock, cut at the top so it could be "peeled." All the info was inside on the banana (cream card-stock). We didn't send out too many, so I just hand wrote them, leaving the bottom third blank to glue to the peel piece. 

A few weeks before the party I ordered some paperback Curious George books. I got this set of phonics books, and took some of them apart to use the pictures as decorations. They were super easy to  fit into cheap 5x7" frames. If you wanted to do a Curious George bedroom, this would also be a great set to get. It's 12 books of classic 5x7 pictures of Curious George!  The books that I didn't cut up and frame we gave away as favors to the littler kids, and then I ordered this multipack of books to split up as favors also (that's less than $2 each). Personally I love when the kids get a party favor that not going to break or get thrown away as soon as we get home. Books are great favors!

We did red and yellow streamers, table cloths, and cups/plates. We used our Curious George stickers to spruce up plain red and yellow cups. For the rest of the decorations we just used stuff we had that went with some the of Curious George stories. I set out some board books and the toys that went with them. Curious George and the Bunny

Curious George Rides

Most of the party was outside. We had a coloring table with CG coloring sheets and card stock monkeys to color. I also set up an easel in the yard with water colors and CG coloring pages to paint on both sides of the easel. The kids really liked the painting station. 

For food we did breakfast stuff: mini pancakes on a stick (to go with CG Makes Pancakes), lil' smokies sausages, fruit, and an egg casserole--which is a favorite family recipe.

Breakfast or no, it's still a birthday party so we had to have cupcakes. I made the Cranberry Carrot Muffins (with cream cheese frosting instead of seeds on top) and some chocolate mini cupcakes too. We have a book of Curious George stickers so I just cut out some of those to make the cupcake picks. 

And then I made a snack table for little monkeys. Because little monkeys like snacks like mini bananas, CG fruit snacks, juice boxes and fruit loops.

That was our Curious George party. Here's to being a good little monkey...and alway very curious!

 You are loved!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Road Trip Tips

We recently took a family road trip to the Grand Tetons. There's a few things that I feel make our trips a little easier, so I thought I'd share them in case you have a road trip planned for the summer.

Hand sanitizer is actually something we always have in the car, but especially for road trips, when we are climbing in and out of the car at lots of stops, it's nice to be able to give the kids a squirt when we get in. I love having this when we are leaving the park or a fast food playground too. I usually forget to wash their hands by the time we get home, so at least I know we did something to try to battle germs. We just keep a bottle in the cup holder, that way we see it and remember to use it every time we get in. 

I picked up a couple of these clear page pockets in the Target $spot last year and I love them for road trips to keep all of the paper stuff we need from getting lost or crumpled. 

I love having everything in one easy place. I filled ours with a road map and directions to our hotel, a map of the National Park, info on hikes we wanted to try, coupons for fast food places we were likely to stop at, and a Starbucks gift card. I feel like sometimes people don't think about using coupons on a vacation, but we brought some to several different fast food places and saved about $15-$20 on food, smoothies and coffee during our trip, coupons add up! We really don't pay to get into anything without a quick search for an online coupon. Especially for things like museums, amusement parks, and large chain restaurants. I've often found good codes on Retail Me Not, but I usually just do a google search to find all my coupon options.*

I also made one for the kids. We really only need a few coloring sheets, and other activities on a trip because we are usually busy doing what we came to do/see. This little pocket lets me pick out a few activities for each kiddo and keep them all together and not crumpled in the bottom of the car or some bag. I let them use dry erase crayons on the pocket once we get there, but not it the car--lost crayons melt!

Spending a whole day in the car with preschoolers takes some planning if you want to still like each other when you get there. We pack stuff for them like books on CD, our Tag pen and books, mini travel coloring sets with mini markers, stickers, and lots of snacks. This time I brought several bagged snacks. Stuff gets shifted around a lot in the car and I didn't want whole bags of opened chips spilling, so before we left I put a long strip of washi tape on each snack bag.

Once the bag was opened we could easily seal it back up with the tape and keep everything neat and clean. I also brought a little stack of little Dixie cups so that when the kids wanted a snack I could just pour some in a cup and they could snack out of it. Snacks by the handful don't work in the car with kids, but little things they can snack on take up more time, so I'm happy to let them crunch on pretzels or whatever for a while. Eating IS an activity, you guys. The washi tape worked so well! I will definitely do this from now on, even at home when we run out of clips.

I hope if you have a road trip planned that it is an awesome adventure and a happy ride!
Because it's important to enjoy the journey and the destination!

**Bonus for reading all the way to the end--if you are booking flights or hotels on Expedia I've have two coupon codes work in the past month: try RTMENOT25 to save $25.  If you are booking using their mobile app you should be able to use MOBILE25 for $25 off. Twenty-five free dollars, yay! **

Happy Travels!
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