Monday, April 7, 2014

Non-Candy Easter Egg Fillers


If you're anything like me I get a little overwhelmed with the amount of candy my children receive on holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations. When my pantry starts to be overtaken by candy I beg for some alternatives. Easter is coming up quickly and there are already a couple of Easter egg hunts planned in our community. I decided to make a list of some of my favorite Easter egg filler ideas. I am sharing this list and including some pictures just for you! Hopefully, others will consider filling their eggs with other fun stuff besides candy...

1.     Plastic army men
2.     Fake bugs
3.     Rings
4.     Legos or Lego mini-figures
5.     Stretchy or plastic animals, dinosaurs, etc.
6.     Erasers
7.     Spinning top
8.     Mini nail polish
9.     Mini Bubbles
10.  Rainbow Loom (type) Rubber bands
11.  Play money or plastic coins
12.  Key chain
13.  Magnetic letters or other cute magnets
14. Bouncy Balls
15.  Cross, Rosary, or other religious items
16.  Stickers (Seasonal and character)
17.  Mini Tattoos
18.  Stretchy/sticky hand
19.  Stamps
20.  Crocs "jibbitz" shoe charms
21.  Bunny, chick, or other Easter trinket/toy
22.  Hair ties, mini-bows, or hair clips
23.  Foam Stickers
24.  Silly Putty or play-doh
25.  Small lipgloss
26.  Bracelets
27.  Balloon
28.  Necklace
29.  Dollar bill or coins
30.  Earrings
31.  Small figurine
32.  Disney trading pins or other attachable pin
33.  Whistle
34.  Mini car
35.  Barbie accessories or clothes
36. Mini wind-up toy

*Don't forget to check the party aisles and the Dollar Tree for small toys and trinkets. Party favors are cheap, small, and fun!










 Maybe this list of Easter egg fillers will help you when you are staring at a pile of empty Easter eggs. I know I will be referring back to it when I am preparing for our Easter egg hunts and baskets!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Getting your Kids to Eat their Fruits and Vegetables

As a mother I want my children to live a healthy lifestyle. I want them to eat their fruits and vegetables. More importantly, I want them to learn to make good choices on their own. Fortunately, getting them to eat their fruit was never a problem. They crave that sweet taste and enjoy many different kinds of fruits. My daughters love vegetables, too! My son, on the other hand, will turn his head away from most of them. But, this does not stop me from putting them on his plate each day.

 Do you have this problem? I challenge you to make it a priority to include fruits and vegetables in your family's daily diets.

Serve It Up 

  • Cut up fruits and veggies for easy access. A whole pineapple or an orange sitting on the counter may easily get passed up by everyone. Do a little prep work by cutting up your fruit and vegetables when you return from the grocery store. Store them in see through containers, or snack baggies. Kids and adults can grab and go.

  • Make your fruits and veggies look delicious. My kids love when I make their fruits and vegetables into different shapes. One of my favorite ways to serve up fruits or veggies is by letting them "eat the rainbow." Offer different colors of fruits and veggies and shape them into a rainbow.

Name It

  • Make a fun name for a fruit or vegetable. Broccoli is not just broccoli for my kids. Broccoli bites are "trees," and cauliflower is the "cousin."
  • Pretend you are an animal eating your veggies. Eat carrots and lettuce for your "bunny food." 

Dip It

  • Offer some ranch dip or other dressing. I love carrots. Simple and delicious. My oldest daughter, however, will not touch them...unless I add a squirt of ranch dressing on the side.
  • Try hummus. Hummus is a favorite dip of mine. I do not buy it as often as I would like to, but I will enjoy a plateful of veggies with hummus.
  • Enjoy some fruit dip. Make an easy-peasy fruit dip by adding honey to some plain yogurt. Mix it up and get ready for some yummy dipping.

Mix it

  • Smoothies and milkshakes. Remember my post about our favorite green smoothies? Smoothies are a great way to mix in both fruits and vegetables for your children and yourself.

  • Muffins and breads. Blueberries, carrots, squash...there are plenty of delicious fruits and veggies that can be added to your favorite homemade breads. Try them in muffins, loaves, and pancakes for starters. 
  • Dinners. I do not have a problem with mixing in vegetables with some of our favorite dishes. Add shredded carrots to sloppy joes or add a layer of spinach to your lasagna. A little addition here or there may help spark their taste buds.  
If you have trouble getting your child to eat their fruits and vegetables, do not give up. They will learn to love them eventually. :)

Mix them, hide them, do whatever you have to, but keep serving them!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

DIY Essential Oils Carrying Case



About six months ago I started using Doterra's essential oils. The essential oils come in little, glass vials. My family uses them on a daily basis, and I believe we have all been healthier because of them. :) I have a drawer in my bathroom that houses these oils. Because of their many uses, I found myself needing these oils to treat everyday illnesses, aches, and pains when I was away from home also. (Some oils are even a great alternative to the overused anti-bacterial gel soap that everyone carries around.) I needed a carrying case that I could just drop into my purse, and pull out quickly when needed. Doterra sells carrying cases, but I figured I could make something with what I have on hand just as easily.

 (Note: This is a "cheat" DIY bag!!)

So, I rummaged through my zipper makeup bags. You know..the ones that come free when you purchase a certain amount of makeup. I found a pretty flowered one in my closet that I had never even used. I would have liked a zipper that ran up the side, across the top, and around the other side. This would have made sewing with a sewing machine a whole lot easier. Those zipper cases that open flat would have been ideal, but I settled for my simple, zipper top bag that I had received for free. I grabbed a few necessary items and got straight to work

Materials:

  • Sewing machine
  • Zipper makeup pouch
  • Thread (matching color)
  • Elastic (I used 3/4 inch)
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Measuring tape



Next,  I opened up the zipper bag and turned it inside out. I measured out the elastic. (Give yourself a rough estimate by measuring the length of the pouch, or sew as you go.) I used a thicker elastic band because the vials are round and wide, and I wanted the elastic to have a secure hold on the vials. I pinned the elastic to the inside of the bag. (I ended up sewing only one side of elastic on this pouch because I did not want it to be too bulky, and I wanted to make sure it closed easily. This particular pouch was not incredibly deep.) This is where a free arm attachment on your sewing machine works well because you will really have to get into that pouch and sew at a difficult angle. You have to be careful that you do not sew through to the opposite side of the pouch, too. I sewed a straight line down and back stitched. I repeated this every few inches. I left enough room in each loop to fit each vial. Just remember the elastic will stretch over time so you will need each "loop" a little smaller than the vial or whatever you will be holding in the elastic loop. 










Turn the bag right side out, and secure your essential oils in their new home. Now you have a quick and frugal way to carry around essential oils and other necessities! It is a makeup bag after all, so go ahead and throw in your lipstick, lotions and anything else you want, too!









Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day Lunches and Snacks


Love packing cute lunches for your little ones? One of my favorite times to glam up their school lunches are for holidays! In the past, Valentine's Day lunches have been made extra special with a few lunch making tools and fun food. Snacks are easy, too!

I LOVE my heart shaped silicone muffin liners. (I purchased them a couple of years ago from Michael's craft store.) I can bake cupcakes or muffins ahead of time, and throw them in with the kids' lunches. Plus, they work perfectly to separate portions of food.

Use a paring knife to make heart shaped strawberries. Cut off the leafy tops by cutting at an angle downward and then at an angle back up again (almost like you are cutting an upside down triangle out of the top of your strawberry.)

If you own any type of cookie cutters, you most likely own at least one heart shaped cutter. I have some of all sizes. The big ones can be used to cut an entire sandwich into the shape of a heart. The smaller ones can be used to make practically anything heart-shaped, including cheeses, fruit, and bell-peppers.





I used my "Lunch Punch Sandwich Cutters, Fairy Set" to make a heart and crown out of sliced mozzarella for the top of my daughter's sandwich.



Sometimes the smallest touches make the funnest difference! Add stickers to fruit cups, plastic bags, or juice boxes.



The kids get a LOT of sweets for Valentine's Day at school. Making fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods "cute" on this day is a must  if you want them to eat anything worthwhile that day. Hey, and do not stop on Valentine's Day. I add heart shapes all year long and send my love right in their lunchbox!







Saturday, February 1, 2014

Valentine's Day Creation Station


Valentine's Day is quickly approaching! I made one comment about Valentine's Day to my kids, and that is all it took. They began asking begging to make Valentine's cards and crafts with me. The good thing is I am always replenishing my craft supplies so we have enough art supplies for such an occasion. The problem is that all the craft and art supplies are scattered in different places around the house.

I thought the best way to kick-start our craft time would be to get a little organized first. I wanted to set up all their supplies in a special way, too. Why not surprise the kids with a Valentine's Creation Station? Everything would be at their fingertips and they could let their creative minds go wild!

I raided my own craft containers, pulled out my leftover Valentine's craft supplies from last year, and went around the house to gather their usual supplies. After I had everything I went on to organize and set up a surprise Creation Station for after school.


Organize your children's craft supplies for easy access.



Here is a list of  some of the supplies that can be used to make your own Valentine's Day Creation Station:
  • Glue 
  • Scissors & craft edged scissors
  • Crayons, markers, paints
  • Construction paper
  • Scrapbook or patterned paper
  • Valentine's Day stickers
  • Foam stickers
  • Valentine confetti
  • Stamps & Ink pads
  • Twine, ribbon, lace
  • Stencils
  • Doilies
  • Glitter and glitter glue pens

I found these cute, little tin heart containers with lids on sale last year. They were the perfect sized containers to hold small stickers and all those tiny confetti pieces. We just snapped the lids back on for easy clean-up.


I encourage you to pull out your craft supplies and set up a Valentine Creation Station just for your kids! It does not have to be anything fancy, but they will appreciate some (organized) fun options.






Wednesday, January 22, 2014

100th Day of School Lunch Ideas

In a couple of weeks my children will be celebrating their 100th day of school at their elementary. Most of the day will be devoted to 100th Day activities in the classroom (at least, in the lower grades). They can bring a collection of 100 things and wear t-shirts with 100 objects or pictures on it. (Note to self: I really need to get working on my son's 100th Day of School shirt soon.) But, today I wanted to share a couple of ways I made my daughter's past lunches special for her on the 100th day of school.

It can actually be pretty easy to change your regular lunch into a fun, 100th Day lunch!
  • Make the number "1" with simple food items (Pretzel sticks, carrots or veggie sticks, Twinkies, string cheese/cheese sticks)
  •  Make the number "0" out of everyday foods (Mini donuts, Ritz crackers, cookies, peanut butter crackers, Cheerios or Fruit Loops) 
  • Find snack packages with the number "100" on it (100-calorie snack bags are perfect for this or treat them with a "100 Grand" fun-size candy bar)
  • Use your cookie cutters, shape cutters, or a knife to shape food into numbers (Sliced cheese, cold-cuts, strawberries & Kiwi slices.etc)
  • Make a snack mix of 100 pieces of different snacks (Goldfish, marshmallows, raisins, Cheerios, Rice Chex cereal, pretzels, M&Ms or Skittles, Cheeze-Its, peanuts, etc.) Our kids usually do this as one of their classroom activities, so I don't add that to their lunches.
  • Add a "Happy 100th Day of School" note or make cute cards with the number"100" on it.
  • Include a treat of 100 mini-stickers for later!


My son has already chosen what he wants to take for his collection of 100 things. We counted it three times! 100 army men. I didn't know he had that many, but that explains why I am perpetually finding army men in the house!


Does your child's school celebrate the 100th day of school? If a 100th Day celebration is in your child's future, don't forget to pack them a lunch and send them off with 100 kisses!




Friday, January 17, 2014

Delicious Green Smoothie


Some of my favorite drinks to make are smoothies. I love the taste and the health benefits from a good smoothie. The color of your smoothie will turn a bright green once you start blending in a green vegetable like spinach or kale. Personally, I prefer the taste of spinach over kale, but I still try to vary my vegetable and fruit intake. I think the frozen mixed fruit really adds to the flavor, too. Today I made my smoothie using a package of frozen mango, papaya, and strawberry fruit. Here is my own, favorite recipe that I love to make in the mornings. 

Ingredients:
1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Ripe Banana
1 Cup Fresh Spinach
1 Cup Frozen Mixed Fruit
1 Tablespoon Milled Flax Seed
1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter
1 Teaspoon ground Cinnamon


All the ingredients are approximate because I usually just throw everything in without even measuring. The great thing about homemade smoothies is that you can add in whatever you have on hand. If there is something that you don't like or you are allergic to you can omit it. Blend all ingredients together.



A smoothie is a perfect way to get in your fruits and vegetables each day. Some kids (ahem, my son) find a bunch of spinach leaves intimidating and "yucky." I am still trying to convince my six-year old boy to drink this, but he does not want to try it because it has "vegetables in it." My little boy prefers that I stick to the milk, banana, peanut butter, and cinnamon smoothie. Whatever works..at least, he is a fruit lover! On the other hand, my seven and three year-old daughters drop everything when they hear my blender running. This is one of their favorites!  My busy husband is also a fan of this smoothie, and this is a quick way to squeeze in breakfast before work.


What are your favorite add-ins to your smoothies?