February 22, 2015

Two Ingredient Fruit Roll-Ups

This girl loves her sugar.  (I have no idea where she gets it.)
I am always looking for ways I can give her some sweetness without the intense sugar high.  So when I came across a two ingredient fruit roll-up recipe on my aunt's feed I had to try it - immediately.  Seriously, I grabbed Ella and we got right down to making some fruit roll-ups.  

All you need are two ingredients.  

Fruit & Honey (or some other sweetener)

We used strawberries and blueberries with a tablespoon of agave nectar sweetener.  Tossed it in the blender till it was a nice puree and then poured it out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  FYI - the parchment paper is kind of necessary.  Set the oven for 225 degrees and bake for 3 hours.  
Yes, 3 HOURS.

One nap and one outfit change later we were enjoying our fruit roll-ups. 

Leaving it on the parchment paper, cut them into strips and roll them up to enjoy now or later.

We chose now.

(Ella has started a new fashion statement - underwear as outerwear.  Yes, she does wear this out of the house.)

The official review:  great flavor but we need to master the texture.  I've heard these referred to as fruit leathers and it makes sense.  These were a tad tough nothing too bad.  Next time I will pour the mixture a little thicker and more even.  Or if I can't get the mixture to pour thicker, I will bake it a little less.  I'm not sure this will be a common go-to snack for us.  They were yummy and a fun change but I have no issue getting Ella to eat fresh fruit so I probably won't go through the effort (although small) to make these very often.

Bottom line:  Fun, tasty and super easy but not a new obsession.  
We will definitely make them again though.  

February 5, 2015

Valentine's Day Card Making With Kids

We've been working on our valentines over here.  Our first photo shoot didn't go too well and entailed a lot of tears and tantrums and a few overzealous moments of love which then resulted in more tears.  Fortunately the second attempt was a little better.

While the kiddos may not have appreciated the photo taking, Ella did love the card decorating.  
She took it VERY seriously.

Or at least it seemed like she was until I saw her notes......

Is it just me or do these look...well...like...boobies?

I apologize in advance to whoever receives these.


January 24, 2015

Entertaining a Toddler Indoors

 We've all been there during the cold winter months - days upon days stuck inside trying to keep our children happy, entertained and busy.  And it can be a hard task that requires energy and creativity when often both those things are severely lacking in our lives.  It can be tempting to turn on Frozen for the one billionth time - just me? - but I've come to realize that that is often just a temporary fix that ends up hurting me more in the long run.  I end up with a whiny, lethargic, mischievous little girl who desperately needs to channel her energy in fun and challenging ways.  Like I said, it's not always easy and takes some prep and planning but I find that these activities energize us all and help us end our days with laughter and smiles.  But I'm only human so we haven't cut out Frozen completely - sometimes that is exactly what is needed - cuddles on the couch.

Here are a few of our go to activities to help us through these winter days.  Most of these probably already exist on Pinterest because it is the best and worst tool a mother can possess containing everything we could ever need to be the most perfectly effortless mothers our children want - hah.  In any case do with these what you want.  (Sorry about the quality of the photos - they are mostly iPhone pics.)


This was a favorite in our house for several days.  We have quite the collection of little Ella's that I can not bring myself to throw away.  It was also a very easy activity that required little of my help.  Not that I am trying to get out of playing with my daughter but an activity like this allows me to tackle a household chore or two.

Supplies:  Roll of paper
                 Crayons, markers, etc.

Directions:  Simply roll out a length of paper, have your child lay down and trace him or her.  Then let them have fun coloring it in.  The first time Ella and I did this I spent some time with her going through body parts.  It was a great little anatomy lesson.

Do you like Ella's painted nails?  That was her idea.  She was pretty excited about them.

TREASURE HUNT (with a cooking adventure)

Another favorite of Ella's.  She talks about this one a lot but it isn't as easy or quick so I save it for my most desperate moments when I also have the time to plan ahead.  After the first time though, there are ways to do it quickly and easily.

Supplies:  Paper & Pens 
                 Blankets & Furniture
                 Treasure or Prize

Directions:  While Ella was napping one day I made a little map full of adventures for her to follow so she could find a fun treasure. I also then recreated the map in our home to give her a little help with the imaginative play and get her moving. 

Ella had to jump from stone to stone over the alligator lagoon, crawl through the tunnel in the mountain, ride down the waterfall and so on.

Using painters tape I made stepping stones and I pushed our dining room table over and covered it in blankets for a tunnel.

The stairs to our basement were transformed into a waterfall with a few blue blankets and the wild jungle was filled with Ella's stuffed animals.  She had to walk through them without letting any of them "bite" her.  If she bumped into one that was a bite.  And then X marks the spot.  She had to dig - err sweep - for her treasure.  Of course she thought the legos were the prize and kept holding them up and excitedly shouting, "LEGOS!  Thank you mommy."

The real prize though were gold nuggets in the form of yummy, homemade pretzels.  Pretzels she had helped me make that morning - which leads me to activity #3.


Somedays call for a sweet treat.  And while it is so much easier, faster and cleaner for me to just tackle this on my own during nap time it can be a fun activity to do with your children.  Especially this pretzel recipe: Soft Pretzel Twists

Instead of making twists we made our own shapes and a few nuggets.  I let Ella have her own piece of dough to shape and mold too.  I think she ate most of it though.


Ella may have been a little young to fully understand this activity.  I was trying to introduce Ella to the postal system while having her send letters to loved ones.  I tried having her dictate notes to people, which she did - kind of, but I don't think she really understood that they would be able to read them.  She did have fun decorating the letters though and she loved putting the envelopes in the mailbox.  I think I will try again in a few months and see if something clicks.  Next time I am also going to put pre-stamped envelopes in our cards and ask for people to write back to Ella.  She would get a kick out that.  This is also the perfect activity for Valentine's Day which is just around the corner  - the perfect excuse to send some love in the mail.

Supplies:  Envelopes
                 Things to decorate the letters

Directions:  It's pretty simple, write a letter or draw a picture for a loved one and then help your child address and stamp envelope and put it in the mail.

Ella preferred the stickers and Griffin preferred the crayons.

Then Griffin moved on to email because he is all about efficiency and 
Ella and I carried on with stuffing and decorating our envelopes because we like pretty things.

And then I let Ella drop them into the mailbox for the mailman to give to our loved ones.
Can't wait to do this again with our Valentines!


Kids like a little destruction and a little destruction is good for them.  Just not the kind that destroys your home.  So when you can't send the kids outside to let out those destructive tendencies it is best to create a controlled activity with just enough destruction.  Bowling seems to be the perfect solution for a two year old.

Supplies:  Balls
                 Items to knock down (soda bottles, cups, paper towels, etc.)

Directions:  It's pretty easy.  I collect our various balls from around the house and objects that are tall and skinny and good for knocking over.  Some of our easy favorites are paper towel rolls, plastic or paper cups, 2 liter soda bottles, and cereal boxes.  The larger the pins the larger the ball we use to knock them down.  The smaller the pins the more challenge you give your child.

We are still working on our aim and in the mean time we may resort to using our foot - directly.

Hope this gives you some inspiration and a few ideas to try with your little ones.

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