Spooky Snacks & Crafts For Halloween

21 Oct

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My girls couldn’t be more excited for Halloween.  This year we were unable to get our decorations from where we store them so we have been busy making our own to decorate the house.  While we decorate it’s always fun to have Halloween Themed snacks (these could also be a fun afternoon craft activity with food).  Below are some of the activities we have done together and snacks you can make for your halloween play dates, parties or bake sales:

Spider Hands with Web: A simple activity you can do with almost anything you have in your house.  Have your child trace both hands on black construction paper or use computer paper and have them color in their hands after traced.  Cut out hands and glue together.  Have your child make the eyes or you can use google eyes if you have any available.  On a piece of white paper, draw a web and then cut it out. Hang somewhere around the house.

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Creatology Foam Pumpkin Kit:  This kit is available at Michaels.  It’s perfect for making signs and Halloween pictures to hang around the house.  It comes with foam stickers for eyes, ears, nose, black cats, and spiders as well as google eyes to glue on.   We also made a Halloween mobile out of them by punching holes in the stems and hanging them from a hanger.  (use can also punch holes in the hand spiders mentioned above and hang them as well on the mobile).

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The Sparkly Pumpkin:  The easiest craft to keep busy.  All you need is miniture pumpkins and crayola glitter glue. To give it a little spooky touch, add rubber rats or spiders.  A great decoration for around the house.

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GoGoSqueez-enstein: I made these for a snack when my girls came home from school one day.  I made one on the computer and the other I made with construction paper, glitter glue and a black marker.  My oldest thought they were so cute, she went and made a bunch to bring to her friends Halloween party.

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There Was A Little Girl Who Swallowed A Spider:  My girls love the series There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed….A Fly, A Bat and so on.  The other day I made these snacks for a Halloween craft play date.  We started joking around about The Little Girls Who Swallowed a Spider.  These snacks are simple to make.  All you need are brownie bites from Whole Foods (note that they are made in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts).  UTZ Halloween Pretzels, edible Eyes, and Wilton Gel Writers.  Break the wings off the pretzel bats and push them into the Brownie to make the legs,

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The Haunted House : We made this house last year and will continue making haunted houses with some of our favorite halloween candy.  See my previous post to see how you can make them.

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Happy Decorating and Crafting this Halloween!

 

 

 

Sending Love & Cheer This Holiday Season With Minted (GIVEAWAY)

11 Oct

I love receiving Holiday cards from friends and family.  At the end of the season we create a Holiday book with all the beautiful cards we receive.  I also love sending cards but every year I wait until the last-minute to do my Holiday cards.  This year I got a head start, thanks to a photo session with Big Apple Portraits (review coming soon). Now that I have photos, choosing my favorite picture and then finding the right card is my biggest challenge (see below for Minted Giveaway)

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Minted.com is one of my favorite sites for cards, invitations and even art. I love the variety and the gorgeous designs to choose from, especially for the Holidays. This  year I have teamed up with Minted for a $50 giveaway to use towards your Holiday cards (or anything outside of art work).  All you need to do is help me choose the design for my Holiday card this year. I have chosen some of my favorite designs below:

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Bright Snowflake Spirits

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Winter Brush Foil-pressed Card

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Merry Typography Foil-pressed Card

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Snow Flurry

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Snowy Love and Joy

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Just Dotty

You will need to leave a comment with your favorite picture and card design.  Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway
to be eligible to win and for more entry possibilities.  A random winner will be selected.  Good Luck, can’t wait to see your favorite!

About Minted: Minted crowd-sources design and art from a global community of independent designers, then sells their best designs as fine products such as stationery, wall art, and décor for the home, holidays, and occasions.  For more information visit http://www.minted.com.

Disclaimer: I will receive a credit to minted.com for this post.  All opinions expressed.  A big thank you to Big Apple Portraits for the beautiful photos of my girls and thank you to Minted for your support.  Images of all the card designs and information in italics came from Minted.com

How I Got My Daughter To Try Zucchini and Zucchini Noodle Dishes I Love

8 Oct

 

I never thought I would be able to get my girls to eat zucchini.  Not long ago my mom gave me a Veggetti™ Spiral Vegetable Cutter. It’s been the best gift.  It turns Veggies into thick or thin “spaghetti” noodles.  I use it almost every day for lunch and dinner, mostly with Zucchini. One day my youngest, who won’t touch zucchini when its cut into chips or sticks, saw me eating the Zucchini Noodles. She loved zucchini noodles. She prefers the simple version with olive oil, garlic, salt and a little parmesan cheese or in vodka sauce.

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Below are some of my favorite creations that I put together using simple ingredients:

Simple; with olive oil, salt, garlic.  Topped with parmesan cheese.

Simple; with olive oil, salt, garlic. Topped with parmesan cheese.

 

Sautee noodles with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red onion, adding tomatoes at the end.  Top with feta cheese.

Sautee noodles with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red onion, adding tomatoes at the end. Top with feta cheese.

Sautee with chile olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper, adding heirloom tomatoes a few minutes later.  Top with goat cheese.

Sautee with chile olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper, and carrots. Add heirloom tomatoes a few minutes later. Top with goat cheese.

Zucchini Noodles topped with Whole Foods pre-made Eggplant Balls that were simmered in Cucina Antica Vodka sauce.  One of my favorites.

Zucchini Noodles topped with Whole Foods pre-made Eggplant Balls that were simmered in Cucina Antica Vodka sauce. One of my favorites.

Sautee Zucchini Noodles with salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed red pepper.  Heat two Whole Foods ready-made Turkey Balls and mix in.  Top with parmesan cheese.

Sautee Zucchini Noodles with salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed red pepper. Heat two Whole Foods ready-made Turkey Balls and mix in. Top with parmesan cheese.

 

Cook Pancetta and roast butternut squash first.  Cook Zucchini Noodles.  Add pancetta and butternut squash, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic. Top with goat cheese.

Cook Pancetta and roast butternut squash first. Cook Zucchini Noodles. Add pancetta and butternut squash, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic. Top with goat cheese.

 

 Veggetti™ is available at Bed, Bath, & Beyond for $14.99.  It is top rack, dishwasher safe

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  I am not a professional chef by any means but I love mixing simple ingredients together to come up with something delicious.  I also love to share products that help my girls eat more vegetables.  I’m still working getting my oldest to try them because I know she will like them if she does.

 

 

 

 

Fun (FOOD) Friday: Under the Sea

3 Oct

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I should be talking about Halloween and pumpkins but my girls can’t stop reminiscing about their summer trip to  Magic Kingdom.  The highlights of course, meeting the princesses.  A new attraction from our last visit a few years ago was Ariel’s Grotto.  It was simply amazing for them to go “Under the Sea” and meet their favorite Mermaid.  For dinner the next night, I decided to do something a little fun with their food.  I made a mermaid (or Ariel) themed dinner, not as beautiful as the “real” Ariel but it was fun and exciting for the girls.

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It was simple to make.  For the…

Head: I got ready made Turkey meatballs from whole foods and heated them up. I then cut eyes and a mouth

Hair: I made spaghetti with Vodka sauce.  I placed the spaghetti around the head so that it looked like hair.

Shells: I used two Driscoll’s Strawberries.

Tail: I sliced up kiwi and placed it on the plate to look like a tail.

Arms: I used two carrots.

Fish: I had S’More Goldfish and took the chocolate fish out and placed them on the plate for an “Under the Sea” look.

The next time I make our Mermaid meal, I will use cooked spinach for seaweed or broccoli for “under water” plant life.

 

Does your child love mermaids as much as my girls do?  Here a few activities you can do to continue your “Under the Sea” themed evening:

 

Happy Friday!

Disclaimer: All images, ideas and opinions expressedare my own.   I was not compensated for this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips For Making It To School On Time And Having A Smoother Day

29 Sep

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My oldest started first grade this year and my youngest Pre-K. One of the biggest challenges to every school year, is making it out of the apartment on time, without tears. But we also have a busier schedule with a late evening soccer practice, a late religion class, an afternoon of dance class, and homework. Even though we are a month into school, returning from long weekends become challenging too.  We’ve recently implemented these strategies at home to help the day go smoothly:

  • Create a check list/ schedule for the day.  I created a morning checklist and an afternoon checklist.  Included is the schedule for the day so they know what is coming next.  If they complete everything on their checklist, they get to watch a tv show or have a treat before they head to bed.
  • Plan ahead.  What days will you have play dates?  Set a specified time for homework.  We have 15 minutes of reading that we do every night.  Lay out Clothes for the night before.  Talk about what they would like for lunch the next day so you are prepped and ready to go in the morning.  All of these activities and responsibilities can be included on the check list.  Having them there has helped so my daughter doesn’t have to ask what to do next.
  • Limit TV, Computer/IPad time, especially in the mornings.  It’s always more stressful in the AM to get out in time when the girls have a TV show on.  They never want to leave.  After we get shoes on, I have my girls look at a book or work on words/ letter sounds we created on the back of our door while they wait.  We use the Leap Frog Magnetic Fridge Phonics Set and Sylvan Spelling Flash Cards.  You can also make your own cards adding the words of the week for Friday Spelling Quizzes.

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  • The Bored Jar Trying to coordinate play dates is challenging with all the after-school commitments.  Often, my girls come home and entertain each other.  I’ve received lots of tugs on my arm followed with the famous words “I’m Bored”.   To create a The Bored Jar, use any jar, bowl, or vase.  Fill it with strips that contain various activities or chores.  I used the wonderful printable suggestions from imom. Activities include do a chore for mom  ( I created a separate list of chores for them to choose from), play a board game with someone, help make dinner, call a grandparent, and more.  We modified and added a few of our own: build a tent, dress-up and act out a scene, ask mom to set up uKloo, make a book, do a chore for Dad and try on clothes for the upcoming season to see what still fits and what needs to get donated.  The Bored Jar is a fun way to keep kids busy and not constantly asking what’s next, especially when the weather gets colder and you are stuck inside.
Printouts from imom.

Printout from imom.com

  • Stick To Your Bed Time.  I have a hard time with this because of the evening activities. We started eating dinner before her activities so when she comes home we can have a snack, take a bath and hit the bed.  When my girls are tired in the morning, it’s never easy to get out the door.

 

 

What do you find helpful to get your children out the door on time?

 

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own unless stated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child Passenger Safety Week Tips From Britax

18 Sep
When my youngest was born, we decided it was best to have a car in the city.  I made several road trips with my girls to visit family in DC and we made weekend trip to visit friends and family in NJ.  I always had to double check their car seats to make sure they were tight because driving on the Turnpike with trucks flying by is a little intimidating.  Not only that, I know that anything can happen at any time and I wanted to make sure nothing happened to my two little girls.  As they grew older, it became a little tricky because they wanted  out of their convertible and into a booster.
This week is Child Passenger Safety Week. Did you know that  three out of four kids are not properly secured in a vehicle because their car seats are not correctly installed. Sarah Tilton, Britax Child Passenger Safety Advocacy Manager, provides tips below to ensure your child is safe on your next journey.
Image from Britax

Image from Britax

  • Select a car seat that fits your baby and your vehicle(s). Also, be sure that you can use it correctly each and every time.
  • Be sure your car seat fits your growing child. Seated shoulder height is often overlooked.
  • Belt-Positioning Boosters are for big kids. Don’t transition out of a 5-point harness prematurely.
  • When using LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), be aware that your vehicle’s lower anchors have weigh limits. You must switch to vehicle seat belt installation when the weight of the car seat and the child exceed 65 lbs.
  • A snug harness strap should not allow any slack. If you’re able to pinch the strap, the harness is too loose. You should not be able to pinch any excess webbing.
  • For children 12 years of age and under, remember — the backseat is always the safest place for them to ride. Be sure to check your child seat and vehicle user guides for available seating positions.
  • Britax recommends that the use of a child seat be discontinued if it has been in a moderate to severe crash. Also, never purchase a used car seat if you don’t know its history.
  • Did you know that your car seat has an expiration date? Double check the manufacturer’s tag to be sure your seat is still safe.
  • Vehicles can become very hot, especially in the warm summer months. Never leave your child in a vehicle unattended.
  • Be sure your child’s harness is tight enough, especially in the winter months when children are bundled up in thick layers and bulky outerwear.
  • After buying a car seat, be sure to register your product either by visiting the manufacturer’s website, mailing the registration card or by calling their Customer Service department. That way you can be contacted in the event of a recall.
  • Always refer to your child restraint user guide or call your car seat’s customer service about installation and proper use questions you might have.

Check out my post about the new ClickTight Technology from Britax, making installation easier and safer.  Wishing you and your family safe travels on your next journey!

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post.  Information was provided by Britax.

Fun Friday: Design Your Word Your Way With The Littlest Pet Shop Style Sets

12 Sep

The Littlest Pet Shop Style Sets my daughter has been so anxiously waiting for since the Season Premiere a few months ago are available.  We recently had the opportunity to review the Littlest Pet Shop Roof With a View Themed Pack, which I gave my daughter for her birthday.  The Littlest Pet Shop Roof With a View Themed Pack, available for $12.96 at Walmart.com, includes:

  • a backdrop, stickers and accessories to create a rooftop hangout
  • Minna Swimley and Russell Ferguson pets
  • Deco Bits and stickers for decoration
  • Deck chairs, grill and other fun accessories (the mini hot dogs and umbrella drinks are adorable),perfect for creating a party on the roof top

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My girls used boxes and the top of a shoe box to create their roof until they get more style sets. They also added their Hydrant Hangout and other Littlest Pet Shop Toys to create their a fun hang out for the pets.  It’s been a life saver at keeping the girls busy after school too.  One day they pretend it’s Minna’s Birthday Party, the next day they are sun tanning on the roof.  They are excited to collect more sets.

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Why I love the the Design Your Way, Littlest Pet Shop Sets:

  • It allows your little one to get creative.  They can create and build their own Littlest Pet Shop Downtown City any way they want.
  • Your little one(s) will engage in dialogue with their favorite Littlest Pet Shop characters and can let their imaginations run wild.
  • You don’t have to buy everything at once, you can start with one and give more for birthdays or the Holidays.  My daughter plans to use birthday money to buy her next set in addition to adding other Style Sets to her Christmas list.
  • Each pack includes a code you can scan to bring your pet to life in your virtual world. Just download the app from the App Store or Google Play to your smartphone, then use the app to scan the code and start designing your digital Littlest Pet Shop your way!

Littlest Pet Shop2

Sets available:

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  Thank you to Hasbro for the sample to use for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Information in italics came from Walmart.com

Safe Installation Made Easier With Britax ClickTight Technology

27 Aug

When my girls were born, we had an infant seat and multiple bases for it.  It wasn’t as challenging riding with someone else or installing it properly.  Then they outgrew it.  We transitioned both to a convertible car seat when they were ready.  It was challenging installing them correctly.  I was always worried if I had the seat belt in the correct position and was never sure it was tight enough to keep my babies safe.  Once it was installed, forget riding with anyone else.  We could only take our car because I couldn’t imagine reinstalling them.  And when there was an occasional accident in the seat, we went back to the whole process of installing then uninstalling again.

Last year, Britax launched the Britax ClickTight Technology with the Booster Seats, making installation easier and safer.  A couple of weeks ago Britax announced their Convertible Car Seats will now feature the ClickTight Technology.  ClickTight Technology uses the vehicle seat belt to give you a secure install you can count on every time. Because ClickTight uses the vehicle seat belt and tether, you can focus just on the weight capacity of the car seat without having to also keep track of lower anchor (LATCH) weight limits.

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I had the opportunity to try the ClickTight Technology not long ago at the Britax Game Changer Event and was shocked at how easy it was to use.  It took a few minutes to install and the seat didn’t budge when I tried to move it. In addition the seat can grow with your child.  The back extends and multiple harness levels for your growing child.  As we transition our youngest to a booster, I definitely think I will be going with a Britax Booster with ClickTight Technology!

Child Passenger Safety week is September 14-20.  A few tips I learned at an event for  the new Click-Tight Technology include:

  • Installation needs to be snug, make sure you can’t move the seat more than 1 in from left to right and front to back.
  • The safest car seat is one that fits your child.
  • The safest place to put your seat is in the center.

To learn more visit http://www.britaxusa.com.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Information in italics came from Britaxusa.com.

Five Favorites To Keep Kids Entertained While Traveling

15 Jul

The girls and I headed down South a couple of weeks ago to spend the Summer with family. My girls have only flown once but I had my husband with me to help. I have to admit I was a little nervous going without my him this trip, especially when I received a text message on my way to the airport that my flight had been delayed. Thank goodness for these five activities packed in their Boost-A-Paks, featured below, because the delay and flight were a piece of cake.

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Boogie Board: An eWriter that allows kids to draw and simply push a button to erase. My girls spent majority of the time using this while we waited and on our flight. They drew pictures, wrote notes, and played tic tac toe. Definitely worth purchasing if you have any travel plans this summer. No marker or pen marks all over your car and you won’t have to worry about picking up several crayons off the floor. It’s also great to bring to restaurants to keep the little ones busy.

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Melissa and Doug Scratch Art: All you need is your wooden pencil/ stick to scratch off and discover beautiful colors below. There are several different activities, notebooks or stickers to choose from. My girls love their sketch books but their favorite on the plane was the window glass scratch art. The girls would scratch a design then stick it on the plane window and see the light shine through.

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Images from Melissa and Doug

Tegu Pocket Pouch Blocks: I got a set for each of my girls. They worked together to create and build.

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Image from Tegu

iHome Disney MiniMouse Headphones: My girls were so excited to see their favorite shows playing on the screen in front them. They also enjoyed listening to music while they drew and built their creations. The iHome headphones stay on their head and have in-line volume control. Also, great to plug into an iPad, tablet or phone when using Apps or watching downloaded movies on a car ride, train ride or next flight.

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Image from ToysRUs

Travel Wind Up Fishing Game: I used to love this game as a kid. I found it in an isle at a grocery store, also available on Amazon. The girls loved playing and we took turns playing against each other. Keep it stored in a ziplock and place fish back in the bag to keep from losing the pieces.

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image from Amazon

 

Happy Traveling this Summer!

 

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post, all opinions expressed are my own.

Summer GIVEAWAY: Escape The Heat With A Trip To LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester

11 Jul

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We recently took a family adventure to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Westchester, read my review here of our family outing.  We had such a wonderful time and would love to offer a family the opportunity to escape the summer heat with an adventure of their own.  One lucky reader has the opportunity to WIN A FAMILY 4-PACK OF TICKETS (valid for 90 days after I receive your information).  GIVEAWAY Ends July 24, 2014 at 12 a.m est. Enter HERE!

You might also be interested in:

Don’t want just one day of fun and adventures?  Check out the Annual Pass SALE!  Save on individual and family 4-packs of annual passes to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester. Sale is valid from July 7 – 31. Individual passes will be $55 and family 4-packs are $190. Annual pass holders receive the following perks:

    • Unlimited entry to the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester for 12 months.
    • 10% off purchases in the LEGO® Shop
    • 20% discount on food and beverages in the café
    • 10% discount on birthday parties
    • Subscription to the LEGO® Club magazine
    • Invitation to sneak preview event days

It All Starts with One Brick. Have a LEGO builder in your family?  LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is offering fans to build their dream creation with new Master Model Builder Veronica Watson. Create a sign that says “I want to build ______” and include what object you want to create in the blank space and pose next to it in your picture. Upload to social media using #IWantToBuild and #LDCWestchester. Entry deadline is August 29 and you can enter as many times as you want!

 

 

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