Spooktacular Times

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Spooktacular Time

 

October is a Spooktacular time for adults and kids alike. Whether you’re into it for the ghouls and goblins, creepy tales, costumes, parties, or the candy (my personal favorite!), there is plenty of excitement in the cool fall air.

I remember my parents always made sure to make it a fun time for us kids, and then later on would get a babysitter and go over to the neighbors for a party. For some reason, my parents loved goblins; they would always dress up in the most terrifying and real to life costumes. (I still get nightmares from them to this day!)

These days, as a parent myself, it’s up to my wife and I to make the day enjoyable for the whole family. We aren’t big party people, so it’s rare that we go out to a Halloween party. But nothing makes us happier than watching the kids have a good time.

So, after we head out in the early evening to make our Whitches Hats Cookiestrick or treating rounds, we have a spooky dinner of “Fingers & Fries” (we strip chicken cutlets into “fingers” and serve them with our signature ‘blood’ hot sauce). Then we play a ghoulish game of monster themed bingo and end-off the night with some haunted dessert. Last year my wife made these delicious yet simple Witches’ Hats cookies and they were a big hit. (click here for the recipe)

I’d love to hear about your families Halloween activates, please share them in the comments below.

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Witches’ Hats – Haunted Cookies

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Whitches Hats Cookies

The cackle and high pitched screams you’ll hear from your kids as they mount their brooms, ready to fly away….. Well, maybe not quite, but seeing how much they enjoy these cookies is sure to make you smile! These cute and whimsical cookies are tasty and super easy.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 (4.25 oz.) tube of orange or red decorating frosting
  • 1 (11.5 oz.) package of striped shortbread fudge cookies
  • ½ (13 oz.) package of milk chocolate kisses

What to do:

Pipe a small mound of frosting in center of each chocolate-covered cookie bottom; press a chocolate kiss on frosting. Pipe a frosting band and bow around base of each kiss. Enjoy!

 

Recipe Source: myrecipes.com

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Smart Choices – Breakfast Quesadillas

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Kicked Up Apple Quesadilla - Main

These healthy quesadillas are a delicious way to fuel your day. They have a snappy, fresh kick from the star ingredient, tangy Granny Smith apples. Prepped and ready in less than 5 minutes, it’s the perfect meal to munch as you head out to the car. Combine the healthy choice with a combination of flavors sure to please any pallet, and you have a true breakfast champ.

What you need:

  • 2 flour tortillas (regular or whole-wheat)
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • several thin slices of a Granny Smith apple

What to Do:Kicked Up Apple Quesadilla - Inside

  1. Sprinkle an even layer of cheese over one tortilla
  2. Scatter the apple slices on top of the cheese and top with the remaining tortilla
  3. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the cheese melts
  4. For a crisper tortilla, use a large skillet and crisp for 1-2 minutes on both sides, until the cheese is melted
  5. Cut into 6-8 wedges

 

Recipe Source: Parenting.com

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Back-to-School Napkin Rings

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Back-to-School Napkin Rings - Main

Funny Back-to-School Napkin Rings

Bring some Back-to-School excitement into your home, and what better way than making meal-time more fun! These fun and whimsical napkin rings are going to make your kids smile with delight, not to mention keeping  them busy for quite some time.. Combining the classic look & style of the classroom, these apple-napkin-rings are perfectly detailed, they even include a fuzzy little bookworm.

What You’ll Need:

  • Stiffened felt (also known as E-Z felt) in red, brown, green, white, and black
  • Glue
  • Extra thick green pipe cleaners

How to Make It:DIY - Fall Napkin Pic1

  1. For each one, first cut a 3-inch-wide apple shape from the red felt.
  2. Use a hole punch to make a hole on each side of the apple, then glue on a brown felt stem and a green felt leaf and let the glue dry.
  3. Next, curl a few inches of one end of a pipe cleaner into a tight spiral for the worm’s head. Glue on a red felt mouth and Back View of Napkin Ringwhite and black felt eyes, and let the glue dry.
  4. Finally, thread the pipe cleaner through the apple’s holes, leaving a loop in the back, then fold over the end to eliminate any sharp edges.

 

 

Craft Source: Spoonful.com

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Giant Bubbles – A Blast of Summer Fun

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Giant Kiddie Pool Bubbles

Bubble blowing and swimming are great summer activities for young children.  Why not put them together for double the summer fun? All you need to do is fill your kiddie pool with this homemade bubble solution, grab a hula hoop and/or bubble wands of all sizes, and get ready to have fun! You’ll kids will love this activity, and happy kids make happy Mommies and Daddies!

 

What You’ll Need:

  • The perfect bubble solution
  • Hard plastic kiddie pool
  • Hula hoop.

How to do it:

For the Bubble Solution:

  • 5 Gallons of Water
  • 10 Cups of Dawn dish soap (regular not antibacterial)

A few tips:

  • Let this solution sit overnight. For some reason this helps
  • The less foam you make, the better your bubbles will be
  • Too much foam is the enemy to giant bubbles
  • Try to keep the splashing to a minimal

That’s it – Have a Bubble-Blast!

 

Activity Source: Nobiggie.net

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Donut Muffins

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donut muffins

These “Mini Muffins” taste just like cinnamon & sugar doughnut holes, they’re quick and easy to make and a real hit with kids and adults alike! They’re easy to grab when you’re running out the door for a quick breakfast on the go, or just a yummy snack. They’re bite size perfection all around; just make sure to remember the nutmeg, it’s the secret ingredient that makes these donut muffins so irresistible!

What You’ll Need:

  •  1/2 cup white sugar
  •  1/4 cup margarine, melted
  •  3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •  1/2 cup milk
  •  1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Baking Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 24 mini-muffin cups.
  2. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup margarine, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the baking powder and flour until just combined. Fill the prepared mini muffin cups about half full.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While muffins are baking, place 1/4 cup of melted margarine in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of sugar with the cinnamon. Remove muffins from their cups, dip each muffin in the melted margarine, and roll in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Let cool and serve.
  •  PREP 15 mins
  •  COOK 15 mins
  •  READY IN 40 mins
  • Cook’s Note – Use either butter or margarine.

 

Recipe source: allrecipes.com

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Anticipating Tomorrow, Today…

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school supplies image

 

As we are approaching the last few weeks of summer I can’t help but think back to a few months ago. It was around the time that the weather started warming up and preparations for the upcoming summer were starting to be made (wow, where does the time go?)  Scheduling trips, signing up for camp, shopping for a new summer wardrobe; one way or another we were busy preparing.

With preparing comes anticipating. So it goes. Children anticipating their summer days of fun, and parents anticipating how the summer would shape up. Perhaps some were looking forward to quiet time at home with the older children away at sleep away camp, others were anticipating family bonding time with everyone being around, traveling together or perhaps a weekend getaway with their spouse). Whatever the plan there was definitely anticipation in the air. And as June came nearer, summer anticipation was in a frenzy.

I actually find anticipation to be more exciting than the event. You see life is an ongoing cycle, moving quickly from one phase to the next. As it is moving we yearn to be moving as well, while we hope to be changing and growing for the better as we tackle life’s challenges. Part of moving forward is anticipating the next happening in our lives. Whether it be the next season, holiday, vacation, special occasion; the constant flow of change is what keeps our lives fun and exciting.

Before we know it, camp will be over and we’ll be shopping for school supplies and uniforms, (some of us already have ;) And even though summer seems to be the most fun part of the year, and it certainly is in many ways, it is merely a piece in the puzzle of each year. Most children seem happy to shop for school supplies and get ready to move up a grade.  This fits in with the way we are as humans. No matter how good a certain time period may be, we anticipate moving forward to the next stage in our lives. Part of the excitement of summer is the fact that we’re entering a new phase.  If we had summer year round it would hardly be exciting and would probably get pretty old really fast.

Either way, summer is fun, there’s no denying. It’s just good to remember that every part of the year is fun in its own way, and an important part in our lives.

In the meantime I’m off to catch some sun before she takes her vacation till next summer.


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Color-Glazed Stones

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Swirly Stones

As a kid, during the summer months, I often got to help my grandmother with yard work in her country home. One of the perks of working with all the dirt, flowers, and weeds (besides getting dirty) was my really cool rock collection. I must say,this rock collection was everything to me, until it got thrown out by accident one year. I can only imagine how much I would have liked to do a project like this with my rocks. I guess I’ll just have to start a new rock collection with my kids. Painting rocks is a wonderful activity for the kids on a long, golden summer afternoon. Instead of paint, this project uses wax crayons for a really cool effect. I know I’m going to get to re-live my childhood (at least for an hour) when I do this with my daughter.

What you’ll need:

  • Smooth, flat rocks
  • Aluminum foil
  • Oven mitt
  • Newspapers
  • Old crayons

How to make it:

Step 1 – After you’ve gathered some smooth, flat rocks, clean them off, and bake them for 15 minutes on a foil-lined cookie sheet in a 225º oven.

Step 2 – Using an oven mitt, remove the rocks from the stove and set them on a pad of newspapers (note: the rocks will be very hot to the touch).

Step 3 – Remove the wrappers from some old crayons and draw on the stones — the heat will melt the crayons into vibrant liquid wax. For the swirly effect shown in the picture, hold each crayon against the rock in one place to create a puddle of color and use the end of the crayon to swirl it around.

 

Craft Source: Spoonful.com

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Energy Bars

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Energy Bar

 

Instead of buying pricy energy bars, fuel your fitness routine with this great-tasting homemade energy bar recipe. Whether you use these energy bars as a pre-workout snack or to refuel and recover post-workout, they’ll give your body what it needs. Best of all, you can make this energy bar recipe in minutes.

This energy bar is also a great snack idea for your kiddies; especially when you’re on the run. They are healthy, filling, and delicious. They are also easy to grab and store. The perfect combo for your summer day trips!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 6 dried apricots, diced
  • 3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
  • 5 tablespoons brown rice syrup or light corn syrup

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.
  2. Combine peanuts, rice cereal, oats, pumpkin (or sunflower) seeds, blueberries, apricots and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Drizzle with syrup and gently stir until thoroughly combined. Spread in the prepared baking pan. Coat another piece of foil with cooking spray and place on the bar mixture, sprayed-side down. Place another pan on top and press firmly to compress the mixture. (Pressing before baking helps the bars hold together after baking.) Remove top pan and foil.
  3. Bake until just beginning to turn golden at the edges, 20 to 24 minutes (metal pan) or 30 to 35 minutes (glass pan). Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully lift the baked square out of the pan by holding the edges of the foil and place on a cutting board, leaving the foil underneath. Cut in half, then cut each half crosswise into 6 bars. Let cool completely before lifting the bars off the foil.

Nutrition

Per bar: 167 calories; 9 g fat ( 2 g sat , 4 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrates; 6 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber; 28 mg sodium; 175 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 1

Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1/2 carbohydrate (other), 2 fat

 

Recipe Source: eatingwell.com

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Bedtime!!!

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Bedtime-Books-For-Kids

 

Why does bedtime have to take so long? You would think it would be quick since all it involves is getting into bed. Pretty simple, right? Wrong! Oh, so wrong! Bedtime is one of the longest processes of each day with many tired and frustrated parents caught in the thick of it.

For some reason, most children don’t like going to bed. I say most and not all because there are a select few who actually do like going to bed. I’m not sure why and have yet to meet one, but I have heard that they exist and just advise those parents to count their blessings daily and make sure to give those special children an extra portion in the will. After all they totally deserve it as they have spared their parents much heartache at bedtime and have therefore helped Mom and Dad will into old age.

In any case, the majority of kids out there do not like going to bed. It’s so hard for adults to relate to because for most of us, it is the best part of our day! Getting into your cozy bed with a good book or TV show, there’s just nothing like it. When all is quiet in the house and all little people are off in la-la land; it’s just you and Hubby in your world once again, does it really get any better than this?

It seems that children are afraid of missing out on something when they go to sleep. I actually can’t blame the kids who go to bed at 6 o clock sharp every night. They are definitely missing out on things. For starters, they miss seeing a sunset. They’re also may miss out seeing older siblings who arrive home from school late. They almost always miss interacting with Dad after work.  I actually feel sorry for these kids. They have every right not to want to go to bed before their play date has even been picked up from their house!

No matter what time is bedtime, kids seem to be resistant to it, and this is very hard on us parents. We have finally managed to clean up some of the toys with our children so they learn responsibility for cleaning up their mess. We have figured out what to make for dinner, which is never an easy feat. We have made dinner, also not easy, and served it. Let’s not forget about cleaning up dinner (a chore best left for after “the kids are in bed”). Then we manage to get all the kids to get undressed and in the bath. We hope the older ones wash up well, and beg all the kids to please brush at least some of their teeth and not just suck the toothpaste off the toothbrush! Then there’s reading time.  Each child chooses a book and lucky me, I get to read it, again for the 5th night in a row. Finally it’s time for bed, which should be the easiest and best part of the whole routine, but, guess what?

Jeremy is hungry. Hungry??? How could that be? He just ate 6 hotdogs and 3 ears of corn on the cob and he’s only 3 and half!  Stacey is hungry as well, which makes more sense since she refused to eat anything for dinner. “We have nothing good to eat in this house!” I guess everything’s relative since Jeremy didn’t seem to feel that way. You warned Stacey many times that this is dinner and after that, the kitchen is closed. You feel horrible to deny any of your “hungry “children of a bedtime snack. How can I let my child go to bed starving? So you compromise and bring them cereal in a bag to their beds. Next, they’re thirsty! Well obviously! And so on and so on…this one has a belly ache, and that one is scared because he heard weird noises, I mean it just doesn’t end. You are trying to hold it together as best as you can and praying in between going in to each kid that this will be the last one calling for the night, but at some point, you just can’t do it anymore. That’s the point where the kids know, Mommy means business, and they abort their plan and finally go to sleep.

Yay!!!! It’s shocking and overwhelmingly exciting when you realize that they have finally all dozed off. It’s as if you’ve been liberated, and can’t decide what to do first. Should I eat? Clean up? Relax? Shower? Make calls? Finish up some work? Go to bed early?…….. I mean the options are endless. You are in such a happy state that you almost forget how hard you just worked to get there. And maybe because you just worked so hard it’s that much better. Who knows?

I really wonder why bedtime has to take so long. They say that good things only come through hard work. And while getting our kids to bed is certainly very rewarding to us parents, who now have our free time, there is another “good” part of it. Peeking in on those sleeping little angels who look so innocent and pure is such a moving and pleasurable experience. It almost makes you want wake ‘em up!

Well…almost….!

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