Rustic Holiday Decorations

garland-feature

 

I love mixing the old with the new when it comes to Christmas decorations.  This simple potpourri holiday craft is easy to make and will make your home smell wonderful too!

 

 

 

Materials

 

♦ bag of holiday potpourri

♦ stitching needle

♦ thick thread (e.g. twine)

 

potpourri

Instructions

 

♦ Cut the thread to a desired length and make a knot at the end of it.

♦ With the needle and thread pass through each piece of potpourri.

♦ Make a loop knot at the end of the thread.

♦ Hang on door, door handle or display on mantle.

 

garland

This is a great craft for kids and can easily be turned into a garland for the Christmas tree.

 

tree garland

Happy decorating!

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potpourri-pin

You might also like:

 

Holiday Feather Ornaments

Have You Tried Mookies?

mookies

Last year my youngest asked me to make mookies. I honestly did not know what he was talking about. He said they were ‘muffin-cookies‘. So I looked for a recipe and found this one online.

Turns out mookies (a.k.a. ‘muffin tops’) are delicious! We’ve been making them ever since. They’re great add-ins to lunches and after school snacks.

 

The following recipe was adapted from food.com

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Baking time: 20 minutes
  • Servings: 20 mookies

Ingredients

1 cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup chopped almonds or walnuts

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup raisins

mookie ingredients 2

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F

Line baking sheet with parchment paper

Mix butter and brown sugar until smooth

Beat in eggs and vanilla

Combine dry ingredients and blend in with butter mixture

Using a tablespoon, drop large scoops of the mixture onto baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart.

 

mookie tray

Bake for 20 minutes

Let cool and enjoy!

 

Mookies with CP logo

Star Wars fans? You might want to try this…

Make these simple changes to easily turn your mookies into Wookies!
1. Reduce the amount of flour to 3/4 cup

2. Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder

3. Substitute the raisins with 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

wookies

Freeze & store

  • You can freeze mookies raw and bake them later.
  • You can bake mookies, then freeze them (up to 3 weeks).

If baked, then frozen, simply microwave them for 20 seconds and voilà… tasty as the day they came out of the oven.

 

Happy baking!

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Mookies

 

 

Classic Fish Soup

soup feature picture

 

This healthy and simple fish soup recipe is great for any season.

And if you happen to suffer from seafood allergies or are lactose intolerant, this can be a smart alternative to seafood chowder.

It’s easy to make and ready in 20 minutes!

 

Ingredients

♦ 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

♦ 1 onion

♦ 2 carrots

♦ 2 celery stalks, leaves included

♦ 1 large Russet potato

♦ 6 cups of water

♦ 2 large frozen boneless haddock fillets, 0.6 kg (cod, sole or halibut will do too)

♦ 2 Knorr® homestyle vegetable stock packages

♦ Salt & pepper to taste

♦ 1/2 lemon (optional)

 

ingredients

cut ingredients

Instructions

♦ Cut vegetables

♦ Heat oil

♦ Add onion and cook until translucent

♦ Add water

♦ Add vegetable stock

♦ Add frozen fish, whole (no need to cut into pieces, it will break apart on it’s own once cooked)

 

fish in water

 

♦ Add vegetables

♦ Bring to a boil

♦ Reduce heat

 

vegetables in water

 

♦ Stir and simmer for 20 minutes or until fish and potatoes are cooked

♦ Add salt and pepper

♦ Add fresh lemon juice before serving (optional)

 

soup bowl with logosoup in spoon

 

Serve with warm biscuits or garlic bread.

Enjoy!

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Fish Soup

Getting Back On Track

train tracks

 

New Year, new beginnings. Very excited for 2017!

Looking back at 2016, I feel like I could have handled some parenting situations better…sigh. But 2017, new beginnings! Setting mini-goals for this year, one of which is to improve our out-of-school-and-driving-home-without-losing-it scenario.

 

 

The kids have been focusing all day at school, and have been holding it in on the bus, but once they get off the bus… a combination of excess energy, instant need for food and a sudden urge to tackle a sibling seems inevitable…

kapow

Here are some after school things that help keep the peace in our family (most of the time anyway). We’ve been doing most of the following routinely, except for #1 on the list. So, I will make a serious effort to do this on a regular basis this year.

Ready-made snacks

This is time consuming, but well worth the effort. Prepare healthy snacks the night before, so that they are handy to grab and eat as soon as the kids get home. Usually the kids are famished; either they ate their lunch too early, or did not eat their lunch at all. Either way, having ready-made snacks is a quick way to fuel up, rather than reaching for the junk food right away. This is also helpful when there are after school activities to get to before supper time. Feeling ambitious? Prepare snacks for the whole week!

collage-food

Letting it go

In our case, it’s ok to let loose for a while, but not too long, or else we hit the point of no return! Let them release their energy, but keep in mind that homework still needs to get done. It helps to set a specific time. I find that having after school activities in the evening help a lot too. For example, if we have hockey at 5:30pm, then homework needs to get done by 4:45pm. This is great for developing time management skills, even for the younger ones.

hourglass

Homework time

I am not an expert, but I know that every family situation is different and every child is different, with different learning styles. In our case, we figured out by grade 2 that the bulk of the homework needs to get done pretty much right away, within an hour after arriving home, or else it just doesn’t get done. But we only focus on the writing homework (words, math, projects, etc.). For us, it’s pointless to wait until after supper…the concentration and focus are gone. However, every child is different, so whatever works in your household stick to that, and feel free to share your parenting tricks for tackling this issue in the comment section below.

math

Free time

Definitely needed! Whether it’s playing inside, outside, watching TV, computers, video games, etc., free play is always a great idea.

minecraft-world

Minecraft town creation

The reading dilemma

Our biggest struggle has always been reading. So, our motto is: “It doesn’t matter when it gets done, as long as it gets done”! For the most part, reading gets done at night, right before bedtime. And it doesn’t matter what type of book is being read either… storybook, video game instructional book, even cookbook, why not?

book

Block City: How to Build Incredible Worlds in Minecraft, by Kirsten Kearny & Yazur Strovoz

 

Books like ‘Choose Your Own Adventure®‘ can be really helpful for children with shorter attention span, who need constant stimulation to stay engaged while reading. At the end of each page the reader has to make a choice which will determine his or her fate as well as the ending of the book.

adventure-book

Excerpt from Choose Your Own Adventure: Journey Under the Sea, by R. A. Montgomery

These books are available in different reading levels and truly maintain the readers interest.

 

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Featured image courtesy of pixabay.com
Editor: Maryann Burbidge

 

Delicious Hot Chocolate Recipes

mug

by Regina Cozzi

Hot chocolate, a winter favorite. Although hot chocolate mix is easy to use, here are some alternatives you might want to try. These recipes are easy to make and sure to please the whole family!

 

 

 

Caramel hot chocolate

♦ 8 Caramilk® bar pieces (1 bar contains 10 pieces)
♦ 1 cup of milk

 

Creamy white hot chocolate

♦ 6 Hershey’s® Cookies ‘n’ Creme pieces (1 bar contains 8 pieces)
♦ 1 cup of milk

 

Truffle hot chocolate

♦ 5 PC® Italian milk chocolate truffles
1 cup of milk

If you like dark chocolate, you can use PC® dark chocolate truffles instead.

To obtain a nutty flavoured hot chocolate, use PC® hazelnut truffles.

 

chocolates

Instructions

♦ Add chocolate pieces and milk in a wide mug.

♦ Microwave for 1 minute.

♦ Blend mixture with a hand blender, directly in the mug.

This method is foolproof. It blends the milk and the chocolate together at the bottom, and makes it frothy at the top… the perfect hot chocolate!

 

hot chocolate mug

 

Enjoy!

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Easy Toblerone Squares

squares feature

by Regina Cozzi

 

I came up with this recipe while trying to make toffee squares. I started the crust, then realized I was missing the main ingredients for the topping. Luckily, leftover Halloween Toblerone bars saved the day.

 

 

These squares are easy to make and will please the whole family!

 

Ingredients

3/4 cups butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 can sweetened condensed milk (300 ml)

2 Toblerone chocolate bars (100g each)

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter a 13″x 9″ pan

Combine sugar and melted butter

Add flour and mix with fingers until crumbly

crust crumble

Add mixture to pan and press down firmly

pressed crust

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden

Remove pan from heat

Pour condensed milk on top of crust

milk on top of crust

Add cut chocolate bar pieces on top of milk

Sprinkle chocolate chips between the chocolate pieces

square-d-with-cp

Bake for 20 minutes

Remove from heat

With a knife, swirl melted chocolate on the surface to create a marble effect.

marbled effect

Let cool until set

Refrigerate for 2 hours

Cut into pieces before serving

squares final

Refrigerate leftovers to prevent chocolate from melting.

Enjoy 🙂

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squares-for-pinterest

 

 

4 Quick & Easy Hummus Dips

If you like hummus, but would like to jazz it up a bit, try these easy recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Bean Hummus

1 cup hummus (homemade or store-bought)

1 cup black beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon anise (this herb is known to prevent gas and bloating)

pinch of salt & pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

hummus-bean

 

Avocado Hummus

1 cup hummus (homemade or store-bought)

1 avocado

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of salt

pinch of paprika

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

hummus-avocado

 

Sweet Red Pepper Hummus

1 cup hummus (homemade or store-bought)

3 sweet red peppers, roasted (can be store-bought)

2 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of salt & pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

hummus-pepper

 

Olive Hummus

1 cup hummus (homemade or store-bought)

1 cup sliced Kalamata olives

2 tablespoons olive oil

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

hummus-olive

These simple hummus dips can be served with crackers, veggies, pita wedges, tortilla chips, and much more.

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Enjoy!

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Water bottle flipping!

 

Clank!… Clank!… Clank! …every 5 seconds. That’s all you hear in most houses these days. Kids everywhere are doing this!

 

YouTube videos of children, teens and adults doing this have gone viral. It’s fun, harmless, takes a lot of practice, dedication and precision. It’s…

Water bottle flipping!

Yes, it’s the latest challenge: Flipping a water bottle.

It all started in May, when a teenager from North Carolina flipped a water bottle for his act during the high school talent show. The crowd went wild, the video went viral and children have been flipping water bottles ever since.

The story even made the news. And, yes, there’s an App for it!

The ultimate goal

Flip the water bottle in the air and make it land right side up.

The materials

My kids say that the key to a perfect bottle flip is the type of bottle and the amount of water in it.
They tested different bottle types and different water volumes. Hmmm, could this be turned into a Science project?

Turns out the best type of bottle is a 500ml Big 8 water bottle with water filled up to the 3rd line from the bottom.

bottle-1The art of bottle flipping

Landing the bottle on a table, a ledge, a basketball net rim, synchronized flipping with a group of friends, the possibilities are endless. Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect! Hours of practice go into every trick, and the harder the trick the more gratifying.

Hard-core flipping

Once the flip is mastered, the next step is flipping the bottle so that it lands on its cap. Hard to do, but not impossible. It’s called capping it. So now you know what it means, when your kids jump up and down screaming: “I capped it!”

bottle-topThe finale

Every successful trick is followed with it a dab. In case you haven’t heard of it (although you’ve probably seen it everywhere), the dab is a dance move where one arm is raised up in the air sideways and the other arm is placed in front of the face, as if sneezing in the elbow.

I figure as I a parent I need to keep up with the lingo, so that I can keep up with my children. So, I hope this blog demystifies some of the dudespeak your children are probably using.

And although the sound of bottle flipping can be extremely annoying, let’s enjoy this simple moment for a while. I rather my kids flip water bottles, than play videogames 🙂

Happy Water Bottle Flipping!

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Autumn Kale & Sausage Stew

by Regina Cozzi

 

This nutritious slow cooker recipe is a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and iron.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup water

6 mild Italian sausages

8 medium potatoes

1 can of diced tomatoes

5 kale leaves

1 package Knorr® homestyle chicken stock

1 tsp caraway seeds

Ground pepper

 

ingr-kale

Instructions:

Cut sausages into 2 inch pieces.

Cut potatoes into quarters.

Cut kale into 4 inch pieces.

Add sausages, potatoes, water and oil in slow cooker.

Add stock, kale and tomatoes.

Top with pepper and caraway seeds.

 

The caraway seeds give this dish a distinct aroma!

caraway

Cook on LOW for 8 hours.
Check out the video below for a quick demonstration.

Enjoy!

 

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final-kale

Quick and Easy Chickpea Soup

 

 

This nutritious soup is a great source of fibre and iron.

Ready in 15 min, prep. included.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

1/2 chopped onion

2 tbsp olive oil

1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed

2 cups water

1 package Knorr® homestyle chicken stock

grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

 

pic_souping

Instructions:

Heat oil in 3qt pot

Add chopped onions, cook until translucent

Add chickpeas

Add water and chicken stock

Bring to a boil

Let simmer for 10 minutes

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese

Serve with buttered biscuits

Enjoy!

 

pic_soupbowl

Tip:

If time is an issue (e.g. getting ready to leave for hockey practice), add a couple of ice cubes in your child’s bowl to cool it down quicker.

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