Monday, June 29, 2015

Multi-Coloured Ice Cube Water Play

It was really hot and humid here last week, so we decided to try out some fun water play. Rather than just splashing around in a water table (which is totally lots of fun on it's own!) I decided to try shaking things up a little bit and I pre-made some coloured ice cubes to add to our water bin. Basically I just put a few drops of food colouring into each section of the ice cube tray and then filled it with water and gave each section a little stir before popping it into the freezer.


After it was fully frozen I had a lovely rainbow of ice cubes to add into the water bin. The result was really neat as the ice cubes melted and the colour started to swirl into the water. The boy-o had fun adding new coloured cubes to the mix and it was a great way to cool off too!


He loved trying to scoop up the ice cubes and "catch" them with his containers as they were melting. Since they cubes are coloured with food colouring be prepared to end up with coloured fingers as well if your little wants to touch them and play with them as they melt in the water.


We took turns adding different coloured cubes to see how they changed the water colour, and put the unused cubes back in the freezer for another day of play!


Watching the colour disperse across the water as the ice cubes melted was really cool and the next time we try this out I think we'll add a whole bunch of one colour and try not to touch them for a few seconds so we can really see the colour spread.


The boy-o had a great time playing at his little water station to try and beat the heat, and the addition of the coloured cubes added a little bit of extra fun. It's definitely a fun and simple activity that we'll be trying again another day.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Today is Father's Day and I wanted to take a minute to recognize all the hard work put in by so many loving and caring Dads around the world!

To the Dads who wake up in the night with their kids.... Thank-you!
To the Dads who help with bath time and bed time.... Thank-you!
To the Dads who read to their little ones.... Thank-you!
To the Dads who love and respect their children's mothers.... Thank-you!
To the Dads who stepped up and took care of someone else's children like they were his own... Thank-you!
To the Dads who teach their children about nature and the world around them... Thank-you!
To the Dads who help with housework and meal times... Thank-you!
To the Dads who work long hours to support their families... Thank-you!
To the Dads who stay at home with their kids so their partner can fulfill her career goals... Thank-you!

To all the great Dads out there who come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and who may not always feel like they're doing the best they could be... your kids think you're amazing, and for that, so do I! 

Happy Father's Day!
To all the amazing Dad's out there! 

And an extra special Happy Father's Day to my Hubby who is an excellent Daddy, and I'm so blessed that the boy-o has such a good role model to look up to. When he tries on your shoes I know he's hoping that he'll grow up to be like you--and I hope he does too!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shaving Cream Swirl Art: Father's Day Craft Idea

Father's Day is fast approaching and sometimes it can be really hard to figure out what to get Dad. When the kiddos are little homemade stuff is always a big hit and this fun activity uses some shaving cream in honor of Dear old Dad to create a beautiful tie-dyed work of art!


The activity is quite simple, so even toddlers can get in on the fun! All you need for this one is some foamy white shaving cream, a container to spray it in, some food colouring, a couple of q-tips or straws, and some white paper to make your art print on when you're finished.


Start by spraying some shaving cream into the container, you don't need a lot, just enough to make sure that you have a full coating of your tray. Once you've sprayed the shaving cream, you can smooth it out just using your hands so you're starting with a flattened surface.


Add a few drops of food colouring to the shaving cream, making sure to add 2-3 drops to each spot so you have a good little bit of colour there.


Once the colour is on the shaving cream you can start making the master piece! Use the q-tip or straw to swirl the colours around the shaving cream making all kinds of cool tie-dyed patterns. It's ok if the littles get their hands in there too--it's just shaving cream so it washes off pretty easily, although they might have some colouring left on their hands.


Once you have the colour patterning you're happy with (and you can keep adding more and more food colouring until you have the desired effect) simply place a piece of white paper on top of the shaving cream and softly rub all over the back of it pressing it down lightly into the shaving cream.


This will transfer the colour from the food colouring onto the paper. If you rub the paper lightly down into the shaving cream you should get the colour to transfer without having too much of the shaving cream stick to the paper.


Once you have your print simply set the sheets aside to dry and tidy up! The extra shaving cream that stuck to the paper will absorb in to the paper as you let it dry.


Once your papers are dry you can do anything you like with them! You could write a message right on to the picture, or cut out a tie-dyed hand print or heart to use in a card. The possibilities are endless! Make sure you snap a few photos of the process too so Dad can see his little having fun playing with the shaving cream.



Monday, June 15, 2015

Pull Apart Pizza Bread: Father's Day Treat or Potluck Special

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie! We made it for our large Christmas family pot-luck last year, and have made it at home a few times too when we want something a little more fun than making regular pizzas. This is a definite pot-luck winner because it's so easy to make, and who doesn't love pizza? This would also be a great meal to make for Dad for Father's Day--and it's one the whole family will love! The boy-o was about 18 months when he tried it out and that's where his love of dipping foods was born. (Fair warning! heh)

Pull Apart Pizza Bread:


Ingredients:

  • 2 Cans of Pizza Dough
  • 2 cups Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of a really good Italian seasoning
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 – 8 oz package of pepperoni
  • 1 cup Parmesean cheese
  • Optional: Add a ½ teaspoon of fresh garlic or garlic powder


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lay out the pizza dough, and using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice up the pizza dough into approx 2" squares/pieces. (It's all getting piled into the bowl together, so don't stress about how big the pieces end up!)
  3. Cut the pepperoni into quarters.
  4. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and toss so that the oil is spread evenly on each piece of dough.
  5. Transfer dough mixture to a greased bundt pan
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes (or until the top is brown and the center is thoroughly cooked) 
  7. TIP: Be sure to check it in the middle before you pull it out. If the middle is still not cooked thoroughly be sure to leave it in another 5 minutes at a time until it’s done.
  8. Flip over on to a plate while it’s still hot.
  9. Serve with a side of pizza sauce and enjoy!

Once your pizza pull apart bread is all cooked simply add a side of your favourite pizza sauce for dipping and you're all set! To make it easier to eat you might want to pre-cut the pizza bread into sections, especially if you have a lot of guests who will want to make sure they get to try it--because once you've had a piece, it's hard to resists grabbing another chunk!!


Friday, June 12, 2015

"Exploding" Tie-Dye Milk

This is a super cool science activity that's sure to impress your little and have them wanting to try it over and over again! We were at our local OEYC (Ontario Early Years Center) this morning and they were having a "Science" themed morning. They had a lady come in to do some simple activities with the kids, which the boy-o of course loved, so we decided to keep the science fun going when we got home!


This activity is called many different things, and so you might have heard it referred to as Tie-Dye Milk, Colour Milk, Exploding Milk, etc. but it all boils down to the same awesome activity no matter what you call it. I've decide to take the best of all worlds and call it "Exploding" Tie-Dye Milk.


All you need for this activity is some milk (the higher the fat the better--we used 2% and it worked ok, but homo would be better!), a container to put the milk in, some food colouring, dish soap, and some Q-Tips. Poor a thin layer of milk into the bottom of your container and then put in a few drops of each colour food-colouring.


Now the fun part!! Dip your Q-Tip into the dish soap and then touch the Q-Tip in the center of one of the colour drops and watch the colour shoot away from the Q-Tip making cool swirling patterns in the milk. You can re-dip in the dish soap and keep touching the Q-Tip all over your container to watch the awesome patterns that emerge.


You can also swirl the Q-Tip around in the container and watch the colours run away as well! The boy-o was totally fascinated by this activity, and loved watching the colour spread out across the container. Once it started to get a little murky we added a few more drops of colour to brighten it back up a bit and started over again with making the colours run.


The reason that this activity works is the dish soap interacts with the fat molecules in the milk, which is why using a fuller fat milk makes for a better experience. The activity is another great one for some quiet toddler play or a rainy day. 


To make the activity last longer simply dump out the coloured milk and put a fresh new layer in the container. It requires very little milk, so even repeating the activity a few times is still a very cost effective science exploration. (especially if your milk is getting to the end of its shelf life and you don't know how to use it up!)


We'll definitely be filing this one away for use another day and I hope you and your little enjoy it as much as we did!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Popsicle Stick Builders

Here's another simple and inexpensive quiet toddler activity that's super portable and now lives in our diaper bag all the time for restaurant trips or visiting family/friend's who don't have kids where it's necessary to bring our own entertainment. These popsicle stick builders can easily be adapted to grow as your little does to include some flash cards with photos on them which your little has to copy. For example, a square made with a red, blue, orange and yellow popsicle stick, or a triangle made with all blue popsicle sticks etc.


All that was required for this one was some coloured popsicle sticks, and self adhesive velcro dots. I cut the dots in half since the popsicle sticks aren't very wide and then stuck them right to the sticks. I put dots on both sides of the sticks and both ends to maximize building possibilities.


At the moment the boy-o is more interested in attaching them all end to end like a train than he is with making shapes out of them, but that will come in time, and in the end it doesn't really matter how he plays with them--they're keeping him busy and he's learning either way!




Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole

This delicious recipe came about because I really wanted wings one night, and rather than spend the money to eat out, I wanted a more affordable alternative I could eat at home. This casserole dish is the perfect combo of spicy and satisfying! The bacon bits really make this dish--so don't skimp on them!



Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole:


Ingredients:

- cooking spray
- 6 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 8 potatoes cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
- 1 cup diced green onions

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat hot pepper sauce, olive oil, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, and salt in a large skillet over low heat, stirring until thoroughly combined. Turn off heat. Toss potatoes in batches with the hot pepper sauce mixture to coat and use a slotted spoon to transfer potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Leave remaining sauce in skillet. Mix chicken into remaining sauce and allow to marinate while potatoes roast.
3. Bake potatoes until tender inside and crisp and brown outside, 45 to 50 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Reduce oven heat to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
5. Spread chicken cubes over roasted potatoes. Sprinkle Mexican cheese blend, cooked bacon, and green onions over chicken. Return to oven and bake until chicken is cooked through and the cheese topping is bubbling, about 15 minutes.
6. Bake in oven until chicken is cooked through and the cheese topping is bubbling, about 15 minutes.



This casserole freezes well, and tastes even better the next day for leftovers once the flavours have really come together! This dish does turn out to be fairly spicy, so if you don't like the heat--you'll want to pass on this one. I think this would be an excellent Super Bowl dish too if you've got a big crowd to feed!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Petting Zoo Fun

We were at the local petting zoo a week ago or so, and the boy-o still talks about petting the goats and deer almost every day! Apparently our little outing made a lasting impression on him. We have a cat at home, so the boy-o is already very familiar with the concept of "gentle petting" and it's so wonderful to see him apply that to other animals as well.


We bought a few cones of feed so he could try feeding the animals. He was pretty hesitant about it at first, but each time we've gone he's gotten better at it! He's getting pretty good at feeding the carrots and cones because the animals don't actually touch his hand that way, but he's still pretty nervous about letting them lick up seed from his palm. 


It makes me smile to see my little so excited about animals and behaving so well with them--maybe one day he'll be a veterinarian or something.