Snow Painting Ideas

Posted by: on Jan 29, 2014 in Blog | 60 Comments

Snow Painting Ideas

Snow is white, usually. Sometimes it is brown from age and dirt and sometimes it is yellow from…you know!

Let’s get outside and bring a little color to the party with these snow painting ideas:

  1. Water bombs– Fill balloons with colored water and let them fly!
  2. Giant paintbrushes– Try old mop heads or new (dollar store) toilet mops. Anything large and spongy with a long handle. Try tying strips of old bath towel to pvc pipe or dowel rod. Add buckets of colored water and you are ready for a back yard mural experience!
  3. Inside play – Just because it’s too cold to spend a lot of time outside doesn’t mean the fun has to be snow free. Simply fill a tray or dish bucket with snow and your kids can paint away. Let them use their water color paints and tiny brushes. When they are ready for a fresh start, just toss it out the back door or let it go down the laundry tub drain.
  4. Eye Droppers– This works indoors or outdoors on the snow. It allows for a more detailed design for older children. Great fine motor for the younger children as well.
  5. Spray bottles– This is a tried and true way to add color to any outdoor sculpture or space. Fill spray bottles with colored water and get squirting!

Snow paint recipes:

Try them all and see which one you like best

  • Drink mix packets and water
  • Food coloring and water
  • Powdered tempra paint and water. The tempra is a bit more laundry friendly. It washes off with much less chance for staining- keep those snow pants and coats clean!)

How do you and your family make that winter white world more colorful? Do you have any snow paint recipes other than those listed? Pass them on, we love to add to our recipe inventory!

Wind Chill and Outdoor Play

Posted by: on Jan 29, 2014 in Blog | 64 Comments

Wind Chill and Outdoor Play

There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.

There is no such thing as a day too cold to go out, just too much time outside.

The wind chill will let you know and so will your cheeks!

Young Children and Cold Temps

Children have a hard time regulating their body temperature.

If they are having fun, they will not be thinking about how cold they might be feeling.

That’s why you have to be vigilant and get the kids in before damage can occur.

It can be a hassle to bundle the kids up just to turn around and bring them back in, but the fresh air, even for a few minutes is quite good for them. It may just be a quick trip to the mail box, or a few minutes helping to clear the driveway of snow, but do give it a go and see the difference it can make.

Safety in Numbers

Here’s a wind chill chart that will help you keep everyone safe this winter from frost bite and other cold winter worries.

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Posted by: on Jan 29, 2014 in Blog | 13 Comments

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

When I was young I was not a tomato soup fan.

When it was served at school, the lunchroom monitor would insist we try it. If we hesitated or said we didn’t like it after we tasted it, she would pour our milk into it. Not only did we miss out on our lunch main dish, now our milk was ruined too!

Now, while I’m still not a giant fan of the condensed tomato soup that comes in a red and white can, I have been known to heat up a cup of tomato/vegetable juice (you know, the one named after a letter and a number) and for me, that’s a tasty cup of soup on the run. The recipe below is quick but nowhere near as quick as hot juice!

Grilled cheese on the other hand was a perennial favorite. Grilled cheese, toasted cheese, quesadilla, Panini, you name it YUM! From simple to decadent, slap cheese on bread and I’m there!

Hopefully your family, young and old, will enjoy either or both of these recipes from Taste of Home on a cold winter day.

grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup

Quick Tomato Soup 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano, rosemary or basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups nonfat or low-fat milk

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, herbs and crushed red pepper (if using); cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, water and sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in milk and heat through, about 1 minute.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Makes 6 -1 ½ cups servings

 

 

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 package (3 ounces) softened
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 10 slices Italian bread (1/2 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened

Directions

  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth.
  • Stir in the cheeses, garlic powder and seasoned salt.
  • Spread five slices of bread with the cheese mixture, about 1/3 cup on each.
  • Top with remaining bread.
  • Butter the outsides of sandwiches. In a skillet over medium heat, toast sandwiches for 4-5 minutes on each side or until bread is lightly browned and cheese is melted.
  • Yield: 5 servings.

What is your go to “warm you up” lunch for your family? Let us know.

Snowball Throwing

Posted by: on Jan 29, 2014 in Blog | 26 Comments

Snowball Throwing

Children like to throw snow.

Children don’t like to get hit in the face with snow.

If you are going to let your child throw snow at people, be prepared for tears.

You may also want to consider how well you will keep your temper when someone hits your child in the face with a hard packed snowball. Or even light and fluffy snow that comes at them on the wrong day.

It’s going to happen and when it does, someone is likely to cry and or lose their temper.

Schools tend to have bans on all snow throwing. People who work with lots of children have seen lots of snow thrown and more than their fair share of eye injuries.

For some, the answer becomes, “leave snow on the ground”.

Total bans on touching snow are seldom successful because, as I mentioned above, children like to throw snow.

A more successful way to handle the winter warriors is to give them targets to aim at so they don’t choose a target from their class or playgroup.

Here are a few target ideas:

  • Snowmen– Snowmen can take it all day long. No tears, no retaliation.
  • Trees– Throwing snowballs at trees is especially fun when the snowballs stick and make patterns on the dark bark.
  • Buckets/Barrels– Stand behind a line and place the buckets or barrels progressively farther away.
  • Basketball Hoop- It’s just hanging around with nothing to do until spring anyway!
  • Table Top Targets– Line up empty milk jugs or 2 liter bottles on a picnic table or the ground and see if you can knock them over.

Snowball Fight

That Being Said…

There are families that have always had snowball fights and families that will always have snowball fights. I get that. Your house, your rules.

Just remember that there are likely to be consequences if your child forgets where they are and hits the wrong person at the wrong time.  Providing them “target only” snow throwing opportunities at home will help them remember, “target only” snowballs at school.

Two Hot Chocolate Recipes

Posted by: on Jan 9, 2014 in Blog | 63 Comments

Two Hot Chocolate Recipes

I’m not opposed to store bought hot chocolate mixes, sometimes the price is surprisingly low, but let me suggest that you make a batch of your own dry mix anyway. This gives you the power over the ingredients. The quality and quantity of ingredients you use to make your own is going to create a product superior to the prepackaged mixes. It’s made of simple dry ingredients so the shelf life ensures it will last through the winter. I have a feeling that you’ll think it’s so tasty that even though it could last, it won’t.

Here’s what you need:

Hot Chocolate Mix (from the new lighter life website)

Ingredients:

3 ½ cups cocoa powder (unsweetened type for baking)

2 ¼ cups sugar

1 Tablespoon salt – don’t leave this out

Combine the ingredients and store in an air tight container.

To use:

Heat one cup of milk and stir in 2 T. cocoa mix. Add a few marshmallows if that’s your thing and enjoy!

This is a great all purpose, any time any day hot chocolate, however…

Every once in a while, after the kids are in bed, on a play date or spending the night with grandma and grandpa, treat yourself to a hot chocolate that just screams indulgence.

Warning: This is very rich. Trust them when they say two servings! I wondered when I didn’t see sugar in the ingredient list. Now that I’ve had it, I can’t imagine what I was thinking!

Green mug of hot cocoa with marshmallows on top.

The Ultimate Indulgent Hot Chocolate for Two

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 cups half-and-half or 1 cup whole milk plus 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate, broken into small pieces or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Whisk together the cornstarch and salt, and whisk in the milk and cream until cornstarch is dissolved.

Bring the mixture just to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then reduce the heat and slowly simmer it, whisking frequently, 1 minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Let it rest for 1 minute, then whisk the mixture until chocolate is melted and liquid is smooth.

Whisk in the cocoa and the vanilla, and if necessary, reheat it over medium-low heat until hot.

An extra note or two from me: Maybe I don’t have the best whisking skills- I had some lumps. They didn’t slow down my enjoyment, I’m just saying be aware. I used 70% cacao because it’s what I had in the house, YUM!

Read more http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/The-Ultimate-Indulgent-Hot-Chocolate-for-Two-369410#ixzz2nRcIrWal

Are these recipes to your taste? Not to your taste? Did you make adjustments to suit your family requests? Let us know!

Sledding Safety Tips

Posted by: on Jan 9, 2014 in Blog | 9 Comments

Sledding Safety Tips

Sledding in the winter is great fun. I remember going down the hills at Duncan Woods (Duncan Memorial Park) between the trees. The climb was a killer but the ride was a thriller. Of course there were wipeouts galore and we did have one incident that sent one of our sledding party to the emergency room but that’s all part of the fun…isn’t it??

  • Many of the sledding safety articles online come from hospitals. Something to think about.
  • According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Ohio, bruises, cuts and broken bones are the most common sledding injuries and…
  • Most head and neck injuries occur in children under 6 years of age.

    sledding

Here are a few sledding safety tips:

  • Have at least one adult actively supervising. Let children know who the “go to” person is in case of injury.
  • Teach children to roll off a sled that they cannot stop.
  • If they do roll off before they get to the bottom of the hill, teach your children to get off to the side and out of the way of others as quickly as possible.
  • Stick to smaller hills with younger kids. It makes sense for safety as well as climbing to the top (again and again and again)! The other nice thing about small hills is the bigger kids probably won’t be there!
  • A helmet is not out of the question. Any well-fitting bike or multisport helmet does the trick.
  • Do not wear scarves. They can become trapped under a slide and become a choking hazard. Instead, wear a balaclava or ski mask that can be worn, hood up, with just the face exposed, or hood down, covering the neck.
  • Go down feet first. I know that sleds like saucers or inner tubes have minds of their own. They really aren’t recommended when it comes to sledding safety.
  • Avoid hills that might cause a sled to travel into the street, a parking lot or water.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Stay safe, dress warmly, and if you see someone sledding in hunter orange snow pants, wave, it just might be me!

What sledding safety rules does your family follow? Let us know so we can pass them on!