Archives for March 2013

Easter Basket Goodies

easter basket 1

As I was putting together Matty’s Easter basket this year, I started thinking about the origin of the Easter Basket.  Okay, more specifically, I was thinking, when did we get to a point when we think it’s okay to give kids a huge basket of candy?

Did you know:

  • in 2011, Americans consumed 7 billion pounds of candy
  • in 2012, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy
  • the average 7 oz chocolate bunny has 1,050 calories; that’s how many calories a 4-5 year old needs for the whole day, and MORE than a 2-3 year old needs for the entire  day
  • most Easter baskets easily contain over 3,500 calories
  • the bacteria that causes tooth decay and plaque feed off of sugar
  • candy is full of artificial dyes, which have been proven to be a carcinogen (cancer-causing); even the FDA acknowledges this; furthermore, these dyes are linked to hyperactivity and inattentiveness in kids
  • most sweets contain high fructose corn syrup; hfcs does serious damage to the liver, which affects metabolism, thyroid, kidneys, heart, and of course leads to obesity; it’s also been proven to contain traces of mercury
  • “Spikes & dips” caused by eating too much sugar can take days to recover from; it’s best to be sure to eat protein with all sugar to help stabilize blood sugar

I could continue, but you get the point.  Are we a strictly sugar-free, candy-free, dye-free household? No, but we’re working on it.  And we’re conscious of our choices.  Which means we couldn’t just hand over a candy-filled basket to our little guy, no matter what fun traditions we remember as a kid. But we did include some fun treats and tasty, healthier choices.

So, what did we include?

easter basket

  • Spring-themed coloring book
  • recycled tree colored pencils
  • playdough
  • bubble bucket
  • Silly Putty (it’s egg-shaped!)
  • Melissa and Doug play fruit set (found on clearance for $6 at a local store!)
  • Bunny marshmallow sack (gluten free, kosher marshmallows found at Whole Foods)
  • Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • Cheddar crackers “carrot” (Use Goldfish or Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies)

I’ve heard the argument, “we had candy when we were kids, and we’re okay”. Or something along those lines. And it’s true.  But there’s more dyes, more sugar, bigger servings, and high fructose corn syrup wasn’t even really around 40 years ago.  Kids aren’t going to “miss” what they don’t expect or don’t know.  And I think kids appreciate the value of a few small pieces of candy or chocolate more than they appreciate a whole basket full; it’s the theory of having too many toys–kids get overwhelmed and get a mindset of more, more, more and are never fulfilled.

I’m really not a buzzkill. I promise! I’m fun! Look, I made a marshmallow bunny and a cracker carrot!

basket stuffers

1. For the carrot, use a decorator’s or pastry bag.  Fill with cheddar crackers. Twist top and tie with green ribbon.

2. For the bunny, use a regular treat bag. Fill with marshmallows. Seal with tape.  Add wiggly eyes, a pom pom nose, paper whiskers, a ribbon bow, paper ears, and draw a mouth with a Sharpie.

Pssst. Looking for a few healthier candy options, Giselle @ myhealthyhappyhome wrote a post earlier this week outlining some good choices. Click on over!

Easter Rundown

Easter. Spring. Synonymous, no?  No. At least not in Ohio this year.  One Easter egg hunt has already been cancelled due to a snowstorm.  And there’s still 3″ of snow on the ground.  So it’s been a bit difficult to really get into bright colors, butterflies, and “signs of new life” when everything is covered in white.  But, we have done a few fun things!

easter sensory box

Sensory boxes should engage all the senses, right?!  Even taste?  This one does!

  1. Cut some green paper or cardstock into strips.
  2. Fold strips into zigzags (I did 2 or 3 together then just separated it.  I also made the hubby fold some while he was vegged out in front of the TV.)
  3. Grab some plastic eggs from your stash, or pick up a new bag of 25-50ish.
  4. Fill with super-fun toddler treats. We used:
  • Foam stickers
  • Gel stickers
  • Glitter stickers
  • Pom Poms (Matty loves these because the cats play with them.)
  • Real coins for the piggy bank
  • Chocolate chips (We always have Enjoy Life’s chips around.  Dairy free, soy free, gluten free, egg free………)

Cost: About $5 for stickers (which we have plenty left over for other activities) and $1 in change

Okay, okay. Candy? What?! Here’s the secret. Use only 3-5 pieces of candy. They will keep looking and looking and looking and looking to find each piece of candy.  Ahhh, 30 blissful minutes of kid occupation.

egg sensory table

At that point they’ll realize they’re in over their heads and recruit Daddy to help.

Seriously, he drug Daddy in by the hand, patted the ground to make him sit down, then handed him an egg and said, “ope” (open).  He wouldn’t let Eric leave until they were all open.

Most of the time we leave our boxes out for a few days at least.  We’ve done this box every day this week, but obviously only brought it out once/day, like when I needed to clean the kitchen or catch up on Vampire Diaries (why am I still watching this?).

NOTE: Make sure each egg has something in it.  Not only does it increase motivation, but they get a little angry if they didn’t get a treat and you’ll hear, “No. Mommy! All gone. All gone!”

I also realized he needed a place to put his stickers (his shirt was filling up fast), so I taped a piece of easel paper to the wall next to the sensory box.

Fun Easter Crafts

Bunny Watercolor Painting. Draw a bunny using a white crayon (and pink and black for eyes & nose, if you so desire).  Use watercolors to paint over top, and the bunny magically appears! Cut out, add ribbon for hanging, whiskers (pipe cleaners or paper) and a fluffy bunny tail.

watercolor easter bunny

watercolor easter bunny1

Tissue Paper Egg Dying. Grab a few pieces of craft tissue paper (not the non-bleed kind).  Cut into 1″ x 1″ squares. Use a wet paper towel to dampen the egg.  Place the tissue paper squares on the egg, using a small paintbrush with water to tamp it down (don’t make it too wet or the color will bleed all over–just wet enough to stick).  We found that multiple layers of tissue paper worked best for transferring color.  Leave out to dry (a cut tp tube works great), then peel off the paper. Voila. P.S. A bit messier than you may think, but not too bad.

tissue paper easter eggs

Good Reads

And what’s a theme without a few good books?

easter books

1. Happy Easter, Mouse.  Who’s hiding Easter eggs around the house?  A good counting and color book.

2. Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs? Matty loves the Karen Katz books. He found this at the library and started yelling, “Baby!”

3. What is Easter? It’s fun to celebrate with eggs, bunnies, and candy, but Easter is about a lot more.  This book relays that message in a simply, fun rhyme.

Color Theme: Green

allaboutgreen

I planned our “green week” to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day.  My original thought was to fill our sensory box with coins, shamrocks, and other holiday items, but then I realized I didn’t want to buy a bunch of trinkets that we only usable once/year.  So I tried to use only things we had around the house.

Color Learning Tip #2: Instead of saying, “this is a green ball”, say “this ball is green”.  Putting the noun first ensures the child focuses his attention on the correct object, so that he  can then focus on the attribute (in this case green).  If you say “green” first, the child is looking around for “a green”.

A really interesting study…read more here.

Sensory Box

Inclusions:

  • Tambourine
  • Stacking blocks
  • Counting bears
  • Cup
  • Flash card
  • Teething ring
  • Feather
  • Ball pit ball
  • Flashcard
  • Rice

Total Spent: $0 (I had a large bag of rice leftover from making rice heat packs).

Books

GREENBOOKS

1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Can you even survive parenthood without this book?  We have 4  copies: my copy from when I was a kid, a small board book, a slide-and-find book, and the Kindle version.  Of course, this teaches all colors, but Matty’s favorite is the green frog, so I included it here. Ribbit.

2. Green. This book is parent-friendly and kid-friendly.  Exploring all shades of green, this book provides wonderful pictures depicting sea green, forest green, forever green (planting a tree!), cut-outs that lend to the imagination, and a positive message that’s about more than just colors, without being too in-your-face.  I can’t recommend it enough!

3. Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham? Another classic.  Matty liked it because it included “not” a lot, and that means the same thing as “no”, which is his favorite word.  We cook eggs most mornings, and now he likes to scream “green” at them; thankfully, he hasn’t actually insisted on having green eggs (though that could be fun).

Activities

1. Tissue Paper Shamrock Mosaic. Could do any shape!
2. Green Playdough
3. Baking–green spinach cupcakes
4. Try these Green Fruit Kabobs!
5. Get started with Green Smoothies
6. Green Markers (a treat!)
7. Stickers–look for frogs, leaves, alligators, dinosaurs
8. Snow Painting
9. Stars & Dots. Place two shapes a distance apart–run from one shape to the other, or hop like a bunny, or jump like a frog, or crawl like a bear, or march, or walk backwards, or go really, really fast, or go really, really show…the possibilities are endless!  I found these felt shapes in the craft section at Walmart for $.97 each.

He knows green! I didn’t really think he cared to know until I was writing this post with him next to me, and he started pointing at the screen yelling “geen”.

Question:

Any other tried-and-true movement learning games? We are not getting any Spring weather in Ohio yet, so we’re still trapped indoors.

Color Theme: Blue

blue

I love me a good theme, so I’m excited that Wee One is old enough to “get” them now.  At 17 months old, he’s definitely too young to be expected to know his colors, but it’s never to early to help him become aware of different colors. And besides, colors are fun!

Color Learning Tip # 1: 2 and 3 year olds won’t necessarily understand and know all of their colors.  Children as old as 6 can still confuse colors frequently.  The U.S. Department of Health’s standard is for children to be able to identify 4 colors at the end of age 5.

Blue Sensory Box

Inclusions:

  • Ball pit balls
  • Wood blocks
  • Feather
  • Magnetic letters
  • Mega Bloks
  • Sensory ball
  • Counting bears w/cup
  • Cookie cutter
  • Tambourine
  • Rubber duck
  • Colored pencil
  • Flash cards
  • Batman!

Total Spent: $0

I had every intention of adding some rice to this box, but Matthew woke up from his nap before I got there.  He was so excited to jump right in, I left it as is.  He didn’t seem to mind!  We kept it out for a week before switching it.  I kept finding other blue things in the box, too, like his boots and blue pants!

Blue Books

books

There are plenty of books that teach colors, so I picked up a few all inclusive ones, but for each color I tried to choose one “special” book to focus on.

1. Little Blue Truck. This was our special book for blue. I found the big book (think 2′ x 2′) at TJ Maxx for a couple dollars.This book was perfect for his age–trucks, cars, animals, dirt…it’s so cute I even designed a sensory box around it a month later.

2. Monsters Love Colors. This book is UHmazing.  The illustrations are fun, and there’s so much you could do with it–primary colors, color blending, art projects.  This his favorite right now, and he can even point out all the colors on the last page (though I think it’s more memorizing than actually knowing colors).  Still, it’s a fun trick to show off to the grandparents. 🙂

3. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse. This was geared towards “blue”, but included all colors as well.  In true Eric Carle fashion, we have red crocodiles, black polar bears, and green lions.  It’s a very, very simple story, but Matty loves it.

Crafts

Wee One wasn’t really into crafts a couple months ago (my how things change!), so we kept it simple.

  • Blue playdough on the playdough tray (he loves for me to roll it into little balls so he can squash it with his fingers, and making snakes, of course)
  • Blue stamping–use the eraser end of a pencil to make dots.
  • Blue collage–write BLUE on a large sheet of easel paper. Color blue pictures, use blue stickers, and glue down blue tissue paper squares.

The result?

Me: What do you want for dinner?
Matty: Blue

Me: Where’s your shoes?
Matty: Blue

Me: What time is it?
Matty: Blue

Okay, okay. To his credit, he does indeed know blue.  He can pick the blue crayons out of the box, he can identify blue objects around the house, and if I ask him to pick a blue shirt from his dresser, he can!

Psst. I’m linked up with Toddler Tuesday @ myhealthyhappyhome. Click on over for other toddler fun!

Getting Started With Sensory Boxes

sensory boxes

Sensory boxes. Sensory bins. Play tubs. Treasure boxes. Whatever you call it, there’s no denying it’s a key parenting tool. Yes, tool. It’s educational. It’s fun. And it keeps Littles occupied long enough to fold the laundry and pee by yourself.

While no well-kept secret of Supermoms, apparently sensory boxes are not as common as I once thought.  I got into a discussion with some other moms at Storytime last week about keeping our kids occupied during cold, snowy days indoors.  I was one of few who’d heard of them—let alone using them!  Of course, there were cries of “too messy” or “too expensive” or “takes up too much room”.  To which I reply “NO!” (imagine that in a very emphatic toddler voice).

So let’s talk about sensory boxes, shall we?

What are sensory boxes?

Well, just that. A  box, bin, bag, or container that is filled with manipulatives to stimulate the senses of budding young minds.  They can be simple to complex.  While most focus on touch and sight, there are definitely ways to incorporate smell, sound, and even taste.  Toddlers get a lot of chances to practice gross motor skills, but dumping, scooping and trying to pick up a grain of rice really develops those fine motor skills!  Stimulating the senses and getting kids moving are key to cognitive development (aka, learning).

Step 1: Containers

Any container can become the home of sensory play.  I usually use an underbed plastic storage bin.  It seems to be a good size, has a lid, and can slide under the guest bed or even the couch when we’re not using it.  For messy days (like water), we put it in the bathroom.

I know some folks have 10 plastic tubs and prep 9 boxes in advance.  I don’t know where in the world they store these!  I do have a box in Matty’s closet that has ziplock bags and small boxes of manipulatives.  I also have a few containers of base (keep reading for more on that) in the pantry.  They key to any idea working is to make it hassle-free, and 10 giant bins in my house doesn’t seem hassle-free to me.  So yes, you can do sensory boxes with a cardboard box, a bag of rice, and some toys from the toy box!

Step 2: Bases

There are many, many options for bases.  This is what takes a box of “stuff” to the next level. Read: hours of fun!

  • Uncooked rice
  • Pasta (pretty much any shape)
  • Water
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Mud
  • Sand
  • Pebbles
  • Cotton Balls
  • Dried beans
  • Dried corn (would be great for a Farm box)
  • Oatmeal
  • Coffee beans (or grounds!)
  • Unpopped popcorn

Of course, don’t forget to incorporate some sort of scoop, cup, or spoon, some tongs or tweezers, or other hand tool.

Will this increase the mess? Yes.  But we don’t give kids enough credit.  If you expect them to make a mess, they will.  If you expect them to keep it in the box, and explain this, they will.  If Matty gets even a little water or a few grains of rice on the floor, he asks for help cleaning it up. And yes, the bases can be reused!  Just store in airtight containers.  Perhaps if you have multiple kiddos or recently had a sickness swing through the house you’ll want to toss it, but generally reuse!

Easy Beginning Concepts

Sensory bins are so easy to use with babies who are just sitting up and crawling, or older kids (I’m talking 8 years old here).  Just vary the concept and sensory manipulatives to make it more complex (and probably avoid adding a base for bambinos).

  • Rough/Soft (cotton balls, silk pieces, minky fabric)
  • Colors (do a different color each time, and voila—8 different boxes)
  • Shapes (again, a different shape each time)
  • Holidays (just toss all the little décor knick-knacks in a box)
  • Nature
  • Cold (ice—or freeze small toys in ice cubes)
  • Animals (house pets, farm animals, bugs…)

Can the manipulatives get expensive? It could, but it doesn’t have to.  For the Color boxes that we’ve been doing recently, I didn’t buy a single thing.  We already had colored blocks, colored plastic cookie cutters, and other random toys of various colors.  Dig through the toy box (Fisher Price Little People, balls, or sets of things that may be missing a piece or two can be repurposed), look through the kitchen cabinets, or repurpose trash (tp tubes, Sunday’s newspaper).  A quick trip to a Dollar Store can add tons of play manipulatives for just a few bucks.  Try to include things that can be used in different ways, as well as a variety of textures and sizes.  When possible, include other senses–how does a tambourine sound when rice is poured through it?

Taking it to the Next Level

Getting your kid engaged may be as simple as putting it out.  Or they may need a little direction, such as pointing out a few manipulatives or showing how the rice can be poured.  But once they catch on, they’re hooked.  So then maybe you want to take it to the next level?

  • Try colored rice or pasta
  • Read a book about the concept, or visit the library to let them find books that relate
  • Take a “field trip” (for example we have a trip to the aquarium planned, with an Under the Sea box planned for after)
  • Add a few drops of essential oil to the base (for example, lemon oil for a Yellow box)
  • Design a box around a complex concept your Littles are interested in, such as Construction (complete with mud and play bulldozers) or Dinosaurs (complete with fossils and chisels)
  • Take it outside–the same sensory play from last week is all new in the yard, in the garage, or in the driveway

There’s no set timeframe for how long to leave out a particular setup.  Some of our activities have lasted just one afternoon (like water-based play), and some have gone on for two weeks (like rice play).

So, in the upcoming week or so, I’ll be sharing some of the Sensory boxes we’ve done around here, as well as additional theme activities, like books and crafts that relate to the  concept.

Questions:

  • Do you do Sensory boxes?
  • What’s been your Little’s favorite so far?
  • If you don’t do them, what’s your biggest hang-up?

Tales From the Crib: Month 18

month18

Wow. It’s my half birthday. Apparently, some kids get cake or even a whole party to celebrate such a momentous occasion.  Me? Nope. I got stale spinach cupcakes.

(half-birthday party ideas)

Well, that’s not totally fair. I did get to go to a birthday party this weekend for my friend, Kat.  Not to be confused with my friend, cat.  There was decorations, and chips, and cake (three different kinds!), and kids, and karaoke.  Did I mention cake?

Besides the cake, this has been a ridiculous month.  Everybody got sick. ( but yay for sicky chairs and juice!)

sicychair

The weather has been completely yucky (but yay for snow bunnies!)

I was trapped indoors playing with a balloon Monkey while Mommy zoned out watching Downton Abbey. #screwyoudanstevens

monkey1

And I learned the job of Naked Cowboy has already been taken.

We did take a break from our sickness and grouchiness to attend a special event in town.  The Lima Symphony Orchestra does an event once a month called Kids Fest.  String quartet…at the library…with kiddie instruments…and stickers.  Good times.

So besides my obvious dancing skillz, what else am I up to? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

  • “Pop Pop” (Grandpa). Sorry, Grandma, but you’re no longer my favorite grandparent.  No offense, and I’ll still eat your cookies, but Grandpa is one super guy.
  • Daddy. Daddy ranks right below Mommy, but above Grandpa.  Daddy lets me Skype and play iPad piano whenever I want.
  • Peeing. More specifically, peeing on the potty.  I’m getting really good about telling Mommy when I need to go. Like today, I went FIVE times after telling Mommy I needed to go.  It’s our compromise.  If I want to throw stuff in the toilet (tp), flush, and play in the water (wash my hands), I have to pee in the potty first.  Fair enough, Mother. Fair enough.
  • Kitties. I get really, really mad when they won’t play with me, sit in my lap, or take a nap in my bed.  I love to give them “teets” (treats), and I remind Mommy first thing every morning that we need to “eat Keeties” (feed Kitties).
  • Talking. I talk a lot. Sometimes it’s real words. Sometimes not so much.  But I do know lots and lots of words. Very important words like, “cupcek” (cupcake), “don” (donut), and “cokcok” (chocolate). Does a toddler need any other words? And sentences.  Most start with “I want”…
  • Milk. The Mommy kind, of course.  I’m a growing kid, what can I say?  Mommy thought we’d be done by now, but NEVER. Never, ever, ever. Like ever. #TaylorSwiftshoutout
  • Books. We get lots of books from the library, and Mommy even made me another book.  It’s titled M is Not for Daddy.  It’s an alphabet book, with a twist.  Be on the lookout for this obvious New York Time’s Best Seller.
  • Letters. I know “D”, “M”, “G”, and “S”. S for snake, or course.
  • Counting. 1, 2, 2, 6. Don’t judge. At least I understand the concept of “two”.
  • Storytime and Gymnastics.
  • Playdough.
  • Crayons. But only the “bwue” (blue) and white ones.
  • Bread. “Toost” (toast). Ooh, and sandwiches. Sandwiches are tasty.
  • Macaroni and Cheese. Only if it comes from Panera.
  • Spaghetti. Only if it has chili and cheese (Skyline, holla!).
  • Cashews and Sunflower Seeds.
  • Bumblebees. “Boombees”. If I say “boombee”, Mommy chases me around the house yelling Buzz. Fun times, I tell ya.

So, yeah. Between the sickness and my obvious over-the-top energy level, Mommy and Daddy have instituted a once/month break.  From me.  I don’t even have words to express my dissatisfaction with this arrangement.  This month, Mommy and Daddy slowly drove by Grandma’s house, tossed me out the driveway with a knapsack over my shoulder, and sped away to a hotel for the night. Okay, okay, they may have properly dropped me off, but they were out of there speedy-quick.  At least I got the last laugh…Mommy forgot the breast pump and spent the next two days engorged. Mwahaha.

Cut Cut

A few weeks ago, Mommy decided that I looked way too mulletish and decided I needed a haircut.  Being the cheap-skate thrifty mama she is, she decided she was going to do this herself.  She bought a fun pair of haircut scissors, a new book to keep me occupied, and even let me sit on the counter while she attempted her work.  But haircuts hurt. Like scissors stabbing your eyeballs.  I mean,  things FALL OFF your body.  No way, woman! NO WAY.  So after throwing the tantrum of the century, all attempts at haircuts were through.

PTSD is a real thing, people.  I quit sleeping through the night.  I fought bedtime.  I even came down with real illnesses.  Then, it seemed haircuts were all around me.  Everyone was getting a haircut.  My friend Bear (that’s his real name) got taken to get a haircut.  He cried for 45 minutes. It was so uneven his Mommy and Daddy had to hold him down and shave it.  He still has the shakes whenever he hears “BUZZ”.    Then Mommy and Daddy went to get a haircut.  They were gone for 2 days! They apparently even checked into a hotel overnight to recover (I got to stay with Grandma and Grandpa! Hi, guys!)

But, if Daddy can get a haircut, so can I, right?  I mean, Daddy is like my favorite guy and I want to be just like him.  So, I began the recovery process.

First, I began chanting, “cut cut” all day. Then, I held the scissors.  Then, I let Mommy put them close to my head.  Finally, on the eve of March 14, in a desperate attempt to avoid bedtime, I sat up from a groggy slumber at 9:45 pm, and told Mommy “cut cut”.

Mommy: You want a haircut? (incredulously)
Me: Yeah! (with maybe a bit too much enthusiasm)
Mommy: Eric!
Me: Dad!
Mommy: Bring me the scissors.  This kid is acting crazy again. (Ok, she maybe didn’t say that.)

And there, in my bed, the locks fell.  Sure, there’s a really bald patch in the back, and right side is still a bit longer than the left, but it’s done.  I did it. And I didn’t cry.

Me: I wan Daddy calk calk Pop Pop cut cut? (aka I want Daddy to Skype Grandpa to show him my haircut!)
Mommy: Go to sleep you crazy kid. I’m tired and I have to wash your sheets. Aaagghh. (Okay, she didn’t say that either, but she didn’t let me Skype Grandpa.)

For the next few days, anybody who was lucky enough to cross my path got to hear all about my “cut cut”.  And now you did, too.  The final phase of recovery is over. I’ve shared my story.  Life is hard.

P.S. I want new genes. I have Daddy’s receding hairline and Mommy’s front cowlick. I’m screwed. 

Green Cupcakes (Shhh, it’s Spinach!)

spinach cupcakes

Oh yes. I went there. Spinach cupakes.  But wait. Before you gag, just let me share this.

1. Eric ate one.

2. Then, he immediately ate another.

3. He said they were one of the best cupcakes he’s ever had.

And I agree. And so does this little guy.

In keeping with our “Green” and St. Patrick’s Day theme this week, I wanted to give this a try.  I pinned it a few weeks ago, and even got some facebook comments on the pin as “eww”.  But you seriously don’t taste the spinach at all. At all.  It tastes like a very moist, sweet cake.  Downright delicious.  You can find the original recipe here, but I made some tweaks and made cupcakes instead of cake, so I’m rewriting it.

Spinach Cupcakes

What you will need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 3/4–1 cup pureed spinach (about 6oz of fresh spinach leaves)
  • 3/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Remove stems from spinach if too thick or long. This takes awhile, so plan for that.

Puree spinach in food processor or blender (I used a blender–add 1/8 ish c of water to the spinach)  (great pictures of the consistency on the original post)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Beat eggs and sugar till light and creamy. Add oil, lemon juice, vanilla, spinach and applesauce.

In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt (I use a whisk and blend in a bowl)  and blend into spinach mixture for 1 minute.

Fill liners 3/4 full of mixture.

Bake for 16-18 minutes.

Makes 18-24 standard size cupcakes (depending on how full you actually fill them).

I made two different types of frosting–one for Matty and I, and one for Eric (just a basic sugar and butter mixture).  Eric puts his foot down on coconut milk “whipped cream” frosting.

Coconut Milk Whipped Frosting

P1040741

I’ve made this original recipe quite a few times, mostly at Thanksgiving to go with pie.  You can taste the coconut, but again, I tweak it a bit, add a tad of sugar, and it really comes out nice.  It’s really a personal taste thing, so “play away”.  This time, I added a bit of almond extract and a spoonful of leftover spinach puree for color (because Matty is notorious for only eating the icing).

What you will need:

  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk (most comments seem to be agreement that you need Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (more if you’d like)
  • 1/4 c sugar (more if you’d like) I used cane sugar, but powder sugar would probably work, too.
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract (vanilla works, too)
  • 1 tbsp. spinach puree (optional, could also do strawberries, blueberries…)

Directions:

Refrigerate can of coconut milk for 8-10 hours (this solidifies most of the milk)

Scoop out the solidified milk and put in mixing bowl (some milk will be left, use it in a smoothie!)

Add other ingredients and mix with whisk.  It will be more difficult at first, but will quickly become the consistency of whipped cream.

Makes enough to top 18-24 cupcakes

NOTE: THIS IS A TODDLER APPROVED ACTIVITY! 🙂

spinach cupcakes matty

St. Patrick’s Day Toddler Crafts

1. Tissue Paper Shamrock Mosaic

shamrock

I just free-handed a shamrock. Then I used a glue stick to make the entire shamrock sticky.  Glue sticks work better because there’s no drippy mess and it dries fast, yet it stays sticky enough for the duration of the craft.  Next I showed Wee One how to tear the tissue paper and stick it down.  He was seriously confused. Like, you want me to rip this? On purpose?  But after some affirmation, he got down to business. Apparently it takes Herculean strength to rip tissue paper.

And yes, Perfectionist Mom, you must resist the urge to fill in all the gaps that the kiddo misses…however, feel free to point out where they should stick the next piece.  I mean, if it were completely up to them it’d be stuck the to the table, their hair, the cat…

2. Rainbow Dot Color Match

dots

I used a 12″ x 12″ paper in each color.  I cut a wide strip (about 1/3 the size of the paper), used a 1 1/2″ circle punch to cut out dots, then taped all the strips on top of 2 sheets of white 12″ x 12″ paper.  I didn’t even have to give directions, he was slapping dots into the spaces, yelling “Dots!”.  My intention was to glue the dots in place, but he was having so much fun placing them then moving them around that I gave up on the glue.  He gave up on trying to match colors, and made a beautiful work of art instead. Whatever.

3. Stickers and Dots

One pack of $.97 St. Patty’s Day stickers. One piece of paper. One ink pad. One pencil. Lots of fun.  Have you let your kiddos do the pencil stamping yet?  It’s very fun (for kids and adults!).  Just dip the pencil eraser in the ink pad and stamp away! Easy. Fast. Classic.

Enjoy your weekend! And don’t drink too much green beer.

Veggie Cupcakes

veggiecupcakes

Matthew and I made these for Valentine’s Day.  It took the better part of the morning (mostly because I was baking with a 17 month old), but it was totally worth it.

For the muffins, I used this recipe (loosely) that I of course pinned from Pinterest.

I liked that it called for a jar of babyfood.  I had a few of those squeeze pouches laying around that Matty never did find a taste for.  What  great use for that!  I don’t think it was squash (as the recipe calls for), but it was some combination of veggies.  I did use half whole wheat flour, and substituted regular oats with some ground flaxseed for the oat bran.

For the frosting I used Weelicious Red Beet Frosting recipe.  WARNING. WARNING. Do not try to save time by buying canned beets. OMG. They smell like dirt.  Apparently roasted beets are much, much better. I added a little more sugar than called for to try to mask the beet dirt smell.  The color was beautiful though! (PS. Anyone remember the Nickelodeon show Doug?  His friend Skeeter loved beets?)

But aside from my obvious gag reflex to the canned beets, once mixed in, they were wonderful! Don’t believe me? Check out this guy:

Finger-lickin’ good and an eye close.  That pretty much sums it up!

Pssst. I’m linking up with Munchkin Meals. Click on over for delicious inspiration!