Kid-Friendly, Adult-Worthy Kitchen

Before the kids were born, we were very creative cooks. We tried new cuisines, new techniques and new ingredients on a regular basis. When the kids were really little we digressed a bit and started going super simple and tended to stick with just a few recipes that we could whip up quickly.

We’ve started realizing now that even though the kids are getting bigger and can entertain themselves when it’s time to make dinner, we’re still in a bit of a rut.

Well, it’s time to take action and start getting creative again. This time we’re going to make sure that the kids get involved and start to try new things. Whenever one of the kids turns his nose up at something delicious like homemade ravioli or chicken satay, we like to remind them that someday they’re going to miss the delicious food their mom and dad made for them when they were kids – the college dorm food won’t compare!

So we’re on the hunt now for some adult-worthy kid food. Here’s some our findings:

Rachael Ray’s Honey Teriyaki Chicken with Ripe Pineapple Spears and Black and White Rice Balls – Since the kids love the chicken teriyaki at the sushi bar, this should be a hit.

The Neely’s Grilled BBQ Potato Skins – This delight has pulled pork which our kids love. Mashed potatoes, bacon, BBQ sauce, pulled pork, sour cream, bacon. Did we mention bacon? We’re making this this weekend!

Food for Thoughts’ Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing – Our kids are nuts over chicken potpie and love dipping their veggies in ranch dressing. This recipe is like a personal potpie that you get to dip in ranch dressing. It’s a perfect combination!

The Pioneer Woman Cook! Risotto Primavera – The kids already eat risotto without much hassle. They eat the cooked vegetables in potpie. This dish has a few extra veggies in it that aren’t in potpie, but they are cut into such small pieces that it’ll be impossible for them to pick them out! Ha ha, they’ll have to eat them!

What recipes do you make that your kids devour and you love too? Please share!

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Mama do it! Summer-camps…

Way back in March, a mama friend of ours got the idea to organize a Spring-break camp for the kids.  We happened to have 5 mamas and their kids who wanted to participate, so each mother took a day to be the host.  A second mommy signed up to assist each day.  We’re not very good at math, but quickly figured out that we would each have THREE blissfully quiet days that week where our kids were off having fun with someone else and we could enjoy a little down-time.

Our nature hike/scavenger hunt day was very wet, but everyone still had a terrific time!

Each mommy had a terrific plan for what to do on her day and the activities/crafts/snacks were unique each day.  It was such an amazingly good time for all that we knew we’d do it again in the summer.  (And why wouldn’t we?  We EASILY have 3 days worth of sewing or deep house-cleaning or lounging in the back yard with a stack of novels and a pitcher of lemonade…)

And once again we find so much inspiration from other mothers and blogs around the internet that we feel we must share.

This adorable summer camp play set from Tweet Toys by Willow Baus makes us want to shrink ourselves and JUMP into that canoe!

Make and Takes has a great list of activities in their Summer Camp for Kids section, including this very cool kid-made stick raft.

And though we are already married and don’t know anyone planning nuptials anytime soon, we’re bookmarking this Summer Camp-inspired wedding on the Ritzy Bee Blog.  Maybe we need to renew our vows???  (We can start the planning on the days the kiddos are off at summer camp!)

All right, we’ve noticed there seems to be a bit of a canoe/boating theme to our summer-camp round-up.  So we’ll break away from boating to share this tutorial.  Because we all know it wouldn’t be summer (or summer camp) without whipping up a slew of friendship bracelets!  We think these look easy enough for pretty young kids to put together, too.

We like to do a craft on camp days and we NEED to have a snack.  During spring-break camp one mama had the kiddos work some pretzel dough and bake up yummy treats that worked as both.  And for summer camp we think these frozen bananas are a cute, delicious and relatively easy idea!

And finally, we feel like we’d be remiss to leave you without offering some guidance from other mamas who’ve done this make-your-own-summer-camp thing.  Camp Wannalaffa-lotta from Life as Mom looks like a pretty good place to start.

Now go have fun!

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Summer Treasure Hunt

Last summer when we were in Chicago, we decided to take the kids to The Art Institute of Chicago. In order to make it more fun for them, we did a treasure hunt throughout the museum. We started our day in the gift shop where we bought 10 or so postcards of works of art that are in the Institute. We chose a variety of types of art – sculpture, paintings, artifacts, photographs, even miniature dollhouses (my personal favorite!).

The Art Institute of Chicago - photo by 10deMayo

Armed with a stack of postcards we set out exploring the museum. It was so much fun seeing the kids really looking at the art trying to decide if it was the right piece that was on the postcard – which was especially difficult for them when it came to all the Monets at the Institute.

Their attention spans lasted about an hour and a half, and that was about perfect for all of us. They got to see some wonderful – and famous – art. We got to see their minds expand. The best part was that the only reward for their success was the big stack of art postcards that they could say they saw in person, and you know what, they were happy as clams with that!

American Gothic by Grant Wood - one of the paintings we searched for in The Art Institute of Chicago

So now that the weather here in the Northwest is finally turning summer-like (we’re a bit jealous of the rest of the country’s heat), we were thinking that perhaps we would do another treasure hunt. This time here in the neighborhood.

For the little ones who can’t read yet, we thought that we would find pictures of things like roses, a slide, porch swing, and a dog. To challenge our new readers, they get a written list of more specific things to find.

Here’s our list:

  • Ford truck
  • Black and white cat
  • Tire swing
  • Street sign (with a specific street name)
  • Red bicycle
  • House with a blue door
  • Mailbox #8
  • Purple flower
  • Garden gnome
  • Tall ladder

Look for a red bike

Give the kids a camera and have them document all their findings. If your kids are old enough to wander the neighborhood, give them a time limit and let them run loose for an hour or so. (Our kids have walkie talkies so we can keep track of their whereabouts.)

Put a black and white cat on your list

There doesn’t need to be any elaborate reward for a treasure hunt like this. Maybe make some yummy lemonade or homemade popsicles while the kids are on their hunt and treat them to that when they return. Just having the freedom to roam the neighborhood is usually reward enough for our kids.

Whatever you do, just get outside and enjoy summer!

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Summer…time to make it ourselves!

There is something so magical about the lazy, crazy, warm days of summer.  From one minute to the next we have an almost unlimited zest for getting out and DOING something!  And for us, part of the fun of DOING involves MAKING.

One day we’re all geared up to hike the neighborhood trails with the kiddies, looking for bugs and birds and taking notes in our new nature journals…

and the next we want to lounge on the patio with a good book and a tall glass of homemade lemonade.

One day we want to let the kids create a Picaso-esque masterpiece on the driveway with crazy-colorful chalk

and another day we think it would be terrific to put hubby in charge of grilling dinner by providing him with some EXCELLENT homemade BBQ sauce!

One day we decide for SURE it’s a good day to just splash and play in the kiddie pool with our colorful sponge-balls

and the next we’re planning to schlep all our gear to the ocean (or at least the pool) to *REALLY* play in the water!

 

What are your lazy, crazy, warm summer-day plans?  Whatever they are, enjoy them and let us know what you’re up to!

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Hobbies for Mommies

Before our kids were born, we had interests:  Hobbies that didn’t involve collecting monkey stickers or plugging a stuffed animal into our laptop to download a one-year-old’s favorite tunes.  And then we had a baby.  And then another.  And then maybe we’re even thinking about another.  And we sort of forgot about keeping up our own interests.  Right?  Or maybe we didn’t forget, but we just plain ran out of time.  And energy.

But lately we’ve been inspired to renew our own interests, even if just in the tiny bursts of time we have between one child falling asleep for a nap and another coming home from school.

And we thought we’d share the inspiration.  Some of us used to love running and we’ve found a lot of mamas online who do, too.  We love hearing how they carve out time to get a run in (even when it involves getting up before the sun – and kids – to get it done.)

Photography is quite an easy hobby to have in short bits of time and is OBVIOUSLY handy when it comes time to whip up a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift for a grandparent.  (We’re sure they aren’t sick of the annual gifts of both serious and hilarious portraits of our little tweedles…)  We like taking a walk by ourselves when Daddy’s handling the kiddos or even taking them with us to the nature preserve to get great shots of wildlife.

Sewing, we’ve decided, is a hard hobby to maintain with little ones running about.  We make time for it anyway because we adore it so much.  But the next time the baby lays down on the foot pedal and nearly makes a zig-zag through our pointer finger, we may retire for a while.  Still, there are an endless amount of inspiring blogs online filled with ideas and tutorials and so many amazing things for our closet and our home and especially our kiddos.

It’s probably because of the lack of a motor-driven appliance that we have been excited to pick up knitting and crocheting with our little rugrats around.  Sure, pointy metal sticks come with their own hazardous effects, but it sure is a much easier item to haul out when the kiddos are occupied or put away quickly when they suddenly need a peanut-butter sandwich.

We’ve always been into gardening but during the years the babes were being born we let our landscape slip a bit.  Now that they’re old enough to “help” we’ve put in a new vegetable garden and added some new perennials to the front yard.  It all looks gorgeous, we feel invigorated after a morning spent working in the sunshine, and our kiddos appreciate the dinner-time vegetables they helped grow.  Whether you’ve gardened before or this is your first time, the inspiration found online is simply stunning.

One of our mama-friends is a painter and we’re always admiring the gorgeous pieces she creates in just a few strung-together naptimes.  We like to think of it as the perfect marriage of photography and sewing.  But we only say that because we can’t even paint the side of the house without making some sort of disaster.  Maybe we could follow tutorials like this to hone a new craft?

What sorts of hobbies do you have, mamas?  What did you do before you had kids?  Have you let all your hobbies disappear?  What would you like to learn or take back up?  Let’s inspire each other!

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‘Tis the Time for a Talent Show

We remember being in school talent shows as kids. There was that one year of playing the clarinet – when the clarinet definitely should not have been played. Or the year when we made up a dance routine with our friends with whom we didn’t make the cheerleading team – we’d sure show them!

Now our kids are of talent show age, and as much as we’d like to spare them the humiliation of going on stage without really having a talent, we know that everyone must have their opportunity to learn a lesson about confidence…and sometimes being able to laugh at one’s self – even if they don’t see the talent show this way for many years after, like we did.

So encourage away, we do. Sing a song, do some taekwondo, flip the yo-yos, tell a joke. There may even be some real talent amongst the bunch. Plus when you’re young, you are fascinated by anything different that little Johnny can do that you can’t. And to be honest, as parents, we love the fact that little Suzie has the courage to get up on stage and bust some moves – we love a good giggle as much as anyone!

If your school doesn’t do a talent show or your kiddies are still a little young, you can pull off a fun talent show of your own. With a little planning, your family, or maybe even your whole neighborhood, could be whooping it up in no time.

Here are some sites that offer tips for producing a neighborhood talent show that everyone will love.

Be sure to remind your kids that the talent show is for fun. If you’re going to have a winner, perhaps just have it based on audience applause. The more fun, the better!

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To best smell the roses, you do have to stop first.

Last week we told you about the Slow Family Living Movement and this week we found ourselves enjoying many quiet, slow and magical family moments of our own.  And we started to wonder, when we make a conscious decision to slow down do we then notice the small, beautiful pleasures in life?  Or is it more that when we make it a priority to enjoy those small and wondrous things that our lives automatically slow down for us?

It’s obviously a chicken and egg question that likely needs no answer.  Because of course whichever comes first, we reap the benefits either way.

Whether it is smelling the grass before we pick ourselves back up from a fall…

Or petting the bummer lambs a family friend is raising to rejoin the flock…

Or finding a few fun little bugs and worms while digging in the dirt-hole of last year’s garden…

Or standing in awe watching a herd of 200 elk pass through our rural property on a snowy spring morning…

(Or seriously…just enjoying the fact that it surprised us on May 16th with a few inches of snow-fall at our mountain retreat!)

Or sitting crouched in the playhouse with our daughter while she crushes dandelions for “tea…”

Or savoring the moment our toddler sticks a flower in our hair and says, “Guess what, Mommy?”  And we respond with, “What?” and he says, “I just love you.”

It’s not that we wouldn’t notice these things if we weren’t being conscious about life.  (Come on, even WE in our regular hustly-bustly, busy lives would notice our adorable one telling us out of the blue that he loves us!)  But the moments in which we are letting life come to us and fulfill us seem to take on a new preciousness when we are letting THOSE MOMENTS  be what life is all about in the first place.  So rather than noticing a ladybug on our arm as just a cute moment within the busy-work of trying (yet again) to get a garden planted while our 1 and 3 year olds try picking the plants and seeds back out of the soil, we somehow are finding a new way to connect in that moment and appreciate all that is going on.  Sure, we’re less focused on getting those garden rows to be perfect.  And we care a lot less about getting ALL the varieties of vegetables planted that we originally had intended.  But we still know there will be plenty of produce filling our tummies this summer, and a mountain of memories and moments filling our hearts and minds.

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