Friday, August 31, 2012

Kids Craft - Paper Plate Fish


We saw this craft at a welcome to Kindergarten party in town. We had fun making it there and decided we would try making some of our own at home.

We had lots of fun making our own with crayons, sequins and we even added a googly eye!


Paper Plate
Crayons/ Markers
Googly Eye

1. Draw a triangle on one side of the plate. Use the scissors to cut it out. This makes the mouth and the tail for your fish.
2. Staple the triangle on the back side of the fish, opposite the mouth.

3. Decorate the fish with crayons, markers, sequins, glitter, feathers and a googly eye.

Hang it up to admire.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pancakes - From Scratch

If you have been following along, you know that one morning of every weekend we like to all sit down for a big breakfast or brunch. It is a chance to spend some time together as a family, time for talking, laughing and connecting.

I use a recipe for pancakes that my mother gave to me. I am not sure exactly where she got it from. We have modified it over the years to include different add-ins and to try new tastes.

This recipe makes light, fluffy pancakes every time. The extras freeze very well. We often make a double batch and put the leftovers in the freezer to pull out for for quick breakfasts or snacks.

I cook them in the frying pan on the stove over medium heat. If you have en electric griddle you can use that to cook them instead.

1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Add Ins:Mashed fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, flavourings (vanilla, almond, orange, etc)

1. In one bowl mix together flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In a smaller bowl mix together egg, milk and vegetable oil.

3. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients. Beat until combined.
 * You can add your extras here. We often use mashed bananas, chocolate chips, chopped berries or berry puree (you can reduce the milk of you use pureed fruit)

4. Heat frying pan or griddle.

5. Pour pancake batter into pan and cook until surface is covered with bubbles and the edges lose their gloss. I like to make fun shapes depending on the season. Snowmen and Candy Canes in the winter, pumpkins in the fall, Bunnies for Easter. Just pour the batter on in the desired shape and remember that the batter will spread out when it is cooked.

6. Use a spatula to flip the pancake and cook until golden brown.

Serve hot with butter and syrup, berries and whipped cream or jam.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Meal Planning - Save Time & Money

Meal planning saves time and money and makes life easier.

I admit, before I started I was skeptical, but in my house, it has proven itself.

I hate to stand in front of the fridge after a long day and try to figure out what to make for dinner. Add a hungry spouse and kids and some extra-curricular activities and it can be really stressful.

We started meal planning to avoid some of that time crunch stress and to make it easier to divide up the dinner making responsibilities. Some nights I make supper and some nights my husband does. We always make sure that the weeks meals are planned before we go grocery shopping so we can get the things that we need for the next weeks meals.

I started out using a magnetic pad of these forms that I found at my local Michaels store. We stuck it on the fridge and planned our meals out a week at a time.

Now we do the plan a month at a time but it is flexible, so if we need to change it we do. We just write the changes on the calendar where everyone can see it. It takes us about 20 minutes once a month to make the plan up which is a very small investment for the time that it saves us. You can make a weekly or bi-weekly schedule, whatever works for you. 
We get out the calendar for the month and write down all the commitments. These include special occasions, meetings, appointments, dance classes, swimming lessons, school events and whatever else is going on.
(I use or you can use an existing calendar or you can even use a blank piece of paper)

Once all the commitments are written down we decide who is making dinner which nights. If I have a commitment one night, then my husband cooks that night and vice versa. It keeps things organized.

Next we decide what is for dinner. We try to use the ingredients we have in the house and to mix up the selection so we are not having spaghetti 7 days in a row. We like to try new recipes every month as well, to keep things interesting. Some days, usually on the weekend, we will plan a dinner with family or friends, like a roast or a big BBQ in the summer. We also allow for 1 or 2 nights a month to go out or order in, as our budget allows.

We also build meals with leftovers into the plan. If I make a roast chicken for Sunday dinner then Monday's dinner will have leftover chicken as part of it, maybe Chicken Quesadillas. If there is still chicken on Tuesday, then that days dinner may be chicken sandwiches or chicken soup and so on until the leftovers are all eaten. Planning for and using leftovers helps to reduce or even eliminate the amount of food waste we generate. More money savings right there.

We plan batch cooking where we need to as well. If we make a big pot of chili or soup for dinner one night then we freeze the leftovers in single serving portions for lunches. I will often double the recipes for other things and then freeze a complete meal to pull out and reheat on a night when we are rushed.

Once the meal plan is complete, then we make our grocery list. We check the cupboards and freezer to see what we have and what we need for the upcoming weeks meals. I make a list of everything we need and try to make sure to follow the list. Following the list helps to ensure that I do not buy things that we do not need, which saves money.

There are times we change the plan based on what is on sale in the flyers or to use up things that we have in the cupboard and freezer. This saves us both money and shopping time.

Meal planning also allows you to spread out some of the food expenses. When it gets closer to the holidays we make a plan for the whole meal and start shopping in advance so that we are not buying everything at once and spending a bunch of money on one shopping trip. The perishables are purchased in the last trip before the dinner but there are lots of other things that can be purchased in advance.

For us, making a meal plan has almost eliminated the time we used to spend staring into the refrigerator trying to decide what to make at the end of the day. It has saved us time at the grocery store by giving us a clear idea of what we need for our week of meals instead of wandering around the store trying to decide. It has saved us cooking and cleaning time after a long day at work because there are things that we prep ahead of time and then can just pull out when we are ready to start cooking.

Our meal planning has also made things easier for me in the kitchen. If it is my night to cook dinner and I am running late my husband can look on the meal plan to see what is for dinner that night. Then he can get it started instead of waiting for me to get home and tell him what we are having.

You do not have to use a calendar and plan a month in advance. Get a piece of paper or a notebook and plan a week at a time. It only takes a little time planning to save a lot of time and money in the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Project of the Month - August 2012

I have been slowly going through the house, one room at a time; organizing, changing and updating things. We have been in our house almost 9 years now and it was time to make a few changes and updates.

In the kitchen we made some space by getting rid of things we did not use and moving some things around. I also changed out the curtains on both windows in the kitchen.

I had not really planned on new curtains but I saw these curtain panels in Pier 1 and could not resist.They were on sale for $20 per panel so I bought both of them. I was pretty sure that I only needed one to make the 3 panels but I wanted to make sure that I had enough.

The last curtains that we had up were very nice. They were refashioned table runners, in brown and white but they were getting faded and I craved something bright and new.

I washed up the old ones and tucked them away in the closet. Washed the windows and curtain rods and then put up my new curtains.

Here is the big picture window

And here is the smaller window, over the sink, between the cupboards.

I love them! They make the whole space brighter and lighter. I did only need 1 panel to make the 3 valances. I used the second panel to make a matching runner for the top of my china cabinet and I still have some left over for another project.

I did take pictures while I was refashioning the long panels into shorter valances and will post it as a tutorial in a different post.