St. Patrick’s Day TRAPS & TRICKS

St Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays!

I’m not sure if it’s because green is my favorite color or memories from my Irish grandma. Every year my kids build a leprechaun trap in hopes of catching the mischievous little guy before he reeks havoc on our house.

10377025_10206149515523870_8316433611616454908_nWhat you will need:

  • A base to decorate (cardboard or a sheet of thick card stock)
  • A box for the trap (can be built from popsicle sticks, an old tissue box, cereal box ect.)
  • Shiny gold coins to attract the leprechaun to your trap
  • Paint or decorate with rainbow somewhere on or near the trap so the leprechaun will follow it to the end
  • You will need some type of stick to keep the door or roof propped up, but don’t glue it as it will need to fall to shut the lid
  • For this trap my daughter collected a few pieces of shamrock confetti, the shamrock stick from her cupcake, orange, white and green flowers, and a few shiny gems.

1524823_10206149515723875_1438077870713499658_nWe have yet to catch that sneaky little leprechaun, but he always leaves a fun trail throughout the house as he makes his way to our trap.

Leprechaun mischief :

  • dye the toilet green (a few drops of green food coloring)
  • have the faucet run green (hide green color tablet inside the faucet filter)
  • green paint foot trail – its amazing how his feet are the SAME size as our Dora doll ūüėČ
  • green streamers hanging from the door way (or crisscrossed¬† across door frame to trap in the older kids)
  • green and white balloons covering the floor of the childs bedroom

The leprechaun usually leaves a trail of gold coins leading outside where he hides a fun St. Patrick’s day treat or small toy for the kids!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! What fun ways do you celebrate with your little ones??

~Amy~

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Happy National Pancake Day!!!

Who doesn’t love pancakes!?! ¬†Today, March 3rd is National Pancake Day!

What a better way to celebrate then with a nice stack of delicious pancakes!!   IHOP began National Pancake Day in 2006 in hopes to give away FREE short stacks to raise money for charity.  Since then, they have raised over 16 million dollars for charity!!!  Their goal this year is to raise $3.5 billion for charity!!!  So, stop in for breakfast or lunch or even make it a fun dinner for the kids and get yourself a nice short stack!

If you prefer to stay in we have a yummy recipe for you and you can still donate to your favorite charity as well to stick with the theme!!

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To make delicious vegan pancakes at home just use this recipe:

  • 1 Cup of flour
  • 1 Cup of Vegan Milk (your choice we use almond)
  • 1 Tbsp of Vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 Tbsp of Baking Powder

Additions can be:

  • 1/4 cup of vegan protein to give them a protein power punch
  • blueberries
  • bananas
  • chocolate chips

To find an IHOP near you check out their website: http://www.ihoppancakeday.com/

~Maria~

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Grab a book, find a nook and join us Monday March 2nd for Read Across America Day!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Grab a book, find a nook and join us Monday March 2nd for Read Across America Day!

Elephants are my daughters favorite animal which might have something to do with “Horton Hears A Who!” being one of our favorite books to read. I love that it teaches the lesson that “A persons a person , no matter how small” and that kids CAN make a difference!

After reading the book with your child discuss ways that they can be helpful whether it be at school, at home or in your community.

To celebrate Read Across America an NEA project we made a fun treat and craft we want to share with you!

10953285_10206106500208514_7447860360478760353_nWhoville Flower Cupcakes

What you will need:

  • 2 packages mini cupcakes with blue or grey frosting (color used as elephant trunk)
  • About 5 green straws cut into 4 pieces as the stem (Starbucks straws work great for this)
  • 1 medium size bag of pink cotton candy (form small chunks around the straw before inserting into the cupcake)
  • If your up for the challenge try and attach a white circle sprinkle with a dab of icing to the cotton candy flower

10942740_10206106500368518_6610876333797691669_nHorton Hand Craft

What you will need:

  • 1 sheet of white paper
  • 1 sheet of grey paper
  • a piece of green and pink paper
  • markers
  • hole puncher

How to assemble:

  • have child trace hand on grey paper and cut it out
  • glue hand shape to white paper then draw on Hortons features
  • snip a green piece of paper for the stem and glue onto the edge of the thumb
  • hole punch a piece of pink paper and use the circle for the flower
  • draw on the phrase “A Persons A Person No Matter How Small” and have child color in the background

Take the pledge and share your ideas and events HERE: http://www.readacrossamerica.org/

~Amy~

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Homemade coconut sugar scrub

This bitter cold winter is taking a toll on my skin, especially my hands. So I whipped up my favorite homemade sugar scrub and have a small jar at both my kitchen and bathroom sink. It smells and feels amazing on my hands!

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It’s like a mini spa treatment every time I wash my hands. Not only can you use it on your hands but it’s also great for your feet, and body. I do recommend that you be careful if you take it in the shower with you as the coconut oil can make the bottom of the tub super slippery. Alright, so let’s get to the recipe.
Ingredients
1/2 Cup coconut oil (I love Trader Joes organic virgin coconut oil)
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
10 drops of your favorite essential oil, I used lemon and lavender

Directions
Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. If you want a more coarse texture add more sugar to the mix. Once all the ingredients are combined you’re all set, grab a small scoop and massage into your hands for about 30 seconds with a little bit of warm water. Rinse and pat dry.

If you don’t have essential oils you can omit the oils for a fragrance free scrub or zest a lemon and add to the mixture.

To learn more about essential oils head on over to my teams page http://www.prettyoil.com

~Mary~

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Skys Coconut Soup

I have one of the worlds pickiest blandest eaters in my home, but this soup just happens to be her FAVORITE!

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If you like tofu and don’t mind the subtle taste of coconut then give our coconut soup recipe a try, I have learned to keep these ingredients on hand weekly during the winter months.

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What you will need:

  • 2 bags of frozen broccoli florets
  • 2 containers of veggie stock
  • 1 can organic coconut milk
  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups rice ( jasmine or brown rice)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • seasoning (sea salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, turmeric)

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How to make Skys Coconut Soup:

  • Cook veggie stock on medium heat add in broccoli, seasonings,& garlic then cover (add rice now too if not using instant)
  • Cut tofu in small cubes and add into pot (I’m lucky if any tofu makes it into the pot! my kids swipe it and LOVE to eat it raw!! I don’t get it, but they love it that way…. maybe since it was one of their first foods as a baby, taste buds are just used to tofu that way…not sure… but either way they’re eating it !!)
  • Cook on medium high heat for 35 minutes
  • Add in the rice ( if instant or frozen) and coconut milk then cook for another 15 minutes

* If your littles are not as picky as mine, I like to saute the tofu with onion and pepper before adding in ūüôā

(Around Christmas time I like to call this Christmas soup and add in fresh red peppers so it’s green , red and white!)

~Amy~

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15 days of celebrating the Chinese New Year 2015

In America we celebrate New Years Eve transitioning into New Year’s Day on January 1st. In China, New Year’s Day is also the first day of the first month but of the Lunar Calendar!

Chinese New Year dates vary each year and could fall at the end of January or February. This Year Chinese New Year will fall on February 19th and last for 15 days ending on the first full moon of the year.

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Each year is assigned an animal according to the Chinese zodiac, 2015 is the year of the goat!

 Here is a list of fun crafts and recipes to try for each day in the Chinese New Year celebration:

  1. Blossom Tree craft: http://www.marthastewart.com/265472/tissue-cherry-blossom-tree
  2. Chinese Dragon puppet craft: http://www.freekidscrafts.com/chinese-dragon-puppet/
  3. Year of the Goat craft: http://mommysbundle.com/new-years-craft-kids-year-goat/
  4. Origami:  http://www.origami-fun.com/origami-for-kids.html
  5.  Pineapple tarts: http://rasamalaysia.com/pineapple-tarts/
  6.  Learn to eat with chopsticks: http://www.lauraleighparker.com/2011/02/teach-kids-chopsticks/
  7.  Paper fan craft: http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese-fan-craft
  8.  Kueh bahulu  (sponge cakes): http://www.qlkitchen.com/festive-kuih-bahulu-recipe/
  9.  Make a red letter envelope: http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/World/chineseredenvelope/chineseredenvelope.html
  10.  Make a Chinese banner: http://organizeyourstuffnow.com/wordpress/chinese-year-banner
  11.  Chinese firecracker craft: http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese-firecracker-craft
  12.  Learn a Chinese New Year greeting: http://www.china-family-adventure.com/chinese-new-year-greetings.html#.VOSsQi6m79M
  13.  Chinese New Year games: http://chinesenew-year.com/chinese-new-year-2015-games-for-kids-and-people/
  14.  Longevity noodle recipe (sub black beans or tofu for a veg friendly option):http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/longevity-noodles-0
  15. Chinese lantern craft: http://www.china-family-adventure.com/how-to-make-chinese-lanterns.html#.VOSryC6m79M

~Amy~

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10 kid friendly ideas for “Random Acts of Kindness Day”

Today, February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.  Here are some ideas of what you can do to help spread the kindness.

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10 Random Acts of Kindness

  1. ¬†Make a phone call. ¬†Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Tell them how much you miss them and tell them how important they are in your life.
  2. ¬†If you live somewhere where it’s snowing go ahead and shovel a neighbor‚Äôs driveway or clean the snow off their car or walkway. ¬†If you live in the warmer climates, then go ahead and help a neighbor with some gardening. ¬†Pick a few weeds, mow their lawn, sweep their front porch.
  3. ¬†Send out a handwritten letter to someone. ¬†We are all consumed with cell phones, texting, computers…. shut it all down! ¬†Grab a pen and some nice paper and write away!!!
  4. ¬†Smile at everyone you see today. ¬†Work in a big city? Take your ear buds out look up and smile ūüôā ¬†That’s right at every single person. ¬†You will be amazed what a smile will do, you may make someone‚Äôs week.
  5. ¬†Make dinner for someone you know that could use some help. ¬†Maybe it’s an overwhelmed mom or maybe it’s someone who lives alone and doesn’t usually cook for themselves. ¬†Better yet find a local group of people in need on Facebook and make a beautiful dinner for a complete stranger!! ¬†Not a great cook? ¬†No worries order something and have it delivered…even if it’s pizza ūüėČ
  6. ¬†In line for coffee today? ¬†Pay for the person behind you. ¬†Who wouldn’t love a cup of joe from a perfect stranger??
  7.  Leave a special treat for the mailman with a special note.  Let them know that you appreciate them.
  8. ¬†Leave hidden dollars at the dollar store! ¬†I read this once a while ago and it’s a great idea. ¬†You can even do it at a grocery store!!! Leave them under cans or boxes it will really brighten someone‚Äôs day.
  9.  Say thank you to a police officer, fireman or anyone in the military that you see.  They dedicate their lives to helping everyone around them.

 

 Keep the kindness going all year long!  Keep a bowl or jar in a central location in your home filled with random acts of kindness.  If you have kids have them help you think of kind acts and have them help write out the cards.  Every person in your family can pick out a random act each day.  Keep spreading the kindness all year long.

~Maria~

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Presidents Day – Lincolns’ Log Cabin

Grab a bag of pretzels and build a fun snack for the kids this Presidents Day!!

Honest Abe Lincolns kid friendly ‘Log Cabin’ snack

Honest Abe Lincolns Log Cabin
Honest Abe Lincolns Log Cabin

What you will need:

  • Tube of white or brown decorating icing
  • Medium sized pretzels
  • Graham crackers (we used the Annie’s organic brand, when breaking the crackers you have two size options perfect for the roof, a long piece for the flat part connecting pretzels and short pieces for the peak)

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Fun fact:

If you look at the Lincoln Memorial on the back of an old penny, you can see Abraham Lincoln sitting inside!

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We would love to hear how you incorporate the presidents on Presidents Day!

~Amy~

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Ice Sculpture Festival

Some of you might remember Ed Jarrett, four time Guinness World Record holder for the tallest sand castle!

He is also the man who built the Sandy-castle to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims right here on Point Pleasant Beach. We had the chance to meet him back then and volunteer in his bucket brigade to help in the build of the Sandy-castle.

Ed Jarrett on right on top of Sandy castle
Ed Jarrett on right on top of Sandy castle

From sand to snow he has now teamed up with the Ice Sculpture Festival at Laurita Winery and will have sculptures on display for the whole family to enjoy Saturday, February 21 11am-8pm and Sunday, February 22 11am-7pm.

Sculptures on display:

  • Fire & Ice truck where you can sit in the driver‚Äôs seat
  • Fire-breathing dragon luge
  • ‚ÄúWarm Hug‚ÄĚ field of Snowmen
  • An ice sculpting demo stage
  • A frosty photo booth

With temperatures dropping the weather is perfect for the ice sculptures, but be sure to bundle up to stay warm you will be outside!

Laurita Winery will be serving up some food and a list of warm drinks for you to enjoy while you explore the festival.

Drinks available:

  • Award winning wines
  • Legendary sangria
  • Spiked hot chocolate
  • Hot apple wine ciders

Grab the family for this winter wonderland event, go early to enjoy classic winter activities and entertainment. Then stay late for the lighting ceremony at dusk and fireworks at 7pm (Saturday night only).

Photo courtesy of Big Brother Big Sister of Ocean County
Photo courtesy of Big Brother Big Sister of Ocean County

*A portion of the proceeds of this event will go directly to benefit Big Brother Big Sister of Ocean County. http://www.bbbsoc.org/

Tickets available online: http://lauritawinery.com

General Admission $6

Children (4-17) $4

65+ and active military $4

Laurita Winery, 35 Archertown Road, New Egypt, NJ 08533

~Amy~

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