Easy Preschool Project for Mother’s Day

Sweet Sentiments

The Mother’s Day cards my preschoolers made are sooooo cute! One class decorated their cards with flowers and the other with hearts. Although me and my co-teacher assembled the cards, the two and three year-olds participated by painting, coloring and letting us know what they love most about their moms. These Mother’s Day cards are quick and easy to create, and they translate easily into cards for other people and holidays–think Father’s Day, grandparents, note to teachers, caregivers, etc.

Flower Card Supplies:

  • construction paper
  • non-toxic paint in two colors–green and whatever color the flower will be
  • paintbrush
  • markers
  • scissors
  • crayons

Flower Cards Directions:

  1. Fold construction paper in half. Inside, write personalized note in marker. Child colors inside of note with crayons.
  2. Paint child’s hand the flower color. Make a handprint on front of card. Wash hand.
  3. Paint a separate piece of paper green. Let dry.
  4. When green paper is dry, cut out two leaves. Draw stem. Glue leaves to base of stem.
  5. Write or print out, “Your love and care helps me bloom.”

Heart Card Supplies:

  • construction paper in two colors
  • scissors
  • markers
  • crayons
  • glue

Heart Card Directions:

  1. Fold construction paper in half. Inside, write personalized note in marker. Child colors inside of note with crayons.
  2. Cut a heart out of contrasting construction paper. Child color with markers.
  3. Glue heart to front of card.
  4. Write or print out, “I love you with all my heart.”

Candy Cane Cocktail, Peppermintinis

Image source: Brad Hollad for Delish.com

Are you a fan of peppermint? How about when it’s combined with chocolate?

One of my daughters shared Peppermint Bark that a friend made and it was soooo sweet! These Peppermintinis from Delish.com are like holiday bark in a drink! I included this recipe for Peppermintinis in my article for Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, “Ready, Set, Glow! Creative Hosting Ideas: Gatherings with Family and Friends” along with lots of other fun ideas.

Happy holidays, hon!

Seven Healthy Habits-(Self-Care During Stressful Times), Published In Elegant Lifestyles Magazine Winter 2021

“Seven Healthy Habits-(Self-Care During Stressful Times)” is my second article in Elegant Lifestyles Magazine’s Winter 2021 issue. Shout out to Lyn Lilavati Sirota, yoga teacher, children’s book author, and friend who suggested the “Leg Up the Wall” posture for the Yoga section. Shout out, also, to Dr. Lisa Hochman, dermatologist and friend, who commented for the “Cleanse and Moisturize” section.

Want to find out more about Lyn Lilavati’s practice and classes? Check out her blog Feel the Peace.

Hon, hope you take some time for yourself this holiday season.

Ready, Set, Glow! Creative Hosting Ideas, Published In Elegant Lifestyles Magazine Winter 2021

Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, which shut down during the pandemic, debuted its return with a Winter 2021 Holiday Issue. Two of my articles appear in the magazine: “Ready, Set, Glow! Creative Hosting Ideas: Gatherings with Family and Friends” and “Seven Healthy Habits–(Self Care During Stressful Times).”

For the feature article, I thought about how winter holidays appeal to our senses and researched fun ways to add warmth and welcome from the moment guests step in the door. Can you tell I enjoyed coming up with section titles? “Let’s Take an Elfie” = sight. “Happy New Ear” = sound. “Spice it Up” = Scent. “Warm and Toast-y = taste. “Fleece Navidad = Touch. So many ideas to make get-togethers even more inviting and special.

Happy holiday hosting!

Hosting for the Holidays Hot Cocoa Bar

Image source: Southbound Bride
Image source: In Fine Taste

Sweater Weather!

As soon as it gets dark at 5pm and morning frost hardens blades of grass, I crave a hot drink every night. Hot chocolate is my favorite winter aperitif, so when researching ideas for an upcoming magazine article on creative hosting ideas, my favorite idea was–you guessed it–a Hot Cocoa Bar!

Easy Kids Activity: Why not ask older kids and tweens to participate? Set up a separate table with a wintery tablecloth or a cleared countertop. Supply mugs and spoons, mix-ins and containers, and labels and markers, and let the kids set up the display with a place saved for the hot cocoa. After you add the hot drink, they can be in charge of introducing the Hot Cocoa Bar to the rest of the guests.

Perk of the “job?” They get first dibs!

Supplies and Ingredients:

  • mugs, saucers, spoons
  • carafe of cocoa or hot water and powdered cocoa
  • containers with or without labels
  • mix-ins such as cinnamon sticks, chocolate shavings, peppermint sticks, toasted coconut, crushed toffee or whatever are the fan favorites
  • whipped cream and marshmallows

Note: Depending on diet preferences, ingredients may be parve (dairy free), gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan.

Happy hosting, hon!

Thanksgiving Menu–Apple, Pumpkin & Pecan Pies

Apple Pie with Basket Weave Crust.

One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving holiday food so much is that I love pie, especially if it’s pumpkin, apple or pecan! Want the recipes to some of my favorite desserts? Click on the links to find out my tried and true recipes for Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie. I’ve posted recipes for Pecan Pie in the past, but pecans burn easily making getting the recipe right a bit finicky. I’m ready to try a new one. The link below connects to a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Happy baking, hon!

Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

My co-teacher, Hannah, scooping and sharing the insides of a pumpkin.
Image soure: Joy Food Sunshine

I like roasted seeds and nuts (do I sound like a squirrel?), but have never tried sweet roasted pumpkin seeds. When we were scooping pumpkins and saving the seeds for our two preschool classes, my co-teacher Hannah said she loved the seeds with cinnamon. Mind blown! What planet am I living on? How did I not know about these? Hon, here’s a healthy, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, kosher recipe from Joy Food Sunshine that I must try!

Happy carving, scooping and baking!

Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Tips Before Roasting Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds must dry completely before roasting. Remove the seeds from pumpkins and rinse thoroughly, discarding any stringy orange pieces. Drain seeds by lining a large baking pan with paper towels, spreading seeds evenly in a layer, and letting sit for 24 hours. At the 12 hour mark, change damp paper towels for dry ones, stir to air out pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups pumpkin seeds dried for at least 24 hours
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pur vanilla extract
  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar (or coconut sugar to make paleo)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Very lightly grease a large baking pan, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt coconut oil or butter in a large microwave safe bowl or on the stovetop in a 4-quart pot.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Mix in pumpkin seeds until they are all evenly coated.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin seeds and mix until all they are evenly coated.
  7. Spread pumpkin seeds on your prepared baking pan in single layer.
  8. Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. They are done when they start to brown.
  9. To test for doneness: remove a few seeds from the pan and let sit on the counter to cool. If they harden up the seeds are done. If they remain soft, return to the oven, checking them after 5 minutes. Continue baking in 5 minute intervals until done.
  10. Once seeds are done, transfer them from the warm pan to another pan lined with parchment paper to let cool.

Yield: 3 cups

Store pumpkin seeds in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Stevie Wonder with The Harlem Boys Choir-Live

Me, my mom and sister at my brother’s wedding.

I’m really missing my mom this holiday season. What I want to tell her:

One of her granddaughters is recovering quickly from hip surgery.

One of her granddaughters got a new job offer.

One of her granddaughters danced beautifully as Captain of the Soldiers in The Nutcracker.

One of her grandsons, who is in the United Stated Army, will be stationed on the East Coast in a couple of months.

And I received amazing feedback on a picture book manuscript.

So, to my mom and all those that we miss…

New Year’s Fun on December 31

Mocktails or, as Hubby called them, FAUZ-in drinks.
Mocktails or, as Hubby called them, FAUZ-in drinks.

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and your families a healthy and happy 2015! We celebrated with our youngest daughter and her friends. We served the same menu as last year, with a one addition:  Cake Ice Cream Cones. Yum!

Cake Ice Cream Cones Decorating Station.
Cake Ice Cream Cones Decorating Station.

Lots of toppings.
Lots of toppings.

Party Crackers.
Party Crackers.

There were also Make-Your-Own-Sundaes and Non-Alcoholic ChampagneParty Crackers, a Scavenger Hunt, games, blowers and party hats. Then the girls had a sleepover, or as Hubby calls it, an “OVER” since there wasn’t much sleeping involved!

Middle School Rocks!
Middle School Rocks!

Fun with Friends!
Fun with Friends!

Cheers!
Cheers!

abc

Thanks, hon, for all of your Blog Support in 2014!

Character Driven Gingerbread Cookies

Sassy, classy, tasty gingerbread ladies!
Sassy, Classy, Tasty Gingerbread Ladies!

I’m right in the thick of it! The Holidays, of course.

Time seems to fly more quickly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. With four kids coming and going, I am constantly grocery shopping, cooking, baking and doing laundry.

Since I’m sure you don’t want to see pics of laundry (Hubby’s nicknamed me the “Laundry Wench”) or my Dining-Room/Dorm-Room-Depot, I’ll be posting recipes. I’m raising my virtual glass of sherry (Julia Child-style) in a toast to being the Kitchen Queen, Domestic Goddess, or whatever euphemism you can think of for someone who dons an apron for hours and falls asleep with her head on the kitchen table.

Just because I don’t have time to write doesn’t mean the words stop forming in my head. I “write” while I drive, sleep, run, cook and bake. Gingerbread men and women bring out a desire to create dialogue!

Hence, they are…

CHARACTER DRIVEN COOKIES! (clever, don’t you think?) 

Dough's made and ready to roll!
Dough’s made and ready to roll!

Cookies by the dozens.
Cookies by the dozens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creators of Characters.
Creators of Characters

Decorating takes concentration.
Decorating takes concentration.

 

 

 

 

 

Cookie Crowd.
Cookie Crowd.

"Snowman Stylin'!"
“How do you like my ‘Snowman Stylin’?”

"Oh no, not the gumdrops!"
“Anything but the gumdrop buttons!” said the Gingerbread Man from Shrek.

Little Boy, Gingerbread Man, Hipster and Snowman
Little Boy, Gingerbread Man, Hipster and Snowman.

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon ground ginger

1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

To decorate the cookies, use your imagination.  We used Royal Icing (recipe below), Mini M&M’s, Cinnamon Imperials, Sparkling Sugar and French Dragées. We used toothpicks and paintbrushes as decorating tools.

Directions:

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

2.  In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and egg on medium speed.

3.  Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue mixing until well blended.

4.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.

5.  Divide dough in two, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator for a couple of hours.*  Let dough come to room temperature before rolling cookies.

6.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Thicker cookies = softer cookies; thinner cookies = crispier cookies.

8.  Cut out cookies with desired cookie cutters. Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes.

9.  Once baked, allow cookies to cool before decorating.

Yield:  24 five inch tall cookies.

Source:  Food.com, “The Most Wonderful Gingerbread Cookies” by gingerkitten D

*Dough can be stored in refrigerator for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for later use.

additional flour to your cookies.

Royal Icing 

Ingredients:

3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 Tablespoons meringue powder (also know as dried egg whites)

6 Tablespoons warm water

Directions:

Beat 4 to 5 minutes by hand. Stir in optional flavors and desired tints. Royal icing is white, so if you stir in vanilla flavoring, it will turn the icing yellowish. If icing gets too thick, add tiny bits of warm water until you get the consistency you want.

Yield: About 3 cups icing.

Happy baking, hon!