Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fun After Dark

I usually have some light sticks on hand for the kids for outdoor evening activities. You can get great deals on them following different holidays and in the dollar stores. Kids love them and it is way better to have them on hand rather than to purchase them from costly event vendors.

Desert Dwellers

My grandkid's are making their own fun in my not yet landscaped back yard during a break at our grandkid's Camp Out. They are all desert dwellers and a pile of dirt and a little water goes a long way to entertain these barefooted campers! It gave them a very good reason to use their hand washing stations that they had made earlier in the Camp Out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yummy Fall Dessert Recipe

I got this super easy recipe from a friend a few years ago. I have served them at some very large functions and the request for the recipe is huge after people try it. It is a really good Fall recipe and it competes very well with those difficult pumpkin rolls.

The texture and the flavor of these carrot bars is just delicious. I think the secret is the "baby food". My grandchildren love, love, love these carrot bars!

Carrot Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare large cookie sheet baking pan, spray with Pam

Mix together in a large bowl:
4 eggs
2 Cups Sugar
1 -1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
4 - 4 oz. bottles of strained baby food carrots
2-1/2 Cups Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Cinnamon

Spread batter evenly in baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool then put in freezer. Make Frosting.

3-1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Margarine
1 tsp. Vanilla
8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)

Whip until smooth and creamy. Frost frozen carrot bars.

These bars can be made ahead of time if you like. They freeze very well. Cover the frozen bars with foil and keep in freezer until you are ready to use them. This makes a huge pan which is great for a large group. If you are making them for your family they freeze well after being frosted and cut too if you want to save some for later. They are also great to have in the freezer for unexpected holiday guests or to add to the plate of holiday goodies you make for your neighbors.

I will post a picture of these yummy treats when I make my next batch.

Ready for Trick or Treater's

My front entry is ready for Trick or Treater's. I took my autumn wreath and added some black leaf garland and a Trick or Treat banner. I added a swag of the black leaf garland at the top of the door. I put black light bulbs in the outdoor entry fixtures for some spooky lighting. My columns are strung with festive orange lights. I really went the extra mile with the spider webs that you have to duck under to get to the door. The webs freak me out because I have a HUGE fear of spiders and their webs. (notice NO spiders) On Halloween night I will add my electric Jack o Lantern and my flaming witches cauldron. The finishing touch will be my traditional Halloween CD playing some fun Halloween tunes to greet the little ghosts and goblins on Halloween Night!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kid's Christmas Ornament Craft

Two very cute Christmas ornaments were created by the kids at last years Christmas Day Camp. Both are very kid friendly.

1. Can of Snowballs

Before you start write the name of each child on the bottom of their can. Show the children the completed project sample. Cans were purchased at the dollar store in the wedding section @ 6 for a $1. The snowballs were a strand of glittered white beads that I had purchased on a clearance rack really, really cheap after the previous holidays. I first gave the children a selection of holiday stickers to decorate their cans. I then gave them a strand of beads (I knew ahead of time approx. how many they would need to fill their can.) to cut apart and a plate to hold the beads to keep them from rolling away. On the same plate each child got a squirt of craft glue. We first filled the bottoms of the cans with some wadded up white tissue paper that had we dipped in the glue to make it stick to the bottom of the can. The children then begin to fill the can with the white glitter beads dipping each one in glue and sticking it to the tissue paper, other beads, or the can. Once the beads had dried in place we added some festive curly ribbon to the handles.

2. Beaded Wreath Ornament

This is made from a pipe cleaner and wooden holiday beads. Once again, I had found these beads on clearance for not much money at all. (I usually find my supplies cheap then create the craft!) I took the beads off of the strand and gave each child the number and colors they needed for the project. (I had the project kits made up ahead of time.) I gave them each a bowl to hold their supplies. I had also used some star craft beads that I had on hand to create more of a pattern. I first showed the children the finished sample craft. We then loosely folded our pipe cleaner in half. We started with the bottom center bead right at the bend in the pipe cleaner then worked up on both sides to create our bead pattern. When all of the beads were on we gave the pipe cleaner one twist then created a loop hanger with the pipe cleaner ends. We then attached a wired bow to the top. (The bows were already made and in their kit)

No Grinches Here

It is a holiday tradition for all of my children and grandchildren to come to my home for a formal dinner on Christmas Eve. As part of the evening each family brings an activity to share with the kids. Here they are all very interested in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Christmas Water Color Ornament Project

My grandchildren love to paint with water colors. They each have their own set of paints at my house. This is a painting project we did at the Christmas Day Camp last year (pictured in the center of the table.) I drew a large round ornament and created large sections to be painted different colors. I made copies on white card stock. The children first painted their ornaments. Once the paint was dry I had glitter pens for them to outline the lines between paint colors to add some holiday sparkle. We punched a hole in the top and put a ribbon hanger on it. They were very pleased with their creations.

Halloween Greetings

This is this year's collection of the nine Halloween cards that I am sending to my grandchildren. I try not to duplicate cards from year to year. I hope my memory is serving me well.

State Fair Tradition

The 2008 State fair tradition was an absolute success. Everyone had so much fun. All of the kids loved what may have been the best demolition derby ever since starting our annual family tradition to the derby. We were able to secure early seats so we could all sit together in the grandstands. After the derby six of the cousins who were big enough all went down the big slide together. One cousin was afraid to go at the last second and the nice man working at the top escorted her down.

America's Next Top Model

During commercial breaks of watching America's Next Top Model she likes her Papa to pretend that he is a high fashion photographer and she is the model. Non-stop poses are no problem and Papa's pretend camera captures every single pose.

Sleepover at Grandma's

This little guy along with all of my other grandchildren love to have a sleepover at Grandma's house. He doesn't even mind that he is snuggled up in "less than boyish" bedding. They all have their favorite blankets and when they are all here together we very often have to do some bedding negotiations so that everyone is happy.

Staples at Grandma's House

I have a few staples at my house to help keep the little ones busy. Play-Doh is a staple in my "activity pantry". I always make sure I have fresh Play-Doh on hand and to freshen up the activity I offer different tools or ideas. This day I had given them some birthday candles.

The candles turned my kitchen table into a busy birthday cake bakery. The orders were endless with color choices and how many candles were needed for each order. Baby sister thinks the birthday cake looks good enough to eat!

Holiday Table that Seats Sixteen!

Here's a tip that I do for a BIG family dinner. I enjoy having everyone sit at the same table so we can visit while we enjoy our meal. I used our regular dining room table and an eight foot folding table pushed together. Two matching table cloths covered the joint. I used benches on two sides to seat eight (mostly grandkids), and chairs on the other two sides for eight more.

Another idea I have heard of is to purchase a piece of plywood to add for a table top when a larger table is needed. The plywood can be easily stored in the garage between uses. Protect your table with a a piece of felt or something before putting the plywood on top. A sheet would be a great option for an oversized tablecloth.

Safety Tip: If doing the plywood method I would suggest rounding the corners a bit and glue or tack a cushion of some kind on the corners. This would make it safer for your linen and any precious little heads that may be running by.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Surprising Question at the Vet

I thought I would pass along a bit of information I learned yesterday afternoon. Our 4 month old Tabby Bengal mix kitten Izzy became very ill yesterday. He was running a fever, very limp, not eating, meowing like "I don't feel good". His condition got so bad that we thought we better take him to the vet.

When taking your kids to the doctor one of the first questions to mom is always "Has anyone else in the family been sick?" I was surprised to hear the same question at the vet. Sure enough, my teenage daughter had been very sick with a sore throat, high fever, aches, and pains this week. The vet felt there was a good chance that the cat caught her illness.

My understanding per the vet is that cat's can't catch viruses from people but they can catch bacterial illnesses. Our kitten was given a shot for his fever and antibiotics to cover any bacterial illness he may have. I am happy to report that Izzy has shown some improvement today.

Moral to the tale: If you have sick kids or parents be careful with hand washing and not sharing your food or drink with your pets. Also, don't let the animal share a bed with anyone who is sick. This was an $84.00 lesson for me yesterday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Grandma Forum

Whether you are a grandma, a grandchild, a mother, or a sister you have something to share to help inspire others. Please share your ideas on fun things to do at grandma's house, your favorite memories of your own grandma, stories about your grandchildren, craft ideas, favorite family traditions, how many grandchildren you have, recipes your grandkids love, your grandmother's recipes, or anything in between. Everyone would love to hear from you!

Pine Cone Critter Craft

This is a craft we did on a recent trip to our summer cabin in the pines. I supplied the blocks of wood for the base and had the children go for a hike to look for the perfect pine cones and a stick for the base. I hot glued the stick and the pine cones on the wood block to give them a sturdy base to work on.

The kids were supplied with pipe cleaners, yarn, felt, googly eyes, pompoms, craft hair, foam sheets, a variety of trims, and silk flowers and leaves. One of the kids turned his pine cones into a critter bug family by making fun and squiggly antennas on top of their heads out of colorful pipe cleaners. After getting the project home his 2 year old brother insisted on feeding the buggies cheese and crackers every day. When the little guy would get poked with the pine cone while feeding them he would say "no buggie, don't bite buggie."

Birthday Gift Exchange

When this little guy was born I was caring for big brother at home. When baby brother was just a few hours old we went to the hospital for a visit. I had purchased a small gift for big brother to give to his new sibling. His mommy had thought ahead with a great idea and presented big brother with a gift from baby brother too. A very sweet memory was created with the birthday gift exchange between the new brothers.

Food Network in Grandma's Kitchen

"Let's pretend we're doing a cooking show grandma." She puts on her apron and the imagination and magic begins. Lights, camera, action and she's in her own food network kitchen. She welcomes her viewers then describes what she is doing with great detail. She takes commercial breaks and even offers the health benefits of the ingredients and the calories of the dish. She once made imaginary triple chocolate brownies with only 5 calories each! With recipes like that she has a very promising future in the Food Network and probably in the Weight Watcher's trial kitchen too.

Summer in Arizona

There are not many activities you can do outdoors in the Arizona summer. This inexpensive pool has lasted for years and has been filled with hours of fun and many swimmers. I sit close by to lifeguard and I welcome the splashes that keep me cool too.

Work or Play?

This little guy is having a learning and bonding moment with his Papa while preparing the soil for future landscaping. He is a Tonka truck and dirt loving boy and this is his kind of "work". I am sure he dreams of playing in the dirt with high powered machines like his Papa someday.

Creating a Formal Dinner

When my oldest granddaughter is over at dinner time she loves setting a formal dinner table. She begins by choosing a tablecloth and candles are an absolute must. I allow her to use my stemware glasses and special occasion dishes too. She adds extra flair by doing something fancy with the napkins.

It turns an ordinary dinner into a happy memory for all of us. She wants to do "cheers" all through dinner by toasting one another with ice water. She is in heaven with our willing participation.

The menu does not matter. We have eaten hot dogs and pork n beans by candlelight!

More Sprinkles Please!

Ice cream cones are a favorite treat for these girls. They like to add a twist by dipping them in sprinkles. They eat the top then ask for more sprinkles please! On this particular day I gave them each a bowl with sprinkles for unlimited dipping. They loved it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cousins and Friends

Outings with the cousins builds strong family bonds, great memories, and lasting friendships. These two cousins are enjoying a day at the lake with their families.

Helping and Learning in Hard Hat Territory

All of my grandchildren were exposed to the construction of our homes from drawing up the building plans to the final finishing touches. They learned about tools, the building process, how things work, all kinds of trades, hard work, and job site safety. It gave them all lots of opportunities to pitch in with the construction clean up too.

Messy Crafts okay with Grandma

Crafts that require close attention because they are messy are welcomed activities at my house. They are projects that they may not get to do at home very often because of the supervision required and the time and energy restraints of their busy moms. Introducing this little one to painting with water required wiping up many spills. That's okay, because messy crafts are just fine with grandma.

Traditional October Outing

Every October the State Fair comes to our area. It is a tradition for our family to all go to the fair together for the demolition derby. We get there early and get some "Fair" food for dinner and get to the grandstands early so we can all sit together. (There is 18 of us!) We have a great time cheering our favorite drivers to victory. After the derby the kids go on a few rides and the thrill seeking adults among us go on a few stomach turning and head spinning rides before we head home.

Indoor Playhouse Project

These indoor playhouses were inspired by the delivery of two new recliners in a couple of huge boxes in early December. I cut doors and windows, painted them, and decorated them. They were an absolute hit with the kids.

I did these myself since it was a surprise for my Grandkid's Christmas Day Camp but they would be a great project to have the kids help with any time of the year. Check with your local furniture or appliance store for the boxes.

A Christmas Tree of Their Own

The grandkids have a tree of their own at grandma's house. I purchased a small tree and filled a basket with kid safe ornaments. They are able to move the tree around the house (like taking it to the toy room to have a pretend Christmas party with their cousins).

Each year we make some ornaments to add to the basket. The kids decorate the tree over and over again during their visits.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another Way to Recycle

I have a corner in my pantry where I store all kinds of things that most would throw out. Why? Because I have a couple of grandsons that love invention crafts. I keep paper towel rolls, strawberry baskets, toilet paper rolls, a variety of tin cans, boxes, and anything that I think would be useful in creating an invention. When they visit and want to invent something they know where to go for their supplies. Something I have saved, always inspires an invention of some kind.

I get them out a variety of strings, tapes, construction paper, wire, pipe cleaners, and glue sticks and the inventing begins.

The oldest boy who is 7 recently started an invention with a large clear plastic strawberry container. He had me cut a circle in the top of the container so that a paper towel roll could be pushed through the top. He attached the paper towel roll to the top at a bit of an angle. He then asked if I had anything that was red, green, and yellow. He chose to use tissue paper. I didn't know yet what he was creating or how appropriate the "tissue" paper would be. He tore the tissue paper up into small pieces and put it inside the container.

Any guesses on what it is?

The paper towel roll on the top was a microscope and the "tissue" inside was crime scene DNA !

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Breakfast Picnic

I had these two boys for an extended stay. It was our morning routine, at their request, to eat breakfast outdoors. It turned an ordinary breakfast into a long remembered memory.

Eating Breakfast Outdoors

Eating scrambled eggs and toast at the outdoor picnic table was great fun for these two.