Earth Day Crafts for Kids

earth day crafts

I love taking kids outside and teaching them about nature. It’s so simple too, especially when they are young. They love being out there anyway and I love to nurture that wonder and curiosity, fostering that appreciation for the world around them.

It’s one of the reasons I really like celebrating Earth Day – though I believe we should be doing things every day to save and protect the Earth, it’s a great opportunity to enhance that experience and perhaps expand on it a little more.

One of the things I like to do is find ways to create natural or environmental crafts that either highlight nature or are created from recycled/ reused materials to demonstrate that there are other uses for things we have around the house.

I also find that it encourages them to expand their mind and look at things a little differently. Like I need a watering can but don’t have one. What can I use that I have or create in order to meet that need? Or how can I take this natural item and turn it into something else, learning a little more about it at the same time?

Plus it reduces our impact on the planet by reusing things creatively (and teaches children to do so as well).

Try these Earth Day Crafts from Recycled Materials

Children of all ages enjoy making crafts, and it is an excellent way to teach them about reusing and recycling. Make these fun and easy crafts with items from around the house.

Plastic Jug Watering Can

What is needed:earth day crafts

  • 2 litre plastic milk jug
  • small nail
  • hammer
  • stickers

Wash milk jug out thoroughly. Using nail, poke holes in the lid of the milk jug; this should be done by an adult. Have the child decorate the jug with stickers. Child may also decorate by painting the jug or gluing on buttons, beads or yarn instead of or in addition to the stickers. When finished, fill the jug with water, put on the lid and show the child how to tip the jug to water the garden.

Ladybug Rocks

What is needed:

  • smooth, round, oval rocksearth day crafts
  • acrylic paint in colors of choice
  • 2 googley eyes per ladybug
  • black sharpie marker
  • acrylic matte sealer
  • white glue

Wash and dry rocks. Paint the rocks in desired colors, let dry. Paint 1/4 of the rock black for the head and let dry. Using the black sharpie, draw a line straight down the center of the rock. Dip the paintbrush in black paint and paint dots on the back of ladybug. Once paint is dry spray with acrylic sealer. Glue on the eyes when the sealer is dry.

Coffee Ground Fossils

What is needed:

  • 1 cup of used coffee groundsearth day crafts
  • 1/2 cup of cold coffee
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • wax paper
  • mixing bowl
  • some small objects to make impressions in dough
  • empty can or butter knife
  • toothpicks
  • string to hang fossil, optional

Mix together coffee grounds, cold coffee, flour and salt. Knead dough and flatten it out on to waxed paper. Use the can or knife to cut out circles of dough large enough to fit “fossil” objects. Press objects firmly into the dough. Take object out. To hang fossil, poke holes into the edge to hold string. Let fossil dry overnight.

Paper Plate Earth (makes a nice keepsake)

What is needed:earth day crafts

  • small paper plate
  • blue paint
  • green paint
  • red construction paper – cut in shape of heart
  • white paper
  • paint brush
  • marker

Place the white piece of paper on table or counter. Make sure they child will be able to reach it easily. Paint one of the child’s hand green. Have them place their hand on the white paper, press down and then lift straight up to make a print. Let the hand dry.

Paint the paper plate blue, covering it entirely, so it looks like the Earth. Write the name of the person making the craft on the heart (if the child or person is old enough they can write their name themselves). While the paint is still wet place the heart on the left side of the plate – the wet paint will act like glue and it will stick. Cut out the green hand print in a circle shape, stick the hand on the blue plate on the right side. Let the whole thing dry.

I also recently found this Stained Glass Earth and Earth Day Balloon Stamping that I really enjoy. In fact, love the balloon stamping! Can’t wait to try it with the kids.

earth day crafts

Whatever you choose to make the kids will love it, and though they may not connect all the dots today about what it’s all about, an impression will have been made and you’ll be surprised what they remember and appreciate! And if your child’s not the crafty type you can always try out some of these great Earth Day hands on nature activities.

What are your favorite Earth Day or Recycled Crafts?

Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids

valentine's day crafts

Valentine’s Day is a great holiday to get creative with kids. There are endless crafts ideas with very little materials or preparation needed. Kids will love these easy, simple Valentine’s Day crafts from hearts to cupid!

All you need are things that are red, pink and white, some hearts and a little imagination! Children of all ages can make these easy crafts. Of course, parent supervision is recommended when doing any crafts, besides it is a great opportunity for you to be creative and use your imagination too. My two favorites are the Valentine Person (I love any craft with accordion folding arms and legs) and the Cardboard Tube Cupid (I just think he is super cute!)

Depending on the age of the children you may want to do some prep in advance, pre-cutting shapes or strips depending on the craft you are making. During the craft you may have to assist gluing and folding depending on the ability of the child; but some 3 years olds do very well with these activities with little or no help. The key is to let the child do as much as they can themselves not only because it is their craft but to help them learn certain skills and achieve success. This will also instill a sense of pride in their finished Valentine’s Day craft.

Valentine Heart Wreath

This very pretty, easy craft can be done with children of all ages. Younger children may need assistance with cutting.

What is needed:Valentine's Day crafts

  • different colors of construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • markers/pencil crayons
  • cereal box

Trace a circle, about the size of a dinner plate onto the cardboard from the cereal box and cut it out. Trace a smaller circle about the size of a small plate inside the first circle and cut out the middle. Cut hearts that are approximately the same size out of construction paper, using a variety of colors. Note: smaller hearts will take longer to cover the wreath than larger ones.

Write different valentine words on each of the hearts like love, hugs, kisses, best friend, etc. Then glue the hearts around the cardboard ring until the circle has been covered.

Valentine Person

This is great for children 3 years and up. Younger children may need assistance with cutting out hearts, or have the hearts ready for them. Very easy craft that is lots of fun. Kids love the accordion arms!

What is needed:Valentine's Day crafts

  • red and pink construction paper
  • white paper
  • glue
  • scissors
  • markers

Cut one large heart out of red construction paper, this will be the body. Then cut 4 medium sized hearts out of pink for the hands and feet. Cut one small pink heart for the person’s nose. Put pink hearts aside.

Cut 4 long strips of white paper, these will make the arms and legs. “Accordion fold” the strips then glue them onto the red heart, one on each side for arms and 2 on the bottom (where the point is) for legs. Glue on one pink heart at the end of each strip for the hands and feet.

Glue small pink heart in middle of red heart for the nose. For the eyes children can cut out 2 more hearts and glue them on; they can glue on google eyes; or they can draw eyes on using markers. Similar options can be used for the mouth of either cutting out small hearts or gluing them on to form the mouth or draw it on.

Valentine Photo Frame

Great for kids 4 and up. Younger children may use only 1 or 2 colors if desired. Recommended that parent use the acrylic sealer when younger children are doing this craft.

What is needed:

  • small wooden unpainted photo frame
  • acrylic paint
  • paint brushes
  • craft jewels, buttons or stickers
  • acrylic sealer
  • white glue

Paint frame in 4 different colors, a different color on each side. Allow the paint to dry, then spray the frame with the acrylic sealer and allow to dry.

Once the sealer is dry select whatever decorations desired and glue them onto the frame. Some craft jewels may not require gluing as they have a self adhesive backing that can be peeled off and stuck onto the frame.

Add a picture of the child in the frame once dry and there is a wonderful gift for Mum, Dad, or that someone special.

Cardboard Tube Cupid

This craft is best done with children 7 years and up. It has many steps but is easy to do and very cute!

What is needed:Valentine's Day crafts

  • cardboard tube (toilet paper roll is perfect)
  • acrylic paint – peach, pink, white, black
  • paint brush
  • 1″ strip white construction paper
  • 1 gold (pipe cleaner) chenille stem
  • 1 red chenille stem
  • 1 silver chenille stem
  • 2 cotton balls
  • small piece peach felt
  • pencil
  • white glue
  • scissors

Paint cardboard tube with peach paint; let dry. Bend 2/3 of gold chenille stem into a letter “D”. Twist ends to secure and cut remaining long piece of chenille off. Remaining piece will be used to make arrow.

Bend end of red chenille into a small triangle; this will be the point of the arrow. Twist ends and trim long end off. Take remaining red chenille and bend into a red heart; this will be the back end of the arrow. Twist to secure and trim off excess. Take the remaining piece of gold chenille, twist one end onto the arrowhead and one end onto heart. Lay the bow on the table and glue the arrow across the front of it.

Cut the silver chenille stem in half to make wings. Bend both halves into tear drop shapes and twist ends to secure.

About an inch up from bottom of cardboard tube, apply some glue. Glue the 1″ wide strip of white construction paper around the tube and trim any extra. This is cupid’s diaper.

Stand the tube on end, diaper toward the bottom. Poke a hole on each side of tube with a pencil for the wings. Insert twisted ends of silver chenille wings into the holes.

Unroll the two cotton balls. Place some glue on the ends of both and attach to top of cardboard tube for hair.

Lay tube down on its side, wings sticking out to the left and right. Glue bow and arrow to the front of tube. Allow to dry completely. Cut two small circles from flesh-colored felt and glue to the front of the bow as the hands. In place of the felt, paint a piece of white paper peach and then cut out hands.

For cupid’s face, use a cotton swab or a roughed up paintbrush to dab some pink paint on for cheeks. Use the handle end of a paintbrush to dot on two white eyes. Let dry. When white is dry, dot on black. Two google eyes may be used instead of painting on eyes.

Valentine’s Day Crafts for All Ages

Valentine’s Day crafts are fun and enjoyable. One will find that there are many ideas and levels of crafts available, from very easy to a little more involved. Kids of all ages enjoy working with their hands and getting creative. Valentine’s is a great way to teach them about love and giving in a fun, interactive and creative way!

For more ideas on Valentine’s Day crafts check out Kaboose and Enchanted Learning.

Christmas around Calgary

christmas events in calgary

One of the many things that I love about Christmas are all the fun family activities that are on to attend during this season. From crafts to critters, there is something each weekend to choose from and you’ll never run out of fun things to do!

Many of them are free, while some charge a small admission fee to get in. I love that many of them are also outside, which I think is a great way to get the kids outside and help the entire family enjoy winter! (cause let’s be honest sometimes winter is not so enjoyable). These events provide different ways for you to enjoy the holiday season, celebrating and demonstrating that there is more to Christmas than just gift giving – which I feel is important to teach the kids too.

5 Fun Christmas Events in Calgary

Every year we attend at least one but usually hit 2 or 3. Our top five holiday events in Calgary are:

Zoolights

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Zoolights

Held at the Calgary Zoo, view 1.5 million Christmas lights displayed in all shapes and forms, from animals to flowers. From late November to early January from 6 – 9 pm, children will be awed with the array of lights throughout the zoo. There are other activities for the kids as well such as snowman bowling, hay jumping (our favorite), as well as fire pits throughout to stop and warm up for a while. Hot chocolate is available for purchase, or bring a thermos of your own. There is an entrance fee for this event but it’s well worth it.

CP Christmas Train

This beautifully lighted Christmas Train rolls across Canada making stops along the way to the North Pole. It is a child’s dream come true as you watch the train pull into the station. There are crafts for the kids as well as an outdoor concert. We went for the first time a few years ago (yes it was minus 30 and yes I think we are crazy) and my kids absolutely loved it! In fact it is the only thing that they are asking specifically to go to again this year (I guess the weather did not deter them). It is a free event and a very magical experience – check the website for your local schedule (attendees are encouraged to bring a non perishable food donation).

Once Upon a Christmas

IMG_0771 - Version 2Enjoy an old fashioned Christmas at Heritage Park where you can enjoy a wagon ride, snow painting and a visit with Santa Claus. Shop the Heirloom Christmas Shoppe with unique finds at old fashioned prices! Children’s mazes, crafts and even a kids only store (that’s right no adults allowed) so your little ones can shop for you for Christmas. Our favorite here is the Christmas Train display, where you walk into a magical wonderland of model trains, zooming through Christmas villages and displays. Oh it is a sight to behold! My kids can spend hours in there watching the trains go round and round. Runs the 4 weekends before Christmas; there is paid admission to the park but you can find coupons at Safeway or First Calgary for discount on admission, which make it quite reasonable.

Christmas at the Hive

IMG_0846

Making beeswax candles

This event takes you out of Calgary into the outlying areas of Okotoks. Hosted by the Chinook Honey Company this free family event includes making your own beeswax candles, honey toffee, visits with the donkey, a scavenger hunt and mead tasting. My kids love making candles in the snow and of course tasting all the honey! There is also a viewing area inside where kids can see the inner workings of an actual hive and try to find the queen bee. Just a short drive out of Calgary, this is a wonderful event that runs on Saturdays in early December starting at 10 am in a beautiful rural setting.

Lion’s Festival of Lights

Largest free drive by Christmas lights display, this 115,000 LED light display lights up Confederation Park. Set up completely by volunteers this light display will wow and awe everyone young and old. It can be seen along 14 St. NW, just south of 24 Ave.

These are just a few of our favorite Christmas event in Calgary (and around). There are many others that we have not been to before that I would like to check out, like Christmas in Kensington, Christmas Skate at the Olympic Oval (Calgary Olympic Park), Christmas in Canmore; all a variety of crafts, music and activities and each a little bit different (Canmore is showing outdoor movies – super fun!). And new this year The Polar Express Train Ride! Can we say I am super excited about this one?

There are also a number of community skates and events. Sadly, we do not have a Santa Claus Parade, which I really think should be reinstituted. Yes we used to have one, and I’ve been, way back before I had kids, my husband and I went. But apparently there has not been one in Calgary since 2007. Cochrane, Banff, Airdrie, and High River all have one, I think it’s time for Calgary to have one.

christmas events in calgaryBut even without a Santa Claus parade, there are tons of activities to choose from. From outdoor events to theater – I love it! Because each weekend in December it is not what will we do this weekend? It is which event should we go to this weekend (thankfully some of these events are on during the week as well).

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t run ourselves ragged getting to all the Christmas events. I am not a big believer in getting it all in until we are exhausted and never want to see anything Christmas again. But it is nice to have the choice and variety to go out and enjoy our beautiful city, the season and our wonderful winter weather, creating more wonderful memories for years to come (even when it is -30C, cause yes we did that one year and that is the one that my children remember).

What are some favorite holiday/ Christmas events that you attend?

For the Love of Fall… and a peek of what’s to come

IMG_3169

Camping in Drumheller

It’s that time of year again, back to school, back to routines and also time to try new things.   We had a fantastic summer full of camping trips, days at the lake and all kinds of other adventures. You may have noticed I was suspiciously absent during the month of August. This is because I packed up the kids and went to Australia for 3 and a half weeks! My sister is there for a year with her family as her husband is on a teacher exchange.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity, as Australia is a place I absolutely love! And even though I have been before there is so much to see and do, it was time to go again. Plus this time we included a week in New Zealand, which I had not been to before.

IMG_0110

Sydney Harbour, Australia

As a result I have tons of things to share with you and lots of blog posts to write about where to go and what to see in that area of the world. So this Fall I will include a weekly feature about some fabulous place in Australia or New Zealand. Giving you the scoop on how it works for families and children and what recommendations we have.

Also this Fall I will continue with sharing fabulous recipes that I have found and tried, that are sugar and dairy free, and sometimes gluten free. There seems to be an endless stream of yummy recipes out there! and I have a big bag (literally) full of them to try. For instance this morning I made Apple Cinnamon muffins again, which I tried last year and we really enjoyed. This year I tried something a little different, using leftover almond mash from making almond milk. They were so moist and yummy… Of course I promptly shared them with my neighbor and friends this morning over coffee as we sat outside amongst the beautiful fall leaves.

IMG_2135

Apple Cake Muffin

These are the posts I will guarantee in amongst all the joys, trials and insights of having 3 children, whether it be tips on how to get them out the door in the morning or programs and crafts that I would recommend. And sometimes whatever moves me, whether it be a good book I’ve enjoyed or a moment I need to share. This is the joy of blogging!

Right now I am up to my ears in apples, like last year, we have reaped an abundant crop from our tree and are enjoying apple everything. I have made more crumbles than I can count, as well as pie, muffins, smoothies (ever tried an apple pie smoothie? Yum!), juice, etc. Though I have recently discovered apple butter – OMG! delicious and might try making that.

Fall is also my most favorite time of year! and I get super excited and motivated at this time of the year. Seasonally it is a time of ending, getting ready for a period of ‘rest’, but I see it as a time of new beginnings with all kinds of things that I want to try, or the kids want to try. Plus I love the warm golden sunny days, and the crisp Fall evenings. Gorgeous.

IMG_4087With that, I will leave you with the promise of what’s to come, and thoughts of what you’re favorite things about Fall are, or famous apple recipes you love. May you enjoy all that the season has to bring and more.

What are your favorite things/ activities in Fall? Have any good apple recipes? I’d love to try them. Please post in the comments below.

Tips and Ideas for a Sugar Free Easter

IMG_2914It has been 3 years since we have eliminated refined sugars from our diet. This was for the benefit of my son who was not only experiencing extreme mood and behavior but was having trouble sleeping as well.

Though it was challenging to do in our everyday lives, the real challenge came around the holidays, as in our culture there is a lot of focus around food and feasts, especially sweets. As you can imagine Halloween is the biggest, with the entire focus of trick or treating being on collecting candy, with Easter being a close second.

P4240615Over the years we have found many different tips and tricks to enjoy these holidays without the focus being on all the candy and chocolates. I have to admit our first sugar free Easter was a bit of a challenge. My son, who was only 7 at the time, was old enough to remember the basket and eggs full of chocolates and jelly beans, so when Easter morning he discovered a basket full of socks and books, he was a little disappointed and understandably so.

I did my best to compensate by making our usual Easter Brunch, complete with eggs and sausages, waffles and fruit, which he enjoyed immensely. He then got treated with a new pair of sneakers from Grandpa and a cactus for his room. He soon forgot about all the things he was missing and was enjoying what he had.

The next year was better, as in the interim I had taken a class on how to make raw organic chocolates so was able to make chocolates we could enjoy, in addition to the new treats that the Easter Bunny brought for us.

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Easter Chick

For the twins, it has been a non issue as a sugar free Easter is the only kind of Easter they have known. I imagine as they get older they will learn what other children do for Easter and it may or may not matter to them, but I believe that because they will have known this way since birth that they will have a strong foundation and may feel very happy with our Easter regardless.

Now Easter is back to being another fun holiday that we all enjoy with our various traditions and ‘treats’. The kids baskets are full of non candy items, the eggs full of cash, sugar free (and good for you) chocolate and a wonderful mid morning feast of our favorite breakfast foods. Of course we add in other things from year to year, but those are the ‘basics’. No one feels denied or left out, nor focuses are what’s missing but appreciates and gets excited about what we have.

Ideas for a Sugar Free Easter (or sugar reduced)

If you are looking to reduce the sugar intake this Easter here are some tips on how to do so without the kids feeling disappointed:

  1. Fill Easter baskets with toys, socks, books, sunglasses, seeds, gardening gloves, bubbles, chalk, etc. I like to buy things that are inexpensive but not cheap, as well as things that they will enjoy and use. One year Matthew got a movie he wanted and a few smaller items. It can vary from year to year but I am not one to buy junkie trinkets just to fill the basket.
  2. Make your own chocolate with natural sweeteners. It is easy to make your own chocolates; you can get Easter molds (I have found some at the Dollar Store) and add anything you want to it. You could even get the kids to make them with you, ready for Easter morning.IMG_2904
  3. Plan an Easter Egg Hunt. We have lots of those plastic Easter eggs that I fill with coins or stickers. Usually I leave a little trail from their bedrooms down the stairs and hide them all over the main level. Sometimes they even get hidden outside. There are many ways you can set up the hunt and ideas for non candy items to put in the eggs.  They could just be clues that will lead the kids to a prize of some sort at the end.
  4. Make a yummy (sugar free) Easter brunch or breakfast. If the kids are looking forward to their favorite french toast or waffles, they will likely be distracted and awaiting that yummy feast.
  5. Do Easter crafts or activities. Most kids love crafts, even my 10 year old son will still sit down and do a craft, painting or art project.
  6. Decorate the house for Easter. If the kids get into decorating the house this takes the focus off the candies and onto other stuff. The twins have been ‘decorating’ for weeks, setting up army men around the Easter tree or hanging crafts they made at preschool in their room. Decorating also makes it more than just about the one day and makes it more of an event.
  7. Get others on board. Encourage other family members and friends to get non sugary treats for everyone; then the kids see that everyone is getting the same, so it must be ok.
  8. IMG_2903Color eggs. You can do this on Easter as an activity or prior to. Either way it is another way of removing the focus and putting it onto something else that is fun and enjoyable.
  9. Be grateful. Encourage the kids to be grateful for what they have. Create a gratitude jar or choose another gratitude activity to do do with them.
  10. No matter what you do have fun. Whether you are creating new traditions, foods, or making crafts enjoy the Easter holiday. Remember why we celebrate, and what is most important to you as a family this holiday.

Easter Activities and Ideas

easter-bunny-2Well I have to admit that Easter has snuck up on me again! You would think that with calendars and the kids talking about Easter for the past month or more that I would have been more on top of it. But here we are the week before, actually only a few days away, and I have ‘clued in’ that maybe I should get ready for Easter.

We did dye eggs last weekend, which Luke and Chloe have been asking to do since the beginning of March, but that has been it so far. I always find there are so many cute and fun things to do around Easter and I have such great ideas! Then it comes and goes and we have done very little. And honestly the kids don’t notice really, but it is me who knows that we could do so much more!

easter activitiesThe things we typically do for Easter are an Easter Brunch on the Sunday, an Egg Hunt and search for Easter baskets. Prior to the day we usually color eggs and make a craft or two. We used to participate in some of the community Easter events, which usually include an egg hunt, but the challenge is now, the treat at the end contains ingredients that we do not eat, so I think it’s unfair to take the kids out and not let them have the prize. So we find other things to do.

We also now have a sugar free Easter, which is a little more costly, but pretty easy to do. The Easter Bunny brings socks and toys, chalk, bubbles, play doh and the like. The twins love it and don’t know any different because that is what it has always been for them. Matthew still struggles with the lack of candy in his basket but overall does ok as they are all getting the same. It is challenging though as the kids get older and hear and see what other kids get for Easter, or any other holiday for that matter. I guess that’s one of our many challenges as parents, making a decision for your family and hope for the best, trusting that you have made that decision for a good and sound reason – though the children, nor others, may not always agree with you.

easter activitiesThe bottom line is my kids still get to enjoy Easter and the many things that are part of it. The Easter Bunny still comes to see them, he’s just changed what he puts in the baskets and eggs. I have an Easter mold so I make some chocolates, so still get chocolate to enjoy and it’s better for us. Yes it takes a little more prep and effort but it’s worth it in the end.

So if you’re looking for ideas for things to do this Easter here are some great crafts and activities I have found over the years. Our favorites are the Easter Chick and dying Easter Eggs.

easter activitiesThere’s also some great tips and ideas on how to reduce or eliminate the sugar fest in the Easter baskets, as well as ideas to plan your own Easter Egg Hunt. Also some fabulous recipes for Easter Brunch, my favorite is always the Impossible Quiche, quick easy and I have modified it to make it dairy free and no one knows the difference!

What are some of your favorite activities and crafts or Easter Brunch recipes?

 

Party! Party! Party!

scaled_photoWelcome! I am very excited to be joining the Ultimate Blog Party 2014 again this year! I think this is a great opportunity to get out there and connect with other bloggers while sharing the things that you love, including your own blog! Thank you to Janice and Susan of 5 Minutes for Mom for hosting this fabulous event.

If you are new to Momma on the Move I’d like to thank you for stopping by and for those of you who are returning welcome back. It is a pleasure to have you all here.

8095971047_2a93f46d0a_bMy name is Carmen and I have 3 beautiful children, 4 year old boy/ girl twins and an older son. I grew up on the East Coast and have a deep love for the ocean. I love the outdoors, travelling, exploring new places and to getting out there to enjoy and embrace life!

The kids keep me busy with the twins now in preschool and our decision to eat sugar and dairy free at our house. When not playing with or helping the kids, I am in the kitchen trying out or modifying recipes to meet our needs. I have even been dabbling in some gluten free recipes over the past year as well.

IMG_2646We made the decision to remove sugar, back when my Matthew, my oldest was in grade 2, due to behavorial and sleep challenges with him. It was amazing the difference it made! Shortly after we went dairy free as I discovered both myself and my daughter had an intolerance and the gluten well, when I discovered I was still feeling tired after eating a dairy free/ sugar free muffin, gluten was the only thing left!

I have always loved to write but started blogging because I felt that I could share more faster and reach a larger audience. I find that there are so many things to share and explore, as life is a story. Everywhere we go I am taking pictures and thinking about how I make this into an informative, yet interesting blog post for my readers. Everything from crafts and activities for kids, our adventures camping and in the outdoors, to the many sugar and dairy free recipes, I like to blog about it!

I also like to include tidbits about the importance of taking time for ourselves, gratitude and being ambassadors for our planet.

I like creating a community where we can share, interact and learn from each other. Plus it’s stretched me in the world of technology as well!

IMG_2106Now that you’re here, sit down grab a cup of coffee and take a look around. Let me know what your favorite posts are, what you’d like to see more of. Leave a comment sharing with me who you are and where I can find you so we can connect and get to know each other. I’m looking forward to visiting everyone’s sites and making new friends.

Here are some of my favorite posts:

Firewalking

Rainy Day Activities

All Things Pumpkin

Natural Sugar Substitutes

RAK your Brain

Firewalking

Firewalking

 

Grasshopper Popsicles

Enjoy! See you at the party!

Let’s stay connected! Here’s where you can find me

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Google+

The Art of Appreciation

IMG_2699Well Valentine’s Day is around the corner and even though it is one of my favorite holidays, it often tends to sneak up on me! Each year I find that February starts and then all of a sudden we are in the week before Valentine’s Day and I have not done much at all.

All of a sudden we have Valentine’s to buy for the kids classes, treats to make and some kind of plan to celebrate this fun loving day. See though I love the romance and having someone treat me royally on this special day, I also love to make it special for my kids. I believe that Valentine’s is not just for lovers but is a day to celebrate love in general and there are all kinds of love.

So I usually make a nicer dinner that night, I make heart shaped chocolates for treats that day. This year I made heart shaped cupcakes! as I found a heart shaped cupcake pan at Superstore. I also saw heart shaped ramekins but didn’t buy them when I saw them and missed out 🙁 They actually sold out within the week!

8095938392_66f01dc36d_bI also like to have the kids do a craft of some kind, yes it’s usually heart shaped, so today we did something really simple. We made heart shaped pockets. We cut out two hearts the same size decorated one and then glued the two together leaving the top open so we could put things in it. Then each day from now until Valentine’s we are going to put a nice note in everyone else’s heart. Something we like about them, enjoy doing with them, etc. I am also a believer in extending these holidays, why do they have to only be one day? Especially when there is such a nice message attached with Valentine’s in particular.

5973578-heart-shaped-chocolates-isolated-on-white-backgroundBesides we could all use a little pick up during the day. A reminder of the good in us and in the world. My intention is not only to do this this week but see if we can’t start something like this on a more regular basis, Valentine’s day or not. I think we often forget to tell people in our lives how much we appreciate them and mean to us. We shouldn’t just save it for birthdays, Valentine’s or other holidays. You never know how a kind comment or an act of love can make a difference in someone’s day.

So maybe after Valentine’s is over we’ll make new ‘pockets’ out of paper bags and continue the warm fuzzies, encouraging comments and notes of appreciation to each other. And I have a feeling it will not only make a big difference in our home but in our lives and the lives of others that we touch on a daily basis.

Valentine’s Pockets

Materials:

Red, pink, white and purple construction paperIMG_2696

pom poms (variety of colors)

Valentine stickers

sequence

markers

glitter glue

white glue

scissors

Method:

Select color of construction paper that you desire. Fold paper in half. Trace a heart on one half of construction paper. Cut out heart through both halves  – you will end up with 2 hearts the same size. Young children may need help tracing and cutting the hearts, while older children can do this on their own.

Decorate one of the hearts with stickers, markers, pom poms, glitter glue, etc. Allow the child to create whatever decor they would like. Once they are finished decorating glue the two hearts together leaving the top open so that it creates an opening to put things in.

Allow glue to dry. Once dry hang hearts in a prominent spot where everyone can access them to put in their notes to each other.

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful…

For the past week in Calgary we have been experiencing the best winter weather has to offer. Snowstorms, blizzards, blustery winds and freezing cold. High snow drifts that take hours and a lot of brawn to shovel. We’ve experienced long commutes to work, traffic jams and slippery road conditions.IMG_2505

Yet in the midst of all this is Christmas. Shopping, festivities and all kinds of family fun activities to go and do. This past weekend especially there was lots of fun things going on and when I heard the weather forecast I was saddened by the things we would likely miss. Yet….

On Friday I decided to bundle the kids up and head out to see the reindeer at the Kingsland Farmers Market, it was only -23. And on Saturday when it was -30 C I decided to bundle them up again and take them out to Christmas at the Hive in Okotoks at the Chinook Honey Company. Then we came home and had lunch and quiet time, and then yes I was likely crazy or simply had brain freeze by this time, bundled up one more time and went to the CP Holiday Train arriving at Anderson station (by now it was only -18 C so really significantly warmer).

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Honey Taffy at Chinook Honey Company

All in all it worked out well. We used buildings and indoor options when we could, mixing up being outside with being inside. It turned out the reindeer were outside but you could wait inside to go and see them. The honey farm you could go in and out of the store as well as the Discovery Center and the sun was out! Which I find can make all the difference.

By the time we got to the train which was all outside, we managed to stay for an hour and a half before it was just too cold and uncomfortable to stay any longer.

Now you might think I am a crazy person for taking my kids out when it was that cold. But when I was growing up I learned that weather is, and you can’t change it; so are you going to miss an opportunity and let the weather dictate what you do or are you going to get out there and enjoy it? Of course it is important to be smart and sometimes it is the right decision to choose not to go. In this case though it was doable and we were able to make it a comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone.

IMG_2525We dressed warmly, layering from long underwear, wool sweaters and snow pants. We brought warm drinks and snacks to share. In fact to the train we even brought some soup in a thermos. I was surprised by how many people I heard around us saying “Oh they brought soup” and commenting on how good it smelled and how they would like some.

We also knew when to leave, we didn’t try to make the kids last a little longer or do just one more thing. When we started to see signs that the cold was making us unhappy we were thankful for our experience and headed for the car. Even though I would have loved to have stayed longer and listen to Sarah McLachlan.

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Making train craft at CP Christmas Train

Life is what you make it. Now we have pictures and memories and Luke already asking to go back to the Christmas Train. And when we got home we put on the fire, sat on the couch and cuddled, while enjoying snacks and hot apple cider. Everyone happy and chatting away about the evening.

Now I know for some it is really challenging to go out in certain types of weather and of course we all need to do what is best for us. But if you’re prepared and have the right attitude you don’t always have to choose to stay home.

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Post trip snacks

PS Now on Sunday I was quite happy to stay home and not go anywhere….but I was glad we did all those things this weekend. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Shrunken Heads and other Halloween Decor

IMG_2317My oldest son Matthew is really into Halloween this year. Creating and buying decorations, making our yard into a spooky spectacle. He has always enjoyed Halloween and gotten quite excited about it, but for some reason this year he is really into the decorations.

He has asked me a few times if he could get on the internet to google homemade Halloween decorations, and has created some of his own. He’s done things such as buy a small plastic skeleton from the dollar store and build it’s own paper coffin for it. He’s taken an exercise band and made it into scary caution tape by writing and drawing on it with black marker. Yes he also went to the Halloween store on the weekend with his Dad and bought a cemetery set, some yellow caution tape and a few other things but the thing I love is that he is willing and happy to do both, buy some and create his own.

IMG_2319I have always loved decorating for Halloween and often thought that we should add to our collection of decorations. We have had pumpkin and skeleton lights for years, as well as the ghosts that you hang in the tree and spider webs. But Matthew really likes to go to town, in fact every time I turn around at the moment he is making something new to add to the decor.

IMG_2328The thing that I have found the most unique though is the apple shrunken heads. I am not sure where he got the idea from but it is pretty cool and very easy to do. They take about 2 weeks to complete, simply because you need to let them dry, but they are very easy to do.

IMG_2321Even Luke and Chloe are quite excited about Halloween this year and they are counting down the days like their older brother. I think that it’s going to be a pretty fun Halloween this year and I have to say that I do like that the amount of work that I have actually had to do so far has been quite small.

Shrunken Heads

Apples

Lemon juice

Peel apples, using as many as you like (we did 5). With a butter knife carve out eyes and mouth into apple. Dip apple in lemon juice so that it is completely covered. Set apple on platter or plate and let dry. Best to put apples in a place that is cool and out of direct sunlight. After 1 week dip in lemon juice again. Takes about 2 weeks for apples to shrink and wrinkle. Display shrunken heads in amongst your Halloween decor.

Matthew and his shrunken heads

Matthew and his shrunken heads