Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday Morning Muffins: Gingerbread Muffins

Mr Picky loves gingerbread. Plop a bit of whipped topping (not whipped cream) on top and he will gobble it up! I found this recipe on Pintrest, a link that led to THIS blog, and decided to give it a go. 


The batter mixed up really nicely, instead of butter I used oil, and I didn't bother putting the sugar on top. I figured as a breakfast item, they really didn't need it. 


This is my new muffin tin, they are massive, bakery style muffins. This recipe filled the six cavities nicely. I got six delicious, gingerbready muffins.


I have a hard time calling these muffins, throw the batter in a square pan and it would make a lovely cake. It is heavy and thick. But, they were delicious! Little Miss ate a bit, she wasn't wild about them, but Mr Picky gobbled one up!

So, another weekend has passed, and another week begins. Time to bake more muffins!

Have a good week, everyone!

~Natasha.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Oven Fried Chicken.

I started a new board on Pintrest for recipes that I have made several times, because each time I want a recipe I have been searching through several boards wasting time and energy trying to find that recipe that we loved last time. This was one of the first recipes added to that board, it has been made 3 times. 

Mr. Picky loves chicken from a certain restaurant, one that serves it in greasy buckets, and one that isn't cheap. When I asked him what he wanted for dinner one night, he told me chicken, but that he wanted it from this restaurant. Well, that was a no money night, so we ended up staying home.  A day or two later, I was telling him about copy cat recipes, he asked me to find this one, and so I DID


It took me awhile to find the seasoning salt, and when I finally did it was with the help of a store employee/ floor walker who then tried to sell me on a store credit card and bank account. No thank you. Salean liked her, though, because she cooed over her red hair. We get a lot of that.


It is hard to see the spice mixture in the picture above, white flour doesn't exactly show up well in a white bowl. I always get enough to make four chicken breasts, two for him, half for Salean and one and a half for me. The pictures above were from a night we had thighs, I think it made six.

This recipe is sufficient for Mr Picky's craving for restaurant chicken, but I find it is not the same. I think it is actually better than the greasy bucket chicken, and tastes much less salty as well. Eventually he has to go out to get his 'fix', but for now this satisfies.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

~Natasha.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Morning Muffins: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

Another Monday, another beautiful muffin. I am running a week behind; I made these muffins on Mother's Day, Mr. Picky took Little Miss out to get presents while the newbie napped, so I took advantage of the time to get some baking done. I was told I should have rested and relaxed with the down time, but to me, baking is relaxing! 

This is another Pintrest recipe, this time I searched chocolate chip muffins, and I found THIS.


I find this size is good for a toddler, but I have to eat several to get filled up. I found a larger pan and plan on giving it a try, it will create bakery sized muffins, yum!


These whipped up quickly, and made plenty! I got a dozen medium sized muffins and 10 smaller ones. Both my older pans have the same size circumference, but one is deeper than the other and so makes slightly larger muffins. They seemed to bake fairly fast to, I checked and they had started to darken.


After coming back from her flower hunting expedition (I got a dozen white roses with pink tips, Daddy said she was very insistent on them) Little Miss enjoyed a muffin. While I can't say she disliked them, she definitely didn't love them. Mr Picky, on the other hand, liked them and took several with him to work when he left for the week. I personally found them a little bland, but still good.


In this picture, she is blowing on her fingers, which is her way of saying 'hot'. She still isn't talking much, but it is amazing how she has figured out how to communicate. She has made up her own signs for drink, hot, dirty hands, and "I need a soother". 

Here's to the start of another delicious week, more muffins to come! 

Have a good week, everyone! 

~Natasha. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tot School Tot Trays & Art

It's been a few weeks since I updated Tot School but we are chugging along! It seems every month or so I change the format of our learning, so I am not really sure if she is learning anything or not. She is definitely having fun, though, and that's what matters! 


Every Monday, I have been swapping out the contents of the sand table, Coloured pasta, coloured rice, orange lentils and coloured chick peas have all made an appearance, I am hoping in the future to do coloured oatmeal, and if I can find enough at a decent price, aquarium rocks.


The pasta is one of my favourites because it can be used in many ways. We sorted colours and shapes, and attempted to thread onto pipe cleaners.


She had some success, but she was being a bit to rough, causing the pipe cleaner to bend and making it harder.


For the last couple of weeks, we have been settling into a format. While I cook dinner, Salean either does art or works on a tot tray, I chose dinner prep time because Daddy is working away again and she wants to be with me all the time. It is also a good time because I can keep an eye on her without interfering, and it has a concrete end time, when dinner is ready. I find transitioning from activities easier when there is a concrete end time and can present something else right away, like a plate of food. 

We always go out to Grandma's on Saturday night, and Sundays are usually crazy or we go out as a family, so art has been on Monday, then tot tray introductions Tuesday and Thursday and continued play on Wednesday and Friday. This week's art was painting, above. The one on the left was done the Friday before during a play date at a local private school, we got to go in to check it out and play with the preschool class for an hour. 

This week's tot trays were stamping (Tuesday and Wednesday) and gem transferring (Thursday and Friday). I got some gems and olive tongs at the dollar store and showed her how to pick up the gems and drop them into a mini muffin pan. She really needs practice on this one, and preferred to use her fingers. No big deal, it will come. 


As you can see above, I made two tot trays with old cookie sheets. I put scrapbook paper on them and put about 5 layers of modge podge, plus additional around the edges that had lifted a bit. She is prone to picking at loose papers and stickers, so I didn't want her to peel it off! With these trays, she can do magnetic activities as well as regular activities. 

So this was our week at a glance, I made up next weeks tot trays this afternoon, we will do matching and threading more pasta on pipe cleaners. 

Hope everyone has a great week! 

~Natasha. 




Saturday, May 16, 2015

Our Book Shelf -- Mid May

This post is a day or two late, but I decided I am going to start keeping track of our books. I will be posting our books here twice a month, the middle and the end.

Every week or two, I swap out Salean's reading books, we have so many we just can't keep them all out! We are also starting to transition from board books to paper books so even more are coming out; she is still tearing some pages so we are making sure all library books are still board books.

Here is her shelf, that Grandpa M made. At the beginning of the week, library books are in the upper right corner. The top and part of the middle shelf are new books out, and the bottom shelf houses books that were left out from the week before and larger books. Here is what we have been reading the last couple of weeks.


A star * indicates it seems to be, or is becoming, a favourite of Salean's. Two stars ** mean super favourite, read over and over and over again.

Library Books  (we try to visit every 2-3 weeks and usually get three each time)

Waddle  by Rufus Butler Seder
Hungry Bunny by Margaret Wang
M is for Maple by Mike Ulmer

New Out (titles that have been put away, this is their first time out)

Picnic Buddies by Marjorie Hakala
Lilo & Stitch, Disney Movie book
Just Not Invited by Gina & Mercer Mayer
One Day, Daddy by Francis Thomas
This is My House by Mercer Mayer
How to be a Grouch by Oscar the Grouch
The Monster at the End of This Book by Grover
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
Which One Doesn't Belong? A Sesame Street Book
Just A Little to Little by Mercer Mayer
Kisses, Kisses, Kisses by Darlene Ryan

New This Week (These have been on our shelf before, just rotated back this week)

** Look at You: A Baby Body Book by Kathy Henderson
Canada in Colours by Per-Henrik Gurth
Canada 123 by Kim Bellefontaine
Chicka Chicka 123 by Bill Martin Jr and Michael Sampson

Brand New (Grandma & Daddy bought us some new books)

Poke a Dot: 10 Little Monkeys by InnovativeKids
Poke a Dot: What's Your Favorite Color? by InnovativeKids

Old Books (books that were left out from the week before)

Horns to Toes and In Between by Sandra Boynton
Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton
A to Z by Sandra Boynton
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton
Hey! Wake Up! by Sandra Boynton
Dress Ups  by Anne Geddes
** Colors by Anne Geddes
The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr Seuss
The Rainy Day by Anna Milbourne and Sarah Gill
** Counting Colours by Priddy Books

What Mama is Reading:

Mama isn't reading anything this week (which is very rare) because I just finished two books and have not had time to start another. The two I just finished are:

Donna Bell's Bake Shop by Darren Greenblatt, Matthew Sandusky and Pauley Perrette
ADHD Does Not Exist by Richard Saul, MD

This is actually a lot more than what I usually put out, but because this is the first week I put in the paper books, there is quite a few more. The books will be rotated sometime in the next day or two, titles that will be read until the end of the month.

Little Miss Salean loves her books, she will sit and 'read' them all day. We also keep a stash in the car instead of toys, because she seems to prefer them. She gets so absorbed in the books, as if they are telling her the secrets of the universe! She will definitely be a reader, I think.

Well, that's the end of our bookshelf this week, have a good weekend, everyone!

~Natasha.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Felt Board

I have been wanting to make a felt board for quite awhile, I just haven't gotten around to it. I finally picked up the supplies a couple weeks ago, so all I needed to find was the time. A few nights ago, I got both kids in bed by 7:10 (the newbie has been up until about 9 for the last month, usually crying and fussing, so by then I am to tired to do anything). What was I to do with the evening that stretched ahead? So I went for it!

I must say, this did not turn out anywhere near how I would have liked it to. I used the back of a black board I was given, this way I can make it a two sided activity. I could not find full pieces of felt, but I am still keeping an eye out for them so I can redo it someday. 


I started by hot gluing one piece of felt to the board. The rest had to be cut to fit. Hindsight tells me that because I had an upper and lower section I should have used blue and green, to represent sky and grass.


The flash makes the end result look a little worse than it actually does. Again, I am definitely going to keep an eye out for larger pieces of felt. There is only one craft store in my city, so prices are not very optimal. I got these small pieces at a dollar store, out of the three in my town, only one carries it.


I hopped on Pintrest for ideas, my first project was a face. It was all done freehand, so forgive the fact that he looks like a redneck bumpkin from some 80's cartoon. I do not have access to a printer at home to make templates, so it looks kind of funky. The eyes, nose, mouth and hair are all removable. The ears I glued on.


Project number two were some shapes to match. Peach circles, white ovals, green triangles, orange squares and blue rectangles. I decided not to get into octagons and such, especially while cutting freehand. She's only two, so the basics are all she needs now anyway.


Finally, a set to dress. I stuck with just a head and neck, and I skipped out on hands and feet for now. I gave my person two shirts, two pants (that are smaller than the shirts because they were made first), two hairstyles: blond straight and a red pigtail, and a baseball cap to make it more boyish.


Here she is all dressed up in black and blue.


And by switching out the hair for a cap, we have a man dressed in black and blue. After making these, I figured I'd give up while I was ahead and before I wasted all my felt.


Each set is being stored in an individual zipper sandwich bag, and in a plastic container. Eventually, I may make a small spot to hold them out of cardboard to go on the bottom of the board, where there is a different section that I didn't felt (on the front, it is a spot to hold the chalk for the chalkboard).

So, was it a hit? Meh...


It caught her attention for maybe 10 minutes. The pieces didn't stick as well as I had hoped, so that disappointed her a little, causing her to lose interest. 



She pointed and chatted, telling stories in her own little way, the whole time. After awhile, though, she basically packed it up and told me to get it out of her play area by pointing to it and to the kitchen.

So, I think it needs a revamp before rolling it out again, and figure out a way for it to stick better. Otherwise, it was just a project to wile away an evening.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

~Natasha.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday Morning Muffins: Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Lately, I have been trying to bake some muffins at least once a week. I love trying new recipes, so I have decided to start posting them. I am going to aim for Monday mornings, since I usually bake Sundays and we indulge on Mondays, they are a great way to kick off a new week.

Last week, I got a craving for coffee cake, it is something my Mom would bake once in awhile when I was a kid. I searched Pintrest for a coffee cake muffin recipe and came up with THIS one. 


The only thing I did differently was halve the topping. I always end up with a lot of left over topping with recipes like this. As you can see below, even with halving it, I still had plenty of leftovers.


Little Miss got one muffin and a few grapes, and the muffin disappeared! I gave her another for snack later in the day, it disappeared as well! So this recipe is definitely a hit!


I loved them as well, I got a dozen out of the batch, and we only had 5 left by the end of the day. Poor Mr Picky didn't get to try them, he works away and they were long gone before he got back! I am sure he will enjoy them should I make the recipe again, as he loves cinnamon.

So this is our first Monday Morning Muffins...we will see you next week with more breakfast goodness!

Have a good week, everyone!

~Natasha.