Thursday, 29 December 2011

Play Dough

Play dough by SashaWarner
Play dough, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
It is cold here. Winter was slow getting here, but it has arrived. There will be no lingering play dates outside this week. Its more of a get out, get the fresh air, shovel the very short driveway, "oh look, I think your sister might be on the verge of frostbite," go back inside kind of week. So, to pass some of the time this morning, I made play dough. I know, this isn't a novel post--I've made it before, you've made it before--but its still a classic, easy, creative way to pass the time. Just in case you've lost your recipe, like I had, here's a great one from Mommy Footprint.

Play Dough Recipe
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon cream of tartar (find it in the spice section)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
food coloring

Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan. Add water and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will become difficult to stir and form a “clump”. Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes–add food coloring during kneading process. Play dough will keep for a long time stored in a covered plastic container or plastic sandwich bag.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

Merry Christmas 2011! by SashaWarner
Merry Christmas 2011!, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Have a very happy Christmas! We hope today finds you with good food in your belly and special people to share it with.

(Thanks to Crystal over at the Mess in Messenger for the idea to do our Christmas card with Picnik this year.)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Reese's Squares

Reese's Squares by SashaWarner
Reese's Squares, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
This morning I was reminded (or invited to depending how you look at it) of the annual staff potluck at work. I love food, and its about time I started getting used to going into work, so we made the trip. The five kilometer round trip in the snow with a stroller with deceptively small wheels. I love food that much. It was so worth it... everyone was so happy and hyped about Christmas. It reminded me that I have a great job that I am lucky to go back to when it is time.

I whipped these squares up quick this morning before I left. I thought I'd share, just in case you've left everything until the last minute, including the Christmas dessert. They are no-bake, have minimal ingredients and really do taste just like Reese's Peanut Butter cups. If you don't make them for Christmas, bookmark this page... you'll want to try them at some point.

Reese's Pieces Squares
Base:
1 cup peanut butter**
1 1/3 cups icing sugar*
1 3/4 cups graham crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
Combine and press into a 9x13 casserole dish.
 
Topping:
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cups peanut butter**
Melt the chips and pb together on high in the microwave, checking every 15 seconds or so. It should only take about a minute.  Cool slightly and pour on top of base.

Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours and cut into squares.

* If you don't have icing sugar on hand, I have substituted white sugar. It just gives the base a grittier texture.
** Use the cheap peanut butter, NOT the all-natural stuff.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Things kids say: Nap Time Greatness

The Warner Residence, 1300 EST.

Nevin: Mommy, come to bed with me.
Mommy: Do you want me to tuck you in?
Nevin: No.
Mommy: Do you want me to lay in bed with you for a minute?
Nevin: No.
Mommy: Do you want me to give you a kiss night-night?
Nevin: No.
Mommy: Okay. Night-night, Nevin. You're a good boy.
Nevin: No.
Pause.
Nevin: I'm a GREAT boy.

(The picture is totally unrelated, but I took it of Scarlett today and wanted to share.)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Putting together toys

The Christmas circuit has officially begun.  Yesterday, we Skyped with Santa in the morning, had a nap, then headed over the Nana and Papa Bear's for dinner.  Just as Santa promised, there were lots of toys waiting at Nana's for the kids.

We opened the presents before dinner.  We told Nevin he couldn't open his new Thomas & Friends megablocks train set until we got home.  He asked to go home.

So we knew we were in for a late bedtime when we went home.  That was okay.  I got Scarlett ready for bed and left the boys to put together the train set.  Now, I understand that the the manufacturers of the Thomas & Friends megablocks train set designed it with four-year-olds in mind, but that megablock set was tough.  Call me a megajock if you want, but I'm telling you, Baby Jesus himself couldn't put that thing together.  After an hour and a half, we decided we needed a new plan.

It was time to put Nevin to bed and get the creative juices flowing.


That's not water.  An hour later, it looked like a team of astrophysicists had come for a visit.


I love my husband.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Craft Sale Season

On Friday I received this email from a local radio station:

"Congratulations!


You have won admission for yourself and 1 guest to shop before the doors open to the public, this Saturday morning from 9a-10a at the Originals Christmas Craft Sale at Lansdowne Park!


Your name will be on a guest list – please be sure to bring a piece of photo ID.

Enjoy coffee and donuts while you shop, and Santa will announce over the PA system lucky winners of a $100 Originals Christmas Craft Sale gift certificate every 10 minutes throughout the one hour Shopping Experience, and one lucky shopper on site that Saturday morning will win a $500 gift certificate to the Originals Christmas Craft Sale!"

My mom is a huge fan of craft sales, and I like looking for inspiration, so I called her up.  Not only did she accept my +1 invite, she said she would bring along my Dad to watch Nevin.  When we left on Saturday, I was feeling great about life.  I was going to get an hour without the toddler, I had on a pretty cute outfit that didn't involve any yoga wear, and there was the promise of donuts awaiting my arrival in Ottawa.

You know how shopping experiences can get a little nuts around the holiday season?  Well, not when you have VIP pass to an event closed to the public.  It was calm.  It was inspiring.  It was toddler-free.  I had my two donuts, Mom had her free Starbucks coffee, we got our fill of crafty inspiration, and when the clock struck 10am, we were ready to be on our way, completely satisfied with the experience.  And then a cheery voice came on the intercom:

"Thank you to all of our VIP Majic 100 shoppers.  The winner of the $500 gift certificate is Sasha Warner.  Again, Sasha Warner, could you please make your way over the the courtesy desk to collect your prize.  Merry Christmas everyone."

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO MEEEEEEEEEEEE!  I may have shrieked.  Do you understand that that is more than a month of groceries for us?!?  $500 guilt-free dollars that had to be spent in this little piece of crafty heaven, that couldn't be put towards food or the children's education funds.  Guilt-free.  Guilt-free!

I got a present for my mom and my mother in law.  I did buy some groceries... $50 worth of almond and hazelnut butters..Yum.  And, normally, Shawn and I don't exchange gifts, but now there are presents under the tree for both of us.  Actually there are four gifts under the tree for me.

What a fantastic day!  I am so lucky, in so many ways.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Not from Scratch Week: Big Boy Cake

Big Boy Cake by SashaWarner
Big Boy Cake, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Today was a thrilling day in my house. I can't wait to tell you about it tomorrow, but for now, I'll leave you with the final installment of Not From Scratch Week.

This recipe is so easy that my two year old made it. Its the first thing he has made by himself, so we had to take a picture. Doesn't he look so proud? And, as per classic two year old, he insisted it was his birfday for the rest of the afternoon because he had a cake.

Big Boy Cake (a.k.a. Quick and Easy Cobbler)
(From Jennifer Low)
2 apples, peeled and cut into large dice
1/2 540-mL can cherry-pie filling
1/3 cup (75 mL) vanilla cake mix
couple pinches of cinnamon
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1/4 cup (50 mL) melted butter
vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
2. Spread apples in an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking dish. Dollop pie filling over top and spread out; filling doesn't need to be perfectly even.
3. Sprinkle cake mix over top, squeezing out bigger lumps as you go. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of cake mix.
Mix together water and butter. Drizzle over top of mixture to moisten cake mix (Mommy did the cinnamon and butter/water sprinkling).
4. Use the handle of a spoon to poke mixture every couple of inches to blend in liquid slightly. Liquid doesn't have to be perfectly mixed in. If there are some little bits of dry cake mix left on top, that's fine.
5. Bake for 40 min. or until top is golden and edges are bubbly. Scoop and serve with vanilla ice cream.

p.s. The best thing is that you only use half of the pie filling and half of the cake mix, so you can make it again later in the week.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake

Yesterday afternoon, both kids slept at the same time.  I celebrated by making ham and scalloped potatoes with Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake (their name, not mine... "luscious" takes it a little over the top in my books).  The meal involved not one, but two whole bricks of cream cheese.  You know a meal is going to be good with ingredients like that.

All that delicious food and what did the two-year old eat off of his plate?  A banana.  Sigh.  Almost one-year-old demanded seconds though.  Porker.  (I'm punny... and I hope you're smiling)

This may not be from scratch, but it does require a little bit of effort.  Honestly, though, your efforts will be rewarded.  Its delicious.
Photo from Kraft Kitchens... I liked the taste a lot better than I liked my photos of it.
Sidenote: I finally got out the Advent wreath on Monday, so last night we lit the candles while we ate.  In Nevin's mind, candles are for birthdays, so I told him these candles were for Jesus' birthday.  When I went to cut a piece of cake for myself, Nevin called out, "Mommy!  Don't eat all the cake!  Santa is bringing Jesus later!"



Monday, 5 December 2011

Toddler Art Wall

IMGP6685 by SashaWarner
IMGP6685, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Monday is Shawn’s day off, so Honey, we got a lot done today.
We put up the Christmas decorations. We hung an art wall (read more about that below). We sat through and hour of a town council meeting, to watch a two minute award presentation to Grandpa (he helped save someone last summer). We had dinner with the in-laws. Now I’m even blogging. Big successful day.

The inspiration for the art wall came from here. I got a bunch of frames from the REAL Deal Store for 25 cents each (it’s a second hand store dedicated to salvaging things that would otherwise go to the dump). I used paper clips to hold the art. Now Nevin can be extra proud of his crafts. I love how it turned out… I hope you do, too. Now we just need to make a few more appropriately sized seasonal crafts to complete the collection.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Not from Scratch Week: Peanut butter oreo brownies

I've seen a couple of inspiring recipes that involve box mixes over the last couple weeks, so I am hereby declaring this "Not from Scratch Week." Who has time for making things from scratch this time of year anyways, right?

Peanut Butter Oreo Brownies
(From here - If you want to see step by step pics, click on it.)
1 box brownie mix, 8x8 inch size
24 Oreo Cookies
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 muffin cup baker with paper liners.
2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  I had to add an extra 1/4 cup of water to my batter to make it runny enough... it'll depend on the brand you use.
3. For each cupcake cup spread 1 teaspoon of peanut butter over 2 Oreo cookies and stack them on top of each other. Place oreo stacks into the cupcake lined muffin cups. Spoon 2 tablespoons of brownie batter over each stacked oreos and let it run down the sides of the cookies. If you have left over brownie batter, bake separately in a separate baker or muffin tin.
4. Bake cookies and brownies for 18 to 20 minutes, until brownies are cooked through. Let cool completely then serve.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Listening with the Two-Year-Old

Christmas Kisses by SashaWarner
Christmas Kisses, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Nevin, with eyes wide, excitedly: "Listen!"
Sasha: "I'm listening."
Nevin: "Can you hear it?"
Sasha: "Can I hear what?"
Nevin: "Christmas is coming! Can you hear it? Its just o'er there. Its coming!" (He points to the end of the street)
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