Papier-mâché balloon bowls

Between homework and dinner and baths, weeknights don’t leave much time to play. But if you’ve got 20 minutes here and there you can make this fun craft over a couple of days.

They’re papier-mâché bowls from Project Kid: 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun. Today’s Parent posted the how-to in their latest issue.

You’ll need balloons, newspaper, 1 cup of flour, 2.5 cups of water and paint for decorating.

papier mache 1

Blow up the balloons (as many as you’d like to make — we did four to start), rip newspaper into strips and whisk water and flour to use as your glue.

If the mixture seems too thick (lumps are okay), dilute with more water.

papier machier 2

Coat the strips of newspaper with the flour/water mixture (run each one through your fingers to remove some of the excess) and cover the top of the balloon.

Some kids might find this gross (check out my son’s face). It’s messy, but press on!

Let dry overnight and apply a second coat.

painting

When the newsprint is dry, paint away!

painting 2

Kids might find it easier to set the balloon in a pail like we did here. A hole cut in the bottom of an overturned box also works.

Set the balloon aside until it’s dry, then pop and remove the balloon. Trim the edges.

Now you’ve got a bowl for all kinds of things!

bowl

james bowl

What are some of your favourite crafts?

A healthy start

Saturday mornings are for watching cartoons, playing at the park, returning books to the library and occasionally, pancakes. These oatmeal pancakes from Raising Healthy Kids are a nutritious way to start the day, full of all kinds of delicious goodness and none of the usual crap.

oatmeal pancakes ingredients

There’s a long list of ingredients, but you’ll probably have most of them in the house. You’ll need oats, milk, bananas, oat bran, ground flax, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, an egg and a little bit of vegetable oil.

oats and milk

The oats soak for 10 minutes. (Enough time to sneak in a Curious George.)

dry ingredients 1

Or you can go ahead and mix the dry ingredients. It’ll just take a sec.

dry ingredients 2

My sous-chef wandered off at this point so I had to put the camera aside and finish the rest. Easy enough: add the wet, stir ’til combined and fire up the griddle.

oatmeal-pancakes2

The ones I didn’t burn were delicious!

Try them and see!

How to be a rock star

Remember when Caesar salad was just starting to become a thing? Your aunt brought it to the family reunion and turned into a rock star, the men cleaning their plates (most wouldn’t make room for anything that wasn’t meat or potatoes) and the women clamouring for the recipe. It went without saying that she’d bring it next year. Now it wouldn’t be a reunion without it. Your aunt owned that dish.

This, my friends, is the next big thing. Make it for a family reunion, a party or a weeknight at home and you can be a rock star too.

layered dessert full

Looks delicious, right? It’s MBAMama Musing’s raspberry and vanilla custard layered dessert. Only instead of vanilla custard I used vanilla pudding, and instead of homemade raspberry sauce I used store-bought strawberry jam. And instead of crepes — wait! Those aren’t crepes! Well what are they? That’s the magic that’ll make you a rock star. But you’ll have to go to the recipe to find out.

layered dessert 2

It comes together in minutes, tastes unreal and looks just as pretty as a picture.

Try it and see. You’ll own this dish too.

Warning: They might bite back

These tiny potato salad bites have everything going for them: they’re delicious, they’re classy, and they’re fairly easy to make.

But they’re also dangerous.

potato salad 1 The crispy wonton corners are like spikes on an iron fence. Climb that fence and you might get poked.

potato salad better You could break off the corners like my daughter or bite right down like the Hubs.

But only one of them cupped their hand to their mouth and winced.

And I think you can guess which one.

potato salad lily hand 2 It’s the first time I’ve baked wontons — maybe I had them in the oven too long? Surely they’re meant to be softer. Because the idea is gold!

It’s from Tiny Food Party: Bite Sized Recipes for Miniature Meals. All of the recipes look so good I want to make the whole book!

And we don’t mind a little danger now and then.

Bacon? Yes please!

There’s few things in life that can’t be improved with bacon, whether it’s a picnic on a warm summer’s eve or baby’s first steps. (Tempt the little lamb with el porco and watch him jump to his feet!)

Same goes for cookies, as we learned this week. Specifically these chewy bacon butterscotch cookies from Canadian Family magazine.

Oh don’t make that face. You gotta try them and see!

bacon cookies 2

Flour, butter, sugar, vanilla — all the usual suspects. Plus the bacon, of course. Maybe one piece less.

bacon cookies

The butter and the bacon make these babies melt in your mouth. Each scrumptious bite is balanced with the perfect hint of salt — neither too sweet nor too salty, just right.

I’ll save you one, maybe two.

*chewing*

Or maybe just make your own.

Mrs. Johnson’s banana bread

Our neighbourhood has its share of characters — the retired teacher across the street who has a lawn sale every weekend of the summer, the sweet young English family next door who say charming things like “What do you fancy?” and “I saw it on the telly,” and the guitar-plucking students on the corner, to name a few — but there’s one that we’re missing: the Mrs. Johnson.

Mrs. Johnson, the older lady down the block with a heart as big as her porch swing, a smile and a fresh-baked banana bread at the ready for anyone who stops to say hello. She knows all the kids’ names in the neighbourhood and how old and what are their pets and who’s allergic to nuts, and what the grocery store was before it was a grocery store and what it was before that and that.

And she’d give you any recipe and yes of course even the one for her prize-winning banana bread.

If we had a Mrs. Johnson, this would be that.

b bread with cloth

Mrs. Johnson’s Banana Bread

Ingredients

4 bananas (the riper the better)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup white or brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease loaf pan.

Mash bananas. Combine with butter, sugar and egg.

In another bowl, stir together dry ingredients.

Add wet to dry and stir ’til just combined. Careful not to overmix.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

Let cool before removing from pan.

A tough sell

The fresh pea and edamame soup in the latest issue of Today’s Parent magazine has all the delicious goodness you want to get into your kids.

But can you? Could I? I tried tonight.

soup ingredients

Apart from the mint and the feta, I had everything in the house. (Frozen peas and edamame are totally okay.)

soup collage

Boil, strain, and whizz everything together. Easy-peasy. (Pardon the pun.)

soup in the bowl

Um, it’s awfully green.

This would be an uphill battle.

I intended to ease my kids into the idea, but before I got the chance to say anything my six-year-old daughter saw the magazine open to the recipe and exclaimed,

“Ewww, mom! Did you make that?”

She actually recoiled.

We don’t make the kids eat anything they genuinely don’t like, but they do have to try it.

soup reaction

What you don’t see is her taking the tiniest sip, then spitting it back into the bowl.

(That was the best picture so of course it didn’t turn out.)

She was brave enough to give it a second go, but that was it.

She and her brother were totally grossed out. As I expected. I mean, really.

But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it. For you.

I had the soup (the kids gobbled up some quick quesadillas) and oh my lambs, I could eat vats of the stuff. It is SO delicious.

And a cinch to throw together.

What do you think? Would you get it down your kids? Do they have to eat foods they don’t like? Are there recipes you didn’t think they’d like that they love? Let me know in the comments.

Cheap thrills

I do loves me some raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens but these are a few of my favourite things: pink carnations, Coco & Lulu nail polish in “Riviera” and a pretty box to hold my decorative ribbon.

And they’re all under $10!

cheapthrillscollage

The carnations go in my grocery cart once or twice a month. Eight to ten flowers for $6 and they last a good 10 days. I keep ’em in one big bunch on the kitchen island or break them up into bud vases around the house like the magazines do and they make the rooms feel much more sunny. (And me too.)

Coco & Lulu’s polish looks brilliant with just one coat and the colour’s so versatile it’s practically a neutral! It’ll last you forever and it’s just $8.50.

The box is a cheery swap-out from the shoe boxes and random plastic containers I use to corral my wrapping and craft supplies. It makes me smile every time I see it. A cheap thrill for $6!

What are some of your favourite things under $10?

Flowers: Loblaws. Polish: Chapters. Box, vase and wrapping paper: Target.

Sneaker weather

How great does it feel to shed those heavy winter coats and boots for sneakers and light jackets or sweaters?

theirs and mine shoes 1 (2)

We’re tuning up our bikes, pulling out the sidewalk chalk and raking up the leaves that have been hiding under the snow all winter.

theirs and mine shoes 2

We’re long overdue for sunshine and more playtime outdoors.

What will you do now that Spring is finally here?