Quick and Easy Back-to-School Snacks For The Kids

Hello Lovely,

Kids are back to school and you’re back to your routine. Even though I'm a full-grown, college-educated adult with no kids of my own, the start of September is still back-to-school season for me, because I'm a school counsellor. All three recipes below are healthy, nutritious and most importantly, tasty enough for even the pickiest eaters. These are convenient make-ahead recipes even for the busiest parents!
 

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Beck's Crackers

Seasoning saltines using an altered method from Joanna Gaines friend Beck, makes crisp, buttery crackers that are great with creamy dips like my hummus. They're also really yummy on top of soups or salads. I like them for parties and kids school snacks because they're easy to make and can be prepared in advance. In fact, these taste better if you eat them a day or four later. And they can be so filling, they're sure to be a huge hit!

  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 0.7 ounce envelopes dry Italian or Mediterranean dressing mix
  • 1 tablespoon crush red pepper flakes (leave out if you or the kiddos don't like pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill (not necessary if you use the Mediterranean mix)
  • 1 1lb box saltine crackers
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large (14-16 cup) deep container, with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, lemon juice, dressing mix, pepper flakes and dill. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add the crackers and turn them over a few times to ensure they are fully coated. Let stand for 5 minutes, turning the crackers over twice.
  3. Place the crackers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, allow to cool then store for tomorrow's snack!
  4. To make the hummus, mix one can of chickpeas with remaining oil mixture (about 1/4 cup) and 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese in a food processor.
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Apple Cheese Wraps (serves 4 )

Do you remember eating Lunchables as a kid? I never liked them. I liked the idea behind it but it always tasted fake (not to mention my parents complained about the price). If you have kids who love Lunchables, why not save money by making it yourself? It's so easy and so much healthier because you'll know exactly what's in it. This snack covers all of the critical food groups with fibre, protein and good carbs. The best part? It's fully customisable. Add nuts or grapes or whatever else you like for added health benefits.
 

Prep Time: 2 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 apple
  • 1 slice lemon
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese, cut in half
  • 2 slices pre-sliced deli turkey or ham, cut in half

Preparation

1. Slice the apple into 1/2 inch thick slices. Rub the apple with the lemon wedge to prevent from going brown.

2. Slice the cheddar cheese into 1/2 inch wide slices and the ham in 1/2 or in 1/4 (the ham needs to be large enough to wrap around the apple). 

3. Place an apple slice and a cheese slice on top of the deli meat and fold over deli meat to wrap.

4. Serves with crackers and a dip of your choice for a satisfying on the go snack.

 

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Gluten Free Sandwich on a Stick

It's the kids' turn to pack their own lunches. Introduce them to this submarine skewer and they'll have a blast expressing their creativity and sliding on their favorite sandwich ingredients. Best of all, it's practically mess-free since the dressings will have to be on the side—no knives, squirting, or spreading required.
Prep Times:

20 minutes

Yield:

4 servings

Ingredients:

8 (6-inch) skewers
4 oz. deli sliced lemon chicken or smoked turkey breast
1 cup chopped arugula or spinach
4 oz. your favourite cheese, cut into small squares
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup small dill pickles
3/4 cup ranch dressing or deli mustard (optional)

Preparation:

1. Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes.

2 Thread skewers with chicken (or turkey) arugula, cheese, tomatoes and pickles. Serve with ranch dressing or mustard for dipping.

 

Is Randomise The New Party Game?

Hello Lovely,

I'm here with another product review for you guys. The game is called Randomise and it is offered by a UK company.

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What is Randomise?

In this game, players are given random identities – such as a dizzy robot bungee jumping,  a confused octopus eating spaghetti or a disguised giraffe playing air guitar – and can choose whether to act, describe or draw their identity for their team mates to guess. The rules are simple, but with more than a million random identity combinations possible, every game is different…

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How to play

Split into two teams and alternate taking turns. When it is your turn, you must declare whether you are going for an EASY or HARD challenge, and whether you are going to DESCRIBE, ACT or DRAW your way to victory. Then select a card from each of the three piles of cards (A, B and C). The opposing team will then give you three random numbers from 1 to 3 (eg. ‘3,1,2’).Look at the words on the cards that match these numbers to discover your new identity. Card A will always describe you (eg. Happy, Hairy, Vain), card B will tell you what you are (eg. Octopus, Astronaut, Lion) and card C will tell you what you are doing (eg. Eating spaghetti, Playing football, Baking a cake).

When you are ready, the opposing team will get ready to time your turn, and you will have 30, 60 or 90 seconds to reveal yourself:

  • DESCRIBE – You have 30 seconds to use your voice to communicate your identity. You can’t say any of the words on your cards or use rhyming words or letters to give clues.
  • ACT – You have 60 seconds to use your body to communicate your identity. You can’t make any noises, point or use any props.
  • DRAW – You have 90 seconds to use your artistic skills to communicate the phrase. You can’t draw any letters or numbers.

Your team can shout out as many guesses as they like. The aim is to get them to shout out your complete identity before your time is up. Scoring works as follows:

  • ALL LEVELS – You get 1 point for every card your team successfully guesses (max 3 per turn)
  • EASY turns – You get 1 bonus point if your team shouts out your full identity before your turn is up – eg. ‘Nervous mole eating spaghetti’
  • HARD turns – You get 3 bonus points if your team shouts out your full identity.
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Stealing bonus points

If your team doesn’t shout out your full identity before the time is up, the opposing team has a chance to steal the bonus points. They can confer, and then have one guess at your full identity. If correct, they steal the bonus points (1 or 3 depending on difficulty level).

Winning the game

The first team to reach 30 points claims victory! But if this team started, then the opposing team will have one turn to equalise/steal the victory. In the case of a draw, you can play sudden death, awarding victory as soon as one team takes the lead after both teams have taken a turn.

When I first played Randomise, it was with my students at school. Despite the fact that the game is designed for kids, they did not understand the game at all. No matter how many times I explained it, my kids from grades 3-6 just couldn't get it. I realised the biggest issue was they didn't know what some of the words meant, like goth and  kingfisher because these are words we don't use every day in our vernacular. So i tried it with my teens during one of our group therapy sessions and they thought it was hilarious! It was a great social skill builder to help them form stronger bonds. But when I tried this game with my girlfriends at my Galentine's Day party, they did not enjoy the game at all. They found the instructions to be confusing, a little boring and truthfully we really only lasted about four rounds. See for yourself below

So is this a good party game? It depends on who's playing. Teens really seem to enjoy it, but kids and adults seem confused by the antics. I would suggest using this game as a part of play therapy and even with special needs kids if they're up for the challenge. It's a great game to let yourself go and be silly for a moment and I plan on using it more in a group therapy context. If you want to buy a copy of this game, you can get it here for only £11.40!

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Would you buy the game? Have you already tried it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

DIY KID’S RIBBON RAINBOW WALL HANGING

Hello Lovely,

Ever since my niece was born, I've been obsessed with finding the cutest DIYs for her. She wasn't the friendliest at first, making it really hard to get a good photo of her, but around 2 months she really started to open up, smile more and even light up for the camera! It's been a joy creating things for her the past three months. One of those is this whimsical rainbow ribbon wall hanging! Kid stuff always feels like it can be more playful and fun and you can do just about whatever you want! 

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Supplies:
-60 white cotton balls
-8 x 11 white cloud printout
-8 x 11 cardboard
-hot glue gun
-ribbons or tissue paper in rainbow colours (ribbon will hold up more to a grabby baby)

Optional supplies: -glue on jewelry bails, jump ringsgold chain, and jewelry kit

  1. First print out a white cloud, cut it out then glue it to your cardboard. Cut around the shape of the cloud. This will serve as your base. 
  2. Glue cotton balls onto cloud filling up all of the white space. For an 8 x 11 cloud, I used 40 cotton balls and for an 11 x 17 cloud, I used 60 cotton balls.
  3. You can either glue a string to the back of the cardboard cloud or use your jewellery pliers to attach jump rings to each bail. Cut a length of chain with your jewellery cutters to attach to the jump rings (mine was about 8″ long) and connect your jump rings with the chain.
  4. Decide how long you want your ribbons to hang down from your cloud and cut 3 of each colour ribbon a few inches longer than that measurement (I made mine 20″ long). 
  5. In colour order, glue the colours across the bottom back of your cloud and make sure to reverse the order from how you want it to appear when hanging.
  6. Hang your rainbow in the spot you want it to go and then use fabric scissors to trim the ribbons at an angle with the longest ribbon in each set being the one at the back and the shortest ones being the ones hanging in the front. That’s it! You’re done! 

So sweet! I love how the ribbons hang down and the cotton balls above look so puffy—I just want to poke them! The cotton ball clouds would be a great item to add a few drops of essential oils onto to keep a delicious scent in a kid’s room as well (just keep in mind that peppermint oil should not be used around children under the age of 6 and eucalyptus oil should not be used around children under the age of 10).

 

 

Blended Family Photoshoot

Happy New Year!

It's officially 2016! I have no idea what day it is any more and my vacation ends tomorrow. I don't know about you guys, but 2015 was pretty sweet for me (mostly thanks to the support from you guys). And it's support like that, that helped me with this latest project, which was very personal for me. I'm used to shooting random strangers or even close friends, but when it's family and potential family, it's an entirely different feeling. I want to share that experience with you.

Parenting is never easy, but when you have a blended family—with bio-kids and step-kids, your spouse’s ex, and other extended family members thrown into the mix—things can get very difficult very quickly.It can be extremely hard to find the right balance when you’re a stepparent or stepsister.  When I was first asked to photograph my potential new step-family, I had a lot of conflicting feelings but I never hesitated in saying yes to it. I've gotten to a point in my life where I want what's best for my dad and I know that I have to show him support. I wasn't so supportive of my mother re-marrying and while my dad isn't at that point yet, I knew it is best to lend my support from the beginning. Of course there were times when I wasn't sure if I should've been in the photos or not and the fact that I wasn't did leave me feeling a little misplaced. But I never dwelt on these feelings. My main goal was to make them happy and I'm so glad they liked the photos!

What I learned from this: Every family is different and everyone adjusts to new family members at their own pace. When working with younger people, they tend to have mood shifts, especially if they're still adjusting to a new parental figure. So some poses you may have had in mind won't necessarily work and you're going to have to shoot around the awkwardness without letting them know it affects you too. This may effect how well they take directions, which means you may have to physically step in and fix their pose. At the end of the day, it's about getting the shot. You want everyone to be happy and you want that to show as well. But don't be afraid to capture a frown because it could be used as a learning experience in the future.


New Years bring new things. For me, that could mean a new family. I'm really hoping it means the start and completion of my internship signalling the end of my post-graduate studies. And somehow closing the physical gap in my relationship. There's really no way of knowing what will happen. And I'm ready for it.