October 29, 2012

SUPER EASY Fall Baking Fun

We've had some fun trying new baking ideas this fall.  When I was a kid I remember thinking it was such a special treat when my mom would make cupcake cones!  So I decided to give it a try with the kids... but not just any cupcake cones... RAINBOW cones!

I have to say, this is super EASY, and has a great end result.  We mixed up a white cake mix, divided it into six ziploc bags, and then used food coloring to make the batter yellow, green, red, purple, blue and orange.  I sealed the bags and then the kids mushed up the batter until the color was evenly worked throughout the batter.  Then I snipped the corner of the bag and squirted the batter into each of the cones, layering the colors, one at a time.
 Then we baked the cones in the oven at 350 for 18-20 minutes.  
Here's what they looked like inside:
 And we iced them, of course, just with a buttercream icing.  
Super yummy, and super easy!
We also made my absolute favorite  
I like to tell myself they're healthy because they have lots of pumpkin in them, and I've added whole wheat flour to the recipe and reduced the sugar from the original recipe.  They are light and moist and again, super easy!

3/4 c sugar
1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c margarine
1 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c chocolate chips

I always double this recipe.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Our third attempt at baking fun was making these super beautiful fall leaf cookies that I found on Pinterest.  
We made a nice sugar cookie dough (super easy), and then divided it into three. One ball we colored red, one yellow and one orange.  
Then we rolled them together with the rolling pin and cut out the cookies with a leaf cookie cutter.  The colors will meld together, but will remain distinct.  The coolest thing about these cookies is that as you continue to roll the dough each time, the fronts and the backs or the cookies don't look the same.  
Each cookie is totally unique!
 After we finished baking these beauties we packaged them up and took them over to some of our new neighbors as a welcome to the neighborhood gift.  These cookies turned out so pretty, we didn't even have to ice them!  
Super easy!
The kids were thrilled to do something kind for our neighbors, and it was a great reason to meet them again (especially since I'm terrible with names, and needed a refresher on what to call them!)

October 25, 2012

Individuality Books

This month at VAC Kids we've been exploring the virtue of Individuality.  So, we decided to pick up some books from the local library that celebrate individuality.  Here's a list of some of our favorites:

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

A great book about a little mouse who LOVES her name, until she starts school and is bullied by peers because its too different and too long!  There's a great little twist in the end, and this book sparked a tonne of discussion about being careful not to make personal remarks about how people look, or talk or what their names are, because it is not kind.  Its also quite funny to see in the illustrations how the parents respond to their daughter being upset and not liking school.  My cousin who teaches grade 3 says this is an excellent book for talking about anti-bullying strategies, specifically WITS: walk away, ignore, talk it out, seek help.
 Chicken Big by Keith Graves
A very silly book about a chick who is so large when he hatches that the other chickens can't quite figure out what he is.  This book is written in a comic-book style and would really appeal to boys and girls as it is quite silly.  In the end Chicken Big saves the day and the chickens realize that he really is a chicken!  Again, this is a great book for discussing the way our words can be hurtful when we comment on a person's appearance, and that each person has unique abilities and talents that they can use to help others.

 The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herm Auch
This was such a fun princess book.  I think the reason I like it so much is the princess is always saying "For Pete's sake" which just reminds me of my dad!  She is put through a series of predictable princess tasks which don't truly measure who she is or what she's good at until in the end, quite by accident she discovers her unique talent.  Very cute and not a fruffy princess book! 

 Ten Big Toes and Prince's Nose by Nancy Gow
I loved this book!  Again it looks at the age old problem of judging a person by their outward appearance, even though what makes a person who they are is what's on the inside.
 The Apple-Pip Princess by Jane Ray
Such a sweet tale of a young princess, overshadowed by her two older sisters who are totally focused on themselves.  This young princess sets out to make her father happy and in doing so brings hope and joy and beauty back to the kingdom.  A great story about simply doing one little thing a day with what's in your hands right now.  Could spark conversations about resourcefulness, being kind to the earth, helping others, teamwork and not doubting yourself.
 I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
This is a book we were given when my daughter was quite young.  Its a silly story where the little girl says she would like herself no matter what she looks like on the outside because the inside is what makes her who she is.  Wild illustrations that are sure to make your imagination soar!

October 20, 2012

Inveremere Camping Fun

In August we did a big family camping trip to Invermere 
and had a sweet surprise with Jeremy's brother from Hamilton 
and his family doing a last minute trip out West!

One of the highlights of the trip for us was our day trip to Fort Steele, near Cranbrook.  We have visited Fort Steele before, but in March, when nothing is happening, so we were excited to explore the townsite with the hustle and bustle of shops and street actors.  I worked for a couple years in Barkerville as a historical interpreter in the Anglican church and as a shop worker, so to say historical villages are right up my alley is an understatement.  When I was in Junior High my parents planned a trip to the Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland and New Brunswick).  For three weeks we traveled in a van, camping, exploring the Maritimes and visiting countless historical sites: Halifax Citadel, Fort Louisbourg, Signal Hill, etc.  It was an amazing trip!

So here are some highlights from camping and our Fort Steele experience:

Blacksmith Shop
School house - the teacher was quite direct and made Aria cry after talking to her about the length of her nails and not sitting facing forward!  Yikes!
Jeremy's scared of the teacher face!
Enjoying the sun and the swings.
Super yummy cookies from the bakery.
No, there isn't an animal in the bag, its ice.  For making ice cream!
Churning the ice cream.
Mmmm, yummy Fort Steele Cinnamon ice cream.
Panning for fool's gold.  There were several free activities in Fort Steele that made it super family friendly, such as panning for fool's gold, making and tasting the ice cream, and all the street performances and tours.
We also did a short hike up Mt Swansea.  We drove up the mountain, and hiked for 15 minutes.  We had met a couple at the bottom and they hiked the entire way up!  I'm glad we drove as we weren't wearing proper hiking footwear!

Camping was lots of fun in our friends' tent trailer that we borrowed.
Roscoe LOVED fishing!  Every night he'd say "I go fishing tomorrow?"  and every morning he'd say "I go fishing now?"  We didn't catch many keepers, but we sure caught a lot of squaw fish!