Sunday, November 11, 2012

Caramel Apple Slices

delicious caramel apple slices with rainbow sprinkles

I like caramel apples, and my big kids LOVE them, but I've never made them before, so I decided to ease into things. Nothing wrong with a little simplicity, after all. We decided to make caramel apple slices. No muss, no fuss. All you need is this:

green apples sliced, caramel sauce, rainbow sprinkles
I'm not going to lie to you... we didn't even make our own caramel dip this time, although you certainly could, and one of these days we will! But like I said, simplicity. 

So we sliced some apples...
green apple slices
Warmed up some caramel dip...
sweet golden caramel

Poured some sprinkles in a bowl...
rainbow sprinkles

Dipped the apples in the caramel...
granny smith apple slices dipped in caramel

 And then into the sprinkles.
apple slice dipped in caramel and sprinkles


caramel apple slices dipped in rainbow sprinkles

The kids had a blast dipping the apple slices... it's so easy a three year old can do it! And of course, you could dip the apple slices in any number of sauces or toppings. My kids just happen to think that everything is better with rainbow sprinkles. 

I actually prefer mine sans sprinkle, nice and simple.
green apple slice dipped in golden caramel

How do you take your caramel apples?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Reading

Happy Summer!! It's officially here at last. For us, Summertime is all about exploring, relaxing, swimming, and enjoying the great outdoors. Here are the books we are reading this week to help celebrate the simple Summer life...

simple summer children's books


white and pink hippo, belly button, children's book by Sandra Boynton
Hippos from Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton
*Belly Button Book*
By Sandra Boynton
I can NOT believe this is the first time I am mentioning Sandra Boynton. She is, like, the queen of board books. We own about 20 of her awesome creations, and love each every one of them. They all have adorable illustrations, and silly, fun rhymes. Belly Button Book is no exception. It features a cute little hippopotamus, with a bunch of bigger hippos, and a whole lot of belly buttons! If you are looking for gifts for babies or toddlers, you should definitely check out the Boynton books!!

Cute Hippo in Yellow Bikini Eating Grapes from Sandra Boynton's Belly Button Book


Bear and Boy in berry balloon from Bruce Degen's Jamberry
Boy eating berries in Jamberry by Bruce Degen
By Bruce Degen
A big smiley bear, a cute little boy, and a magical adventure through Berryland. This book is a fun, colorful celebration of all things berry. The illustrations are so happy and cute. This board book is perfect for summer.

Boy and bear in boat with blueberries, Jamberry by Bruce Degen


It's Your Cloud by Joe Troiano
It's Your Cloud, it can  be what you like, by Joe Troiano
*It's Your Cloud* 
By Joe Troiano, Illustrations By Martha Aviles
This book celebrates the magic of childhood, and encourages readers of all ages to slow down, enjoy the great outdoors, and to use their imagination. The illustrations are so beautiful and fun, and the sweet rhyme scheme is a hit with the little ones. My kids love laying in the grass and looking for shapes in the clouds, and that's what this story is all about!


Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Characters from Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
 *Charlotte's Web*
By E.B. White, Pictures By Garth Williams
A classic. Period. This book transports you back to simpler time. The characters are so well developed, and the story is so rich. You can't help but adore the brave, stubborn little girl named Fern, who falls in love with a runty pig named Wilbur, and of course, the brilliant spider, Charlotte herself. I have loved this book since I was a kid, and now that I have passed it on to my little ones, it has become a favorite for the whole household.

And finally...

Mama bear and baby bear from Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Sal and her mother canning blueberries for winter
 *Blueberries for Sal*
By Robert McCloskey
I can't say enough about this one. It's a Caldecott Honor Book that was first published in 1948, and boy does it stand up to the test of time. The beautiful simplicity of the story and the two tone illustrations prove that sometimes simple is best. Everything about this book is so sweet. Every single member of my family adores it. This brings back memories of days long gone. The vintage feel is so perfectly grounding, and it makes me want to go pick some berries

Sal on Blueberry Hill in Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Hope you get a chance to enjoy some of these fun summer stories with your favorite little person.

Happy Summer Solstice!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy, Happy Father's Day to all those wonderful dads out there!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Baby Talk: Teething

It's just crazy how some of those little childhood milestones sneak up on you. This is the third time around for me, so I totally know about the whole time flying by thing, but still... my tiniest baby has a tooth! Not a huge surprise, since he's been uncharacteristically grumpy, chewing on everything within reach, and drooling like a crazy man, but somehow these little moments seem to serve as a big, giant reminder that time really is flying, and I better soak it all in! Teething can be a tough time in babyhood... ouch. I have found that the best remedy is letting them chew on something; preferably something cold, and nontoxic. A little dose of acetaminophen can do the trick too... ya know, if you're into that sort of thing. What do you recommend to soothe those aching teeth?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Strawberry Banana Pancakes

Delicious yogurt pancakes with strawberries, bananas, syrup, whipped cream, and cinnamon
Strawberry Banana Pancakes

Last weekend, we had the best brunch ever! My daughter and I worked together to make these AMAZING pancakes. She was in charge of batter mixing and fruit slicing, and the rest was a collaboration. I love cooking with my kids. Here's how it all began...

Ingredients for strawberry banana pancakes

I was craving pancakes in a BIG way, when I realized that we did not have enough pancake mix to make my breakfast dreams come true. Bummer. 

And then it hit me...

Maybe we could make pancakes from scratch! I pulled out one of my trusty old cookbooks (How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman), and guess what? It turns out that pancakes from scratch are super easy, and don't require that many ingredients. We had all the necessities, plus plenty of extras to make delicious pancakes for the whole family of five (okay, four... the baby guy isn't actually on solids yet). I always like to add my own little twist to recipes, and this time it really paid off! This is how we made our perfect pancakes...

  • 1 cup yogurt (I used vanilla yogurt... yum)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • A dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 bananas
  • Butter, or other neutral oil (think corn or grapeseed oil), as needed
  • A little milk to thin the batter, if necessary
  • Your favorite toppings! (we went all out: sliced strawberries & bananas,  a drizzle of hot maple syrup, a dollop of whipped cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon; a dusting of powdered sugar would be delicious too)
Flowers, fresh fruit, and pancake ingredients

  • Beat together milk and egg yolks
  • Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl
  • Beat egg whites until fairly stiff, but not dry. For some strange reason, I did this with a wire whisk. I would highly recommend that you use an electric mixer instead to speed things up, and avoid tired arm muscles!
  • Combine dry ingredients with the milk/yolk mixture, stirring to blend. Gently fold in the egg whites. Apparently, they are supposed to remain somewhat distinct in the batter. Mine did not, probably because my tired arms didn't mix them enough, but guess what? They were still amazing!
  • Squish two bananas (I just use the back of a fork), and mix them in to your batter 
  • Heat griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat
  • Put a teaspoon of butter or oil onto your preheated cooking surface, and when the butter is melted, or the oil is hot, add the batter! I use a small measuring cup (third to half cup, or so) to scoop my pancake mix, but really the size of your pancakes is all about personal preference. Just make sure they're small enough to flip. Oh... and if your egg whites are distinct in the batter, be sure to get a little of that portion into each pancake. 
  • Cook until lightly browned on bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then flip 'em over, and cook until the other side is golden brown, a couple more minutes.
  • Top them however you please, and serve them hot! (or if you want everyone to eat together, keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until the rest of the pancakes are finished).
One of my favorite things about pancakes is the versatility... there are so many things you can put in them, or on them, or next to them. From walnuts, to fresh fruit, to sweet treats, we have tried it all, and have never been disappointed, but I can honestly say that this was our best batch yet. We all devoured them. Even my three year old, who has been an incredibly picky eater lately, so yeah. They were scrumptious.

strawberries, bananas, whipped cream, syrup, cinnamon pancakes


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Books for Moms

I absolutely love Mother's Day. I always feel so loved and appreciated by my hubby, and my little kiddos, plus it's such a great opportunity to show my own mother how much I love and appreciate her! These books are great for moms and munchkins alike. The stories truly honor that amazingly special mother-child relationship, and I love them to pieces. Here's what we're reading this week to help us celebrate those wonderful mamas out there, and the kids that made them who they are...


*On the Day You Were Born*
By Debra Frasier

This book is  a beautiful celebration of the moment a mother is made: the birth of a child. It's about the amazing way the Earth, and the animals, and the human beings around us all come together to welcome a new baby to the world. The illustrations are spectacular, and it is such a fun book for moms (or any grown ups) to share with their little loved ones.


 *Mommy Hugs*
By Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben

This adorable book is about the many ways different types of animal mothers show their love to their babes. I love to act out each display of affection with my kids as I read it to them (when the mama cat nuzzles, we nuzzle). My kids adore this book, and I adore the chance to snuggle, hug, tickle, and kiss them while we read together!


 *I Love You Stinky Face*
Written by Lisa McCourt, Illustrated by Cyd Moore

This book is totally cute, and fun, and full of warmth. It's about the unconditional love a mother has for a her child: no matter what a child does, what kind of crazy creature they become, or how stinky they are, a mother's love never falters. Mom's are always there for their babies.


*The Giving Tree*
By Shel Silverstein

If you haven't read this one, you are really missing out. The Giving Tree is a favorite of mine, and has been since I was a child. I love all of Shel Silverstein's work, and this is my absolute favorite. At face value, it's about the relationship between a tree and a boy, but it goes so much deeper than that. It's about a love that never wavers and never fades, no matter how much time goes by, or how far apart two creatures may be. I think every mother can relate to this tree in a very big way, and this book will always remain at the forefront of my bookshelves.


 *101 Secrets A Cool Mom Knows*
By Sue Ellin Browder and Walter Browder

This is such a fun for book for moms to read. There are all kinds tips, tricks, and how-tos for the coolest mom on the block... 101 to be exact. This book is only for those super awesome, hands-on moms out there. The daring moms. The fun moms. After all, how many moms do you know that can cruise on a skateboard, build a house from leaves, and weigh a cloud? Only the coolest, but with this book in hand, that mom could be you!

And last of all, the "mother" of all mom books (sorry about the bad pun. I couldn't help myself!)...

*Love You Forever*
Written by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Sheila McGraw

This book is simply wonderful. Maybe it was the hormones, but I could not make it through this book without crying while I was pregnant with my third baby. It's about growing up, and growing old, and the deep love between a parent and a child. It conveys so perfectly that no matter how old a child gets, they will always be their parent's baby. It is such a sweet story, and deeply sentimental in the best sort of way. It's definitely a family favorite. If you're pregnant, or just sensitive, make sure you have the tissues nearby!


I wish you a wonderful Mother's Day weekend, and I hope you have a chance to enjoy some of these fabulous family stories. I firmly believe that you're never too old to snuggle up and read a good book with your mom...

Moms rock!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

Celebrating the life and works of one of the best children's authors of all time...

Maurice Sendak

"Where the Wild Things Are" is one of my very favorite books, and my children absolutely adore it. Today, with the passing of its extremely talented author, Maurice Sendak, we are reading it with heavy hearts. Some of our other favorite Sendak reads are the books in his Nutshell Library collection: "Alligators All Around", "Pierre","One Was Johnny", and "Chicken Soup With Rice".  His works are so unique, and creative... you simply must check them out if you haven't already.

We will truly miss Maurice Sendak's creative mind, and his daring spirit.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fresh "Spring" Water

Things are heating up around here, and nothing is more refreshing on a warm day than a cool drink of water, but sometimes I like to liven things up a bit...

It's pretty much as simple as tossing some fruit and ice into your water.

I just fill a pitcher about a quarter full with ice...

clean and slice up some of my favorite fruits...

  and toss them into the pitcher...

Next, fill the pitcher with water (if you're tap water isn't super tasty, use filtered water). I like to keep it in the refrigerator, so it stays cool until I'm ready to indulge. This time I went with strawberries and lemon, but you could put in whatever fruits you like. Another of my favorite combos is cucumber and citrus... it tastes so clean and refreshing. You can also add fresh herbs, like mint, lemon basil, or lavender for a little something extra. Another fun twist is to use sparkling water... just wait until you're ready to enjoy to add fizzy ingredients, so they won't get flat.

The stronger you want your flavors, the higher your fruit to water ratio should be. If you want it to taste even fruitier, add your ingredients the day before, and by the next day, the water will be super flavorful: nice and fruity. Look what a pretty color it is after 24 hours...


So pretty, and so refreshing!
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