Archive | August, 2008

The Perfect Home Made Play Dough Recipe!

Finally, I’ve found a play dough recipe that works!  Not only works, but makes amazing, easy, great quality play dough.  It really is true that once you find the perfect play dough recipe – you can make a product better than you’ll buy at the store.  I was starting to doubt my ability to pull off this great culinary feat. Even the priest that married me made light of my ‘skills’ in the kitchen.  It’s no secret I can’t bake and struggle with cooking.  So when my first 2 batches of play dough failed last month, I had decided that making your own play dough from scratch was an urban myth…one of those things only a super mom can do.  But – I’ve conquered the recipe and not only is it easy, but guaranteed you’ll have 90% of the ingredients already kicking around your pantry.  Play dough isn’t cheap to buy so you’ll save money and also help the environment because store bought play dough containers don’t have recycling resin codes.

Okay…before the recipe reveal I’d like to admit that the first two times I tried making play dough I wasn’t aware that the ingredient ‘cream of tartar’ was a baking item (looks like salt that you buy in the spice isle).  I thought they were asking you to add tarter sauce – the creamy kind that goes on fish and chips.  Just in case there are people with my cooking skills out there….these products are totally different and is probably the reason my other batches stayed wet and never gelled.  I know, who thought it could be this hard?  <smile>

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.

This amount of play dough this recipe produced was perfect.  Each of my 4 kids received a huge clump of play dough, so there was lots to share.  Also, a great tip with Fall around the corner – add cinnamon to the dry ingredients (as much as you want until you get the right scent).  It produces a magical smell that transports you to a world of pumpkin patches, colored leaves, and windy days.

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Baby Cocktail Carrots – A Healthy Lunch Option?

A question was brought up to my friend Jen, who I’ve referenced several times because she’s a trusted local dietitian and her advice is always amazing!  The question was raised about how healthy baby cocktail carrots are that come prepackaged for convenience? A parent had concerns about how these carrots are processed and was worried about the white coating that appears on carrots after they’ve been in the fridge for a few days.  She heard that the same chlorine that is added to pools was added to this product to help preserve them during processing because they no longer have skin.  Are the carrots a smart nutritional choice for our children to eat?

I was eager for the answer to this question because I always buy these carrots, unless I need to grate them for a recipe, and in that case I buy the long, fresh ones.  Jen’s response put my mind at ease.

“Regarding the cocktail carrots – the ‘white blush’ isn’t chlorine – it has to do with the condition of the whole carrot prior to processing (i.e. growing stress such as drought), humidity and temperatures during storage among other things. The taste and nutritional value of the carrots are not affected by the white blush. Chlorine has also been added to the water in which the carrots are chilled for sanitation purposes, and primarily to control microbial bacteria growth on the processed carrots (and to delay the formation of the white blush). I don’t have any info on the concentration of the chlorine in the water, but I wouldn’t be too concerned since our drinking water is also chlorinated. It is always better to eat food that is less processed, but better to eat baby carrots than no carrots!”

Whew – thanks Jen!  I also researched this topic lightly and discovered that these carrots originated because a Californian farmer (Mike Yurosek) was tired of throwing away tons of carrots every year because the were not esthetically pleasing to the eye (lumpy, deformed, etc.).  What a waste and now I can unleash the guilt I have about not peeling fresh carrots for my children because I’m helping reduce waste of non-perfect carrots. <smile>  I can’t help but think that without the convenience of these carrots, my children wouldn’t eat them as often.  One less thing to have ‘mommy guilt’ about.

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Back-To-School In Tiers – But Ready For Lunch!

Many people have heard me “eeeeeeep” before. It’s a high pitched scream that comes out of my mouth after finding an amazing new discovery; beautiful children’s clothing, awesome new toy find, new product for GPP, you get the picture.  Well I had an “eeeeeeep” moment yesterday after receiving a stainless steel lunch carrier in the mail. I have seen these 2 and 3-tier lunch systems in many stores online, but assumed because of their size and design, they were strictly for adults to use.  Well thanks to the incredible store called Healthy Kitchenware, I’ve tried out the 2-tier with Francesco at soccer camp today, and my younger son was in tears that it couldn’t stay home with him.  <smile>  Let’s just say it’s a hit!

Picture source: Healthy Kitchenware site

Firstly I want to point out that the estore Healthy Kitchenware has been finding better alternatives to plastic before the BPA scare and before it became ‘trendy’ to use stainless steel and glass.  The co-founder, Cynthia, was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2005 and she decided to change her lifestyle and completely eliminate all plastic her food and drink came in contact with.  When trying to remove any traces of the plasticizers within products, she couldn’t find many stainless steel or glass alternatives.  This is how the company was born.  I found this very inspirational and wanted to share this about the company’s start-up.  Okay now back to my “eeeeeep”…

Healthy Kitchenware sent us a 2-tier lunch carrier.  Before I saw the product in my hands, I assumed it was for adults because it’s hard to tell the size or measurements from pictures.  Well – it is adorable for young children, FUN (they think it’s time to camp with this lunch-kit), and a great size.  I would recommend getting the 3-tier system for school lunches, but the 2-tier is great for sports or snacks.  Kids love their food being separated into different compartments:  sandwich/salad, fruit, cheese/crackers, etc. I saw the buckles and latches and thought this might be an issue for my preschooler and 6 year old.  Nope!  They loved using the system which involves undoing the latch, removing the stainless steel bowls, then stacking them back, replacing the lid, and doing the latch back up.  It’s like using the camping equipment we had as children.  Funny that modern day ‘must have’ products for kid’s food and drink could have been purchased at camping equipment stores 30 years ago.  Here is an image of the 3-tier system: Continue Reading →

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Green Planet Parties Has Launched!

I’m so excited to announce that Green Planet Parties has launched!  As of today, we’re open for business.

What is Green Planet Parties (GPP) you ask?  Well, as one of the co-founders, I would love to explain.  For the past year, my partner for GPP and I have been trying to reduce waste, eliminate plastic, and think about ways to help the environment in small ways with our family and children.  With 6 kids between us, like all parents, we’ve become experts at sourcing birthday party supplies, decorations, goodie bag items, and presents.  We both hosted eco birthday parties this year and had such incredible feedback from guests and parents, we wanted to keep the education ball rolling with launching this company.  We are here to assist parents with sourcing sustainable, biodegradable, compostable, reusable party supplies.  GPP has done the work of finding these products – now they are a fingertip’s reach away.  Green Planet Parties has a web store and all sustainable decorations, tableware, and goodie bag items can be ordered online and shipped to your house. 

Imagine being able to eliminate the hours of work driving and researching party supplies to give your child the ‘perfect’ birthday party? Here are some sample images of what we offer:

Eliminate plastic at your party by adding cloth goodie bags as the perfect finishing touch to your give-aways!

 

Set the scene for your guests with our beautiful, biodegradable, compostable, cups, plates, cutlery, and napkins.

 

Customized 8 flag Birthday Banners to be reused year after year, long after the party is over.

 

Customized tile necklace package includes 11 necklaces – 10 for the guests and one for the birthday girl. A magical give-away for your guests with their name personalized!

 
Continue Reading →

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Clay Boy – Book Favorite For Children

Want an awesome story that transitions your toddler our of reading the very basic ‘see spot run’ type books?  I always assumed our preschool favorite Clay Boy, by Mirra Ginsburg, was only for ages 3-5, but I’m delighted to write that my 2 year old twins LOVE it.  They suffer from the inability to sit still for 5 minutes (like their mother), but they will sit happily to read this tale.  It is the perfect book to capture this age’s attention because there is aways something exciting happening and lot of action to keep your little one focused.  It has the same exciting build up like Three Billy Goat’s Gruff and uses word repetition so within a few times of first reading the book, your little one is chanting “More, I Want More!

This book comes highly recommended from the preschool where my kids attend.  The story is the retelling of a Russian Folktale and it’s main characters are: Grandma, Grandpa, Clay Boy, and a golden goat.  Grandma and Grandpa make a boy out of clay to keep them company, but they aren’t prepared for Clay Boy’s appetite and soon he eats all the food in the house.  He continues to eat the village and all the people and animals in it.  Are you a little horrified? I was too the first time I read it, but the children LOVE it.  It has a very happy ending with the clever golden goat’s saving village and people.

I found this book on the Canadian Amazon site. That’s good news for Canadians….great prices too!

 

For US residents, the American Amazon site also carries this book. Here is the link for you to save shipping costs.

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