A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Tag: family fun (Page 1 of 2)

Grilled Caramelized Onion, Apple and Canadian Bacon Flatbread

When it comes to pizza and flatbread, Pappy and I definitely have different opinions on which ingredients make a great pizza.  Traditional toppings are wonderful, but sometimes I like to get adventurous.  Sunday was a perfect day for grilling pizzas with Pappy on the Penarve.  The weather was crisp, the tv was roaring with football games and fun ideas were rolling through our heads of our upcoming creations.  My final outcome was grilled caramelized onion, apple and Canadian bacon flatbread…..AHHHmazing!!!!

The wonderful thing about flatbread pizza is that everyone can create their own masterpiece.  They are just the right size for one…or two if you decide to share.  However, the only one I was sharing my grilled caramelized onion flatbread with was a nice glass of Chardonnay!

THIS RECIPE IS SO VERSATILE!!!

Caramelizing onions is a must for this yummy recipe.  However, you may wish to alter the recipe a bit after you prepare the onions.  Maybe you wish to use only onions and no fruit.  Apples were used in this recipe, but peaches or pears would be just as delicious.  The trick is that whatever you choose to add in, you must cook them over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes to get the caramelizing to take place.

The flavors mixed very well with Canadian bacon, but maybe you prefer no meat….it would still be fantastic!

While the onion mixture is cooking, you will need to prepare your flatbread. Brush it with a thin layer of olive oil then layer fig spread over the top of the oil.  Add the caramelized onion mixture on top of the fig glaze.  Top with fresh spinach or other greens of your choice.  Next will be your choice of cheese.  We prepared this with blue cheese.  Goat cheese, brie or feta would work wonderfully as well.  Lastly, top it off with some toasted walnuts and dried cherries.

IT’S TIME TO GRILL ~

Slide a pizza board or pizza peel under the flatbread to transfer to the grill.  If you do not have a pizza peel, it’s a good idea to add it to your cooking arsenal….once you taste these babies you are definitely going to be making more.  Here is a link to one of my favorites.   I absolutely love this pizza peel with a foldable handle for easy storage!

Once you have transferred the flatbread to the grill, close the cover and grill for 8 to 10 minutes.  Check on it after 5 minutes to decide the correct amount of time for the level of crispiness you prefer.  Then top it off with balsamic glaze….perfection!

KID FRIENDLY~

Now you are looking at me like I am crazy!  Kid friendly you ask?  What child likes blue cheese?  Well, I know there are some kids out there that do eat different cheeses, but if they don’t, substitute mozzarella.  Easy peasy!

The really cool thing about flatbread pizzas, is you can have a small layout of different toppings and let everyone make their own.  Psst…..kids are more apt to eat their dinner when they take part in the process of preparation.  So let them dig in and have fun!!!!

 

Get Outside!

Well hello weekend….and what a beautiful weekend it is!  What is on your agenda?  Laundry, housework, cleaning the garage, paying bills?  Put all of these chores aside, if only for a while, and get outside!!!

It’s Good For Your Health!

Everyone “knows” it’s good for your health to get outside.   Why is it that so often we simply “forget” just how good it actually is for us?

  • Vitamin D boosts your mood AND your immune system
  • Nature helps lower cortisol levels and reduce stress
  • Natural environments improve mood
  • Nature helps improve memory and attention
  • Fresh air increases your energy level

It’s Good For Your Family!

Whether you plan a day trip or a weekend getaway, hiking creates wonderful family memories for years to come.  It’s just a bonus that it also provides so many health benefits.  Sit and think for a moment…how long has it been since you decided to do an impromptu family fun day?   The unplanned activities are many times some of the best!

Do you find yourself always going to the same one or two parks?  I am sad to admit that we have not taken advantage of all of the amazing places available to us, some less than a half hour away!  I don’t know if I would call it a bucket list, but I decided that our family needs to branch out and try some new spots.  Included below is a small list of some of the parks of various sizes that have hiking trails as well as other amenities.

  1. Broad Ripple Park
  2. Brookside Park
  3. Brown County State Park
  4. Clifty Falls
  5. Eagle Creek
  6. Fort Harrison State Park
  7. Holliday Park
  8. Indiana Dunes State Park
  9. McCormick’s Creek
  10. Mounds State Park
  11. Pokagon State Park
  12. Shades Park
  13. Spring Mills Sate Park
  14. Turkey Run State Park

Let’s Talk Food!

I absolutely love the ideas that sweetcharli.com shares here…Creative picnic lunch ideas….CLICK HERE!

  Sandwich kebobs, apple sandwiches and banana rollups…sounds delish!

Lilluna.com also has some fun and healthy ideas…Check out these easy picnic lunch ideas!

Lots of protein and veggies!

Extra Activities For When You Get Outside!

Hiking and picnicking definitely make for a fun-filled day, but since we are on a roll, let’s add some extra fun.  Why not add in a little scavenger hunt for the kids?  Print out as many copies as you need of the activity sheet I created to help enjoy the day further.   Download and print outdoor scavenger hunt!

So get outside…and don’t forget to take pictures of this fun-filled day!  I would love for you to share other parks your family goes to so we can add them to the list!  Happy Weekend!!!!

Fall is Around the Corner!

We have all heard the jokes…let’s just skip through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and move on to 2021!  Everyone is officially FED UP with 2020.  However, we still have time to make this year memorable in ways other than the dreaded virus that has haunted us these last few months.  I truly believe this.  Maybe it’s because I ABSOLUTELY LOVE HALLOWEEN!  Let’s set aside the frustration and enjoy the rest of this year because YES~Fall is Around the Corner!  Ok, ok I hear you.  It’s August 14 and the official start of fall is September 22.  That means we have time to plan new activities, make new crafts and search for delicious new recipes….let’s go!

Start Collecting Pine Cones and Nuts NOW!!!

The wonderful thing about crafting with nature’s wonders is that adults and children can craft together using the same materials but with different outcomes.   Pinecone and nut crafts have evolved through the years.    I have been urging my family members to start collecting pinecones and nuts now so we will have a nice inventory when we get ready to start crafting.  I am absolutely loving some of the ideas I am seeing on Pinterest like these cute ideas:  Click here for some creative nature holiday crafts like the pics below!!

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Shark Week Games

“I Spy” Shark Game

Shark Week preparations are still going on here….are you ready????  Whether you choose to make your own or purchase them, you should definitely have some fun Shark Week games on hand and ready to play!

Everyone loves a good game of “I Spy.”  I created a special shark search game along with a search key for you to share with your kids.  They can sit and search for them on this post or you can use the link below for a printable version:

Mimi’s Shark Week “I Spy”

 

                     

Other Shark Games ~

You may already have the Shark Bite game in your game closet.  We have had this game for quite some time and we love it.  However, I must be honest in telling you  that it took a bit for the kids to get used to those shark jaws.  Players take turns using a fishing rod to fish for colorful creatures.  But be careful…you never know when the shark is going to bite!  Of course, it doesn’t actually bite, the jaws just come up to get the creatures.  The other wonderful thing about this game is that it doesn’t need batteries!

           Get the fun Shark Bite game now!

Another fun one that I need to add to our game closet is “Sharkopoly”.  You knew it was just a matter of time before this was created, right?  Of course, this one is for kids a bit older, but what a fun way to keep Monopoly going in your household.  Remember fighting over which token everybody got?  These new tokens include a shark, jawline, fin, flipper, buoy, and a mask with snorkel.

 

           Forget the “old” Monopoly — Give Sharkopoly a try!

 

Whether you find games online, print out free copies or purchase games to keep around, I’m sure you will have a lot of fun with these for Shark Week as well as throughout the year!  Have fun!

Quiet Boxes for Kids

This was a huge success! As I continue to search for the best indoor activities that are fun, yet inexpensive, for the grandkids, I occasionally hit upon a winner~Quiet Boxes! The best part is that everything pictured here, including the box, came from the Dollar Store.

Seriously, have you been to the Dollar Store recently?  I took my time and perused the aisles looking for specific items that I knew each child would be interested in.  With the ages of our two, I tried to keep the items pretty similar to keep jealousy at bay, yet still catering to their specific current “likes.”

These are the items I chose for each box:

  • Coloring book and box of crayons
  • Small pads of paper
  • Stickers
  • Puzzles
  • Spinning tops
  • Character cut out sets to color
  • Candy
  • Colorforms
  • Army men
  • Unicorn figurines

I explained to the kids that these boxes were “only” for quiet time.  When we want to play with these boxes, we must put all other toys away.  Likewise, when we are done playing, we must put everything back into the box to be ready for the next time that we want time to ourselves.  The kids quickly dug in, pulled EVERYTHING out, and forgot about everything else around them while they enjoyed their own “special” box.  What’s even better, is that when we were ready for dinner, they put everything back.  They are anxious to keep their box together.

                         

I would like to point out that when I purchased the Colorforms I was super excited!!!  Do you remember these?  I saw these in the store and immediately traveled back to  my childhood.  I have memories of being so excited every time my mom would purchase a new set for me to play with.  I told my husband about them and he looked at me like I was a crazy woman.  I guess not everyone played with these when they were young.  🤷‍♀️  So of course, I did what every Mimi of the 21st century does and I jumped on to Amazon to see if I could find more.   My goodness, there are so many:

Colorforms Pet Set

Colorforms Paw Patrol

Colorforms Frozen

Colorforms Toy Story

These are a few of our favorites above.  They cost a little more than the Dollar Store sets, but they are bigger sets, so still worth the price.

You can also build off of this idea and make “Busy Bags” for the children.   This would be a great idea for times you take the kids somewhere that you know there may not be other toys or children for them to play with.  Once again, when a child knows they have some special bag or box that is only theirs, you will be amazed how much they look forward to it.

Whether you are a parent or a grandparent, I think you will find this to be a very worthwhile project.  Let me know if you try it out!

Leaf Print Stamp Art With Kids

I have been wanting to try leaf print stamp art with my grandchildren for a while.  I have looked through so many pictures and ideas of how to do it.  Let’s just say that when Addi, Max and I did this fun craft together yesterday, our artwork did NOT turn out like the images I had in my mind.  BUT….that’s ok!  In fact, it is MORE than ok!  If there is one thing I have discovered in life with kids…nothing ever really turns out the way you plan.  It’s the fun and laughter along the way that makes it all worthwhile!

STEPS AND TIPS TO LEAF PRINT STAMP ART WITH KIDS~

  1. Set up your craft area with markers and paper.  If your children are smaller, I believe white copy paper will be best.  I considered colored construction paper, but the leaves are a bit hard to color on without ripping, thus making it more difficult to get a dark enough image for colored paper.  ***You can use paint as well, but I need to up my art supply game first…including art aprons!
  2. Be sure to have butcher block paper or kids placemats to put under their artwork to save your craft area from looking like a rainbow.
  3. Collect leaves.  I recommend that you do NOT do this ahead of time.  I know many of us like to be prepared for crafts with littles, but I guarantee you that it will be more fun if you let them pick out their own leaves.  Never underestimate a good little walk in nature with children!
  4. Have each child collect at least 5-10 leaves.  It is great to get several different types of leaves, however, the number collected is equally important as you will quickly learn.
  5. Using a small leaf, do a VERY QUICK tutorial for the kids.  Color a small leaf, instruct them to watch as you then turn the leaf over and stamp onto the paper.  I say very quick because they will be anxious to get started!
  6. Make sure you explain that they need to color gently so they do not rip their leaves.  This takes us back to #4 and why you need several leaves.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    .   
  7. It is fun to color with different colors, but I recommend you color with one color first until they get the hang of it.  It takes children quite a bit of time to choose colors and also get the lids on and off.  This results in the leaf colors drying before they ever get to stamp.
       
  8. Once they have colored their leaf, help them turn the leaf over by the stem and press down on paper.
         
  9. Of course, praise them for their wonderful artwork!                                                                                                                         

 

 

Have you Met Larry? (Book Review)

THIS is Larry…and he is one of our new favorite characters.  Have you met Larry?  If you haven’t, you need to follow this link now and add at least one of these books to your bookshelf.    Don’t Touch This Book-Meet Larry Now!

DON’T TOUCH THIS BOOK! ~

Addi and Max absolutely laugh with delight when we read these books.  The author is great at getting the kids engaged with each story.  Of course, the title alone, Don’t Touch This Book! makes kids want to do what????  You guessed it, they WANT to touch the book.  As I read it to them, I move the book all over during the first couple of pages, and they laugh hysterically while trying to touch the book.

As you venture through the story, Larry gives the kids permission to touch the book with one finger, then all of their fingers and then gets them to spin, wiggle and walk and talk like robots.

 

DON’T PUSH THE BUTTON! ~

The next book we chose by Bill Cotter is Don’t Push the Button!  Larry is at it again with all of his shenanigans.   As he allows the kids to push the button once, twice, then a bunch of times, multiple Larrys appear in the book…each one a different color.  You must then start shaking the book and rub his belly to make them all disappear.  The laughter this incites is music to my ears.  Larry in Don’t Push the Button!

OTHER BILL COTTER BOOKS ~

There are other books in the Don’t Push the Button series including Christmas, Easter & Halloween versions.  There is also a Christmas book titled Don’t Shake the Present.  These books don’t yet grace our book shelves, but by the time each of these holidays roll around, you can bet they will be!  Our family loves Larry and I am sure yours will too!

Grandparenting from a Distance

Being apart from your grandchildren is HARD! Brad and I  are so very lucky to have ours close to us, but they do love to travel. When they leave, I get major FOMO (fear of missing out!). When these occasions strike, I dig deeper to understand how grandparents that live apart from their littles keep their bonds strong. Technology definitely makes staying in touch much easier. However, I think you still need to make it fun!!!

 

MAKE THEM LAUGH~SHARE JOKES AND RIDDLES

One thing I added to my “Mimi Bag of Fun” just recently is telling jokes.  They have been vacationing, and I wanted to keep in touch with them daily without being overbearing.   I started texting a joke to them each day that our daughter could read to them whenever they had down time.  This allowed them time to discuss answers together.  It got to the point that if I didn’t send it in time, they were wanting to know where their daily joke was.

I have always enjoyed making children laugh.  Their laughter just fills your soul.       I used to send a joke a day in my kid’s lunchboxes.  I kept a joke book handy (but out of sight from the kids) in the kitchen.  I would mark off jokes as I used them to ensure not sending the joke more than once.  I did not include the answer on their lunch note.  This made for fun discussion when they got home from school.  The kids started discovering that their friends were waiting to hear the answer the next day at lunch.

Now I keep jokes and riddles organized on my Pinterest page.  You can look at my Pinterest board that includes jokes here:  Shelly’s Pinterest Board with Jokes

In fact, my sister is caring for her kids this week.  While talking on the phone, I shared one of my recent jokes with them.  They quickly retaliated with riddles that they love.  That interaction is what makes you the “fun” grandma!  They tend to remember those silly simple times.

FACETIME~

Isn’t this a great way to see your grandkids more often?  It is definitely a tech-savvy way to have great conversations with the children while seeing their faces.   While catching up on their latest favorites, you should also use this time to spice up the interaction.    Have you tried reading a book to them over the phone yet?  It’s a little harder to navigate while holding both the phone and the book, so I suggest you either set up a station where your phone/ipad is docked for hands free talking before facetiming or have someone help you.

I also plan to incorporate  MadLibs in the future.  My kids always loved MadLibs.  If you do this while using facetime, you can get their answers from them, and then read the story back to them.  It will definitely make for lots of laughter.

I recently found a very fun website which includes a ton of fun kid activities.  They have a lot of free printables, including some mad libs.  I certainly plan on utilizing their sources more often.  You should check it out too:  Fun Free Printables

SNAIL MAIL~

If you are a grandparent that lives farther away from your grandchildren, I certainly hope you use this method quite often.   In fact, I believe that even those grandparents that  live close should use snail mail as well.   I am not very good at this but plan to get better.  Do you remember when you would go to the mailbox and something was addressed to YOU?  I still remember that happy feeling.  Even though we have technology, kids are still the same.  They still love opening that mailbox and getting something addressed to them!

KEEP A CALENDAR~

I’m not just talking about recording birthdays.  Do you record special occasions they have coming up?  Are they invited to a birthday party?  Do they have a school event?  Do they play soccer/football/basketball/etc. every weekend?  Put those dates and times on your calendars.  If you can go to their events, GREAT!  If you can’t, GREAT!  You can still give them a call and ask them all about it!  This is fun for you, the grandchild, and your child (because your child will get a bit of a break!).

Keeping in touch can be difficult….but it is well worth the effort!

 

Should I Get a Pet?

Yes, yes…and YES!  In fact, don’t stop at one!  Drop everything you are doing…seriously….go out a get a pet!  You already have one?  Go get another one….add a new type of pet to your family.  Have you ever considered something other than a dog or cat?  Whenever I hear someone ask, “Should I get a pet?,” there is no hesitation in my answer.  The benefits of having family pets are truly amazing!

 

Many of us already know some of the top benefits of growing up with pets.  Seriously, look at this picture.  PURE JOY AND HAPPINESS!  Studies show that growing up with pets creates:

HIGHER SELF ESTEEM…

PATIENCE…

   (for both the child and the pet 😉)

LEARNING TO SHARE…
EMPATHY & COMPASSION…

RESPONSIBILITY…

THE MANY BENEFITS OF PETS~

However, there are so many other benefits as well.  I constantly am reading about “screen time” rules.  There are many learning opportunities with technology today, but kids also need to get outside.  Time spent playing outside increases exponentially when they have the opportunity to play with their furry friends.

Which then leads to very interesting, yet fun bath times….

ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF HAVING A PET~

Owning a furry friend also provides many life lessons.  Lessons of birth, sickness and unfortunately death.  These are not subjects we choose to talk about, however, they are a fact of life, and we must all teach our children how to deal with each one.  They watch and learn from us when dealing with each of these situations.

Along with these lessons are ones more in the way of biology.  What is the purpose of whiskers?  How does a snake digest it’s food?  If my pet is very small, like a goldfish, does it still have a heart?  Why doesn’t a dog have to blow it’s nose?  Does a cat really have 9 lives?  How do birds sleep?  How do you know if your hamster is a boy or a girl?  So many learning opportunities here!!!

Another big topic is bullying.  There is a myriad of articles out there explaining why having a pet helps curb bullying.  This personal story discusses how having a pet helped out.  Not only does she explain how her dog was a great companion, but it also gives examples of how animals (of all types) can be a benefit to children, even  if you are not allowed to have pets in your current living situation:  https://www.ourfamilyworld.com/bullying-and-cyberbullying/bullying-prevention-bullying-and-cyberbullying/pet-stop-bullying-boost-self-esteem/

TYPES OF PETS~

I urge you to consider letting your child raise different types of pets.  Many people do not think of any companions besides a dog or cat.  This is a great read on the types and benefits of other options available to us:  https://www.healthline.com/health/best-pets-for-kids#brine-shrimp .  Of course, all pets have different types of care you need to consider.  Not all of these animals/reptiles are cuddly yet they can still be good companions.

Have you considered any of these options?  Fish, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, turtles, lizards, frogs, geckos, rats…yes rats!  Explore your options!

SO…SHOULD I GET A PET?

Once again, YES!  More than anything, pets help teach a child about unconditional love.  A love that every child should receive and give!

Ground Rules for Grandparents!

IMPORTANT GROUND RULES FOR GRANDPARENTS ~ MAKE SURE YOU READ TO THE END!!!

 

This says it all, right?  When the grandchildren are at Grandma and Grandpa’s house,  there are no rules for Grandparents.  I believe in earlier decades this was the case.  Maybe it’s because families tended to live closer to each other, and the generations were more inclined to raise the kids the way they themselves had been raised.  I’m going to put it out there….I miss those days.  They just seemed simple and there weren’t so many rules.

Brad and I are very lucky.   Our daughter and son-in-law are raising their children much like we raised her.  We had rules–but they weren’t stringent.  We have always had the belief if you teach your kids to have respect, they will stay within the boundaries you set more often than if you try to raise them with an iron fist.  RESPECT – for elders, for your parents, for siblings, for those less fortunate, for those more fortunate, for animals.

That being said, when Lauren does express an opinion on something she would like us to do while we have the kids, we try our hardest to follow those rules.  I’m not even going to say we do a perfect job of it, but we respect her as a mother enough that we usually succeed.  A prime example is when she asks us to serve them more water than juices.  I do a fairly good job of it.  But have you seen these faces?

They melt my heart every…single…time!  I know every grandparent feels this way about their grandkids as well.  So darnit, sometimes it’s just hard to not say yes to everything!  So here are rules we certainly try to abide by.

RULES TO FOLLOW:

2.  Have Essentials Stocked ~ Load that fridge up with all of their favorites!

3.  Make Life Easier on Your Own Children When They Visit ~ Look for fun ways to help get the grandkids to eat their veggies or have the grandchildren help clean up.  This will help ease stress on your children so they can relax and enjoy the visit too.

4.  Have Lots of Books & Games ~ It doesn’t matter if they are old games you have saved or new ones you purchased…just have them handy.  But don’t just HAVE them….play them!

5.  Keep Toiletries and Personal Items Stocked ~ Keep a toothbrush for each child, baby soap and shampoo, fun bath towels, swimming suits if there is an opportunity for swimming, detangler spray (a must for my baby girl), vitamins, baby medicines like Tylenol or cough syrup, extra diapers and wipes and pajamas.

6.  DVD’s & VHS Tapes ~  Yes, I actually said VHS.  Did your kids have a lot of favorite movies on tape?  You can be sure your grandchildren will LOVE watching what their parents used to enjoy!

7.  Stock Up on Fun Kitchen Ware ~  They all love to eat and drink from a fun plate with their favorite characters.  Not to mention, sippy cups that don’t leak which will save a lot of stress from spills.  We also really love these fun drinks.  I personally think they are a tad expensive to buy new ones all of the time so we get a few favorites and then wash them out and reuse them a while.  (These make it more fun to drink that water mom demands 😉) :

                                                                 

Aren’t these so fun?  And these are just a few examples of the options available.  You can pretty much get whatever their favorite character is at the moment.  Most stores carry them, but there are usually more options on Amazon.   You can use the link below to have them shipped to you:

good2grow Paw Patrol Collector 100% Apple Juice, 6-pack of 6-Ounce Spill Proof Character Top Bottles, Non-GMO with no Sugar Added and Excellent Source of Vitamin C (Character Tops May Vary)

In Closing:

Did you think I forgot Rule #1???  I would NEVER forget Rule #1,  and I don’t think you will either

RULE #1 ~ LOVE AND HUG ON THOSE GRANDBABIES EVERY SINGLE CHANCE YOU GET!  Aferall, love is the greatest of all things!

 

 

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