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

Tag: Family (Page 1 of 3)

Halloween Snail Mail for Kids

Even in this age of technology everyone loves receiving snail mail….well, as long as it isn’t bills!  Seriously though, when you open that mail box and find a pretty colored envelope addressed to you, doesn’t it just bring an instant smile to your face?  I’ve been working harder at getting back to this long lost sentiment, and right now I have been focusing on Halloween Snail Mail for Kids.

In one of my posts last week, Flat Skelly Skeleton, I introduced a fun Halloween project for kids that can be mailed out.  This post builds upon that and gives you some ideas for follow-up “Skelly Snail Mail” you can send after you mail out Flat Skelly.  However, even if you have not mailed Flat Skelly, you can still use these fun ideas to surprise the kiddos.

Hand-Made Envelope With Craft Inserted ~

I used a standard sized (8.5″ X 11″) piece of colored card stock to create this envelope.  The package can be decorated any way you wish if you are hand delivering.  My grandchildren live close so that is the method I chose.  You can still make this if you will be sending it in the mail, just do most of your hand decorating on the opposite side so you have ample space to address it.

Directions ~
  • Place card stock in horizontal position
  • Fold bottom up 3/4 of the way
  • Crease the folds nicely by running a pen along the edges
  • Fold sides in about 1/4″ on both right and left sides
  • Crease folds
  • Fold top portion down
  • Tape left and right sides down to secure (making sure to leave top open to put mail in)
  • Decorate

The skeleton theme is being used on all of our mail this week since we have dubbed it “Skelly Mail.”  You obviously can use any Halloween images you wish, but following a theme does make it fun!  For the first package, I inserted a fun stained glass craft.  As always, choose whatever fun item you want to put in the package, but I am including a link below so you can see what I included:

Halloween Makit & Bakit Craft

These were a fun little activity that the kids really enjoyed and are so very cute to let them hang in their bedroom window, kitchen window or wherever you would like to display their artwork!  (Halloween is almost here now, but still check out this fun link to look at their other holiday choices for Thanksgiving and Christmas….get them ordered before they run out!)

Skeleton Hand with Treat ~

Here we printed out a skeleton hand image on a standard (8.5″ X 11″) sheet of white card stock.  We then carefully cut around the hand to cut out most of the white space.

Use this free link to print out your own copy of the Skelly Skeleton Hand ~  Skeleton Hand Full Size Image to Print and Cut.

I cut the space between the index finger and thumb apart so that I could insert the Halloween treat.  This makes it look as if the hand is actually holding the treat.

These fun ring suckers were found at our local grocery store.  However, if you cannot find them and act quickly enough, you can still get them delivered on time by using this link ~ Skeleton “Sugar Skulls” Lollipop Rings.  I plan to use the extra for our trick or treaters!

Pumpkin Tags ~

To add extra flair, attach a fun tag in a way that it is dangling from the skeleton’s hand.  You can create your own or I have made some for you to print out for free.  Bonus…these are cute but basic enough that you can use them for quite a few different things!  Print them out on cardstock…you will get 4 per page!

Use this link… Free Pumpkin Tags.  Once you have printed them, use a marker to write the recipient’s name.  I then wrote “5 Days ’til Halloween.”  This will add extra excitement for them to know they can officially start counting down the days until it is time to go trick or treating!

What’s Next You Ask? ~

As you can probably assume, I plan on adding a new fun delivery each day.  Be sure to tune in each day to see what I have added to this post!  I will be sure to give detailed directions for each creation!  I’m not really sure who is having more fun this week…me creating the daily mailings or the kids receiving them!  This Halloween Snail Mail for Kids is a lot of fun!

I hope your week before Halloween is filled with lots of spooky fun! 🎃

Love ~

Mimi

 

Flat Skelly Skeleton

Halloween shenanigans are in full swing…decorating the house, planning trick or treat costumes, fun at pumpkin patches, carving jack-o-lanterns, spooky crafts, fun snacks and more!  As a grandparent, I love to be as much a part of all this as possible, but realize it is not feasible to do so.  Flat Skelly Skeleton is here to help out with just that!

The Flat Stanley Project is an awesome project that our children were able to take part in back when they were in elementary school.  Have you been lucky enough to be a part of it as well?   The teacher provided a template of “Flat Stanley” for the kids to color.  The kids then mail him to various friends, family members or anyone of interest.  The recipient takes Stanley along with them for a day, taking pictures and writing about his visit.  Once done, they mail him back along with the pictures and journal notes.  It is a great literacy program that also teaches geography in a very fun way.

Flat Skelly Skeleton ~

Flat Skelly is similar to Flat Stanley.  This is a fun way for grandparents (or any friend or family member) to be a part of Halloween activities…even if they are not physically present.  I have made it super easy for you to print out the fun Flat Skelly Skeleton poem along with the Jointed Skeleton template. Then all you have to do is mail them to your favorite little ghoul(s).  They will be so excited to share all of their Halloween fun with you!

Flat Skelly Skeleton Poem ~

Click here for free download of Flat Skelly Poem

Jointed Skeleton Directions~

Click here for FREE printout of Flat Skelly Skeleton

 

I found this free skeleton printout by Preschoolactivities.us.  You can use the link next to the picture above to print out or go to their website with the skeleton coloring page Preschoolactivities.us skeleton coloring page.  There are also other free options on Pinterest if you wish to use a different image.  Print these on copy paper or card stock.

You have options regarding how you wish to mail these to the little ones.  You can leave the skeleton template in tact so that they can cut out the pieces or you can pre-cut and put the pieces, along with the brads, in an envelope.  The option you choose will depend mostly upon the age of the child you are sending to and whether they are skilled with scissors yet.

Whoever ends up cutting and putting the skeleton together will need these instructions ~

  1. Cut out each skeleton part
  2. Let your child color and decorate, if desired
  3. Insert small brads at each joint to make Skelly movable (see below for more information on brads)
  4. Tape a popsicle stick or cookie stick to back of the skeleton

*************************************************************
*Types of small brads to try ~

Brads are two pronged paper fastners that usually have some type of decorative top.  There are different sizes, so pay attention to the details.  The mini-sized ones may be the best option for Flat Skelly since he is a bit smaller printout.  Below are some fun varieties:

Mini-sized, multi-color brads

Assorted colors of brads ~

Halloween brads ~

*****************************************************************

Once you introduce your children to the world of “brads” in crafting, the possibilities are endless.  They are such a versatile and inexpensive item to add to your craft baskets.  I even use them for scrapbooking!

There have been numerous spin offs of the original Flat Stanly that are so much fun to explore.  This project is a little different in that the child is receiving Flat Skelly instead of sending him to others.  They then have the responsibility to make sure pictures get taken and if of writing age, journaling about their fun experiences throughout the month of October.

You can take it a step further and get them a little “Flat Skelly Skeleton” journal to use for their journaling.  Here are some fun ideas:

Fun Vintage Style Skeleton Notebook

Dancing Skeleton Journal with blank pages

Wide Ruled Skeleton Journal

Sending Flat Skelly As A Package ~

If you live far away or like to send snail mail to the recepient of this awesome Halloween activity, here is what you will need to remember:

  • Skelly Skeleton Poem
  • Jointed Skelly Skeleton (or cut out pieces and put in envelop if sending to smaller children)
  • 8 brads
  • Popsicle or cake pop stick

Send it in a festive envelope.  I used a large manila envelope so there would be no fold creases.  Use stickers or color fun Halloween images on the outside.  What child would not be excited to receive this special delivery?

It’s no secret how much my family loves Halloween.  Even if you don’t love spooky things, you can enjoy Halloween with your kids.  To me, it is not just about the 31st….it’s a whole month of family fun!.  Whether it is as simple as coloring with your kids, crafting or making festive foods, you will create memories to last a lifetime.

Other Halloween Festivities to Check Out ~

Last year I shared some Halloween ideas:

Fun food ideas for Halloween!  Lots of fun ideas…including the infamous Feet Loaf!!!

Halloween Gingerbread Houses!  Buy a kit or make your own….it’s great fun either way!

You’ve Been Booed!!! 👻  This is an annual MUST in every neighborhood!

The month of October just really flies by way too quickly!  Don’t let these festive opportunities get away from you!  You may just find that you have more fun than your kids do!  Be sure to follow me if you aren’t already by entering your email…I promise you I won’t overfill your inbox….only good things coming and at good intervals!

Happy Haunting to all of you!

Mimi

 

Nurturing Self-Esteem in Children

I truly thought nurturing self-esteem in children was one of the hardest tasks of parenthood.  It doesn’t take long to realize that each child that enters your family dynamic has a very different personality.  Because of this, some of your parenting tactics will differ a bit if you want your child to grow up with self confidence.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not suggesting that you have to have a “smorgasbord” of family rules.  In fact, I feel just the opposite.  Most of your parenting skills should be the same to help in creating strong family bonds between your children.  Please understand, I am not a child psychologist or any form of specialist.  I am just a now “Mimi” that has experienced motherhood first hand.   Through victories and failures you learn quite a bit.

Our immediate family has a very strong connection.  Does this mean everything was done perfectly???  Hell no!  Wow, raising kids is the toughest, yet most rewarding, thing you will ever do (in my opinion).   While you are in the thick of it, you just keep pushing through, hoping you are making the “right” choices.   What I discovered is that it is important that your kids learn that some mistakes are made along the way….it is through failure that we find the most success!

Failure is OK!

We all want our kids to be the smartest, the best, the happiest, the kindest…….and on and on.  It is so important that they understand that they will fail at times and that is ok!  It is the lesson they learn from that failure that is so valuable.  Take this time to help them evaluate where things went wrong and discuss what they could have done differently to make it better.  However, don’t solve the problem for them.  Just be there to guide when needed.

It is also important for us, as parents, to understand it is ok for them to fail.  We have to be able to take a step back and realize they aren’t always going to be the “winner.”  Once we understand that, we are a huge help in building their self confidence.  This was hard for me as I am a competitive person by nature.  I quickly realized that my children were made differently from me and I needed to respect and nurture each of their personality traits.

Let them try numerous things.  You never know what hidden talent may arise from sampling different extra-curricular activities.  Likewise, you, as parents should try new things so that children can see their role models handing new situations as well.  My daughter has recently started boxing and as you can see it has had a positive effect on her children.

Mental Strength

This is many times referred to as “grit.”  While my husband and I were athletes, we quickly realized with our children (Karleigh in particular) that you don’t have to be an athlete to have grit.  That child was interested in so many other things in life, but we knew that whatever she set her mind on to do she would eventually accomplish it…or have a ton of fun trying!  She taught us that being good at kindness, community projects and mastering the violin were just as good of a lesson at “grit” as being a good athlete.  We just had to learn to let her follow her dreams….not ours!

I will never forget the first school orchestra concert we went to.  Our whole family went (because it is so very important for siblings to support each other).  Lauren and Eli were athletes like us so this was a very different experience for all of us.  The boredom we had to battle from them was painful.  However, when they watched their sister step on the stage and take her seat, we were all mesmerized.   Moments like these are amazing for nurturing self-esteem in children…for Karleigh as well as Lauren and Eli.  They quickly learned that the interests of each family member is important.

Boundaries ~

I was from the era that you had to remain at the dinner table until your meal was finished.  It was so agonizing!  Thank goodness for the dogs in my family that loved to sit under the table 😉.  This was a boundary that was set by my parents and we all knew it wasn’t negotiable.

I believe a good boundary set for today is no technology at the dinner table….for children AND parents.  Today’s dinner table may look a little different…maybe one parent is working late, maybe there is only one parent, maybe it is grandparents raising the kids.  However that table looks, still make it a family dinner and still set boundaries.  This is such a great time to talk, REALLY TALK about the kids’ day.  This, too, boosts self-confidence as it makes the child feel loved and cared about.

When our children were young, my husband worked late hours.  We didn’t switch to separate dinners, we moved our family dinners to later so that we could be together as much as possible.  For a long time, we also had “Sunday” dinners.  I tried to make this more of a special meal with themed dinners or special dinner settings as much as possible.  The kids got involved with this and enjoyed it as well.  As the kids got older, I let this tradition slide a bit….I wish I would have never let that happen.  However, now that we are all adults, we try to get together for “Sunday” dinners as much as possible now which is very special to us.

Conversation Starters ~

  1. What was the favorite part of your day?
  2. How were you kind/helpful to someone today?
  3. Who did you play with today?  What did you play?
  4. If you were the teacher, what rules would you have for the class?
  5. What is your favorite room in our house?  Why?
  6. If you could only keep one toy, what would it be?
  7. What do you like best about our family?
  8. What was the most challenging part of your day?
  9. Were there any instructions you had a hard time following today?

Responsibilities ~

Otherwise known as chores, responsibilities for each child is so important.  It may create extra work for you following up on spills and such, but the pride a child feels when you trust in their abilities goes a long way.  My daughter, Lauren, is amazing at this.  At very young ages, her children have been responsible for feeding the animals, cleaning their rooms, setting their clothes out, etc.  It isn’t always done perfectly, but when Max shows up to Mimi and Pappy’s in a thick velvet sport coat with shorts in the middle of summer….priceless!

Speaking of dressing, if the kids want to wear a Superman (or E.T.) costume to the grocery store…let them.  Maybe your daughter wants to go to dinner dressed as Elsa.  Who is it hurting?  In fact, it is only building their self confidence.  Check out the many benefits of role playing in my earier article Bring Back E.T. ~ Imagination and Role Playing.  Many times, the smallest things can make the biggest impact.  Besides, most people get a kick out of seeing children dressed in costumes…it may just make someone’s day!

Play Outside ~

Not only is the physical exercise so important, but so many life lessons are learned while kids are playing outside.  They have to learn to be creative and make decisions on their own, which of course, builds self confidence.  Even if you take the kids to the playground, don’t be that “helicopter” parent that stands right by them.  Sit/stand in watching distance but let them learn how to make friends and stand up for themselves when someone isn’t so nice.

It’s so hard to watch if someone isn’t being the kindest to our children, but how else are they going to learn to cope.  We are not always going to be there to fight every battle.  Now am I suggesting you let some child physically abuse your child…NO!  However, most of the time when there are struggles between children doesn’t mean it’s going to turn into some huge war!  Children will learn to stand up for each other and for themselves while playing with others.

Don’t Dismiss Their Emotions ~

When you child has had a bad day or a bad experience, DO NOT just say, “It will be ok!”  Take this time to REALLY TALK with your child and ask questions…

  • Why do you feel that way?
  • What could have been done to make it better?
  • Can you tell me more about it?
  • I’m so sorry this happened, how can I help?
  • What are you thinking about?

GREAT Children’s Book Series ~

Steve Herman is a best selling children’s books author.  The My Dragon Books Series has some great books to help children with learning from mistakes, dealing with bullies, handling sibling rivalry, loving yourself and much more.  Here is a link to his book Help Your Dragon Learn From Mistakes.

There is even a cute plush Diggory Doo Dragon Plush that kids can play along with as you read through each book.  How fun is that?

Nurturing self-esteem in children is so very important.  It helps a child thrive throughout life, teaches them coping skills and how to handle adversity.  Do everything you can to make this happen!

Much love ~

Mimi

Pen Pal Fun With Grandkids

I walked out to retrieve our mail today expecting the usual advertisements and bills.  However, as I opened the mailbox, my eyes went straight to a different piece of mail.  There was a long white envelope addressed to Mimi & Pappy.  Well,  that sure did bring a quick smile to my face!  As I began to open the letter, I had an epiphany.  It is time to start having some pen pal fun with the grandkids!

In July, I wrote this post about Grandparenting from a Distance and in that article I discussed snail mail with the grandkids.  In fact, I even admitted then that I am not very good at it but want to get better.  Well, NOW is the time to start having some fun with the snail mail and pen pals!

Letters From The Grandkids ~

This particular mail was from Max.  He drew us pictures and wanted to send them to us.  Now, keep in mind that we are very lucky grandparents that get to see the kids several times a week.  However, this should not keep anyone from sending fun letters, cards, games, jokes, etc. to the grandkids.  As we all know, everyone likes to receive a special piece of mail.  It gives you the same feeling you get when opening gifts at Christmas.  Someone took the time to personally acknowledge you.

I actually keep a folder in my office of artwork and letters they have written for us.  Each one gets labeled with their name and date on the back of the pages so they can see how their writing and picture drawing improves over time.  I also pull them out once in a while just to enjoy the love they share in each page they create for us.

Pen Pal:  A person with whom one keeps up an exchange of letters, USUALLY someone that is so far away that a personal meeting is unlikely.

Benefits of Pen Pal Fun With Grandkids ~

  • Create a close connection
  • Allows opportunity to praise the children’s artwork and writing = boosts self confidence
  • Long-lasting memories
  • Teaches correspondence skills – stamps, addressing envelopes, proper writing etiquette over time
  • Patience – in this world of everything at our fingertips, it is good for them to learn the anticipation of “waiting for something good to come.”
  • Fosters creativity
  • Improves penmanship

Fun Snail Mail Ideas ~

  • Pre-stamp and address some fun post cards and give them as a gift to your grandchildren.  This way they can correspond with you any time they want.
  • If they are old enough to practice envelope format, then give them a blank notebook/stationery and envelopes.

Include some small item with your letter to them:

  • An old picture of you
  • A picture of the two of you together
  • Several charms – one at a time so they can make a bracelet or keychain once all are sent
  • A fun drawing
  • A coloring page
  • A seek and find page – I have always loved the Highlight brand but you can also find a lot of free ones to download on Pinterest! – I especially love this Highlights Back to School Version!

  • Bookmark
  • Ask a question and tell them to reply with their answer in a letter back to you
  •  Origami
  •  Stickers
  • Send a small puzzle a few pieces at a time
  • Cut the letter in large pieces so they have to put together like a puzzle
  • Write the letter in coded ink and send special pen for them to uncover the message.  I LOVE this Invisible Ink Spy Pen set…kids will too!

  • Bible verse – you can write them yourself in your letter or use something like this fun book to send in your letter – Fun Bible Memory Book for Kids

  • Send a Hug!  – I love this idea by Becca of Who-arted.com
  • Start a Write Me Back! – Jennie Moraitis describes this fun idea in her littlegirldesigns.com blog
  • Write a letter on a deflated balloon for them to blow up and read
  • Make an origami fortune teller – We love to create our own but if you struggle in this department, here is an easy fortune teller (or cootie catcher as we used to call them) book with templates – Origami Fortune Teller Booklet with pre-printed and blank templates!

  • Create a family quiz – it would be fun do do this annually and save to look back at their answers later!

These are just a few fun ideas.  Once you get started I am sure more fun ideas will come your way.  These ideas are simple ones that can be included in a small envelope.  It is also fun, of course, to send a small gift once in awhile.  However, the bigger importance here is trying to foster a fun relationship with your grandchildren with money not being the focal point.

Keep in mind, too, that it doesn’t matter if you live far away or in the same town.  It still can be such a fun activity between grandparents and grandchildren.  As I am sitting here writing this, I am getting so excited about all the fun ideas that are forming in my head.  I am truly looking forward to having some pen pal fun with my grandkids!  (And don’t you think for a second that I won’t be involving Pappy in this fun adventure as well! 😉)

Happy letter writing to you ~

Mimi

 

 

Blackberry Festival Family Date Night

Are you trying to squeeze the last bit of family fun into the remaining days of summer?  Why not plan a family date night?  Our family headed out to Wild Blackberry Farms for the inaugural Blackberry Festival.   While it can be difficult (but oh so worth it!) to find a night that works in everyone’s schedule, this was so worth the planning of our Blackberry Festival family date night!

I’ve had many people ask me how we knew about this particular festival.  I agree that it is hard to know about every fun event around you, but it led me to look into festival informational sites.  Each state has many local resources, but I also found a couple of sites that you can search all 50 states….

Blackberry Festival Family Date Night Activities ~

U-Pick Blackberries ~

This particular festival was a smaller fare, but not short on fun family activities.  We started out with the U-pick blackberries.  I wasn’t sure how much the younger ones would enjoy this part, but they loved it!  We had a quick lesson on which berries were ready to pick and everyone headed out with their buckets.  They had so much fun searching the rows for the ripest berries!  Also important here is that it kept them entertained for quite a long time!

What was even better was they could pick down low on their own while also enjoying a little help up from the family members.

Face Painting ~

This is the part of the festival that the littles were looking forward to the most.  In fact, it was so much fun that kids AND adults got in on the fun.  Aunt Karleigh and Pappy had their faces painted to match the kids, which made them so happy!

Food Trucks, Family Games, Petting Zoo, Photo Opps ~

Whether you are on a diet or not, you HAVE to eat the festival food!  Am I right?   So many yummy choices from lemon shakeups to bbq sandwiches of all kinds!  Of course, if you look closely at this picture you will see that some blackberries were definitely enjoyed along the way as well!

Other Family Date Night Ideas ~

While I definitely recommend festivals for a fun family date night, don’t let that keep you from planning other fun activities.  Plan a family date night once a month.  This a routine that will defnitely help to forge strong family bonds.  **On these special nights, be sure to put those phones out of place and concentrate on the family unit!

Family Date Night Ideas ~
  • Park Hopping – take a bit of time to map out local parks and go to several of them in one day.  It’s so much fun to see what equipment each park has to offer and discover which is each child’s favorite.
  • Splash Party – Put those bathing suits on…you too parents…and have some good old water fun.  Have plenty of squirt guns, water balloons, maybe a slip and slide and a small kids pool (for both swimming and refilling those water guns) on hand.
  • Bowling – Have you done this in a while?  For some reason we had ventured away from bowling and recently got back to it….the kids LOVE to bowl!
  • Scavenger Hunt – You can plan a scavenger hunt in your own house or yard or better yet, break off into teams and run around the neighborhood looking for items.
  • Glow in the Dark Fun – Purchase some glow sticks and glow jewelry (they almost always have them at the Dollar Store) and turn out all the lights for some fun family glow in the dark fun!  Add in some dancing or hide and seek!
  • Backyard Movies – There is a large assortment of video projectors available.  I do suggest going ahead and purchasing one with a screen as well.  I tried the cheaper route at first and tried to use a white sheet…the image wasn’t sharp enough with that.  Check out this video projector with screen for outdoor family fun!

  • Family Cooking – Plan, Cook and Eat the meal together.  Be sure to let the little ones help with the cooking…they will love it.  For extra fun, add some fun candles and pick some flowers from the yard for a beautifully set table.
  • Dance Party – You guys, this is a win-win here!  Not only will there be lots of giggles, but it’s a good workout too!
  • Family Puzzle – My all-time favorite puzzles are the ones that have different size pieces so everyone can take part in the puzzle.  Check out this fun family puzzle with small, medium, and large sized pieces! 

  •  Family Room Sleepover – Gather ALL of the blankets and pillows and make a big living room fort…but you also ALL have to sleep in it!  Have fun!

These are just a few fun ideas to create family fun.  The most important part of all of it is that everyone engages, you add in some good munchies and put down those phones.  Have some laugh until your belly aches fun with those kids!

Back To Those Yummy Blackberries ~

The fun continues as we decide what yummy recipes we are going to make with our buckets of blackberries.  Of course, we head straight to Pinterest!  Wow!  Seriously, do a quick search on blackberry recipes!  How do you decide on what you want to make?  I think I may have to figure out how to succesfully plant our own blackberry patch because I want to make SO MANY of these recipes!

This time around we are going with the Old Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler.  I prefer the cobblers where you cook the berries like this recipe from Saving Room for Dessert…Old Fasioned Blackberry Cobbler by Saving Room for Dessert.  I will be sure to let you know how it turns out!

Cheeres to each of you enjoying the rest of your summer and some good family fun!

From Our Family to Yours ~

~Mimi

 

 

Outdoor Griddle Fun for Father’s Day

IT’S NOT TOO LATE!!!!  Run, do not walk, to get Dad an outdoor griddle for this Father’s Day.  Maybe you are saying, “Mimi, I am not a procrastinator!  I already have Father’s Day covered!”  That’s ok, keep this idea in mind for the next time you need a great gift idea.  However, our family is definitely going to have some outdoor griddle fun for Father’s Day this year!

My son brought this perfect idea up about a month ago.  I casually mentioned it to my amazing chef of a husband.  I have to admit, at first he totally pooed pooed the idea.  Being the loving family that we are, however, we knew not to listen to him.  However, the joke was on us because exactly one week before Father’s Day, my loving husband decides he is going to go buy himself an outdoor griddle grill!  What?!?!

It’s Not Father’s Day YET! ~

Yes, you are correct!  He went ahead and bought it himself!  At first we were all frustrated, but seeing how happy he is made the frustration fade quickly.  The man is happiest with a grill and a beer!  Besides, we decided there are now a slew of accessories he will now need for this new type of grill.  So….many…..gift…..ideas!

Click here for a MUST HAVE set of accessories for the griddle!

Cast Iron Grill Press is another necessity!

Hard Lid Cover is a DEFINITE must if you purchase one without a lid attached!

All in all, I was personally glad that he went ahead and picked out the one that he wanted.  He purchased his at Cabella’s, however, you can find them at most home improvement stores and, of course, on Amazon.  As you can see above, it really didn’t ruin the gift idea for the kids as there are so many accessories available for the MANY different types of meals you can cook on this awesome grill!

Things to Consider When Purchasing ~

There are many features you will need to consider when deciding on which outdoor griddle you want:

  • Number of burners (Brad wanted 4)
  • Attached lid or not
  • Sturdiness of the whole unit
  • Drain hole in upper left front corner (for easy access to remove the grease)
  • Sturdy shelving on both sides

Pinterest Anyone??? ~

You can be sure that I will have a new Pinterest Board set up by the end of the day today.  There are so many fun ideas just waiting to be created on this grill!  The first night we did smashburgers (as you can see from the pics).  Wow!  Those were AMAZING!

Tonight we are doing breakfast for dinner.  We are huge lovers of the Waffle House (very low cal, I know! 😉).  Now Brad can recreate all of our favorites right here at home!

Do you follow me on Pinterest yet????  Mimi~A Great Name for Grandma Pinterest Ideas can be found here!  I am on Pinterest daily looking for new ideas from grandparenting to cooking to gardening and more!  Do you have a Pinterest account?  Drop your name in the comments below….I would love to follow you as well!

How Is This Grill Different?~

There are a lot of accessories available for the traditional gas and charcoal grills that allow you to do pretty much the same thing.  Believe me when I say, we own most of those accessories!  For instance, there is a griddle top that you can place on your  gas or charcoal grill.  If you do not do a lot of grilling, this is perfect!

Griddle top for Gas and Charcoal Grills

We bought him one of these a few years ago, and we have gotten great use out of it.  It was an earlier Father’s Day gift along with this fun breakfast set.  One of the things I love most about cooking breakfast outdoors is the clean up is SO much easier!

Check out the fun griddle breakfast set here!!!

Do We Still Love Our Traditional Grills? ~

The answer is definitely YES!  As stated earlier, Brad is happiest with a grill and a beer!  He has a deck, “The Penarve,” dedicated to all of his grills.  It got so crazy that we had to give it a name (thanks Kelly W 😉 for coming up with the winning name!)  My personal dream is that some day Brad will open a restaurant.  The tough choice is what name should he give to his restaurant?

  • Pappy’s
  • The Penarve

Cast your vote in the comments…I would love to hear your opinion!  Maybe you have a different name idea…let me know!

For now, he will keep doing his magic on the Penarve at the Latinovich homestead!  Stay tuned for some great cooking ideas because you KNOW he will be creating those wonderful meals and I will be sharing them!

Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful fathers!  Enjoy!

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking Fun with Grandkids

I got the best phone call the other day!  Picking up my cell phone, I expected to hear my daughter on the other line.  To my surprise, it was my sassy six year old granddaughter, Addi.  Excitedly, she says, “Mimi, I’m making dinner tonight.  Would you like to join us?”  Are you kidding me?  Of course I do!  I’m not missing out on a night of cooking fun with the grandkids!

What was on the menu you ask?  We were served mini pot pies/shepherd’s pies and a strawberry rhubarb tart.  Wow!  It was delicious!

       

Let’s back up to Addi’s birthday earlier this year.  We always like to find one special “big” gift to get for the kids.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be big in size, but it needs to be extra special!  A lot of time is spent thinking and shopping for that perfect gift.  Addi has recently become fascinated with the kid’s cooking shows so ideas started formulating around that.

The Birthday Gift Idea ~

I have enjoyed watching various bakeoff shows with the grandkids.  Have you ever watched them?  Let me tell you, that they are nothing short of amazing.  I truly would have never realized that kids can cook as “professionally” as they do…even better than a lot of us adults!  Through this the birthday idea came to life!  Addi needed all of her own kitchen tools.

We have already done some cooking with Addi over the past couple of years, so I knew her passion for time in the kitchen wasn’t going anywhere.  After watching the different episodes of Chopped Junior and MasterChef Junior, we realized Addi was ready to step up her game a bit.

Now, first of all my thoughts went  to purchasing  Addi her very own kitchen prep and storage rolling cart.  I will admit that I spent time shopping for the best one.  I then realized I should probably chat with my daughter about this.  Afterall, this would take up a lot of space in the kitchen, and I had to admit to myself that it is her kitchen and not mine.  So I scaled my gift idea down a bit so that Lauren could keep her kitchen in tact.

Cooking Basket Gift Items ~

These are a win/win…Addi was able to cut food by herself and we felt safe with her doing so!

 One thing Lauren and I noticed, having the tongue out while cooking is a MUST for any great chef! 🤣

Cooking Fun with Grandkids ~

As you can see, we tried a variety of different kitchen gadgets.  This will definitely be a gift that we can add on to in the years to come.  Fostering a love of cooking in kids has so many benefits…to the kids as well as the adults.  The important thing to remember is it’s going to get messy…and that’s ok!  If kids become afraid to mess up they will lose the passion to learn.

In an earlier post, I wrote about a great recipe book software.  You create your own cookbook…family, church, neighborhood.. or whatever you choose.  The first book I created was Pappy on the Penarve…Check out my fun cookbook here!  My intention was to make an “Addi” cookbook next…epic fail!  However, I am still going to make it and include new recipes for her to try plus old ones that she has made with the family.  What fun memories!

Make time to have some cooking fun with the grandkids….you will be glad you did!

Enjoy!

Mimi

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Family Traditions

Family traditions are the glue that holds families together through the years.  As you are reading this, you may recall long-established customs or you may just be thinking about a new tradition you started with your immediate family.  Regardless of the number of years you have celebrated each one, the importance of family traditions is tantamount to strong family bonding.

Small Quiz ~ ✏

Do me a favor.  Take a few minutes to set everything aside…your phone, computer, tv, game, etc.  Sit quietly for a moment and think about what family traditions you celebrate.  Think first of the holidays.  Are there traditions you do with your children that possibly your parents did with you as a child?  Have you started new ones since you have become a parent?  Let’s go a step further….write those down.

Now, let’s think about seasonal traditions.  Activities that may not tie in exactly with a particular holiday.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…write those down too.  What about nightly family rituals, such as reading a book.  There may also be weekly or monthly family traditions, such as family game night, daddy dates, or family service days.  Let’s not forget birthdays!   Are you starting to recall more traditions than you even imagined?  We cling to traditions, sometimes when we don’t even realize it.

These events have been shown to strengthen family bonds and reinforce family values.  It warms my heart when my grandchildren will ask a question pertaining to a specific holiday.  For instance, we love to put on our pajamas, make popcorn and hot cocoa and pile in the car to drive around and look at Christmas lights.  We also always get Chinese takeout on the night we decorate our Christmas tree.  The grandchildren, now at ages 3 & 6, ask each year if we are going to do it again.  They remember and look forward to those special moments.

Holidays ~

There are numerous holidays:  Federal, State, Religious, Observance, and Sports.  There is a list below that includes some of the more known holidays here in the states, but it is certainly not all encompassing.   The important thing to remember about family traditions is quality over quantity.  It is so much fun to create reasons to celebrate, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your family.  There is nothing more depressing than a child that is let down because a parent doesn’t follow through.  So keep old traditions and maybe start a few new ones too!

  • New Year’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve

Nightly or Weekly ~

Here are some ideas of activities the family can do nightly or once a week:

  • Reading a book together
  • Family game night
  • Pizza night, taco night, Italian night (you get the drift)
  • Evening walk or Sunday walk
  • Sunday special breakfast
  • Movie night
  • Family meals together…a tough one but oh so worth it!
  • Making a story up together…one person start and give a few sentences then another person takes over, etc.
  • Highs & Lows – every morning or evening have everyone tell the best and worst part of their day

Take the read aloud family challenge – such a cool idea! ➡➡Check out this fun Family Read Aloud 100 Book Challenge with journal!

Monthly ~

Here are some ideas of activities the family can do together monthly.  Choose one day of each month and plan your activity.  Whether you do the same activity monthly or change it, start with the day and get it on the calendar!  This gives everyone something to look forward to and also helps with planning.  Stick to it!!!  This is what makes it a tradition!

  • Hiking at different parks each month
  • Zoo/Museum/Sporting Event/Play or Muscial – plan something like this for each month
  • Family service project – Work together on a monthly plan of where you can help out in the community
  • Movie Night – this is also listed in weekly, but maybe you need to spread it out more
  • Cook together as a family
  • Game Night – this is also listed in weekly, but maybe you need to spread it out more
  • Mommy & Daddy date night – let each child have special time with the parents

Random ~

  • Journal – keep a family journal somewhere for everyone to write in when they have something they need to talk about
  • Back to school day – make it special every year
  • Hooky day – everyone gets a day off for crazy fun family time

Check out this fun Family Journal with prompts that make it easy for the whole family to use ➡➡Check out the Creative Family Journal with writing prompts here!!!

This is a very small list of ideas.  Once again, choose what is most important to your family and follow through.  There is no need to have so many traditions that you are overwhelmed.  They are meant to be special times bonding the family together.

They can be simple.  Lauren loves going to the her grandparent’s place at the lake.  The kids know they are going to get on the golf cart and zoom all over.  It is something they look foward to every time.  They then head to the lake shore and take pictures.  How fun it has been to see the kid’s growth over these last few years with the same background.  Similar to using a yardstick to measure children’s annual growth on a wall.

In October, my mother puts out a large light up pumpkin.  It seems like that pumpkin has been around FOREVER!  However, the kids love to have their picture taken with Grandma every year.  Likewise, when our children were small we would take the same picture of all of the grandchildren at Easter around the same tree at their Grandma’s!  It’s a small thing, but it’s tradition!

               

Another fun tradition is to make food to match the color of the current holiday.  You can be as simple or creative as you like.  Believe me, the kids will have a LOT of fun with this.  I will be honest though, sometimes they turn out as a flop…these things happen.  Probably the worst one my kids remember is green oatmeal for St. Patrick’s Day…it looked just like vomit.  We laughed so hard!

     

Birthdays ~

Birthdays are a pretty big deal in our family.  The birthday person wakes up to a decorated bedroom door  (Check out the Birthday door idea by clicking here!), gets to choose what type of cake and dinner and also gets to choose the activity.  Deciding on the activity is the best part for me…yes, we still do it as adults!  I absolutely love to find different things to do as a family each year.  Bowling, paddle boats on the canal or hiking to lunch on the Monon have been some of my favorites.  As long as we are together, I am happy.  Now, for those of you who know Brad, it is a different story.   Nothing makes him happier than all being on the deck and him grilling!  That’s nice and relaxing too!

Schedules are hectic….times are crazy!  However, this is one thing you can make a point to do with your family.  Sometimes we simply forget about the importance of family traditions….but our kids don’t!  I hope you will share some of your family traditions below!

Hugs – Mimi

 

Guys! I Made a Cookbook…And You Can Too!

You heard me….little ole me made a cookbook!  I am so excited!!!   What’s even better is that it was so fun and easy to do with FamilyCookbookProject.com.  My mind is now racing with so many great ideas for gift giving, fund raisers, church or family projects, or even for the neighborhood.   Now, I keep walking around the house saying, “I made a cookbook!”   What’s even better is that you can too!

This cookbook is a compilation of recipes I have blogged about.  As a bonus, there are a few extra recipes that have yet to be added to my blog.   You will be able to save it to your computer and print out recipes as needed…or you can print the whole book.

The Family Cookbook Project ~

In a nutshell, this is a software program that lets you bring your recipes to life in a shareable form through print or save online.  I have been truly amazed at just how easy it was to put this together.  Now we have a keepsake of the beginning of our recipe blogging journey.  I have no doubt that there will be much more time spent on creating a much more indepth Pappy on the Penarve Cookbook – Version 2!

What about you?  Have you considered putting a cookbook together with all of your family favorites?  Are there treasured recipes that have been passed down through the generations?  Maybe there have been some church potlucks that everyone brings copies to share of the recipe they made.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to hop online and let each of those people type in their famous recipes?  That’s right…you can set this up so that each person can be considered a “contributor.”

How It Works ~

  1. Create an account.
  2. Give your cookbook a title (that can be changed anytime throughout the process)
  3. Invite friends and family to contribute – optional!  You can also create the recipes by yourself.
  4. Follow along with the simple layout to enter your recipes…you can even copy and paste or import if you have them saved somewhere else on your computer.
  5. Select your cover, dividers and layouts to your personal preference.
  6. The table of contents, recipe index and list of contributors (optional) is automatically created for you.
  7. Order your cookbook.  They have a calculator to make the final setup and purchase process so easy.
  8. You can go back and add recipes to your online version at any point.

 

 

 

 

*Sample of Family Cookbook Project final copy

 

 

 

 

Have You Ever Misplaced a Special Recipe? ~

Isn’t this the worst?!?!  Ugh!  If only I had a nickel for every time I went frantically searching for that special recipe!  Another problem I encounter quite often…does your recipe card look like it’s been to h*ll and back?  Stains and tears all over it.  I always say you can tell those are the most loved!  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to have them in a nice little cookbook (luckily you can choose to have any pages/covers you want laminated!)

Maybe you are not as scatter brained as I am and your recipes are already nicely organized.  (Oh, how I try to be that person!)  This is still such a timeless treasure to create and gift to others!

Better yet, maybe you have some very special recipes you won’t share because they become even more special when you bring them to the party!  I have a VERY loved sister-in-law that does just this!  We give her grief over it all the time.  I’m thinking this would be such a great idea to make and have back for gifts when the right time comes along!  (You know who you are sweet See the source image…you know I love ya!)

Dedication Page ~

Below is the picture and dedication words I chose for Pappy on the Penarve.  It’s been so much fun deciding how I wanted to display everything from the pictures to the wording…

Welcome to Pappy on the Penarve! The love of family is our number one priority. We have discovered that good food keeps family members coming back for more. Thus we are lucky to have lots of family gatherings!

This is our first edition of a compilation of recipes we have shared on Mimiblog.org (plus a few bonus extras!). Our hope is that you and your family and friends will enjoy these wonderful recipes as much as us.

The main focus is on Pappy’s amazing grilling with a few appetizers, appetizers/sides and desserts to compliment the savory dishes that come off of Pappy’s magical grill!

Enjoy!

We dedicate this first edition to Lauren, Karleigh and Eli…our amazing children and all who are a part of their world!

*********

To see the above picture and dedication in book layout is a dream come true for me!  As stated earlier, you get to create the cover and dividers, choose from multiple recipe layouts, add your own dedication and introduction…the list goes on and on!

Drumroll Please ~

So without further adieu, I bring you the final version of Pappy on the Penarve.  Click on the link below to view or to download and print a free copy yourself.  I will be making a laminated binder version for our family.  If you are interested in purchasing one, email me at mamashellatino@gmail.com and I will give you the details.

See the finished version of Pappy on the Penarve Cookbook here!!! Check it out!

Guys!  I Made a Cookbook…AND YOU CAN TOO!

Are you excited about getting started on your own personal cookbook?  I haven’t seen an easier way to create such a special family treasure!  Get started on your personal cookbook right here!

Happy Cooking!

Mimi (Shelly)

Social Media Fasting

I’m sitting here literally laughing at myself as I just typed the title of this post.  I have been diligently working and learning all about blogging….and I LOVE it!  As you all know, blogging is all about writing about what you love and sharing it with others.  In order to share, you have to make yourself known…and this of course mostly happens through social media.  So WHY am I writing an article about Social Media Fasting???

As much as I truly love technology and everything social media, I also love everything family!  I have had many debates with others over the years about the positives vs. the negatives of social media.  Both sides have very valid points, but for me it’s a good thing.  I have reconnected with so many people I had lost touch with…followed family fun of others…enjoyed seeing pictures…celebrated milestones with my children’s friends that have grown up and started work and now have families of their own.  This list goes on and on.

WHY???

However, I do think taking a break from social media…short, intermittent breaks….can bring many positives into your world.  Try this for 24 hours.  Then try it once a week or once a month.  I’m betting you will be very surprised.  I just finished a 24-hour fast from social media and game apps.  I surrounded myself with blank paper and books.  Every time I went to pick up my phone to check the latest updates, I set it down and picked up a book or paper instead.  Those books were about prayer and positive writings.  I then prayed after I read each time.

I have been following a local family that has gone through a great tragedy with their children.  I tried this fasting upon the request from a large following that asked everyone to give up something and pray in return for the family.  I am a strong believer in the power of prayer, but I have gained more from this than what I expected.  You, too, can follow this family on Facebook ~ Light for Levi and Lainey.

What I Gained From Social Media Fasting ~

  • More time in prayer, not only for this very precious family, but for my own!
  • Relaxation – my brain relaxed!
  • Sleep – Ahhhh, this was amazing and I’m assuming it was because of the above bullet point!
  • Time to read – something I love but tend to put off to play “just one more game!”
  • More time to communicate with my family….talking and LISTENING!  I have been working on listening lately.  Really listening.  My mind is so often moving on to the next thing that I have realized I do listen, but I’m not always fully “hearing”…or my head is buried in my phone too much to listen intently.

What I Expect to Gain Long Term ~

I am setting a date on my calendar to do a 24-hour fast each month.  Eventually it may be each week, but I want to take it slow so I can make it stick.  I have no intention of giving up social media…I love it too much!  Just taking time once a month to make myself enjoy the other things in life I have put on the back burner.  Once you start letting those other important elements back into your life, you may find how much you miss them.

What to Do While Fasting ~

  • Read!  Read passages in the Bible, self help books or that novel you have been wanting to dig in to!  Did you know that you can do a quick search on Amazon of New York Times current best sellers….it doesn’t get any easier than that!!!  I’ve put a quick link in for you here to check it out:    New York Times Best Sellers
  • Write!  Jot down what is in your head, write poetry, write a letter (remember snail mail???), write a story…just write!  I love to have loads of different pens and paper available for this.  I have recently become an affiliate of a couple of really cool stationery companies..I hope you will check them out!
  • Yoga!  Whether you have done yoga before or not, it is something everyone should look into.  So take that social media break and spend some time stretching and destressing!  I wrote about this in an earlier blog post.  You can do yoga as a family too…Yoga with Meddy Teddy!
  • Get Outdoors!  There is nothing like fresh air…whether it’s hot or cold!  Take a walk, do some yard work or just sit and get some natural vitamin D.  Leave the phone inside for a bit!
  • Cook!   Ok…you can use your phone but ONLY if it is to look up a recipe…don’t cheat….no social media or games!
  • Pray and Meditate!  It’s just good for your soul!  Mark 10:27 ~ All things are possible with God!
  • Call Someone!  Reach out and catch up with a friend or family member.

Whether it is something from the list above or another favorite hobby, try a little social media fasting and see what a mere 24 hours can do.  Seriously, 24 hours doesn’t seem like a long time but I know I sure was amazed by it!  I slept better and woke up with a fantastic start to my day feeling good about what I had read the night before!

It’s Time for A Challenge!

Are you up for it?  Subscribe to my page and work along with me!  Let’s do a 24 hour challenge once a week for the next 4 weeks.  #SMFChallengewithMimi.  Respond in the comments or click on the subscribe button (at the right on desktop or at the bottom of the blog on phone) so we can support each other.  What are you waiting for????

Loving Life ~ Shelly (Mimi)

 

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