Wintertime Craft Ideas for Kids: Guest Blog Post by Galt Toys

Today we have a guest taking over the blog that is writing on behalf of Galt Toys. Galt Toys has 175 years of experience in toys and education. Galt is a specialist in knowing how to design toys and craft activities for children that encourage children to learn through play and also have fun at the same time! If you are a 

When faced with the chilling winds and lashing rains of winter, outdoor activities for children are a definite no-no. However, there are plenty of fun things to do indoors that will keep your children entertained and occupied hour after hour. It is always a good idea to keep a few craft packs and creative activity resources stashed away, ready to be produced and enjoyed at the first sign of unfavorable weather. Take a look at some of our favorite winter craft ideas for kids that are simply perfect for those days when going outdoors just isn’t an option.

guestblogTea Time Fun

Who says picnics are only for summer? Scour second hand shops for plain teacups, saucers and side plates, and your children can enjoy supervised painting of their very own crockery in any design they like. Alternatively, purchase a miniature set specifically made for younger children which is guaranteed to be safe and will be the perfect size for little hands. After painting, as you wait for the set to dry, why not increase the fun and let the kids help you to make cakes and sandwiches for an indoor teddy bears’ picnic?

Jewelry Making

There are some really fantastic jewelry-making kits out there suitable for ages 3 and on wards that are complete with colorful threads, sequins and beads. Invite your little one’s friends around for a friendship bracelet-making session or join in with fun yourself and unleash your inner designer to create some fabulous and fun jewelry.

Paper Planes Just got Funky!

Long gone are the days of paper planes created using pages ripped from an exercise book, because now your child can make all manner of airplanes in various colors and styles using packs of multi-colored paper and a little imagination. Adorn each plane with stickers or personalized designs before challenging one another to airplane races.

Back to Basics

They do say the old ways are the best and coloring in is certainly one of the more traditional methods of keeping your child occupied. So get those crayons out and let your little one while away the hours with an assortment of coloring books. If they fancy doing something a little different, why not suggest they copy images from their favorite story book? Another simple coloring idea, which is ideal for larger families, is to ask each child to draw an outline of a character or scene. Set a time limit and when the time is up, get them to swap with another family member and they can color them in for another limited amount of time, before passing it to someone else to complete.

Stay warm!

 

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Paleo Diet: Week 1 Summary and Recipes {Plantain Pancakes and Coconut Milk Whipped Cream}

Here is a summary of our Paleo experience over the last six days. I meant to post this last night but I just got too tired, forgive me.

If you are not in the loop about why we are trying the Paleo diet for 30 days, get caught up here.

Neither I, nor my husband have experienced anything out of the ordinary in regards to our emotions or health after the diet change. We have both been tired in the later afternoons, which is pretty common for us anyway (as our daughter is an early riser) and we both have had a couple mild headaches on and off, but that may or may not be related to the change in diet. My husband has not noticed any improvement in his UC symptoms, but they have not worsened either. One thing that I definitely enjoy about the diet is knowing that for almost a complete week, I have put nothing but highly nutrient-dense food into my body and that is a very satisfying feeling. We both stay full longer, as the meals we are consuming offer more nourishment to our bodies. I have really enjoyed experimenting with new ingredients such as coconut flour, coconut milk and plantains.

Here is a brief summary of our meals over the last several days with recipes to a couple of our favorites:

Tuesday

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and homemade KimChee

Scrambled eggs, smothered in kimchee

Lunch: Smoothies with mixed fruit and homemade yogurt

Dinner: Steak with sautéed zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes

Steak and sauteed veggies

Wednesday

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with KimChee and Mushrooms

Lunch: Same as Tuesday. We also tried  my new favorite treat, cashew butter and made delicious apple chips!

Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs – I made a sauce from a large can of diced organic tomatoes, shredded carrots, celery, zucchini, onions, garlic and Italian herbs. Meatballs were my usual recipe, except I used almond flour instead of bread crumbs and we served the sauce over spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti and meatballs

Thursday

I didn’t write down what we ate for breakfast and I can’t remember (sorry!) It was likely eggs.

Lunch: Leftover spaghetti dinner

Dinner: Chicken Tortilla Soup served with fresh avocado – without the tortillas. I just googled a recipe until I found one that sounded good. It was OK, but I wouldn’t make it again so therefore I’m not sharing the recipe.

Chicken and no-tortilla soup

Friday

Breakfast: Eggs… again *sigh*

Lunch: Leftover soup

Dinner: Pan fried cajun-seasoned chicken breasts with roasted cauliflower. YUM.

Saturday

Breakfast: Pancakes  **Favorite Recipe of the Week!**

Plantain Pancakes

Holy moly, these are the best pancakes! We made them by blending 2 plantains, 3 eggs, a half of a tsp of baking soda, 1-2 tsp of vanilla (depends on your preference) and a dash of sea salt. That’s it! You would not believe how they resemble pancakes made with flour. I don’t think we’ll ever make them any other way! 

Lunch: Healthy snacks

Sauerkraut

Dinner: Leftovers

Sunday

Breakfast: Crepes filled with mixed berries and smothered with  paleo-friendly whipped cream **Amazing!!**

We googled crêpe recipes and there are many, so pick any that suits your liking. We used frozen organic mixed berries for the fillers… I heated the berries slowly on the stove and added a little bit of honey. The whipped cream is my second favorite new recipe of the week! 

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To make paleo whipped cream, all you need is a can of organic coconut milk (I found mine at Whole Foods) that needs to be chilled in the fridge. When you are ready to make the whipped cream, turn the can upside down and dump out coconut milk (reserve for future use). Dig out the thicker white portion and use a hand mixer to blend it for a couple of minutes until it reaches the “whipped cream” consistency. We added cinnamon and a touch of honey to ours before blending, but it definitely isn’t required. We LOVE this fluffy goodness  – I never see us buying the sugary store-bought stuff ever again. Warning: The whipped cream tastes good on everything so prepare to become addicted!

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Lunch: No-Mayo Tuna with KimChee

I was not a fan of how my tuna turned out. I mixed it with scallions, avocado, yogurt, salt, pepper, lemon juice and more and never had a truly satisfying outcome. I ended up smothering it in kimchee and eating it that way, because let’s be real, everything tastes better smothered in kimchee.

Dinner:

Beef with homemade sauerkraut and tahini with fresh veggies on the side.

So that was our menu Tuesday-Sunday. I’ll post another summary next weekend. I post pretty much daily on Instagram, so follow me there if you’d like! Again, please share any of your favorite paleo recipes, tips or tricks in the comments below.

Vino Backyard Designs: Monogrammed Address Stamp {Review and Giveaway!}

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Vino Backyard Designs Stamp  (2)

I continually tell my friends how I always end up falling in love with my review items and today is no exception. I am so excited to share one of my favorite Etsy stores with you called Vino Backyard Designs! Victoria is the owner and mastermind behind the shop and she creates beautiful custom monogrammed pieces that are perfect for a variety of occasions. Her shop includes leather hand-bound engraved journals, custom signs, wedding tags, ornaments and even scarves. But what I have to share with you today is my favorite custom product that she makes, which is the monogrammed return address stamp.

These stamps make perfect wedding gifts, they are wonderful for engaged couples (save the dates!), newlyweds (thank you cards), new parents and for the people who “have it all”.  I work for a Real Estate agent and I told him that this would be a great client gift for all of his new home owners! Wouldn’t you love to receive this? So thoughtful!

What I really like about this particular business is that Victoria is a nurse by day and about a year ago, with encouragement from her boyfriend, decided to make her dream a reality. She puts a lot of heart into each piece and she is completely flexible with your vision. Also, she is very prompt! The process of ordering my stamp to receiving it in the mail literally took a few days.

Here is my stamp… with address blurred out. It measures 2″x 2″.

Vino Backyard Designs Stamp

Here’s how it looks stamped:

Vino Backyard Designs - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Aren’t they great? Victoria has been generous enough to extend a GIVEAWAY to ONE lucky MinnesotaFromScratch reader, so please follow the Rafflecopter link below and enter!

——>a Rafflecopter giveaway<——

Each entrant has a chance to gain up to 25 entries into the contest by completing various tasks listed on the Rafflecopter entry form.

GOOD LUCK!

30 Day Paleo Diet + Cinnamon Apple Chips and Cashew Butter Recipes

A couple days ago, my husband and I began to eat the Paleo way. We already buy mostly grass fed and organic foods and I make most everything I can from scratch, so what the diet meant for us was that we would have to cut out noodles/rice/grains, legumes, alcohol, dairy and sugar. However my husband does make his own homemade yogurt, which he incubates for 24 hours (so the lactose is no longer an issue) and we are eating that on the diet.

The reason we decided to try the Paleo diet is because my husband suffers from a chronic digestive disease called Ulcerative Colitis.

UC

His doctor’s want him to try intravenous  medications and before that point, I’d like to try clean eating. My hope is that he has a gluten intolerance and cutting it out from his diet will soothe his symptoms. I’m doing the diet with him as his support and as I learn more about why people cut out gluten, it makes a lot of sense to eat this way, or at least eat this way most of the time. Kris wrote a post back last May that speaks more about gluten here. I have read many articles about people that have had success with eating clean and we figured it was worth a try!

Here are a couple things I made over the last couple of days and really enjoyed.

Cinnamon Apple Chips

Cinnamon Apple Chips www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

I sliced up 4 apples about 1/8 of an inch thick and placed them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I seasoned them with cinnamon and nutmeg and cooked them at 200°F for an hour (my oven runs hot so you could try baking them at 225°F too). Then I flipped them, seasoned them more and cooked them for another hour. After two hours of cooking, I checked them every 5-10 mins until they were done to my liking. Beware, they quickly go from under-cooked to overdone, so set a timer! You can be creative with the seasonings. They make a nice crispy snack… my daughter was so pleased she thought they were “treats”.

Cashew Butter

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Yesterday I whipped up a batch of homemade peanut butter for my daughter’s lunch. Then it occurred to me that since peanuts are “not legal” for the paleo diet, perhaps I could make the recipe with cashews instead. I gave it a try and oooohhmmmyyyygggooossshhh I’m in love. My husband likes it but not to the extent I do. I think the flavor is so creamy and delicious, it almost reminds me of cookie dough. Maybe I’m crazy, but give it a try. Just follow my homemade peanut butter recipe in the hyperlink above and sub cashews for the peanuts. MMMmMmmm!

Every weekend for the next four weeks, I will be posting a recap of things we cooked and liked, with recipes included as well as a little summary of how things are going with our bodies.

If you have any great paleo recipes, tips or tricks that you LOVE, please share them in the comments.

If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, then please add me! I post there almost daily.

How to Make Thieves Oil – Natural Flu and Cold Repellent

Today we have a special guest blogger taking over MinnesotaFromScratch. Sandy is CEO of Millionaire Moms, a Freelance writer, Success Coach and Mompreneur. She and her husband have 5 amazing children and have been blissfully married for 21 years — their secret? No TV!  Sandy’s  2014 motto is “Do Less and Enjoy More!” I hope you enjoy the informative article she has to share with us today about Thieves Oil…

The mysterious tale of Thieves Oil takes place in the 15th century in the midst of the Black Plague. The story claims there was a band of thieves who robbed the dead and dying but seemed to be totally immune. These unscrupulous but very successful four thieves were finally captured in France and convicted of these terrible crimes. While they were in court, a plea bargain was entered into. If they would tell the court officials how they were able to escape the plague while being in constant contact with the infected corpses there sentence would be less severe. It was then conveyed that they had a special concoction they prepared since they had a good knowledge of spices and fragrances. Apparently the thieves had simply rubbed themselves with aromatic herbs (cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary). These herbs each had their own benefits but when put together were so powerful as to help them become immune even to the plague.

Fast forward about five centuries and Thieves Oil is being used in many forms. Its claim to fame is the fact that it is still anti-viral, anti-bacterial as well as anti-septic like the infamous original.

The spray version can be used as a hand sanitizer or many people diffuse it to ward off colds and the flu. I love the way this essential oil smells when you diffuse it in any room in your house to help protect yourself from all those nasty flu bugs.

Here’s my favorite version DIY version:

Thieves Essential Oil:

Take 2 teaspoons each of the following essential oils: Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. Add to a small glass bottle with a dropper. This undiluted essential oil will be very strong and can be added to a diffuser to fight infection. I recommend using 5-7 drops. To create a spray you can use directly on your hands or surfaces to disinfect, you can dilute the essential oil by using a “carrier oil”. It is fine to use olive oil since most people have it on hand. Use 2 tablespoons of the carrier oil and 20 drops of the Thieves oil.

Interesting Ways to Use Thieves Oil

• Diffuse in your home to keep the germ count down.

• Breathe in the vapors to clear congestion.

• Add a few drops to your dishwasher for sanitizing.

• Mix with water in spray bottle to repel insects on plants.

• Use to dissolve the gummy adhesive on price labels

If you are short on time or just not into DIY, you can also buy Thieves Oil already blended and ready to use. The brand I recommend can be found here.

Healthy Blessings!

Sandy

For more articles written by Sandy, click here or here.

Organic Bailey’s Irish Cream – {Copy Cat Recipe}

Organic Bailey's Irish Creamer - Copy Cat Recipe -www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

About five years ago, we gave homemade Irish creamer away as part of Christmas gifts. This year it dawned on me that we could probably make the same recipe with mostly organic ingredients. After three batches, we finally got the recipe just how we like it.

Ingredients {All organic, except for the alcohol}:

  • 14 ounces Sweet and condensed milk (found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup (found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup of whipping cream (found at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract (withhold if you don’t like this flavor)
  • 1 2/3 cups of Irish Whiskey, we used Jameson
  • 1 tablespoon of Kahlua (OR organic instant coffee)

Toss all the ingredients in the blender and blend for 1-2 minutes. Check the expiration date of the whipping cream and try to use up the creamer before that date, but honestly, it’s so yummy that it probably won’t last more than 1-2 weeks in the fridge anyway.  This recipe is much better for you than the store-bought stuff and much more cost effective! Keep refrigerated in an air tight container!

To gift out, I just put the creamer in mason jars 🙂

Enjoy!

The 5 Love Languages of Children: Book Review and Giveaway!

lovechildren

If you have kids and haven’t already read the book The 5 Love Languages of Children, I highly recommend you read it – now.  I was able to read the book cover to cover in just a few sittings and it has holistically changed the way I view children – and has already allowed me to make a positive difference in my relationship with my son.  In short, this book is golden!

Nobody needs to tell me that I love my little guy, or that he is the most important part of my life, or even that I do the absolute best that I can for him.  However, it wasn’t until I read this book that I had a complete understanding of how to properly approach all the disciplining and nurturing needed to offer him a fair chance at growing into the best person he can be.  And that’s a parent’s responsibility after all.

The five love languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation – meaningful and specific
  2. Physical Touch – hugs, kisses, back rubs, and nighttime snuggles
  3. Gifts – thoughtful and without bribes
  4. Quality Time – put down your phone and look at them when they talk to you
  5. Acts of Service – be happy to help them rather than berate them

Probably the most significant take away for me was how to handle my son when he is being outwardly defiant.  Punishment never seemed to do anything but escalate the situation – now I know why.

I’m super excited to share this book with all parents, so much so that I’m GIVING AWAY ONE COPY TO one LUCKY reader!

Please follow the Rafflecopter link below to get entered:

     ——>a Rafflecopter giveaway<——

There are 24 entries available depending upon which tasks you complete within the Rafflecopter.

I am in no way being compensated for this review. I just truly feel passionate about what I have taken away from the book. I will personally buy the book for the winner an have it shipped to them.

Good luck!

Kristin

Chicken Wild Rice Soup Recipe {All Organic}

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While at a World Jubilee a couple months ago, I found some organic wild rice and had to buy it. Minnesota is known for its wild rice, yet I hadn’t ever found organic wild rice before. When the temperature plummeted around the country, I knew exactly what would warm up my family: Chicken Wild Rice Soup.

This particular soup is one of my favorites, yet I had never attempted to make it before. The recipe I’m going to share with you has several steps, but trust me, it is not complicated and well worth the time. My husband couldn’t get enough of it and for that reason it has won itself a place on my go-to list of recipes.

Ingredients – ALL organic:

  • 1 pound of chicken, cooked and cubed
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 package of condensed organic cream of mushroom soup
  • 64 oz of organic chicken broth
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped in 1/4 pieces
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of bouillon (organic brand)
  • garlic powder
  • dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup organic all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Salt, optional
  • Fresh ground black pepper, optional
  • Slivered almonds, optional

Directions:

In a large pot, combine the chicken broth, celery, carrots, mushrooms, onions and bouillon. Add about 1 tsp of garlic powder and dried parsley and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for about 25 minutes, until veggies are tender but not over cooked and mushy.

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Start cooking the wild rice as this usually takes between 20-25 minutes to cook as well. Follow the directions on the bag.

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In a third pan, cook the chicken. We used two chicken breasts but whatever you have on hand will work. I seasoned the chicken with some salt, pepper and garlic powder. Once cooked, I cut into half inch cubes.

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Now grab another large pot and toss in the butter. Whisk in the flour until it has combined with the butter. It will look smooth and have created somewhat of a paste. Slowly add the broth and continue to whisk the soup and flour mixture together. Once combined, crank the heat up to high just until it begins to boil and then turn the heat down to simmer for 2-3 minutes, until you can see the soup has thickened somewhat. Add in the chicken, cream of mushroom soup and rice, heat through and enjoy!

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Top with slivered almonds if you like.

This recipe yields 7 bowls of soup.

What is your favorite cold weather soup?

How to Make Frozen Ice Globes – Wintertime Fun

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Last year my in-laws gave us an Ice Globe making set but we didn’t get around to making them until this weekend. With temperatures in Minnesota being lower they have been in two decades, we were inspired to have some fun with ice. Basically the kit comes with large, thick balloons that you fill up with water and let sit outside for 20+ hours until the water is partially frozen inside. Then you take the balloon wrapper off, pour out the water from the inside of the globe and light it up!

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I was impatient for the large globes in the kit to freeze, so I found a few balloons we had around the house, and filled those with water. The process is exactly the same, but instead of waiting 20 hours, we waited 7 hours… granted the temp was -15 degrees F so things froze pretty quickly. We periodically checked the firmness of the balloons, and once they felt like they had a solid shell, but weren’t totally solid, we brought them in. Do not put the balloons on the concrete without a layer of parchment paper (or some barrier), otherwise they’ll stick to the ground. You can also just plop them in the snow until frozen, that’s what I did with the balloons.

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This one we opened a little prematurely but it still worked nonetheless!

This one we opened a little prematurely but it still worked nonetheless!

I recommend taking the balloon off over the sink because the  unfrozen water from inside the globe with spill out. You can either light the globes up with a waterproof flameless candle (which is what I’d recommend), or you can use tea lights. If you use tea lights, you need to create a chimney in the top of your globe so the flame doesn’t get snuffed out. You can use a drill for creating the chimney.

MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com Ice Globes

These globes will last through the winter as long as the temp remains low. I encourage you to get creative by adding some food coloring to make colored globes!

Other tips:

  • Temps should be under 20 degrees F or 7 degrees C to make the globes.
  • Small balloons can take 14 to 18 hours to freeze and larger ones, up to 30 hours.
  • You can melt open a chimney instead of drilling by placing the globe over a lit candle that has plenty of airflow underneath and it will melt a chimney open.

What are your favorite wintertime activities?

Thanks for reading,

Stephanie

1 Year Blog Birthday

1st birthday minnesotafromscratch

Today marks the one year anniversary of my very first blog post. I had no idea the can of worms I was opening as I published my first post. We cannot THANK YOU enough for following our blog! We never expected the success that we have had; we actually began the blog for ourselves to keep track of things we cooked, crafts we made and kid stuff. We are overjoyed that so many of you like our posts and continue to support us. I hope that you will stick around in 2014 for more interesting blog posts and tons of awesome giveaways!

Thank you!
Kris and Steph

KrisAndSteph

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