Autumn Potpourri

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How can you keep the house cozy for your kids when an early winter blast comes barreling through in November? Set this heavenly-scented potpourri to a simmer on the stove, and the whole house will be hygge in no time.

I gave Travis a quick reminder of what potpourri is before we set to work: any fragrant mixture of plant materials, like herbs, spices, fruits, flowers, or wood. Simmering the mixture on the stove gives a stronger scent than dry potpourri in a bowl, plus it adds moisture to dry air!

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Travis loved helping me slice up an orange to start. We added the orange slices to a saucepan, then added:

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

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Take the time to make this a sensory activity, too. Travis loved smelling the spices, and even licking an extra cinnamon stick!

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Add water to the pot until it’s about 2/3 full. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simply let simmer. If the pot runs low on water, add more as needed. We kept ours on a gentle simmer all evening and hardly noticed the cold knocking at the windows!

 

Decorating Pancakes

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Anyone who follows this blog knows I love to cook with my kids, and I firmly believe in getting kids into the kitchen from the earliest age. It’s truly never too early; today Veronika helped me decorate pancakes, and she’s not quite 13 months old!

Okay, technically this was more of a sensory play activity than a real recipe, but we sure had fun. First, I whipped up a batch of pancakes. You can make some from scratch with your favorite recipe, but I took a shortcake with Cherrybrook Kitchen’s vegan and gluten-free mix. Veronika loved playing with extra measuring cups while I mixed the batter.

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For extra learning, I cooked the pancakes in heart- and star-shaped molds so I could talk about shapes with Veronika. Regular circles are just fine too, though!

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I set the pancakes down on the floor on paper plates along with a few pouches of baby food. Look for bright colors like pinks and reds for this activity.

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Veronika only needed me to demonstrate once before she was eagerly “decorating” her pancakes. She proudly pressed the spout of the pouch down on the pancakes, and I think even tried to say “squeeeeze” back to me.

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Of course there was the necessary tasting, too. Veronika: meet pancake.

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And the pouch itself got a sip or two.

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I had fun decorating right alongside her, creating a make-believe bakery game.

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When you’re done, you have breakfast or snack built right in to your day. Or if the pancakes get very mushy from all that baby food on top, just consider this a sensory play activity and it’s still a win-win.

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Even the wax paper we had on the floor for easy clean-up was fun!

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You’ll notice that I had Veronika do the activity without a shirt, which seemed the safest way to avoid stains. Plus, I love that little buddha belly these days!

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Tofu Avocado Spread

Tofu Avocado Spread

Tofu can be too dry for babies if just cubed or sauteed in oil. This avocado spread is the perfect way to make it creamier. You’ll sneak in protein, potassium, calcium, and more!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup firm tofu
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mash with a fork until desired consistency is reached.

Toddlers might enjoy this best spread on whole wheat toast. My baby prefers to pick up big handfuls of it plain!