National Pizza Day

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Today is National Pizza Day and Travis’s latest issues of Highlights magazine had lots of fun topping ideas to help us celebrate the day. It seemed such a shame to choose just one that we made it more of a pizza week, testing out the following over a few days.

Of course we also celebrated by learning a little pizza history (Google the story behind the margherita pizza, for example, for some fun trivia facts).

For all of the following pizzas, we used the premade crust from Banza; the crust is vegan and gets a nice protein boost from chickpea flour! I didn’t bother to measure the quantities of ingredients for any of Highlights’ suggested toppings; just add as much of each as feels right for your family!

Bright and Early: For this breakfast spin, we spooned pesto onto the crust in place of tomato sauce, then sprinkled with a little of our favorite scrambled tofu (1 block of crumbled firm tofu sauteed in oil with 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, and 1 teaspoon turmeric). Sprinkle on a little chopped red bell pepper. After baking according to pizza crust directions, top with avocado slices.

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Tasty Taco: This time we spooned salsa on top of the crust in place of tomato sauce. Layer that with cooked meatless crumbles, a sprinkle of shredded vegan colby jack, and sliced black olives. Bake according to pizza crust directions, then add a little shredded lettuce and a drizzle of non-dairy sour cream before serving.

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Bold Barbecue: Spoon on a little barbecue sauce in place of tomato sauce. Arrange torn slices of vegan Gouda over the sauce, then sprinkle with chopped and cooked Gardein chick’n, thinly sliced red onion, and chopped cilantro. Cook according to pizza crust directions.

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Keen on Green: Leave the pizza crust white and sprinkle with lots of vegan cheddar. Add chopped steamed broccoli florets and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano… or add red pepper flakes if your kids like a little heat!

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The final night was a return to the classic margherita in the colors of the Italian flag: red tomato sauce, white mozzarella, and green fresh basil leaves.

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Which does your family like best? Please share in the comments!

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A Morning in a Cardboard Box

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Travis had remote Zoom schooling today, which meant I had to find a way to keep Veronika entertained, out of his way, quiet (well, mostly quiet!), but also be nearby and ready to swoop in if Travis needed my help. What could possibly tick the boxes to fulfill this criteria? A giant cardboard box of course!

I’d been saving an old box for a while, because Veronika has recently shown a desire just to … sit in them! She gets such joy from climbing into delivery boxes, the bigger the better.

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For a spin, I decided to set up this particular box as a “dumpster”, an idea I spotted at Hands on as We Grow. Add recyclables like crumpled newspaper, saved snack boxes, and old sponges. Anything that seems like “trash” without actually being dirty will work!

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It turned our that she didn’t love this full box nearly as much as an empty one. That said, she latched onto the sponges right away. Soon she was “cleaning” the box, which I guess made this the cleanest dumpster in town!

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I helped her climb out and now those crumpled pieces of newspaper were perfect for target practice. Slam dunk!

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Meanwhile, I had also hidden a few cars and trucks under the debris to see if she wanted to hunt for them. She didn’t show much interest in the hidden cars in the box, so instead I cut off one of the box flaps and tilted it like a ramp against our lowest stair.

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Now, she loved zooming the cars down, and then started steering them up and down the ramp so carefully. I marveled at the control she’s developed playing with cars, for example always now turning them so the hood of the car faced forward.

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Travis’s Zoom class was still underway and we needed to buy more time with the box. So next up was chalk! It turns out that sidewalk chalk shows up beautifully on cardboard, and was a novelty compared to crayons.

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She told me she was drawing blue for a daytime sky, and then purple for dark! So I added a sun and moon, which made her so happy.

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She kept drawing in the box for almost half an hour by herself after that. Mission accomplished!

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Valentine Cookie Play

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Sugar cookie recipes are a perfect way to involve a toddler in the kitchen. There’s rolling, frosting, and decorating, not to mention tasting! Because sugar cookies involve multiple steps, a recipe can easily fill a snowed-in morning together, as Veronika and I made it do today!

For the cookies, we used this recipe except (whoops!) accidentally added 1 cup Earth Balance butter instead of 3/4 cup. Luckily, the dough still worked great. If your toddler wants to help with some of the easier steps of making the dough, be sure to let him or her! Veronika wasn’t interested though until I pulled the chilled dough from the fridge and set it down, along with a rolling pin and cookie cutters.

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She loved helping roll out the dough with the purple rolling pin!

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I helped her press our heart cookie cutters in hard enough to push all the way through the dough, and showed her how to arrange our hearts on cookie sheets. She was so proud and delighted with all these steps! When there were only a few dough scraps left, I let her continue the play solo while I baked the cookie batches.

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Once the cookies cooled, it was time to decorate! We nixed homemade icing and instead just tinted a can of store-bought vanilla frosting pink with a little food coloring. Veronika was so proud standing at the counter, just like big brother Travis can! She helped frost the cookies…

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…and loved using a spoon to add little white sprinkles.

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Of course all of this was combined with lots of nibbling and taste-testing, making for a happy sugar-fueled morning.

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Mustache Pops

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This Valentine’s card idea from Highlights magazine was so adorable we just had to make it, not only for Travis’s classmates but a few extra for ourselves, too!

To start, find any mustache template online and print out. Mustaches range from very simple to the very curved and curly, and I would caution against the latter unless you really enjoy fine scissor work. We found a mustache with a nice country western vibe and I traced it onto sparkly sticky-back foam (available at craft stores), one for each member of Travis’s class.

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Cut out and then adhere the sticky side to a regular sheet of craft foam (we used red). I needed 2 large sheets to fit 18 mustaches total, 9 per sheet. Cut out around the mustache shape again, this time leaving some of the red visible as trim. Set aside.

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Meanwhile, cut rectangles from pink or red cardstock. I printed out the message “I mustache you to be my Valentine” on regular paper and then glued to the top of each piece of cardstock. If you have a printer that can handle thick cardstock, print directly onto it instead!

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Next, I poked a hole in the center of each mustache with a pin, and then inserted a lollipop stick. Fold the cardstock in half horizontally just slightly and make two snips with scissors near the bottom; this creates slits that the lollipop stick can slot through. Finally, have your child write in each recipient’s name and the mustache pops are ready to go!

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These were adorable on paper, but of course the best part was taking them off the cardstock to sport a lollipop ‘stache. Travis loved looking quizzical and grown-up in his.

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Little sister Veronika was skeptical at first…

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But one lick of watermelon lollilop made her a mustache convert!

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