Breakfast on a Stick

It’s a truism that food on a stick just tastes better, right? This fun tweak on weekend brunch is perfect for little kids; even preschoolers can help assemble the items onto the skewers, once you’ve prepared all the different foods. If you’re worried about little ones pricking their fingers, considering using straws instead of kebab sticks.

Our breakfast stick included:

Berries

Mini waffles

Vegan breakfast sausage

Just Egg

Sweet potato tots

Drizzle with maple syrup as the finishing touch.

Winter Flower Garden

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Snow is always a bit less fun after that initial fluffy white turns to muck and slush outside. Here’s one beautiful way to bring the snow play indoors and prolong the fun!

The first step is to scoop some relatively fresh snow onto a tray and bring it inside. Next, simply set out the snow along with mini flower pots and a few flowers. (Note: You can use fake ones or real but we chose the latter to add a hint of future spring to a frigid day!).

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The kids loved filling the little pots and making pretty arrangements.

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There’s the added tactile element of playing with cold snow in a cozy indoor room.

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In fact, the kids thought the little flower pots were so cute that they continued playing with flowers and pots long after our indoor snow had melted!

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Celebration Sponge Cake

A sleety winter day had us craving a colorful celebration inside, so Veronika threw a birthday party for her stuffed animals!

To make a cake worthy of this celebration, we started with kitchen sponges. I cut them into triangles that could be stacked into a “layer cake”. Our cake was two layers high, but you can make yours three or four layers tall for a big splash!

For frosting, we colored pieces of paper and glued on top; triangles cut from colorful craft foam would work great, too. Small pieces of sponge were perfect for sprinkles on top, and Veronika was so proud to squeeze out the glue all by herself and press these down.

For a rim of frosting, I suggested we add cotton balls, but Veronika declared these too fluffy. Our candles were snipped pieces of straw with a little bit of yellow sponge sticking out from the top for the flame. I think her turtle loved his cake!

She kept so busy with this even after I stepped aside, gluing down small pieces of sponge continuing the fiesta. Thanks to her latest issue of High Five magazine for this neat idea!

Snow Fun for Little Kids

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As a big kid, Travis loves big drifts of snow (more on that later!), but all that powdery white stuff can be a bit intimidating for little sister Veronika. Here are a few fun ways we played off our patio when we got the first storm of the season!

First, carve out a maze. Use a wide shovel to make paths through the snow, bonus points if they connect in multiple ways…

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…or go up a hill! This allowed Veronika to safely tramp around without being up to her knees in the stuff!

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Next, we made a snowman with a twist. Pile a little snowman together, then use the accessories from a Mr. Potato Head to add features.

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She loved the cuteness of this, and how easily she could poke the eyes and other items into the snow.

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Next up, it was time for some sneaky snow science. Make a big mound of snow, then hollow out a crater in the center. We dumped in baking soda (nearly a full box), followed by a few drops of red food coloring.

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When the kids are ready, add white vinegar and watch it explode.

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Travis also loved filling in the crater of the volcano, after!

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As for those big kids, the bigger the hill the better! We got a head start thanks to the neighborhood snowplow, then piled on extra snow so Travis could be king of the mountain!

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Family Movie Night Smorgasbord

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Chances are that at some point between Christmas and New Years, you’re going to want a family movie night, especially now that quarantines and closures are (alas) back in vogue. Here’s the perfect spread to make the night feel extra special no matter what movie is playing!

To build our smorgasbord, we relied on suggestions from Parents magazine to fill out food in four categories. All of our options below were vegan.

Smorgasbord (5)Salty:

  • Thin pretzels
  • Tortilla chips
  • Popcorn

Sweet:

  • Chocolate candies
  • Dark-chocolate raisins
  • Red licorice

Hot:

  • Spanokopita
  • Corn dogs
  • Cauliflower bites

Spreads:

  • Ranch dip
  • Marinara sauce
  • Yellow mustard
  • Hummus

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Don’t forget the holiday napkins!

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Veronika loved checking out all the offerings.

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Mix, match, and let everyone choose what they want to eat! As for the movie, some favorites around here include: Home Alone, The Polar Express and The Happy Elf. Or, if it’s just the grownups watching, we’ll probably be screening It’s a Wonderful Life and Die Hard!

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Yarn Ornaments

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These pretty homemade ornaments are easy enough for even preschoolers to help put together. The resulting gift-shaped decorations also make – hint hint – a great gift for friends or relatives!

To start, cut squares out of cardboard (which is also a great way to reuse boxes from holiday deliveries). You could also cut out different shapes like circles or stars, but I found that the squares were the easiest for Veronika to help wrap, whereas stars were a bit tricky.

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Use a glue stick or glue dot to make the center of each square sticky, then simply begin wrapping with yarn. We found a pretty one that changed from shades of red to pink to white and back again, which made us think of holiday candy canes!

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Keep wrapping until the squares are thickly covered and the cardboard doesn’t show. Use a second strand of yarn to tie a bow around the center, a neat little gift ready to go under the tree! Or in this case, on it.

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A final loop of yarn works perfectly to hang these from the nearest bough.

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Chewy Chocolate Coconut Treat

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Our original plan was to bake a chocolate mochi treat, using a recipe from Veronika’s latest High Five magazine, but we couldn’t find sweet rice flour at the store. In a pinch, we tried coconut flour and up with this delicious chocolatey treat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 vegan eggs
  1. In a bowl, combine the coconut flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
  2. Add the coconut milk, vanilla, and vegan eggs of choice, stirring to combine; the batter will be thick.
  3. Pour into an 11×7-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let cool completely, then cut into squares to serve.

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We left our treat plain, but a dusting of powdered sugar would be pretty on top!

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Dry-Erase Window Decorations

Whether you’re snowed in or rained, you can help a dreary day become a little more colorful with this simple trick: wipe-clean window decorations that will help make the day sparkle!

To start, I outlined a few “frames” on our glass patio door with masking tape, just waiting for each section to contain a work of art by the kids. I then set out a set of dry-erase markers in a variety of colors.

Veronika immediately wanted to decorate, especially when I drew one little “snowflake” to spark her creative juices. She told me she was drawing more snowflakes, presents, and more!

She was a busy artist at this unique “canvas” for quite a while.

Pretty soon, big brother Travis trotted over. He proudly added a few drawings of his own, including stick figures and writing the kids’ names.

Leave the decorations up to brighten any day. When you decide it’s time to clean up, the dry-erase markers wipe off easily with a damp paper towel.

Paper Ball Owls

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This cute project comes together in a pinch; just save a few pages of the weekend news and you’ll have a snowy winter owl in no time!

To start, I invited Veronika to help me crumple up a few sheets of newspaper, a delight for the sensory feel and the auditory crinkle.

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Next, we covered each ball with a sheet of white paper, turning them into snow owls. Secure with a rubber band and either trim off the excess paper or leave on as little tail feathers.

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We used bottle caps as the eyes, adhering with sglue sticks. For the pupils and beak, we colored paper with markers first, then cut out circles for the former and a triangle for the latter. Felt would work, too!

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Finally, the owl needed wings! Help your child cut two wing shapes from an additional sheet of newspaper, and glue on.

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Veronika loved making this little fellow fly and hoot! Thanks to High Five magazine for the cute prompt!

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Cheese Bites

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The ever-expanding non-dairy cheese aisle is truly exceptional these days. To wit, we followed along with suggestions for cheese and snack pairings in Veronika’s latest issue of High Five, and managed to make them all vegan! These were fun to make as little “recipes”, too, since even the youngest kids can help out arranging slices of cheese and fruit on a plate for a mid-day snack.

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The kids tested out the following:

  • Colby jack (Violife) with red grapes and celery
  • Cheddar (Daiya) with apple slices and Tofurky
  • Soft cheese (Treeline) with red bell pepper and peaches
  • Gouda (Daiya) with pears and kiwi slices
  • Mozzarella (Miyoko’s Creamery) with Spanish olives
  • Feta (Follow Your Heart) with cucumber

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The winner? Hands-down it was the apple and cheddar. Meanwhile, olives and mozzarella got a big thumbs down. Do your kids have a favorite non-dairy cheese? Please share in the comments!

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