}

Creative Mail For Kids – 5 Unique Ideas

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Everyone likes to receive happy mail, which is pretty much anything other than a bill.  You can use these ideas to have kids send mail to grandparents, friends, cousins, or pen pals.

Writing letters is a great way for children to practise their writing skills and penmanship in a practical and fun way.  Sending them (by “snail mail”) instead of e-mail is especially fun.  Below are some suggestions for fun and creative mail they can send.

A Homemade Photo Postcard – Take pictures and let the your child turn them into postcards by sticking a white index card onto the back of them.  They can then write a message, fill in the address, put a stamp in the corner and send their personalized postcard.

A Puzzle – Have your child draw a colorful picture on cardboard or thick card stock with a message for a friend or relative.  If the child is old enough, have them cut the picture into puzzle pieces.  If they are too young, you can cut the pieces for them.  Pop the pieces in an envelope and mail to the intended recipient for a very fun greeting card.

Invisible Ink – Have your child write a message or draw a picture in lemon juice on a paper.  Include a note on a separate piece of paper explaining that in order to view the message, the recipient will have to heat the paper up over a candle.  This one is as fun to receive as it is to make.

Secret Code – Your child can write a letter using a secret code.  Be sure that they send a decoder along with the letter of course!

Building Suspense – One idea that can improve your child’s creative writing abilities as well as their desire is to have them write a story and send a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend one chapter at a time.  The recipient will want to know how the story ends and will phone or write to ask the child, who will then feel encouraged in their writing and be spurred on to finish that story and to write others as well.

Add a Sentence – This one is also good for building creative writing skills in your child.  The way it works is that your child writes on sentence or one paragraph (depending on the age and writing level of the child) and sends it to the recipient.  The recipient then adds another sentence or paragraph on to the story and sends it back.  Your child then continues the story from there and this continues back and forth until the story is finished.

Sending and receiving mail is fun for any child (it’s fun for adults too!). If there isn’t a relative that your child can send mail to, consider asking a Senior’s care centre if there is a lonely resident there that your child can send letters to or find a pen pal for your child.

How to Make Your Own Tempura Sauce

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While cooking some tempura shrimp, I casually checked the fridge for the tempura sauce only to discover to my dismay that I could not find it.  I scoured everywhere in my kitchen, but the search was fruitless.  Desperate, I did a quick Google search for tempura sauce recipes, but became increasingly discouraged as the recipes called for things that would take a trip to a specialty grocery store to acquire.  My pantry doesn’t have many authentic Japanese ingredients!  I changed the ingredients to things I could find in my kitchen and tweaked it to suit my tastes.  Given the ingredients, this is not authentic tempura sauce, but it tastes like a good likeness and it can be made in about 5 minutes and with common ingredients that are in most kitchens.

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. white wine

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 Tbsp. minced ginger

Stir ingredients together on low heat for five minutes until they are well blended.

It turned out so well and was so fast and easy to make that I will be making my own tempura sauce from now on instead of buying it.

 

Healthy Lentil Soup

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Saute 1/2 a chopped onion and 1 clove of minced garlic in 1 Tbsp. olive oil for 5 minutes.

Stir in:

4 cups (or more) of vegetable stock

2 cups fresh or canned diced tomatoes

1/3 cup pearl barley

1/3 cup green lentils (known in the real world as split peas)

1/3 cup yellow lentils (known in the real world as split peas)

1 tsp. dried oregano (or more – I never measure spices)

1 tsp. dried basil

2 bay leaves

1 cup of chopped vegetables (whatever you have on hand…carrots, zucchini, celery…)

Simmer, covered for about 45 minutes.  Then add:

1/2 cup or more of sliced spinach leaves

2 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cook for another 15 minutes.  I like to add a bit of hot sauce into my personal bowl for some kick.  This recipe freezes well.

 

Horse Theme Party

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For Miss Optimism’s ninth birthday party, she wanted a horse theme party.  She loves horses, though with her allergies, she cannot actually ride them.  Having two kids with December birthdays is always a challenge, but I was so fortunate this time to have The Ferrari ice the cake for me.  I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to certain things including cake decorating, so when I ice the cakes myself, it can take me anywhere from two and a half to four hours to finish, but as long as someone else is doing it, I don’t much care whether it’s perfect or not, so having him do this for me saved me hours of work.

This was The Ferrari (who is 15)’s very first time ever piping a cake and he did an amazing job!  What an amazing gift for his little sister and for his mom!  This is the finished product:

Decorations were pretty easy.  I had ordered horse plates, napkins, cups, banner, and blowouts.  I didn’t get a tablecloth, as I thought the wood table would be best.  I found a plastic bucket at the dollar store that looked like a tin feeding bucket.  I put the treat bags in the bucket and placed it in the middle of the table to build a centrepiece around.  I propped up some carrots with stalks on the bucket, propped up a foam cowgirl hat, and placed an apple next to that.  So simple, so inexpensive, but it worked well.  I placed little plastic horses on the table, which the party guests were able to take home after the party.

For activities, the girls at the party coloured white cardboard horses and they decorated the foam hat from the centrepiece with foam horse and cowgirl theme stickers.  We played “Trainer Says” which is like “Simon Says” but horse themed so the girls pretended to be horses and I said things like “trainer says swat the flies” or “trainer says trot”.  This went over well.  I had another game planned, but the girls decided to play a make believe barnyard game instead.

For food, I of course served carrots and apple slices and the birthday girl’s request of macaroni and cheese. Here is a picture of the happy birthday girl.

I can still hardly believe that the baby girl who came to us at 4 lbs. 14 oz. is now 9 years old! We love you like crazy muffins Miss Optimism!