}

Arctic Sensory Bottle

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

Discovering how well coconut flakes work as snow inspired me to create an arctic sensory bottle with them. I hadn’t thought of using coconut before but when we found several bags in our pantry that had expired, I didn’t want them to completely go to waste. I saw that they might work as a sensory bin/bag/bottle filler and tried it in our Christmas I-Spy sensory bag. It really did look like snow!

Bring a bit of the North home with this Arctic Sensory Bottle

To create this arctic sensory bottle, fill an empty bottle with the items below.

Materials needed:

  • large empty water bottle (I used a Voss water bottle because I like the shape of them)
  • bag of coconut flakes
  • white feathers
  • plastic snowflakes
  • arctic toob

Arctic Sensory Bottle square

Some of the items from the arctic toob don’t fit into the mouth of the bottle (such as the igloo), so I set those ones aside to use in our arctic sensory bag. It can be easier to layer some coconut and then one or two of the items and then add some more of the coconut before adding other items.

Arctic Sensory BottleOnce all the items are in, add the lid back onto the bottle and your arctic sensory bottle is ready to use for play. If you have younger children, you may want to hot glue the lid in place so that they can’t open it. As with all sensory and exploration activities for kids, adult supervision is of course recommended.

This sensory bottle would be a great addition to a learning unit on the North.

playing with a snowflake discovery bottleSnowflake Sensory Bottle

This Space sensory bottle is naturally weighted. Kids can also use it as an I-Spy activity.Space Sensory Bottle

Crock Pot Freezer Meal Pizza Casserole

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

It’s always hard to get an appetizing picture of a crock pot supper and this was no exception but this casserole is really a kid pleaser! I often make a gluten free version of it, so will be including that in my instructions below. This is another freezer meal to crock pot so it saves time all around.

Crock Pot Freezer Meal Pizza Casserole...it's ugly but kids love it!This is one of the regular meals in my freezer meal rotation. When I make it, I make two or four of these recipes at a time. The recipe below is for one meal, but if you want to make several to freeze, then multiply the ingredients accordingly.

2 cups of cubed ham
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
10 oz. can chopped mushrooms
28 oz. tomato sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 cups small pasta

To make this into a freezer meal, mix all the ingredients except for the pasta in a large resealable freezer bag. Put 2 cups of pasta in a medium sized resealable freezer bag. Seal both and staple them together. Lay flat in the the freezer.

On the day you want to serve it, thaw, put the ingredients from the large bag into the crock pot and cook for 4 hours on low. Cook the pasta on the stovetop and stir into the casserole just before serving.

crock-pot-pizza-casserole-square

To make this gluten free…

To make this gluten free, ensure that you use gluten free ham. Much of the ham sold in stores contains fillers that include gluten so read the labels. Use gluten free pasta. This recipe is very adaptable for those on gluten free diets and we enjoy it just as much with the gluten free pasta.

slow-cooker-pizza-casserole

Other Kid Friendly Recipes…

This recipe is included in our Kid Friendly Freezer Meal Menu Plan. The other recipes are also kid-pleasers and the plan includes printable shopping lists, prep lists and printable labels making it easy to fill your freezer with meals your family will actually eat.

Kid Friendly Freezer Meal Menu Plan

Dollar Store Minute to Win It

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

Our Minute to Win It Family Fun Night was so memorable that I planned another one. This time, I chose to use items from the dollar store to keep within a tight budget. I spent less than $15 for all the supplies.

Dollar Store Minute to Win It Party - so much fun for a family fun night, party, holiday gathering, New Year's Eve, or youth group event.For the decorations, I used our printable Minute to Win It kit which has full instructions for all of the games as well as all the games we played in our original Minute to Win It family fun night.

Minute to Win It Printable Party Pack

The supplies I bought from the dollar store:

  • 2 boxes of kleenex
  • 2 pairs of panty hose
  • 1 pack of plastic cups
  • 1 pack of ping pong balls
  • 1 box of chocolate cookies
  • 1 box of cereal
  • 1 pack of tennis balls

Minute to Win It Games:

Puddle Jumper. To set up for this game, fill three cups with water and line them up, setting a ping pong ball into the first one. The goal of this game is to blow the ping pong ball from one water-filled cup to the next.

Minute to Win It Puddle JumperChocolate Unicorn. All that’s needed for this game are chocolate cookies. Each player gets 10 cookies with the goal of stacking them on their forehead. The resulting stack must remain in place for 3 seconds.

Minute to Win It Chocolate UnicornPonginator. For this game, you will need an empty egg carton and ping pong balls. The goal is to bounce ping pong balls so that 8 of them land in the egg carton within one minute.

Minute to Win It Ponginator

Hanky Panky. This was hilarious to watch! It is more fun as a head-to-head challenge. Each person must sit with one hand behind their back. They must empty all the tissues out of the kleenex box using only one hand as quickly as they can (if head to head) or within one minute.

Minute to Win It Hanky PankyBall Drop. Land three ping pong balls in a single cup while standing on a chair. The trick is to not have the balls bounce out or knock the cup over.

Minute to Win It Ball DropBreakfast Scramble. To set up for this game, you will need to cut the front of a cereal box into pieces. Depending on the size of the cereal box and the age of the people participating in your Minute to Win It challenge, you can either cut the box in 8 or 16 pieces. The goal of the game is to reassemble the puzzle within a minute.

Minute to Win It Breakfast ScrambleElephant March. To prepare for this game, put a tennis ball in the end of a pair of panty hose or put a tennis ball in each leg of a pair of panty hose. Set 8 cups up on the floor to create a walkway. To play, the player must put the panty hose on their head and knock over all the cups by swinging their head from side to side. This is a pretty funny one!

Minute to Win It Elephant March

A note to all the moms out there: maybe you saw this and it just made you feel guilty because it’s one more thing you aren’t doing with your kids. I see you because often, I am you. I don’t want to have the parties or plan crafts or activities to do with the kids unless I have everything I need and can do it nearly perfectly. So years go by while I have the intention of planning a certain activity with my kids and it just doesn’t happen because I’m not organized enough.

This particular Minute to Win It night is a prime example. After our last one was such a success with the kids, I wrote out a plan for this one, every game written out. And my plan sat there for more than a year. One time, I even got a list for the dollar store written out, but then I realized I didn’t have time to bake and decorate a cake and make special food, so again, it didn’t happen. My kids got older, a full year older as my plan got dusty and my guilt grew.

The other day, I decided that we were going to do this but not perfectly. I wasn’t going to wait until my adult kids could get time off work and join us. I wasn’t going to plan any special food or decorate a cake. We were just going to have fun together and build memories.

Your kids get one childhood. You don’t have to make it magical, but you can make it memorable.

You can read more about our printable Minute to Win It party kit here. The supplies you purchased at the dollar store for these Dollar Store Minute to Win It games can be used to recreate almost all of the games from our Family Fun Night Minute to Win It Challenge.

minute-to-win-it-squareThe Flour Game is also tons of fun for the family!

The Flour Game square

Christmas Ice Box Cookies #BecelAd

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

This recipe was sponsored by Becel. I was compensated for writing this, but the opinions are mine and the yumminess of the cookies will be all yours once you’ve baked them!

These Christmas ice box cookies make a wonderful holiday gift.These Christmas ice box cookies are one of my holiday favourites. With the candied cherries and pistachios, they look like bits of Christmas on a plate! Making the dough ahead of time and slicing before baking makes them all very uniform in size which makes them look even prettier.

Christmas Ice Box Cookies Recipe:

1 cup Becel® margarine (*see note below)
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup candied cherries, quartered
1/2 cup currants
1/4 – 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios or other nuts (I use pistachios because of the colour)

*Becel® margarine can replace butter 1:1 in any of your favourite holiday baking recipes for an alternative, and is ready to use straight from the fridge! It has no artificial preservatives, flavours or colours and is made from simple blends of plant and seed oils.

In a large bowl, cream together Becel® margarine and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla.

Stir the flour, baking soda and salt together and mix in. Add the cherries, currants and nuts. Mix and shape into round logs approximately 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs and chill overnight or for a few days. The dough can also be frozen.

When you are ready to bake them, slice the dough thinly. Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet and bake them at 375° for 6-7 minutes (until lightly browned). Cool.

These Christmas ice box cookies made a wonderful homemade holiday gift.Cookies make a perfect homemade holiday gift. According to a recent survey conducted by Becel, 3 out of 4 Canadians agree that DIY gifts are more thoughtful than store-bought gifts.

One of my favourite things about giving baked goods for Christmas is that the making of them is something that my kids can participate in. Granola Girl helped me with every step of making these Christmas ice box cookies from helping me cut the nuts to slicing the dough. I know that she will be beaming when she hands them to our friends and neighbours! 

Becel® helps Canadians #BakewithHeart and Gift with Love this holiday season, offering a single, customizable recipe that guarantees soft & chewy cookies for the ones you love.

christmas-ice-box-cookiesInexpensive ideas for gifting cookies:

  • Place them in a mason jar and wrap ribbon around the lid. Attach a gift tag to the ribbon.
  • Wrap an empty Pringles can with decorative paper and fill with cookies before topping with a bow.
  • Buy a beautiful plate from a second hand store and deliver the cookies on the plate.
  • Place them in a gift bag decorated by your kids.
  • Create a cute paper bag and toothpick pouch.
  • Fill plastic cups and wrap with cellophane and tie with ribbon

Make multiple varieties of cookies at once with Becel’s expert-tested Anything Goes Cookie Dough simply by splitting it and adding your favourite mix-ins to it.

What is your favourite holiday recipe to gift to others?