Dec 12

During the Holidays: Teach Your Kids How To Bake Safely

Besides taste-testing baked goods and treats during the busy holiday baking season, children also love to get their hands dirty and participate in the baking and cookie making process. Whether it’s helping mom frost her latest batch of red velvet cupcakes for her work holiday party or learning the family recipe for candy cane squares from dad, baking is a creative outlet that many children enjoy during the holiday season.

When working in the kitchen with children, holiday season or not, it is extremely important to discuss safety tips for everyone to keep in mind while whisking and rolling. Here, registered dietitian and baking enthusiast Cara Rosenbloom shares safety tips that every parent should teach their little ones.

Wait ’til they’re baked. 

It’s important to teach your little ones exactly why they shouldn’t taste test any uncooked baked goods. When baking for the holidays, it is likely that you’re using raw ingredients, like eggs. Remember that flour is also a raw ingredient that has been minimally processed and should not be consumed unless baked or cooked.

Keep hands and counters clean.

Good hygiene is very important in the kitchen. Before, during and after baking anything this holiday season, make sure everyone involved is washing their hands and properly cleaning any counter or table tops that have come into contact with raw ingredients. This includes any surfaces where cookie dough has been rolled out and cut into snowflakes or snowmen shapes.

Supervise children.

While your child might want some independence in the kitchen and bake their own version of family-favourite gingerbread angel cookies, it’s important that they understand some baking tasks are best left for adults. Whether it’s dealing with a hot oven or plate or even a sharp knife, little hands should be kept away from these risky recipe steps.

Visit for a fun and informative infographic detailing the flour-making process and additional safe handling tips for using flour when baking.

Oct 01

Happy October!

But I remember more dearly autumn afternoons in bottoms that lay intensely silent under old great trees

-C. S. Lewis

May 10

How to Detoxify Your Home for Spring

Purging our homes of winter dust and gunk is a refreshing way to welcome the season. But to help you go beyond cleaning, Michelle W. Book, in-house holistic nutritionist at the Canadian Health Food Association, says there are three chemical-laden hotspots in your home to look out for. These areas need a detox even more than you do after a winter’s worth of comfort foods and hibernation.


There are a few glaring targets in your bathroom that are easy enough to flag for spring cleaning: toilet, sink, bathtub. But what many people forget to detoxify is their cosmetics cabinet. The average woman wears over 500 chemicals, courtesy of various personal hygiene and cosmetic products, many of which are not only harmful for our environment but can also be hazardous to your health. Be sure to get rid of anything containing BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), which have hormone disrupting effects and have been linked to carcinogen compounds. Replace them with natural, toxin-free alternatives. Coconut oil is a great way to condition your hair or moisturize your skin and also contains natural microbial and antibacterial agents.


Did you know that nearly 75,000 different chemical ingredients are found in common household cleaners like dish soaps and all-purpose cleaners? These can leave toxic residues on the surfaces you clean, including countertops and dishes, exposing you and your children to many unwanted substances.

Start by disposing of products which contain MEA, DEA, TEA and ammonia. The best way to avoid contact with these toxins is to simply opt for greener alternatives. You can find a wide variety of effective and environmentally-friendly household cleaning products at your local CHFA member health food retailer.

Laundry room.

When your clothes come out of the laundry, how clean are they really? Laundry detergents remove stains and dirt from our clothes, but your skin absorbs over 60 per cent of what’s put on it, including chemical residues from detergents that end up in the fabric of your clothes. Chemicals commonly found in detergents include chlorine, a skin irritant; phosphates, which promote algal blooms that kill aquatic life; and trisodium nitrilotriacetate, which can re-dissolve heavy metals in our waterways.

Using just baking soda, liquid castile soap, and coarse salt is a great alternative. Find this DIY recipe and other ways to make your own clean products online at

Oct 01

Fall Birthday Party Ideas


Incorporate the Season into Your Special Party

Fall is the ideal time for throwing an outdoor birthday party since the weather is crisp and kids are eager to spend time with their friends outside of school. Today, parents are fortunate to have more options for kids’ parties than ever before that go far beyond the classic at-home bash. As you plan your child’s birthday party, keep these ideas in mind to provide an exciting celebration that is perfect for kids of all ages and will provide everyone with an opportunity to form beautiful birthday memories.


Celebrate the Gorgeous Colors of Fall at Your Child’s Party

Host a Fall Festival

The fall season just screams excitement for kids since it means they can play outside. While the weather is nice, consider planning an outdoor party that includes the best parts of the season. For example, a petting zoo can complement a farm-themed party, or you could plan an activity that lets younger kids engage in dramatic play as they pedal through an outdoor village. From planting pumpkin seeds to painting a farm animal puzzle, you can easily incorporate the fall into your party’s theme.


Enjoy a Fall Sack Race

Kick Off a New Season with a Sports Activity

For many parents, one of the biggest challenges of planning a birthday party for their son or daughter is directing all of that youthful energy into wholesome activities. Fortunately, planning a party that revolves around your kid’s favorite sport easily solves this problem. From soccer to gymnastics, you can ensure that every guest will be excited to indulge in their favorite sport while in the company of their friends. This idea is especially popular for families whose guest list includes members of their kid’s sports team.


Have a Blast with Laser Tag

Have a Blast with Laser Tag

Older kids may have outgrown clowns and princess parties, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun. Laser tag is a popular activity for kids today that hits a new level when they have enough space to run and hide from their friend’s blasts. Whether they play on teams or take an every-kid-for-themselves approach, this is one activity that is certain to be a hit.

Conquer a Climbing Wall

Conquer a Climbing Wall

Conquer a Climbing Wall

Birthday parties are a great opportunity to present kids with challenges and a climbing wall is far more impressive than a round of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. When planning a rock-climbing wall experience, however, it is important to choose a venue with a proven track record for using safe equipment and having qualified staff on hand to assist with the activity. With those safety measures in place, your guests can use their problem-solving skills and strength to master new levels of challenge at your party.

A Few Pieces of Construction Paper and some Fall Leaves Can Lead to Endless Possibilities

A Few Pieces of Construction Paper and some Fall Leaves Can Lead to Endless Possibilities

Create a Craft

While the fall offers beautiful weather, it is also important to plan activities that can be enjoyed indoors. Making fun crafts is a great way to stimulate conversation while keeping your guests entertained. From bottle cap necklaces to duct tape art and painted pottery, your guests can show off their creativity while making keepsakes that double as favors for after the party is over.

Birthday party planning is much easier when you have a variety of ideas in mind from which to choose to make your kid’s special day memorable. From making a beaded bracelet to mastering a climbing wall, fall offers amazing opportunities to let each guest know that they are truly appreciated while allowing them to indulge in fun. So this fall give your child an experience tailored to fit their personality and interests and your party is guaranteed to be a success.


Let your kids experience birthday party fun at Maplewood Summer Day Camp. Experienced staff will keep your child both safe and busy with arts and crafts, games, water sports, gymnastics and more. Visit the site at to see the fun your child will have at Maplewood Summer Day Camp.

Article Source:

Aug 21

Encouraging Reading: Your Toddler

It has been a while since I first wrote about encouraging reading in your infant and I thought it was about time that I get back to this series in case there were some of you waiting for me to get on with it.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am a big fan of reading. Life wouldn’t be the same if I couldn’t curl up with a good book or two or three. My husband is always shaking his head because I will read several books at a time and I used to keep a book for each level of the house (or room). A book upstairs for when I wanted to read in bed, a book in the living room for when I was relaxing, a book in the baby’s room so I could read while I rocked him and a book in my oldest son’s room so I could read while he fell asleep. My husband has never understood that although I could get up and retrieve the current book from a location, it was difficult to get up with a cranky baby and search for a book. Having several on the go made it much easier to read along to the flow of life without disrupting other people’s routines.

Yep, not too obsessed with books and reading and thankfully my kids are almost as bad as I am.

As many of you know, the toddler stage is the age where mimicking begins and many children will continue with mimicking for many years. It is important that you demonstrate excellent reading habits, even at such a young age. It has been proven that parents who read will have children who enjoy reading as well. It is important for both mom’s and dad’s to read. In regards to boys, having dad read is an excellent way to teach boys that it can be an enjoyable past time for men and women.

Now that I have you reading, let’s look at having your toddler reading. Below are a few tips:

  • Read every day: Set up a time that you read with your child everyday. I liked to have free time each day where my kids could bring me a book to read and I would stop whatever I was doing (usually housework) to read a story. I also had a set time where I would read for 15 minutes. This was always the bedtime story and it not only laid the foundation for reading but it also settled them down for sleeping.
  • Picture books: Picture books are very important at this stage. Children can look at pictures to decipher the story while you read it. This will build on imagery and on creating stories of their own.
  • Nursery Rhymes: Finger Plays and nursery rhymes may not have a book associated with them but singing little songs and nursery rhymes will help your child develop an interest in stories and rhythm.
  • Turn the book: One of the key ingredients to reading is having the pages facing the right way. Watch your child while she flips through a book and take a moment to turn it so the book is right-side up.
  • Point to the words: Like the little bouncy ball following the words on a sing-along, your finger teaches a child that reading is from left to right. He will begin to follow your finger, taking in the words that you are saying and eventually, he will start remembering the words that you point to.

Reading at this stage can be filled with a lot of trials and tribulations. Children may have a shorter attention span than before and with all the new things to explore, they may not want to sit down for a moment. It is important to make reading a part of your daily schedule and another layer of foundation will be added to your child’s reading development.

-Sirena Van Schaik

Copyright © Uteki

Jul 18

Summer Science Education – 5 Tips For Parents to Promote Science With Their Children

summer-science-educationSummer is on the way and school is almost over. How do we keep our children interested in science during these warm months when learning is the last thing on their mind?

Stock up on Educational Toys. Educational toys are a great way to keep children learning all summer long. Rock and mineral kits, butterfly nets, and model dinosaurs are fun toys that children love to play with and rarely notice that they are learning in the process.

Ask Questions. Ask your children simple questions as you play during the summer. Why do you think the baseball comes back down after you throw it up in the air? How many legs do you see on the caterpillar? Why do you think that rock has stripes? Help your children look up the answers that they do not know either in a dictionary or on the computer.

Bake Together. Baking is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about experimenting. Baking cookies or a cake requires that children measure and mix just like many science experiments. They exercise their math and science skills simultaneously. You can even use the baking process to explain how sedimentary and igneous rocks turn into metamorphic rocks through high heat.

Take a Nature Walk. You do not have to live in the countryside to take a nature walk. Nature is all around you from grass fields to forests, from ball parks to city sidewalks. Walk around the neighborhood with your children and see how many signs of nature you can find. Take a notebook to write about your findings and the animals you see. A small collection bag can be great for holding rock and leaf samples. When you get home, see how many of your samples you can identify using books or computer resources.

Visit the Zoo or Science Museum. Take a trip to the closest zoo or science museum to allow your children to experience science in person. Summer trips can spark new interests in animals, ecosystems or rock types. Have your children take a journal and write about their favorite exhibits. Another great way to continue learning is to have the children write an adventure story about the exhibits that they saw with them as the star scientist!

Remember, no matter what you do this summer, science is all around you. Just take a minute to look and enjoy.

For more information about rock and mineral kits for children and the science of geology visit Mini Me Geology on the web.

Tracy Barnhart, a professional geologist, is the owner of Mini Me Geology, a divison of Giverny, Inc. Find out more about geology, rock and minerals for children by contacting Tracy at 888.886.2197 or visiting our website

Article Source:

Jul 09

Fairy Tea Party Planning, Ideas, Recipes, and Games

herbal tea with chamomileFairy tea parties are fun for the young & the young at heart. Little girls love tea parties and adding fairies to your theme makes them all the more delightful.


Let your creativity flow for invitations.

  • You can add scrapbooking embellishments, glitter or sequins to computer printed invitations, or create your own by hand.
  • There are a various styles of large sized cookie cutters that can be used as a template. Make them in the shape of butterflies, flowers or teapots.
  • Use a pretty scrapbook paper or paper doilies and add scrapbook embellishments.
  • You can include an individual tea bag along with the invitation.

Be sure to give your guests enough advanced notice so they won’t miss out on the fun.


The sky is the limit on frilly decorations.

  • Use a pretty lace tablecloth on the table, sprinkle silk rose petals upon the table to make it more inviting for the flower fairies.
  • Hang colorful nylon butterflies or dragonflies from your chandelier or in windows. Fairies are said to often disguise themselves as dragonflies.
  • Tie bows or fairy wings to your chair-backs.
  • Decorate liberally with real flowers or things from nature, berries, acorns, leaves etc.
  • You can also make old fashioned paper tissue flowers.
  • Of course you will need a pretty porcelain teapot along with teacups & saucers. Maybe you have your grandmother’s vintage teapot or cups & saucers. Many are readily available at your local thrift stores. Mix & Match is fine for fairy tea parties.

Fairy_tea_Party_Flowers_From_GardenIf you have a cherished family heirloom you may want to avoid using with small children as accidents to happen!

Place a paper doily liner between cup & saucer for a special touch. Use real linen napkins or any of the many beautiful paper napkins now available. Make paper napkin rings or fashion some from silk flowers.

You can make pretty place cards that match the theme of your invitations. For serving pieces mix & match silver serving pieces, crystal & china platters, pedestal cake plate, sugar & creamer. Sugar tongs can add a touch of class to your party.

Don’t forget to set a small table at your tea party for the fairies. Use a miniature tea set or make a fairy set using leaves for plates & acorn tops for cups. Tradition says that fairies are attracted to bowls of milk, barley, cake, sprinkles & glitter.

Fairy_Tea_Party_Breanna___Rachel~ TEA & REFRESHMENTS ~

Have a variety of flavored tea available. There are fruity & flavored varieties that may be more appealing to children.


  • You can also serve pink lemonade or even ginger ale from a teapot for those that really don’t want to try the tea.
  • Have sugar cubes rather than granulated sugar, kids just love them. You can even buy decorated sugar cubes.
  • Tea sandwiches are a must, so make a variety of shapes & styles. Kids love pinwheel mini sandwiches. Between 2 pieces of wax paper flatten bread out with a rolling pin, spread with favorite topping, peanut butter, jelly etc. Roll up into a log shape & slice. Cut crust less bread in to any fancy shape with a cookie cutter.
  • For fillings try chicken salad, cream cheese with thinly sliced cucumbers, peanut butter & bananas, or flavored cream cheese. For Fairy sandwiches use butterfly cookie cutter, thinly spread butter or cream cheese on single slice of bread, cover in sprinkles. Don’t forget fairies are attracted to sprinkles.

Simple Recipe For Petit Fours

  • Purchase 2 store bought pound cakes.
  • Cut your cakes into 1″ squares, insert toothpick in center & freeze for 30 minutes.
  • Purchase milk chocolate, semi sweet chocolate, white chocolate or colored flavored candy melting pieces.
  • Melt in microwave according to package directions.
  • Holding each cake square by toothpick dip in melted chocolate & set on a plate or tray.
  • Remove toothpick.
  • Decorate with sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, marzipan flowers, or nuts.
  • Pop into freezer for just a minute or so to harden chocolate.
  • Serve on tidbit tray or footed cake plate.



  • Be Sure To Sing A Round of “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Try a variation on the memory game played at many showers. Fill a pretty silver tray with tea or fairy related items (tea bag, sugar cube, spoon, tea strainer, flower petal etc) Have someone walk through the room & let guests look at tray. After the person leaves the room the guests will write down as many of the items as they can remember. Guest with the most correct wins.
  • Traditional musical chairs is always a hit. Decorate the chairs with paper cut-out teapots Have a dress up box with boas, pearls, hats, costume jewelry & even fairy or butterfly wings.
  • Kids love playing BINGO. I purchased a FAIRY BINGO set at a local craft store. For prizes girls love inexpensive costume bracelets & beaded necklaces, faux pearls, fairy stickers, bubbles or hair barrettes.


Everyone loves to take home a favor in memory of the wonderful time they had at the tea party. These items available at Nanalulus Linens:


  • Sweet demitasse spoons, decorated with hearts, roses or teapots.
  • Battenurg Lace Parasols & Fans
  • Lace sachets and Linen Gift Bags
  • Embroidered handkerchiefs.

I made charming Fairy Dust Bags for my granddaughters. Fill a small organza bags with iridescent glitter. I added beads to mine & included a small acrylic heart so their wishes would be filled with love.

Fairy-Dust-2Make individual sachets, paper fans or pretty fairy wands. Cut out paper stars decorate with glitter & curling ribbon & attach to a 12″ piece of small wooden doweling.

Fairy_Tea_Party_MichelleAuthor: Luanne Reilly Oda

Mar 07

Essential Tips for Building a Soapbox Car with Your Kids

Soapbox Car 1Looking for an entertaining and educational project you can do with your kids? Ever heard of a soapbox derby? Back in the day, soapbox derbies were a popular activity among adolescents. The actual soapbox cars were typically made from apple crates and roller-skate wheels. With good construction and the help of gravity, soapbox cars can travel upwards of 45 kilometres per hour, so driving skills are needed.

Founded on the art of creativity and imagination, soapbox cars are a great way to teach your child how to build something from the ground-up.

Here are some essential tips to help you build your derby car:

Find a local race

Conduct some research to see if there’s an upcoming race in your area that you can participate in. If there isn’t one in your area, rally your neighbours and organize a block race.

Soapbox Car 2Make a plan

Soapbox cars can take some time to build so start by making a plan. Draft up a list of materials you want for your car and start researching where you can get them. Plan to spend a couple days pulling together your desired materials and then… start building.

Get creative

You can use virtually anything including bike tires, wooden crates or a steering wheel from an old toboggan. And the best places to find these items can be your garage, farmers’ markets or garage sales.

Soapbox Car 3Safety

Before you take your first test ride, make sure you have safety equipment on hand, such as elbow and knee pads, long sleeve shirts and pants, in addition to a bike helmet.

Equip yourself with the proper clothing

You’ll likely be spending quite a bit of time working on your car in your garage or backyard. To combat the fluctuating temperatures during the spring months, make sure to dress appropriately. Try the FarWest Zip Off pant (available at which easily transitions from pants to shorts in a matter of one zip.

Start your engine and make special memories with your children with this unique project.

Mar 07

Parenting 101: How to Know if My Baby Is Teething?

TeethingThe teething process is not the same for every baby. For one, cutting a tooth can happen overnight without pain or discomfort, while another child might have to endure a long, drawn out and painful experience. Unfortunately, teething troubles can lead to sleep deprivation and irritability for both babies and parents.

All parents can agree that it is tough to watch your little one suffer through this painful process, but there are things you can do to help. The first step is to find out if your baby is really teething or if the discomfort is a sign of another problem. Here are the signs to look for:

Crankiness/fussiness – Pain from teething can make your baby more irritable than usual. Cuddles, kisses and extra love will help calm them down.

Restlessness/trouble sleeping – Teething is a painful process that can keep your baby awake at night. Encourage them to stick to a bedtime routine and provide comfort when they are unsettled.

Swollen gums – Red gums are a surefire sign of teething. Try gently rubbing your clean finger over their gums for soothing results.

Refusal to feed – Sore or swollen gums can make the feeding process painful for your baby. If they have started eating solid foods, try giving them a cold apple puree or plain yogurt.

Excessive drool – While all babies drool a little bit, teething can often result in a very wet chin, making it sore. Try to dab it with a soft tissue as often as you can.

What to do about it:

To make things easier once teething is confirmed, a homeopathic medicine like Camilia that is adapted for babies aged from one to 30 months and free of dyes, preservatives and sugar is a good option for a parent to try.

The pre-measured unit makes it convenient to carry in diaper bags seeing as they are ready to use when needed. It is an effective solution for soothing painful gums, restlessness, irritability and diarrhea due to teething.

Keep in mind, these homeopathic medicines may not be right for everyone, always read and follow the label.

More information on teething is available at

Mar 07

Tips and Tricks for Coping with a Colicky Baby

colicky babyAny new parent will tell you that there is almost nothing more unnerving than a baby that won’t stop crying. Those glass-shattering howls that keep parents up at night can make it seem like your baby is inconsolable and can be a difficult challenge for exhausted new parents to face.

Colic is one of the great mysteries of baby life, and no one knows why some babies have it and others don’t.

To help you determine if your child has colic, here are some common signs:

• Loud crying, often for two to three hours and the baby can’t be comforted. • Crying at roughly the same times, either late in the afternoon or night, and usually once or twice a day.• The baby pulling his feet up under his body and clenching his fists.• The baby’s stomach rumbling severely and producing a lot of gas.

Here are some tips and tricks to consider:

Swaddle your baby

This technique of wrapping your infant in a cozy blanket can help them feel safe and secure. Try swaddling them during feedings or wrapping them up before a usual colicky period so they feel comforted.

Buy a remedy

One solution for sleep-deprived parents is Cocyntal, a homeopathic medicine from Boiron used to relieve abdominal pain, cramps, spasms and intestinal gas in babies one to six months of age. The water-based formula contains no sugar, dyes or preservatives so it is gentle on the baby’s developing digestive system.

Stay prepared on the go

Single, drinkable unit doses and easy-to-carry pouches of treatments like Cocyntal are simple to administer and mean you will not be fumbling when you’re out for a walk looking for spoons or measuring cups.

Go for a drive

The movement, noise and vibration of a car can be very soothing for a baby. Buckle them into their car seat and go for a drive for a change of scenery. New signs, sights, sounds and smells can be a distraction and even help them fall asleep. Sounds and music from the radio can help calm your baby and you as well.

Ease a gassy stomach

While gas doesn’t cause colic, it’s something that many colicky babies suffer from. Gently massage your baby’s tummy in a circle to ease the pain and pressure. Also remember to burp your baby often.

Keep in mind, this homeopathic medicine may not be right for everyone, always read and follow the label. More information and tips on how to relieve colic symptoms is available at the “Homeopathic Medicine Finder” App at