Foodie Friday: Hot Chocolate Bar

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Cookie decorating party

Candy-covered snowman cookie from a cookie decorating party!
M waited until Ms Snow’s frosting had dried to eat her. The ripe age of 7 is when patience kicked in.

Every winter, some time between Christmas and the arrival of spring, my daughters and I host a cookie decorating party. We look forward to this event all year. Even as we’re cleaning up cookie crumbs, frosting and sprinkles, we’re already hatching plans for next year’s extravaganza.

Having hosted this event so many times, we’ve got the prep work pretty well figured out. I bake cookies, make and tint royal icing and transfer it to piping bags, and I put out enough candy to fill a small store in my dining room.

This year I decided to add a hot chocolate bar. I wasn’t sure whether it would be just too much sugar added onto the insanity of cookies and their decorations, but it turned out to be a great hit.

Hot chocolate bar from hdydi.com

I made a gallon of hot chocolate (with whole milk, of course. This is a decadent event.) in my crock pot. Nearby, I set dishes of marshmallows, broken candy canes (although any mint candy would do) and butterscotch chips. I also made a couple of flavoured creamers available. By the time our party was over, the hot chocolate had all been consumed and I’d refilled the marshmallows three times.

Why not try this out at your next winter event? It’s popular with kids and parents alike! You could make a smaller version of this as a special winter treat on a snow day home with the kids.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Cold? Try a Hot Water Bottle

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Today, we’re having the Texas equivalent of a snow day and we’ve busted out our hot water bottle to keep us cosy.

Texas homes, roads and public facilities are optimized for our hot, hot summers. Our cities don’t have the equipment to render frozen roads safe after even a touch of precipitation and our drivers don’t know how to drive on ice-glazed roads.

icyA light sprinkle of sleet and snow results in hundreds of accidents. Schools and universities are closed, so we’re getting an unexpected 3-day weekend.

My daughters decided to investigate what our trampoline would do if used with a nice sheet of ice over it. They had a blast, but were chilled and wet when they came back inside. I had our hot water bottle, named Pish by my 7-year-olds, filled with near boiling water and ready to help them warm up… after they changed out of their wet things.

I’m not quite sure why hot water bottles haven’t taken off in the US. I’ve only lived in California and Texas since moving to this country, so perhaps they’re commonplace further north. I don’t think so, though. When I looked on Amazon, the first product proudly declared itself “made in Germany” and the pricing made me think that you wouldn’t be able to pick one up at the grocery store.

In the UK, I grew up with hot water bottles. They’re just rubber bottles, comparable to fillable ice packs, you can fill with warm to hot water to warm up your bed, car seat or feet. They’re available at your local pharmacy; our Pish was a purchase from the pharmacy down the street from my Mum’s place in London. Most hot water bottles I’ve seen have some sort of fuzzy cover to protect the user from burns and increase the snuggle factor.

Hot water bottle

North American readers, am I just looking in the wrong place? Or have these bottles of happiness really not made it over here?

What’s your secret to being cosy when it’s cold out?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Baby, It's Cold Outside

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This entry is a bit of a crosspost from my own blog.

Happy holidays everyone and best wishes for a happy, healthy and safe 2010!

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Last winter, Tiny and Buba were still under a year old (9-11 months) and not yet walking. Being the germaphobe that I am, combined with the hassle of bundling my infants in the proper winter weather attire and then getting them into the car, out of the car, into the stroller, into our destination, and then all of that in reverse, most days I simply just chose to stay home. Now I know to some that may sound like a cardinal sin. After all, how many times have we heard that the key to staying sane as a stay-at-home mom is to get out of the house? But really, at that point staying at home didn’t bother me. We’d rotate around the house in between naps- playing with toys in the nursery, then jumping in the exersaucer and jumperoo in the kitchen, then out to the living room to play with other toys. The kids were happy (for the most part), so I was too.

Then the spring came. My kids turned one, they were walking fairly well, and I suddenly had a burning desire to get out and go places. Playdates, playground, library, shopping plaza- it didn’t really matter where. I just wanted to get out. So we did. And soon it became part of our routine to go somewhere between the end of morning nap and lunchtime. The kids got used to it, and I did too.

But a two weeks ago we had a day where I just couldn’t do it. We were experiencing a wet, wintery mix that just made our daily field trip suddenly not at all worth it. Now Buba didn’t really seem to care that we weren’t going out, but Tiny knows our routines by heart and it didn’t take her long to figure out what was going on, and subsequently, to begin melting down. The standard toys for everyday play just weren’t cutting it, so I had to get creative. Luckily, I had some things stashed away that totally saved the day…

1: Sunglasses from last summer

glasses1

glasses3

glasses2

Tiny’s glasses no longer had lenses (in fact, I’m pretty sure the lenses popped out the very first time she wore the glasses last June), but she didn’t seem to care. Even as I gave them both their sunglasses, I expected that they would rip them off immediately and then cry for me to put them on again. While that did happen a time or two, I was quite impressed that, for the most part, they enjoyed playing while wearing the glasses for a good 20 minutes. Somehow the glasses made those everyday toys more fun again.

2: Connect Four

game

This is not something I every would have thought of on my own. But Buba’s occupational therapist has one of these games and uses it to help him improve his fine motor skills. So T brought this one home from his classroom. Tiny loves hearing the plink when the game pieces fall to the bottom, so this was another 20 minutes or so of indoor fun.

3: The Tunnel

tunnel

We picked this tunnel up at a yard sale over the summer. It’s suppose to connect to a playhut, but the kids have more fun just crawling through the tunnel by itself. It’s only 4 or 5 feet long, so completely doable in our living room. This was also tons of fun for 10 to 15 minutes.

And last, but not least…

4: Snowblowers

snowblowers

We may be the only homeowners on our street who do not own a snowblower. The noise combined with the spraying snow, made it completely fascinating to watch the neighbors snowblow their driveways. And this allowed me just enough time to make lunch.

I certainly hope we don’t have too many inside-all-day days this winter, but it’s nice to know that we can survive (and even have fun!) without getting out of the house.

So what do you do to keep the kiddos happy when you have to stay inside all day?

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reanbean is a stay at home mom to 21 month old boy/girl twins. You can now read more about reanbean, Tiny, and Buba at reanbean.com.

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When it's too cold for the sandbox

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Well, hello there!  Everyone waking up from the extended upheaval that is the month of December? Ah, the Monday after the holidays.  Back to work, back to routines… and April seems oh-so far away.

swings in the snowOn the plus side, my kids seem quite undeterred by cold and snow.  They would be quite pleased to just keep on playing on the swingset in the backyard, even if it’s coated in 3-4 inches of snow.  And sometimes, we do.  We pack on the puffy jackets, snowpants, and boots, and out we go.  But sometimes I just can’t handle all of the cold-and-snow prep, and it’s too cold and nasty.  So I’ve had to find some new indoor activities for my all-over-the-place 17-month-olds.

If it were summer, it seems they’d be at the prime age to start playing with sand and water tables.  We used an indoor version during one of the classes we took in the fall, and it was a big hit.  But I don’t have the table or the space or the patience for water all over my floors.

rice boxInstead, I share with you the biggest hit of the last few days with my kids: the rice box.  It’s not a new concept, not by a long shot, but I figured I’d put it out there for anyone in need of an idea.  Some people use rice, some use dried beans.  But it’s a fun way to play with texture and scooping and all of that.  And much easier to clean up than sand.  All you need is a wide, shallow rubbermaid container.  Throw in some inexpensive dry rice or pasta or beans, and add some good scoopers.  Measuring cups, sippy cups whose tops have long since disappeared, or anything else.  If possible, put a sheet or tarp underneath it for easier cleanup.

Will the kids keep every grain of rice inside the box?  No.  Will you have to supervise closely to minimize destruction and prevent the kids from eating it? Yes.  Will you have to unclench and accept the fact that the rice will still escape the area and require immediate vacuuming upon completion of the activity?  Yes.

rice box mess

But hey, it keeps them entertained for 5-10 minutes, so I’ll take it.

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