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A Splash of our Summer…

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this summer went by in record time…it feels like we just put away the snow boots and mittens and here we are gearing up for harvest and inevitably, fall.  I had grand intentions of creating a summer to remember filled with themes and activities and new adventures but I swear I blinked and the calendar said mid-August and I was left feeling dizzied with just how fast June and July left us.  I did manage to check off a few things from our summer bucket list; we had a great time on our camping trip, made it out to the lake a few times, went strawberry picking, made homemade ice cream, set up the kiddie pool in the yard a couple times, had Weiner roasts and made s’mores, set off some fireworks, got to the splashpark in a neighbouring town, and I was able to get in one themed week with my boy…

So if you’re like me and clinging onto the last weeks of summer holidays by your fingernails, here’s some fun and easy ideas to do with your kidlets!  Our “Aquatic Themed Fun” started with an easy paper plate craft.  All you need is a bit of paint (although I’m sure markers or crayons would work too!), a coffee stir stick or popsicle stick, some craft foam and a glue gun.  Create a water and sky scene on your paper plate, make a boat out of craft foam and glue it to the end of your stick.  Cut a wavey path in your paper plate for your boat to ride on and voila! Sea Scene Fun!

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For the next couple days we took some inspiration from one of our favourite books “Pout Pout Fish” and made a paper mâché fish out of a blown up balloon.  We spent the first day making the paper mâché and the second day painting it up to look like a pout pout fish!  Of course, we read the book a few times in between as well, you know, for inspiration!

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Next up we made these sand dollar cookies.  Simple sugar cookie recipe cut into circles and then decorated with cinnamon and sugar and some slivered almonds before baking. Inevitably we also had a bit of an educational afternoon learning a lot about sand dollars since my two year old brought to my attention “what IS it mommy?”.  Did you know that the legend of the sand dollar is that the center is a star imprint and the holes around it create an easter lily.  When broken open it is said that doves of peace can be found and if turned over you can find the design of a poinsettia, the Christmas flower.  We brought our cookies to the lake and shared them with our friends!

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While at the lake we spent the next day on a lakeshore hunt, looking for shells and stones and any other aquatic life!  We came across an opened mussel type shell, a few crayfish skeletons and a couple very large frogs!

The next day we continued on the frog theme (mostly because I couldn’t find any fish gummies!) and we made little jello cups with leap frogs sitting on lily pads on top!  I used gummy frogs and mint leaves and this simple dessert was a really big hit with my little guy!  But then again, jello is ALWAYS a hit at our place!

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The last day we capped off our Aquatic Themed week of Fun with these easy handprint rainbow fish.  All you need is some craft paper, popsicle sticks, sequins, buttons, pom pops, feathers, beads or any other crafty decor items you have laying around.  Cut out your handprints, glue them to a popsicle stick and then decorate them as you wish.  If you’re lucky you’ll even get an impromptu puppet show out of the deal!

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We really had a great time creating fun little activities all under one theme.  (Next summer I hope to do more of this…no promises tho!). Not only did it break up the day a bit for us but we learned lots and I got to see more of my little guy’s creativity shine through and that’s truly my favourite thing to be part of lately!  What kind of summer bucket list items did you check off? There’s still a few more days of joyous weather ahead and I hope to fill them up right to the brim!

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Happy Birthday Canada!

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I am extremely proud to be Canadian and in true patriotic fashion I love nothing more than a good themed party.  It has become a tradition with another family to celebrate our great country on it’s birthday together and this year we celebrated a bit early!  Our kids are the centre of our fun and I know that with each year to come that we continue with this they will only be and have more fun.  We decorated with lots of flags and everything red and white and let the kids be kids all afternoon/evening long.  We gorged on good food and lots of summery sweets, stayed up late roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and later making a big blanket bed on the grass to count stars from.  We sang Oh Canada loud and proud to our kids and we lit sparklers and cracked glowsticks til their hearts’ content.  We wore matching outfits and laughed through multiple group photos to cherish the memories of our second annual Canada Day party!  I for one went to bed extra grateful for the people and country I call home!

Here’s some of our ideas in case you’re looking for something new to add to your own July 1st festivities!…

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Poutine Bar with Homemade Fries

This year we continued with the main menu of a poutine bar but we also added some new and festive ideas…

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Inukshuk Cold Cut Stacks

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Caprese Canadian Flag Platter

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Fruit Kebab Flags

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Maple S’mores

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Goodie Bags for the kids filled with glow sticks, maple cookies, red and white m&m’s, red beaded necklaces and of course, their very own Canadian flag to wave!  Although the weather wasn’t as warm as last year where we filled the kid’s pools and water tables, we still had a bonfire, played bocce ball, shot off fireworks and just genuinely enjoyed the day together.  The kids went to bed full, tired and happy…and hopefully with a bit more of their Nation’s Pride to believe in!

Oh Canada, Our True North Strong and Free!

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Canada Day Pallet Project

 

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This is such a quick and easy way to display pride for our homeland Canadian nation! I spent the morning with my little man and my mom creating these fun pallet projects (and we even had time for coffee and cinnamon biscuits)!

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Brush down your chosen pallet.  Mom used a grey toned one and I chose one of the tan colored pallets with thinner slats.

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Spray paint all slats (except for one on each end) white.  We did two light coats. Then spray the end slats red.

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Using a stencil we made from a large piece of cardboard, spray the iconic maple leaf in the center (two coats for red too). And voila! From drab to fantastically fab in literally under an hour! I put mine at the end of our lane and mom is taking hers to the lake for some festive decor! I swear it is as easy as that!

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Canada 150: wearing our pride

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Canada is celebrating 150 years this year and I am so excited to honour our beautiful country in as many ways as I can!  I am proudly Canadian and exploring all our great nation has to offer is important to me.  From the Rocky Mountains through the beautiful prairies all the way up to the thick tundra and along through our capital city and beyond to the open arms of the East coast Canada is a multitude of wonderful niches.  I have been blessed to have travelled much of Canada and continue to dream about the places I have yet to see.  Our country is diverse in its people as it is diverse in its land.  If you’ve yet to visit this land of plenty, I encourage you to do so!  Consider joining us on July 1st to celebrate Canada’s 150 and wave the maple leaf flag high or get crafty and make up your own Canada Proud shirt!

E and I spent an afternoon creating these adorable shirts to wear for our upcoming festivities.  It’s an easy art project that doesn’t take much time to complete!  I placed some newspaper on the inside of each t-shirt so the paint wouldn’t go through to the backside.  Then I mixed red acrylic craft paint with a textile paint and painted E’s hands and my own.  We placed our handprints in the centre of these plain cotton t-shirts and then painted red solid blocks on either side of our handprints to complete the maple leaf.  Lay the shirts flat until they’re completely dry.  I’ve handprinted other shirts in the past with this paint and they machine wash wonderfully (although I hang dry these special items to prolong the life of the artwork!)

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Last year we made something similar with our handprints with these tin can wind socks.  I cleaned out empty bean cans and cut the bottoms out of them.  I punched holes along the base for streamers and two holes on the top to tie a ribbon through to hang them from.  They made cute festive decorations to hang around our patio and even though I left them out all winter, they’re still hanging and although the cans have slightly rusted you can still see the painting and they are still waving proudly in the breeze!

Stay tuned to see other ways we’re planning to celebrate our favourite country…there’s sure to be plenty of maple, some poutine, lots of red and white, caesars (with pickles), butter tarts,  celebrations with friends and family and more than likely fireworks!

O Canada, Our True North Strong and Free!

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Dad’s Day Delights…

 

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Father’s Day is fast approaching and it’s a well-known fact that THE hardest person to buy for is dear ol Dad!  Why not step away from the tie aisle, put down that “brut” aftershave and try something new for pops…something he’s sure to love…Bacon Jam! (I mean everybody likes bacon right? My husband swears it’s its own food group!)

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I made this batch with a Canadiana flair using a lot of Canada’s finest ingredients…my brother’s very own fresh maple syrup, Crown Royal Canadian whiskey and mustard! Did you know that Canada grows between 75-90% of the world’s supply of mustard seeds…so we DO in fact truly cut the mustard as Canadians! So this could also double as a great Canada Day addition for your festive BBQ (or you may have to make another batch before July 1st because this one is sure to be gone!).

Here’s how you make it:

  • 1 pkg bacon, cut up into ribbons
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cook bacon, once beginning to crisp add the onion, season with salt and pepper.  Cook until onion begins to caramelize. Add the maple syrup.  The bottom of the pot may get dark, don’t panic, this is where the next step comes in.  Add that fine whiskey and breathe it in as you cook this mixture down!  Scrape up all those bits from the pot then stir in the dijon.  I brought in my hand blender at this point and slightly pulse blended the mixture.  Spoon into jars and refrigerate to gift immediately or make ahead and freeze until it’s time!

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I’m sure you’ll find a multitude of ways to consume this yummy treat but here’s a few ideas…burgers, hashbrowns or home fries, atop some nice brie or chèvre and spread onto crackers, on roasted Brussel sprouts or broccoli, mixed into sautéed mushrooms and tossed with fresh spinach for a yummy warm salad, on toast with a thick slice of old cheddar, or right off the spoon!  I’m telling you, nothing says “I love you Dad” like bacon!

**As a side note: check out the cards E and I made for his grandpa and bubba!  I’m obsessed with handprint/footprint gifts and I love to record his growth in these small treasures.  We turned his handprint into a fish “You’re a real catch Bubba” and his footprint into a golf green “You’re a hole in one Grandpa Stew”.  (I’m fairly certain they aren’t reading these blog posts but I’m hoping our gifts remain a surprise…if not luckily there’s a bit more we added to each gift anyways!)