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Borax is my friend.

Ted (3yo) made this sun catcher with Borax

Ted (3yo) made this sun catcher with Borax

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What better way to push myself back into blogging then a small giveaway? Nothing!

So today I bring you a post about what I do with Borax, and why you need to try it.

Yes, my blog is about making my kids cook for me, but we do so much more then that (and no kitchen companies have offered me things to review!) including crafts, saving money, and going green. We do all of these things with Borax!

Its a product I saw Pinterest a few times and figured it was in the “too expensive or complicated” category. Once I found it right there in the laundry aisle at my grocery store, for a low price, my ideas changed! I initially bought some to attempt to make my own laundry detergent. It was a huge success, I was shocked how easy it was to do. You can find the directions on my Pinned it…Did it board on Pinterest.

Then I read the box. Borax is 100% natural, with no added chemicals. It softens my water (a huge deal for me!!) and makes my laundry soap more effective. Its uses are many, and I love it!! I even add 1/4 cup of Borax to my dishwashing cycle to stop film from forming on my dishes.

The crafts! Oh how my science minded children love Borax.  A few pipe cleaners, Borax, and boiling water (directions here) and lovely sun catchers were created within hours. The possibilities are endless!

Anyway! I’ll get back to my usual blog soon. We’ve been doing so many fun things in the kitchen! Lily Belle has been making single serve oatmeal packets, Pierce is learning about stove safety, Ted enjoys helping me make the twins’ lunches for school…and Charlotte, well, Charlotte is entertaining in the kitchen.

Want to win a box of Borax? Its easy! Just leave me a comment about what you’d do with your Borax. Need ideas? Go here to see even more cleaning tips. Leave a seperate comment if you tweet about this contest, I’ll even give you a tweet to copy and paste if you want…

”  Check out @upnorthtwinmom ‘s #Borax post! If her contest gets a lot of entries maybe she’ll post more often.  “

Open to US only. Winner will be chosen by random draw on January 10, 2013 and contacted by email. Borax provided a free sample of their product so I could review them. However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.

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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Pick-a-Piece Pasta

Half the struggle of cooking? Meal planning. After a day planning out the week’s dinners I’m usually pretty tapped for creativity. So today when the twins stopped pulling out every sort of craft material possible (it’s a rainy day. Making messes is on our agenda) and ask the dreaded question…

What’s for lunch?

I blanked. Slack jawed, cross eyed, completely blank. Looking frantically for bologna Hoping we have something in a can Brilliantly, I realize that my kids don’t have to stop at just cooking for me! If they can cook, they can plan!!

Pick-a-Piece pasta lunch was born.

I assigned each child a piece of the meal. Lily Belle had an assortment of pasta shapes and sizes to chose from. Pierce decided if we had spaghetti, vodka, or Alfredo sauce. Ted was lifted up to freezer level to decide which veggie we’d throw in.

We ended up with spaghetti noodles and stir fry vegetables (and homemade meatballs that Ted is a huge fan of, so he insisted a bag from the freezer go in our concoction) in alfredo sauce. Every kid was happy. The meal was planned without me having to think.

I was gagging a bit imagining how it’d taste.

The added bonus to them each picking a piece of this meal? Showing the kids that I too have to try things that don’t look yummy to me. I explained I’d have a “No Thank You Bite” and eat a salad.

We were all (me especially) pleasantly surprised to find this dish was colorful and tasty! Thank goodness we all tried a bite! What a fun lesson to go with our easy meal. Yup, this lesson was for me.

I highly suggest trying this method with your kids! If you do, let me know what ends up in yours, and if it was good! Ours was fabulous and we’ll do it again, simply for the adventure of trying new combinations.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Other people’s kids cook for me too

My twins cook for me.

We’ve established this.

Pierce’s favorite kitchen activity is peeling vegetables. Lily prefers mixing and stirring. Ted still is in the ‘make a big mess and giggle’ stage, which is super fun and cute when time isn’t a factor.

What does your child like to do best? Crack eggs, get the ingredients out of the refrigerator/garden/pantry, drop the biscuits, measure the vanilla? It’s easy to find out, just put them to work!

My husband’s niece loves to add the measured ingredients into a bowl. My niece rocks at stirring. My friend’s son likes putting aluminum foil on cookie sheets. There are a lot of small jobs that kids will find amusing.

All of these kids came to visit. All of them were put to work. All of them loved it.

I think.

They didn’t tell me otherwise!

This weekend my brother visited. He went salmon fishing with my Husband. (lucky bums. They didn’t catch anything…but I’m still jealous, salmon fishing in the fall in northern Michigan is so relaxing and fun) His wife held Charlotte and pushed the kids on the swings. His daughter? She made us chicken and rice for dinner.

Everyone has a go-to chicken and rice recipe. This one is my mom’s, it’s fabulous and it’s easy enough for a two year old to help with most of it. Measuring and adding rice, buttering the pan, pointing to where each piece of chicken should go.

Done.

Chicken and Rice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Butter a 9×9 pan
Combine two cans of cream of chicken soup and one cup instant rice, spread in an even layer in the pan.
Top with skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Bake one hour.

I had some nice bonding time with her, and she made me a fabulous meal. This cooking with kids thing has enriched my life, and my relationships. Maybe one of them will realize I’m awesome and buy me a house when they become a world famous chef. Or at least think it was cool enough to do with their children in turn.

I’d to hear how you cook with kids. Was the mess epic? Did you giggle over spilled milk? Are you still waiting to have kids to cook with? Please note: mine are always available for rent

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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Holy Crap.

Charlotte and I in the NICU

What a whirlwind this summer has been! Anyone still out there? It’s okay if you aren’t, or if you forgot who I am. Some mornings I forget who I am.
In the midst of partial bed rest due to placenta previa, having a baby on August 8, a short NICU stay, and recovering from a c-section I find myself in my favorite season all the sudden. Fall! The squash, apples, root vegetables, and mild weather (oven can be used every day!!) just makes me drool with culinary expectation.
With Charlotte happily riding in my new Moby carrier, and Ted sitting on his new potty for hours on end, I’m hoping that I can get back into the blogging groove. I miss it. I miss YOU!
While I was on “rest” Lily Belle became fairly self-sufficient. It is a bittersweet thing to have her tell me “I can do it mommy”. She takes care of all of us now. It’s fabulous, and yet it’s too soon!
Anyway, I have some great ideas to get back into cooking with my kids. They’ve become pretty adept at sandwiches, cereal, and making their own veggies trays. I would like to see them learning how to add seasonal squashes to our everyday meals. Maybe we’ll make big batches of meatballs or lasagna or applesauce to fill our freezer.
Whatever we do it’ll be fun, I’m excited to see how life as a mom of four is different, or similar to being a mom of three.
What would you like to see us making in the next few weeks? A favorite soup? A specific ingredient you aren’t familiar with? A yummy meal that you like to see how the kids do making it? Let me know, I’ll try most anything!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

My kids make Chicken Pot Pie

To start out my new blog voice of “I make my kids cook for me” I need to clarify a couple of things. I prefer eating a no-preservative diet. I lost a lot of weight and feel much better with this lifestyle. Unfortunately I have not mastered the art of making a pie crust, so I don’t expect my 4 year olds to do this. Instead, I’d rather have fun, make a mess, and add a few store-bought ingredients to ensure that I don’t have to do anything except pop it in the oven.

Also, when I say I “make my kids cook for me” I am being snarky. If they would rather finger paint or stare at the wall, they are more than welcome to. This is not a chore they MUST do, this is a fun activity they like and I exploit.

So, here is our version of Chicken Pot Pie…a completely 4-year old twin and 2-year old tornado friendly recipe.

We used a chicken breast and a half that was leftover from a full chicken that we roasted earlier in the week. I cut it into strips, then the twins tore it into small pieces. My aunt has used the pouch chicken (sold in the same aisle as tuna in the store) and I’m sure if you cook up frozen chicken breasts first, it would work fine. I always make this as a “use up the leftovers kind of meal.

Meanwhile, Ted put in the veggies. Since a 2-year old was doing this step we used all frozen veggies this time, and there was no measuring. We often use fresh veggies that we steam first.

Everyone had a hand (literally) in the mixing of the mixture once the soup was in. Half the peas ended up on the counter, but the consensus was that we’d just do without. We’ve also used gravy, or a simple to-make white sauce in this dish.

Lily Belle had pulled the pie crust out of the fridge awhile beforehand, so Pierce unrolled the first one and put it in the pie pan. Once the mixture was poured in (okay, in reality it was put in by the handful, this took a LONG time and I do not recommend it) we went and washed our hands. The top crust was trickier. Pierce poked a hole in it trying to center it, but that didn’t have any negative effects on our pot pie. The twins enjoyed tucking the top crust in and pinching it together with the bottom crust, a little too much. They both went over the pie twice pinching it together. Luckily for them Ted was feeding the dog frozen peas, so I was distracted.

I popped it in the oven, and ta-da! A simple, easy to prepare dinner that I didn’t have to make! Life is good.

Chicken Pot Pie

Pie crust

1-2 Chicken Breasts, cooked and diced

1/2-1 cup each of frozen peas, corn, potatoes (the cubed hashbrown type works well), carrots, lima beans, whatever else looks good

1 can cream of mushroom soup, or cream of chicken

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a bowl combine diced chicken, vegetables, soup. Salt and pepper to taste, use more than you think you need to compensate for the pie crust being slightly sweet.

Prepare pie pan by spraying with cooking spray. Place one pie crust into pan. Add mixture. Center second pie crust on top, tuck sides down in between the pie pan and the bottom crust. Pinch the two crusts together all the way around. Brush top with a beaten egg if desired.

Bake for 35-45 minutes

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Spring Break with pre-schoolers

Spring break means different things to different ages. K-12 see it as a week of freedom! Sleeping in if you’re a teenager, getting up early with a smile if you aren’t. Maybe a family vacation. Definitely a week of no stress. College students see spring break as an excuse to go somewhere warm, drink excessively, get a tattoo. Mom’s see a week of expensive childcare, or worry over a child left home alone for the first time. They look forward to school resuming.

What does spring break mean to the pre-school sect? They don’t Have time off from anything, things stay the exact same…right?

Wrong.

As a mom to three pre-school age kids I can tell you that we are just as impacted by the schools being out as the students are. Our schedules don’t change, we never even considered a vacation this week (although there has been a lot of reminiscing of 5-6 years ago when we went on a cruise and got married. Then celebrated our first anniversary on the same cruise and watch my sister get married).

Yet we have been impacted.

We met our friends at the Children’s Museum yesterday, like we do every Tuesday morning. For the first time ever we waited in line to get in. The kids were confused, and mildly outraged. The number of kids, parents, grandparents at the museum excited Pierce into a frenzy. He was so frantic he never made a friend, never said his signature “Hi! I’m Pierce, what’s your name?”, never seemed to notice what he was even doing. Ted found all the bigger kids to be baffling, he was often climbed over as he made his way through the tunnel to the slide. I felt the stress a bit. There were so many kids. Thank goodness I had dressed all the kids in the same bright color, much easier to spot them all. I highly suggest this trick to anyone with more then one kid in public play areas. Overall, we did the same things as usual, but with all the spring breakers there it was definitely not the same playgroup we are used to.

Then there are the extra events available around town! The State Theater downtown is offering free movies every day this week. The first showing each day is a kids movie. I’d never try to take all of my kids to a movie, even with my husband. Yet tomorrow I will attempt this super-mom type event. Pray for me. Even if they don’t last the entire movie, I will have tried, and won’t be out $30 for tickets. It’s a great way to see how we do at a movie! Will the twins need to potty every 20 minutes? Will Ted freak out about the dark, or fall asleep? Will I start pulling out my hair before the previews? I’m interested to see.

Beyond the crowds and events I’ve gotten around 8,000 emails with ideas for crafts, activities and kid friendly recipes. All focused on spring break, which we don’t have, but will still try out these suggestions! We’ve already made the whole-wheat sugar cookies suggested by Macaroni Kids, and have a craft from them lined up for tomorrow. We still have snow in the yard, but we are doing spring things like planting seeds, construction paper flowers, and washing the walls. Kids weren’t very excited about the last one.

So, even though none of my kids attend school, we have been having a great spring break! So much to do! What did you do this spring break? Did it change the schedule of your preschooler?

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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Surprise! For you, and for me.

I’ve been flying under the (social media) radar for a few weeks for a big reason. Well, at first it was because the flu had the house under quarantine, but then it was for this big reason. I didn’t want to spill the beans too early!

Have you been guessing?

Do you think we found our dream house, more space and closer to Brad’s work? A view of Lake Michigan and no close neighbors? Nope, that’s not it. *sigh*

Did we win the lottery? I wish!

Maybe Brad was transferred downstate and we will be moving closer to our families? Alas, no.

What about a pregnancy? Was the never ending flu really morning sickness? You guessed it!

We just visited the OB and confirmed the baby is healthy. The ultrasound showed an extremely active fetus, or a show off. Either way, it is cute. Brad counted the fingers and is fairly certain there are five on the hand we could see. They gave us a due date of approximately September 2, 2011 (so I am about 13 weeks along, just starting the best trimester) and confirmed it is ONE healthy baby.

Are you excited?!!?

So hop on board and prepare yourself for a glimpse into my pregnant life. Watch me scour the Goodwill store for all the baby stuff I donated last summer. Enjoy my struggles fitting into my (much fitter and skinnier) sister’s fabulous hand-me-down maternity clothes. Laugh at Lily Belle’s antics regarding this new sibling. She was not happy to hear the news, but a few days later told me “I guess you can have a baby as long as it is a girl”. Lucky you that I’m mostly past my mourning **erm, morning** sickness and extreme tiredness. I get it bad, and Pierce has a weak stomach, so the first trimester is a vomit filled circus. Be surprised with us on the birthday when we all find out the sex together! It’s going to be a wild ride.

Also, if anyone DOES win the lottery I would happily accept a house with more space!

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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