Thursday, 28 January 2016

Love Bug Egg Carton Craft- With A Surprise Inside!

love bug egg carton with a surprise
Love is in the air already! Valentine's day is coming up and we are creating some special love bug Valentine's day crafts like busy little bees...buzzzzzzzzz (sorry, I just couldn't help myself). This craft is so much fun for your little ones to make and they have a hidden surprise inside! WOOOOOOOO! This nearly blew my 3 year old's mind. "You are putting WHAT inside? CHOCOLATE???"

Grab those empty egg cartons and your craft supplies and let's get started.

Materials (all can be purchased from the dollar store)

  • egg carton
  • paint (any colours your child wants)
  • markers
  • pom poms
  • googly eyes
  • pipe cleaners
  • green card stock/foam sheet/bristol board (doesn't really matter, but try to green for grass or blue for the sky)
  • stickers -optional
  • glue gun 
  • scissors
  • hershey kisses/hugs (or any other small wrapped candy)


  1. Cut out individual egg cartons.
  2. Have your child paint them. Let dry and then have your child decorate with markers. Polka-dots look super cute and are easy for young ones to draw.

  3. Let your child decorate the base using stickers or markers. I found these flower shaped stickers at Dollarama.
  4. Cut antennae from pipe cleaners and curl ends slightly.
  5. Using a glue gun, stick eyes and antennae onto pom pom head. Attach completed head onto decorated egg carton.
  6. Insert a hershey kiss/hug into egg carton. 
    love bug egg carton with a surprise
    She was AMAZED by this! 
  7. Glue onto base.
    love bug egg carton with a surprise
  8. Personalize with cute messages (i.e. Beeeeeeee mine, You make my heart flutter, To my love bug etc).
    love bug egg carton with a surprise

You can really make a variety of different bugs. My daughter insisted on making a butterfly and it turned out great. She loved the idea of a sweet surprise hiding inside!
love bug egg carton with a surprise
Look at those googly eyes! 

What sweet Valentine's day crafts are you planning on making this year? Share the love with us below! And if you happen to make some of your own cute critters, don't forget to post some pics for us to see!  Tag us on Instagram (@smocksandsprinkles) or Facebook!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Cheddar Broccoli Soup Recipe

Can somebody tell me what it is about cheese that suddenly transforms broccoli from a cruciferous green vegetable into an edible treat that kids can't get enough of?  As a child, I dreamed of having Cheez-Wiz smothered florets of broccoli, and my kids are apparently no different (seriously, what was I thinking, though...Cheez-Wiz?!).  They love broccoli and cheese, especially in soup form!  This recipe for cheddar broccoli soup is a hit at our house for taste, but also for preparation and cleanup.  All you need is one pot and the ingredients!  Serve some bread or crackers on the side for dipping, and you'll be able to get tons of veggies into your kids.

I'll be listing exact measurements here, but I encourage you to tweak it to your own tastes.  Toss in some more broccoli, use cream because it makes everything taste so ridiculously delicious, toss in a mix of get the idea!  This basic method of frying onions in butter and then adding flour to make a roux works really well as a base for any cream-based soup, and then you can Jamie Oliver it by tossing in deliciously fresh ingredients in a seemingly haphazard manner.

I forgot the onion.  Please pretend there's onion in this photo.

  • 1 head broccoli (you can include the stalk or not, it's totally up to you!)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 onion
  • 4 tbsp butter (did you know 4 tbsp is actually a 1/4 cup?!  But 4 tbsp sounds way healthier than a 1/4 cup, so just go with it.  Eat this soup with slightly less guilt.  You're welcome!) 
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (you can substitute water if you'd like, but you'll lose some flavor)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • nutmeg (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Tip! Substitute cauliflower for the broccoli, and you've got a delicious cauliflower soup.  I love this recipe from the Pioneer Woman for cauliflower soup!

(I like to prep all the ingredients first, while my kids claw at my ankles.  It makes cooking the soup a lot faster.  Throw a couple spatulas and some tupperware at the kids to make this part even easier.)
  1. Prep all your veggies (dice the onions, carrots and celery, and chop your broccoli).
    Slice the carrot, and then cut it into thin strips to get a small dice.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot over low heat.
  3. Add onions and cook until they turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, mix in flour until it's all incorporated.  Mix it for a minute or two to make sure all the flour is cooked and golden.
  5. Gradually incorporate milk, about 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix until each batch is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  It will form a lump at the beginning, and then start to smooth out into a thick liquid.
  6. Add stock, turn heat up to medium-high and add the rest of the veggies, bay leaves and nutmeg.

  7. Bring the soup to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and allow the soup to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Discard bay leaves and add in cheese.

    Tip!  Try not to boil the soup too much after you've added the dairy, as it can curdle and make your soup grainy.

  9. Stir until melted, and feel free to add in more stock or water to adjust the thickness of the soup to your liking.
  10. Spoon this magical soup into bowls (or hollow out some sourdough and make bread bowls if you're feeling fancy!) and serve with some crusty bread!
Tip!  If your kids are repulsed by the mere sight of a vegetable, consider blending the soup using a hand blender to hide the veggies.

I love it when I find a recipe that everyone in the family enjoys, and this is one of them.  Make a batch on a cold day and enjoy it from the warmth of your cozy house!  If you try this recipe, let us know down below, or share it with us on Instagram (@smocksandsprinkles).

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Kids Organization Ideas

Happy 2016 everyone! A new year means a fresh start! One of my new year's resolutions is to de-clutter my home and get really organized. As I went on a rampage tearing apart the house like a savage (my husband stays far away when I get into these moods), I realized that I needed a serious game plan. I felt lost and overwhelmed. During our renovations, my world fell apart (okay, I'm being slightly dramatic) and I lost control over my house. Now that we are near the end of our renovations, things are slowly beginning to go back to normal. My daughter is a craft freak (the apple clearly doesn't fall far from the tree) and it was really hard to keep up with her crafting needs during renovations. I like to craft with her on the main floor of our house and I found it difficult to keep the space from being invaded by kids craft supplies (one word...glitter *shudder*) and toys. It's a good day when I can still see slivers of my kitchen table peeking out from under a mound of papers, markers and other random stuff.  We spend most of our time in the family room/kitchen so I decided to clear out 2 cabinets in our family room and fill it with all of the kids art supplies/toys/books. This way they are hidden out of sight but still readily accessible.
Don't forget about a plastic table cloth & smock!
Here are the steps you need to take to get organized:
Step 1) Purge. Go through everything and get rid of anything that is junk or not being used.
Step 2) Decide what activities/toys/books you would like to keep in the main area of your house (i.e. in your family room/kitchen). I relocated everything else to their bedrooms/playroom.
Step 3) Clear out a couple cabinets, drawers or shelves. Try to pick a lower cabinet/drawer/shelf so your child can access it independently.
Step 4) Organize activities in containers and add labels. Clear plastic shoe boxes (I found them at Dollarama) are amazing for organizing pretty much anything. Love that they are clear so you can see the exact contents of each box. This helps your child know which activity to reach for if they are not able to read the label. I used magazine holders for activity & colouring books/soft cover books.
I highly recommend purchasing an art caddy (I found a metal desk organizer at Home Sense for $10) to organize basic everyday art supplies (markers, scissors, paper etc.).
The face paint is from a birthday party she attended, not sure what the expression she is making is all about.
Baskets/bins are great for storing larger toy items like balls.
Step 4) Step back and admire your hard work (oh and give your self a well deserved pat on the back).
Step 5) Stay organized by implementing the "one activity at a time" rule. Get your child in the habit of cleaning up and putting back the activity before grabbing for another one.
My littlest one is terrible at following rules, I was terrified he was going to destroy my organizational masterpiece, but he didn't, hooray!
Now that the main floor is done, I need to attack the rest of the house. I'm on a serious mission here. Please share your organizational tips with us so we can get super organized together! Happy organizing and a very happy new year:)

Friday, 1 January 2016

Easy Watercolor Thank You Cards

Now that the pine needles have hit the floor and the holidays pounds have hit my hips, I've been trying to think of ways to finish the year off right and start 2016 off strong with my kids.  One of the things we like to do as a family daily is to reflect on things we can give thanks for, and we're so thankful that we were really blessed this holiday and received gifts from friends and family.  I try to write thank you cards for them, and this year we decided to make handmade thank you cards.  These are super easy and look beautiful, plus you can customize them to make them as simple or as fancy as you like!  My daughter loved painting these, and watching the paint spread.

  • watercolor paper
  • watercolor paint (you can also use watered down tempera or acrylic, but it may look slightly different)
  • watercolor paintbrush (we used one like this, where the water is loaded right in the brush)
  • bowl with water
  • masking tape
  • paper trimmer
  • adhesive (like glue, tape runner etc.) 
  • marker
  • cardstock for card bases (optional)
  • other embellishments like ribbon, brads, etc. (optional)
  1. Use masking tape to tape down the edges of your watercolor paper so it doesn't wrinkle.  It also gives your painting a nice frame and gives little ones a border so paint doesn't go everywhere!  My 3-yr-old loved helping with this step.
  2. If you want to try the wet-on-wet technique to get a blurred effect, wet your entire paper with clean water.  Re-wet it as necessary as you go.
  3. Have your little one use a wet brush and some paint to apply color to the paper.  The best part of this is that it really doesn't matter how the paint is applied!  It looks great pretty much any way it's done!  (Sidenote:  I am a paint neat-freak and insist on copious amounts of brush-rinsing between colours.  You, however, can be as casual or strict with paint mixing as you'd like!)
    The images on top use the wet-on-wet technique, and the bottom is wet-on-dry

  4. Allow the paint to dry, or have fun drying it with a hair dryer if you're impatient like I am.

  5. Remove the tape, keeping it close to the surface of the paper as you remove it (see the photo below.  Don't pull it up into the air, or your paper may rip).
  6. Cut the paper into pieces for the front of your cards.  I cut mine approx. 5" x 4" to put on card bases 5.5" x 8" (folded in half).

  7. Have your little one write out, "Thanks" or a similar greeting, or stamp/write it on yourself.  I used dots to write out some of the letters she didn't know and had her trace over them.
    She also "decorated" and wrote on the backs.
  8. Adhere the paintings to the front of your card bases, or leave them as is to make them into notecards.
Just a stamp and a decorative punch to add the greeting!

Aren't you impressed with how amazing they look once they're mounted?  The trimming really makes a difference!  You can use these paintings as a base for any kind of card, so take advantage of these cold days in to have your child paint a stack and have them ready for any occasion.  It keeps them busy, and you can also use the activity to have an educational color-mixing lesson if you'd like!

Let us know if you make these, and tag us if you Instagram (@smocksandsprinkles) or Facebook them!  And thank you all for an amazing 2015!  We appreciate all of you who read our blog, comment, and share our posts.

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