Family Fun in the Veggie Garden PLUS a Free Printable Garden Plan for YOU!

Veggie Garden in JulyI was born to a family of garden lovers.

When I was growing up, my grandparents babysat my sister and I every day after school and on PA Days at their flower shop.  We would help build boxes, listen to stories while my grandfather cleaned thorns off the roses, and watch as my grandmother created beautiful arrangements while humming her favourite old tunes.

For the past 20 years, my own mother has built a showstopper of a garden surrounding her own home.  She adores roses and perennials, and has reaped some bountiful harvests from her veggie gardens.  Over the past 12 years, she has shared all kinds of gardening wisdom with me as I built my own perennial gardens and veggie gardens.  A day in the garden with my mom is truly a delight, and every week when she visits, one of my favourite things to do is accompany her on a garden tour where she points out what she likes and what can be improved (and how so) in my own gardens.

But nothing is sweeter than watching my own children as they pick cherry tomatoes right off the plant and pop them into their mouths!  It can seem like forever before the tomatoes start ripening toward the middle of August, but they are so worth the wait! [Read more...]

Summer Beach Days

IMG_6438For me, the best sort of summer family fun is found at the beach.  I just love, love, love everything about it… building huge sand castles, getting steaming hot and then taking a dip in the water, reading on a blanket while the kids play, even playing board games together under the big blue sky with the water stretching out before us.

For me, this is perfect, old fashioned summer fun.

We do not own a cottage. We do not live in a town that offers a beach.  Actually, our family has only taken one beach holiday since having kids.  How then do I get some beach fun with my family each summer?   [Read more...]

Visiting a Strawberry Patch is SO SWEET

Strawberry patchI’m sure I’m not the only mom who finds the first week of summer to be quite a juggling act.  At times it feels like one of my hands is tied behind my back and I’ve received 7 new balls to juggle!  Morning deliveries to camps that are quite a bit further away than the kids’ local school gets our mornings off to a busy start.  And while one child is away, of course I want to deliver on some fun for the other two.

However, I am a creature of habit and a lover of routine.  With all the spontaneous fun at the start of this summer, along with the Canada Day holiday thrown into the mix, who knew that there were no breakfast options awaiting my sleepyheads when they awoke Wednesday morning!

Learning to juggle everything and still add a bit of spontaneous fun in the mix is part of summer and thankfully seems to get easier as the days pass.  A few days ago, we visited a nearby strawberry patch.  I cannot believe how easy it is to fill those great big baskets full of beautiful, scrumptious strawberries.

Before my girls and I set out for the patch, I was feeling stressed about the lack of groceries on hand as well as the fact that I had no ideas yet for dinner with my parents that evening and it was already well into the afternoon.  Nevertheless, I was determined to make a little bit of fun in the day with my girls.  So off we went for a couple of hours to a simple, nearby, pick-your-own strawberry patch under bright, beautiful, blue skies.  This is something I try to make time for each summer, and it really is so much fun to share with the kids.  In fact, it is such a simple thing to do, that it almost doesn’t make sense how much fun it always is… but year after year it proves just as much fun as ever!

At this little strawberry stand market we located many other delicious produce items and picked up several of our favourites to enjoy with dinners in the coming days.  We also found mini angel food cakes, and my girls were as excited as could be at the thought of preparing individual strawberry shortcake desserts for my hubby and me along with my parents who would be visiting for the evening.

Thanks to this outing, we are having some food fun in the kitchen, delicious snacks fresh from the strawberry patch, and a little happy memory of some simple summer fun.

What are your favourite recipes for serving up fresh picked strawberries?

A Week Full of Fireworks & Family Fun!

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If you are planning to spend some time watching fireworks as part of your Canada Day or July 4th celebrations, take a moment to read my entry at our Summer Fun Forum posted on June 25th.  You’ll learn how our kids turned the wait time for the big firework show into an amazingly fun show of their own just using glow-sticks and our camera!

Muffins, Marvellous Muffins!!

Muffin Recipe BookIf you are interested in my all-time favourite banana chocolate chip muffin recipe … scroll to the end of this post.  If you would like to read how I came upon it, then just  keep reading….

Like many parents with young children, I have spent more time than I can count measuring, mixing, baking, and cleaning out muffin tins. Actually, baking these tiny, yummy treats with my young bakers in training has been a great deal of fun and offered the added bonus of providing some mighty yummy treats to enjoy!

Finding the recipe below and the 40 other DELICIOUS muffin recipes in Marie Simmons’ fabulous book, “Muffins A to Z” was actually a bit of a wild ride for me.  Years ago I stumbled upon this little handbook of muffin baking at my local library.  It is filled with muffin recipes to correspond to each letter of the alphabet and includes everything from sweet treats to savory sides perfect for adding to a soup or chili.   [Read more...]

Animal Alphabet: A Fun Little Activity Your Kids Can Play ANYWHERE

Animal AlphabetWhen my kids were younger, we used to find this simple trick added a lot of fun to our wait times… whether we were at a doctor’s appointment, waiting for a swimming lesson to commence, or one child was watching on the sidelines as the other played a sport. Whenever we needed a little distraction to pass some time, we played this game which grew out of my husbands love for and near encyclopedic knowledge of animals.

All we did was go through each letter in the alphabet in sequence naming as many animals as we could think of that started with that letter.  Sometimes we would keep track of which letter got the most animal names that day.

Another variation would be to have me say the letters aloud one by one and have the kids race each other to deliver the name of one animal that started with that letter.

This was just a simple way to get the kids to put on their thinking caps while learning to build some patience, and it turned out to be fun for all.

It was certainly a handy tool to have up my sleeve when I was without my usual bag of tricks to keep the kids entertained, especially when a wait turned out to be longer than expected.

Give it a try, and let us know what you think!

Book Giveaway Featuring The Magic Tree House Collection

The second offering in our Book Giveaway Series brings me back to a very sweet time when my older children were approaching senior kindergarten and grade 1.  They were just four & six years old the summer we spent snuggling up and reading all kinds of wonderful adventures from The Magic Tree House Collection.

This series was especially appealing to my own two children  because it is based on a brother and sister who are great friends and share a larger than life sense of adventure.  Jack (age 9) and his sister Annie (age 8) stumble upon a magic tree house in the woods near their home and soon discover that the magic of the tree house enables them to  be transported forward and backward in time as well as to many places as far away as outer space.  While they are away on their adventures, time at home stands still as the children work together to solve riddles and rescue those in need.  At the end of each book, a mission is accomplished, lessons are learned, and they are transported home having achieved the work they set out to do. [Read more...]

Fun Family Adventures Await ….

IMG_8284What a thrill it was to stumble upon the amazing Toronto Fun Places website!!

I have been a fan of the book Toronto Fun Places by Nathalie Prezeau for over 10 years now, and I am looking forward to using this fun-packed website resource to come up with some new adventures for my gang this summer.

I first picked up Toronto Fun Places at Mastermind Toys when my two children were just one and two years old. I can honestly say that this incredible guide book was the inspiration for many “family day outings” that we embarked upon in those early years, and the source of many memories for our young children. [Read more...]

SUMMER FUN FORUM

WHERE EXPERTS SHARE THEIR BEST TIPS FOR SUMMER FUN!

 

Welcome to our Summer Fun Forum where the experts are parents just like YOU !

Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, someone who takes the whole summer off, a parent with a couple of wonderful, warm weather vacation weeks to share, or a parent looking to fill those summer weekends with some extra special fun for the season, YOU are the parents we want to hear from and share with.

I am dreaming of creating an online forum where parents will pop by our website to share their summer fun experiences.  Like a Facebook post, your experiences can be shared with a photo as they happen.  Alternatively, you can write to us about your favourite, “must do” summer activities that take full advantage of these long, lovely summer days with our children.  Here you can find everything from ideas to create simple family fun in your own back yard to wild and wonderfully exhausting adventures that take you beyond your local area. The goal here is to offer inspiration to parents everywhere, [Read more...]

Fluffy Not Stuffy Pancakes… A Favourite!

Pancakes CollageFor as long as I can remember, my mom has been serving up these scrumptious homemade buttermilk pancakes.  Now that I have children of my own, not only do I make them, but my 13 year old has begun to have lots of weekend morning fun in the kitchen thanks to this super easy, crowd pleasing recipe!

The key to these fabulous pancakes is making sure that when you combine the wet ingredients with the dry, you mix lightly with a fork to make sure the batter
STAYS LUMPY.  You’ll be surprised how much they grow as they cook, so put only half the amount of batter you normally would on the griddle for each pancake, and leave plenty of room for them to spread!

These pancakes freeze perfectly, so go ahead and make a double batch to store the extras away for a yummy weekday treat.  I just leave them on the counter for a few minutes to start defrosting , then pop them in the toaster and they are ready to serve in no time.

Enjoy! [Read more...]