Tips for Cooking with Kids

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Tips for Cooking with Kids

Cooking or baking sounds like the perfect way to spend some quality time bonding with kids, right?  I had a breakthrough this week which inspired this post on tips for cooking with kids I wanted to share with you.

I’ve always had this romanticized idea about cooking with my children. We excitedly pick a recipe, and they carefully pour, stir, and measure. They wash their hands before and after they cook.  They clean up their messes.  We set the timer and anxiously watch our food bake or cook. And, then we enjoy our delicious creation together.

Reality is, things can get messy and it rarely (never) goes down that way.  Yes, things can get messy, but if you embrace that aspect, it can actually be part of the fun.

The reality…

Here’s what typically happens in my house.

The kids race to wash their hands.  Soap misses the hands.  They fight over who gets to stand on the step stool at the counter (and I remind them that we have two step stools).  They fight about who gets to open the refrigerator (and cupboards) to get the ingredients. They fight over who gets to hold the recipe or mixture box.  One of them inevitably breaks an egg.

As I’m cleaning that up, scobbling ensues.  One gets mad and stomps off.  The other one fights to dump more ingredients in the bowl.  Mommy gets frustrated and tells the remaining kid to go play while she cleans up.  No food is actually made in this situation.  Only a sink full of dishes and a frazzled mama remains.

My tips for cooking with kids…

I finally wised up and these are some things I learned.

Tip – Let them help pick the dish to cook.

I took both kids shopping and let them pick out muffins (pre-mixed) to bake.  I figured this would be a super easy, super fail-proof place to start.  A pre-mixed muffin mix with three added ingredients.  Check.

Tip – Get a set of ingredients for each kid.

Instead of fighting over taking turns with one dish, I decided to let each kid have their own cooking “station.”  I set up two sets of ingredients and cooking utensils at the kitchen table for both kids.  No step stools.  They each got to sit in their own kitchen table chair. (Why didn’t I think of this earlier?!).

Tip – Set up a cooking “class” environment. 

I told the kids that this was cooking “class.”  My 1st grader read the ingredients, instructions, and made accordingly.  I helped my preschooler look at the pictures of the ingredients, and helped him measure.  And I pretty much gave them total control over the process for each of their own batches of muffins.  The result?  They each felt super special and accomplsihed.

Tip – Let them get MESSY.

Yep, by giving them control over the process, egg shells will mix into the batter.  Oil will be over-measured.  Drips, spills, crumbs.  You name it.  And, it’s okay.  Let it happen.  For some moms, this is totally not a big deal.  For me, I have to intentionally take a step back and let them learn to “cook” and be in charge of their own process.

Tips for Cooking with Kids_2 (This is a picture of my four-year-old’s cinnamon muffin mix.  Wow.  But, he had fun!!!).

Tip – Teach them to clean up.

Part of cooking is cleaning up the mess.  Give them paper towels and wipes, and ask them to each clean up their cooking class work station.  Have them put leftover ingredients away.  Have them help carry dishes to the sink…and for older kids, have them help wash them.

Tip – Let them put their cooking creation in their own labeled Tupperware.

Remember how we talked about them making a big mess?  Who knows how their lovely finished “product” will turn out.  But, no matter what, they will be SO proud of themselves.  Praise them!  As long as it is (somewhat) edible, let them eat it. If they like it, put it in their own Tupperware or baggie…and label it with their name. That way they can munch on it, and it’s theirs.

Do you cook with your kids?  What are your tips to making it fun (and easy)??  Share below!

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Do You Doodle?

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I am the organizing type. I love to bring groups of people together and plan events.

Awhile back I wrote about a Kindergarten Meet-Up group I was organizing this summer to help make the kindergarten transition easier come fall for my little one.

Well, my “little” meet up group grew to about 35 families and when talking to a fellow mom about how I could pick a date that would work for the most people she said, “Do a Doodle!”

A what-le?

A Doodle!

The Type-A planner in me was intrigued. I was off to do my first Doodle and fell in love.

Doodle is a free site where you can create polls to help find a date / time that works for the majority to plan a meeting or event.

It’s free for the basic poll set up, which is all you need. You simply create an account, and then make a poll with different date and time options to crowd source for an upcoming event date.

When you are done, you copy the link created for your poll and then send it to your peeps for them to fill out the dates/times that would work for them.

If someone can make it on a specific day / time, you check the box. Unchecked box means “no good.”

At the end of the poll, you can get a summary of the winning date / time that works for the most people so you can schedule your event.

This would be so great for moms’ nights out, girls’ weekends, family get togethers, scout meetings, committee meetings, you name it.  If you need to bring a group of people together, do a Doodle and you will save a ton of time, and a gazillion unnecessary “reply all” emails!

Had to share. xo

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My Favorite Easy Tuna Casserole Recipe

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My Favorite Easy Tuna Casserole_3

Today I want to share with you my favorite easy tuna casserole recipe my family loves.

I’m a mama who likes tasty meals (with basic prep!)…and I have two picky little eaters on my hands…so this easy tuna casserole recipe is one of my go-to’s.

It was given to me years ago (I think at my wedding shower!) by one of my dear childhood friends (and fabulous cook!), Nancy.  I’m so glad she’s given me a handful of easy recipes to follow.

Here we go!

Easy Tuna Casserole Recipe

My Favorite Easy Tuna Casserole_2


– 6 oz wide egg noodles

– 1 can 9 1/4 oz can tuna

– 1 cup sliced celery

– 1/3 chopped onion (sometimes I leave this out, per the kiddos’ request)

– 1/4 cup chopped pimento (optional)

– 1 teaspoon of salt

– 1 cup cream of celery soup

– 1/2 cup of milk

– 1/2 cup of mayonnaise

– 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

– 1 small can of French’s fried onions


1. Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees.

2. Cook noodles until tender and drain.

3. Combine noodles, tuna, mayonnaise, veggies, and salt in a big bowl.

4. Blend soup and milk; heat through.

5. Add cheese to soup mixture; stir until cheese melts.

6. Add tuna noodle mixture and soup mixture together.

7. Transfer into an oven safe casserole dish.

8. Bake in the 475 degree pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.

9. Add fried onions on top, and let cook until onions are golden brown; this usually only takes 2-3 minutes. (Sometimes, I shred extra cheese and sprinkle on top with the fried onions…yum!).

10. Let cool for a couple of minutes.  Enjoy!

Picky kid tips:

– I call it “macaroni cheese pie,” instead of tuna casserole.  Somehow this name resonates better with my kids.

– If you sprinkle cheese on top of the casserole and let it melt, it looks more like “macaroni cheese pie.”

– I leave out the pimentos and chopped onions…that’s a little too much my kiddos’ tastes!

– Only sprinkle the fried onions on one half of the casserole…my kids only really like the “noodle and cheese part, mom.”

Last, I add a quick salad or heat up some frozen veggies, and voila! Dinner is served.  It’s easy prep and is an easy crowd pleaser!

You can check out Nancy’s foodie Facebook page, Cooking with a Side of Sunshine for more recipe ideas!

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My Top 10 Beach Tips for Kids

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My Top 10 Beach Tips for Kids

Today, I want to share my top beach tips for kids.  Summertime for our family means lots of beach time – kid play time, water time, sandcastle time (and most of the time) bliss.

My husband and I LOVE to take our kids to the beach to play, and we feel so lucky to live fairly close.  It doesn’t matter how many times we go…playing in the sand, chasing waves and collecting shells never gets old.

Beach Tip #1

Sunscreen them up before you get there.

Once you get to the beach, you will be juggling towels, toys, bags, umbrellas, coolers, and excited kids.  It will take you a little while to lug all of your stuff to the sand…and this is with your kiddos  jumping up and down excited.  Believe me, it is much easier to take the time to do the sunscreen before you arrive.

Beach Tip #2

Bring a laundry basket or a wagon for all of your beach gear.

This will be your rolling (or handheld) locker.  Whatever toys and towels fits in our laundry basket, we can bring.  I like laundry baskets because they typically have the grates where sand can easily shake and fall out.   But, I’d like to upgrade to the wagon since I can pull it!

Beach Tip #3

Follow-up to tip #2 – my rule is…we can bring what we can carry in one trip from the car to the sand.

It is hard enough to make one trip, while corralling kids.  Don’t make it harder on yourself by going back and forth to the car!  And as my kids have gotten older, they each have a “job” when helping with gear.  For example, I have them carry their own little kid beach chairs to the sand.

Beach Tip #4

Shade is key.

If you plan to be at the beach more than an hour or two, bring an umbrella, a pop-up tent (even if you have to borrow it!)…whatever will provide a little reprieve from the sun.  It makes it much more enjoyable for you and the kids on longer beach days.

Beach Tip #5

Scout out the potty situation beforehand…this is especially important if you have smaller children.

Some beaches have typical beach bathrooms with doors that close, some have port-a-potties, some do not have bathrooms readily available. Better to know before you go!  You can look this up online.  I also always stash some hand sanitizer in my beach bag.

Beach Tip #6

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Make sure to pack LOTS of water.  I pack refillable water bottles for everyone so that I can fill up at the beach water foundations.  It’s easy to forget to drink water when you’re playing, so I usually make the kids take some sips every so often.

Beach Tip #7

Bring two towels per kid.

Sounds silly, right?  Well, in the past I’ve brought one towel per kid.  And at the first snack opportunity (mid beach play), they sit their cute muddy/sandy/icky tushes down on their towels to eat.  Then at the end of the day when they’re tired and ready to go, they want a clean towel.  If you have the room, I find that having two towels per kid has worked better for us.

Beach Tip #8

Pack some baby powder!

Yep, if you didn’t know this little secret, now you do.  Baby powder repels sand.  A super easy way to clean sandy little hands, feet and legs.  Oh, and I always stick in baby wipes, too.

Beach Tip #9

Bring some small baggies to give to your kids for their beach “treasures.”

Both of my kids collect shells.  And I am always being asked to hold them or put them in my nonexistent pockets (hello kiddos, mama is in a bathing suit!).  A few Ziplock sandwich baggies takes care of this!

Beach Tip #10

Playing in the sand is most fun with…yep…TOYS!

Here’s my tip.  Pack them in full sized trash bags.  Easy to carry to the sand.  Easy to dump out.  Super easy (and less messy!) to grab all of your sand toys at the end of the day and throw them in the garbage bags.  Less sand rolling around in your trunk!

What are your beach tips?  If you have a great one, please share below in the comments below!

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How to Make FROZEN Glitter Silly Putty!

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Frozen Glitter Silly Putty_4

This summer, my kids and I are having so much fun with crafts, science experiments and little projects.

After seeing a super fun pin on Pinterest from on how to make silly putty, we decided to make this blog’s “Frozen” inspired glitter silly putty.

Silly Putty Ingredients:

Frozen Silly Putty_5

– A bottle of clear (or even white) Elmer’s glue

– 1/2 teaspoon of Borax (In case you’ve never bought this…like me…I found it in the home cleaning aisle by the laundry detergents.)

– Glitter (My kids couldn’t decide on just one glitter color, so we sprung for the glitter pack.)

– Blue food coloring

– Water

(Note – Because I have two kiddos, I doubled the ingredient list).

I was able to nab all ingredients at Walmart – but you can find these items at almost any Target, craft store, grocery store, etc.

How to Make Silly Putty:

1.  First, find a bowl that you don’t mind having blue food coloring mixed in.

2.  Pour the glue into the bowl.

3. Fill the empty glue bottle with water – add to the glue in the bowl – and mix well.

4. Add a few drops of the blue food coloring.  (By few, I mean few. A little goes a long way.)

5. Add your pretty glitter sparkles and stir.  Set the bowl aside.

6. In a separate bowl, combine a 1/2 cup hot water and a 1/2 teaspoon of Borax.  Stir well until dissolved.

7. Pour the Borax/water solution into your glue/water/food color/glitter bowl.

8.  Mix, stir, mix, stir.  (This may take a few minutes.)

9.  MAGIC!  Look at your super cool, sparkly silly putty!

10. I found it was best to place in a freezer Ziplock bag and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

11.  Once you can see it’s solidified, let your kiddo play, have fun and create whatever they want with this silly, gooey, glittery putty.

Silly Putty Activities:

And, who knew this would evolve into a full afternoon of creative play?!

We had trains going swimming, a fairy house with a brand new luxury swimming pool, a bull dozer pushing blue glitter loads…and on and on and on.

The kids were playing together.  Nicely.  Happily.  With sticky blue hands and grins.  Totally worth it.

Frozen Glitter Silly Putty_2

Homemade Silly Putty Tips:

– Your hands, your kid’s hands, and the surface you are working on will inevitably get colored with blue food dye.  My kids looked like little surfs.  Have no fear…it eventually washes out.  But make sure to pick a bowl, surface, and kid clothes that are okay to have splattered with blue.  We did it inside on the kitchen table.  Next time, we’ll try it out on the patio.

– Our putty had some leftover liquidy parts (try not to get grossed out by this).  Just drain them out and let your putty solidify for that recommend 15 minutes in the Ziplock bag.

Happy putty making!!

Thank you again to for this fun idea!

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