It was cool and rainy this weekend, the kind of days that call out for cookies. I decided to make Rice Krispie Treats. The Boy helped and I realized that making these tasty treats has great potential to be a fun, fairly inexpensive activity.
I haven’t tried the generic brand of Rice Krispies (Crisp Rice?), but I assume it wouldn’t be that much different than the Kellogg’s brand. And I always just buy the cheapest brand of marshmallow, especially if I am making the treats within a few days. Other than that, all you need is butter or margarine and perhaps some food coloring or other little ‘extras.’
Melting the butter and marshmallows needs to be closely supervised. We don’t want burned fingers or hands. Make sure you use a large pot so that it is easy to stir in the cereal after everything is melted. Once you have stirred in the cereal, it is easy for a young child to help press the treats into the greased pan or shape them.
I’m sure the ideas are endless, but you could add some food coloring to the marshmallow/butter concoction as it is melting. Add red and shape the treats into hearts for Valentine’s Day. Add green and shape into shamrocks for St. Patty’s Day. Add orange and make ‘carrots’ for Easter. I could go on. Shaping the treats is fun. Just remember to butter/grease your hands really well. Or use greased saran wrap to shape the treats. Add M&Ms or other candies before they cool to decorate. My favorite has been the carrot-shaped treats with green sour worm ‘tops.’
The Boy is not a fan of chocolate. (He doesn’t get it from me!) So these are a fun treat for him to help make and eat. If you wrap each square or shape in saran, they do last a few days, but of course, I think they are best when eaten right out of the pan!
I recently came across a fun website, Spatulatta: Cooking 4 Kids Online. The site has short videos of kids cooking in the kitchen. It is definitely something to use when The Boy gets a little older. For now, it is a good reminder that early exposure to kitchen activities can be a great thing for kids. The Boy gets to do little things already, like, cracking eggs, stirring, cutting out and frosting cookies and ‘washing’ dishes. That last one is actually more like playing with soapy water and utensils in the sink.
Last spring I undertook the most ambitious craft project that I have ever done. I remembered from my childhood having a cloth activity book and decided that that would be just the thing for The Boy’s second birthday gift. I don’t know if my memory serves me correctly and if, indeed, my mother made my activity book. My mom is gone now and my own book hasn’t been seen for probably 20 years. But I thought that it would be ‘fun’ to make the book for The Boy. Little did I know that ‘fun’ would be two weeks worth of a huge project all over the dining room table and several nearly sleepless nights.
A friend had made her son a cloth activity book a few years before and still had the pattern, so she lent it to me. The project was definitely more expensive than I had anticipated. I did, however, learn a lot and I have many supplies left over for future crazy projects.
The material was fairly expensive. I bought pre-quilted material for the cover and duck cloth for the inside pages. I used fabric scraps and buttons from around the house, but I did end up buying velcro, zippers, shoelaces, snaps and some other sewing materials. Oh, and heat-bond hemming material. Did I mention that I don’t have a sewing machine? (And don’t want one – that just opens up a whole new world of crafts that I don’t have time or space for.)
The heat-bonding took the longest. I had to heat-bond each page and most of the activities onto each page. I ended up using some heavy duty textile adhesive for the thicker pieces. All in all, if I ever attempt another one, I think I’ll spend a week with my mother-in-law and use her sewing machine.
However, if you know how to follow directions and like big craft projects, this might just be the thing for you. The book turned out beautifully and The Boy loves to play with it. I even got brave toward the end and changed a couple of the pages to suit us a little better.
There are many store-bought cloth activity books out there, but having the hand-made book really makes it more special to us. In the future, I can tell The Boy the stories behind many of the fabric scraps used in the book.
GetRichSlowly.org has an article on how to eat at a nicer restaurant without blowing out your budget. One of my favorites is below.
Take food home. An excellent way to stretch your restaurant dollar is to actually plan to take home leftovers. Kris and I have done this for years, yet I don’t know how wide-spread the practice is. If you do this, keep it in mind when browsing the menu; some foods keep and reheat much better than others.
Plus it will save a little of your waistline if you don’t eat those huge plates of foods that are served in most places.