Mini Monets and Mommies: December 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

6 New Year's Eve Activities that the Kids Will Absolutely Adore!

New Year’s kids’ activities anyone? Um, yes please! You’re celebrating “Noon Year’s Eve” at, well – noon. Or, maybe you have your fave families coming over for an evening get together. Whatever your plans are, having plenty of arts and crafts (along with some tasty treats, of course) on hand is a must-do.

Kids' art

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Before going crazy with crafts, start simple. You have plenty to do around the holidays. So, why add to it with complicated art projects or overly complex recipes? Yeah, yeah, Pinterest is bursting with an over-abundance of seemingly awesome ideas. You scroll down your feed and think, “Well, I could do that.” Maybe. But, keep in mind, the middle of your New Year’s Eve celebration isn’t the time to find out that what looked oh-so-easy on Pinterest (and, don’t they all?) was actually super-complicated.

Pour the Paint

Kids' crafts

Okay, so if you want something beyond simple to keep the kids busy (and keep them totally happy too!) put out some paints. Is it mess-free? Nope. But, all you really need are four colors – the primaries (red, yellow and blue) and white. They can mix their own hues and then paint a holiday masterpiece. Add in some glitter (yes, this multiplies the mess exponentially) for a festive sparkle.

Try Clay Play

Modeling clay
If your goal is to keep the mess to a minimum, one of my favorite kids’ art activities is finger painting with clay. The secret for this one is that there’s no actual finger paint involved. Instead, your kiddo can pull apart soft modeling clay into dime-sized pieces. She can then spread it out over a cardboard surface, finger paint style. It’s a fab fine motor activity and you can adapt it for any occasion. Have your child use the clay to make New Year’s fireworks or just make abstract art.

Confetti Art

Craft activity

Let’s say you have tons of magazines hanging out in the basement, garage or attic. Maybe you don’t. But, given that Christmas and Hanukkah were just last week, you might have some extra gift wrap odds and ends stashed around. Cut those up and use as confetti. The kids can paint a piece of card stock paper with clear-drying school glue. Toss the confetti, and watch it stick. Yay!

Glitter Ball Drop

New Year's Eve

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1! The ball’s dropping in NYC, and at home too. Make your own with some sparkling playdough. Follow this recipe to whip up some DIY dough. Add a drop of food coloring in or don’t (the glitter will create a cool color). Sprinkle tons and tons and tons of glitter in (hey, it has to sparkle like the Times Square ball, right?) and mush it around. Your child can make the midnight drop ball and then take it apart for more playdough fun.

Glitter Gunk

Kids' art

As if playdough isn’t fun enough, try some New Year’s glitter slime! Follow these directions to mix up a batch of slime. Add in the sparkles and you’re ready for some festive science fun. The more glitter your kids use, the more solid the color will look.

Kids’ Cookies

Holiday sweets

When the kids tire from the crafting, try these easy no-bake cookies (here's the recipe). They’re sparkly (like the glitter) and look like mini New Year’s Eve balls. Oh yeah, and they’re super tasty too!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Make Your Mark With This Awesome New Kids' Activity eBook!

I’m so excited to be part of an amazing new book, Make Your Mark! Seriously, I’m not just saying it’s amazing because I’m in it. It really, truly is. Make Your Mark is a book about creative writing, confidence, compassion and caring – and all for kids! Okay, so it’s you (the adult) who is going to read it. But, it’s your little one who will totally benefit from the activities inside.

Kids' book

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement for more information).

What kinds of kids’ activities will you find? Make Your Mark is filled with 30+ projects. These will help your child to develop a love of writing early on. From creative storytelling to building self-confidence and compassion, this book goes deep and helps your child to learn on many different levels.
Early literacy

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The activities are an array of ideas, featuring play, art, language, writing and more. Whether it’s making a first mark through art, using pens and brushes to make more complex marks or igniting inspiration through storytelling, you’ll find plenty of ideas and activities for your young child to try out. These include:

·        Art

·        Writing trays

·        Finger gyms (and other fine motor play ideas)

·        Interview activities

·        Kindness activities

·        Collaborative projects

·        Printables

Kids' projects

This is a perfect way to help your young child develop early literacy skills, build social abilities and improve her emotional awareness. One of the things that I enjoy most about this book is that there’s an awesome array of ideas included. There isn’t just one “right way” to help your kiddo to develop early literacy abilities. Some kids learn by keeping their hands busy, while others like to look at pictures and print (and these are only two examples of the many ways in which people learn). Giving your child choices and having a variety of activities on hand makes it easier to match your little learner’s individual development with educational options.

Art activitiesKids' activities

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Make Your Mark is for sale starting Friday December 9th. There is a special launch price for the month of December – in other words, buy it this month to save your hard-earned money! The launch special price is $11.25. That’s a 25% savings, no discount code needed (all you have to do is buy the book before December 31, 2016). After December, the ebook will available for the regular price of $14.99. So, why wait? Get your copy right now!

Kids book

Buy Now

Buy it worldwide for instant download

This is an ebook, which means you will be sent a link that allows you to download a PDF containing the ebook and all the resources. You can save it to your computer or iPad* and then either read it on screen or print some/all of the pages, as you prefer.

You can buy the ebook wherever you are in the world. You pay via PayPal, which will take care of any currency conversion for you. The ebook costs US$ 14.99.

*You can buy the ebook now, on any device, and then download it when you are ready. Depending on the apps you have installed and your operating system, you might be able to download the ebook on your mobile device. However if you have any doubts or problems, I recommend you use a computer to download the book and then share it to your mobile devices. You will be sent download instructions when your purchase the ebook.

The Make Your Mark ebook is published and sold by Cathy James at Please direct any customer service queries regarding purchases of the ebook to or refer to the NurtureStore FAQ.

The Make Your Mark ebook is protected under copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Oreo and Yogurt Holiday Smoothie Recipe!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertisers. All opinions are mine alone. #MerryMeals #CollectiveBias

The holidays are quickly approaching. And, we all know that means parties, family get-togethers and celebrating, celebrating and then some more celebrating. That also means feeding everyone who comes over (whether it’s for a Christmas party or an impromptu gathering).

Christmas recipes

With all of the holiday cheer (and heavy food), I’m kind of into creating lighter fare this time of year. Okay, so I still like sweet treats. I can’t help it. But, I really wanted to spread some holiday cheer without filling my kitchen with cookies, cupcakes and pies. And honestly, I also wanted an easier option. Something that doesn’t require hours and hours of prep-time and baking. Seriously, who has time for that? I’m not saying that this is an entirely healthy holiday treat. But, it’s lighter than a fruit cake and it does have yogurt in it (which makes it healthier than ice cream).

That’s why I’m glad that Giant Eagle has everything I need for my holiday shopping. Not only do they have an awesome array of their own brands, but they also have all of my favorites—that’s partially why I’m using Oro Thins for this super-easy recipe. I’m not stretching the truth when I say that I’m at Giant Eagle at least three times a week. Really, you can go there and ask their team members (believe it or not, the other day one of the Eagle’s Nest employees came up to me to say “hi” – she remembered my now 15-year-old son from when he was a preschooler!).
Holiday foods

I’m a fan of fancy drinks (the non-alcoholic kind, I mean). When I saw the Dannon Oikos Yogurt Drinks I immediately thought of trying out an easy holiday smoothie. To add a pinch (or maybe a bit more than a pinch of sweetness) I paired the drinks with Oreo Thins. How? Read on to see how this fab smoothie worked out!

Holiday cards

What You’ll Need:

·        Single serve Dannon Oikos Yogurt Drinks (I used vanilla and strawberry—for the wintery white and Christmas-y red!)

·        Oreo Thins (or you could swap in regular Oreos)

·        ½ vanilla yogurt

·        Red and green crystalized sugar or holiday sprinkles

·        1 tablespoon white frosting (this is just for a garnish, it won’t actually go into the smoothie)

·        Optional: 1 cup crushed red berries of your choice

What to Do:

1. Crush the Oreo Thins (leave a few whole ones out). You can put the cookies in a plastic zipper baggies and crush them with the back of a large wooden spoon or you can put them into a food processor.

Cookies holiday

2. Add the yogurt drink (I used one per serving), the crushed cookies and the yogurt to a blender. If you’re using fruit, add this now.
Yogurt drink

3. Blend the mix. Until it is smooth, but still thick.

4. Pour the holiday yogurt smoothie into a tall glass. Or you can get fancy, and use a wine glass (minus the wine, of course). We used a mason jar too!

5. Coat the rim with a thin layer of white frosting—it looks like snow! Sprinkle the sugar (or the holiday sprinkles) over the frosting to add a touch of Christmas flare. Don’t worry about it falling into the smoothie—it will just add extra holiday d├ęcor.

Remember those leftover Oreo Thins that you didn’t put into the smoothies? You can create an edible accent to your smoothie display (that is, if you’re setting up a table design for a holiday party buffet). Spread some of the white frosting over the cookies, and add more of the red and green crystalized sugar or holiday sprinkles.

If you have a few candy canes on hand, rest one on the top of each smoothie glass.

Now that you’ve got the sweet totally taken care of, you probably need something to balance it. You, and your guests, may start craving the salty stuff. Here’s where I’m glad that there’s a Giant Eagle close to home. I totally didn’t think about the fact that so much sweet needed a salty balance. So, when the thought hit me I had no problem running out (again) to pick up a box of Keebler Club Crackers! Pairing the crackers with Market District Hummus made for an easy savory option. It also gave me the chance to get a few Hallmark Holiday Cards for my guests.

Smoothie treats

That’s it! A simple appetizer-style buffet for the holiday. If you’re looking to create a full-on spread for your holiday party, check out the Giant Eagle Social Hub. You’ll find creative recipes galore there!