Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Now I Know My A.B.C's " Spicy Apple and Blueberry Crisp. {Updated Recipe}

Image from
As soon as the overnight temperature in my living room dips below 75 degrees, I begin to plan my winter pantry and stock up with the foods we love to treat ourselves to the most.  Apple crisp is in the top 3 recipes we crave.  It's an excuse to have our fruit servings baked up warm and sweet.  I've adapted the recipe to include lower calorie sugar and butter alternatives, just to remove the guilt factor.  Have your pie and eat it too.

Spicy Apple and Blueberry Crisp.

Mixture #1-
2 cups large flake oats
1/2 cup Brown Sugar Blend Splenda
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup margarine
1 tablespoon canola oil* or any bland oil
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend

Mixture #2-
3 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups apples (Approximately 3 large)
3 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Granulated Splenda because it measures cup for cup like sugar.

What I did:

  1. Combine the ingredients in Mixture #1 with a fork, it will look crumbly.
  2. Combine Mixture #2 in a separate bowl.  I prefer Granny Smith apples- peeled, cored, sliced.
  3. Toss the apple slices in orange juice to discourage browning.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  5. Grease a large baking dish, I use my 2.5 L Corning Ware dish.
  6. Add blueberry and apple mixture to pan first.
  7. Sprinkle crisp mixture evenly over the fruit.
  8. Bake 35-45 minutes in a preheated 350 F oven until the top is brown and filling is bubbly.

Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or my favourite fresh FUSSELL'S Thick Cream.


Granny Smith apples are tart but stay nice and firm when used in pies and crisps.

Butter can be used instead of margarine. I would omit the oil and increase the butter portion by 2 tablespoons instead.

I buy loads of fresh blueberries when they are in season. Wash and dry them, then freeze in 1/2 cup portions to use all winter long. Defrost them in your fridge about 3-4 hours before they are needed.

Disclosure: Original post date 09/13/11. This is not a sponsored post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Helping Children Cope With the Loss Of A Pet #Life

"With all my heart I believe it is true, that there is a Heaven for animals, too."
Nancy Tillman
In Loving Memory of KOVU
AKA Meow Meow and Kitty Boy
August 1998-February 18, 2015
This post is dedicated to everyone who has loved and lost a pet. There is no easy way out of dealing with loss. We have watched the steady decline of our lovely kitty boy since last July. It's hard for us as adults to cope with losing him after having him in our lives from the time we were newly weds 16 years ago, to now. The dread of breaking the news to our daughter brought me to tears many times throughout the day.  Here is how we are trying to deal with the loss...

Be As Honest As Possible
Our daughter is five and had noticed the changes in him, he slowly lost the use of his back legs, etc.  We began to talk about the fact that kitty was getting old and was probably experiencing aches and pains like an elderly person was. This opened the door for our girl to initiate many conversations over the last few months- mostly questions about what happens when he's too sick to get to his food and litter. We gave her the truth but also tried to offer comfort in advance.  We believe in heaven, so had told her he would go to heaven one day soon and wouldn't be in pain or sick any more. We haven't given any specific details on where he is physically or how it happened.

Keep Memories Alive
When tears are done we will be ready to talk about all the things we loved about our kitty and share funny stories about being a shameless mooch. We have taken many pictures over the last 16 years and especially in the last 6 months so Princess will have pics with our boy to look back on. We also got a paw print in clay to keep as a physical reminder.

Cry and Talk It Out
There is no replacing a good cry and letting each family member express their sadness and grief. Coming home to an empty house was hard and I'm sure there will be many more hard days and nights to come as we adjust to our routines that used to include our kitty.
Available on for approx $12

Read A Good Book
I bought a book in preparation for this day. It's called The Heaven of Animals by Nancy Tillman. This lovely hardcover book captures my feeling about animals and what happens to them when they leave us, at least what I hope happens. The illustrations brought tears to our eyes all over again because we found a brown tabby that looks a lot like our boy.

With lots of reassurance and hugs we will get through this sad time. I hope these tips have brought you some encouragement and hope in your own time of sadness. Disclaimer: This post is neither sponsored nor endorsed by any of the people or brands mentioned within.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Simple Weaving Crafts For Valentines Day {Preschool & JK/SK Activities}

There are many ways to use paper in preschool activities.  Cutting and weaving paper into patterns can be delightful and encourage using familiar materials in new ways.  I did these activities with my JK children and older preschoolers in preparation for Valentine's Day cards we would be making and exchanging.  I promote freedom in exploring art materials, but also believe in the value of teacher lead opportunities if children have expressed an interest and need guidance to achieve their goals. I can't pretend these are activities inspired by original ideas. Woven Heart Baskets and Heart Envelopes are projects I remember doing in kindergarten more than 30 years ago.  Here is my interpretation of classic Preschool and JK projects. 

Age Group: 3 1/2 to 5 year olds

Learning Outcomes:
  1. To enhance cognitive skills as children create patterns with paper and learn the process of weaving (under, over, under). 
  2. Creative expression will be encouraged as children choose the colours of paper they would like to use. 
  3. Tool mastery (snipping with scissors) and fine motor skills will be practiced as children prepare their project for weaving. 

 Activity #1

Heart Baskets.
Overlap your woven plates in a cone shape.
Secure the sides with staples and affix the large chenille
wire as a handle.  The end result will be a basket
to collect Valentine cards or small treats.
  • 9 inch paper plates- 2 for each basket
  • paper scissors
  • Tissue paper cut in 1 x12 inch strips
  • large chenile wires
  • stapler (adult help needed)

Cut strips of tissue paper.

Fold the paper plates in half and slice straight lines
on the folded edge.

Open the plate, lay it flat and begin weaving tissue
paper one strip at a time. Repeat this step with a second plate.
Activity #2
Heart Envelopes.
When the bottom edges are secured with invisible tape,
this heart will open into an envelope for collecting

  • Construction paper
  • Paper scissors
  • Invisible tape

Fold a piece of construction paper in half.  The goal is to
preserve the folded edge for the entire

Cut the folded paper in half .

Cut two slices in each half, again preserving the
folded edge.

Carefully round the outer corners
(this step can be saved to the end).

Open the two halves of paper, over the bottom pieces
into a woven pattern. Close the top pieces over
the bottom and carefully weave these as well.
Secure the bottom edges with two sided tape.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Valentine's Giveaway via @Hallmark_Canada (02/19)

Disclosure: I received product for review, all opinions remain honest and my own.

Today I'm launching my first giveaway for 2015.  Can you believe it's been 65 years since Disney released Lady and the Tramp?

Introduce children to one of the greatest love stories of all time -Lady and the Tramp-
with this classic retelling of the movie.
Hardcover; 24 pages.
Retails for $9.95 

Win It!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Please note, I have listened to feedback and updated my blog to allow for readers using more browsers other than chrome.  You will still need to click on the POST TITLE to open the POST PAGE and open comment field for mandatory entry.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Favourite Books for Literacy Week 2015 #PreschoolActivities

This post is not sponsored or endorsed by any brand mentioned within. All opinions remain hpnest and my own. Literacy is something that can be promoted daily regardless of your child's age. I've been reading to my girl since she was just a few weeks old as part of our nightly routine. Literacy is not just the ability to read, it relates to language skills and social (conversation) interaction as well. Having quality books accessible for children at all times will help them learn to count books as a valued part of their daily life and not just a school chore to be conquered later on. The National spotlight on Family Literacy has been given an official day, this year it falls on Tuesday, January 27. Here are some of my favourite books to read and listen to in my classroom and with my own girl. My Top 3 Authors/Publishers: Scholastic Canada- Publishes and distibutes books all over the world. My childcare center participates in their book club which gives access to quality, affordable books and learning resources each month. Robert Munsch- this Canadian Author has written many books that promote humour and expressive language. I like to get these books with Munsch reading on CD so we can listen to his humorous portrayal of his story. DK Books International (Dorling Kindersley Limited)- These books are packed with colour photos and are top quality non-fiction/reference books with a wealth of information available in a wide variety of topics for all ages. Did you Know? Picture books encourage children to use their imagination and develop descriptive language. Repetitive and rhyming books help children memorize the familiar patterns of speech and encourage responsive language.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy New Year! Trying to Kick the Flu Season While Building Fun Giveaways and Posts for 2015!

Yes I know the NEW Year is two weeks old and I'm very late in offering best wishes and such. Since Boxing Day we have all taken turns being sick with one illness or another. The final one being a semi-emergency since we found out the hard way that my girl is allergic to penicillin. The twoonie sized welts and swollen face gave it away after her afternoon dose yesterday. It was only her third time having antibiotics in five years so we probably would have found out sooner. Since she is getting back to her cheeky self I have locked myself away to deal with the 200 emails and try to get my blog back on track for 2015.

I have several projects in the works for Valentine's and have reconnected with Hallmark Canada as an Ambassador for 2015. Here's to my third year on their blogger panel!

Now for some shameless self promotion, I give myself a free-pass once or twice a year. Please connect with me in my other social profiles to keep up to date on new posts and giveaways coming soon.