Play Date Fun

Today we had a play date instead of doing a craft. My friend Violet is also a nanny and this morning she had the brilliant idea of combining forces. She was with her three kids a couple of miles down the road so I gathered up Penny and Jude and we went over to visit Violet, Alex, Andrew, and Alyssa. They were all outside playing and waiting for us. The kids got to play in the small pool and in Andrew and Alyssa’s little toy cars and Violet and I got some time to talk. I love play dates because the kids are able to entertain themselves for the most part and I can have a fun little hang out. The novelty of playing with kids that they don’t get to see very often was all these five kids needed to have a good time. They ran around laughing, screaming, splashing, and chasing each other around. It was a lot of fun. Honestly play dates are so helpful when the nanny or mom is a little tired and not knowing what to do with the kids because the hard part is getting them to the play date. Once Penny and Jude are at a playdate I find they are so entertained by their friends that I can relax a lot more than if we were same coloring at home because while coloring I always have in the back of my head the knowledge that any minute they could be bored and I will have to come up with something new, while at a playdate I don’t experience that.

The kids had such a good time that we stayed for lunch. They all ran around the house like a tornado while Violet and I cooked up some pizza and mac and cheese, not the healthiest of lunches but it was what we had on hand. Sadly I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t take any pictures of all the kids playing together. However there is good news! The kids all had so much fun and Violet and I loved it so much that we are going to try and make it a weekly Friday thing, us going to their house or them coming to ours. So next week if we do it again I will post some pictures. Well the kids are up from their naps and the house, though we weren’t in it for a couple hours, is still messy. Until next week have a weekend!

~The Pinning Nanny

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Surprise! Circus Trip!

wpid-20150306_101758.jpgI know this week the kids and I were supposed to color Octonaut pictures but I forgot something very important… We were going to the circus! (Which is also why this post is two days late, I was too tired on Friday.) A couple weeks back their mom had asked if I would like to take them to the circus with some of their friends and their moms. As an avivid lover of anything remotely magical I LOVE the circus! Naturally I said I would love to take the kids to the circus but I forgot to put it on my calendar so of course I forgot about it until Wednesday night when I was talking to their mom and she wanted to confirm that I was still good to take them. So no we didn’t color any Octonaut pictures, but when I got to their house on Friday they were so excited about our surprise trip to the circus!

wpid-20150306_121357.jpgLike I said when I got to Penny and Jude’s house their dad had just told them we were going to the circus that day. They were beyond excited! They behaved so well all morning simply because they wanted to make sure there was no way I could take the circus away from them, which I never would have done for the simple reason that I desperately wanted to go! The circus began at 11:00 am and having mezzanine seating I wanted to get there early so that we would be guaranteed good seats. We left around 9:40 picked up my friend, Natalie, and we headed to the big top! We got great seats, first row dead center mezzanine! And this was my trick to guarantee that the good behavior continued through the show: I didn’t buy them any treats until intermission so that they had to sit through the first half of the show before they got any reward and then could eat the whole second half. It worked like a dream!

wpid-20150306_121500.jpgThe show was amazing. There were actual moments that I was flabbergasted by what was going on in the ring. Jude loved the two animal acts. And Penny’s favorite was the act in which the woman’s outfit kept changing every time someone put a sheet or tunnel thing over her. Both of those acts were impressive but my favorite were the brothers that would sit on each other’s feet and do flips. All in all it was a spectacular day that ended in the fireworks of tears brought on my overstimulation, hunger for real food, and complete exhaustion. However I got to go to the circus so Jude’s meltdown at the end has quickly faded into a faint memory. I simply love the circus and was honored to take them to their first circus. It was a great week. I’ll talk to you in a couple days.

~The Pinning Nanny

Sweet Love

Happy Wednesday everybody! I know I usually don’t post on a Wednesday but this week I am only going to post once because school is starting to speed up and I need a little break. So I’m going to tell you all about my last minute Valentine’s Day party with Penny and Jude. Now usually I am good at planning ahead, even for blogging I have all the crafts that I want to do for the next few weeks written down in my planner. However somehow Valentine’s Day slipped my mind completely! It wasn’t until last Wednesday when my friend, Janet, who is also a nanny told me about the Valentine’s Day craft that she was going to be doing with her kids that I remembered. It isn’t really an exaggeration when I say I had a moment of panic. Of course I wanted to do something fun and homemade but I had a paper due Thursday morning and didn’t have time to plan anything extravagant. Janet suggested I just make the cut a bake cookies with the hearts in the center, she even offered to go buy them for me. I agreed and Janet saved the day!wpid-20150213_083416.jpg

Come Friday I had the cookie dough, plan cause the store was all out of hearts, in hand when I walked through Penny and Jude’s door. The morning was a crunch. Penny had school earlier than usual because they were going to have a Valentine’s Day party and then get out early. Plus Penny hadn’t finished all her valentines for the kids in her class. We spent the morning glueing, glittering, bejeweling, and trying unsuccessfully to not get it on ourselves. The valentines came out great and they were just dried when we had to pack them up and get to school. wpid-20150213_162856.jpg

After school, lunch, and nap time (which I even got to be a part of as a valentine to myself) it was time to make the cookies! The kids loved cutting them out and placing them on the sheets. And I pulled out sprinkles as an extra special treat! While the cookies were in the oven I set Penny and Jude up watch American Tale as another treat, and also so that I could clean the house for their mom. When the cookies were done I brought them down each a cookie and they just loved their Valentine’s Day treat! It was so simple and I was happy, I even got to watch part of the movie! So even though I usually like doing homemade things I’m here to say that in a pinch it’s ok to go store bought, there’s no shame! Have a great week everyone and I talk to you next week about our next adventure!

~The Pinning Nanny

Sweet Success

Ladies and Gentlemen let it be known that I made a perfect batch of sugar cookies with the kids! There was not a burnt, unshapely, or glittered cookie in sight! It was in all respects a glorious success.

The cookies Penny and Jude decorated
The cookies Penny and Jude decorated

I had a game plan from the beginning and I kept my eye on the prize. We started a little later than I originally planned but I believe it ended up working in my favor. Penny and Jude were in a particularly riotous mood yesterday  and they ran around shouting and playing while I prepared for the cookie making in as much peace as you can have under the circumstances. I then allowed each of them to help me in turn with one of the processes, mixing dry and wet ingredients. I then released them to play again until it was time to roll them and cut them out.wpid-20141218_104444.jpg

I again allowed one kid at a time help me roll out a ball of dough and cut out cookies. Once they had each had a turn they were once again sent off to play. This strategy worked beautifully because I was able to focus my attention on keeping the dough at the right thickness and shapes. Once a whole tray was filled they were allowed to decorate them as they liked. After this final contribution I had them sit down at the table to eat lunch, that I had heated up while they were decorating, while I cut out and decorated the rest of the cookies. I made sure to keep a timer on so as not to forget a batch of cookies while cutting out and decorating another batch while also keeping Penny and Jude at the table and eating. wpid-20141218_105207.jpg

The whole activity took some effort on my part mostly because I was so determined to not mess the cookies up as I have in the past. However, even though I was grateful when the last batch was out of the oven and the kitchen was once again clean the cookies were glittered prettily and tasted delicious! The reward was well worth the effort, as I often find when it comes to baked goods. Well everyone, I hope that your weekend is as sweet as the beginning of mine has been. Until next week enjoy the cheer of the season!

Cookie Time!

Best-Sugar-Cookie-Cut-out-Recipe-finalIt is that time of year everyone! Time to make outrageous amounts of sugary sweet things and then eat them all saying you are only celebrating the season. Thursday the kids and I are going to be partaking in this glorious tradition. We will be making sugar cookies. Now as a warning sugar cookies are the one dessert item that I have consistently had trouble with; they always seem to come out a little different than I hope, usually more burnt.  So this activity could go south fast… But I’m not talking about that yet! I found a bunch of recipes that claim to be simple and the best. So this week since all the recipes are basically the same I am going to use three of them because of the varying advice that is attached to the recipes. I will be using Make Bake Celebrate’s  Rolled Cookies 101, Love Grows Wild’s Perfect Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs, and In Katrina’s Kitchen’ Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER. With the help of these three recipes I hope to make beautiful sugar cookies with Penny and Jude that they can both bring home to their parents and I can bring to go see The Hobbit with my friends later that night.

So what could go wrong with this recipe? Well as I said before sugar cookies and I have never been on the best of terms, when I’m baking them at least, hand them to me finished on a platter and we are CLOSE! I could burn the cookies meaning the kids will be upset and I will have no cookies to bring into the movie. The kids could get the baking ingredients all over the kitchen, which they have done in the past. I could burn them. I could roll them too thin and they tear. I could burn them. They could spread strangely and not look like pretty snowflakes when they come out. I could burn them. I could forget an ingredient ruining the batter. And did I mention I could burn them?

However many times I have burnt sugar cookies in the past I am trying to push all fears about burning them again aside and go into this activity with a clear and determined mind. My hope is that the kids are obedient which they should be when I threaten them with no cookies, and that I will have a nice little stash of cookies to enjoy during the movie. Friday I’ll tell you all the sweet or burnt details!

The One About Cake

This week Penny and Jude are away for Thanksgiving and so I sadly will not be seeing them, therefore no craft for the week. Even though the kids aren’t around I will still be posting this week, and today it is about cake! Busy Day Cake to be exact. I know I mentioned this cake in my post when the kids and I made pumpkin butter, and now I want to tell you more about it.

Busy Day Cake, by the wonderful Betty Crocker, is a life saver. Plus it is super inexpensive to make! I cannot tell you how many times I have used the recipe. I finally had to find it online and pin it so that I could have the recipe wherever I go. I’ve made it when I have simply had a craving for cake, with the kids for fun, in a pinch when I realized I needed to make a cake for someone, and every other excuse I have ever come up with to make a cake.

The recipe itself is super simple, and you can add pretty much anything to it to liven it up. In the past I have added cocoa powder to turn it into a chocolate cake, chocolate chips for much the same reason, apples and cinnamon for a fall flair, and berries for a sweet summery taste. I have also baked the original recipe many times and gotten compliments on the flavor.

Now that you know how much I love this recipe I am going to tell you about one of my successes with it and the only failure I have ever had with it. First off, the success. Now sadly I don’t have any pictures of my successful cakes other than the one my friend Hannah and I made for the pumpkin butter so I’ll tell you about that one. We went with the original recipe because we thought it would go well with the flavors ing the butter. Even with the kids running around wild we were able to throw the cake to together no problem. It is honestly the easiest homemade cake recipe, it rivals box mix in ease. The cake came out beautiful and when paired with the pumpkin butter it was divine! My mouth is actually watering thinking about it… 20141009_155733

I have now shown you how easy it is to make, even with kids. I’ve really set myself up badly for this next story. It was the weekend so I didn’t have the kids, I had had a craving for apple cake all week, and I was supposed to go over my friend’s house in the afternoon to hangout with him and one of his friends I had never met. I decided that with all those things combined it was the perfect time to bake a quick apple cake. I prep the apples, cutting them up, and added cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of sugar. I then whipped up the batter. I put a nice layer of the apples at the bottom of the pan so that when I flipped it onto the plate when it was cool it would look pretty, and added the rest throughout. I turned on the timer and went about my business. The apples were so juicy that the cake took an extra 30-40 minutes to bake. My friend was texting me because I was supposed to be over his house and I’m never late. The cake finally came out of the over and I put it in a bigger baking pan to transport it, wanting to get to my friend’s house as soon as possible. There are two doors in the front of my house, a glass one and a wooden one. My mom held the wooden one open for me and I pushed the glass one open. The glass door swung back and grazed the corner of the larger baking pan… the pan and cake went flying!wpid-20141018_143401.jpg

I stood in utter shock in my front yard looking down on the mess that was just a second before my beautiful apple cake. My mom came to my rescue. She got spatulas from kitchen and helped me put the cake back in the pan and pick the grass and leaves out. We ended up eating the cake and it was delious! But my friends still ask me if I remember the time I  destroyed the cake, as if I could forget! Well there you have it, I hope you too have enjoyed my cake disaster. Have a happy Thanksgiving, and I will be back on Friday with another story about my time with the kids.

Burnt Spooky Bones

Happy Halloween everyone! First I have to say I simply loved Dan from Weekly Waves guest post earlier this week if you haven’t read it you should. It really inspired me to try to make this weeks activity extra fun. As today is Halloween I really wanted to do a fun seasonal themed activity with the kids. The spooky bones seemed like the perfect simple activity…

Dan predicted one thing right, I burnt the white chocolate… TWICE! I am very used to working with regular chocolate but white chocolate is a completely different thing. It doesn’t melt like regular chocolate melts, it goes from being a little mushy to being lumpy and burnt in a matter of moments. But I am getting ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.wpid-20141030_094742.jpg

As always Disney Pandora was playing, Penny and Jude were running up and down the hall, while I set out the ingredients we were going to need to make our spooky bones. It was one of the easier set ups, I put the mini marshmallows and the pretzel sticks in two bowls and put them on the table. I then went to melt the white chocolate, this is where I started having problems. I didn’t want to make a huge mess so I opted to melt the chocolate in the microwave. Usually if you put a little chocolate in the microwave melt it a little and then add more you won’t have problems and the chocolate comes out a nice glossy liquid, this is not the case with white chocolate. I played it safe only putting it in for about half a minute at a time to ensure that the chocolate wouldn’t burn. It burnt. I tried again, this time with a makeshift double boiler on the stove. Once again I played it safe and used all my former knowledge of melting chocolate, which I have a good bit of, to melt this batch of white chocolate. I swear I was looking at the pot the whole time and the chocolate went from a solid to a burn lump with no inbetween stage!

Second batch of burnt chocolate.
Second batch of burnt chocolate.

At this point I was frustrated naturally but I knew the show must go on, the kids were expecting to make spooky bones with of without white chocolate. I called the kids to the table and but on the song Dan suggested, Rather Be, and we started attaching mini marshmallows to the ends of the pretzels. After helping the kids figure out how to do it I pulled out my phone and went to google. I was determined to find a way to salvage the chocolate. I found one site that said if you add oil such as olive or canola to the burnt chocolate you can resurrect it. Guess what it worked! With a lot of stirring, oil, and a little heat I was able to bring the chocolate back from the dead.  Before something else happened I quickly got the naked spooky bones that the kids had made and started covering then in the chocolate. Sadly because I had already thrown out half of the burnt chocolate I wasn’t able to cover very many of our bones but gosh darn it I covered as many as I could! Word from the wise when needing to melt white chocolate go get white chocolate that is actually meant to be melted down don’t buy the stuff in the baking aisle, unless you relish the idea of having to fight oil into it. Anyway the project is done, and I don’t think I will be touching white chocolate for a long time. Have a great Halloween!

Our small batch of covered spooky bones.
Our small batch of covered spooky bones.

Spooky Bones Guest Post!

The Pinning Nanny’s special guest! Weekly Waves very own DAN PARK!!! *applause *clapping *laughter. Thank you thank you, you guys are all too kind. So this week, Rebecca told me her kids are going to be doing a very SPOOOKY project. This week Rebecca and the children will be making “Spooky Bones”. Now I have been given the opportunity to imagine this scenario and paint a picture of how I would imagine it to go. However, to remain faithful to my own blog I’m going to paint a picture with the song I think will accurately depict this scene.

The song I’m going to choose is Rather Be. I originally wanted to paint this picture in a way that was wild and hectic, but I am going to give Rebecca the benefit of the doubt and say that this project will be a success becoming a blissful and spooky memory that these children will hold forever. It overall seems like a fairly easy project. However, usually anything that involves food and sticky material, there will be a mess to follow, but I am going to say that it will be a cheerful memory.

But let’s see how it’ll turn out in my head, and I suggest the reader to turn on this song while we are going on this little adventure. Rebecca will come in and the kids will greet her with a warm hug telling her about all the candy they want to eat on the upcoming holiday. Rebecca will then ask if they want the best treat of all: SPOOKY BONES! Obviously the kids will rejoice and scream for the spooky bones. Being the caretaker she is, Rebecca will have all the ingredients and get out the melting pot. Melting the chocolate she and the kids will prepare the marshmallows and pretzels. However, Jude think’s that these are Q-tips and sticks one in his ear. Quickly reacting Rebecca pulls it out, but the marshmallow gets stuck. Even though she pulls out most of it, there is still marsh residue. During this time the white chocolate is burning up!

Calm and collected Rebecca switches off the melting pot, as she swiftly washes Jude up. Penny is also being extremely helpful, helping Rebecca retrieve all the necessary equipment. All the while the children are laughing. Making a new batch of chocolate…10 minutes pass, they’re finally ready to cover the “bones”. They get through a ribcage worth of bones when Penny accidentally knocks over her bowl of chocolate onto Jude’s face. Instead of crying Jude says… “Look I’m a ghost now”. Penny dabs a spooky bone on Jude’s face and eats it. Then Jude, Penny, and Rebecca begin to laugh. They continue laughing while eating the rest of the bones, while Jude and Penny are getting cleaned up, and while they clean the premises. Looking back twenty, thirty years from now they’ll both know what a great Nanny they had, and that there was no place else that they would rather be. The end.

 

Yummy Mummies

It’s Friday! (Que the sighs of relief ) I’m not going to sugar coat it today has been a hard day. Jude has been difficult and I am very excited that it is almost the weekend. I have one walk to and from Penny’s school, one fight over her taking a nap, and maybe two hours of homework to do and then I can enjoy the weekend! And I hope that since you are reading this you are enjoying the weekend too.

Quick side not I used store brand crescent rolls and Apple Gate Farms natural hot dogs to make these tasty mummies. Anyway onto the hot dog mummies! Yesterday was a great day, and the hot dogs mummies did factor into the greatness of the day. I had originally planned to do all the prep work for the mummies on my own and then call the kids in when it was time to wrap them, but as I was cutting the crescent rolls into crips Penny came up to me to see what I was doing. As soon as she saw that I was cooking she asked if she could help. Charmed by her enthusiasm to help I went and got a chair and had her put her hand on top of mine to cut the dough into strips. We then made the hot dogs look more like humans by cutting legs and arms into them. The whole time we worked together we bopped our heads and swayed to the music from Pandora’s Disney station, honestly if you spend a lot of time with kids a well cultivated Disney Pandora station can keep you sane.  wpid-20141023_102112.jpg

Next came the really fun part. We each grabbed a hot dog and began to wrap them with strips of dough. It took a little learning and experimenting in figuring out the best way to wrap them so that the dough both stayed in place and the finished product looked like a mummy, but we got the hang of it and I think they looked great when we were done. Jude came over while we were wrapping them and wrapped one, but then got bored and so went back to playing We did have a laugh over the funniness of making hot dogs into mummies, the irony was not lost on Penny. Once they were all wrapped we popped them into the fiery tomb, otherwise known as the oven, and I put on the timer. There was no way I was going to burn those puppies, pun intended. wpid-20141023_103240.jpg

While the mummies were aging in their heated tomb I had to quickly throw together a side to serve with the mummies. I decided on serving the mummies with a side of golden nuggets, corn, and rudy juice, ketchup. Penny and Jude both loved the meal, however warning the inside of the mummies stay hot for a very long time so when serving to kids triple check that they are cool enough to be eaten.wpid-20141023_105449.jpg

I would call this activity an absolute success! It was a little time consuming for a lunch, it took about 45 minutes from start to finish, but I think the end result was well worth the time and effort. Plus they look supper cool when they are done. As an October activity these hot dog mummies are great, and I think I am going to make them a yearly tradition. So here’s to another week of successful activities with kids. I have been able to hold disaster at bay for another week, but who knows next week might blow up in my face, come back next week to find out!

The Idea of Hot Dog Mummies

I know I usually post the idea that I am going to try with the kids on Tuesdays but I had a paper to write and errands to run yesterday, among other things, and so it’s Wednesday. To anyone, if there is anyone, who was patiently waiting yesterday for my post I’m sorry. I thought about my post a couple times yesterday but that was mostly while I was trying not to get distracted from my paper and while I was out running errands. Ah, the life of a student!67267c76aa7722a95b491fe3791c187f

Ok so now that I have bored you with my excuses, let’s talk about what I’m planning for this week. Keeping with the October theme of Halloween, this Thursday the kids and I will be making Mummy Dogs for lunch. As always I found the recipe idea on Pinterest and am now bringing it to you. It is originally a Pilsbury recipe and the Pilsbury website even has video tutorial on how to make them, for those that aren’t as familiar with the kitchen.

The recipe itself is simple, hot dogs, crescent rolls, and cheese. Depending on if we have cheese or not I maybe omitting the cheese. I don’t think that having cheese in them or not is really going to make or break this recipe, so I will let you know what my final decision and the outcome is on Friday. So yeah, this recipe is easy, you take the hot dogs and either slice them so that they have arms and legs or you leave them unscathed. Next you take little strips of crescent roll and wrap them around the hot dogs. Once you have finished your burial ritual on the hot dogs you pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes. And then voila you have perfectly wrapped and baked mummy dogs.

I think Penny and Jude are going to find this activity especially amusing. I believe the idea of making hot dog mummies is going to be really funny to them. Honestly think about it yourself it’s kinda funny. I can just see us making the mummies and laughing about how silly what we are doing actually is. My prediction is that this is going to be a fun and easy project…

There is always the chance that my prediction is not correct. For all I know this could be a complete disaster! (Think back to the flubber incident.) But what could go wrong? Fighting over who gets to do what could ensue. The crescent rolls could not be the right consistency, it’s happened to me in the past. The mummies could come out of the oven just looking like big blobs of crescent roll with a hot dog in the center and look nothing like a mummy. I could forget the mummies in the oven and burn them to a crisp. Burning them would be the true disaster. If I burn them I won’t have time to make another lunch for the kids before Penny needs to get to school and so she would be going to school hungry. That would make me the worst nanny ever! It’s ok I haven’t had a mess up since the flubber… I can do this! I hope I can do this.

To see what happens come back Friday. I’ll have all the yummy/burnt, disastrous/glorious results for you then.