Hanukkah Collage with Melissa and Doug Dot-A-Dot Markers


As Hanukkah approaches I am trying to think of fun activities that my boys can try this year and we haven’t done before. We have never made a Hanukkah menorah with removable flames. The idea behind this is that each night of Hanukkah the boys can safely “light” their menorah.  My boys can do this in conjunction with us actually lighting our home menorah and feel an active part of the tradition rather than just an observer.

If you are not familiar with the menorah lighting, there are eight candles that are lit during the holiday of Hanukkah. One candle is lit each night for a total of eight nights. There is a helper candle that is often located in the middle of the menorah called a shemash. The shemash is the first candle lit and it is used to like the other candles each night.  During the lighting there is a blessing set of the candles to celebrate specifically the holiday of Hanukkah and the tradition of lighting a candle each night.  Along with the blessing, our family sings many traditional songs in Hebrew or English each night. It’s really a special part of the day that separates regular day today life and the holiday for us. As we continue on going to school, running errands, and working during this holiday we come home each night to light the candles which gives us a feeling of celebration.

To start creating our menorah poster with removable flames I use painter’s tape and taped out the shape of the menorah on white card stock. It’s really important with painter’s tape to use a thick and study paper, so I highly recommend card stock for this project.  Then I had my boys use their Melissa and Doug Dot-A-Dot Markers to add color.  When they were finished I remove the painter’s tape and the shape of the menorah came out white.


Just the painter’s tape menorah was a beautiful project on its own, but to take it another step further I decided to create removable flames.  We cut out from orange and red card stock flame shapes. The red flame was used for the shemash candle, and was a little bit larger in size than the other eight flames. Then I used a Velcro dots on each claim as I attached them to the paper with the boys.  I would recommend if you have a laminating machine available to you to laminate the poster before adding the Velcro flames. You could also use contact paper. This would make the poster reusable for years to come.  I however, do not have these items available to me right now so I did not do that.  I will just have to be careful to remove the flames gently each night and have the boys attach them only.


If you follow me on Instagram, make sure to look out for the boys lighting their menorah posters each night.  Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah Sugar Cookie Decorating Party for Toddlers

For a recent play date my friend and I decided to make sugar cookies and let the kids decorate them. Neither one of us have made sugar cookies before, so through trial and error we were able to figure out a recipe that worked. Our first attempt at dough came out too crumbly. Once we got the dry and wet ingredient ratio worked out we had a buttery, smooth cookie dough.

Recipe for Sugar Cookies:

Ingredients

2 1/3 c. flour, sifted

1 tbsp. vanilla pudding mix

1 c. white sugar

1 large egg

2 sticks of butter-room temperature

Directions:

First we combined dry ingredients and then added the wet using a stand alone mixer on medium. We mixed them together for 10 minutes, scraping down the sides.

Once the ingredients were combined we kneaded with our hands for five minutes and then rolled it to 1/4″ thickness using a rolling pin. We used metal dreidel shaped cookie cutter to cut out our shapes.

The cookies baked in a 350 degree oven for 9 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Once cooled we could begin adding our colorful royal icing.

Recipe for Royal Icing:

Ingredients:

1 c. confectioner’s sugar

4 tbsp. milk

Directions:

Pour sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl, add milk. Whisk together until smooth. Spoon into 3 small bowls, add one drop of food coloring and mix to create blue and gold.

We laid out a easy wipe tablecloth with a festive print, a paper plate for each child, small bowls with the royal icing, one bowl with Star of David sprinkles, and tiny spoons for decorating.  The children decorated each cookie one by one, spooning one the icing and creating a marble effect.

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This activity was a hit!  The kids were involved with each step of the baking and decorating process.  They loved decorating the cookies the most-each child decorated 10 cookies!  We had so much fun and will definitely be doing more cookie and baking activities with our kids for future holidays!

Fall Leaf Deer Crown Craft

For our fall themed play date my friend and I created our Cinnamon Salt Dough Turkeys and these fall leaf deer crowns with our littles.

To create these crowns you’ll need:

faux or real fall leaves

hot glue gun w/ glue sticks

2″ inch wide 8″ inch long construction paper strips

scissors

pink and black construction paper

a pencil

To make the headband I hot glue gunned two strips of construction paper together. I waited for it to cool and then wrapped it around my kid’s head to measure. Then I glued the headband closed.

Next I folded my black and pink construction paper into sixths. I drew a shape like a deer’s ear on the paper and cut it out. A similar, but smaller shape for the inner ear. My boys helped me glue the ears together (pink on top of black) with Elmer’s, but you can hot glue gun them on your own.

Then I glue gunned on the leaves, layering different colors and shapes. Voila! My boys were fall time deer in no time and they loved wearing their crowns!

My Favorite Vegetarian Pins for Thanksgiving

Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat Cheese, Cranberries and Balsamic Glaze

 

Yes, there will be no turkey in my house, if you don’t count a gingerbread cookie turkey made from a Trader Joe’s kit.  I will be making my second vegetarian Thanksgiving feast this year and I can’t wait!  Some recipes are tried and true like the sweet potato rounds and pecan pie, others are new like the Pumpkin Dump Cake and butternut squash risotto.

If you are looking for some vegetarian ideas to accompany your turkey this year or are actually going meatless you can check out my pins that I’m sharing here.  Simply click the link and they will take you to the actual pin on Pinterest or follow me on Pinterest at: https://www.pinterest.com/lizaamor/pins/.

scg-butternut-squash-risotto-longpin

Brown Butter Garlic Honey Roasted Carrots – the best roasted carrots ever with lots of garlic, brown butter and honey. SO good | rasamalaysia.com

Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria Recipe. This is a great idea for party punches this fall and winter. Try this crowd pleaser, easy, pitcher drinks or pitcher cocktail for a crowd at one of your holiday (hello, Halloween and Thanksgiving) parties this year! You'll need, apples (it's a great way to use them up), cognac, cider, cava, and pomegranate seeds or arils. This contains alcohol, but we've got an alternate recipe to make it non-alcoholic too.

Creamy, comforting green bean casserole made completely from scratch! Easy Thanksgiving side dish. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pumpkin Dump Cake | The First Year

Easy Pecan Pie! (Made without Corn Syrup) - Spend With Pennies

If you are looking for some unique DIY Fall projects for your Thanksgiving check out these two pins I created:

Blog – My Petite Picassos

Fall Handprint Plate Keepsake

and

Fall Craft -Lazy Susan DIY Thanksgiving

Fall DIY Lazy Susan 

 

 

Cinnamon Salt Dough Turkey Sculptures

This past weekend my friend and her daughter came over for a play date. I wanted to do a project that would be Fall or Thanksgiving themed. I decided to whip up a batch of cinnamon salt dough. If you’re not familiar with salt dough-it’s a simple homemade dough that dries over night. By adding cinnamon you get a wonderful smell and a tan color to the dough.

Cinnamon Salt Dough Recipe

2 c. salt

2 c. flour

1.5 c. water

2 tbs. cinnamon

1 tbs. cooking oil

Combine the dry ingredients first using a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add water and mix until a play dough consistency is formed. Add oil to create elasticity.

Once our cinnamon salt dough was formed we tried pressing leaves we gathered in our yard to create imprints. While the kids liked this-it wasn’t enough of a project we felt. So we decided on making simple turkeys using our cinnamon salt dough, small pebbles, twigs, and leaves from my yard.

To build the turkeys we simply rolled a large ball and a small ball. Small ball for the head, large ball underneath for the body. To make your turkey fat and jolly smush the large ball onto a hard surface so the bottom flattens out and expands.

For tail feathers we used the leaves from my backyard and for the eyes/beak we added pebbles. The twigs created his legs and clawed feet.

We had so much fun building our turkeys. My turkey will be proudly displayed in my buffet spread for Thanksgiving. However, he will be the only actual turkey in the buffet as we are vegetarian! I’ll be sharing in my next, bonus, post my pinned recipes for our vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. I can’t wait to gobble it up!

Halloween with My Petite Picassos

Ok, I know this is late, but better late than never right?  Last weekend I was sick in bed and I didn’t get a chance to share my photos from our Halloween.  We celebrated Halloween by going to the Spooktacular Extravaganza at Spring Mountain Ranch, visiting the haunted Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, and trick or treating at Downtown Summerlin.

Spring Mountain Ranch’s Spooktacular Extravaganza had hayrides, crafts, face painting, and outdoorsey fun for little kids.  Ben got his face painted and made a leaf pendant.  Adam rode a toy bull that the boys later practiced their roping and lassoing skills on.  They boys also did pumpkin bowling and we took a little walk around the property which combines a beautiful meadow with Nevada’s red rocks.h 3

At Opportunity Village we enjoyed touring the haunted Magical Forest (not scary for littles), riding rides, and taking the train ride through the Magical Forest.  Opportunity Village also has a large Christmas display and winter activities for families.  The entry fee is completely a donation to Opportunity village which assists disabled men and women to live fulfilling lives.

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Lastly we had fun with our Paw Patrol pups Trick or Treating at Downtown Summerlin.  The boys loved the police car trunk or treat there and we left after watching Charlie Brown on the green lawn.

How was your Halloween?  What did you do?

 

Pumpkin Patch at McKee Ranch

This past weekend we had good old fashioned family fun at McKee Ranch in Las Vegas.  They have an annual​​ pumpkin patch where family’s pay $20-which goes to the care of the rescued farm animals, and in return receive entry to the ranch, carrots to feed the animals, a free pumpkin, and a free hayride.

Pumpkin Patch Fun at McKee Ranch with My Petite Picassos!

McKee Ranch has horses to feed, pony rides, face painting, a train ride, pumpkin painting, cookie decorating and an area for LaLa Photography to take photos of your littles on the ranch.

My boys loved riding the rocking horses like cowboys, doing the corn maze, and taking the train ride.  I had fun taking photos on my own, however last year I did do the LaLa Photography Photos and I’ll share them below-they are gorgeous!  It’s a great way to spend a fall day with your family in Las Vegas.

 

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Here are my photos from last year with La La Photography.

 

McKee Ranch is located at: 8982 Dean Martin Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89139.  They have Christmas at the ranch coming up after Thanksgiving so be sure to check it out!

 

Family Travel Journal: Israel 2017 Photos


For the last two years my family has travelled to Israel to celebrate the Jewish High Holidays.  The High Holidays are four holidays separated by a week that start off the Jewish New Year every year.  My husband is originally from a small village in the north of Israel near Haifa.  While we go and visit his family we also travel around the country to visit friends and get a little vacation in.  This year we visitedTel Aviv for four blissful beach days, Jerusalem, En Acre Nature Preserve, and Akko.  My favorite places to visit on this trip this year were Tel Aviv and Akko.  

In Tel Aviv you have the big city, similar to LA with a beach vibe.  Lots of pubs, boutiques, cafés, and art galleries. In Akko you see ancient architecture, the sea, and the souk.  I love visiting markets and we actually visited one of the oldest markets in Jerusalem, that my great great grandfather lives near when he immigrated to Israel at the turn of the century-Maheneh Yehuda.  I recommend if you go there to purchase and sample some of the halva for sale.  It’s incredible!

As we traveled through Israel I got to sample some of my favorite is really cuisine: bourekas, shakshuka, and pita with zaatar.  Bourekas at savory pastries filled with cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, or meet. They are served with hard-boiled eggs and pickles. Shakshuka is a dish made of eggs basted in a spices tomato sauce-this year I tried “purple” shakshuka that was made with beets. It was accompanied by tahini, fresh bread, and vegetables. Zaatar is a spice blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. In Israel they mix the spices with olive oil and then brush it on to peters, roasting the pitas.

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Process Art Masks for Toddlers


With Halloween coming up there so many cute Halloween craps out there. I wanted to do something with these Do a Dot markers that we received in the mail recently from Melissa and Doug. I also want it to be a process art activity where the boys would have total freedom and creativity.

I settled on the idea of making masks. It could combine collage, paper crafts, wearable art, and the markers.  


I have to say I was really excited about these Do a Dot markers because not only are they easy, non-toxic, and come in a variety of colors -even silver! The green box has fruity smells to the markers! The boys really enjoyed that!

To make the masks I simply cut out a face shape from white card stock. Then I gave the boys the markers to choose colors from and they began making their dots.


After they finished making their dots I gave them red pom-poms and googly eyes to add details to their masks.  For this step I did most of the gluing, however I did allow them to experiment holding onto the glue bottle and trying to squeeze out some glue.


After that they added the hair I cut out of yellow card stock to the back of their mask.

Often times when making crafts and art projects with little kids adults feel the need to steer children in a direction towards a finished product. The great thing about process art is that there is no definitive look to a finished project. The child can create their project however they wish-this gives younger children a lot more self-confidence in their decision-making while creating art. This self-confidence can aide children in continuing to be creative down the road whether it’s in visual arts, music, or writing.

The next time you do a craft or art lesson with your child consider letting them take the reins. Maybe they’re making a self-portrait and their lips are painted on their foreheadand their eyes go on their chin, that’s fine. Pablo Picasso did that after all!

Family Travel Diary: Haifa Israel

My husband’s family is from a village in Northern Israel close to the city of Haifa.  We have been spending our time here for the last week celebrating the holidays Yom Kippur and Sukkot.  Along with visiting friends and family we have travelled around a bit.  We went hiking in a nature preserve, walked the beach boardwalk with iced coffees in hand, and went to the local zoo.  Here are some of our photos below.  

En Afek Nature Preserve


En Afek Nature Preserve was a short, easy trek in one of Israel’s protected preserves.  The boys loved climbing the stairs inside of a building that dated back to 1100 AD and later housed the British Army during their occupation.  There were lily ponds, catfish, and a winding, long boardwalk.  The boardwalk was sturdy but didn’t have rails so the boys had to be extra careful. Adam went on his Aba’s shoulders and Ben held my hands.  

Zoo in Qiryat Motzkin


The zoo in Qiryat Motzkin houses elephants, gorillas, and giraffes.  There’s also a playground and a carnival ride area-however that area was closed during our visit.  It’s a small zoo compared to the big, American zoos-it can be completed in an afternoon.  However, there is a nice variety of animals.  

Beach Boardwalk

Israel has a long coastline filled with beaches and Israelis know how to have an incredible beach experience.  We stopped at a beach in the Qiryat for a walk on the boardwalk , people watching, and iced coffees.  The Mediterranean Sea was full of quiet waves.  We watched kite surfers and sail boats.  It was a great start to the day!  

Have you been to Israel with small children?  Where did you go?  What did you do?  Type your recommendations in the comments below.  

Next week we’ll be in Tel Aviv and possibly a quick stop in Jerusalem, then we fly home to Las Vegas-where are thoughts have been through this difficult time.