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.

Our Family Vacation to Kos Island, Greece!

On our second night in Israel my husband asked me if I would like to go to Greece for a week-of course I jumped at the opportunity! The last minute deals from Israel are inexpensive-and very family friendly.


Tigkaki Beach


We stayed at Peredise Family Resort near Kos Town.  This resort is great for families with little kids. We had a suite with a small pool.  There is a large resort style pool on the other side of the property along with a baby room, indoor playroom, playground, kiddie pool, and spa.  We had a free breakfast and dinner buffet included with our room -and the food was fabulous!  We looked forward to each meal-every night had a different theme, and lots of vegetarian options. 

We mostly beach hopped: Tigkaki our first day, Paradise Beach the second day, and a small private beach in Kefalos our last day.  Paradise Beach was our favorite-gorgeous sand and perfect water-hardly any rocks.  There was a restaurant and bar next to the beach that we ordered ice cream and coffee from.  The kids enjoyed swimming, building sand castles, and paddle boarding with their dad.

Back in Kos Town we walked around the pier, Kos Castle, and took a tour on a mini train.  The kids adored every second on the mini train and I recommend it for the first day of the trip as it gives you an overview of the town.  We enjoyed coffee and milk shakes in the town center and shipped for souvenirs in the market.  

What I enjoyed most about the trip was our bonding time with our kids.  Watching the kids get some much needed time with their dad who works long hours as a business owner providing for our family was so special.  I love traveling-the magic of it-the closeness it creates in families.  

Tips on Traveling with Jet Lagged Toddlers

This post is completely about what’s happening in my life right now.  We travelled by plane, train, and automobile to Israel this week in a trip that took 20 hours total.  That’s enough to throw off an adults internal clock-so for sure it’s enough to throw off a toddler’s internal clock.

Honestly, last year our trip was easier when it came to jetlagged. I was traveling with a nine month old baby who still slept quite a bit during the day, and my two-year-old was a terrific sleeper.  The good news is that two-year-old is now still a great sleeper at three years old. However that nine-month-old who used to sleep all the time, he is not doing so great this time around.  Leading up to our trip there were often times he would wake up for a couple hours at home in the middle of the night, wanting something to eat and drink. Now, it’s been five nights in Israel and he is still waking up for five hours at night!  So how do we cope?

1. Take turns napping with your partner.  Right now my husband is taking a much needed power nap, and my 20 month old is taking a mini nap.  He’s exhausted but I want him to sleep through the night so I will wake him up for dinner.  Then he and his father can hang out together until they get tired later on.  I can rest until they need me to help with bedtime later on.

2. Consider children’s melatonin for toddlers and kids.  My friend recently moved with her daughter to the other side of the world and recommended the Zarbee’s brand.  I didn’t bring melatonin with me, and I doubt they have it for children in the pharmacy here (which is something to consider when you travel to other countries-medicines are different). I have second guessed my decision not to purchase some for our trip.

3. Try to keep the first few days easy on your trip so you can get ample sleep.  We travel for a month at a time so it makes it easier for us to take our time to transition. Nap during the day as needed.

4.  Set up your child for sleep success.  Cut day napping shorter, bring favorite blankets and lovies, and play light music when it’s sleepy time.

5.  Allow a couple of days to adjust back after your trip.  Yes we had jet lag both ways on our trip last year.  It took 3 days to catch up.

Remember that no matter what the age traveling opens our eyes and senses to the world. Your child will be so lucky to see and experience the world with you, and you will treasure these memories for a lifetime! Don’t let fear of flying with your child or jet lag keep you from making memories.

Cheap and Fun Learning Toys for Travel

With our trip to Israel coming up I made a couple trips to the Dollar Tree and Target to pick up some inexpensive learning toys.   None of these toys cost more then five dollars!  They’re small and most of them have a variety of uses! These are perfect for a long trip like ours where will be on the plane for over 24 hours. away from our home and all of our toys for a month! The first thing I picked up at the Dollar Tree were these drawing boards that self-erase. Since they were only a dollar picked one up for both of my boys. They can draw over and over again without making a mess and without losing any pieces because the pencil is attached to the board.  They can practice writing letters, drawing shapes, and writing their names!

I picked up these flash cards at the Dollar Tree and Target to teach letters, shapes, numbers, and animals.  We can practice what sounds animals make, build sight words, and build letter/number recognition. The boys can count how many sides each shape has, how many corners each shape has, and we also got flashcards in Hebrew coming from Amazon! 
I got my three year old a dollar and coin set from target. He can start adding and recognizing numbers.


At Target they had these cute felt portfolios that carry six Crayons and 40 sheets of paper.  Of course I got one for each boy.


At Target they also had these dry erase blocks that the boys can draw and write on and then build towers out of!  We can also write numbers and letters, building words and names out of them.


These are lacing shapes that I found at the dollar tree. I want to get my three-year-old started with lacing and tying.


I got these Melissa and Doug Water Wow kits for our trip last year. The boys played with them all year long until they actually ripped them apart. They got so much use out of them that I did not mind springing for them even though they’re five dollars and a little bit on the more expensive side of the products I purchased. I got them in letters and numbers for the boys to trace their letters and numbers with, working on their letter/number recognition.


This is a one marker coloring book that shows up in different colors as the child colors with the marker.  This was also five dollars and this and the water wow, along with the next activity of a Melissa and Doug. You can find these products at Target or online. I’ve also purchased them at Gymboree in past years.  I’m going to include an affiliate link below to an eBay search for Melissa and Doug if you’re interested in purchasing these items for a very reasonable price.


This is the largest why I purchased, however it’s superthin and sturdy. I’m going to put it at the bottom of our carry-on. It’s a 3-D under the sea sticker pad with reusable stickers and 3-D glasses. I think it’s a really fun and cool hands-on science learning activity!

Fire trip to Israel also be taking some of the boys favorite small character toys like our Mickey Mouse that and some building blocks. However when we get there my husband’s family is great about providing the kids with lots of toys and year. It also helps that my in-laws live across the street from a huge playground!

I’ll be blogging from Israel as much as I can. I look forward to sharing our adventures there with you!

For Melissa and Doug On the Go products at a great discount check out this EBAY link here.

Four Fall Sensory Bags 

It’s definitely not fall here!  It’s been over 100° F for the last few weeks! Frankly, we don’t really get much of a fall in Las Vegas. My kids sure don’t experience the fall that I had growing up in Buffalo, New York!

As a child I remember picking apples, raking colorful leaves from the ground and jumping into the pile, and drinking homemade apple cider!  In Las Vegas we try to have fall by going to a pumpkin patch and farms.  With the excessive heat it makes it difficult to really enjoy the day. So I came up with these four easy sensory bags with the theme of fall in mind to allow my boys to experience fall with all of their senses. The best part is they do not require any special supplies, most likely these are items you have laying around the house!

For sight we had the colors of fall through out all of my bags. We had the sound of fall through my tissue paper leaf bag, it sounds like leaves crunching when you squish it in your hand! With every sensory bag project there’s always the sense of touch being included with different textures the children will feel from our squishier to our crunchier bags. Smell could and taste from the walnut sensory bag that we ate the contents of as we made it!

Shaving Cream Sensory Bag

For this bag I focused on the color red, however you can try a different color such as gold or orange to focus on. I filled the bag halfway with shaving cream then added red food coloring.   I squished the bag around to mix the food coloring and shaving cream together until it was evenly mixed. Then I added red glitter. This bag felt like a stress ball. My oldest child loves squishing it. He would not stop squishing it in fact this was his favorite!


Tissue Paper Fall Leaves Bag


For this bag I used half a bottle of orange hair gel that I got at the Dollar Tree. Then I added in brown, green, yellow, orange, and red tissue paper squares. You can also pick these up at the Dollar Tree. They are a huge time saver! Then I added gold glitter and strings of brown yarn. The brown yarn stuck together creating sort a viney-tree trunk effect. Once I closed up the bag and squished it and made the crunchy sound that leaves make in the fall as you walk across your yard.

Cotton Ball Bag

For this bag I again chose red as the main color. I think if I was going to do this project again I would do an orange or gold bag for the shaving cream and keep this one as my red bag. Red is so synonymous with fall. For this bag I added a full bottle of clear hair gel and I filled up the bag halfway with cotton balls. Then I added in some red Pom Poms and strands of red yarn.  Lastly,  a few drops of red food coloring to swirl as the children played with it.

Walnut and Burlap Bag 

This bag is made of used pieces of burlap that I cut into basic shapes like triangles and rectangles. Then I added in walnut halves from my pantry.  The main ingredient is steel cut oats. They look almost like sand. I gave it a nice grainy texture. With this one the children could see different shades of the same color: brown. My oldest son could tell me the different names of the shapes. My youngest son could feel the different textures from the more flimsy burlap to the very hard, curvy walnut halves.

My three-year-old and I put all of these and three bags together in about an hour one afternoon while my 20 month old slept. Both boys had a great time playing with them. In fact they’re still playing with them! One thing I like to do is use clear tape on the top of all of my sensory bags to make sure they stay shut. Another idea is taping them to a sliding glass door or a big window so the kids can look inside of them better and see all the different variations of colors.
I hope you and your children have as much fun as we did with this project. It’s a great project for kids three years old and younger.  Older kids can even make it for their younger siblings!