Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cooking with Kids: Spend time, Save money!

The prices of just about everything is going up. What's a mom to do? This mom started baking....from scratch! Lately this has become an addictive hobby! I wanted to share some of my tips and give you some reasons why I think cooking with kids can be such a rewarding experience:

Letting kids help with the cooking allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment and contribute to the family in a very concrete and visual way. It's kind of like doing an art project that everyone will enjoy! You get to eat the creations.

Kitchen tasks improve small motor skills, listening skills and patience. Cutting skills, measuring skills, stirring, kneading, and (of course) clean up are all part of the cooking routine. Cooking is very adaptable as different tasks can be given depending on the age and skill level of the child. An older child can measure while a young child can stir!

Cooking is a practical way to spend time and save money. Many people believe that they don't have the time and energy to prepare meals and snacks from scratch, but if you view it more as entertainment (with a practical outcome :) than you may find that extra time. I've started really enjoying cooking and so I have been incorporating it in my day and including the kids so they have something to do. Maybe try to set up a day once a week to cook something from scratch with your child. I've been doing a bit of calculating and have found that I am actually saving our family money. Plus I know what is going into my kiddo's food.

Here are a few tips to keep the frustration down! :

This is a no brainer, but have kids wash their hands and pull up long hair into pony tails. Establish this as a habit and soon the kids will do this automatically when it's "time to cook"!

Be prepared for a bit of a mess. Parchment or wax paper is your friend. Clear off the kitchen table as it is usually easier for kids to cook at the table since it is lower.

Establish kitchen rules and words that kids will understand. For example I always announce when the oven is getting turned on "THE OVEN IS ON" and I announce when I am opening the oven "I'M OPENING THE OVEN, STAY BACK". Our oven door actually blocks the walkway through the kitchen when it is open so this let's people know not to come through because they could get burned! I generally handle anything hot except I have recently been teaching my 10 year old how to handle things on the stove (with supervision and instruction).

If your child insists on cracking eggs, have them crack it in separate small bowl. That way it will be easy to pull out any potential shells ;)

If you have a child that is new to measuring, you can have them measure items and put them in bowls before mixing them together....or (if your child is too young to measure) you could measure the ingredients into separate bowls and then let the child add them to the mixing bowl.

Have fun and view this as a learning opportunity, not just a chore. Reading, math, creativity all come into play with cooking. Take advantage of it and have fun too!

There are lots of great kids cook books out there that help you to involve your children with cooking. Right now I am reading "Little Kitchen" by Sabrina Parrini which I have on loan from our public library. It is great because it has quite a few more sophisticated dishes that kids can make rather than just cookies and ants on a log...not that there is anything wrong with cookies and ants on a log!!! :) Also, check out for and an almost unlimited supply of free recipes on just about anything you can think of! Have fun!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2 Classy Chics Review and Giveaway!

A big thank you to 2 Classy Chics for reviewing our Fuzzy Foods! Our Fuzzy Foods are made of a combination of minky fabric and polyester felt....that make for a machine washable play food!!!

We hope you will take a moment to head over to the 2 Classy Chics website, check out the review, and enter for a chance to win your own set of Fuzzy Foods! We would also like to welcome you to the Lilly Bean family with a coupon code. Simply type WELCOME10 into the coupon code box during checkout and receive 10% off of your order :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Make your own Martin the Bunny! FREE Tutorial

Now you can make your very own Martin the Bunny! This is an easy and fun tutorial and is appropriate for all skill levels. Click this link to get the PDF tutorial and pattern for FREE :) Think about how cute this would be in your child's Easter Basket!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Do you want a Free Basket this year?

As a store owner I wanted to offer Easter Baskets this year. However, I was conflicted with the idea of expensive baskets when so many get abandoned all the time at thrift and second hand stores. These perfectly good, like-new baskets still have a lot of life left in them and are looking for a new home! So my idea is to offer these for free with a purchase of $20 or more now until the weekend before Easter. Let's make a pact together to reduce waste and reuse these baskets :) You will also be providing a safe and imaginative toy from Lilly Bean or making up some creations of your own!

About the baskets: All of the baskets given away during this promotion are cleaned and in excellent condition. There are various types and sizes of baskets. I will do my best to match the basket to the order. For example if you order a large set, you will get a large enough basket to accommodate the order. If you would like more than 1 basket, you will need to make them as separate orders (this is important because I will have to ship the baskets in separate boxes). I'm sorry, but you cannot choose the exact basket.

Stipulations: The $20 purchase can be anything except for e-books. You can buy e-books in the same order, but $20 of you order has to be in physical product.

How to get the basket: Simply use the coupon code: FREEBASKET during checkout!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Idea: Make your own play money out of shrink film!

This isn't the first time my kids have done this fun project, but it always manages to keep them busy for hours and the finished product gets played with too!

You remember Shrinky Dinks right? I can remember coloring My Little Ponies and having my mom pop them in the oven. It was all great fun :) Well, you can still buy plain shrink film and make hundreds of your own creations! One of my favorites is play coins. Here is a quick tutorial on how we make them:

1: Trace around a cup onto shrink film (we used about a 3" in diameter cup).

2: Let the kids go crazy designing their own money inside of the circles! We have found that permanent markers (like Sharpies) and colored pencils work best. Washable markers will...wash off of your project!

3: Cut out the circles.

4: Bake as directed on the package. (It takes about 4 minutes)

5: Taaa Daaa! Play money!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thinking Spring!

Well, as my pact to myself, I've decided to blog at least once a week. This week I'm going to let you know about a few things that are in progress!

Plans for Easter: I'm going to launch a couple of new products for Easter this year. They will be available as a kit, e-book and as finished products. Curious?....okay I'll share a couple: bags of jelly beans, candy bars, bunny cookies and at least one other product. I will finalize my decisions and finish the details by the end of next week! So please check out our facebook page or this blog during the next week.

Reclaimed Basket Campaign: I have thought about offering Easter baskets here at Lilly Bean, but so many baskets get donated to thrift and second hand stores that I hate to add to the mass consumption and waste that goes along with that. That's why I've decided to do something a bit different. Starting next week you can get a reclaimed basket for FREE if you make a purchase of $20 or more! All you have to do is check the Free Reclaimed Basket box during the checkout process. Help us re-home these like-new baskets and save a little money in the process! There will be more information coming this week about the exact details before we launch this campaign!

A Very Fuzzy E-book: Yes! We will be releasing an e-book that includes all 3 of our Fuzzy Foods sets. This big e-book will be released very soon so please check back this week!

Also, don't forget to use coupon code: WELCOME to take $5 off of your order :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun Things to do with Play Food!

If you are a fan of Lilly Bean, you probably already know how fun play food is! I thought that I would post 5 ways that I have fun with my kids while playing with play food:

1. Color Sorting - This is great for toddlers! Grab a few baskets and bowls and sort all of your play food into color categories.

2. Food Groups - Hmmm...does the tomato go in the fruit or veggie pile?

3. Restaurant- Try spicing it up a bit by helping your child make their own menu. Cut out pictures in magazines or draw them. Then take turns being the waitress and the customer! Hint: you can secretly get a manners lesson in here ;)

4. Shopping - If you don't have a cash register, make a money box out of an old shoe box. You don't need fancy fake money. Have your child design their own psuedo-legal tender. Maybe print out some pictures to use on those dollar bills.

5. Food toss - Ok...we wouldn't recommend this with wooden or plastic food, but Lilly Bean play food is great for tossing. Set up a laundry basket and have at it!

More fun play time ideas to come!