Kids in Cowtown

Seriously… The Best Shortbread Ever!

Shortbread

This is my Grandmother’s recipe. It is so good that some families would actually hide it from the world in their “secret family recipe book.”
It is actually how shortbread should taste and after you eat it you will be ruined for all other shortbread experiences.
It will melt in your mouth and make you a famous baking phenomena every year!
Remember to always only bake it until the bottom is just starting to turn golden and only use real butter, then it will be perfect every time…
1 Cup of soft butter
1/2 Cup of icing sugar
1/4 Cup of cornstarch
1 and 1/2 Cup of flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. Whip the batter until it is thick and consistent enough to roll into little balls about an inch and a half across. Flatten with a fork. Garnish with a candied cherry if you want. I like to make them with red ones on some and green ones on others for a decorative appeal on the trays.
Bake 10-12 minutes, watching for that perfect light golden brown color on the bottom of them, which will depend as well on your altitude and your oven.
You can easily double the recipe and get consistent results.
Your fans will rave!
Watch for our upcoming series The 12 Days Of Christmas!
Tell us about your favorite recipes below and we will post them.

Make a String Of Popcorn!

Make a Popcorn String this Christmas!

Make a Popcorn String this Christmas!

One year on Christmas Eve I decided to make a string of popcorn for the Christmas Tree like we had when I was a kid. Guess what? One day is not enough. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself!

If you want to have a nice long string of popcorn to decorate the tree with you need to start now, and it works a whole lot better if you enlist a couple of partners. So go out and buy some thick thread and get a good sized needle and while you are watching television you can get quite a bit done. In fact, if you and the kids each take a turn you can pass it around over a few nights and you can have a family project that literally strings you together.

Making a popcorn garland is a wonderful seasonal activity. This Christmas craft was practiced by some of our early pioneers as they brought their holiday traditions over with them from Europe. Put some apple cider on the stove and curl up on the couch.

This is so much nicer and way more authentic than anything that you can buy from the dollar store. If you want to be really fancy you can string cranberries into it as well or make a separate string of cranberries. It is also fun to tell your children stories about what Christmas was like while you were growing up as you make your decorations.

Have fun!

Popcorn string 1

Start Working On Your Christmas Cards Now!

Do you still love to get Christmas cards in the mail? I know I do. Even though I love to receive them it is still hard to remember to send them.

It can be a great activity to sit down with the kids though and make some good old fashioned Christmas cards. There is so much cool stuff that we can purchase from the craft stores. We can be as original as we like or get a real sweet package of card making goodies and just have a blast putting them together. If your children are young and you have the time and the resources it can be a lot of fun, but the time to start is right now. Don’t wait to get it done.

For me the trick has always been getting the addresses on the envelopes, getting them stamped and then getting them sent. I always seem to drop the ball there somewhere and end up not sending them.

Last year a friend introduced me to Send Out Cards and that has helped me a lot. I can use original photos and do it all online and then click send. They mail it out so I don’t have to worry about dropping the card behind my car seat and finding it next May. You can sign up as a customer on a monthly program or you can become a distributor and get those cards created and sent for about $1.35 a piece. You can do one at a time or send out a whole campaign to hundreds of people. It is wonderful for family but it is also fantastic for your small business. Say “Merry Christmas” to your clients or even wish them well for the New Year.

It is cheap and it is fun. These days the kids know so much about the computer that we don’t have to make this an adult thing either. Anyone who can play an online video game should be able to do it. So this year I will actually sit down with the kids, show them how, and we will create the cards for dozens of people in our lives and have them all sent out.

If you would like to try a free card for yourself or get more info Click Here.

I have also done Christmas Emails in the past. If you would like to try that there is a great article on the Loyal2U site about how to do it. Click here for that information.

Also the Calgary Business Network is offering a course on December 5 where you can get your Christmas cards, your blog, and your Christmas newsletter ready to go in an afternoon. If you want the help check out the information here.

Now is the time to get at it though. Make a plan and get started today. Christmas will be here before you know it!

Is Health, Weight or Success Important To You As A Mom?

As a single mom I believe it is really important to look after myself. I feel every mother wants to be sharp and ready for whatever situation comes at us next but as a single woman I have had to learn that the cavalry is not coming to rescue me. If I get sick – who will be there to look after the children? If I can’t work – who will get the bills paid?

In life however things happen. A couple years ago I watched in horror as my one of my friends got ill. Although she is only in her late thirties work related stress caused her blood pressure to rise and her health to diminish. She was fortunate that her husband made enough money that she could take the necessary time to recover. Another friend in her forties had part of her bowel removed and was unable to make income for most of last year, and she was not as fortunatel.

While some of these things are difficult to avoid being pro-active is a good idea. We need to pay attention to what we eat and the exercise that we get to keep us in good shape. Of course we all know that but when we have gotten into bad habits it can be really hard to get back on track. I know what that feels like. We just kind of give up. Why not have the whole bag of chips? Its late, I am tired and I am feeling like just kicking back to watch a little television. Do ya feel me?

The thing is though we feel worse later when we get on the scale don’t we?

So sometimes it is good to have a little help to get back on track.

A couple months back I started working with Donna Reid and I found her to be more than helpful. Donna has a new product and a new idea on how to get turned around. She did more than just weigh me, she did a Body Composition Analysis. She measured everything! And she did a computer assessment on the spot that told me my body fat, my lean muscle mass and my hydration. It was awesome!

I knew for years that my metabolism was slow but this took the mystery out of the solution. Donna had the answers that I needed. I am finally losing weight and I feel a lot better.

Donna sometimes does speaking engagements for groups to tell you all about this but here is her website info so you can connect with her directly.

Black Diamond Light Up The Lights

Come to Light Up The Lights December 1, 2012!

There are a lot of very neat events in Cowtown but there are also a lot of great events just out of town. Many of the small towns and cities in our region have exciting things going on celebrating the season.

Every year Black Diamond has “Light Up The Lights” with hayrides, free cookies and cider, late night shopping, chestnuts sold from the open fire, caroling and a whole lot more. This year the event will be held December 1st and it starts in the afternoon going right up to about 7:30 PM.

This frontier style town has a lot to see and do for a family outing any time of year. Marv’s Soda Shop has a 50′s motif and the European style bakery has been drawing people from around the country for years. You have to get a mocha or a latte from The Stop and you may even be lucky enough to be there on an evening when they are featuring live entertainment.

On December 7 & 8th The Gospel Chapel will put on their annual presentation of “The Christmas Story.” It starts at 6:30 with hayrides and then goes into the play with real animals courtesy of Shirley Mandell who also owns the Bed & Breakfast Welcome Acres. So if you want to spend the night you can do that too!

Tell us your favorite Christmas events and we will post them and also watch for our upcoming series “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” that we will begin posting December 12th, complete with recipes of Christmas cookies, great ideas for Christmas crafts, and Christmas traditions and stories from the George family who has been on this continent for a mere 200 years or so.

See you soon at a blog near you!

You may even see this on a winters day in Black Diamond, Alberta.

Getting Into the Mood For Christmas

I know Halloween seems to be just over and all the Holiday stuff is coming out in the stores. If you are like me you don’t feel quite ready for it. But why not enjoy the entire Christmas Season? The winters are too long so why not? We may as well get in the mood because it is coming anyway and why not have a few more days of making merry before the drudgery of January hits us? Why not put on a Santa hat and dance around with  the kids? They will love it!

Do you have a lot of decorations? Why not get started early and put out a few things now and a few more things later?

This year we have just moved into a new home so most of my Christmas decorations came out at once right at the beginning of November but usually I  start by getting out my Christmas mugs. It is a simple thing but it helps to get rid of my grouchy “winter is here” mood. I also have a couple dessert trays that I like to have handy. I may not even fill them up yet but I find a spot where they can sit and look decorative. Then out comes the towels and oven mitts to hang in the kitchen.

Next I get out the box that has the nativity scene in it and get that set up in a corner somewhere. Then the angels get placed on a shelf while I drink hot chocolate out of my Santa mug.

A few days pass and I make some cookies with my daughter. We always make lots and put some into a fancy tin for unexpected guests. We may even make some extra dough and put it in the fridge for a bigger baking day on the weekend. You can always put extra cookies in the freezer once they are baked.

As November progresses more and more comes out, or we make something extra, or we pick up something special. Many of our Christmas ornaments have been made a few at a time over the years and other things were purchased from garage sales in the summer time. You can get some really decadent items still in the boxes even with price tags on them! Even in December we still occasionally find a bargain at a thrift store. It does not have to be expensive to be delightful.

Oh and definitely invest in some great music to play softly in the background and get some cinnamon sticks to simmer in a pot on the stove. It makes the whole house smell awesome!

We are currently working on some fine articles for the 12 Days of Christmas. Stay posted because you are going to want to read these great ways to stay in the mood for Christmas that will begin posting on the 12th of December. Hilarious and riveting fun!

Send us your stories about Christmas and we will post them as well.  kidsincowtown@gmail.com

Got To Have a Jack-O-Lantern

There are a lot of new immigrants to Canada who have never made a Jack-O-Lantern. Do you have a neighbor with kids who is new to our country? Why not invite them over to carve a pumpkin together? Or why not have a little neighborhood pumpkin carving contest?

Making a Jack-O-Lantern is easy if you have never done it, but it does require an adult being involved.

Start by carving the hat. You can just make a circle if you want but you should know that after it is a few days old it could shrink and the lid may fall inside. That is why it is better to use a zigzag pattern.

Once you have made the hat and pulled it off you can get inside the pumpkin to empty out the seeds and guts. Don’t throw those seeds away. You can bake them later for a tasty treat!

Use the sharp edge of a spoon to scrape the insides real good and get rid of all the gunk. Make it smooth so nothing can dangle into the flame of your candle later.  Also make sure the bottom is nice and smooth so your candle will have a nice flat place to sit.

Now select the side of the pumpkin that you want to put the face on.

You can do the traditional triangle eyes and nose and big gaping mouth or be more creative, but remember the shrinking later.  If you are going to put teeth in the mouth, make them nice and wide or they may shrivel into nothing as the pumpkin shrinks.

Post your pictures on our Facebook page. We would love to see what you have made.

Put your Jack-O-Lantern on your step or in your window so others can enjoy it too!

Halloween Cookies

Autumn is a great time of year for decorating the house. Don’t you just love the colors? The kids really get into cutting out leaf shapes and pinning them up. You can go to the supermarket and load up on gourds and ornamental corn and fill a wicker basket as a centerpiece for the table. A couple of pumpkin latte candles and maybe a real pumpkin latte from Starbucks while you decorate can stimulate some great memory making sessions with the kids.

When I was a girl I remember baking cookies with my mother and then cutting out the shapes of ghosts and pumpkins and covering them with bright icing.  Baking cookies after school is a great activity to improve parent/child bonding. Have some fun with your kids!

Here are some recipes for you.

Here are some more ideas!

Car-Crushing Truck Action Coming To Calgary Stampede Grandstand

Cam McQueen

MAPLE LEAF MONSTER JAM® TOUR

BRINGS CAR-CRUSHING TRUCK ACTION TO THE

CALGARY STAMPEDE GRANDSTAND

WHAT:               Fans will witness the world’s best monster trucks battle it out in the ultimate competition of intense speed, racing and destruction when the Maple Leaf Monster Jam Tour® roars into Calgary! These massive trucks will be part of the dirt-flying, car-crushin’ action that will take place at the Calgary Stampede Grandstand. This year’s truck lineup includes Canada’s very own Northern Nightmare driven by Calgary native Cam McQueen and the legendary Grave Digger, celebrating its 30th anniversary of car crushing mayhem.  **truck line-up subject to change

 

In addition to world-class racing and freestyle action, die-hard fans can come to the stadium early to enjoy the Party in the Pits pre-show experience – which gives fans unparalleled access to view their favorite trucks up-close and meet the star drivers for autographs and take photos!

One of the most popular touring family entertainment sporting events in the world, the Maple Leaf Monster Jam Tour is a high-flying, car-crushing explosive event of demolition, speed, power and unbelievable stunts with the world’s best monster trucks and drivers whose skills provide an awesome spectacle of “rock-and-roar” that will bring fans to their feet cheering for more!

 

WHERE:          Calgary Stampede Grandstand

 

WHEN:             Saturday August 25th at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm

Pit Party Saturday August 25th from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

                            

TICKETS:       Tickets are on sale and start at just $15 for kids and $20 for adults. Tickets can be purchased at participating Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.ca, charge by phone at 1-855-985-5000, at the Scotiabank Saddledome box office or Calgary Stampede Grandstand day of show. Tickets to Party in the Pits pre-show are on sale and can be purchased for $10 at any Ticketmaster outlet. Fans must have tickets for the 2:00 pm show. All ticket prices are $2 more when purchased the day of the event; tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees. 

 

MEDIA            Jenny Duncan / LBMG

CONTACT:    604-637-6650 (office) / 778-237-9760 (cell)/ Jenny@LBMG.ca

For more information and updates log onto www.MonsterJamCanada.ca

Grave Digger

How to Get Your Child Off The Pacifier

ImageBeing a parent is such a rewarding gift and one of the busiest jobs ever. Babies demand a lot of work and attention, yet they bring more joy to the hearts of families than anything. The tough part about babies is that they don’t come with a parent guide, and every baby is different from the next baby. Sometimes, parents just have to navigate their way blindly and learn things as they go along. One of the things parents try to learn is how to break the baby from a pacifier.
We all do our research and try to be the best parents we can be. But, when it comes to pacifiers there is no defined direction regarding when to stop it and how to stop it. Babies are pretty much expected to use a pacifier, but children entering kindergarten are not. We have to figure out how to get from A to B.
Sooner Than Later
Most pediatricians recommend that a pacifier is best to be removed sooner in the baby’s life than later. When babies begin to learn to babble and speak, they may have problems if they have a pacifier. Some experts say that the pacifier causes teeth to be crooked, because the mouth can be altered with continuous use. Then, what can be worse than to wake up in the middle of the night with the baby screaming because they lost their pacifier?
Cold Turkey
One of the best ways to break the baby from a pacifier is cold turkey. Just take it away. Toss it in the trash can and don’t go back and get it. It works! Some experts say that if you don’t remove it by four months of age, it can be four years of age before you can get rid of it. Try taking the pacifier before the baby gets too dependent on it and don’t let them see it anywhere.
Weaning
Another way to try to break the baby from the pacifier is by weaning them off. Tell the child a story that the pacifier’s home is in the crib and that’s where it has to stay. If the child wants it, tell them they have to stay in the crib. Sooner or later, the child won’t want to be bored in the crib and will want to give it up. The next move is to tell them the pacifier only stays in the crib at night, and later on just for the weekends. After weekends, take it and let it go. Many parents agree this method works best.
Cut It
Many people try to cut the tip off the pacifier or poke a hole in the top of it. Once this is done the sucking action doesn’t work and the child will lose interest. Once they realize they don’t have that satisfaction they used to get from it, they will let it go.
Pacifier Princess
Some parents use the story that the pacifier princess or pacifier fairy comes to take the pacifier away when the child is old enough. The fairy or princess then takes the pacifier back to another child who needs it because your child is a big girl or boy now. She leaves the child a special present for the child for giving it back. Find something special for your child and leave it wrapped up by the bed so when they wake they have a special gift.
Try to be patient when taking the pacifier away. Hopefully, one of the above tips will be just the right thing that works for your baby.
Heather Morris writes about parenting, family finance & finding cheap travel insurance.
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