Joanna Anastasia

10 things to do with kids at home for Halloween

Halloween is only a couple of days away and we still don’t know how we will celebrate. Will the city call it off? If not should we go trick or treating if we can? Should we hand over the candy or not? So many questions and not one right answer.

But even though it’s such a difficult year for traditions, instead of getting sad about it, my friends at Chocolate Pen have challenged me to make the best Halloween treats we can at home – and that have inspired me to plan a list of things that we will be able to do at home with kids if ever we can’t go trick or treating at all!

List of 10 fun things we can do at home for Halloween:

  1. Organize a Halloween fashion show with all the costumes – we did that a couple of days ago ( we’re a week from Halloween now) and it was really fun to see what they came up with! And when my role in an activity consists of sitting still and sipping on my coffee you can always count me in!
  2. Make a cookie graveyard! Now this could be as simple as in getting a ready to assemble kit like we did, or as complicated as baking xmas style gingerbread cookies but cutting them in to graves and ghosts shapes! (We used a ready to assemble kit but we decorated it with the use of our Chocolate Pen! My girls absolutely loved it! )
  3. Painting faces – how about an afternoon of painting faces and making family photos as ghosts, pirates and fairies?
  4. Decorating inside of your home – did you see that social media trend of bats everywhere? It’s probably so popular because it’s really easy and inexpensive too! Simply cut out bat shapes out of black cardstock and hang them EVERYWHERE!
  5. Make more Halloween snacks like dark chocolate bark with candy eyes, brownie ( cake mix!) ghosts ( simply cut your shapes out with cookie cutters and add candy eyes!) or make a halloween popcorn ( mix popcorn with candy corn and mini pretzels and voila!)
  6. Organize a Halloween movie night – now that you have all the snacks time to get cozy while watching your favourite halloween movies!
  7. Make a candy hunt in the backyard or inside the house – Easter meets Halloween, double the fun!
  8. Give kids Boo Baskets – I made my baskets with dollar store halloween toys and craft supplies and I can’t wait to see my kids faces when they get them on Halloween eve!
  9. Make dark chocolate ghost cookies ( tip- you can use sugar cookie mix, just add a teaspoon of cacao to the mix, bake as usual, use regular icing and try using Chocolate Pen for adding fun features !)  
  10. Make Halloween crafts – paint toilet paper rolls black, add googly eyes and paper wings and make bats, paint with fingers, or use my free printable set colouring pages that I made for my kids- and a cute little print for their rooms! ( you can download it here )

I hope my list of activities and these printables can help you to have the best Halloween ever- despite the curve balls 2020 keeps throwing at us!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Disclosure- I received chocolate pen as a gift, all opinions, ideas and enthusiasm remains entirely my own!

Printable halloween cupcake toppers and my tried & tested fall baking hacks

Before I began on these cupcake toppers and fall baking hacks that I want to share with you today, let me just say that WE HAVE MOVED AND WE’RE ALMOST UNPACKED AND SETTLED! I will share with you our home and all the projects in the future weeks, so stay tuned for that!

Today though, I wanted to chat about fall baking, and a pressure of being a pinterest mom who’s baking a ton and it’s all picture perfect. And yes I know, I am a mom that’s sharing her creations on pinterest, but let’s be clear here, they are never perfect,though they are usually fun and yummy!

If you followed me for a while then you must remember my old blog name, Lazy Mom’s- which was a way of saying that I’m not about perfection at all- but rather about making memories and being good enough.

So with that approach, I wanted to share with you a fun way to make any fall baking a bit less complicated and a bit more fun!

My tried & tested fall baking hacks

  1. So first of all, cake mix is your friend! Embrace it, use it, and don’t ever feel guilty for not baking from scratch! Once life with kids will get less busy, we will be best home bakers out there, I know it. For now though, let’s just hack that cake box mix! By using milk in lace of water, more eggs than asked, and butter in place of eggs your cake box mix will actually taste like your grandmas cake- but will take half the prep time!
  2. Another way to hack a cake is to add spices to your cake mix- like cardamom, cinnamon or a pumpkin spice!
  3. My third hack is is KNOW YOUR APPLES! It took me a long time to understand that not all apples are for baking, but once I learned which sorts are best my fallbaking went to a whole new level of yummy!
  4. And lastly, the presentation! So no it doesn’t need to be complicated to be fun and a bit more out of the ordinary! Adding cupcake toppers even on a regular muffin makes it so much more fun for the kds ( you don’t need to buy them, you can print mine and make them at home with kids!).Drawing with chocolate is another inexpensive and simple way to add that wow factor to everyday desserts! We used our Chocolate Pen to draw on our BOO Cupcakes and my girl told me they felt like fancy bakers !

So, here’s what we baked – BOO sugar cookies and BOO apple cinnamon cupcakes. We didn’t spend a ton of time, and they where not perfect, but boy did we had fun with our Chocolate Pen ( I have another blog post all about it here) and yes it did smelled like fall everywhere!

We also designed Halloween cupcake toppers with my girls ( as in, I was designing and they where telling me what they like and what not) that you can download for yourself HERE. Just print them out, cut, and glue on a toothsticks like we did!

And now, if you too would like to bake our hacked Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes, here’s how!

Apple Cinnamon BOO Cupcakes Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Vanilla cake mix ( replace water with milk, oil with butter and add one egg)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of Gala apples cut in small cubes
  • Vanilla fondant ( bought) to decorate
  • Milk chocolate to decorate

Follow the instructions on the box – just remember to use the replacements! Add apples and cinnamon at the end of mixing all the ingredients. Bake and let your cupcakes cool down. Use fondant to cover the cupcakes with a thin layer, and then using a Chocolate Pen draw the ghost faces and the BOO’s!

I hope that my fall baking hacks and free printable cake toppers will help you have more fun- and less stress during this special fall of 2020!

Disclosure- I received the Chocolate Pen as a gift, however all opinions and enthusiasm are my own!

How to style your home for sale in 5 easy steps

So, in case you missed it on my instagram, we moved! This was long time coming as I was ready to move for over a year now, since our house was just simply too small for our big family.

Before I share with you more about our new house, and all the makeovers I’m doing, today I wanted to share my tried and tested ways to getting your house showing ready and selling it FAST.

We have sold our condo 6 years ago in 5 days, and our house now in 3 weeks ( in the context of a global pandemic, so I think it’s still a pretty good result!) First time around we had an agent and I was the one taking care of styling our home for sale – aka home staging. This time though we decided to skip the agent and I took care of both styling for sale and showcasing our home on our own! And each time we have sold for much more than we bought- almost double this time around!

So, how can you style to sell for the best price possible?

The devil is in the details- when people come to see your house every little detail counts! So, do they see the peeling paint? If there’s any, you can bet they will notice it right away! Do they see clutter? Yup, if things aren’t perfectly organized, they will, and they will think that the house is too small for them, because clutter means you don’t have enough space! Does the house look small because of the overload of all furniture? Are there big reparations that they need to do? Everything plays a part in how people will see your house and how much they will be willing to pay for it!

Style your home for sale in 5 easy steps- aka my tried and tested secrets to easy home staging

Now, if you’re ready to put your house on the market and would like to sell fast and for the best price possible here are my tried and tested steps!

1.Finish all the small renovations and paint inside.

This is probably the most important steps of all- and the most time consuming too. However, with an investment of a couple hundred dollars – to a thousand or two you can expect a pay off of many thousands more on the price of your house. By small renovations I mean:

  • Fix little issues like:
  • unfinished baseboards
  • broken electrical switches
  • peeling paint
  • old silicone around bath and sink.

  • Make sure you have updated anything that’s broken but would be included in the price of the home like home appliances, squeaky doors etc. ( of course only if you want to get the highest possible price!)
  • Change the rotted patio boards if there are any.
  • And make sure there are no unfinished renovations visible.
  • Paint any space that haven’t had a touch up in the last 3-4 years.

Make sure that your home is NOT painted with any bold or controversial colours, as the majority of people will prefer a bright and fresh white tone, a cal cool gray or a warm greige over an original and bohemian hue of orange or green!

Now, you might ask yourself why bother with all the little renovations if they are generally low in cost and so the new owners could very well take care of them on their own? And you might say that it’s better not to paint since people want to paint with the colours they like anyway, right?

But there’s one thing that you need to remember- most people will want to move to a READY TO MOVE HOME. Turnkey is the exact word, and is what sells best and for the best price!

And even if me and maybe you too, we like makeovers and projects, for the majority of people a long list of small renovations will be a turn off! Or an argument to negotiate the price much lower than your starting point.

And as it goes for paint, it’s the one thing that instantly gives the place a new and fresh look for the lowest money cost.

2.Declutter.

  • And by that I mean clean your closets like never before
  • Donate or sell what you don’t need and keep only the essentials visible.
  • Have your rooms furnished in a way that there’s space to easily walk around, so if you have any cramped in the corners tables, oversized chairs and big sideboards, simply pack them and send to garage or a loacker.
  • Make sure everything looks well organized- on tour shelves, inside your kitchen cabinets, and inside your closets.

3.Pre pack like you mean it.

  • Pack in boxes the clothing from the opposite season, half of your kids toys, half of your kitchen plates etc. You want people to see a house that breathes and has lots of space, and not a one that is full of your things.
  • Also, pre packing will help you in your move if ever things move very fast once you do sell

4.Style your home in a coherent way

If you love both farmhouse and eclectic and modern styles your home may be a gorgeous mix of trends, but for an average person visiting it might just feel like a mess. Taste is subjective but what people want is a feeling of ” this house feels like home” and ” I could make it mine” So while it should be decorated , it should also feel calm and clean- and for that you should have it decorated in a coherent way. So one style, one colour palette.

How to do it:

Pack all of the very original decor pieces you might have.

Decide on a colour that you can spread around your house, and using different hues and tones decorate with it throughout. For example blue is a favorite of most people on earth, so you could have light blue curtains, darker blue pillows, a print on a wall with some blue in it and a blue vase on the kitchen counter.

But remember in home staging less is more!

5.Add subconscious touches.

So the cherry on top in home staging would be smell. After your home is all clean and there’s no pet or cigarette smell, make sure it actually smells like home.

So, with use of scented candles, or essential oils you can maake your home smell like:

  • cookies
  • fresh linen
  • baked apples
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla

A lot of people won’t even realize it, but they will remember that they FELT GOOD while visitig your house!

That’s it, all of my seacrets that helped us sell fast and for the highest price in our neighborhood! I hope this can help you to sell as best possible too!

Cutest Back to School Cricut-made gear roundup

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

As you know I love creating things with my Cricut machines, and today I wanted to share with you a roundup of the best Back to School crafts made with Cricut! All of these projects are easy to make, and all are super cute!

Because while this school year may be different from others with all the uncertainty around, I know for sure that staying creating is the best way to deal with anxiety for us moms – and handmade school gear are a sure way to excite any kid for a back to school time ( in class or virtual!)

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou

So let’s remember that the more we create the more we’re creative! And to spark your creativity here’s the round up of the cutest Cricut back to school projects !

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  1. The sweetest Homeschool Rules sign from Hello Creative Family
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2. The cutest ever first day of school pennant flags from At Home With Ashley

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3. Super fun DIY Back to school chalkboard sign from Mommyhood Life

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4. Adorable personalized name tags from Pineapple Paper Co

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5. Cutest narvals inspired school gear from Housewife Eclectic

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6. Thoughtful teachers gift tote bag with goodies from Play Party Plan

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7. The sweetest tee shirt for your little fifth grader from The Denver Housewife

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8. Super fun Harry Potter inspired school gear from Lovely Indeed

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9. Sweetest hedgehog school tote bag & pencil case kit from Must Have Mom

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10. The cutest back to school t shirts from the Cricut blog

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And the cutest school gear by yours truly – you can find the full tutorial here!

I hope these back to school Cricut crafts have inspired you just like me to keep on creating and to stay positive this September! I know for sure I can’t wait to make some more back to school inspired crafts with my Cricut!

DIY personalized back to school gear with Cricut

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Here in Quebec all kids going to primary classes are coming back to school in person, and to be honest I’m really excited and hopeful about it! After months of spending time together I can see how much they missed school! On top of it all we are finally moving, and so my girls will be starting this new and special school year in an entirely new school!

And while this school year is very different for a lot of us and while I know that a lot of parents will be homeschooling and distance schooling this year, I also believe that we need to everything possible to excite our kids more than ever about learning this year!

So with all that going on I really wanted to make sure they are excited and all ready for September! And I don’t know about you, but for me it means preparing them emotionally and personalizing their school gear!

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And so with the help of my Cricut Explore Air 2 and my Cricut Easy Press I made these DIY personalized back to school gear for my girls and they couldn’t be more excited ! Best part is that I saved lots of money and had so much fun making these!

I started by browsing the Cricut Design Space where I found all of the designs that I used: the cute kawaii faces I used on the pensil cases, the mermaid design, and the unicorn design ( in french since my kids speak french at school) that I used for the water bottle.

I cut my design with my Cricut Explore Air , and I used the Everyday Iron On material in black and pink ( my girls favourite colour! ) and it took me not more than an hour to finish it all! And then I have applied my designs on with Cricut Easy Press ( it’s my favourite part!)

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I also decided to personalize the water bottle and the lunch box, and for that I used Premium Vinyl in aqua blue.

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If you’ll ask my daughter she’ll tell you she loves her personalized and unique back to school gear! And I’m just so happy she’s excited about going back to school now!

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How I keep my kids occupied at home & free blooming activity printables

Today I wanted to share with you a couple of ideas for keeping those kids at home occupied! Because at this point of this crazy year, with many of us still not knowing if kids will be back at school this September or not ( and if yes then for how long!?) I bet we are all out of ideas on occupying our children!

So today I wanted to share with you some activities and toys that have kept us sane lately and some free printable activities that I designed and that you can download and print at home for your kids! I have designed these printable activities that you can find at the end of the post ( I spy game, memory game & colouring pages) around the blooming theme that was the subject of our recent home activities!

So here are some activities and toys that have kept us sane lately:

1.Playing pastry chefs.

So first, let me show you my girl’s new favorite activity- sweet treat creations with Chocolate Pen! We received the Chocolate Pen as a blogger gift but it has quickly became a favorite in here since it mixes together two of my girls favourites- art and baking!

Basically it’s a pen that automatically loads chocolate and a melting tray kit that keeps colors melted and ready to go- and with the candy bars included it makes for a perfectly sweet activity! It’s kid friendly and easy to use, and with a bit of experience I believe we’ll be decorating cakes like real pastry chefs soon! We even made some homemade chocolates with it and let me tell you, they where so yummy!

How you too can play pastry chefs at home:

  1. Get kids dressed in matching chef hats ( you can make them from paper)and some aprons.
  2. Bake simple cookies and decorate them with Chocolate Pen or melted chocolate and some colorful sprinkles.
  3. Set up playdough pastry chef station for younger kids.
  4. Make homemade chocolates in silicone ice cube molds with melted white chocolate and food colouring.
  5. Ask your kids to draw their imaginary pastry creations .

2.Playing imaginary games

I really believe in imaginary play and toys that encourage imagination and all sorts of make believe. And the toys that have saved my sanity lately and kept my girls occupied for days are both cute, encourage imaginary play and creativity! They are called Blume dolls and they are my kids new absolute favourite! They have also inspired me to design the printable activities for you!

Now, since an image is worth a thousand words I have this little video of the Blume Rainbow Sparkle Surprise  experience- because I can tell you that the dolls really bloom when you first water them up , but would you believe me if you wouldn’t see it?

These dolls are both cute, have removable colorful and squishy hair and lot’s of accessories; and their packaging can be reused for flower planting and crafting!

I also love the different skin tones of both Blume dolls and Blume babies!

We even got one that was all white and Rose could make her hair exactly as she wanted! Next on our activity list is planting flowers in their pots, but that will have to wait for our new house!

3. Crafting and drawing

So these new Blume dolls that girls have received have inspired me to design a set of printable activities for them and for you: the I spy game a memory game , and some colouring /drawing pages all inspired by blooming, flowers and summer fun!

When I printed these out for my girls they where occupied all morning long and so excited!

For the memory game simply glue the printed sheet on a darker piece of paper ( so kids can’t see the images through) and then cut it out and play!

You can download your printable activities here!

I hope these activities and ideas can help you have more fun at home these days – and while this year haven’t been the easiest, we are all in this together, it will pass, and our kids will hopefully remember this time as the months of family time at home most of all!

Disclosure- While the Blume dolls and Chocolate Pen where gifted to me and my girls all opinions and enthusiasm remains completely our own!

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