Friday, December 21, 2012

White Noise in a Can

Visiting family for the holidays, with kids out of their normal routine and home comforts. One thing we can still bring with us is the familiar hum of white noise. Our just-about-4-year-old still loves the sound during nap time (yes, we still got it!) and bedtime. We like to think it drowns out surrounding noises too, for a longer nap.

The key ingredient here for making a White Noise in a Can is this small white "turn anything into a speaker" Rock-It 2.0 portable vibration device (yes, despite the description, it's a speaker, people) which I received as a conference promotional item. It uses two AAA batteries and plugs into a music source. (They even have a Rock-It 3.0 with built-in rechargeable battery.) The "rock-it pod" sticks to something and vibrates it to make noise, so the chocolate-covered-cherry can becomes the speaker!

You probably have an old MP3 player lying around. Smartphones seem to have made these little guys obsolete. Upload a white noise MP3 file to the player, and put it on the repeat-one play mode. Our favorite track is a vacuum cleaner sound we found somewhere on the web for free.

  1. Rock-It 2.0
  2. MP3 player
  3. Chocolate-covered-cherry can (cherries consumed)
  4. White noise MP3 track.

Yes, they have smartphone apps for white noise, but during that nap or bed time might be just the time you want to use your phone. And when traveling, you may want to keep your precious smartphone battery life too.

You can also power the Rock-It 2.0 via USB cable. Shown above, an optional USB AC adapter fits nicely in the can too, so you don't need to use as many batteries!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Less Messy Baking With Kids: Peppermint Fudge Cookies

I love to bake, and I love my kids, so logic would suggest that I love to bake with my kids.

And maybe, one day, I will.  But right now, baking with Anna is usually a 10 minute activity until her attention turns to something else, leaving me with a half-finished product and a trashed kitchen.  I admire her enthusiasm and desire to do everything by herself when it comes to getting dressed in the morning or cleaning up her room, but with baking, independence usually leads to mess and more mess. Did I mention she likes to eat flour?

I have come to terms with the fact that, while imprecise and messy, baking with Anna can be fun if I focus on the process rather than the end result (a much needed lesson for me in many arenas).

When she asked me to bake Christmas cookies together last weekend, this recipe immediately came to mind.  I received this years ago from my MOPS group, and wanted to share it with others who love the idea of baking with kids more than the reality.  These cookies are quick, easy, hands-on, and relative mess-free thanks to the minimal amount of measuring.

1 box of Devil's Food Cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 box of red and white peppermint crunch Andes mints
sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, and oil.

Roll into tablespoon-sized balls with your hands and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Optional step:  At this point, feel free to reshape your kid's slug-shaped dough wads into round balls when she's not looking.

Bake for 8 minutes or until the tops of cookies start to look crinkled.

While the cookies are baking, unwrap Andes mints and try to keep your kid from eating them all.

Immediately after baking, place on mint on top of each cookie.

 After 5 minutes or so, swirl the melted mints with the back of a spoon.  I was hoping for a more swirly red and white frosting look, but they ended up kind of pinkish.  Oh well.  We threw some red sprinkles on there at the last minute to Christmas-ify them a bit.

That's it!  Thirty minutes max from start to finish and only one bowl, spoon and measuring glass to wash.  Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!