August 18, 2015

Copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing

I'm not an Italian Dressing fan except when it comes to Olive Garden. Then I'm suddenly the biggest Italian Dressing fan there ever was. It is so delicious I had to figure out how to make it at home. Enjoy!!

1 packet of Italian Dressing Mix
3/4 C oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 C and 2 T white vinegar
1/4 C water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Little Bitty Kitchen: Copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Simple At Home Activities for Kids

Some of these are going to sound like no-brainers - but really, when your kids are stuck in the rut of playing with the same toys every day, watching the same shows every morning and you can tell they're just getting bored with it all...your days just seem to repeat one after another ((amiright?!)). Sometimes you just need to be reminded of some different and simple things you can do with kiddos. Also -- be sure to check out my post on sensory bottles!

Cutting paper
Would you believe my 2 and a half year old sat at the kitchen table and happily cut foam paper for almost three hours? There is something so calming about snipping paper for little ones - this is now one of our regular activities! We have tried this with construction paper, but foam paper wins every single time. It's sturdier for him to hold and I think he enjoys the way it feels to cut into foam instead of regular paper.
Little Bitty Kitchen: Simple At Home Activities for Kids
Entertainment for 2+ hours. Yep, that just happened.

Sponge play
This activity is a little bit messy, but it's just water. I laid down a large blanket on the kitchen floor, put our water table on top and filled up some medicine measuring cups and various tupperware with a very little bit of water. Throw in some dollar store sit back! The kids kept soaking the sponge and squeezing it out, making it "rain" into the cups. The floors didn't get too terribly soaked, and when we were done I just threw the blanket in the dryer! This activity kept my young ones busy for about one hour. It is a neat sensory activity squishing the different  sponges and it's also good hand eye coordination to squeeze the sponge over the cup, making the water fall into the the tiny measuring cups. 

Little Bitty Kitchen: Simple At Home Activities for Kids

Water Dropping
Set up this activity on a baking pan to help contain all the separate parts. I collected random caps and lids from milk jugs, coke bottles, and water bottles. I also used a spare contact lens case. Set out a few cotton balls as well. Then fill up some cups with colored water and give your child a medicine dropper! This was a really fun one for my oldest - he loved to suck up the different colored water and drop them into all of the different caps and lids, and it was neat watching the cotton balls soak up the colors.
Little Bitty Kitchen: Simple At Home Activities for Kids

Cleaning Rocks
This fabulous idea came from Learn with Play at Home. This was totally my kid's idea of a fun time. Cheap + messy + fun = winning! All you need is a water table, some rocks, shaving cream and water! I colored the shaving cream before hand with food coloring, and put the water in a spray bottle. I let him paint the rocks with old sponge brushes and them go to town with the water! Be sure to lay an old blanket underneath the table. We have done this so many times, and clean up is a breeze - just spray it all down in the backyard with a hose and throw the messy blanket in the wash. We have also done this with washable paint!
Little Bitty Kitchen: Simple At Home Activities for Kids

Helping Cook
As much of a mess as this CAN be, sometimes it's just worth it to invite the little ones to help you in the kitchen. Get them excited by surprising them with a special kid's apron! I got this at the Dollar Store. When he helps me cook, the dreaded dinner time hour isn't near as hectic as usual. It's a good way to teach them about measuring, kitchen safety, explore different textures and smells...the list goes on and on!
Little Bitty Kitchen: Simple At Home Activities for Kids

Sink Play
Self explanatory! Fill up the sink with some water and give them all sorts of containers and to pour water back and forth into and to play with!Little Bitty Kitchen: Simple At Home Activities for Kids

Little Bitty Kitchen: Simple At Home Activities for Kids

Sensory Bottles Activity

Sensory bottles are a really fun way to entertain little ones - I have a 1 and 2 year old that have really been enjoying them while we have been cooped up inside while the Texas heat outside has been unbearable!

There are many different combinations of things that you have in your pantry and bathroom to assemble your bottles! I only had to go out and buy the bottles themselves, so this activity is super affordable. I recommend a 6 pack of VOSS water bottles which were $5.99 at my local grocery store. I recommend these because they are durable and the plastic is thick enough that I don't have to worry about the cracking because my kids are really rough with their toys.

Little Bitty Kitchen: Sensory Bottles Activity

Pour the water into a pitcher (don't waste it!) and peel off the labels. They come right off nice and clean so no need to scrape off the leftover goo! Then I got to work combining different items.

Karo Corn syrup & Beads
Little Bitty Kitchen: Sensory Bottles Activity

Aloe vera gel & Marbles
Little Bitty Kitchen: Sensory Bottles Activity

Water, Rubberbands and Pompoms
Little Bitty Kitchen: Sensory Bottles Activity

Cut up Pipe cleaners, Paperclips and Bobby pins - a magnetic bottle. Hold a magnet up from the outside and drag the contents up and down!
Little Bitty Kitchen: Sensory Bottles Activity

Water, Glitter and Food coloring
Little Bitty Kitchen: Sensory Bottles Activity

Epsom salt, Toothpicks and Food coloring
Little Bitty Kitchen: Sensory Bottles Activity
But the different combos are endless! Try mix and matching all sorts of things. A lot of these can also be found at the dollar store if you are missing some. Be SURE to hot glue the lids on tight when you are done with your bottles. Save the cardboard container, cover it with some paper and stickers and store your sensory bottles there!

Little Bitty Kitchen: Sensory Bottles Activity
It doesn't look perfect but it's fun!

Kitchen items: water, popcorn kernels, rice, sugar, salt, dry pasta noodles vegetable oil, food coloring, toothpicks, sprinkles, dried beans, dish soap
Bathroom items: cotton balls, shampoo, aloe vera gel (makes a cool slime effect), shaving cream, hair gel, q-tips, baby oil
Around the house : coins, paperclips, rubberbands, marbles, beads, pipe cleaners, glitter, small plastic toys, pom poms, googly eyes
Outside: sticks, pebbles, dirt, sand, grass, leaves, flowers, seashells

If you have older kids, you can even make themed bottles:
Nature bottles
Seasons bottles
Water bottles
Weather bottles
Color themed bottles

The possibilities truly are endless so let your imagination run. My kids had a blast filling up the bottles with different objects. Get them involved in the process to get them excited!