Christmas Candy Play Doh

The holidays are all blending together this year so even though we are not putting up decorations quite yet, making small holiday moments around the house is how we are bringing in some holiday cheer. Several months ago I posted a recipe for Sunshine Doh. This version is very similar, but requires a few extra steps and finishes.

First, gather your ingredients. You will need 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of salt, 3/4 of water, 3 TB of white vinegar, and 1 TB of vegetable oil.

Second, mix all of the listed ingredients together in a bowl until a sticky dough is formed.

Next, in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the mixture until the liquid evaporates and a more solid dough forms.

Remove from heat and roll into a ball.

Using a dough cutter, divide the ball into two equal halves.

Take one half and roll into a ball. Then create a thumbprint crater on the top.

Pour a small splash of extract, food coloring, and whatever else you may want to roll into your dough. For this particular one, I just used red food coloring and peppermint extract. Essential oils work too, but this way if the littlest LO takes a bite I won’t be too worried.

Repeat the previous steps with the second half. For this one I used vanilla extract and some glitter (here’s hoping she doesn’t nibble on this particular Play Doh).

After that, using the divider again and cut each ball into equal parts. For mine I cut each ball into four parts (thus creating eight small balls of Play Doh).

Take one piece of the first color and one piece of the second color. Individually make a classic snake.

Lay the snakes next to one another and then twist.

Lightly roll the twisted snake together to make the edges smooth. Then bend softly to form a candy cane. (Repeat with other pieces of dough.)

Lastly, carefully wrap each “candy cane” in cellophane and tie with a festive ribbon.

That’s it! It seems cumbersome, but I promise you I was able to eat lunch, take a quick nap, and make this batch of Play Doh all within one nap time.

How to build the perfect lunch bowl at home

Ever crave Cava or Sweet Green but not feel like spending the money or venturing out to get it? Me too. Pretty much all of the time. That’s why while it doesn’t seem ingenious, the task can seem a bit daunting, so here I’m laying out a step-by-step of how I recreate healthy grain and green bowls all from the comfort of my kitchen.

First, determine the things you like. Even if it seems a bit all over the place, if you like it you like it, so add a little in. Part of the fun of bowl style meals is that they can be adapted and changed easily. They can be good methods of weekly meal prep as well as a way to use up lingering produce in your fridge. Second, while you are pulling your ingredients try to keep the food pyramid in mind. It’ll help keep your bowl balanced and be an easy way to incorporate many different colors and flavors that come from vegetables. Once you’ve narrowed down what you want to use it’s time to start building your bowl. Bowls I’ve created and enjoyed in the past are shredded BBQ chicken, taco, and deconstructed hamburger. Today though I went with a simple Mediterranean style one.

First: Add your greens

For this particular bowl I used mixed greens and shredded carrots.

Second: Add your grains

For my bowls, I love using the easy microwaveable pouches of grains and lentils. Depending on how much I use, one packet will last me two to four bowls.

Next: Add your protein

My go-to proteins to add to bowls are tuna and cottage cheese. If those aren’t your favorite, try leftover grilled steak or chicken, legumes, or even other fishes like salmon or shrimp.

Fourth: Mix in a variety of veggies

For veggies, you always want as many different colors of the rainbow that you can. An easy way to do this, is to use the small sweet peppers or heirloom tomatoes for a yellow, orange, and red.

Fifth: Garnish with healthy fats and season

A small dab of plain hummus, splash of dressing, some walnuts, and S&P round out this bowl.

That’s it! Not ground breaking, but if you’re ever feeling stuck with meal ideas, bowls are a great option.

Vienna Mini Guide

If you are from the Washington Metropolitan area, chances are you’ve heard of Vienna. Resembling areas like Falls Church and Westover, Vienna is nestled in Fairfax County between Oakton and McLean. It is easy to get to with travel points such as 66 West bound and Route 123 being your most direct routes to get there. Sprawling neighborhoods with ranches, colonials, and craftsman style homes alike surround the Main Street area where the hustle and bustle are. What is great about the town of Vienna is that while it exudes a small town feel, there is really a lot to be seen and done there.

One of the main attractions and quite busiest places in Vienna is the section of the W&OD Trail that runs straight through the heart of the town. The path is usually overtaken with cyclists and joggers, but walkers and families are also welcome to use the path. The trail is flat, and runs from Shirlington to Purcellville so how far you choose to explore it is up to you.

Not too far down the path is the original Caboose Brewery. Grounds are smaller in size compared to its sister store in Merrifield, however the libations and fare are just as tasty. Even further down the path from the brewery is a small park called Northside Park. Here, you can hike trails, explore neighborhoods, and even play down by the creek. It is much quieter and provides a bit of relief from the usual hustle and bustle of the trail.

In town right along Church Street are some magnificent homes to walk by, as well as The Freeman Store and Museum and the Little Library grounds. The museum is open on Saturdays from 12-3 PM and has COVID safety measures in place to ensure a safe visit for patrons; and the library is open the first Sunday of every month from 12-4 PM. Directly across the street is an older train car and benches which allow for an easy and memorable outing for little ones in need of some fresh air.

In town food options are in abundance. Select takeout cuisine from places like Taco Bamba, a unique and slightly more upscale takeout from Maple Ave., date night at Blend wine bar, or the ever popular Vienna staple – The Vienna Inn for their signature chili dogs and chicken tenders. Coffee from Caffé Amouri is also a great stop, and you can even sign up to take a specialized coffee class. Whichever you choose, you cannot go wrong and will be able to find something to satisfy everyone’s tastes.