Alpha Mom » Brenda Ponnay parenting and pregnancy opinions and information Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:32:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Father’s Day Brownies for Awesome Dads Wed, 17 Jun 2015 20:14:25 +0000

Many of you may not know this but I am actually horrible in the kitchen. I burn everything and I under-season everything else, so I decided to collaborate with a local baker, who is also a mom, for a really fun Father’s Day food craft. I like to call it the Father’s Day Brownie Bar Extravaganza.

It pretty much goes like this: Invite a bunch of kids over, set up a bar filled with all the brownie toppings you can imagine and let the kids create the most amazingly, delicious brownies for their dads as a Father’s Day presents! Each brownie is individually created for their dad in mind. It makes for a gourmet twist and lots of thoughtful surprises. I say, get your calendars out now and schedule it as a playdate because Father’s Day is right around the corner and it’s a whole lot of fun for kids.

Father's Day Brownies for Awesome Dads by Brenda Ponnay for #FathersDayParty

First, you’ll need to make your brownie batter. Elyssa Fournier, my friend and baker from Mixed Bakery, was kind enough to share her favorite brownie recipe below. It’s so easy to make, and delicious!

Father's Day Brownies for Awesome Dads by Brenda Ponnay for (ingredients list)

Brownie Recipe Ingredients

Father's Day Brownies for Awesome Dads by Brenda Ponnay for (brownie recipe)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup of granulated white sugar
  • 1 stick (4 oz.) of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • all the toppings you can imagine set out like a bar

Brownie Recipe

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients (except toppings) together in a large mixing bowl and then pour into individually-sized baking dishes or an 8×8 inch pan. Set out all your toppings in small dishes and let your kids go to town on their own brownies, by adding toppings. When the they are done, bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes. Baking times may need to be adjusted depending on the toppings added, but 25 minutes is a good place to start. Check often and rotate the brownies to ensure thorough doneness.

About those brownie toppings? As you can see we had a lot of fun. Anything goes! Set everything out in small dishes and see how creative your kids can get. Make sure they keep Dads’ particular tastes in mind. Does Dad like savory mixed with sweet or does he have a big candy-loving sweet tooth? Maybe make some extra brownies for the kids too because creating combinations is so much fun, they are not going to want to only make one brownie.

Father's Day Brownies for Awesome Dads by Brenda Ponnay for (toppings)

Here are some ideas for brownie toppings that we used but be creative and come up with your own ideas too!

Red hots, confetti sprinkles, peanut brittle, toffee-flavored walnuts, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, marshmallows, miniature peanut butter cups, m&m’s, chocolate chips, coconut, pretzels, potato chip, peanuts, popcorn, dried apricots, red hot pepper flakes, broken graham crackers, slivered almonds, salt crystals, bacon, caramel, dulce de leche, leftover easter candy, gummy worms, peppermints, cyan pepper, white chocolate chips, leftover halloween candy… you get the idea.

Anything goes and you’ll be surprised at how well some things go together and some better than others. Personally, the potato chip combination was a real winner for me. Super yummy.

Father's Day Brownies for Awesome Dads by Brenda Ponnay for #giftsfordad


After your brownies are all baked, let them cool and then package them up with a special Father’s Day sticker that you can print on your own printer on full-sheet label paper. Dad is going to love them!

p.s. If you thought this was fun, be sure to follow Elyssa on Instagram and Facebook!

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Back Massage T-Shirt for Father’s Day! Tue, 09 Jun 2015 12:44:36 +0000

You know what Dad needs for Father’s Day? A back massage. With this DIY Back Massage Tutorial t-shirt you can make it a family affair! Easy iron-on decals will give dad a chance to customize his favorite back rub and give kids the direction they need to do it just right!

Back Massage T-Shirt for Father's Day by Brenda Ponnay for

Supplies to create this great Father’s Day gift:

1. a pre-washed cotton t-shirt in Dad’s size
2. iron-on transfer paper for inkjet printers (found in your local craft or office store)
3. our handy dandy printables:

4. a hot dry iron (no steam! make sure your steam is turned off)
5. scissors

Now let’s get started!



You can make this t-shirt gift three different ways:

1) Iron-on the front transfer that says “This Awesome Dad Needs a Massage” and then cut out all the arrows and directionals and put them in a plastic bag with some cute packaging that you create yourself or use ours here. Then gift wrap the t-shirt and the bag of decals and let dad design his own back massage with kids taking notes and somebody responsible ironing the decals on. OR,

2) you can sneakily ask Dad exactly how he likes his back rubbed and take notes and then put it together later secretly. Or,

3) you could just wing it and put directionals wherever you think he might like and that’s probably fine too because when it comes down to it, can you really go wrong with this gift? NO!

Back Massage T-Shirt for Father's Day by Brenda Ponnay for

Here are some notes to help with the process: (Please don’t let the abundance of notes discourage you. This is an easy craft to put together. I just learned a few things while I was doing it. You can ignore my notes (tips) and probably be just fine.)

First make sure your printer has toner. Also, make sure you read the directions included inside your iron-on transfer paper package. Follow them closely. You’ll want to make sure your t-shirt is clean. That means no cat hair whatsoever because once hair gets stuck between the iron-on transfer paper and your shirt, it’s there forever. A tape-roller can be handy.

When you’re cutting out your directionals, don’t leave a ton of white space. You don’t have to cut super-close but don’t leave more than an inch of white space either. I would say 1/4 inch is perfect but if you leave more, it’s not the end of the world.

Make sure your iron is dry. Dump out any water you might have in the reserve. Also clean your iron before you turn it on. Whatever item of clothing you may have accidentally burned three years ago… yeah, it’ll show up on the transfer paper and on your t-shirt. Transfer paper is magical in it’s ability to find any dirt you might have on your iron. So clean your iron.

(The ironing part of this craft should be handled by a responsible adult.)  You’re not going to iron on an ironing board for this. You want a hard sturdy surface. I used a pillow case on my dining room table. A hard surface is best because you don’t want any wrinkles or give so that the decal goes on unevenly. You want the iron to touch the decal all at once or mostly all at once. You can move the iron around but you want to make sure the transfer is getting a good 90 second seal as evenly as possible.

Wait until the decals are completely cool before removing them.

Back Massage T-Shirt for Father's Day by Brenda Ponnay for

And that’s it! It’s a great craft and Dad is going to LOVE it. You may want to discourage him from wearing it out in public but I’ll leave that up to you.

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Bug Season is Here. Let’s Craft a Bug Party! Fri, 29 May 2015 20:33:51 +0000

It’s that time of year again. Time to make sure you have screens on your windows and citronella candles on your patio. But if you’re like us, you love bugs. Especially butterflies and caterpillars. We don’t love the flies and mosquitos quite as much.

We thought it would be fun to make some buggy crafts that might come in handy for bug-themed birthday parties or just an afternoon of it’s-almost-summer fun.

Bug Crafts (Butterfly Clip + Caterpillar Bracelet) by Brenda Ponnay for

What do you need for making bugs? Not much!

Supplies for this Bug Craft

1. Chenille stems
2. self-adhesive googly eyes
3. tissue paper
4. beads
5. imagination!
6. hair clips (optional)

Some tools that might help along the way:
1. wire cutters
2. a pencil for wrapping chenille stems around for curling
3. scissors

Bug Crafts (Butterfly Clip + Caterpillar Bracelet) by Brenda Ponnay for

Tutorial for Bug Crafts

To make a butterfly, simply snip a chenille stem in half. Bend that piece it in half. Then slip a small rectangle of tissue paper between the two stems. Slide a bead over the two open ends and crinkle the paper down to create two wings. Curl your ends like antennae and add eyes to the bead. If you want to make a butterfly clip, just slide a hair clip through the butterfly’s chenille stem body on the back side, clip to your hair and ta-da! Butterfly clip!

Bug Crafts (Butterfly Clip + Caterpillar Bracelet) by Brenda Ponnay for

To make a caterpillar bracelet, first make a bracelet by twisting two chenille stems together and clasping at the ends so it can circle your wrist. Be careful to bend all pokey wire bits tightly back around so they don’t scrape your skin. Then create your butterfly again like we described above but instead of adding tissue paper for wings, skip that step. Add eyes to your bead and curl the antennae. Then use another chenille stem to wrap around the body. It will look like stripes on your caterpillar and double as a way to attach to the bracelet.

Then wear and enjoy!

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DIY Star Garland for Memorial Day Sat, 23 May 2015 15:13:05 +0000

I love to decorate for holidays no matter how big or small. Sometimes I go all out and sometimes it’s just something little like this cardboard star garland. It’s a fun activity to do with kids and a great way to talk about what Memorial Day stands for. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most whether it’s spending time painting outdoors or a picnic or just singing some songs around the dining room table. We thought this homemade garland added just the right homemade touch to our Memorial Day.


DIY Star Garland for Memorial Day by Brenda Ponnay for

You can make one too following these steps.


1. cardboard
2. a box cutter or blade for cutting cardboard* and a cutting board or self-healing mat
3. hole punch
4. washable kid-safe acrylic paint in red white and blue
5. some twine or string
6. party lights (optional)

DIY Star Garland for Memorial Day


First you’ll need to cut out your stars. (This step is for adults or someone who can use a sharp blade responsibly.) I cut out 14 stars but I’m the cardboard whisperer and I love cutting things out of cardboard. You might not have as much patience as I do. Even a garland of three stars would be cute. The best way to cut cardboard is to lay your piece of cardboard on a cutting board or self-healing mat and cut away from your body or fingers. I use a box cutter and an x-acto knife with a sharp blade interchangeably.

I’ve created a quick printable template in a star shape if you need some help cutting out your stars. I recommend printing it on card stock, cutting it out and then using it as a tracing pattern on your cardboard.

DIY Star Garland for Memorial Day by Brenda Ponnay for

After you’ve cut out your stars, punch them in one corner with a hole punch. This will require some muscle but you can do it!

Then set up a painting station with three bowls of paint, give your kids strict instructions to not mix the paint (if you don’t want light blue, pink or purple in your patriotic color palette) and let them have fun. Messy is good. It gives the garland a soft homemade touch that somehow seems appropriate for appreciating military families and all the sacrifices they make for our country.

After you’ve painted your stars, let them dry. Once they are dry you can string them up. I actually chose to tie each star up individually with it’s own piece of string so I could keep my stars from moving freely along my string. However you do it, I’m sure it will look perfect.

Then hang and enjoy!



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Victoria Day Tea Party for Kids! Mon, 18 May 2015 19:20:25 +0000

We are not Canadian but it doesn’t take much to get us to celebrate a Queen’s birthday. After all isn’t every day a perfect day to celebrate like a queen? Most Canadians celebrate, Queen Victoria Day on the first Monday before May 25th with a picnic and the opening of their summer cottages but we thought it would be appropriate to throw a royal tea party.

It does help that my daughter and her friend both have Victoria as their middle name and they’ve considered themselves princesses since they were old enough to hold a tea cup. So I put together some tea, a few cucumber sandwiches, some tarts and a tiny birthday cake to celebrate this momentous occasion. To add to the festivities, I’ve made some fun Queen Victoria Printables!

Queen Victoria Day Princess Tea Party by Brenda Ponnay for

If you would like to play along you can print out the toppers here. Just click, print, cut them out and attach to a toothpick with a bit of tape.

And here is a royal oval silhouette of Queen Victoria in a paper frame that you can hang on your wall to complete the effect.

Queen Victoria Day Princess Tea Party by Brenda Ponnay for


I hope you enjoy your royal tea party!

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Handprinted Head Scarf for Mother’s Day! Mon, 04 May 2015 18:01:30 +0000

I’ve noticed that head scarves are fashionable again, which is GREAT for summer and sweaty bangs that otherwise could create bad hair days. I thought it would be cool to make a hand-painted head scarf for Mother’s Day. Moms love wearable art made by their children. This DIY gift craft was fun and easy to whip up in an afternoon!

Hand-Painted Head Scarf for Mother's Day by Brenda Ponnay for

Supplies for Hand-Painted Head Scarf for Mother’s Day

1. A yard or more of cotton gauze fabric – It’s light and wearable and the way it crinkles up makes it super easy to adjust for any style you might like.  (Need styling tips: just do a quick search on YouTube and you’ll find zillions of them!)

2. Fabric paint in colors of your choosing

3. Optional: a sewing machine and thread, scissors etc.

Directions to make a Hand-Painted Head Scarf for Mother’s Day

Step 1:
First you’ll cut your fabric. (If you are worried about durability, we recommend pre-washing the fabric but we did not pre-wash and it painted just fine.)  We made our scarves a little on the short side but if you like the kind of scarf that will wrap around your hair multiple times and tuck under or you’d like to wear it around your neck with flair…you might want to make your scarf longer. Ours was about five inches wide and a yard and an eighth long. I wish I had made it a yard and a half long, personally.

Step 2:
Spread your fabric out on a counter or table with paper underneath. The paint can seep through the fabric so make sure your surface is well-protected. Also, you’ll want to make sure you are protected too because fabric paint is forever. Wear an old t-shirt you don’t care about or an apron because once fabric paint has dried, it does NOT wash out.

Step 3:
Next, paint your child’s hand with fabric paint. You’ll want to coat it well but don’t glob it on. The thicker the paint, the longer it will take to dry so you want just enough paint to get a good solid handprint but not so much that you’re leaving globs on the fabric that soak through and adhere to the paper underneath never to be separated again. Keep it medium to light.  If you’d like a more watercolored look, you could even add water to the paint. This will lessen the handprint definition but it could create a pretty floral pattern. For this craft we stuck to handprints because moms love to preserve their kids’ prints but this craft could easily turn into a artistic masterpiece.

Step 4:
After your child’s hand is painted, firmly plant it on the fabric. Push down for five to ten seconds and then remove. Wash your child’s hand in between colors and stamp away! When you have your scarf covered in handprints, set it aside to dry according to the fabric paint directions (Usually 4 hours). In 72 hours you can wash the scarf but if you don’t sew the edges I wouldn’t recommend washing. We left our edges raw and they will probably ravel over time but they look good for now.

If you’d like a more finished edge (and you are handy with a sewing machine) just do a quick rolled hem. Then you can wear your headscarf and wash it as often as you like!

Hand-Painted Head Scarf for Mother's Day by Brenda Ponnay for


Happy Mother’s Day to all the fashionable moms!

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Cinco de Mayo Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe and Printable Pouch Sun, 03 May 2015 16:45:41 +0000

Just because Cinco de Mayo is most popularly considered an a adult drinking holiday for Americans doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun day to have a fiesta for kids too! How about we serve Mexican Hot Chocolate in the park? Festive, no? Mexican Hot Chocolate is really easy to make. All you need to do is add cinnamon, whipped cream and maybe some super cute packaging to make it a party!

Cinco De Mayo Mexican Hot Chocolate Printable by Brenda Ponnay for

You can always buy hot chocolate mix from the store but it’s super easy to make and probably healthier for you. I used this recipe from and adapted into Mexican Hot Chocolate by adding 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to each serving.

To make your chocolate mix combine these ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1  and 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt

This will make 24 servings which works out to two tablespoons per serving.  Just add milk, top it with whipped cream, add a cinnamon stick to stir with and a shake of cinnamon on top and you’ve got some delicious bebidas calientes!

Cinco De Mayo Mexican Hot Chocolate Printable by Brenda Ponnay for

Or make it with cold milk which is also just as delicious!

If you’re like me and you’d like to give your Mexican chocolate mix away in cute little packages then you can download our printable here. Print it out, cut around the outside and the white diamond in the middle. Then put two tablespoons of mix and your cinnamon in a small plastic bag (lollipop bags work great). Slip the paper poncho over the top of the bag, cinch it tight, tie it with a piece of raffia and a cinnamon stick and you’ve got a take home gift perfect for any fiesta!

(And if you’re looking for a printable paper poncho to slip over other drinks (like say some grown-up cervesas) that don’t say hot chocolate or Happy Cinco de Mayo on them, you can download that here too.)



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Easy DIY Tray for Mother’s Day! Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:48:30 +0000

Whoever invented the tradition of serving mothers breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day should be awarded a foot massage or a gift certificate to their favorite shoe store. What is sweeter than your darling child sneaking around in the morning, preparing breakfast the best way they can and then tip-toeing into your bedroom with their masterpiece breakfast teetering on a tray? I know, disasters await in the kitchen and not everything will make it to your bed intact but any mother will say it is well worth the clean up afterwards. Because kids are CUTE! Let them serve their moms breakfast for a change!

Easy DIY Tray for Mother's Day by Brenda Ponnay for

We thought it might be the cherry on top if we delivered breakfast (or in my case tea or a latte) on a tray made especially for mom by kids! Is that not the best thing ever? A simple easy-to-build tray with sweet sentiments sloppily painted for posterity?   All you need is somebody handy with a drill and kids who like to paint, which is pretty much any kid who ever existed.

Here are the supplies you will need:

1. A tray-sized piece of wood. (Ours is roughly 12 x 18 x 1) You can buy a plank at your local hardware store and ask them to cut it down for you or look around in the scrap pile they keep by the cutting area. You might even pick one up for free!

2. Two handles. We used the kind that screw in from the back side but they were a bit tricky. If you’re new to wood-work, go with the handles that have visible screws from the top and save yourself some hassle.

3. Paint (I used spray paint for the base coat and kid-proof acrylic paint for the decorating. I taped off the handles or you could add them after you painted.)

4. A drill for screwing in the handles.

5. Paintbrushes, sandpaper etc….

The steps are so easy I don’t even really need to walk you through it but I will anyway.

1. First make sure your wood isn’t too rough. You might need to sand it.

2. Next you can add your handles or you can add them after you paint.

3. Lastly, paint! (Make sure you are in a well ventilated area.)

4. Let your tray dry. Add a cute homemade card and breakfast and you are ready to present to Mom!


p.s. I made an extra tray without paint and it turned out really cute too! Maybe even cute enough for Dad on Father’s Day.

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Easy Spring Flower Garland DIY Thu, 02 Apr 2015 10:53:36 +0000

I’ve got Spring Fever in the worst way so I decided to liven up some white walls in my house with an easy spring tissue paper garland. So easy to make!

Easy Spring Flower Garland DIY by Brenda Ponnay for

You can make one too!

Supplies to make your Spring Flower Garland:

1. several small squares of colorful tissue paper (mine are roughly 2-3 inches but any size will work. Go big! Go pastel! You can do this!)

2. embroider floss in green

3. scissors

4. a cute kid to model your handiwork

This is so easy I really don’t need to write a tutorial but if you’re feeling uneasy about what to do first,  you could follow these steps.

Tutorial for your Spring Flower Garland:

First, fold two squares of tissue paper in half and then half again. Scallop the edges that are not folded with your scissors. This will make your flower. Unfold it and shift your tissue paper sheets slightly so the petals don’t match up. This will create a little more volume to your flower. If you’d like even more volume, use more sheets of tissue per flower. I stuck to two because I was more interested in getting it done quickly. Then poke your threaded needle through the middle of your flower and slightly crinkle up the petals up towards your thread. Move these flowers along your thread to where you think they look nice. Add more flowers until you’ve reached your desired length. You can create a pattern with your colors or do it randomly like I did. Then hang your garland and your house will instantly be transported from a dismal gray day to beautiful Spring!

We loved this garland so much I’m thinking I might have to plan a tropical garden party to go with it!

Easy Spring Flower Garland DIY by Brenda Ponnay for


Happy Spring!

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Happy Nowruz! Haft-Seen Printable for Kids Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:06:35 +0000

As you know we’ve been learning a lot about Nowruz (or Norooz), the Persian New Year celebration of Spring. It falls on the 21st of March this year so we put together our first Haft-Seen table. It was a fun learning experience for all of us, especially since I’ve been trying to learn Farsi. Nowruz /Norooz  is a fascinating holiday.  It has been celebrated for over 3,000 years! It’s not necessarily a religious holiday but more of a festival to celebrate spring and hopes for the new year.

Haft-Seen Printable to Celebrate Nowruz (aka Norooz) by Brenda Ponnay for

I created a Haft-Seen table printable to help out the process and that can keep little hands busy as a coloring sheet.

Click to print out your own Haft-Seen table printable here.

Haft-Seen actually means “The Seven S’s” in Farsi.  That doesn’t that mean there are only seven items on the table but there needs to be at minimum seven. Observers also add other items to the table that do not start with the letter S to symbolize spring and hope for the new year. Here is a handy key if you would like to play along: (I’ve copied this directly from Wikipedia and other sources. Please correct me in the comments if I’ve gotten anything wrong.)

  1. Sabzeh = wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth
  2. Samanusweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolizing affluence
  3. Senjed = dried Silverbery oleaster  or wild olive fruit – symbolizing love
  4. Sirgarlic – symbolizing medicine
  5. Sib = apples – symbolizing beauty and health
  6. Somāqsumac fruit – symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
  7. Serkeh =  vinegar – symbolizing old-age and patience
  8. Sonbol = Hyacinth flower – symbolizing blossoming spring
  9. Sekkeh = Coins -symbolizing prosperity

Some other additional non-“s” items on the table can be:

  1. a candle to light the table – symbolizing sunrise and enlightenment
  2. decorated eggs – symbolizing life or fertility
  3. a koran or holy book
  4. a bowl of goldfish – symbolizing good luck
  5. a mirror – symbolizing cleanliness and self reflection
  6. a crystal bowl of water with an orange floating in it – symbolizing the earth floating in space
  7. rosewater – symbolizing purity and cleanliness

There are more items too but they are more specific to region or religious background. Nowruz is celebrated all over the world so there are many different variations.

Haft-Seen Printable to Celebrate Nowruz (aka Norooz) by Brenda Ponnay for

Maybe you will add your own twist!  Please share if you do.  Happy Nowruz (aka Norooz) !

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