Top toy picks: Five Crowns Junior

by Marcia MacQuarrie, The Noise on Toys

Even after years of playing FIVE CROWNS (8+, SET Enterprises), it’s still a treat to study the magnificent detailing on these beautifully illustrated cards. The game itself is a fun, rummy-like variant with pick ups and discards to collect sets and runs. What’s different is that each new deal adds an additional card to your hand. The game uses two duplicate, five-suited decks with plenty of wild cards, so there are ample set-making (melding) opportunities. As well, the 116-card combined deck easily accommodates up to seven players, even when dealing thirteen cards for the final hand. We love that it’s such a social game – perfect when you want to play some cards and still chat. More recently, testing families have also enjoyed playing the new FIVE CROWNS Junior. Targeted to early school-aged children, this beginner version has been nicely simplified without losing the basic elements of the original game.

Visit to read more about this and other award winning games.

Halloween Pretzel S’mores

We’ve decided that s’mores aren’t just for camping anymore. They’re too good to save just for summer nights by the campfire, which is why we decided to make a few of these sweet and salty snacks at home. No fire needed! They only take a minute to assemble and a few simple ingredients. As a bonus, you can make a few at a time. Hint: One serving is often enough. :)

You will need:

  • Chocolate-covered pretzels
  • Large marshmallows
  • Small tube of ready-to-use cookie decorating icing
  • Sprinkles of choice

1) Cover a microwave-safe plate with waxed paper or parchment paper.

2) Assemble your s’mores by cutting large marshmallows in half, and sandwiching each half between two of the pretzels.

3) Arrange on the covered plate and microwave for about 10 seconds. Ultimately, you want the marshmallow to heat up but not the chocolate. This may require a few trial runs and sampling!

4) Remove from the microwave and top with a bit of icing and your sprinkles. The orange and black ones are perfect for Halloween and add a touch of licorice flavour, but they’d be just as nice with Christmas-coloured sprinkles, tiny hearts or candy snowflakes, or even just chopped peanuts.

5) Eat right away or save them for after dinner, but this might be hard to do!


Pinterest roundup: Halloween is almost here!

It's Monday, and that means we're sharing some of our favourite ideas from our Pinterest boards. This week we're sharing some fun Halloween ideas that caught our eye:  

Are you following Capital Parent on Pinterest? You can find us right here. Follow us for family crafts, great kid-friendly activities, recipes and more. You can read all of our past Pinterest round-ups right here!

Poppies to remember

It's important to wear a poppy for Remembrance Day. Perhaps this year, even more so. 

It's important to wear a poppy for Remembrance Day. Perhaps this year, even more so. 

November is the time of year to wear a poppy. Not only is this an easy craft to do with the kids, but it’s a great opportunity to talk about the importance of Remembrance Day and the significance of wearing a poppy. 

You will need:

  • red felt
  • black felt or black buttons
  • chalk 
  • scissors
  • black thread and a needle
  • alligator clips 
  • glue gun

You can make this craft in two different ways, either by gluing each layer of felt together or by sewing them together. We took the sewing route in order to get some much needed button-sewing practice!

1) Using the chalk, trace three circles on the red felt in descending size. The largest should be about 2-3” in diameter. Don’t be afraid to freestyle it! Precision isn’t important here, in fact, it makes the finished product look nicer if the circles are a little bit uneven.

2) Thread the needle and sew the layers together, largest to smallest. This is great sewing practice, especially if you’ve used a black button for the centre of the poppy.

3) Glue the finished poppy to the alligator clip. That’s it! The poppy can be worn in the hair or clipped to a coat or sweater. Traditionally poppies are worn over the heart, as a symbol of our respect and gratitude to those who serve.

Pro tip: if you have the supplies, make extra poppies for friends and family.

Ottawa parenting blogs we love: Correr Es Mi Destino

Meet Juliette Giannesini, the blogger behind Correr Es Mi Destino ( Photo courtesy of Juliette Giannesini.

Meet Juliette Giannesini, the blogger behind Correr Es Mi Destino ( Photo courtesy of Juliette Giannesini.

By Lynn Jatania 

Juliette Giannesini of Correr Es Mi Destino has a truly unique perspective on family life in Ottawa. Maybe it’s because she’s French – her extended family still lives in a lovely part of southern France and their culture influences her daily. Or perhaps it comes from raising her young son in an urban home, trying to balance her own heritage with her husband’s Chinese culture. But mostly, we think it’s because she has the fearlessness to live life as a mother to its fullest – to travel, to explore, and to wander just as freely as before adorable little Mark came along.

Although he’s still a toddler, Mark has already seen Mexico, France, NYC, and Toronto, among others places. With a free-spirited, curious approach and dozens of amazing photos, Juliette’s tales of her travels are like peeking into another place – catching a glimpse of a perfectly encapsulated nook in a foreign country. She’ll have you wanting to book your next trip right away – but in the meantime, reading her blog feels so immediate and vivid, it’s like you’ve been there yourself.

It’s not all far-flung locations, either; she has plenty of great advice and anecdotes about life in Ottawa, too. Dig into her archives for info on great spots to skate, picnic, or explore in the capital (all with beautiful photos, some of which are for sale). There are also posts about quick-trip opportunities in Quebec City, Montreal, or the other side of the U.S. border, all told from a unique, inquisitive perspective that will fuel your wanderlust.

As an immigrant to Canada, Juliette also has lots to say about how to ease into settling here, and how to make best use of the system. But whether you’re new to Ottawa or an old hand, you’ll find something fascinating about her view of the world.

Noteable Quote

When it comes to French food, I have simple tastes. I don’t crave fancy foods. I’m happy with bread, cheese, quiches (savoury pies), chaussons aux pommes (apple turnovers), or simple pastries such as flans.

Nantes has several famous and fancy pâtissiers. Their shops are fascinating, with elaborated colourful pastries on display. Frankly, I think sticking a spoon into these art pieces is a crime. Sure, the mousse might be delicious and the chocolate coating is probably just sweet enough… but can you imagine the tedious work involved in each pastry?

I already find bakers are masochists. I mean, they wake up at dawn to bake loafs and loafs of bread, roll croissants into perfect half-moons and stick chocolate into sweet breads—and they do it every single morning, all over again. But pastry chefs take masochism to a whole different level, crafting these fancy yet ephemeral treats.

These days, Mark has a chocolate-smeared face on half of the pictures because he discovered les boulangeries and loves his daily treat. Like every French kid, he unfolds the dough of his pain au chocolat to eat the chocolate first and he complains loudly if I buy something without a sweet filling. A piece of brioche without chocolate chips? Quelle horreur!

Read the rest of this post and more at Correr Es Mi Destino

Interested in checking out some of the other great Ottawa parenting blogs that have caught our eye? They’re all listed right here.

How to achieve Halloween costume perfection, in 20 easy steps

By Lynn Jatania

  1. Notice the weather turning to fall, lovely leaves turning colour, a nip in the air. Casually ask your kid what he’d like to be for Halloween, and frown when he tells you he’d like to be a 20-foot long Chinese dragon made from real silk. Decide to go on the offensive.
  2. Consult Pinterest for fun ideas. Fall down Pinterest black hole.
  3. Emerge from Pinterest black hole three days later with a pinboard full of ideas that will take a little fabric, a glue gun, and the patience of Mother Teresa.
  4. Show your kid your pinboard and try not to be offended when he doesn’t know what a Ghostbuster is. Remain cheerfully upbeat as you attempt to sell him on the cuteness of being a miniature Gandalf, while hiding your secret agenda of making a matching Galadriel outfit, because OMG you will look so amazing in a long blonde wig, and you found the perfect replica elf ring on Etsy.
  5. Take your child’s shrug and “I guess so” as a firm yes.
  6. Visit the fabric store,  the craft store, and the costume store for wigs and fake beards. Find a local craftsman who works with reclaimed wood to start sculpting a staff.
  7. Sew, glue, and swear, with none of the patience of Mother Teresa.
  8. With four weeks to go, have your child try on the costume. Radiate pride, exclaim over the cuteness, take a photo for Grandma. Pat yourself on the back for being prepared so early.
  9. Notice, upon removal, that the beard gave your kid a rash. Ignore the problem. It’s only one night, right?
  10. Try not to panic when you’re out at WalMart and your kid sees a polyester one-piece Ninja Turtle jumpsuit with a matching facemask that is as delicate as a Royal Daulton teapot, and flips out with excitement.
  11. Put fingers in ears and sing loudly every time kid says “all his friends” are going as Ninja Turtles. Bury WalMart flyer advertising costumes on sale for 50 per cent off in the recycling bin.
  12. Cave in and purchase Ninja Turtle costume. Decide to give your father-in-law a hand crafted, reclaimed wood staff for Christmas.
  13. Perfect Galadriel costume. You are radiance personified. If only the wig didn’t give you a rash – but it’s only one night, right?
  14. Try not to stab yourself in the eye with a pen when your kid declares the Ninja Turtle jumpsuit to be uncomfortable, and adds that “all his friends” are now going as Ghostbusters.
  15. Rush to Pinterest to review Ghostbuster costumes. Call around to see if anyone has kid-sized work jumpsuits. Inform spouse he must make a jet pack because you are too busy baking 150 cupcakes for three school Halloween parties.
  16. On the day before Halloween, with your arms covered in pumpkin guts up to the elbows, sigh as your kid asks if you have any extra silk scarves for a Chinese dragon costume.
  17. Facing an array of rejected costumes laid out on the bed, finally placate your over excited, over stimulated, over optioned child with last year’s too-small Harry Potter costume.
  18. Panic about bowl of candy left on front porch, as you imagine hooligans ignoring your polite and subtle “Please take ONE” sign, and grabbing inappropriate fistfuls. Rush Harry Potter and his siblings up and down the street while trying not to trip over Galadriel dress, and ignoring the itchy wig. Insist on wearing delicate elvish slippers you found on eBay, imported from India, despite sprinkling of snow on the ground.
  19. Try not to be too overjoyed when your kids complain of sore feet after 10 houses.  
  20. Lead the troops home, bring the empty candy bowl back inside, and turn out the porch light. Put the kids to bed and settle down with a glass of wine, a Lord of the Rings DVD, and a bowl of pilfered candy. Take the good stuff – you’ve earned it!