Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's National Jelly Bean Day!

Who doesn't love jelly beans? With so many different flavors out there, I would think that there would be at least one flavor for everyone.

  • The exact origins of a jelly bean are not clear, but it seems like the general consensus is that it was a combo of Turkish Delight candy and an outer shell similar to a Jordan Almond. 
  • Jelly beans were promoted as morale booster gifts to be sent to soldiers in the Civil War by William Schrafft, a candy maker in Boston. 
  • Jelly beans were first made with sugar and artificial flavor. Jelly Belly introduced making jelly beans with fruit juice.
  • The jelly bean became popular at Easter in the 1930's.
  • President Reagan's favorite treat was jelly beans and he kept a jar on his desk. Jelly Belly made the Blueberry flavor just for President Reagan! 
  • The first jelly beans went into space in 1983.

  • Make Jelly Bean Bracelets or Necklaces. We made jelly bean bracelets one year for Easter and the boys loved it.
  • Fill glass jars with jelly beans and place on the table for decorations.
  • Fill a vase with jelly beans and place in silk flowers.
  • Glue jelly beans to a foam circle to make a wreath.
  • Fill up your gumball machine with Jelly Beans instead!

  • Eat them of course! Have a blind taste test (either blindfolded or just eyes closed) and see if the other person can guess the flavor. For extra fun, add in the gross ones like booger and dirt.
  • Make jelly bean themed T-shirts with stamps or iron on transfers.
  • Pass out little packets of jelly beans to neighbors, school friends or even strangers and say "Happy National Jelly Bean Day!".
  • Place the jelly beans in a jar. Have the family guess how many there are.

  • Make cupcakes or a cake and decorate with jelly beans. They could be placed around in a random pattern, a flower pattern, or even a mosaic!
  • Add to drinks: just drop them in, grind up in a blender and make shakes or other drinks with them, or simply freeze them in ice cubes
  • Have a competition to see who can come up with the best recipe using Jelly Beans.

  • From what I found, the "original" flavors were mostly fruit based.
  • Jelly Belly:
    • Jelly Belly's website states they have 133 flavors! They have the 50 Official flavor list but also have several other lines, including:
      • Rookie Flavors. If the new flavors are a hit, they can be added on to the Official list.
      • Harry Potter Bertie Botts's flavored beans (including some interesting flavors like dirt, vomit, booger, grass, soap, sausage, rotten egg, earwax, earthworm, black pepper). Be careful when mixing the Bott's and Official jelly beans, some of them look the same!
      • Chocolate Dips line: jelly beans covered in dark chocolate. I would love to get my hands on the cherry, raspberry, and strawberry ones!
      • Jelly Belly also came out with a new flavor: Draft Beer (alcohol free)! I wonder if this might make a good Father's Day gift for hubby?

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR?  Mine is cherry, although the chocolate is a pretty close second.
DO YOU PREFER REGULAR JELLY BEANS OR GOURMET TYPE JELLY BEANS LIKE JELLY BELLY BEANS? I'd have to say the gourmet Jelly Belly type. The flavors are so different. I think the bigger, more traditional style jelly beans just taste like sugar. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day Is 4/22

Tomorrow is Earth Day! I have some freebies listed below, but the list isn't as long as it was last year. I also have some Earth Day facts and easy ways to celebrate below.

Some Freebies:
  • Pottery Barn: Earth Day Treasure Hunt (week of 4/21). Receive a plantable bookmark if find all clues. 
  • Free admission to National Parks April 19-20th.
  • Target usually celebrates with events in-store. The last few years, they have given out free goodie bags.
  • Anthropologie: Butterfly craft for kids.
  • Disney: Bring in 5 plastic bags for a free reusable Disneynature Bears bag.
  • Qdoba: Buy one entree, get one free. First 200 customers per store get a free reusable bag.
  • Some libraries and bookstores offer freebies like story times, bookmarks, pencils, and some even offer free trees. 
  • I have heard Jo Ann Fabrics is offering free bags (until supplies run out), but I haven't found anything to confirm yet.
Not So Free Options:
  • Caribou Coffee: Free coffee when you buy their Earth Month reusable mug.
  • Glass Straw by glass dharma after you complete a survey (you pay shipping)
  • Starbucks will give you $0.10 off your coffee when you use a reusable mug. Last year they gave away free coffee, but I haven't found anything to confirm they are this year. 
  • Many grocery stores will offer $0.05-$0.10 off your purchase when you bring in a reusable bag.

When is Earth Day?
This year, Earth Day is Tuesday 4/22/14.

What is Earth Day?
Earth Day was begun to celebrate and raise awareness about the Earth and its environment. It is celebrated world-wide. The first observation of Earth Day was on 3/21/1970. The United Nations made April 22 International Mother Earth Day in 2009. Lately, the focus on Earth Day had been about recycling, reusing, and reducing your carbon footprint.

Easy Ways to Celebrate:
  • Plant a tree in your yard.
  • Have the kids help you sort the recycling and bring it to the recycling bins.
  • Let the kids pick out flowers and have them plant them in the garden.
  • Recycle used cans, bottle caps, or paper towel/toilet paper rolls into crafts. (I have a wind chime craft that uses bottle caps and lots of paper towel/toilet paper roll crafts.) Even old broken crayons can be recycled into new crayons, stained glass, or help make a suncatcher!
  • Start a vegetable garden in your yard.
  • If the park/store is close by, walk instead of driving your car.
  • Have the kids help clean up trash at the local park. Many cities have a community clean up event for Earth Day.
2013 Freebies, 2014 Freebie info from websites


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

good2grow Juice Review

If you guys have been with me for awhile, you may remember me talking about BzzAgent. I get a sample or a coupon for a product to review and I also get coupons to share. (For more info on BzzAgent, check out my Freebies For Adults post.)  When I think it might be something you would be interested in, I blog about it too!

My latest Bzz Kit was a juice drink called good2grow. I had noticed the brand at the store with a 6 pack of juice bottles and also single bottles with character toppers. The bottles were next to other topper style bottles that were full of added sugar, so I had passed them by. However, when the BzzAgent offered a chance at a drink to "help make drinking healthy fun", I was excited to have the boys try it. I was even more surprised that it was a juice that I had seen before.

The boys first tried the strawberry-kiwi and loved it! I had one Capri Sun Super V (Fruit Punch) left and asked them which they liked better. They picked the good2grow. When I asked what if the V came in a bottle and topper too, they said they would still like the good2grow better. 

The boys are at an age where (most of the time) they can hold the juice pouches/boxes and not squeeze too hard and squirt juice all over. However, they still liked the caps since it is easier to drink from a smaller hole than just an open bottle. The caps are supposed to be leak-proof and dishwasher safe, which is nice.  

If you remember my cereal comparison post, we are trying to eat healthier and are reading food labels. 
I had been giving the boys Capri Sun Super V juice. I figure that on the occasions they are going to drink juice, it might as well have a serving of veggies/fruit with it. Both the Capri Sun Super V Fruit Punch and the good2grow Tropical Fruit Medley claimed to provide a combined serving of fruits and vegetables in one serving of juice. I had also just bought an Honest Kids Fruit Punch (organic). My ideal juice would be made without GMO's, no corn syrup/high fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners, and would have a serving of veggies/fruit, and also be organic. (Not too picky, right?) Usually the boys get milk and water for their drinks and juice is for special occasions (birthdays, playdates, parties). I wanted to take a closer look and see which juice would provide the biggest benefit for my kids. 
My comparison chart (click to enlarge)
I love it when I can understand the ingredient list and not have to look up what something is. However, there was one ingredient in the Capri Sun Super V that I wasn't sure on: Soluble Corn Fiber. I had to look this one up. According to webmd.com "Soluble corn fiber, which replaces traditional sweeteners as well as adding fiber, is also turning up on ingredient lists." I still had no idea what it really was. It was not easy to find, but some sites claim that "soluble corn fiber" is really just relabeled corn syrup! I found it hard to find a straight answer, but finally found something on Promitor's website, a large manufacturer of soluble corn fiber. On one of their information pages, I found this information: "Can be labeled as “soluble corn fiber,” “corn syrup” or “corn syrup solids,” making it extremely consumer friendly compared to other fibers currently on the market". I was annoyed at myself for not reading the label better before and at the company for renaming corn syrup. I felt like they were trying to hide it in the ingredient list. 
I wanted to be sure the boys were picking their favorite juice based on taste, not on cool character tops, so I decided to do a blind taste test to see which they really liked better! I marked blue plastic cups with numbers 1, 2, and 3. I marked the matching number on the juice container. I poured a little bit in each one and let them taste. The good2grow came out victorious. I tasted them all as well. Both the good2grow and Capri Sun Super V had a pretty good taste. The Honest Kids had a very, very faint flavor. It tasted more like water with a hint of watermelon.

From what I read, my label comparisons and the taste test, I think the good2grow is a great juice to offer my kids. I am going to stop buying the Capri Sun due to the corn syrup (aka soluble corn fiber) that is in the drink. The Honest Kids offers another good alternative, but it doesn't state that the juice contains a serving of fruits/veggies. 

BONUS!: If you have tried good2grow and liked it, they have a giveaway right now. You can enter at http://win.good2grow.com/bzzagent for a chance to win a birthday party with your choice of caps and $500!

NOTE:The good2grow single drink with the topper was $2.59 and the 6 pack refill pack $3.49 at my local grocery store. 


Capri Sun, Kraft 
Honest Kids Fruit Punch, Honest Tea
American Academy of Pediatrics Juice Recommendations

*In the interest of full disclosure: I received free products for this review, as well as coupons to hand out to friends and family. However, the views presented are my honest opinions and receipt of product did not affect my views/opinion.
Ingredients/Nutrition Facts

Monday, April 14, 2014

String Up My Easter Treats

A few years ago, I made string eggs and thought they were a pain in the butt. It never turned out the way I thought they should. I saw an upgrade on the idea where you put a piece of candy in the balloon. Once the string/glue is dried, you pop the balloon and the candy is left inside. I thought this looked like something the kids would love, so I tried it again. This time it actually (mostly) worked!

You will need:
  • Craft glue, school glue, or Elmer's glue
  • Small balloons
  • Thin string, thread, yarn, Embroidery Thread/Floss
  • Small wrapped candy

1. Hold balloon open and insert candy.
2. Blow up balloon to get egg shape.
3. Dip string in glue. Wipe off excess. DM Tip: I placed glue in a disposable bowl and dipped the string in. I then ran the string through my fingers to get the excess off.
4. Press/drape around the egg. Make sure the string overlaps.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Finding Eggs In The Dark

We did a little something different with the Easter egg hunt last year. We did a Glow In The Dark Easter Egg Hunt!

I bought plastic eggs and glow-in-the-dark bracelets. Once I snapped the bracelets to get them glowing, I rolled them up and placed one in each egg. I then added some Skittles and jelly beans to some of the eggs. In one of eggs, I placed a note that said "TV". We had the kids stay in their room until all the eggs were hidden. The boys ran around in the house in the dark finding eggs. They had a blast!

Once all the eggs were found, we opened them up and the boys found the note. They ran over to the TV cabinet and found an Easter DVD (Veggie Tales: An Easter Carol). We put together a few of the glow-in-the-dark bracelets into necklaces with the supplied connectors and the boys sat and watched the show.

DM Tips:
  • If the eggs don't want to stay together, use a small piece of painters tape to hold the egg together. I used painters tape because it is easier to peel off the egg when you are done.
  • Don't fill the eggs with the glow bracelets until you are ready to start. I've had mixed results with glow in the dark bracelets/necklaces. Sometimes they will only last a half hour or they can last several hours. I've also had duds before, so make sure there will be a few extra for when you are filling the eggs.

There are lots of neat glow in-the-dark things available that you can place in some of the eggs to keep with the glow in the dark theme!
    • Bracelets. You can also usually find these in the dollar bins at Target or the dollar stores.
    • Lizzards
    • Nail Polish. Having boys, I have not tried this product out but it does look like fun.
    • Spray Paint. This could be fun to decorate the outside of the eggs and just have candy or coins filling the egg.
    • Stars (Adhesive). Kids seem to love these. But be careful...I think my sister's old room at my parents house may still have some of these stuck in various places around the room.
    • Tape. A fun way to decorate eggs, books, etc.
    • Rubber Ducks
  • LED Flashing Rings. These are another fun way to make the eggs light up for an in-the-dark egg hunt.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hunting For Easter Baskets

Growing up, my parents hid the both the Easter eggs and our baskets. I now do the same for my boys. This year we have more places to hide the eggs and the baskets, which I am very excited about. I thought I would try something new this year and hide pieces of an Easter themed puzzle. The back of the puzzle pieces have a clue to the next puzzle piece. The last piece of the puzzle will have the clue to where their basket is. I have some eggs that have designs on them that I might hide the puzzle pieces in. I can write their initial or name on the egg and then there won't be any fights over the egg and puzzle piece.

Scavenger Hunt Ideas:
  • I made an Easter themed picture on picmonkey.com (the Higgins card above), but you could also use Adobe or even Word and use clip art to create a picture. Cut the picture into puzzle pieces (DM TIP: I have some stencils below in different sizes and number of pieces that might help) and write your clues on the back and hide them. 
  • For an even easier puzzle, buy an Easter themed puzzle and write your clues on the back. I saw a 25 piece puzzle for $1 in Target's dollar bins the other day.
  • Take a picture of where the basket is hiding, print, and cut into pieces. Once they find all the pieces, they will know where their basket is! This is a great option for kids who might not be able to read the clues yet. (Bottom puzzle piece picture above)
  • The clues can be super simple (where you keep your shoes, where the clothes get dried, the dog sleeps here, etc.), harder (I am long/round/square and have 4 legs but cannot walk or run. Table; You were just fed, but where would you get an egg? Refrigerator; Although small but getting bigger, one day your feet will fill these shoes. Hide in Mom/Dad's shoes.), or even in a rhyming pattern (Roses are red, Violets are blue, I would look under the bed, If I were you.; You hung these up and put them away, they hold lunch and a book or two, go there without delay, though the clue may be hidden from view)
We still have a ton of candy left from Halloween, so I wanted to try to do mostly non-candy items for the baskets. Of course, there are a few things that are required for an Easter basket like Reeses's Peanut Butter eggs and Jelly Beans (Target has Jelly Belly packs for $1). I've been on a hunt for basket fillers, and here are a few that I found:

I found some other fun finds this year: 
  • Star Wars Light Saber Popsicle Molds. I cannot wait to try these...I mean to have the boys try these. Amazon sells them, as well as ThinkGeek.
  • Slinkys (also in Target's Dollar Bins at the front of the store, $1)
  • Chocolate Maze (Target Dollar Bins, $1)
  • Reese's Giant Peanut Butter Egg. I found them at Target for $5.49, but Amazon sells some as well.
  • Lego Mixel's (AmazonLego) or other fun Lego's
  • Jelly Belly's 
  • Play-Doh Eggs (I found a 4 pack at the grocery store for $3.50, although Amazon sells them too.)
  • Pencils and/or pencil sharpeners, markers, stickers, stamps, activity pads, etc. I find a lot of cute (and inexpensive) items for fillers at Party City.
  • Fill eggs with coins.
  • Vouchers. I was trying to come up with some other fillers for the boys baskets. Bernardo wants to start going to garage sales to look for Lego's this spring/summer. One of his eggs is going to have a voucher for garage sale money. (Thanks for the idea Beth!). It could even be for an extra hour of TV, get out of 1 chore, money to spend at a store/amusement park/zoo/aquarium, etc.
  • Movie tickets
  • DVD's (You can often find great deals at Target for under $5, at Half Price Books, and sometimes even at Michael's Crafts!)
  • Hot Wheels

What are you favorite Easter Basket fillers? Do you hide the baskets and the eggs?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Crackle Eggs

The last few Easters we have tried a new Easter egg technique. This year we tried Crackle Eggs! They ended up looking pretty cool.


1. Hard boil eggs and let cool.
2. Place 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar, food coloring, and enough water to cover the egg in a Ziploc bag.
3. Carefully crack egg all over the shell, but be careful not to tear the membrane. (You can roll on the counter, gently hit with a butter knife.)
4. Place egg in the bag and close. Let sit for 30 minutes or so.
5. Dry egg off and carefully remove shell. The dye transfers from your fingers easily. I held the egg with a paper towel and removed shell to keep my fingers holding the egg from transferring dye and messing up the crackle lines.

DM TIP: These would look awesome using black food coloring for Halloween!

Previous Egg Posts:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Snowflake Style Eggs

I was trying to come up with some easy Easter crafts for the boys. I wasn't in the mood to drag out all kinds of craft supplies and end up having to clean up a big mess. They really liked making the paper snowflakes during the winter, so I thought we would try the same method to make Easter eggs. I cut an egg shape out of paper and folded it similar to what I did with the snowflakes. I didn't fold it as much for Higgins, since he couldn't cut through all the layers. You can cut on the folded edges, but make sure not to cut all of the folded parts off or your egg will fall apart!

For some of the smaller eggs, we used colorful Post-It notes. We folded two together and cut out a pattern. Then we placed a different color of paper in between the layers to add even more color and to help the design pop out a little more. We ended up just hanging them on the door with the larger eggs, but they would make a cute garland or place settings as well!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bunny Basket

The boys made this cute little bunny basket at school.

You will need:

  • White paper bag(s)
  • Pink paper
  • Cotton ball
  • Pen/Marker
  • Glue stick
1. Cut the bag in half. The bottom half will be the basket.
2. Cut out ears and handle from the top half of the bag.
3. Cut out nose and smaller ear shapes (inside of ears) from the pink paper.
4. Glue nose in the center of bottom part of bag.
5. Glue the pink inside of ears onto the larger white ears.
6. Glue cotton ball on the back of the bottom half of the bag.
7. Draw on face with pen/marker.
8. Glue handle onto the middle of the basket.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My First Pinewood Derby Race!

Ok, so I didn't race.

Bernardo is in Cub Scouts this year and it is a new experience for everyone. I only had a sister growing up and while we were both were in Girl Scouts, we certainly didn't do a lot of the things the Cub/Boy Scouts do. I knew that eventually Bernardo was going to do the Pinewood Derby. I was a little apprehensive because I am not very handy with tools. I can hang a picture and help with crafty types of projects, but not with using tools to form a shape out of a block of wood. 

However, to my surprise, the first activity that came up was the Raingutter Regatta. I had heard of the Derby but not the Regatta. The boys make wooden boats and then race them down a rain gutter. The boats are powered only by the boys blowing into the sails. Our sail was made from a plastic bottle, which worked really well. The Regatta was a lot of fun to watch and Bernardo came in 2nd for his den. 

A few months passed and it was now time for the Derby race. Luckily Hubby and my father-in-law had experience with making the cars from Hubby's time in Cub Scouts. The pack gave us the derby kit, which contained 4 wheels, 4 nails for the axles, a block of wood with the spaces for the nails already cut out, number stickers 0-9, and the troops rule sheet.

Hubby spent a lot of time thinking back to how his Derby races went and which types of cars did the best. He even pulled out some from when he was a kid and let the boys play with them. He came up with a plan for the shape of the car: measured it based on the requirements of the den, drew out the shape on paper from different angles (top, side). I made copies of the paper in case he messed up. Bernardo cut out the shape from the paper to trace onto the car. After Bernardo traced the shape onto the block of wood, the boys headed over to Grandpa's to take advantage of his variety of tools and to cut out the car's shape. Bernardo got to help with some of the hand tools and sander. I stayed with Higgins, but from what I heard it sounds pretty hard to cut out the shape of the car. After the car was cut out, Grandpa went old school for the weights. He drilled a few holes in the back of the car, smelted lead and filled the holes. For those of us who have no idea how to smelt lead or have no desire to, there are different sizes and shapes of weights you can buy to stick, glue, insert, or screw onto the car. (DM Tip: After the car was already cut, we discovered that Hobby Lobby and Amazon sell pre-cut car bodies for those like me who should not operate moving blades.) 

Next came the part where I could contribute: the sanding and painting. Bernardo and I sanded the car until it was smooth. I had a small block of wood left over from a previous project and screwed in a few screws for the car to sit on. I made sure the screws were not screwed in all the way so that any extra paint could drip off of the car. It also helped keep Bernardo's fingers out of any wet paint since he could move the stand and not touch the car. I had him wear the apron he received at his Home Depot birthday party to try to keep some of the paint off of him. He had free reign to paint his car and to name it. He didn't want any of the number stickers/decals on his car, so we stuck to only paint and a gloss finish. However, Amazon, Hobby Lobby, and the Boy Scouts store sell different options of decals.
Painting stand: Your can see some of the drips, so it did work!
We left the car on the stand to dry. After it was completely dry, we added on the wheels and axles (see TIPS below). The kit came with black wheels, which we used. Someone at the race did use orange wheels, so there are other options out there even if you have to use BSA (Boy Scouts of America) officially marked wheels like we did. I found these on Amazon: red, blue, and of course black.

Before race day, there was a check-in to make sure that the cars met all the requirements. They checked the weight, length, width of the car, and that all four of the wheels touched at the same time. We also got to see the track and take a test run. When Hubby was a kid, it was a wooden track. It was now a metal track and the flat bottom part was a lot longer. Unfortunately, Bernardo's car had been designed for the older style track and most of the weight was in the front of the car to help pull it down the hill faster. The den leader's wife told us that their first year they made the same mistake and had to adjust the shape and placement of the weights in their cars for the new track. She recommended placing the weight in the back of the car. It turned out that our car was under weight by almost an ounce and the den leader's wife advised gluing on more weight. I did add some more, but I'm still not sure if that was the right thing to do. We left the car with the Den Leader and showed up the next day for the race.
Race day came. We entered the race arena and it was a loud, crazy, busy event. The boys were climbing all over each other to see each others cars. I have to say the cars were pretty varied in shape and theme. There were boxy shaped cars, one with golf balls glued on top, super streamlined cars, and others with holes cut out of the center. You had a few like Bernardo's that you could tell the kid was involved and helped paint. There were others that were so perfect and detailed, there was no way a Cub Scout painted it. 

The track itself was pretty crazy too. It was all electric. The cars were placed at the top and held in place. The leaders made sure the cars were placed on evenly and correctly. It looked like they pushed a button on the track to get the race started. The light on the side of the track started at red, then yellow, and finally turned to green. The pins holding the cars collapsed and the cars were free to go down the track using only gravity. The youngest boys raced first and there were a lot of races. Each car raced twice in each lane of the track to make sure there were not any track based advantages (i.e. if one lane ran a little faster than the others). 

Hubby had only one goal on race day: to not come in last. We came in last...every race. The car did great getting down to the bottom of the hill, but lost momentum on the long flat part of the track.

Luckily we had told Bernardo that as long as he had fun making the car and racing it, it didn't matter if he won. I didn't even realize that he knew he came in last each time until he was telling the story to Grandma. I am super proud of him that he just had fun and didn't take it too seriously. His last place derby car sits proudly on top of his dresser next to his 2nd place regatta boat. Of course as soon as we got home, I think they (aka Hubby) started planning on the car for next year!

  • Pay close attention to your specific pack/den's rules. Some of the tips you may find online will not apply to your race and you could be disqualified.
  • Do file down the ridges under the heads of the nails. This helps the wheels spin better and the car run faster. If you don't have the tools to do it, there are some for sale online.
  • Run your finger along the wheels. File down any seams or bumps. (Really fine grit sandpaper should work.)
  • Take the time to sand the car until it is smooth.
  • Get your car as close to the weight limit as possible. Add weight if needed.
  • Write your child's name on the car somewhere.
  • Check the weight of the car as you go. I used my food scale. Usually the den's official scale weigh-in is the one that counts, but at least you can have a general idea. Try to not go overweight as you are building it.
  • Have fun!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Identify This: Part 70

Today's Identify This is brought to you by the hope of spring...


Queen Anne's Lace.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Links

St. Patrick's Day is Monday! If you are still looking for ideas, here are a few of mine.



Monday, March 10, 2014

Hidden Surprise Pound Cake

I saw this idea a year or so ago with a panda bear design and have wanted to try it ever since. I finally decided to make this for St. Patrick's Day with a hidden shamrock, but it would be great for a lot of other celebrations too! It's a little time consuming, but makes a big impression. (DM TIP: It took me 4 to 4.5 hours total time, but the time depends on how long your pound cake bakes for. My recipe took 1 1/2 hours per cake to bake, but some only take an hour. If you cool in the freezer, your cake will cool a lot faster than in the fridge.)

You will need:
  • Pound cake recipe or box mix and needed ingredients (x2)
  • Cookie cutter
  • Loaf pan
  • Food coloring

1. Preheat oven according to directions. Grease and flour your loaf pan.
2. Prepare the first pound cake batter and add food coloring until you achieve the color you want.
3. Pour batter into pan and bake 8-10 minutes less than the directions call for.
4. Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set on a wire cooling rack. Set in refrigerator to cool completely (up to 4 hours).
5. Cut chilled cake into slices that are as thick as the cookie cutter. (If you make the slices too thick, it's hard to cut all the way through the cake.)
6. Cut out shapes from slices with the cookie cutter. Set off to the side.
7. Prepare the second pound cake without the food coloring.
8. Grease and flour the pan. Pour just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan.
9. Place the cut-outs down the center of the pan, but make sure to keep them tightly together. DM TIP: I placed the pan at a slight angle. I then placed some batter on the lower side and placed the cutouts into the pan. Once they were in, I placed batter at the other end, placed flat on the counter and filled in the sides and top.
10. Pour batter over the cut-outs. Be sure to cover the top and sides, but don't let it overflow.
11. Bake according to directions. Let it cool completely when done.
12. Enjoy!

  • Pink hearts (a little red food coloring) for Valentine's Day
  • Green shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day
  • Ornament, tree, or star shaped for Christmas
  • Star for 4th of July
  • Egg or bunny for Easter
  • Pumpkin for Halloween
  • Add flavors! Add a mint or peppermint flavor to the first pound cake for St. Patrick's Day or Christmas. Add cocoa to make a chocolate pound cake.
  • You could even find a baby bottle or carriage cookie cutter and make a gender reveal cake for a baby shower!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Leprechaun Treat Bags

A couple of years ago, the leprechaun came and left little pots of gold (click for link to post) under a cloud with jelly bean rain drops. This year, the leprechaun isn't going to go as crazy over the treats.

The leprechaun decided the fishbowl bags we made for Valentine's Day also looked a lot like pots to hold his gold in. It seems like he made some new ones (click for directions post) and placed them on a rainbow background for the boys to find.
I have it on good authority that the leprechaun is going to hide these and there is going to be a trail of rainbow colored star confetti and some gold coins leading to the treat bags.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Coin Toss Fun

The boys were driving me a little nuts the other day with their fighting. We've had a long winter and all the cabin fever and inside days were taking their toll. I pulled out the St. Patrick's Day gold pot, the large black Halloween cauldron and some of the mini pots to form a coin toss game.
I set up the pots and gave them plastic pirate coins to toss (pennies would work really well too). Each boy got 10 coins and whoever threw the most coins into the pots won that round. Later I moved the pots into a straight line and made it more Skeeball style (little pots worth 100 points, gold pot worth 30 points, big black pot worth 10 points). The best thing about this game is that you can move the pots in any configuration you want and assign the points/rules that work best for your kids. :) They seemed to have fun and it kept them busy for awhile!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Paper Shamrocks

I have no idea where my St. Patrick's day decorations went. They either got lost in the move or are hiding someplace really weird. I wanted to have something up for decoration, so we made paper shamrocks. They were really easy to make! You could make a garland of small ones, hang larger ones on the wall or front door, or even from the ceiling.

You will need:

  • Paper (I used 12x12 scrapbook paper)
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • If you are like me and can't draw or cut a straight line: ruler and pencil

1.   Cut out strips of paper, about 1 inch wide. You will need 2 strips per layer per leaf. (In total you will need 19 strips of paper: 18 for the leaf layers and 1 for the stem.)
2.   For the first/outer layer, cut to the size you want. (Mine was 12 inches long.)
3.   Next cut the strips for the second/middle layer 1 inch smaller. (Mine was 11 inches long.) 
4.   Cut the strips for the third/last layer 2 inches smaller than the first. (Mine was 10 inches long.)
5.   Gather the strips together in this order: small/medium/large/large/medium/small, so that the longest are in the middle and smallest on outside. If you have paper that is only colorful on one side like I did, make sure the colorful side is facing inward.
6.   Make sure the bottoms are even and staple together (or you can hold in place too).
7.   Fold over the strips one at a time, working smallest to longest to form a heart shape.
8.   Line up ends of paper so they are even and staple together.
9.   Make two more hearts to form the three leaves of the shamrock.
10. Hot glue the three points of the hearts together and slide in the stem.
11. Hold in place until set.
12. Hang and enjoy!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Easy Shamrock Stamps

The boys have been wanting to make a craft and since St. Patrick's Day is coming up, we made some shamrock cards. We had already made shamrock fingerprint cards, so we tried making shamrock stamp cards this year! The best part is that we made the stamps from things we already had in the house. I had run out of potatoes, so we couldn't make the potato stamp. However, I did have corks that I had saved from Christmas for a craft that I never got around to making. I also had empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls that I grabbed out of the recycling bin. You could also make stamps out of an apple or green pepper slice!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dr. Seuss Celebration Ideas

Dr. Seuss' birthday is on March 2! If you want to celebrate, I have a few ideas.

  • Layered Jello. Use red jello to create a red and white striped "hat"of jello.
  • Green Eggs (Candy). Melt green Candy Melts and create a fried egg shape on a piece of wax paper. Place a yellow M&M on the candy before it hardens. Let set. (This works great for April Fool's Day too.)
  • Green Eggs inspired Yogurt. Tint vanilla yogurt green with a few drops of food coloring (or use a key lime yogurt). Spread around a plate or bowl and place a yellow Candy Melt on for the yolk. For a healthier option, place a slice of banana as the yolk.
  • Make Egg Topped Cupcakes, but make the white icing green to make a green egg topped cupcake!
  • Create a lunch that links back to Seuss books, or have little snacks for each book you read. For example:
    • Pink lemonade like in If I Ran The Circus or call it 'pink ink' like in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
    • Make schlopps with a cherry on top like in Oh The Thinks You Can Think!. It looks like an ice cream sundae to me!
    • Hot dogs. It looks like they are eating hot dogs with the Zable in There's a Wocket in my Pocket!.
    • Green candy eggs or green yogurt eggs (see above) for Green Eggs and Ham.
    • Donuts, egg, jelly/jam, lollipop for Dr. Seuss' ABC.
    • Cotton candy on a stick to look like the Truffula trees in The Lorax.

  • Read your favorite Dr. Seuss books.
  • Create your own Dr. Seuss type of book!
  • Have everyone wear their silliest or craziest hat to dinner.
  • Go fishing in the living room! Only catch the red, blue, green fish.
  • Make a Cat In The Hat with construction paper.
  • Read Oh, the Thinks you Can Think! and have everyone write down all their ideas.
  • Check in with your local library and bookstores for Dr. Seuss themed events.
  • Dr. Seuss Themed Word Find

Read Across America, 3/3/14

Monday, February 24, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I bake a lot of desserts, but haven't really ventured into muffins very much. I decided to make some for breakfast for the boys and after some recipe experimenting they turned out to be a big hit!

Makes 12. Total time: 40-45 minutes

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped apple, about 1 medium sized apple*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon         
  • Misc.: muffin pan, muffin/cupcake wrappers or non-stick spray

Streusel Topping:  

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with wrappers or spray with a nonstick spray.
2. Make the streusel topping and set aside.
     2a. Mix cinnamon, sugar and flour together. Cut in the butter using a pastry tool or cut crisscross with two knives to combine until crumbly. DM Tip: I usually end up using my hands to combine the dry ingredients with the butter.
3. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Beat together oil, egg, and milk. Add in apple pieces.
5. Pour all of flour mixture into into milk mixture.
6. Stir together until flour is moistened. It will still be a little lumpy and that's ok.
7. Place batter evenly among the muffin tins.
8. Top with streusel.
9. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

*DM Notes: The first time I made these, I used a nice sweet red apple and left the peel on. The apples had a nice flavor, but they were pretty mild. I then tried the recipe with a Granny Smith apple, which had a slightly stronger apple flavor. The boys of course could not agree which one they liked the most: Higgins loved the red apple muffins and Bernardo loved the Granny Smith apple muffins.