Welcome! I am a mom to two wonderful kids, a lovely retired greyhound, and a wife to a great husband. Needless to say, there are a lot of daily messes to clean up around our house. Daily Messes is my blog to share ideas on things to do with your kids, snack and meal ideas, crafts, and holiday fun. I hope you find something to enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Halloween

It's getting closer to Halloween! I love this time of year: the changing leaves, decorations, and fun food. I love everything except horror movies and haunted houses. I know, it's weird to love Halloween and hate those two things.

The boys are once again really excited, although no costume decisions have been made. Our greyhound does not have her outfit ready either.
I have gotten a few things for the Boo bags, but we haven't Boo'd anyone yet. While we have our pumpkins, we still have to get costumes, put up the final decorations, carve the pumpkins, and roast the seeds. If you need any Halloween ideas, I have a bunch below!
 
ACTIVITIES:
  • Halloween Mazes:
  • Coloring Page.
  • Pumpkin Soccer or Bowling. Use a small pie pumpkin as the ball. 
    • Soccer: Split into two teams and create goals (small plastic cones work well). Have kids spider walk (aka crab walk) and kick the pumpkin soccer ball with their feet.
    • Bowling: Make pins from rolls of toilet paper.
      • Ghost pins: Decorate rolls with black paper eyes and mouth.
      • Mummy: Wrap a piece of toilet paper around a roll and add eyes.
      • Witch: Wrap in green tissue paper, add construction paper eyes/nose/mouth, and top with paper hat.
      • Vampire: Add fangs/mouth/eyes, and a black paper cape.
      •  Frankenstein: Wrap in green tissue paper, draw with sharpie or add black paper stitch marks/scars. Add eyes/nose/mouth.
FOOD:

CRAFTS:


TIPS:

Some of my Fall Fun links work great for Halloween too!


OTHER FUN LINKS: (Links are external links, not to DailyMesses.)
What are some of your fun ideas/traditions for Halloween? Share in Comments!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Attack of the Venus Fly Trap

Higgins loves Venus Fly Traps. We have two containers of them on our kitchen window sill (one he grew from seeds and one he transported home on a 12 hour car ride from vacation). When he saw a picture of a giant Venus Fly Trap Halloween decoration, he fell in love with it. Last year we finally made his giant Venus Fly Trap and it was pretty easy to do. Not so easy to store since it is pretty big, but easy to make. With the quick drying paint and concrete, it was done in a day!

There are a lot of variations online and a lot of varying degrees of complexity. There are some that are just the heads of the fly trap hanging on fences with wire stems, and some that are a stemmed plant with multiple heads that are taller than I am. The thing I loved about this craft is that you can make it however you want it. You really just need a foam pumpkin, a sharp knife, and some paint (if you didn't buy a green pumpkin). Everything else is optional to fit your tastes!

I kept ours pretty simple. It really only needed a few supplies from the craft store and/or a hardware store. At the craft store (I used Michael's), I bought a foam pumpkin and small decorative skulls. They have a range of pumpkin sizes, so you can make whatever size(s) you want. I think I went with a medium sized pumpkin. At the hardware store, I bought a green spray paint that had paint+primer. I figured the paint+primer would mean less coats of paint. I reused an old flower pot, a bag of quick set concrete, decorative moss from a school project, red craft paint, and a metal plant stake (like these: Amazon affiliate link). You can find all of these things in the craft and hardware store.

The stem of the pumpkin will be the back of the fly trap, where it connects to the stem (metal stake). With the pumpkin on its side, I traced a spiky toothy mouth in the middle of the pumpkin. I cut it out using an exacto knife and a utility knife. Once I had the mouth cut out, I spray painted the pumpkin green. While the first coat was drying, I bent the mental plant stake to form the stem. I then mixed up the concrete and filled flower pot. Once I had it pretty full and level, I inserted the plant stake into the middle and let set. I ended up propping the tip of the plant stake against a wall so that it would set where I wanted it to. I applied a second coat of paint to the pumpkin and let it dry. I used a thin rod to set in between the teeth and hung it over a shelf to dry. Once the outside was dry, I turned it upside down and painted the inside of the mouth. I first did a coat of the green spray paint and then painted it using the red craft paint and a paint brush. I even added a few blood drops along the edges. I also attached a tongue made from a foam craft sheet to the bottom of the mouth with hot glue.

Once the concrete was set, I glued on the decorative moss. It was then time to place the Venus Fly Trap pumpkin onto the stem. I drilled out a small hole and made sure it would fit tightly around the stem. I had to adjust the size a few times, but starting small and working your way up is best way to get a tight fit. I filled the hole with hot glue and placed the pumpkin on the stem. Once that was set, I hot glued the skulls around the base of the stem. I touched up any spots with paint and it was good to go!


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Monday, October 21, 2019

I'm A Sucker For An Easy Pumpkin

I love this easy pumpkin for Trick or Treating. It is great to sit out on your porch or table for Halloween and can be reused for many, many years.
You will need a foam pumpkin (any size you like), suckers/lollipops, and a drill with a small drill bit. The drill bit should be the same size, or a little smaller than the width of the sucker stick. Drill the holes evenly down the sides of the pumpkin. After you have all the holes drilled, insert the suckers, and place out for trick-or-treaters!

Roasted Pumpkin (For The Dog!)

Each year at Halloween we carve our pumpkins, collect the seeds to roast, and throw out everything we have scraped and cut out of the pumpkin. I had been buying canned pumpkin to add to J's dog food (she LOVES pumpkin). After doing a little research and talking to other dog owners, I made our own pumpkin puree for her. Not only is it pretty easy to make, but she loves it and it is a healthy addition to her dog food.

It's really easy to do. Simply scrape out/trim the inside of your pumpkin. I removed the larger seeds since we roast them for us to eat. The stringy stuff and any of the meaty parts of the pumpkin are fair game. If there are a few of the small flimsy seeds, I left those in, but it's up to you. NOTE: I would only do this on a pumpkin that hasn't been carved yet and is in good shape. After it has carved, it can start to mold and could make your dog sick.

Line a large baking sheet or dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. You want to use something that has sides since the pumpkin will release water as it bakes!

Place the pumpkin bits on the covered sheet and roast at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until softened. Let cool. Place in a blender or food processor to puree. Make sure to get all the strings and any little seeds pureed.

After it is a nice mushy texture, I place it in ice cube trays and freeze. Once they are frozen, I pop them out of the trays and store in a gallon freezer bag. She gets 1 cube at dinner time. She loves them frozen in the summer, but I do sometimes heat them up in the winter.


If you are interested in reading more about the benefits of pumpkin for your dog, here are a few resources:
  • AKC
  • Pet MD
  • Cesar's Way
  • Of course, Google or your vet will be a great source of information as well!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pumpkin Muffins

It has finally begun to feel like Fall around here. We had some crazy days that were close to 90 degrees F in October! Definitely not normal weather for us. Now that it is finally cooler, I feel like making all kinds of Fall type treats. Of course, pumpkin is a huge Fall flavor! We've tried making pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies with a cream cheese filling, and pumpkin muffins. The boys and I love these muffins!

The pumpkin flavor is subtle and is perfect with the pecan streusel topping.

This recipe with make 24-28 muffins. I used parchment paper muffin/cupcake wrappers and a level ice cream/large cookie scoop to fill muffins.


PUMPKIN MUFFINS WITH PECAN STREUSEL 

Makes 24-28 muffins. Bake time: 25-30 minutes. Total time (prep/bake): 50-60 minutes.

You will need:
  • Muffin batter:
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cups oats (I used old fashioned style oats)
    • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin puree
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/2 cup applesauce, plain/unsweetened
    • 3 large eggs
  • Streusel Topping
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 4 tablespoons oats
    • 4 tablespoons flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup finely diced pecans
  • Misc.: Muffin wrappers, muffin tins, 2 large bowls
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with muffin/cupcake wrappers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, or in a stand mixer, mix pumpkin puree, granulated and brown sugars, vegetable oil, applesauce, vanilla, and eggs until just combined.
  4. Stir flour mixture into the pumpkin puree mixture. Mix until just combined. 
  5. Evenly fill the lined muffin tins with the batter. I found it easiest to use an ice cream scoop.
  6. Make the streusel topping. Mix the flour, cinnamon, oats, pecans, and brown sugar together. Mix in the softened butter. I use a fork to help mix the topping so that it forms into crumbles.
  7. Add a rounded teaspoon to the top of each muffin. If I have left over after each muffin has streusel, I distribute the remaining topping to the muffins. We love our streusel topping!
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Muffins are done when you insert a toothpick in the center and it pulls out clean.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

It's Officially Fall!

Despite the often gray rainy days and seasonal allergies, I love the Fall. I love wearing my jeans again, going to the pumpkin patch with friends, and seeing the leaves start to change colors. There are a lot of fun decorations (especially in October) and treats. I thought I would pull up some of my favorite posts that are great for Fall.

FOOD:

ACTIVITIES:

CRAFTS:

Friday, June 28, 2019

Summer Time Fun

Summer is in full swing at our house and between the seemingly endless rain, we have managed to get in some outdoor fun, swimming, and a half day camp.
🌞⛱😎📘🍦
FREE:
  • Summer reading programs! I loved these as a kid and they help encourage Higgins to read. He is not my reader, but we are working to develop a love for it.
    • Half Priced Books. Read 300 minutes in June, turn in your reading log and get an in-store voucher. You can do it again in July!
    • Local library. Many local libraries offer a summer reading program with prizes as well. My boys love earning their free ice cream cone at the local whippy dip.
    • Barnes & Nobles. Read 8 books and get to pick out a free book from their prize selection.
    • Banks, movie theaters, etc. Some other companies offer summer reading programs as well.
FOOD:

THINGS TO DO:
  • Summer Scavenger Hunt  
  • Fairs & Festivals 
  • Playgrounds. We make it an adventure and try to find a few new playgrounds in the summer. It's been fun to see what different playgrounds offer. I get bonus points from the boys if there is a picnic lunch involved too.
 
CRAFTS:

VACATION:

Monday, May 20, 2019

Cabbage Soup

We have been experimenting with recipes and although this one is not visually grabbing, it is surprisingly tasty.

You will need:
  • 32 oz container low sodium chicken broth
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can Italian stewed tomatoes, drained and sliced
  • 1 large head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 of a large onion, diced (or 1 small onion)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • Red pepper flakes, pinch
  • Pink sea salt, to taste (I normally use 1/8-1/4 teaspoon)
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste (I normally use 1/8-1/4 teaspoon)
  • Optional: a protein (ham cubes, diced cooked chicken or turkey, sliced sausage)
 Directions:
  1.  Heat oil in a large pot. Saute garlic and onion until softened.
  2. Add in broth, water, cabbage, celery, and carrots. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. NOTE: I like to add 3 cups of water to start. The vegetables add moisture as they they cook. If it looks like it needs more liquid, I'll add the other cup of water towards the end.
  3. Add tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer 30-45 minutes, covered, or until cabbage is softened/cooked.
The best thing about this recipe is that it is easily customizable. Like lots of veggies? Add more! Like a protein in your soup? Add some meat! Love strong flavors? Add more seasoning! I'm still playing with the recipe and will probably add more carrots next time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is this Sunday, May 12th! I have some gift/craft/food/fun/freebie ideas below! Just click on the links for the recipes or directions :) 



CRAFTS/GIFTS:


FOOD:


FUN: (To Print: Right click on image, Save As/Save to Computer, Print.)

FREEBIES*:
  • Shutterfly: Free card with code CARD4U.
  • Barnes & Noble: It looks like several Barnes & Noble stores are having events from Friday to Sunday. Please double check with your local store for up to date event details.
  • Zoo: There are a lot of zoos across the country offering free admission for moms on Mother's Day. Please call/check your local zoo's website or google before going.
  • Bass Pro Shops: Free 4x6 picture for Mother's Day during select times on 5/12 and 5/13. Cabela's is also supposed to offer a free picture. 
  • TCBY: Free FROYO on Sunday 5/12. 
  • Abuelo's: They are giving away free gift (I believe with purchase of a meal).  
  • Wienerschnitzel: Free chili dog, small fry, small soda for mom on 5/12. 
  • First Watch: I don't see a new blog post on their website, but for the last several years they have offered a freebie for Mother's Day (last year it was a box of chocolates). You may want to check with your local store to see if they are offering it again this year.
*Always check with your local store to make sure they are participating before you go!


If you know of any other freebies, please feel free to share in Comments!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Easter

This year Easter is April 21. As always,  I am trying to come up with some new non-candy ideas for the boys' baskets. There are a few things that they always get: a small pack of jelly beans, a couple of Reese's eggs, and a book or two. I want to keep most if it to non-candy, especially since we still have orthodontics to deal with. In the past, they have received soccer gear (game socks, a practice net), books, art supplies, etc. I am still trying to come up with ideas. I have some of the food/craft/Easter basket and egg hunt ideas from the past couple of years below.

 FOOD:
 EGGS, EGG HUNTS, AND EASTER BASKETS:
  • Egg dying and decorating: There are a lot of ways to decorate eggs, however we love to eat our eggs! So, I am only going to be doing ideas that leave the eggs edible.
    • Eggstravaganza (dying with food coloring, natural dyes, impression eggs, tissue paper, crayons, rubber bands, stickers, Diva Eggs, and Lady Bug Eggs)
    • Painted Eggs (fingerprint animals, bubble wrap, painted designs):
    • Crackle Eggs 
    • Space Invaders, Glitter, and Snorkle Eggs
    • Drip Art Eggs: These look fun, but we haven't tried them yet. Stand a hard boiled egg upright over something that will not get ruined (like a plastic plate or bowl). Place a drop of food coloring on the top of the egg. Mist egg using a spray bottle. Add a drop of another color, mist again. Gently blow on the egg to make the colors move around.
    • Monster Eggs (using glue dots, pipe cleaners, and stickers)
    • Tattoo Eggs: Use temporary tattoos. Make sure egg is completely dry before following tattoo directions. 
    • Ombre Eggs: Place a bottle cap (flat side down) on the bottom of a wide glass (8-10 oz.). Set egg on bottle cap. Mix the dye (1 teaspoon vinegar, 40 drops food coloring, 1/2 cup boiling water). Pour dye into glass until 1/4 of the egg is covered. Let sit 5 minutes. Add plain warm water to the cup until 1/2 the egg is covered. Let set 3 minutes. Add more water to the desired level. Wait 2 minutes. Repeat if want additional stripes. Carefully remove with tongs and let dry.
  • Basket Filler Ideas:
    • New gear: soccer ball/cleats/shin guards/practice net, baseball cleats/balls/bats/bag/helmet/throw back, shoes: track/running, mouth guards, golf bag/balls/gloves/clubs, etc.
    • Vouchers: Vouchers can be for anything! Examples: extra hour of TV/Game time, stay up late, get out of 1 chore, money to spend at a store/amusement park/zoo/aquarium, etc. 
    • Star Wars Light Saber Popsicle Mold
    • Slinky's
    • Chocolate Maze
    • Reese's Giant Peanut Butter Egg. Amazon sells these sometimes, but I have found them cheaper at the grocery store and Target. It was $5.49 at my local store.
    • Large sized gummy treats. I found several at Target (gummy bunny 1.75 oz/$1.99), and Party City (Pizza, burger, sushi...$3.99).


    • Lego's: Any fun looking set, mystery minifigure packs, Mixel's (Amazon, Lego). Lego usually has holiday themed sets as well.
    • New weapons/Lego figures/crates. We found BrickArms a couple of years ago and the boys love discovering new weapons and figures for their Lego collection. This year, we bought a few different packs and are mixing up the contents and putting them in several Easter Eggs.
    • Jelly Beans
    • Play-Doh Eggs (Amazon, grocery store)
    • Art/Office Supplies: pencils, pencil sharpeners, markers, tape, etc.
    • Fill eggs with coins.
    • Movie tickets.
    • DVD's. Half Price Books, Michael's Crafts, and Target often have cheaper movies.
    • Book store gift cards.
    • Hot Wheels. There are even some Hot Wheels that fit Lego figures!
    • Mad Libs
    • Mini nail polish, nail files, etc. 
    • Books. Sometimes I use Easter themed books, sometimes just books in a series they love. My oldest is really into Uncle John's Bathroom Readers For Kids. It always surprises me when he says "Oh, I know this!", adds to our conversation, and says he learned it from his Bathroom Reader. They even have sets of paper placemats, if you are having an Easter party and need to keep the kids busy!
    • Craft kits: build a robot (Higgins got the crab robot for Christmas and loved it), origami, jewelry (necklace/bracelet, grown own crystals and make jewelry...)
    • Amazon gift cards. 
    • Art supplies (pencils/markers/crayons, how to books [there are a lot of instruction/how to books for kids and adults from easier instruction books to how to books for older kids]).
CRAFTS
ACTIVITIES:
  • Word Find 
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Coloring Page
  • Ikea has a free Easter Egg hunt. Some stores are having events this weekend (4/13), while some are having them next weekend, so please check the location finder on Ikea's website to see when your local store is having an event. 
  • Many local parks and libraries have free Easter Egg Hunts and events as well. (Some are even for adult egg hunts!)