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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Skittles Challenge

The kids really enjoyed this experiment. Put Skittles all around a plate and carefully dump hot water over top of the Skittles. The colors will run together and then stop wherever they meet. 

Pumpkin-shaped Cookies

For the kids' Halloween treats we made little sugar cookies and turned them into pumpkins. They were a big hit! 

Fall Paintings

My mom, sister, aunt, and I have started monthly painting parties. Here are some of our fall creations. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cake Mix Pie Crust

I saw a video showing how to do this on the Duncan Hines site. I tried it with a spice cake mix and had great results! 

1 spice cake mix (or yellow)
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 Tbsp butter, softened

Mix all of the ingredients with your hands. Fold it multiple times until all the ingredients are incorporated. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Place in a pie pan. I filled my pie with my apple pie filling and crumb topping, but you could fill with anything. (
Bake the pie at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. 

I cut the extra dough into strips and sprayed them with cooking spray. Then I topped with cinnamon and sugar and baked for about 12 minutes. They were delicious too. 

Easy Canned Tomatoes

My mom taught me this method of canning that eliminates the need for peeling the tomatoes and using a pressure cooker. It is so much easier and all of our jars always seal. 

Spaghetti Sauce:
1 large kettle of washed and quartered tomatoes
5-6 cloves of garlic
3 onions
2 large green peppers
3 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup oregano
3-4 Tbsp basil
Thicken with about half of a large can of tomato paste 

1 large kettle of tomatoes washed and quartered
3-5 cloves of garlic
2 large green peppers
3 onions
5-6 jalapenos
3 Tbsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp vinegar
Thicken with about half of a large can of tomato paste

Chili Juice
3-5 cloves of garlic
2 large green peppers
3 onions
3 Tbsp salt
4-5 stalks of celery
2-3 jalapenos
1 large kettle of tomatoes washed and quartered

Regardless which recipe above you want to make, the steps to can are the same. Start by washing and quartering your tomatoes. You will not be taking the skins off.

Add the peppers, onions, garlic. (Add jalapenos and celery if the recipe above calls for it.)
Using an immersion blender, chop up all of the ingredients and add the spices, salt, (and sugar). 

Boil the mixture, stirring frequently. Let it simmer for about an hour or until the tomatoes are cooked down. 

Make sure the jars you use are clean. Place the canning lids in a small saucepan of boiling water. Fill the jar with the hot tomato liquid. Wipe the top of the lid with a dry cloth. Immediately place the hot lid on top of the jar. Screw on the lid and immediately flip the jar over on a towel. 

Let the jars sit overnight. When you flip them over, they will be sealed. Every one of these jars settled using this method. 

Back to School Scavenger Hunt

We decided to bring some excitement to our last day of summer vacation by having a back to school scavenger hunt. 

Here are the clues:
Clue #1: Back to school, Back to school, Your hunt begins near Dad's tools. 
Clue #2: Dad hates screaming, But mom hates a mouse, Matt doesn't care, He moved into his own tiny house. 
Clue #3: Hillary is running, But so is Trump. It'd be HUGE, to go where Rachel jumps. 
Clue #4: It was a Christmas gift, And then David's smile reached far. But putting it together, led to cash in the swear jar. 
Clue #5: The hunt is almost over, It seems it came and went. Find your prizes In the family room tent. 

The final prizes were all the kids' school supplies, backpacks, and lunch boxes. 

Basil Pesto Chicken Bake

2 large chicken breasts split in half to thin
3 oz basil pesto
cherry tomatoes quartered
1 cup mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Place the chicken breast in the dish. Spread pesto over the chicken breasts. If desired, place the cherry tomatoes on top of that (the kids preferred to leave the tomatoes off of theirs). Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over that. 

Top with Mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. 
This could be eaten plain or served with noodles. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Path to Motherhood

The path we take to motherhood can come in all shapes and sizes. On this Mother’s Day I reflect and embrace the journey that led me down the most rewarding path I have ever taken in my life…

From an early age I knew I wanted children. From living in a home that doubled as a daycare to eventually having my own makeshift daycare as a teenager, I did all I could to prepare myself to be a mother. I idolized my mom and took notes from all of the positive mom role models I had in my life. I even remember making fake grocery lists from sale ads as if I was preparing to buy groceries for my own family. (I know, a little crazy!) However, I thought I had my life all figured out and my path to motherhood was going to be an easy one to travel.

Then, life happens, and in the words of Robert Frost, “I took the one (path) less traveled”. After meeting the man I knew I would spend the rest of my life, I not only became a wife, but also a stepmom to a two-year-old little boy. Being a stepmom is something no one can prepare you for. But I embraced this opportunity like no other opportunity I ever had before. I loved that little boy like he was my own. I knew I would never replace his mom, but I would work so hard to be the best second mom this child could ever imagine. The path of a stepparent can be full of twists and turns and uncertainty, but “has made all the difference”.

Walking down this particular path of motherhood made me ache that much more for more children. This is where my path met many road blocks. No one can prepare you for the loss of three babies and the heartache that comes with trying over and over again to be a biological mom. The tests, the emotions, the results leading to essentially no answers. But, if we all stopped in our tracks the moment things got tough, we would never make it back to the main road.

My path finally provided hope. Eleven ultrasounds, countless stress tests, and a baby aspirin a day, eventually led me to my little miracle baby. While motherhood itself if never easy, holding the little person and hearing the words “mommy” are enough to make you forget about all the struggles and sleepless nights.

Three years later, my path got even more joyous when my second miracle entered the world. She is making our path through life so fun and interesting! It’s amazing how children with the same parents can be so different!

Now, I will never forget about those babies lost, but I know that everything happens for a reason. My path to motherhood has led me to the three most precious children I could ever have imagined. And maybe taking this long, testing path is what makes me take this job so seriously, but whatever the reason, I am so proud to be a mom and do everything I can to take advantage of every moment.

There are so many different paths to motherhood, some easier than others, but regardless the path it takes to get there, the outcome makes all the difference. Embrace your path and keep traveling.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Earth Day Scavenger Hunt

For Earth Day we decided it would be fun to do another Scavenger Hunt. I just love the excitement and emotion that comes out of them when they search for clues (and Steve writes the clues, so it is pretty easy on my end). For added excitement, the final prize of this hunt is Detroit Pistons' Playoff tickets. (David and Matt have been dreaming of going to a play off game for years.) I am so excited to see their faces on the final clue!

Here are the clues: 

It’s Finally Earth Day!

It’s time to go looking.
The first clue is found
Where we do the cooking.

The clues will continue
Until they suddenly stop.
You’ll find the next one
Where we keep our pop.

Pop is so sweet
And is always so fizzy.
Moving to the freezer
Will keep you all busy.

The food here is frozen
And it’s oh-so-cold.
The last clue is warmer,
At least that’s what I’m told.

The Oven’s the finish line,
The Hunt didn’t bore us.
It’s time to see...Jackson,
Drummond and Morris!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Detroit Tiger Opening Day Cake 2016

We have made an Opening Day cake every year for three years now. The Detroit Tigers open tomorrow, so we thought we would celebrate with our annual family party. This is the cake we came up with...

Here is a link to last year's cake and our Paws refrigerator

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mini Easter Cakes

We saw some pictures on Pinterest of mini bunny cakes, so we tried to make some of our own. 

I mixed up two boxes of white cake mix and divided it into four equal parts. Then I colored them pink, blue, purple, and green. I just used a large sheet cake pan for two of the colors. 

I baked the cakes for about 10 minutes. 

Then I cut each color of cake into circles. I piped the outside of each circle with frosting and then stacked them up. 

Using a star tip, I piped frosting on the top. 
For the ears, I cut a large marshmallow in half. Then I shaped the marshmallow to look kind of like an ear and dipped the sticky side in pink sprinkles. I added a pink chocolate candy for the nose. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Easter Handprint Picture

This simple craft doesn't take a lot of supplies and is very quick. 

We started by making a yellow handprint. Then we glued down scrapbook paper for a hill. We cut out a cross and glued that down. 

Rachel wanted to add animal stickers to hers as well. 

Peep Experiments

We decided to do some experiments with Peeps tonight. We started by placing Peeps into various liquids for observation. (I will update the post in the next few days with our results. For liquids, the kids chose, vinegar, laundry detergent, water, Coke, and Gatorade.

The next experiment involved the microwave. We cut the top off of a Gatorade bottle and stuffed some Peeps inside. Then we set the microwave for 1 minute. We watched the Peeps expand before our eyes. We did an observation at one minute and then started it for about 20 more seconds. 

The overflow actually pulled off of the microwave very easily. We let it sit for about half an hour on the counter. It became very hard on the bottle. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt #4

We had our 4th Annual St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt today. The kids just love this activity. Steve writes all of the clues for these hunts, so definitely have to give him credit for his rhyming skills. 

Clue #1:
With green in your hearts
You look for new clues.
Get this party started
By looking in shoes.

Clue #2
Shoes can be stinky,
Especially Matt’s.
Find some relief
Where David takes baths.

Clue #3
Bath time is fun
Until you get out.
But grab a new towel,
Get dry and don’t pout!

Clue #4
Towels need cleaning
And then they need drying.
Find the next clue in that room,
And there’s no need for crying.

Clue #5
Your journey’s nearly over.
The puzzle’s almost done.
If you locate jumper cables
The party’s begun!

For more clues, here is a link to our first three hunts:

Monday, March 14, 2016

Annual Pi Day Celebration

Today we had our annual Pi Day celebration, complete with Pi cheese bread, mini pies, and pi-inspired activities.

We started with our pies on a stick. I just used refrigerated dough to make these mini pies. I used homemade apple pie filling to fill the circles, crimped them together with a fork, brushed egg white over the top, sprinkled on cinnamon and sugar, poked some holes in the top, and baked them for about 12 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Then I made our regular cheese bread dough and shaped that into a pi sign. (  

Next, I had the kids graph the number pi on some graph paper. (I just used scrapbook paper that had a set of lines on it. I added another set of lines to make it look like traditional graph paper.)
Then we did some patterns on pictures of circle-shaped objects. 

The last thing we did was make whole "pies" out of our fraction paper plates. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Leprechaun Trap Stem Activity

The kids wanted to do an activity together this weekend, so I tried to come up with something that would interest all of them. (Ages 13, 7, and 4)

To build on their different abilities, I gave them piles of popsicle sticks of different sizes, scrapbook paper, a box, some colored paper straws, thread, rubber bands, paper clips, pipe cleaners, plastic cups of all sizes, and a mini pot of gold and coins. Then I showed them some different examples of traps and told them to construct a leprechaun trap with the materials they had. 

They all had different roles. The 4-year-old started by painting popsicle sticks. The 7-year-old started by constructing a ladder. The 13-year-old worked the glue gun and started covering the box. (We only had two sheets of grass paper, so he had to find a way to cover the box without wasting supplies. 

Then they worked together to build the straw/popsicle stick structure. The only part I had to help them with was poking a small hole through the cup so they could put the thread through the cup. 
The trap works very well. They have had fun trapping their little figures! 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

National Grammar Day Treats

March 4th is National Grammar Day, so I decided to celebrate with my freshmen and sophomore English classes. After making double batches of everything, I had 45 cupcakes, 30 brownies, 90 cookies, and a number of chocolate-covered pretzels, I had enough treats for all of my students. 

The students broke up into teams and took a grammar quiz and then we played Grammar Jeopardy. The winning team got first pick of the treats each hour. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Dr. Seuss Birthday Activities

We had a snow day today so we celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday with reading, treats, and crafts. 

Marshmallow, strawberry, and banana Cat in the Hat (I  used a food marker for the face.)
Cat in the hat paper plates. We used black tissue paper for the fur. The kids painted a red and white pattern on white cardstock for the hat. 

We also made fish bowls for One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. 
These two titles are definitely favorites of my kids. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Leap Day Cupcakes

David's class will be learning about Leap Year tomorrow, so we decided to send in a Leap Day treat.

To start, I colored white cake green to make these frog cupcakes. We colored the frosting green as well and sprinkled on green sugar.  I added mini marshmallows for eyes and used black and red frosting to add some final touches.