Search This Blog


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Color Changing Milk Experiment

This experiment was really exciting to watch. We poured milk in the bottom of a small dinner plate. I added one drop of each color of food coloring in the center of the plate. (David got a little carried away with the blue, so we had a few drops on the bottom of the plate. It still worked just fine.) 

We put a drop of Dawn dish soap on the end of a q-tip. Place the q-tip in the center of the colors and watch them swirl around the plate. 

 Here is a description of what is happening with the protein molecules in the milk:

Homemade Lava Lamps

The kids and I had a week of science experiments. I love seeing the look on their faces when we do experiments. The experiments we did are inexpensive and provide hours of entertainment and investigation for the kids. And it was something the whole family got interested in. 

The first one was a homemade lava lamp. Find a plastic bottle. Fill it a little under half full with water. Then add an equal amount of oil. (I used canola oil, but any oil will work.) Wait for the oil and water to separate.

Then add 6-10 drops of food coloring. Watch as the food coloring sits at the edge of the oil and water boundary. It will eventually break free from the oil and create a really cool design in the water.
 After all the food coloring droplets have broken free from the oil, drop an effervescent tablet (cheap Alka-Seltzer) in the jar. We broke each tablet into four pieces before dropping it. When the bubbles stop, add more tablets. When the boys decided to drop about 4 tablets in at a time, the bubbling was so extreme you couldn't see the oil/water boundary anymore. 

This was a great lesson in density for the kids! 

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

One of the kids won an inexpensive ice cream machine at a library competition a couple of years ago. Homemade ice cream tastes so much better than store-bought. And it is extremely easy. 

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

With a whisk, mix all of the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved. 

Place mixture in ice cream machine and turn on. Ours takes about 35-45 minutes to churn. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Easy Sushi Rolls

 I attempted sushi rolls for the first time last night. It was actually a lot easier than it looks. 

I don't have a rice cooker, so I had to use a saucepan. It worked just fine. I used a recipe from All Recipes:

2 cups sushi rice
3 cups water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Rinse your rice in a colander until the water runs clear. Add it to 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover it, and reduce the heat to low. Let it cook for 20 minutes. (I didn't remove the lid the entire time.) 

Meanwhile, combine the rice vinegar, oil, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Cool this mixture. Stir it in the cooked sushi rice. Continue stirring it until the water is absorbed. At this point, I put the rice in the refrigerator to cool a little while before I started rolling the sushi. 

Lay out a Nori seaweed sheet on a bamboo mat. (I got both of these things from Amazon.) 
Scoop a ball of the sushi rice on the mat. (Make sure you wet your hands with a mixture of rice vinegar and water. It will prevent the rice from sticking to your hands.) Spread the rice evenly around the seaweed. (Be sure not to press the rice too hard. You want to keep the rice as fluffy as possible.)
Then I placed the ingredients on one end of the rice. Here I used smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber slices, and carrots. 
Roll the end of the seaweed sheet around the fillers. Then continue rolling the rest of the way up. I found it easier to not use the bamboo mat when rolling it up. I used the bamboo roller to tighten the roll. Roll the sushi roll back and forth in the bamboo mat to tighten and seal the ingredients. This site is a good tutorial:

Let the long roll sit for about a minute. Then, using a sharp, wet knife, cut the roll into bite-size pieces. Some of the other combinations pictured: imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, carrots; avocado and cucumber; avocado, cucumber, and carrots. We dipped them in soy sauce and other spring roll sauces. If you don't like the seaweed wrap, you can remove it from the outside after the rolls have cooled. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This recipe uses whole wheat flour and no refined sugar. It definitely isn't as sweet as some of the things I bake, but the kids ate it right up and requested more. 

2 eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled and shredded zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips to sprinkle on the top

Start by mixing 2 eggs, 1 Tablespoon vanilla, 1/2 cup honey, and 1/4 cup applesauce with a fork. 

In a separate bowl mix 1 cup wheat flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Don't over mix. Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour in a greased 8x8 inch pan. Spread chocolate chips on top of the batter. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. 

Easy Ham & Green Onion Cheese Ball

This is a quick, easy, go-to cheese ball for entertaining. 
1 8 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp garlic salt
about 4 green onions, diced
about 6 slices of shaved deli cooked ham, diced

Chop up your green onions and ham. I used my hand mixer and beat the cream cheese until it was soft and creamy. Than I added the garlic salt, ham, and green onions. I beat it with the hand mixer until it was all incorporated. 
You can shape it in a ball and cover with shredded cheese if you desire, or just serve it the way that it is.

NBA Cupcakes

David wanted an NBA party for his 6th birthday, complete with NBA cupcakes. I really didn't think I could draw every NBA logo on the cupcakes, so I improvised. I printed logos of all the teams (current and old logos) and cut them out. Make sure you print two copies of all the logos. 

Then I cut a party straw into thirds. I taped one of the logos to the party straw. Then I attached the other copy of the same logo to the other side. This way the logo showed up on both sides of the cupcake. 

I frosted the cupcakes with orange frosting and drew on black lines to make them resemble a basketball. The boys stuck in the party straws and divided the teams into the East and West divisions. 

We set them up on both sides of the basketball cake. (

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Basketball Cake

I used a Wilton ball cake pan to make this cake. I used one cake mix and split it between the two halves of the cake pan. I baked it at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. (To prepare the cake pan so the cake comes out cleanly from the pan, use Wilton cake release spray.) 

Frost the middles of the cakes and put one on top of the other. With black frosting, draw a line, dividing the ball in half. Then divide each half into four sections. Fill in the rest of the cake with orange frosting using a star tip. 

I created the platter out of a dollar store vase and platter and a basketball net I found at Wal-Mart. 

Basketball Hoop Serving Tray

We saw a picture of something similar on Pinterest, so we decided to make our own for David's NBA birthday party tomorrow.

I bought a plastic vase and tray from the Dollar Tree and a basketball net from Wal-Mart. Then I taped the neat to the top of the tray.

Detroit Tiger Clothespin Men

We went to the Tigers game last night for David's birthday. It was the first time we sat "front row" at any game. We sat right behind the Tigers Bullpen. We thought it would be cool to give some of the players their clothespins, so we dropped them off to the bullpen workers to give to the players. Here are the ones we made: 
Phil Coke, Miguel Cabrera, and Max Scherzer

This is one we made earlier with arms. (Made from pipe cleaners.)

I made the cap out of blue cardstock. I painted on a D with a toothpick and white paint. 

I put a little piece of blue cardstock around the neck part of the clothespin. I drew on a Nike swoosh sign with the toothpick and paint. The jersey and pants are white felt hot glued around the clothespin. The belt is a piece of black felt glued on. The lines down the jersey and pants are strips of cardstock glued on. I cut out a D from the cardstock as well.

I wrote their names on a piece of contact paper and glued it on the felt. Phil Coke's goatee is made from crafting fur. 

We saw an incredible game! Tigers won 14-5! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

PVC Pipes for the Bathtub

Rachel loves to dump water from one cup to another. To add another level to her "dumping" play in the bathtub, we bought a sink replacement and held it into place with suction cups. She loved it! 

Statue of Liberty Craft

David has recently become very interested in the Statue of Liberty. So, we decided to do a craft around the statue and the 4th of July. 

I printed a picture of the Statue of Liberty and taped it to a piece of white cardstock. 
Then we sponge painted red, white, and blue paint over the picture. 
When it dried we removed the image. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Natty Boh and Sally Utz Wedding Cakes

Today I completed my first wedding cake/cupcake job. The wedding theme revolved around Natty Boh and Sally Utz. (The couple resides in Baltimore.)

After frosting the cakes, I drew the image on with a toothpick. (I printed an image I wanted to use. Then traced the outside of the image on the cake. I freehand drew the inside features.)  Then I colored in the image with black Wilton frosting, using a thin writing tip. I accented with red and blue frosting. 

Toothpicks are a great tool to use when decorating cakes. Frosting can be maneuvered with the toothpick as well if it doesn't lay exactly the way you want it. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Olaf Sight Word Game

We have been working on teaching my son how to read before he starts Kindergarten. He is definitely a kinesthetic learner, so I had to get creative when showing him some sight words. He loves games and competition, and most kids I know love Olaf from Frozen, so I tried to put those two things together to make learning a little more fun for him. 

I started with some large styrofoam cups. I drew my best Olaf on the cup with a Sharpie. Then I cut the bottom out of the cup. I covered the bottom of the cup with a white balloon. (I cut off the tie part of the balloon so it fit over the cup.) I drew on the balloon so it looked like Olaf's sticks that are on the top of his head. 
Next I wrote words on some ping pong balls. (I used 8 words from the list found here:

After he masters these words, I will add different word balls. 

He picked a ball and placed it inside the cup. We said the word a few times. We decided to "shoot" the ping pong balls into their little basketball hoop. You could use any bowl or other object to shoot the balls into. 

To get the ball to come out, he pushed the palm of his hand against the balloon. The ball came flying out of the cup. If he missed the basket, he picked up the ball, read the word, and then tried again. After he made that ball in the hoop, he put it in a "done" cup. Then he picked a new ball and repeated the process. 

In 15 minutes of playing the game, we had pretty much mastered these words. Much more exciting than flashcards!! 

4th of July Firecracker Treats

While looking for 4th of July snacks, we came across a picture resembling these firecrackers. 
I cut up a banana into four pieces and dipped the bottom of each banana piece in blue melting chocolate. I had some Christmas star sprinkles (green, red, and white), so I just took out the green stars and put the red and white ones on the blue chocolate. 
Then we added a squirt of Redi-Whip and added a Bing cherry on top. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Duck Dynasty Clothespin Guys

Our next clothespin guys are Si, Phil, Willie, and Jase Robertson from Duck Dynasty. Our collection now consists of Duck Dynasty guys, Frozen characters, Bob Ross, and Max Scherzer clothespins.

I started using camo fabric for pants. (I hot glued everything on.) 
I cut black felt for the v-neck t-shirts. 
I found the "hair" at Michael's. It is called Felt Works 100% wool roving. 
I added bandannas made out of scrapbook paper to Phil and Willie. I added camo fabric for a hat on Si and black felt for a hat on Jase. 
I found the clothespin doll stands at Michael's as well.  

If you want the guys to have arms, attach pipe cleaners and cover the top of the pipe cleaner with black felt. 

NBA Ticket Invites

My son wanted an NBA-theme birthday party, so we decided to send out tickets for his birthday party. I did these on a photo publisher program. I found the NBA logos and barcode image online and inserted them on the invite. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Italian Pasta Salad

1 box pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled
About 3 cups of chopped veggies: I use peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
3 mozzarella cheese sticks cut up into bite-size pieces
a handful of pepperoni 
1 cup of Italian salad dressing
3 1/2 Tablespoons Salad Supreme seasoning

Cook your pasta. I like to use either the garden veggie trio pasta or ruffles. 

Cut up the veggies and place in a bowl. 

Add the pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. This is optional, but I like the added flavor it gives.

Add the pasta, the dressing, and seasoning. Stir and chill until serving. 

Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

1/3 cup (3/4 of a stick) butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 20 oz. can pineapple slices, plus juice
1 yellow cake mix, plus oil and eggs required for the cake mix
maraschino cherries, optional 

Place the melted butter in the bottom of a 9x13 in. cake pan. Spread the brown sugar across the top of the butter.
Place the pineapple slices on top of the brown sugar. Reserve the juice in a measuring cup. 

Mix the cake according to the box directions, except use the reserved pineapple juice instead of the water. (You may have to add a little water to get the required amount of liquid. It just depends on the cake mix.)

Spread the cake over the pineapple. Bake according to the cake mix instructions, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Mine took about 5 minutes longer than what the box said.

Immediately spread a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it. Invert the cake on a sheet cake pan. Add cherries to the middle of the slices if you desire.