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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Class of 2027 Graduation Tassel

I tried to find a graduation tassel for the class of 2027, but I could not find anything. So, I decided to make my own.

I started by wrapping black yarn around a piece of cardstock that I cut about 5 inches long by 2 inches wide. I pulled the yarn off of the cardboard and tied a separate piece if yarn in a knot around the top, creating a little loop. Then I cut the bottom part of the circle so I had the stringy, tassel look.

I bought some number stickers from Joann Fabric to add the 2027 touch. I stuck the stickers to a piece of black cardstock. Then I cut that out and hot glued it to the yarn.

Kindergarten Graduation Photo Board

David is finishing up his first year of school. I decided to make some things to help us celebrate this first step in his educational career. 

I just cut a rectangle out of a tri-fold presentation board. I put decorative tape around the cut-out. Then I used sticky-back foam to decorate the rest of the board. Because it is just the sticky foam, I can change out the years and reuse the board for Rachel when it is her turn. 

Everyday Hero

One year ago today, the world lost the perfect example of an Everyday Hero. While trying to figure out a way to honor and remember my Grandpa, I decided to pledge this week after Memorial Day as a time to recognize all of those "Everyday Heroes" in my life. We don't always take the time to recognize those people that go above and beyond every day to make this world a better place. Whether it is helping a neighbor, saying encouraging words, volunteering, being a positive role model, taking the time to help without expecting anything in return...the list goes on and on. So, I am going to start by remembering a man that fit all of these things and so many more. I encourage you to take a moment to recognize those people that strive to make this world a better place by being your Everyday Hero...

Because I always want my children to know the impact this man had on the world, I am sharing the eulogy I wrote for his funeral...

It’s hard to know where to begin when talking about the legacy Grandpa left on this world. He was a man that touched so many lives. His smile, love, and compassion will never be forgotten. He lived his life to the fullest and will be missed terribly by us all.

There are so many memories I have of my grandpa, as I am sure each and every one of you sitting before me has as well. Anyone that knew my Grandpa couldn’t help but feel connected to him. That is probably the reason all of my friends, my cousins’ friends, and every other kid that saw him at the school or the ball field called him Grandpa Ross. The twinkle in his eye, compassionate smile, and words of encouragement made everyone feel special.

And it wasn’t just kids that looked to him for advice and guidance.  After reminiscing last night, I learned that many looked to my Grandpa when times were tough. There was something about his calm nature and words that could leave you with the feeling that you could get through anything.  

Grandpa was always making sure everyone else was taken care of. He never thought of himself first.  This was especially true in all the work he did for his community. His job as a fireman and fire chief was not something he took lightly. I remember being so proud to say that my grandpa was the fire chief.  As a child, there were countless occasions that grandpa and my dad would be sitting in our living room and the pager would go off. To watch them gave me butterflies in my stomach.  They never said a word, just jumped up, raced to put their shoes on, and ran out the door. They were almost always the first ones to check in at the hall. I was so proud of the job they were doing and the honor they took to do everything they could to help. 

Grandpa also took care of his community with his work for the DPW.  If anyone needed a well dug, they called on my grandpa. There was something remarkable about the way he could tell just where to dig to find water.  And we all remember the countless weekends he gave up to go to the well house to make sure everything was working so the people of the town didn’t have a disruption in their water service. Squeakers and Grandpa would come driving down the road in his silver truck and we all knew where they were going and what they were doing. He even took us kids with him sometimes for the ride.  Speaking of going for rides with Grandpa, I will always remember the way he could get us going by revving up his engine and getting to 55 as fast as possible.  But. On a more serious note,  I remember hearing the story of Grandpa saving a man’s life because he took the time to notice that something wasn’t quite right with the way the man was walking. And sure enough, Grandpa’s quick actions did save that man that day.

Not only did Grandpa take care of his community, but he also made sure his family came first. I don’t recall Grandpa and Grandma missing any of our ball games, events, or birthdays. They were a presence we could all count on. I will forever be grateful for them dropping everything they had going on to take me to AAU tournaments for entire weekends. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to play.  And it wasn’t uncommon to see their big white and teal van packed to the brim taking kids to events. And Nick and I will never forget the countless times he came to our rescue to fix one of the church windows that got in the way of our basketballs and baseballs.

Grandpa always carried a 50 cent piece around with him just in case someone lost a tooth or even a fingernail. The story  was that he always saw the tooth fairy when he was down at the well house and she would give them to him. And it is the very reason that I always got 50 cent pieces from the tooth fairy and why those same 50 cent pieces show up when the tooth fairy visits my house today.

I am sure my cousins and siblings can all remember the famous cookie jar Grandpa had. I remember being at Grandpa and Grandma’s and waiting patiently for Grandpa to come home during his lunch break or after work. He would sit down and eat his chicken noodle soup, bologna sandwiches, ice tea, and coffee  And we would wait until he was done and he would reach up in the pantry and get us all Fig Newton cookies. As time went on and the great-grandchildren came, that cookie jar turned into a Tootsie Roll jar. Now both generations have a special treat to remember grandpa by.

We all saw the love he shared with Grandma too. They were in sync with one another—knew what the other was thinking, could complete each other’s thoughts, and together shared a love that most others can only dream about having. We all learned what love is through watching them.

The thing that I miss the most is seeing Grandpa on a daily basis. Seeing him in his blue uniform, driving the lawn mower, working on the roads, mowing the church lawn. And everyday Grandpa would stop by our house to deliver the newspaper.  And we would all sit around on the bar stools, mom would give him whatever dessert she had baked that day, and we would just talk.  The same things happened every Sunday before Grandpa and Grandma would go to church. I will also miss stopping by their house and watching Wheel of Fortune, Mayberry, Grandpa’s Toys, or Andy Griffith with him. And any day that Michigan State football was on, you better believe we all watched that with him, whether it was at the actual game or sitting in one of our living rooms.  It is those little moments that really mean the most to me.  He was such a big part of my daily life.

You see, my grandpa wasn’t just my grandpa. He was so much more. He played the same role in my life that his son is now playing in my kids’ lives. The bond that is shared can never be broken. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal. Grandpa, your spirit lives on in all of us through the amazing life you chose to live and the relationships you made. All of our lives are better because you were a part of it. The example you set and the love you shared made all of us the people we are today. Your smile, your carefree nature, and selfless attitude is something that will never be forgotten.  Thank you for being you and for taking the time to make me, me.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Cake

My kids are definitely visual learners. So, to help them understand the concept of Memorial Day, I came up with these cakes. I just baked a 10x12 inch cake and cut it into two triangles. I covered each cake with homemade fondant and cut out the shapes for the cakes.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Flag Pancakes

To get our Memorial Day Weekend started, we came up with these flag pancakes.  I made my pancake batter: 1 1/3 cup flour, 1 1/4 milk, 1 egg, 1 Tbsp baking powder, 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp softened butter, and 1/4 tsp salt. 

I poured the batter in a hot pan (as close to a rectangle as I could). 

After the pancakes were cooked, I added, blueberries, strawberries, and Redi-whip. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Frogs Made from Oreos

David has snack day tomorrow. We saw a picture of these on Pinterest, and he decided they would be perfect to take in for his friends.

I did five frogs at a time. I started by dipping the mini pretzel twists in melted green chocolate. I placed them on wax paper. Then I dipped an Oreo in the green chocolate. I placed that on top of two pretzels. Then I added candy eyes, some green sprinkling sugar, and a cut up red gummy lifesaver.

(I did 30 of these frogs with under two bags of green melting candy.)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Apple Tree Cupcake Cake

For Teacher Appreciation Week, we decided to take in a treat to recognize all of the teachers at our school. 

This tree is made from three batches of cupcakes. I made the apples out of red fondant. I cut them with an apple cookie cutter. I used a grass tip to frost the tree part and the grass on the cupcakes at the bottom. 

I couldn't find a cake board large enough to fit this, so I covered a tri-fold poster display board. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Doorway Poster

For Teacher Appreciation Week, we wanted to do something different for David's amazing kindergarten teacher. My kids absolutely love to paint; we paint 2-3 times per week at a minimum. So, this project was something everyone loved doing together. 

I used white crafting paper that is sold by the roll at Hobby Lobby. We painted the background blue, added some green for grass, and then let it dry. While it was drying, we cut squares out of sticky back foam to eventually become the kites. We wrote the names of all of David's classmates on a "kite". When the poster was dry, we stuck the kites to the paper. While we attached the kite, I placed a piece of ribbon under the kite so that would stick to the poster as well. Then we added some stickers and a message to the poster. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

"May the 4th" Be With You Cupcakes

My boys love Star Wars, so we usually celebrate May 4th, "Star Wars Day". This year, we just made some cupcakes. I made Darth Vader out of melted black chocolate discs. After melting the chocolate, I spread it on a piece of wax paper. When the chocolate was dry, I added white frosting accents. The light sabers are made from extra fondant I had and some melted chocolate on the ends.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Detroit Tiger Birthday Cake

For this cake, I made two 10 x 10 inch cakes and put one on top of the other. (I colored the white cake blue and orange for an added feature.) I rolled out a large piece of blue marshmallow fondant. Then I added a strip of white around the bottom of the cake. I put a smaller strip of orange in the middle of the blue and white. 

Then I twisted orange and blue fondant and made that the border around the cake. I just freehand drew an Old English D and placed that on the cake. The trick was to cut it on my fondant mat and place a piece of wax paper over top of it. The D feel on top of the wax paper. Then I was able to transfer the D by turning the wax paper over on top of the cake. 

The finishing touch was making four baseballs out of leftover fondant. I placed them on the corners of the cake. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teacher Birthday Cake

David's teacher always makes the kids feel so special on their birthday, so we thought it was fitting to surprise her with a little treat on her birthday. 

I started by making a batch of marshmallow fondant. 

I split up the fondant and colored equal amounts of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. I pulled a little bit of the fondant and colored it light brown (to be used as part of the colored pencil). 

I cut strips of each color of fondant and made them into a loop. I put a little rolled up piece of paper towel in each loop and placed it on its side so it could harden in the loop shape. I let the bow sit overnight. I also made some twisted pieces for the bow, but I only ended up using a couple of them.  

I made two 8 inch cakes for the bottom layer and two 6 inch cakes for the top. I covered them in regular white cake decorating frosting. It would have looked neater with fondant, but I figured it would be easier for the kids to eat with the regular frosting. 

With the remaining fondant, I rolled out each color of fondant and cut the color part of the colored pencil. Then I added a little of the brown fondant on the top of each pencil. I cut a little triangle for the tip of the pencil. The finishing touch was to add each kid's name on the pencils. I added the pencils to the cake and put a little ball of rolled fondant between each pencil. Then we added a row of colored fondant balls to the top layer of the cake. We wrote "Happy Birthday Miss Davis" on the top layer. 

Then we placed the bow on top of the cake. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Detroit Tiger Rice Krispie Treats

Today was snack day for David, so we thought it would be fitting to take in something to fit our Detroit Tiger theme for April. 

We made these snacks earlier in the year for the Superbowl and they were a big hit, so we just changed the jersey color and the numbers. 

I started by making a double batch of Rice Krispie treats. I pressed them into a greased sheet cake pan. Then I cut them into 25 treats. I spread on white melted chocolate to represent the jersey. Then I wrote on an Old English D and the number of all the players on the active roster. I put a little bit of melted chocolate on the back of a vanilla wafer and attached it to the top of each treat. Using a food marker, I drew on a face. (Because of lack of time, I didn't add all the features to the shirt that I could have, but the kids still liked them!) 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Detroit Tiger's "Kids' Opening Day" Essay Contest

“Mumma…This was the best day of my life.” These nine words spoken by my six-year-old son, David, tonight bring tears to my eyes as I reflect on what an incredible experience we had today.  Thanks to the Detroit Tigers and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, today became a memory my family will have for the rest of our lives.

About a month ago, I came across an essay contest asking children and their parents to take a pledge to be healthier. Together, David and I wrote an essay and submitted it. You see, David is such a huge sports fan. He can tell you the stats of countless players, all of the teams they have played for, and even where they attended college. Instead of watching cartoons, David has been watching Sports Center since he was about three years old. He asks Siri the scores of games as soon as he wakes up in the morning. He turns down the TV and pretends he is doing the play-by-play. Instead of asking for toys for Christmas and birthdays, he asks for sports memorabilia. He is so invested in his teams and his players. So, when we received a call from the Detroit Tigers the Saturday before Easter, I knew this was going to mean the world to him. Furthermore, when he found out he was going to be representing first base, the excitement grew even more.

Today, Sunday, April 19th, we gathered about 20 family members and friends and loaded up on a small party bus (Thanks, Midnight Madness!), and headed to the game. The amount of people that gave up their day to support David just further justifies how blessed we truly are. The day could not have gone more perfectly.

While this may have seemed like such a small act to the Detroit Tiger players and staff, I will never be able to thank them enough for granting this opportunity to my son. Thank you Detroit Tigers for providing Kids’ Day festivities. Thank you Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for sponsoring this event and for encouraging healthy lifestyles. Thank you, Miguel Cabrera for making a dream come true and for making David feel like he was the only person in that stadium today! Thank you family and friends for all of your support, not just today, but every day of our lives! Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for giving David “the best day of his life”.

Here is our essay and our pledge to be healthier:

After asking my six-year-old son how we could live a healthy lifestyle this summer, he quickly responded with, “Drink more water and play baseball!” He then added, “Well, we could eat healthier too and do some running.”

Our summers are definitely dedicated to baseball, swimming, going for walks, and working in my parents’ garden to eventually can the produce into various salsas and sauces. As a teacher, I am incredibly grateful to be able to spend valuable time with my children over the summer break. We make the most of every single moment. However, we have made it our pledge to do an activity together every day of the year (not just the summer). Being healthy is so much more than physical health. For us, being together and living in every moment brings the mental health we all need.

Children grow up so quickly and many adults are left wishing they had done more with their children when they were younger. I don’t want to be the same way.   I want to give my children every experience I can. So, doing small things like going on a nature scavenger hunt, baking a new recipe together, painting a picture, or going for a walk to the library fill our daily lives.

We pledge to not only continue this “healthy” lifestyle this summer, but to inspire others to find happiness through these activities. We blog our activities together at

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Detroit Tigers Painting for Kids

We started by finding a stencil to use. (I just google searched Old English D.) We cut it out and used masking tape to secure the D to the canvas. The boys took different approaches to putting on the blue background. One used a foam circle brush to dot on the blue. The other just painted the entire background blue. 

We pulled the stencil off the canvas. This one has a dark and lighter color blue. 

Then the boys used a smaller brush to fill in the D with orange paint. 

Here are the finished products.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Detroit Tigers Opening Day Cake

We have our own "Opening Day" party every year for the start of the Detroit Tiger baseball season. Our party is complete with hot dogs, peanuts, turning our refrigerator into Paws (, and cake!

Here is the cake we came up with this year...
The bottom layer is two 10x12in. cakes. The top is two 9 inch round cakes stacked. I covered them with homemade frosting right before I placed the fondant on the the cake (1/2 cup Crisco, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 2 Tbsp milk). 

The fondant recipe: Melt one 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows with 2 Tbsp water in a large bowl. Melt on 30 second intervals, stirring after each round of 30 seconds...about 1 1/2 minutes total. 

Add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Stir until smooth. Put Crisco on the counter. Knead in about 3 more cups of powdered sugar. Put Crisco around the ball of dough. Cover with Saran wrap. Place in an air-tight container until ready to work with it.) 

I colored some of the frosting blue by using black and blue food gel. I still have to work on my rolling and smoothing of fondant, but this is as good as it gets for now. 

I colored a little of the fondant orange and covered the circle cakes and made some paw prints. 

Both D's, the baseball, and white strips are from the white fondant. I used red frosting to stitch the baseball and black frosting to write "Opening Day 2015". 

The boys' favorite accessory is the hat. I made some Rice Krispie treats and molded it into the hat shape. The trick is to spray your hands with cooking spray to be able to mold the warm Rice Krispies. I covered the ball part of the hat with blue fondant. I did the bill part of the hat separately. Then I stuck them together. The top of the hat is just a piece of fondant. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lemon Chick Cookies

The kids wanted to make something tonight, but we didn't have a lot of time before bedtime. So, we pulled out a yellow cake mix and looked at a picture on Pinterest to come up with these. 

We mixed a yellow cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup oil with the hand mixer. I added 1-2 drops of lemon essential oil and mixed it together. 

Then we placed two different sizes of cookie dough balls on a greased baking pan. Make sure the little ball touches the larger ball. Bake for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. (I got 11 cookies out of this.) 

Put the cookies on a cooling rack. Immediately place two mini chocolate chips in the warm cookie for the eyes. I cut orange chocolate disks into triangles for the beaks. 

Then I piped on some orange frosting feet. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dog-shaped Homemade Hot Dog Buns

A friend posted these on my Facebook wall a few weeks ago. We used our own bread dough recipe and gave them a try today. They were a huge hit! 

I started with my white bread recipe. It makes two loaves of bread, so I made one loaf of bread and turned the other half of the dough into the hot dog buns. 

Ingredients for the bread: 
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
2 tsp salt
6 3/4 cup flour

I let the dough double after I had it mixed. Then I divided it in half. I let half of it rise in a loaf pan. I made nine dough balls with the remaining bread dough. I placed them on a baking stone and covered them with wet paper towels for about 15 minutes. 

Then I shaped the dough balls into ovals. I cut two slits in each oval with a knife and let the dough rise (covered with a towel). I let it rise for about 20 minutes. 

Then I cut little slits in the dough and placed a black bean in the slit for the eyes and nose. 

I baked them for 12 minutes on 350 degrees. 

Then I cut a slit with a serrated knife and placed a cooked hot dog in the "mouth". 

Strawberry Muffins

I saw this recipe on Facebook today and thought it sounded really good. These muffins are delicious! David said they are his new favorite muffins. 

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
3 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the egg. 
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately to the creamed mixture. It took me four separate additions. 

Then add the vanilla. 

Fold in the strawberries. 

Grease a muffin pan and divide the dough into the 12 spots. 

Mix the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle it over the muffins. 

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let muffins cool on a cooling rack.