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Friday, March 27, 2015

Cookies for the Movie Home

The boys' elementary school went to see the new movie Home today to wrap up their month of reading activities. I saw cookies like these on this website (, so I decided to try our own version.

 I had leftover fondant from the calculator cake I made earlier in the week, so all I had to do was make purple sugar cookies. I started with my basic sugar cookie recipe:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

After creaming the butter, sugar, egg, sour cream, and vanilla, I added some purple food gel. If I had to do it again, I would add more color because they were a little dull in color after they baked. 

Mix all the dry ingredients together and slowly add it to the creamed mixture. Let it sit in the freezer for a couple of hours. 

When it is chilled, roll some of the dough on a lightly floured surface. I rolled them pretty thick (about 3/4 inch). Using a heart cookie cutter, I cut out the dough. Then I trimmed off the bottom of each heart. I placed a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and baked 9-10 cookies at a time at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. (Don't overbake them.) Immediately move the cookies to a cooling rack after they bake.  I got 30 large cookies from this batch. 

While the cookies were cooling, I rolled out my fondant and cut the eyes. I used regular frosting behind each eye to get them to stick. 

Then I used the blue food gel in the corner of the picture below to add some color to the eyes. 

The next step was to add some black frosting. I just use Wilton black decorating icing that comes in a tube. I attach a tip to the top of the tube. I added a dot in the middle of the eye and drew on a mouth. I then rolled some shapes from the fondant to be used as teeth. 

I colored my remaining fondant purple and placed two circle blobs on the side of the face for the ears. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easter Canvas Painting

"Painting with a Twist", "Lushes with Brushes", and various other companies are popping up around our area. The idea is that adults get together and paint a picture by following an instructor's lead (and drinking a little wine). 

Well, most of the time, kids aren't invited to these types of establishments. But, my kids love to paint, so I decided to try the concept (minus the drinks) with my kids at home tonight. 

We decided to paint an Easter picture with a sunset and a cross. 

I got a package of 10 small canvases from Joann Fabrics a few months ago when they were half off. 

I gave the kids blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, white, and pink acrylic paint. They each had a cup of water and a towel to dry their brush. 

We started by brushing on lines of different colors.

Then we blended the lines together. We left a little bit of the bottom unpainted. Then we let them dry for about 10 minutes. 

Next, I added some black acrylic paint to their tray. They painted on a hill with the black paint. Then they added a cross. They decided they only wanted one cross on theirs. They did a great job, and were really happy with their results. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Flower Cupcake Cake

It has definitely been a week of birthday celebrations. A good friend of mine had a birthday today. This is the cake we came up with for her... 

I started by arranging 20 cupcakes on a large baking pan covered with tinfoil. 

Then I did a swirl design with purple frosting for the flower petals. Her favorite color is purple, so we did the flowers in purple. Then I swirled chocolate frosting for the center of each flower. I cut up little pieces of white chocolate for the middle as well. Then we added green frosting for the stem and leaves. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Carrot Footprints

I saw a picture of these on Pinterest, so we decided to give it a try for our first Easter craft of the season. I painted Rachel's foot and she painted the boys' feet orange. Then they put their footprint on a piece of white cardstock. We cut out the footprint and glued on some shreds of green cardstock. Then the kids wrote their names and 2015 on the carrot.

Basketball Rice Krispie Treats

For David's snack day this week, we made these "March Madness" basketball Rice Krispie treats. 

I made a double batch of Rice Krispie treats. (Melt 6 Tablespoons of butter in a large pan. Add 12 cups of mini marshmallows. Stir until melted. Add some orange food gel to the melted marshmallows. Then stir in 12 cups of Rice Krispie cereal.)

Spray your hands with cooking spray. Pull out a handful of the mixture and mold it into a circle. Place the circles on wax paper. You may have to respray your hands with cooking spray a few times. Cover each ball with Saran wrap. Then draw lines on the Saran wrap with a black Sharpie. 

Calculator Cake

I made this cake for a family friend yesterday. He is also a math teacher at our school. I borrowed one of the calculators he uses with his classes and made this replica.  

I started by making the fondant: Melt one 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows with 2 Tablespoons 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. (There were about 2 cups of powdered sugar left in the 2 lb. bag.) I had a lot of fondant left, so you could probably cut this recipe in half. 

Put Crisco around the ball of dough. Cover with Saran wrap. Place in an air-tight container until ready to work with it. 

I divided the fondant and made black, gray, yellow, a little green, and a little blue. I also left some white. 

I covered the cake with regular frosting. Then I rolled out the fondant and placed it on the cake. I cut the buttons out of the rolled fondant. I wrote the numbers and words on the buttons with a fine writing tip. 

The equation on the screen equals his age. 

Teal and Purple Birthday Cake

We came up with this cake for my sister's birthday. It took less than a batch of fondant and two cake mixes. I did two 9-inch circle pans and a heart pan. 

I covered the cakes with homemade frosting (1/2 cup Crisco, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 2 Tablespoons milk) right before I added the fondant. This helps it stick to the cake. 

To make the fondant, melt one 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows with 2 Tablespoons 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. (There were about 2 cups of powdered sugar left in the 2 lb. bag.) 

Put Crisco around the ball of dough. Cover with Saran wrap. Place in an air-tight container until ready to work with it. 

I split the fondant into three piles. I colored one purple, one blue (a little bit of blue food gel turned it the teal color), and left the other pile white. 

I just rolled out the fondant and cut strips and circles for the outside decorations. I rolled balls out of the fondant for the bottom and cut out the letters by hand. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Dinner

As a quick St. Patrick's Day dinner, I boiled some ravioli and placed it on the plate in a shamrock design. We covered it with pesto. Then we added some more green to the plate with sauteed asparagus. Even though it isn't green, the kids love homemade garlic bread. I just toast a piece of bread, spread butter over the toast, and sprinkle on a little garlic salt. 

For dessert, I put out a variety of things the kids could make trifles with. We had brownies, pistachio pudding, mint Oreos,Redi-whip, and green gummy bears. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt #3

Here is our 3rd Annual St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt. I still have shamrocks left from the first year we did this. I found them at a teacher store. The little black pots, along with the gold chocolate coins, came from Party City. The kids will find a pot of gold and a clue in each location. I have a large green pot with more goodies in it for the final clue.

For our past clues, click on these links:

This year's clues:
#1: On St. Patrick's Day, make sure you were green, not pink. But first find your next clue under the bathroom ____________________ (sink)

#2: Later we will have some trifles with Oreos and toffee. But right now your clue is in the drawer for our ______________________ (coffee).

#3: You kids are so smart and you have got some good looks. Your next clue can be found on a shelf for your ________________ (books).

#4: You're so hot you could be on fire. We take clothes out of the washer and put them in the _______________ (dryer)

#5. The leprachaun is loose. Be quiet as a mouse...You might find him in the Barbie _____________ (house).

Pot of Gold Craft

To get ready for St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, we made a pot of gold craft tonight. I cut a pot out of black cardstock and glued it to a piece of white cardstock. 

Then the kids glued little pieces of colored paper to the white cardstock. They added stickers to decorate their pot. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi Day Food

 This year marks a very special Pi Day because of the extra 15 that can be added. So, we decided to celebrate. David likes math, so this was a really neat opportunity to introduce him to the symbol. We made Pi cheese bread and Pi strawberry pie. 

I rolled out my cheese bread dough and cut it in the shape of the pi symbol. (I used a pizza cutter for this step.) My cheese bread recipe can be found here:

I made my strawberry pie recipe ( I made half of the filling this recipe calls for, but all of the pie crust. I used the extra pie crust to cut out the pi symbol and the numbers 3.1415.  

I put the pie together and added the crust shapes and numbers. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm Lucky Shamrock Activity

This craft didn't take a lot of time, and it helped remind the kids of how many things they have to be thankful for. 

I started by drawing a four-leaf clover (or my best attempt at a freehand one!) on a piece of green cardstock. Then I traced the top of the clover on a piece of white cardstock. The kids and I cut out the shapes. 
Then I took a fastener and attached the green four-leaf clover to the white cut-out. We pulled back each piece of the clover and wrote something they decided they were lucky to have. 

Then we decorated the top of the shamrock with some St. Patrick's Day stickers we found at the dollar store. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Reading Month Popcorn Treat Bag

For David's snack day tomorrow, we decided to continue the "March is Reading Month" theme. We cut strips from colored cardstock and wrote "Pop open a good book!" in the middle. Then we glued pieces of popcorn scrapbook paper on the ends of the cardstock. I staped the strips to a plastic bag and filled it with Skinny Pop popcorn.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dr. Seuss Treats

Today is Dr. Seuss's birthday. David had snack day, so we made some treats that matched a couple of his books. We made green eggs and ham with two pretzel sticks, a little bit of white chocolate melted on the sticks. Then I added a green sixlet candy to the chocolate. 
The Lorax guys are made from a Nutter Butter cookie. I added candy eyes (to make them stick, I used some of the melted white chocolate leftovers from the pretzels.) Then I added a yellow frosting mustache. 

For dinner, we had pancakes that were turned into the Cat in the Hat hat. I used Redi-whip and strawberries to add the accents to the pancake. 
Basic pancake recipe: 
1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons softened or melted butter. 
Whisk together and pour in a heated skillet. 

Only one of the kids wanted to have the green eggs. I just scambled some eggs with a little green food gel. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Photo Board

I found a picture of something like this on Pinterest, so I decided to make my own. We usually celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2nd, so I thought this would be a fun addition. We will also be sharing this with David's kindergarten class. 

I bought a presentation board at Walmart for under $3. I cut two circles out of the middle. I just did this with scissors because I couldn't find our exacto knife. The scissors worked fine. Then I drew on the design with a pencil. It is just freehand, so there are definitely some issues! 

I outlined everything with black Sharpie. Then I colored in the rest with black, red, and blue Sharpie. I wrote the line, "I can read in red. I can read in blue. I can read in pickle color too." (Taken from a Dr. Seuss book.) The kids had a lot of fun trying out the photo board. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow Day Scavenger Hunt of Activities

 I couldn't resist making another hunt for the kids after seeing their reaction from the Valentine's Day scavenger hunt. (And because Rachel continue to put the clues back in their spot and pretend to find them again!) So, when we got early notice of a snow day tomorrow, this was a perfect opportunity to make some new clues for them to fill our day. 

I will place the new clues where the last activity takes place. 

Here they are...

1. Hip, Hip, Hooray, we have a snow day! Your first clue is by your silly spray! (They have been patiently waiting to spray it all over each other :) ) 

2. Rachel will probably want to watch Sophia and the dancing trolls, but let's start our day with cinnamon rolls! 

3. Spend some time doing a little grammar and math. When 30 minutes are done, your clue can be found where you take a bath. 

4. It's now time to pick out a craft on Pinterest. Make sure it appeals to all of your interests. 

5. While the oven is still on, and after you remember to feed Fred, let's go to the kitchen and bake some bread! 

6. Go find some green or put on your suit. It's time for a photo shoot. 

7. Let's read a chapter from The Long Winter to help fill our day. Let's hope the groundhog was wrong and spring comes without delay! 

I just wrote these on some scrapbook paper.  Won't be as much fun as the prize hunt, but should help keep them active while we try to stay warm! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

#LoveTeaching Week

Last week was #Love Teaching Week...A week dedicated to showcasing the positives about teaching. The media does a great job showing many of the negatives that come along with teaching, but rarely highlights the reasons we went into this profession to start with.

Don't get me wrong, this career is difficult and definitely has its challenges. There have been times in my ten years of teaching that I have questioned my career choice and contemplated starting over in a new career. There have been many times that I have felt guilty about working outside of the home in a career that demands so much of my time at home too.  However, whenever I am having my doubts, something always happens to remind me that I am making a difference. 

For instance, as I thought about all the little things I could share for #LoveTeaching this week on social media, I realized that I can find something positive about my job every single day. 

I noticed, in this one-week time frame, that what really makes me love teaching the most is the connection I can make with these students on a daily basis. I can make a difference in their lives. Here is a list of some things that have happened in one week of teaching.

I love teaching because...

* After sharing a chapter from Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome, written by Brad Montague and Robby Novak, the kids in one of my classes were so moved by the message, they broke out into an applause. This reminded me that there are so many students out there that are moved by the idea to treat people more awesome. The line that ended the chapter was,  "Maybe our goal as people shouldn't be to become a celebrity, but to live in a way that makes everyone around us feel celebrated." If I can help these students understand that their actions make a difference and if I can show them that I celebrate them and believe in them, then I am doing the job I set out to do.

* A senior from the school I used to teach at contacted me to tell me that he got accepted at the college of his choice. Why did he contact me? Because he knew I would want to know. These moments in teaching are so important because it tells me that I have made a connection with a student. They know that I care about them and want them to succeed in life. 

* After school (on the last day of the school-week), two students came and asked me to take a picture with them. We were wearing the new shirts our group, Here 2 Make a Change (H2MC), had made. They are helping to spread a positive message throughout our school and community. To see students go out of their way to make a positive impact shows me that with a little reinforcement through me, these students feel comfortable about making a difference. 

* Over the weekend, I opened my email to find a letter written by a freshman in high school. This student took time out of her weekend to send me a message about the impact I have had on her and how much she respects me. It is times like these that make every negative thing about teaching just disappear. These moments keep teachers going for a very long time. 

* Last week, I went to my mailbox in the school office to find a hand-written note from a student facing something that could potentially keep him out of school for a long time. While reading this letter, tears filled my eyes. This student knew I saw potential in him and thanked me for believing in him; he was very sad to say that this letter might be his last good-bye.  This letter reminded me that my teaching can impact all students. Just showing students you believe in them, care about them, and want them to succeed will carry them through some of their toughest moments. 

* While reading a nonfiction piece about refugees, students in every one of my classes shared their concerns and talked about ways people throughout the world could offer help. These moments give me so much hope. High school students often get stereotyped as the "Me Generation". I see on a daily basis that there are so many students that just want to do something to help others, even if it doesn't get them anything. Not all students fit this stereotype...

These moments are just a few that stick out from the week. Like I said before, there is always something, every day, that reminds me why I love teaching.  And while I often bring stress from this job home with me, I honestly believe this profession has made me a better mom. If you are contemplating a career in teaching, know that there will be countless #LoveTeaching moments like this you will be able to reflect on at any point in your career. 

President's Day Craft with Puffy Paint

To start, I made some puffy paint. Puffy paint is just equal parts of shaving cream and school glue. For the brown paint, I added some brown tempera paint to the mixture. 

We cut out a blue hat for George Washington and a black hat for Abe Lincoln. Then we glued it on the paper plate.  We cut the sides of Lincoln's face so it looked longer. Then the kids drew on a face. The final step was to paint the puffy paint on the face. This was their favorite part because I let them use their hands for this step. 

President's Day Treats

I found pictures of these treats on Pinterest. I used a vanilla wafer as the head. I drew on a face with a food marker. Then I added some frosting to be used to stick the marshmallows and chocolate chips on the face. I cut a melting chocolate disc for the hat. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt #3

We are all pretty excited about our 3rd Annual Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt. From the moment we turned the calendar to February, David has been counting down the days until this. It is something he remembers and reminds me about yearly. I am sure it will be the same for the St. Patrick's Day hunt. If you want to start a fun tradition with your kids, this is definitely memorable for them! 

I have to give credit to Steve for the clues. He is the poetic one in the family :) Everything pictured below came from the dollar store (except the books). I do have a larger prize waiting for them at the end of the hunt. Here are links to our other Valentine's Day hunts. 

The clues for this year: 

Clue #1: We are going to get started. You are going to be the champ. The first clue is under mom's lamp. 

Clue #2: Always have a very strong handshake. Your next clue is found on a topping for your pancake. 

Clue #3: Syrup is sweet and sticky like glue. Your next clue is found where you put on your shoe. 

Clue #4: Violets are blue, Roses are red. Your next clue is found by Fred (our fish). Could say bed instead.

Clue #5: You are almost done, and are smooth as silk. Your next clue is attached to your milk.

Clue #6: This is it. Your hunt is done. Go to your playhouse to find your fun. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Paw Patrol Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Fondant

For Rachel's 3rd and a 1/2 birthday, she decided on a Paw Patrol cake. So I got adventurous, after using fondant for the first time last weekend, and made this look-out tower cake. I made a cake in a 10x12 inch cake pan. I used regular cake decorating frosting ( 1 cup crisco, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 4 Tbsp milk) for the green grass. I also used this frosting to cover the tower before I put on the fondant. 

I then made my own fondant. We all liked the taste of this fondant. 
Put one 16 oz  bag of mini marshmallows and 2 Tablespoons of water in a microwavable bowl. 
Melt in the microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 second time frame. 
Add 1 lb of powdered sugar and stir. Grease the counter and your hands with crisco. Knead another 3 cups of powdered sugar into this mixture. (I had 1 cup left of a 2 lb bag of powdered sugar.) 
Then I split the fondant up  for the amount of colors I needed and colored each ball with food gel. 
I put crisco around the ball of colored fondant and covered it with plastic wrap. I put it in an air-tight container until I was ready to make the cake. I did put the ball in the microwave for a few seconds before I made the cake. This softened it really quickly and made it easier to work with. 

The tower is made from Rice Krispie treats. I used a whole batch of Rice Krispies for the entire tower. (3 Tbsp butter, 6 cups marshmallows, 6 cups Rice Krispies)  I molded this free-hand and then covered it with the fondant colors. If you spray your hands with cooking spray, it is very easy to mold this into the pieces that make the tower. 

Tip: The top is pretty heavy. I put a small tupperware bowl in the cake, face down. Then I set the whole tower on top of that bowl. That helped support it a lot better. 

I found the Paw Patrol figures at Target. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day Pancakes

For these Groundhog Day pancakes, I started by making my baked pumpkin doughnut holes:

Next, I made chocolate chip pancakes:

Then I added Cheerio ears, frosting and mini chocolate chips for eyes, a red candy for a nose, and black gel for the mouth. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Superman 40th Birthday Cake with Homemade Fondant

When a friend of ours turned 40, I decided I would try to overcome my fear of fondant and make this cake for him. 

It turned out okay, and I learned a lot about fondant in the process! 

I know I don't like the taste of store-bought fondant, so I tried to make my own. I found this recipe for the black fondant:

I altered it a little bit...

1 cup of black melting chocolate discs
1 bag mini marshmallows
3 Tbsp water
1 lb of powdered sugar plus 1 1/2 cups
1 tsp black food gel

Put your marshmallows and water in a microwavable bowl. Heat for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat process for about 2 minutes total. 

Add the chocolate discs. Stir. Then add the black food gel. Stir. Add about half of the powdered sugar. Stir. Add the rest of the powdered sugar. Put Crisco on your hands and knead in the rest of the powdered sugar. 

Put Crisco around the dough ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate until ready to use. I did have to warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to soften it up before I used it. 

I worked in layers for this cake. I started by making the Superman shirt and then placed it on my cake. 

Then I added the white shirt. I rolled out the black fondant and placed that on top. Then the final touches were the white collar, the black buttons on the suit, and the red tie. I wrote the message on a piece of red fondant.