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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pumpkin Cupcake Cake

I decided to make this cupcake cake for a friend's birthday this week. I used my recipe for pumpkin spice cupcakes (, and placed the cupcakes on a pan to resemble a pumpkin. There were 23 cupcakes on the pan. Then I covered the cupcakes with orange frosting, and piped on a brown stem and some green vines. I added some orange lines to give it more of a pumpkin look and then added writing. 

Name of the Day Craft

David has been coming home every day talking about the "Name of the Day" activity they complete in kindergarten. Last night he asked if we could start our own "Name of the Day" craft for the names of the people in our family. This is a great activity for everyone in the family to participate in, and it really helps him as he is trying to learn to draw all of the letters. 

I took a piece of computer paper and cut it in half. I made a spot to write the name of the selected person for that day. Each of us then drew a picture of that person and signed our name at the bottom.
Tonight we picked a different family member's name and drew a picture for them.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pride Tickets

Our school has implemented new parking requirements this year. To help promote the rules, I made these tickets for the administration to place on the students' cars that were following the rules. This was a great way to reward the students that were doing what they were supposed to be doing, as opposed to just providing negative reinforcement to the students that weren't following the rules. 

Students turned in the tickets the following day and were rewarded with a treat. 

I am planning on changing the wording on the tickets to use for positive behavior in my classroom and for my own kids at home. Very quick way to promote positive behavior! 

Simple, Small Wedding Cake

This is a very simple wedding cake that went together very quickly. 

I used two 9-inch cakes (leveled off) for the bottom. 

Then, using another cake mix, I made an 8-inch cake and a heart-shape cake. I placed the 8-inch cake on top of the two 9-inch cakes to make the bottom taller. Then I placed the heart cake on top. 

I used a basic frosting recipe my aunt has used for years to decorate her cakes. (1 cup of crisco, 4 cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 4-5 Tablespoons of milk) I made a double batch of frosting for this cake and had some leftover. 

I used a very large star tip for the swirl decorartion on the bottom. I used a smaller star tip to fill in the openings. Then I used a larger circle tip to place dots on the sides of the heart cake and to make a border around the bottom of the heart. 

I used a small line tip to draw on the R for the top. 

Apple Suncatchers Made from Colored Salt

This is a quick fall craft for kids of all ages. We started by coloring the salt crystals. (We did different size crystals, but found that the finer salt worked best.) 

To color the salt, we dumped some into a ziploc bag. Then we added a few drops of food coloring. The kids moved the salt around in the bag until it was all colored. Then we placed the different colors into containers. 

Next, we placed a piece of contact paper, sticky side up, on the table.  We placed a piece of red construction paper (that was cut in the shape of an apple) on top of the contact paper. The kids filled in the apple with their colored salt. 

Next, we placed another piece of contact paper (sticky side down) on top of the apple and salt to seal it in. We cut out the apple. 

For a finishing touch, we added a piece of brown construction paper for the stem and placed it on the window. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Canned Tomatoes

My mom has found a pretty quick and easy way to can tomatoes. This recipe can be turned into chili juice or salsa. 

Start by washing all your tomatoes. We did a small batch today. We only had about a gallon-size bucket of tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into four quarters and place in a blender. Blend them (do not peel the tomatoes). 

Place in a big cooking pot. (This amount of tomatoes filled up to the 4-quart line of the pot.)

Put a little bit of the juice in the bottom of the blender. Add a couple of jalapeno peppers.

Then add about 3 cloves of garlic, an onion, a few stalks of celery, and a green pepper. Blend that up and add to the tomato juice. 

Add about 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 1-2 Tablespoons of salt. 
Stir and cook down on the stove. Let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. 

Wash all of your jars. In a small saucepan, boil some water. Place your lids in the boiling water. 
Pour the cooked down tomatoes into the jars using a funnel.  (I use a coffee mug to transfer the tomatoes to the funnel.) 
Wipe down the top of the jar with a small towel. Pull a hot lid from the boiling water and place on the jar. Tighten the lid. 

Immediately turn the jar upside down on a towel sitting on the counter. Let sit overnight (at least 12 hours). 

When you flip them over after sitting overnight, the jars will be sealed. 

***To turn this mixture into salsa, add tomato paste after the tomatoes have cooked down. Add enough until it reaches your desired thickness. Let that heat through and then place in the jars. 

Halloween Letter Craft

To add to our Halloween decorations, we decided to make some spooky letters to put in the kids' rooms. 

We bought wooden letters from Wal-Mart. The kids each picked a color to paint their letter. 

When it was dry, I covered the letter with tacky glue. The kids placed different sizes and colors of google eyes all over the letter. 

To decorate them further, we glued on some fake spiders and put fake spider web around the letter. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chili Casserole

This recipe is incredibly easy and tastes amazing. I had an extra pound of cooked hamburger, so I decided to throw this together tonight after seeing something similar to it in a cookbook I got from the library. It would work as a meal or as an appetizer dip at a party. 

1 pound hamburger
1 can chili beans with sauce
1 can enchillada sauce
about 1/2 bag of tortilla chips
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
(If you want it spicy, you could add a chipotle pepper to the mixture.) 
Sour cream is good on top too. 

Brown the hamburger and drain the grease. Add the chili beans and enchillada sauce. 

Crush up about 1 cup of tortilla chips and stir in the mixture. 

Place a layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of 7x11inch greased baking pan. (Double the recipe if you want to use a 9x13 inch pan.) 

Dump the meat mixture over the tortilla chips. 

Top with a few more crushed chips and shredded cheddar cheese. 

Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Top with sour cream if you would like, but it tastes great plain as well. 

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

I found this recipe from

These taste so much like Hostess Cupcakes (without the fake flavor!) 

I got 15 cupcakes out of one batch of these. 

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder
3/4  cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (I used Knox)
4 Tablespoons butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 15 muffin cups with liners. 

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the boiling water, cocoa, mini chocolate chips, and coffee powder. Add the sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until just combined.

Fold in the dry ingredients. Be careful to not over mix. 
Bake for about 18 minutes. (The rack in the oven should be placed on the lower middle level.)  Cool cupcakes for about 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to complete cooling. 

Combine 3 Tablespoons of water with 3/4 tsp of gelatin in a microwavable bowl. Let it sit for about 1 minute so the gelatin can soak up some of the water. Then microwave the mixture for 10 seconds at a time, until the mixture starts bubbling around the edges and the gelatin is dissolved. (It took mine 50 seconds). 

Stir in 4 Tablespoons butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes. Whisk in 1 1/4 cups marshmallow fluff until it is smooth.  Chill for about 30 minutes or until set. Put about 1/2 cup of the mixture in a plastic ziploc bag. Cut the tip off a corner of the bag. Set aside the remaining filling to be used to fill the cupcakes. 

For the glaze, microwave the 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 3 Tablespoons butter in a bowl for 30 seconds at a time. Stir until smooth. 

Cut a triangle shape piece out of the center of the cooled cupcakes. Fill the center with the remaining marshmallow filling. I used a decorating tool to fill mine. A plastic bag with the tip cut off would work for this step as well though. 

Trim the excess pieces of cake you cut out so just the top is left. Place the top back on top of the filling. 

Put the melted chocolate glaze on top of the cupcakes. 

Then use the filling already in the plastic bag to create a decoration on top. We turned ours into footballs. They don't have to be refrigerated, but taste best chilled. 

I am going to freeze some for a quick treat or for the kids' lunches. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cake

I was looking for a Reese's cake to make for a friend's birthday. I found this recipe on the website:

This is definitely a cake I would make again. 

1 chocolate cake mix, plus oil, water, and eggs as directed on package
1 jar (12 oz) hot fudge
1 (8oz) cream cheese
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
12 oz Cool Whip
Reese's peanut butter cups to crumble on top

Start by baking the chocolate cake. (I did mine in two 8 inch cake pans. It would probably work best in a 9x13 inch pan.)

When the cake is done baking, immediately poke holes in it with a fork.

Heat the hot fudge in the microwave. Pour 3/4 of the jar of hot fudge over the cakes. Let the fudge seep into the cake. 

Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together. Add the peanut butter. Whip that again. 

Fold in half of the Cool Whip. 

Spread the peanut butter mixture over the cooled cake. 

Let that chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 
Then top with the remaining Cool Whip. Crumble Reese's peanut butter cups on top and drizzle on the remaining hot fudge. Keep refrigerated. 

Cowboy Hat Cupcakes

For George Strait's final concert, we had a little cowboy-theme food party. The dessert was cowboy hat cupcakes. I frosted the cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Then I placed a Pringle on top of the frosting. I used two white spice drops for the top of each Pringle. Then I wrapped the spice drops with a piece of red string licorice. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

All About Me Rainbow Craft

As one of our Back-to-School crafts, we created these All About Me Rainbows. I cut strips of paper from all the colors of the rainbow. I wrote the following questions on the strips:
Red: How old are you?
Orange: What is your favorite color?
Yellow: What is your favorite food?
Green? What is your favorite song?
Blue: What is your favorite show?
Purple: What do you want to be when you grow up?

The kids glued their strips to a cloud cut from white cardstock. 

Back-to-School Scavenger Hunt

On our last day of summer break, we are trying to get back in "school mode". We started the day with a back-to-school scavenger hunt. I hid some of their school supplies around the house and gave them a checklist. I put pictures on it for David because he can't read all of these words yet. They went around the house filling their backpacks so they are ready for tomorrow.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The First Day

I have been trying to write about this topic for weeks now, but every time I think about the words I want to say, I end up in tears and can’t face my thoughts. Well, it is now or never.

Tuesday marks the day for many “firsts” in my life. Not only will I have my first day in a new school, but my 6-year-old Kindergarten son will also. My nerves for him supersede the nerves I have about starting a new teaching position.

The day your baby is ready for their first day of school is a moment parents think about from the day they are born. I remember holding my little boy in the hospital and hearing the words, “Just wait, before you know it, you will be sending him to Kindergarten and then to college.” Wow, it really does go that fast.

As I reflect on the first 6 years of David’s life, I have so many things I want him to know. He really is my little miracle.  When the odds were stacked against me having a baby of my own, this little boy came along and completely changed the way I look at life. Now he is ready to face his next milestone. I couldn’t be more proud of the little man he is growing up to be. There is never a dull moment when David is around and he always has a story to tell or a game to recap. He never ceases to amaze me. His memory and love for numbers is something I am so excited to see grow throughout his education.

But, I, along with all the other new kindergarten parents, will never forget this feeling as we get ready to send our little precious bundles to school. If you are anything like me, you worry 24 hours of the day. (Ok, so maybe I worry more than most, but you get the point.) I worry about him feeling left out on the playground, I worry about him not being able to do something in his lessons and getting discouraged, I worry about him feeling lost and scared, and the list goes on.  While I will always have something to worry about, I have to keep telling myself that he will do great. This is the first step in letting him grow on his own. 

We have all been through this transition in our lives and have managed to get through it. Now that I think about it, the same worries I have for him, are just a different variation of the worries I have about starting a new job. We will all have to face “firsts” sometime. While it is scary and nerve-wracking, the first step is what leads us to the next one. Without taking that first step, we will never know where the road will lead us.

Yes, I wish I could slow time down, but I know I can’t.  I have to live in the moment and embrace every second we have together.  So, Tuesday, as David and I start our “first day of school”, we will take the step together,  hand-in-hand (because he still lets me do that). You have to have the “First Day” in order to make that second and third day easier. 

Love this little prayer...

Reusable Snack Bags

I wanted to create some reusable snack bags for my son and his friends to use during their snack time at school. (The kids can keep these in their lunch box and get them out during snack time.) 

I found a tutorial at the following website:

First, wash all of your fabric. 
Then cut the fabric pieces. The liner is thick, unbleached, 100% cotton. I cut two pieces of the liner and two pieces of the decoative fabric for each bag. They are all about 7" by 6 1/2". The decorative fabric is a little bit larger. 
Then I cut a piece of sewable velcro. Leave about 1/2" on both sides of the velcro. I sewed three lines on each piece of velcro to make sure it was secure. 

Then I turned the liner over so the velcro side was on top of the decorative fabric. 

I sewed the two pieces together (Sew just above the velcro)

Then turn the decoative fabric over like the picture below. Do the same thing to the other liner piece. 

Attach the velcro pieces so the decorative fabric is on top of one another and the liner is on top of one another. (Pictured below)

Pin the liner pieces together and the decorative fabric pieces together. 

Sew the sides of the liner and the bottom of the liner together. Make sure you sew all the way up the side of the liner without sewing the velcro. 

Then sew the sides of the decoative fabric together. For the bottom, sew a couple of inches on both sides, leaving about a 2-3" hole at the bottom. (See picture below)

Pull all of the fabric and liner through the 2" hole at the bottom. 

Open up the velcro to help you push the fabric through the hole and straighten it up. 

The last step is to sew up the hole at the bottom. I just did this with the sewing machine. It would probably look better with a hand stitch, but this was a lot faster.