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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Peanuts (Charlie Brown) Photo Board

For the Peanuts 50th Anniversary special tomorrow night, we decided to create a photo board of our favorite Peanuts characters. I started with a tri-fold display board and free-hand drew the characters with pencil. Then I outlined the characters with black Sharpie. I painted most of the characters with acrylic paint. (Although, I did some of it with Sharpie.)

Rachel's favorite character is the little red-haired girl, so we had to incorporate her somehow. (So, Charlie Brown is thinking about her.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gingerbread Arena (The Palace)

After turning Ford Field into a Gingerbread Stadium last year (, the boys decided we had to try the Detroit Piston's arena. Making gingerbread houses is a lot easier than I thought it would be, and for the sports' enthusiasts in our house, this is a perfect recipe you won't find in a kit at the stores. 

We made the gingerbread dough first (I got a recipe from 

6 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ginger
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon water

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside. 
Using a mixer, beat the brown sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, molasses, and water. 

Add half of the flour mixture to the molasses mixture. Beat until well combined. 

Add the remaining flour mixture and knead with your hands or the dough hook of a mixer. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough to the size you need for your stadium. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured piece of wax paper. I did two longer sides, two smaller sides, a court, and two basketball hoops with stands and backboards. We also did mini gingerbread men for the players.  Bake the dough for 8-11 minutes on a greased cookie sheet, or until it starts to brown. Let cool before constructing. 

For the icing on the court and the stands, I mixed two egg whites with 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Whisk that until it is smooth. Then add another 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Beat with a mixer on high speed until you get the consistency you want. You may need to add a little more powdered sugar. 

For decorating the players and anything else that is red or blue, I mixed 1 cup of crisco, 4 cups of powdered sugar, and 4 Tbsp milk. 

The court...

David's favorite part was helping with the roster. 

Here is last year's stadium. I am guessing Comerica Park will be next year :) 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Preschool Centers for the Home

Because we weren't able to get Rachel into a formal preschool program this year, Grandma Ruth has dedicated two days a week to bringing "preschool" to Rachel.. On the weekends, we like to lay out all the activities Grandma has brought, along with some of our own,  on the living room floor so Rachel and David can explore through the "centers".  Here are a few of our centers for the month:

Pattern Cubes:

Use the dropper to place drops of water in the Lego blocks and suction cups:

Hang the Barbie clothes on the "line":

Match the magnetic letters:

String some beads. The pipe cleaners have numbers on them as well, so they could put that amount of beads on the pipe cleaner:

Match the number leaf to the tree (sticky foam):

Frill in the missing numbers on the line:

Practice cutting:

Clip the correct number of clothespins to the block:

Pom-pom patterns and sorting:

Magnetic boards:

Fill in the correct number of black beans:

Use the magna-tiles to make shapes and figures:

Match the letters:

Use the geo-boards to match letters and rhyming words:

I didn't take a picture of one of their favorite activities, but it is pretty self explanatory. I laminated images of a boy and girl that don't have a face. The kids make faces out of play dough and put them on the laminated paper. (You can see this in the middle of the first picture above.)

The nice thing about these activities is they are easy to put together and really work the kids' motor skills. 

Paper Plate Pumpkin

We didn't have too much time to do a craft the other night, so we threw this one together in under 10 minutes. 

Rachel painted the paper plate and stuck on black cut-out shapes. We traced Rachel's hand on a piece of green sticky foam and added the hand and a brown stem. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

We have been trying a lot of baked doughnuts lately. This recipe indicated the doughnuts should be fried, but we baked them instead and they turned out perfectly. (

3/4 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole egg 
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons nutmeg

Melted butter
5 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon

Start by reducing the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium heat. The mixture will reduce to about 1/2 cup. (This will take a good 5-10 minutes.)

Beat the 3 Tbsp butter (softened) with the brown and white sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat for about 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, mix the 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. 

Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Then add some of the cider. Then another addition of the dry ingredients. Follow with the rest of the cider and the remaining dry mixture. Be careful not to over-mix. 

Place the dough in a plastic baggie. Cut the tip off one of the bottom ends of the baggie. Squeeze the dough in a greased doughnut pan. The mini doughnuts baked at 350 for 7 minutes. The big doughnuts baked for about 10 minutes. 

When slightly browned, put the doughnuts on a cooling rack. Immediately dip the top in melted butter and roll in cinnamon/sugar topping mixture. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fire Truck Graham Cracker Snack

David's class studied fire safety this week, so we decided to make these treats for his class. 

We covered a graham cracker with red frosting, used a mini Oreo for the wheels, pretzels for the ladder, and white frosting for the window. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk
4 Tbsp flour
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the pumpkin, sugar, and oil with a mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Pour into a greased 10x15 inch sheet cake pan. (I don't have one of those, so I placed most of the cake in a 9x13 inch sheet cake pan and put the rest of the batter in my doughnut pan (I got 6 doughnuts plus the cake). Bake cake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. The doughnuts only took about 8-10 minutes. 

While the cake bakes and cools, make the frosting. Start by whisking the milk and flour in a saucepan. Let that mixture boil. (It will become very thick.) I placed that in the refrigerator to cool completely. Then beat the butter and sugar with a stand mixer. Add the cooled milk and flour mixture. Whip on the highest setting you have until it is light and fluffy. Spread on the cooled cake. 

Baked Potato Skins with Cheese and Bacon

Wash russet potatoes and slice them thinly. Place in a saucepan with cold water. Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Drain the water and pat the potatoes dry. Spread them out on a greased baking sheet. Spray the potatoes with cooking spray. Top with a little salt and pepper. (I made a pan of just plain potatoes too.) 
Then spread cheese and cooked, chopped bacon on top of that. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 14-15 minutes. 

Spider Web Fine Motor Skill Practice

I saw a picture of something like this on Pinterest, so we set out to try to make our own. I had a little container that had holes in the side, so I used that. I strung white yarn through the container. Then I added spider rings I had from last Halloween. The kids used little plastic tweezers to pull the spiders out of the web. They really had a lot of fun with this. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sun, Earth, & Moon Model for Kids

The lunar eclipse tonight is a pretty rare event, so I wanted to explain to the kids what was happening before we watched it. I found this model online. ( 
It was very easy to construct and worked well as a visual for them to process the event. 

The template for the circles can be found on the link above.

I just used yellow, blue, green, white, and brown cardstock paper. Each model takes three brads as well. 

I cut the short strip of brown paper 4 inches instead of the 5 that is recommended. The long strip was cut to 8 inches. Simply connect the circles to the strips as pictured below. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

No-bake Reese's Cheesecake Squares

1 package Oreo's crushed (About 4 cups)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 packages (8oz) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 (12 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
15-20 mini peanut butter cups chopped
Chopped peanut butter cups
chocolate sauce

Crush the Oreo's and stir in the melted butter. Press into a 9x13 in pan. 

Whip the cream cheese and add the peanut butter. Cream until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, whipping cream and vanilla. Let that mix for about 2 minutes. Fold in the Cool Whip and chopped Reese's 

Spread over the crust. 

Top with chopped Reese's and chocolate sauce. Chill in the refrigerator. 

Chicken/Turkey Meatball Bar with Honey Chipotle Sauce

I made chicken/turkey meatballs the other day and the kids loved them! It was such a big hit we decided to put together a meatball bar for the football games. (I made a brown gravy sauce, a honey chipotle sauce, and marinara sauce.) We added mashed potatoes and spaghetti noodles to go with it as well. We will definitely do this again. 

Meatball Ingredients: 
3 lbs any combination of ground chicken and/or turkey. (I had a 1 1/2 of each) 
**This recipe works with ground beef as well. 
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 small onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped bacon (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. 

Scoop the mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 

I made brown gravy for one sauce. We sometimes add cream of mushroom soup to brown gravy for a sauce, but the plain gravy tasted just as good. 

For the honey chipotle sauce: Mix 1 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 3 Tbsp orange juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp chopped chipotle pepper, 2 drops lemon juice. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on high. (This recipe came from: It is delicious! If you want it thicker, you could make this on the stovetop and use cornstarch to thicken.

The final sauce was just a simple marinara sauce.