Friday, March 29, 2013

Winnie the Pooh Cake and Hunny Pot

For my daughter's first birthday, we decided to decorate with a Winnie the Pooh theme. I found an old Winnie the Pooh cake pan for the big cake. I star-tipped the frosting on the cake.I did this cake in sections. I took breaks after each color. (Your hand will get tired!) For the writing and outlining, I placed frosting in a ziploc bag and cut one of the corners off and piped it on that way.

For the "hunny" pot, I used cupcakes. I shaved the top of two cupcakes off so they were level. I then turned one cupcake upside down and placed it on the other cupcake. I "glued" them together with frosting. Then I covered both cupcakes with blue-tinted frosting. I placed yellow frosting on the top to resemble the honey, and then wrote on the outside of the cupcakes.

We let my daughter dig into the "hunny" pot, and still had a cake for everyone else to eat. She loved it!

Ocean Sensory Box

Our newest sensory box is an underwater adventure. The base is blue water beads. (We usually get them from Amazon or Wal-Mart) They are located in the floral section of stores. Most people use water beads for vase fillers when making arrangements.
The other pieces are random sea creatures we found at different stores or had around the house. My mother-in-law even found some ocean stickers from Oriental Trading that the boys have just put around the outside of the box.
My only suggestion for this box is to use it outside. The water beads do bounce, so they make a little bit of a mess if they get out of the box. This would be a great summer box! The beads last for a month or so if they are sealed up. When you are done, they can be placed in a flower garden for moisture.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rainbow and Fire Dog Cupcakes

Here are a few more cupcakes I have done the past couple of weeks...
To make rainbow cupcakes, take a white cake mix and mix it according to the package directions. Divide the batter between six bowls. Add food coloring to make red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet batter.
Using a mini ice cream scoop, I added about a tablespoon of each color to the cupcake liners. Bake cupcakes according the package directions.
 To celebrate a friend's birthday (a man that is a firefighter), I turned the cupcakes into fire dogs. I just used black and red food gel to decorate the white frosting.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Duck Dynasty Camo Cupcakes

I volunteered to make camo cupcakes for my cousin's baby shower this weekend. (The nursery theme is camo/wilderness.) I found an idea for the cupcakes from Pinterest.

However, when my boys found out I was making camo cupcakes, they had other ideas for the cupcakes...

I started out with a yellow cake mix and a chocolate cake mix. Mix them separately according the package directions.

I got out two more bowls. Take two scoops of both batters and mix together in the third bowl. In the fourth bowl, take two scoops of white batter, one small scoop of the chocolate batter, and 15 drops of green food coloring.

You will have four colors now: 1) Just white batter
2) Just chocolate batter
3) An equal mixture of chocolate and white batter
4) Green batter (the two scoops of white, one small scoop of chocolate, and green food coloring)

I put the batters in separate ziploc bags. Cut one of the tips from the end of the bags. Squeeze alternating colors into the cupcake liners until about 2/3 full. I made 36 cupcakes.

Bake cupcakes according to the package directions.

When cool, I frosted them. This step was a little bit of a pain, until I got a system going. I used one container of white frosting and one container of chocolate frosting.
To make the green frosting, I used a couple of scoops of the white frosting, one spoonful of the chocolate frosting, and about 12 drops of green food coloring.

I placed each of the frosting colors in a ziplock bag.

I then used a cake decorating squeeze bottle with a star tip attached. I squeezed lines of frosting from each of the three bags into the squeeze bottle. Then I ran circles around the cupcakes with the squeeze bottle.

Then the boys came up with their idea! They love to watch Duck Dynasty, so they challenged me to make "The Quack Pack".

So, I found a picture of the four guys and did the best I could to draw The Quack Pack on the cupcakes.

I used the camo frosting for Phil's bandana and Si's hat. I put brown frosting in the decorating bottle to pipe on for the hair, beards, and moustaches, For Si and Phil's beards, I ran a little white frosting through the brown.
For Jase's hat, I just used black decorating gel. I tried to make Willie's bandana look like a flag, but the blue food gel was pretty dark. I put white snowflakes I had from Christmas cookies to resemble the stars. I used red food gel and red sugar for the stripes, and more white frosting for the other stripes.
The eyes are just black food gel. The nose is a mini chocolate chip, although food gel would work for that too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pizza Bagels

On nights that I don't really feel like cooking, or have had an extremely busy day at work, I turn pizza bagels for dinner. It is so easy, and everyone loves them.
Start by breaking apart your bagels and placing them on a stone or a baking sheet lined with tin foil.
Spread sauce on each half of the bagel.  
I place a pepperoni over the hole of the bagel. This helps stop the cheese from falling through.

This dinner also helps encourage cooking with your kids. Each kid can make his or her own pizza very easily. Place the cheese on the bagel and then allow the kids to put their favorite toppings on their pizza. (They are more likely to eat dinner if they help prepare it.)
Bake the pizza bagels for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

I do the same recipe with English muffins too.

If you don't want to turn on your oven, they cook just as well in a toaster oven. Great for a quick lunch as well.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Counting Practice with Old Water Bottles

Another counting exercise for preschoolers: Place a label with a number (1-10) on the water bottle. Have the child put the correct amount of a particular object in each labeled bottle. Here, David used chocolate teddy grahams. The next time he did it, he used marshmallows.

Big Bird's Birthday Celebration

Today (March 20th) is Big Bird's birthday. My daughter loves Big Bird, so we decided we had to celebrate.

To start, we had birdseed soup. (It was just soup with sunflower seeds sprinked in it.) I made a loaf of bread to go with it, because what bird doesn't love bread!

After doing a little research on Big Bird's bio, we found out that his favorite food is birdseed milkshakes. So...of course, we had milkshakes to go with our Big Bird cupcakes.

Big Bird's favorite toy is his teddy bear, Radar. So, for a birthday present for Big Bird, we got a teddy bear friend for Radar.

To finish the night, we watched Follow That Bird. (The movie Big Bird stars in.)

We had a great time!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shamrock Pizza for St. Patrick's Day

Pizza dough can be made to fit almost any holiday. For our St. Patrick's Day dinner, we created a shamrock pizza. I was going to tint the dough green, but my younger son didn't think that would taste very well, so we didn't.
My pizza dough recipe is on another post on this site:
As my husband pointed out, turn this pizza 180 degrees and we have a butterfly pizza for spring!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Craft Store Holiday Bargains

Whenever we are out shopping, I make a point to stop by the craft stores to check out their clearance section or holiday specials. I am always amazed at the deals they have on holiday crafts, even right before the actual holiday. The picture on the right is St. Patrick's Day picture frames I got from The Christmas Shoppe for 50 cents. They came with all the supplies to complete the craft--markers included. Kids love these little simple things.
The egg house is a craft we found last week at Michael's. It was marked half-off. (regularly $7.99) The egg house gave us entertainment throughout the whole day Saturday. We constructed it in pieces, and it is now a perfect centerpiece for our dining room table.
Just be on the lookout for crafting supplies at discount prices. Check the clearance sections! You can never have enough construction paper, pipe cleaners, puffballs, and crafting eyes. :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bunny Collage

This is a simple craft that works on motor skills. We cut out a bunny shape from construction paper. (This was just drawn freehand; I am sure you can tell!)
The kids cut out images from sale flyers and magazine we had around the house. David decided to give his bunny a toy-theme collage. Matt did his all shower gels and other Adidas and Old Spice products. They glued the images to their bunny and hung them up on our craft wall.

Easter Bunny Refrigerator

This bunny is made mostly from construction paper. The mouth is pink pipe cleaners, the nose is a pink puffball, and the eyes are craft eyes. Everything else is cut from construction paper. I outlined the hands and feet in black construction paper so the white would stand out a little bit more.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rainbow Swirl Wheat Bread

Day 15 of our Pot o'Activities: Rainbow Swirl Bread

I used my own wheat bread recipe though.

1 cup of warm water
1 Tablespoon milk
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
One package of yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)

Mix these ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Let the yeast mixture sit for a couple of minutes.

Add 1 cup of white flour and 1 cup of wheat flour. Mix with a wooden spoon.

Using the hook attachment of your mixer, slowly add another 3/4 cup white flour and 3/4 cup wheat flour.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with oil, place the dough in the bowl, and cover with a towel.

Set your oven to 170 degrees for about 45 seconds. Turn off the oven and place your bowl in the warm oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until doubled.

Punch the dough down and separate into 6 pieces.

Add about 10 drops of food coloring to each piece. Knead the dough until the color is mixed.

Roll each piece into a rectangle on a greased cutting board. Pile the rectangles on top of each other. With a rolling pin, roll the pile of all colors down to about 1/2 inch.

Starting with the long end, roll the dough like a jelly roll. Place in a greased loaf pan.

Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
We made this bread again. I put the red color on the bottom this time. 

Easter Crafts

Days 13 and 14 of our Pot o'Activities:

These two crafts are Easter-themed. The first one, the bunny, is made from a paper plate and cottonballs.
I just drizzled glue all over the paper plate and David put the cottonballs on the glue. The ears are just white and pink construction paper glued on the top of the paper plate. We glued on some eyes, a puff ball nose, and pipe cleaner whiskers and mouth. (Tacky glue works best.)

The chick is just made from construction paper. We cut an oval shape out of yellow construction paper. David traced his fingers for the feathers of the chick. We used a fastener to attach the wings to the body. The beak and legs are just orange construction paper glued on to the body. We also glued on some eyes and wrote Happy Easter on the chick.

These are very simple crafts that only take a couple of minutes to complete.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Visit the Library

Day 12: A Trip to the Library

If you didn't know, March is Reading Month. This is a perfect opportunity to visit your local library.
Our local libraries are treasures that are so often overlooked.

Personally, my town library is extremely small--it is housed in the back of the town fire hall. With that being said, my kids love going there. Their faces light up on our trips there. And, as soon as we get home, they want to read every book we checked out. Our house is full of books, but our books just aren't the same as the books from the library. There is a heightened sense of urgency to read the books they just checked out.

I challenge you to take your children to the library. I bet you will see the same excitement. Reading 20 minutes a day will give your kids an education and vocabulary that will amaze you. Use the library to help build a love for books! Your kids will thank you.

Shamrock Rice Krispie Treats

Day 11: Mix about 5 cups of Rice Krispie cereal, a handful of green candies (I used M&Ms), and some green sprinkles together.
Over medium-high heat, melt 1/4 cup of butter in a tall saucepan. Add 5 cups of marshmallows. Put in 2-4 drops of green food coloring. Stir until marshmallows are melted.
Remove from heat. Stir in cereal mixture.

Dump the mixture on a baking sheet. Spray a shamrock cookie cutter with cooking spray and cut out your shapes.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Indoor Baseball

This is the time of year that my boys get "spring fever". They can't wait for baseball season to start, but it is too wet and cold to play it outside. So...we created indoor baseball with a balloon and a soft baseball bat. It is especially good for my 4-year-old. It has really helped him work on his batting stance and how to keep his eye on the "ball".  Even my 1 1/2-year-old has started taking swings with the bat.  We all take turns being the pitcher and outfielders. It really is a fun family game.
(They haven't broken anything, and they have played a lot of games. The balloon really is harmless.)