Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 New Year's Eve Balloon Activity Countdown for Kids

After having such a great time last year with this New Year's activity, the kids and I are so excited to do this again tomorrow night. Here is a link to some of the activities we did last year: http://workingmomwonders.blogspot.com/2013/12/new-years-crafts.html 

I will update this as our party progresses tomorrow, but here are a few things that are all ready to go. 

All of the activities I have planned for the kids are inside each of these balloons. Each balloon has a time written on the outside. At the corresponding time, we will pop the balloon and uncover the activity. 

Here is a breakdown: 
1. Bake cookies
2. Complete a New Year's Trivia activity
3. Salt fireworks
4. Decorate cookies
5. Watch a family movie
6. Visit my concession stand for intermission
7. Make celebration play dough
8. Take pictures in our homemade photo booth (see our disco ball below)
9. Unwrap our surprise balls (see below)
10. 2015 Painting activity
11. Make fireworks in a jar
12. Complete yearly questionnaire
13. Play glow-in-the-dark ring toss
14. Play pin the 12 on the clock (see below)
15. Make confetti poppers
16. Toast in the new year and stand under the balloon drop

Also on the boys' list of things to do...make puppy chow, 2015 cheese bread, and homemade soft pretzels.

I bought a photo back drop from Wal-Mart to be used as our photo booth.

To make it look more like Times Square, I decided to make our own 2015 ball for the "ball drop". I blew up a balloon and covered a small section of the balloon with glue. Then I placed pieces of sequin on the glue. This was going to take a long time...

To speed up the process, I spread glue on the balloon and dipped it into a pile of sequin. Doesn't look as neat, but definitely less time consuming!! 

For the surprise balls, I found a small toy that each of the kids would like. Then I took a roll of streamer paper and wrapped the toy. It will take a while to unravel, but should be fun for them. 

For the pin the 12 on the clock game, I created a clock out of a paper plate. Then I cut out little square 12s for each person. There is a piece of tape on the back of each 12. The person closest to the 12 spot on the clock will win a prize. 

Our night wouldn't be complete without 2015 cheese bread. I used my cheese bread recipe and constructed the numbers (with the help of a pizza cutter). 
1 Tbsp yeast
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil or canola oil
3 cups flour (I used 2 cups white and 1 cup wheat flour)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Start by dissolving the yeast with the warm water. Add the honey. Let sit for a couple of minutes, until the mixture starts to bubble. 

Add the salt, oil, and 1 cup of flour. Stir with a wooden spoon. Slowly add the remaining flour. Knead with the hook attachment on your mixer for about 8 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, knead on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes. 
Grease the mixing bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for about an hour in a warm location (or until doubled). I warm my oven by setting it to 170 degrees for 30 seconds. I then turn the oven off and place the dough in the warm oven. 
When doubled, shape into the numbers and bake for 8-10 minutes at 450 degrees. 

Glow-in-the-dark ring toss: I just hot glued a pencil to a cup for this game. Then the kids tossed glow stick bracelets from the dollar store toward the cup. Because we played this in a dark room, I put a glow stick necklace around the cup so the kids knew where to throw the bracelets. 

These are the question forms we filled out. There was a spot to put their hand print, their accomplishments, and a list of some of their favorite things. 

For the confetti poppers, I just cut off the top of a pop bottle and placed a piece of tape around the edge. I put a balloon around the top and filled it with some confetti. When it was time, the kids pulled the balloon down and released it to let the confetti fly out. 

The celebration play dough was just microwave play dough we made black and put gold glitter in. The play dough recipe is 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 Tablespoon cream of tarter, 2 Tablespoons oil, and 2 cups water. Mix that together. Add about half of a bottle of black food coloring and microwave for one minute. Stir. Microwave another minute. Stir. Repeat this process until you have microwaved the mixture for a total of 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Put the dough on the counter and knead with your hands. The kids worked the glitter into the dough and used star cookie cutters to make designs. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fantasy Football Championship Cake

My 6-year-old son is one of the biggest sports' fans I have ever seen. Instead of playing with action figures or watching cartoons, he is running through plays with a ball in our living room or watching Sports Center. He can name countless players and tell all their stats and loves nothing more than watching games with his dad. 

So when we found out that he won his ESPN Fantasy Football league, it really was no surprise to me. But, he was very excited, so I made this cake and we had our own little celebration. (This was a free league, so he wasn't going to win any prizes from ESPN.) 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Peppermint Cheesecake/Pudding Dessert

I saw this recipe on Facebook, so I gave it a try this Christmas. It turned out great! I used peppermint essential oil instead of extract, and everyone loved it. (http://www.momontimeout.com/2013/12/chocolate-peppermint-4-layer-dessert/

It is a lot like my chocolate chip pudding cake, except the crust is different. http://workingmomwonders.blogspot.com/2013/04/chocolate-chip-cookie-pudding-cake.html

1 cup flour
1/2 cup crushed pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Cheesecake Layer:
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool Whip from a 12 oz container (the remaining is used for the top of the cake)
1 drop Peppermint essential oil

Pudding Layer: 
2 small packages of instant chocolate pudding
3 cups milk

Start by mixing the crust ingredients. Press into a 9x13 inch pan. (I sprayed the bottom of the pan with cooking spray.) Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Let that cool on a wire rack.

Mix the cheesecake layer in a bowl with a hand mixer. Spread on top of the cooled crust. 

Then mix the pudding and milk in a bowl and let set. Spread on top of the cheesecake layer. 

Add the rest of the Cool Whip to the top. I sprinkled candy cane peppermint sprinkles on top. You could shave chocolate as well. 

Santa Pancake

Using my pancake recipe (http://workingmomwonders.blogspot.com/2013/02/pancakes.html), we created Santa pancakes for Christmas morning breakfast. 
1 1/3 cup flour
 1 1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
red food gel or coloring

I placed a little bit of the batter in a bowl and colored it red with food gel. I placed the batter in a hot skillet. I just used a spoon to add the red batter in the shape of a hat. 

I used Reddi-wip to decorate the pancake. I cut blackberries in half for the eyes and added half of a  grape for the nose. 

Retirement Cake for Detroit Sports' Fan

A lady that works in our school's business office is retiring. She is a huge Red Wing's and Detroit Tiger's fan, so this is the cake I came up with for her. The only thing not done with a line tip is the star design around the edges.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Card Table Playhouse

When I was growing up, we had a cover that went over our card table and made a house. It provided so many hours of entertainment for us. I wanted to bring that same imaginative play to my own kids, so I searched pictures of playhouses on Pinterest and came up with this...

(I am definitely what one would call a beginner at sewing. Not much is sewed on this thing straight, but it still turned out pretty well. I have to sew the sides together yet, my felt food is not made, and I  want to add some more finishing touches--a clothesline--to the outside, but I will post when I finish that.)

I started by measuring my card table. I bought 4 yards of blue fabric to be used for the panels. This is just cotton fabric. Then I bought a yard of brown fabric to be used for the roof and the door and the logs in the fire. 

Most of the things I did on the inside of the house is made from the little pieces of crafting felt you can buy at Wal-Mart or Joann's, or places like that. 

I cut four panels for the sides of the house. (I did 1-2 inches more than what the table measured because I know I don't sew straight and I figured it was better to have more that I could cut off later as opposed to making it too small. 

Then I went to work on the panels. The first one I did was the door and mailbox. 

I cut out the size of door I wanted. I didn't even measure, jut cut it out. Then I sewed a piece of the brown fabric at the top of the door hole. The mailbox is a  piece of orange fabric I had. I sewed the two sides and the bottom to the blue fabric. This way the top opens so they can actually put their mail in it. I ironed on the numbers. The kids picked this address because it matches their ages. I wrote our last name with fabric markers. 

These pieces of mail are made from felt. 

I attached this panel to the roof. (I have no idea if this is the best way to sew it together, but I was nervous about it not fitting on top of the table, so I sewed it one panel at a time. I am sewing the sides together as a last step so I can add things to the panels if I find new ideas. 

The next panel was the fire place. I used red fabric to make the mantel. The black is crafting felt sewed together. The logs are made from scraps of fabric from the door, and the orange is also fabric. I used a lot of pins to hold this in place while I sewed it together. I sewed the logs and fire on the black felt before I sewed the whole thing to the fabric. Then I added this panel the roof. 

The next panel, and my personal favorite, is the kitchen. This whole thing is made from felt pieces. I sewed on the back of the refrigerator, then sewed a small door for the freezer and a larger door for the fridge. I added velcro to the doors so they stay shut. Then I sewed a couple of bowls (made from scrap fabric) inside the fridge. This is where the felt food will go when I finish that. There are also felt shelves sewed in here too.  Then I made the stove from pieces of felt as well. I sewed the stove together first and then attached it to the panel. It is so much easier to work with if you sew the pieces first before attaching. The pots have an opening at the top so the food can go in the pot. The baking pan in the oven has some felt cookies on it as well. The stove doesn't open up, but if I did it again, I might try to make that happen. 

The last panel has the feature the kids like the most...the dog door. The panel below is what this looks like on the outside of the house. I made the dog door from felt pieces. Above the dog door is a window. I made "curtains from fabric scraps I had. The curtain can be rolled up and held up with that piece of brown fabric hanging down. (It has velcro on the end of it.) 

The inside of this panel is the bedroom. (The brown square at the bottom is the dog door. It opens like the front door, so it is only sewed on the top. 

The bed frame is made from extra brown fabric. I sewed fabric on the bed for a blanket and white felt for a pillow. Then I sewed the last panel on the roof. 

Here are some pictures of the house while it is on the card table. 

We added a mini Christmas tree for extra light.

The sides aren't sewed together yet, because I want to add a clothesline to the outside panel that has the fireplace. I think I will try to add some accents to the top of the roof too because that sewing looks a little sketchy :) 

I sewed the sides together and added a few more things. I found some fabric that had large panels with Bible verses on them. I sewed one patch above the fireplace. 

I put another panel by the door. I found some precious moments fabric too that I decorarted the bedroom with too. 

And some kitchen fabric panels for the kitchen walls. 

The last thing I did was add a clothesline to one of the outside panels. We have some of Rachel's painted artwork hanging on it to dry already. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Three-Ingredient Chocolate Banana Bread

I saw a recipe that used a yellow cake mix to make banana bread, but I didn't have a yellow cake mix, so we tried something else. It turned out great! 

1 chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
4-5 small, mashed bananas

Place all three ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until incorporated. 
I bake my banana bread in a bundt pan, but it could be done in a loaf pan. Grease and flour the pan. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. 

Cool on a wire rack and then cut. 

Name Christmas Tree

We have been working on letter recognition with Rachel, so this was a great craft for her. 

We cut some green triangles and glued them to a piece of scrapbook paper. Then the kids wrote their name on the triangles. We glued on a star and a tree trunk. 

Christmas Tree Counting Craft

I cut a bunch of trees out of green construction paper. Then we cut some stars and glued them to the trees. David wrote the numbers 1-10 on his trees. Rachel had three trees. 

The kids glued the correct number of puff balls to the corresponding tree. 

Puff Ball Tree

We started with a styrofoam cone for this tree. Then the kids chose puff balls to hot glue to the cone. It is a really pretty decoration. 

Footprint Snowmen

I glued two pieces of 12x12 paper so we had enough room to put all three kids' footprints on here. 

They used Sharpie markers to decorate their snowmen.