Monday, August 30, 2010

Back To School...Time For a Snack!


Today Rebecca & Maggie's boys head back to school after a long and wonderful summer break. But what makes this extra-special is that Jonah and Jack are starting kindergarten (*sniff* where did the time go??)! So to make this day super-special, we wanted to come up with a fun after school snack. We came across this recipe for cookie cups, although the original recipe uses them to serve ice cream. While we thought ice cream wasn't the best idea for a snack, we thought these would make fun bowls for fruit salad, making this both fun and (sort of) healthy!

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

First, cream the shortening, butter and sugar in a large bowl. Then add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended. In a separate bowl sift together the salt, baking powder, and flour. Then mix it little by little into the batter. Then stir in the chocolate chips. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
Heat the oven to 375ยบ. Using upside down muffing tins, cover the cup bottoms with squares of aluminum foil (use every other cup so there's some space between them). Grease the foil and set it aside.

Unwrap your dough, place it between 2 sheets of waxed paper, and roll it out to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out 4-inch circles of dough and place each one over a cup bottom, smoothing out any cracks (we did this and still ended up with small cracks in our bowls - oh well!).

Bake the cookie cups for 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown. Let them cool for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and cookies together from the muffin pan. Peel off the foil and let the cups cool completely on a rack. AS you can see from the pics, ours didn't turn out nearly as pretty as the original recipe's, but looks aren't everything! :)
Just before serving, fill each cookie cup with some yummy fruit salad (or ice cream if you prefer). Makes about 10.

We know our kids are going to love this tasty surprise after their big day back. We hope yours do, too!
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bugs Be Gone!

The mosquitoes in our area have been terrible this summer. Lots of rain has created a great breeding ground for the little buggers. We are getting tired of smelling like bug spray. Last time we went to the store they were out of bug spray. Luckily one of our homemade papas saw a news clip about repelling mosquitoes without using bug spray.

They recommended rubbing your clothes down with dryer sheets before going out. Tuck the sheet in a belt loop or out of a pocket. We tried it while gardening and found it worked well. Plus you smell great (not like you have been gardening in the sun). Its great when you know you aren't going to be outside for a long time and you don't want to spend the rest of the day smelling like deep woods off (like when you need to walk the dog).

The other tip they suggested was using a mixture of 25% antiseptic mouthwash and 75% water. Place mixture in a spray bottle and spray around your outdoor seating area to keep bugs away. Repeat as necessary.
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Unclogging the Ugly Truth

Ok...we know it's really gross to think about, but even as adults many of us still battle such adolescent problems as blackheads. YUCK!

But never fear! Your Homemade Mamas are here with this homemade pore cleansing mask recipe that not only works but saves you money too! It only requires two simple ingredients and a few minutes of your time, and you will soon be sporting clearer, cleaner skin!

What you need:
  • 1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. milk
In a microwave-safe bowl, mix the gelatin and milk together, then heat in your microwave for about 12 seconds. Stir the mixture, then carefully apply to the problem areas of your face (being careful not to put it too close to your eyes). Let the mask dry completely (about 15 - 30 minutes), then carefully peel it off. The junk clogging your pores should be stuck to the mask much like when you use those commercial pore strips (we decided not to share a picture of that!!)...but for a fraction of the price!
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Carpet Freshener

After having a party for an eight year old and sixteen of his friends,
(and one stinky little dog) we noticed the carpet was smelling not so fresh. Luckily the latest issue of Ready Made magazine came. One reader shared their recipe for carpet freshener. They used a box of baking soda, and a combination of several different kinds of essential oils. We decided to try this, but using our favorite scent pearberry. It is really fresh and nice for the summer.

First empty the box of baking soda into a bowl and add 25 drops of oil. Mix really well with a fork. Put into a clean empty shaker jar (like a Parmesan container) and liberally shake on your carpet.

Let stand for at least 30 min. We left ours on overnight. Then vacuum your odors away!

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Star Wars Birthday Party - May the Force Be With You!

Eight year old Ben just celebrated his birthday! It had to be a Star Wars party! We invited 16 friends over to watch Star Wars - A New Hope. We had legos and Star Wars figures set up when the guest arrived. The kids built their own star ships. When everyone arrived we put on the movie. The kids played and watched the movie. For a movie snack we ate goldfish crackers and star Wars fruit snacks that we found at Kroger (store brand). After the movie the kids came upstairs for dinner. We had C-pizzi-o and Yoda Soda. We came up with our own recipe. We made limeade with plain seltzer instead of water. Then we spooned in lime sherbet (about a half a tub per batch) to make it frothy. A drink that looks like it came out of the swamps of Degoba.
The cake depicts the scene when Anakin and Obi-wan battle on the river of lava on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. We melted chocolate chips on a sheet of waxed paper and let it cool. We iced our cake with red, orange and yellow frosting, letting it drip and ooze off the cake. Then we topped the cake with broken pieces of the chocolate. We stuck the figures on with a little melted chocolate. It was really easy, but everyone was impressed.
For party Favors we made light sabers out of pretzels covered in candy melts. We even found individual pretzel bags at Michael's.
We also gave out these cute Star Wars cookies. The cookie stamps can be found at Williams and Sonoma.
Each child got one of each.
The highlight of the party was hunting down Darth Vader...
...and attacking him with silly string!! (Daddy was such a good sport!!)

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homemade Baking Mix

We all know about the product Bisquick, the convenient baking mix that you can use to make all kinds of tasty treats. But, as usual, we wanted to see if we could make a homemade version that worked just as well while being easier on our wallet. So we turned to this recipe from Hillbilly Housewife (is that a great name or what??), and it worked out great! And it's a great money-saver! So of course we wanted to share it with all of you!



What you need:
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 cup baking powder
  • 2 cups solid vegetable shortening
OR
  • 10 cups self-rising flour (it has all the salt and baking powder in it you don't need to add more!)
  • 2 cups solid vegetable shortening
In a large bowl, mix all your ingredients together (your hands are the perfect tool for the job!). Make sure it's a big bowl because this makes a LOT! Once it's all combined, store it in a large air-tight container or large zip lock bag. No refrigeration required!

How do you use it? Simply use it in recipes calling for baking mix or Bisquick! As a test run, we made Chicken and Dumplings....

....as well as the chocolaty cookies in these delectable little Ice Cream Sandwiches!
And both were a huge success! Happy cooking!
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Fabric Bead Necklace

Rebecca and Maggie's mom gave us a big bag of marbles assuming we'd be able to come up with something creative to do with them. We have been stumped for a while now! But a couple days ago inspiration struck, and we decided to make a Fabric Bead Necklace, using marbles instead of beads!
What you need:
  • large or medium beads (or in our case, large marbles!)
  • fabric
  • embroidery floss
Cut a strip of fabric about the length you want your finished necklace to be, with extra for tying around your neck. Make sure it is wide enough to wrap around your beads with a little extra for a seam allowance. Fold it in half, right sides together, and sew the length of it to make the casing for your necklace.

Turn your casing inside out and drop your first bead inside it. wrap a piece of embroidery floss around the base of the bead a few times then knot it. Add another bead, tie more floss, and continue until your necklace is complete!
Now you have a stylish necklace that cost you almost nothing to make! The nice part about this project is that you can customize it any way you'd like. You can add embellishments like the flowers on this fabric necklace or make a bracelet instead!
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spice Up Your Life!

Like so many of us, every time Jill decides to whip up some tacos, burritos, or taco dip she seems to be missing the key ingredient - the SEASONING! She knew there was a way she could make it at home and save herself over $1 a packet! After a few tries, and with the help of her lovely niece, this is what she came up with - and it's so yummy! This recipe can be both kid and adult friendly (depending on your level of cayenne) and it doesn't have that super salty taste that store-bought mixes sometimes do.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
**Optional: For spicier seasoning, you can add up to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, but for a kid-friendly version, the cayenne is left out.

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container at room temperature.

Using for tacos: Combine 2 tbsp with 3/4 cup of water per 1 lb cooked & drained ground beef. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 - 12 minutes.


Using for taco dip: Use 1 1/2 tbsp per 16 oz of sour cream. This can be adjusted to your personal preference.

This is a versatile recipe so have fun with it!
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Monday, August 2, 2010

Finger Paints!

Being stuck indoors on a rainy day can be a fun time with a little creativity! On just such a day we turned to our kitchen cupboards and (with the help of this recipe) found all the ingridients needed to make Homemade Finger Paints!
What You Need:
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar (we were out of regular sugar, so we successfully used brown sugar!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cold water
  • food coloring
In a medium pan, mix all the ingredients together. Cook over low to medium-low heat 10 to 15 minutes (we found it took longer, though, so be patient). Keep stirring the finger paint mixture until it is smooth and thick. A whisk works great for keeping the mixture smooth. After the finger paint has thickened take the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool.

After cooling, divide the finger paint into containers depending on how many colors of paint you are planning to make. Add a few drops of food coloring to each container.

And now you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get messy!

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