Thursday, April 28, 2011

Earth Friendly Party

Over the past weekend, Maggie and Rebecca were in the St. Louis area visiting family. They had a little free time, and decided to visit the The Butterfly House in Chesterfeild, MO.

As you can see the boys had a great time climbing on the giant caterpillar.

It was even fun to get eaten by the giant caterpillar!

Inside they were surprised to find (besides lots of butterflies and other bugs) an Earth Day Celebration going on. They realized the activities would make for a fun and educational children's birthday party. (or anytime activities)

There was nature themed face painting.

The kids played water bottle bowling. The bottles had a little gravel at the bottom for added weight. The balls seemed to be made out of recycled paper pulp.

Acorn toss - which was a lot like Bozo's Buckets - but with acorns. You could use pine cones or some other natural materials to toss.

Not sure what this game was called, but the kids loved it. They tossed a rope with a small paper pulp balls on each end. They had to catch them on the poles to win a prize.

There was also several craft tables set up. The kids made pine cone bird feeders, paper towel tube rain sicks, plastic tub wind socks, toilet paper tube bees and our favorite - seed bombs!

They kids had a blast and learned a little something too.

Add a birthday cake on some reusable plates and you have a great children's party!

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Sour Cream and Cherry Coffee Cake

Let's end the month of April on a YUMMY note with this recipe for coffee cake! What a delicious (and easy) way to start the morning!

1 - 18 oz package of white cake mix
1 - 8 oz container of sour cream
3 large eggs
1/4 cup water
1 - 21 oz can of cherry pie filling


Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix together sour cream, eggs, and water. Fold into cake mix and mix until well blended.

Spread into baking dish and spoon the cherry pie filling on top. Swirl the cherry filling into the batter to prevent the cherries from settling down into the middle.

Bake 35 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through.

Cool in pan and drizzle with icing* if desired.

*Icing Recipe:
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and drizzle over coffee cake!
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tough As Nails

Having been a habitual nail-biter since kindergarten, Maggie has decided to finally break this bad habit and grow some "big girl nails". To help her poor, abused nails grow long and healthy, we decided to look into making a Gelatin Nail Strengthener (we found this one on Gelatin is a cheap, easy, and convenient way to build strong, beautiful nails!

What You Need:
  • 1/2 oz Gelatin
  • 1 cup water
Put the gelatin into a glass bowl. Pour the water into a teakettle or saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, pour the water into the bowl with the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Allow the mixture to cool so that it is still warm but not so hot that it will burn you.

The original instructions we found said to fill a shot glass with the warm gelatin mixture and then dip one finger in and let it soak for 2 minutes...

But who has the time to dip one finger at a time? Just fill a small container with the mixture and dunk 5 finger tips in at once. Once finished, wash and dry your hands. Using a nice moisturizer is a good idea, too.

Pour any unused gelatin mixture into a resealable container and it will keep in the fridge for about 2 months!

Of course, as gelatin tends to do, it will firm up quickly in the fridge. Just scoop out the desired amount next time you want to pamper your nails and warm it in the microwave for a couple seconds. It will be melted quickly and be ready to use!

And soon you will see healthy, happy nails!
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Bunny Pancakes!

You may have noticed we love pancakes! They are so versatile and of course lots of fun. We saw these pancakes in a e-mail we received from Chicago Parent Magazine. We knew they would be perfect for Easter morning. If rabbits aren't your cup of tea, you could make another shape using the same technique. First we made a big batch of our favorite pancake batter. We found it worked better when we left the batter on the thick side.
We divided the batter into a small batch that we dyed blue. Then we divided the rest in half. One batch was left white and the other was dyed pink. We put the batter into zip lock baggies. Then we cut small holes in the corner of each bag. Pull the cut end up so it doesn't pour all over your counter. Preheat your pan and "draw" the eyes, mouth and inner ear with the blue and white batter. Watch out for the side of the pan. We burnt a hole in the bag of batter and had a real mess!!!

Fill in the bunny face with the pink batter. They look better after they flip.

Add chocolate chips for the nose. You could also use m & m s, raisins or nuts.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Apple Butter Tea

This is a refreshing treat that can be served over ice or is perfect served warm on early morning that is still chilly!

12 cups of water
2 Family sized tea bags
½ cup apple butter


Follow instructions on tea bags and while tea is hot, add apple butter. This smells and tastes so delicious - it is like a warm mulled cider. Serve over ice. *FYI - if your husband is one of those that just puts the ice cube trays back in the freezer without refilling them, may want to check on that before planning on using this as an iced version - we learned that the hard way!

If tea isn’t sweet enough add more apple butter. This is perfect blend for those who do and don't like sweet tea!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Let's Celebrate With Cheese!

Who knew today was National Cheese Fondue Day?! When we heard about it, we knew it was a holiday we could get behind! To help you celebrate, we wanted to share a fabulous fondue recipe we found on The Neely's Fiery Fondue! This recipe is not only cheesy and flavorful, but it was very light as well...or as light as a glorious pot of melted cheese can be. Don't let the name fool you - we found that it wasn't as spicy as we were expecting, and might even add more chipotle the next time we make it. And there will be a next time!

What You Need:
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages white Cheddar, shredded
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages Monterey Jack , shredded
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces light beer
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 chipotle chiles, minced
  • Vegetables, fruit and cubed bread for dipping
First, place your shredded cheeses in a bowl and mix in the flour thoroughly. This will thicken up your fondue.

In a saucepan, mix together your beer, garlic, and chipotles. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes.

Next, add your cheese a handful at a time, allowing one handful to melt completely before adding the next. Add more beer if your mixture is too thick and more cheese if it is too thin. When your mixture is hot and melty, pour it into your fondue pot. Dip in your fruit, veggies, and bread and prepare for cheesy, tasty loveliness!
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Homemade Chewie Granola Bars!

We were surprised how easy homemade granola bars are to make. You can customize them with your favorite ingredients and you can cut them as big or small as you like. We are addicted to these delicious granola bars. They make an excellent snack. Pair them with some yogurt and a piece of fruit for a hearty breakfast. We played around with several different recipes until we came up with this recipe. To change the recipe you want to have about 6 cups of granola - with at least 2 cups of oats. If you use nuts, crush them. The bars will hold together better. You can even change the brown sugar to honey ratio if you want more of a brown sugar taste. If you add peanut butter you can cut back on the butter.

Our Recipe:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats

  • 1 cup rice crispies

  • 1 cup shredded coconut

  • 1/2 cup wheatgerm

  • 1 cup craisins

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

  • 4 T butter or margarine

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 2/3 cup honey

  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Leave a couple inches of parchment on either side of the pan for easy granola bar removal.

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine coconut and oats (nuts if you are using them) on a cookie sheet and toast for 8 min.

*** Stir every few min - or the coconut will burn!!! ***

Burned coconut tastes terrible!!!

Turn the oven down to 300° Mix honey, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and the vanilla in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring frequently. Turn down to simmer and cook for a minute or two until the sugar has dissolved.
In a large bowl mix the rice crispies, wheat germ, craisins and the toasted oat mixture.
Pour the honey mixture over the granola and stir to evenly coat. Add the mini chocolate chips and lightly mix.
Dump mixture into your prepared pan and press down firmly. We found that a greased potato masher worked really well. Greased hands or the back of a greased spoon can also be used.
Ben loved doing this!
Bake in the 300° oven for 15 min. You can bake them for 25-30 minutes if you like crispier granola bars. Let the bars cool completely before cutting. They will take about 2 hours to be completely firm.
Cut your bars in squares or chunky rectangles. Store in an airtight container or wrap individually for a convenient grab and go breakfast or snack!
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Monday, April 4, 2011

T-Shirt ReVamp

Have an t-shirt that needs some pizazz? Here's an easy way to jazz up any t-shirt that you have hanging in your closet!


Using your ruler to evenly space the lines, draw lines across the back of the shirt-evenly spacing vertically and horizontally.

Once you've completed the number of slits you want in the back, start cutting!

You can also cut inside seams around the sleeves and collar to give it that extra edgy look!

Ta-Da! From drab to fab!
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