Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ghost in a Jar

For weeks now our boys have been begging to "Halloweenify" the house, but we're making them wait until October 1st, which is this weekend. To help get the festivities started we wanted to find a fun Halloween craft. After seeing some of the cute projects where people turn jars into ghosts, we wondered if we could put a ghost in a jar! We knew the kids would get a kick out of that! We gave it some thought, and this is what we came up with!

What You Need:
  • clean jar with lid
  • gauze pad
  • small toy or object to shape your ghost
  • school glue
  • water
  • plastic wrap
  • construction paper
  • fabric, ribbon (optional)
First, wrap your small toy in plastic wrap. This will help you remove your ghost later.

Pour some glue into a small bowl and dilute it with water a bit (there are no exact measurements for this - just eyeball it).

Stand up your wrapped toy on a small dish. Then dip a single layer of gauze into the diluted glue. It will absorb a lot, so wring it out a bit. Then drape it over your toy, manipulating it to get the shape you want.
Let your ghost dry for a few hours or overnight...or if you are impatient like us, use the hairdryer!
When it is dry or almost dry, remove the stiff gauze from the plastic-wrapped toy. it will be flexible, which will help you put it in the jar later. Then using your construction paper, cut out some spooky faces and glue them to your ghost. Now insert your ghost into the jar and put on the lid. We then covered out lids with fabric and ribbon to make them more festive.

They are cute as-is, but look really neat with lights shining behind them!

Just don't take the lid off - they might escape! ;)
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Newsworthy Nails!

We have wanted to post this project for months! Unfortunately, none of the mamas have long, lovely nails. We kept hoping we might magically grow some, but that never happened. So use your imagination and picture this fun and funky nail art on your beautiful hands and not on these dishpan hands!

What you need:

  • nail polish (we used white so you could see it better, but almost any color would work)

  • rubbing alcohol

  • clear top coat

  • newspaper
Click here to watch a video of this process!

First paint your nails your base color. Let them thoroughly dry. Next, pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol in a small bowl or shot glass. Stick your finger in for about 5 seconds. Press a small piece of newspaper to your nail. Don't hold it for more than a couple of seconds, or it will start to stick. Pay attention to the direction of the newspaper type.

Finish off each nail with a coat of clear topcoat. Wash off your fingers to get any of the extra newsprint off your hands (you can use rubbing alcohol for this as well).

Even our little boys were impressed by how cool these came out!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sweet Sweet Nature

Sorry about the delay in posting today. We had a power outage. But better late than never!!

We have been doing quite a few food postings, but we can't help it when inspiration strikes! This latest treat was inspired by the rose bushes growing outside Maggie's house. With the cold weather lurking in the not-so-distant future, we know that we won't get to enjoy them for much longer. So to make the most of them we decided to try making Candied Rose Petals! This can be done with any edible flower, and add a fun, unexpected touch to cakes,cookies,or even just in a dish at tea time! You guests will think you bought them at some fancy store - shhh! We won't tell!

What You Need:
  • about 3 dozen organic rose petals
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten (grade A or AA well refrigerated & pasteurized) or if you are worried about using raw egg whites use powdered.
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (we used regular & it worked fine)
First, make sure your rose petals are completely dry.

Then dip each petal in the egg white, being sure to completely cover it. Then simply dip the petal into the sugar, also completely covering it.Even Jack enjoyed making this simple recipe!

Lay your sugary petals on wire racks to dry for several hours or overnight until they are hard and crystally!

Put them on sweets or just in a pretty dish and completely wow your guests!
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Technical difficulties

Sorry everyone. We have been experiencing technical difficulties. So check back later for Maggie's new post!!

Sent from my iPhone
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Monday, September 19, 2011

German Apple Cake

This past weekend, Rebecca and her boys went apple picking at a
local orchard. The boys had a great time picking 24 pounds of apples! Which of course means lots of apple recipes! The first recipe we always make is for German Apple Cake. Our family has been making this recipe for years! It came from our Grandmother's church cookbook. (We think from the early 80's!) One of her good friends, Betty Hammond donated this recipe. We all love this recipe. You only need a few simple ingredients and it can easily be doubled for a crowd.

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.

The Recipe:

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 2 cups of peeled, sliced apples

Cream sugar and butter. Beat egg and add to creamed mixture. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to butter mixture.Stir in apples. This may seem awkward. There is as much apples as there is dough. Don't worry, it will all work out in the oven. Lightly press dough into the pan. Bake for 40 - 50 min. until the top is puffed and crunchy looking. It should start pulling away from the edge. Cool and then enjoy! Try it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Delicious!

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Omelet Mug

School has started and so has the hectic morning routine! But you still want to give your kids a good breakfast that will stay keep them going until lunchtime. So thanks to Allrecipes and this recipe that we've modified you can give your kids a hot breakfast in minutes: an Omelet In A Mug! (yeah, you know we can't resist tasty treats in mugs!)

What You Need:
  • 2 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of cheese (but can you ever have too much cheese??)
  • veggies, meat...whatever else you want to throw in!
  • cooking spray
This is to stinkin' easy! First, spray the inside of your mug with the cooking spray. Then add your two eggs, cheese, milk, and other tasty ingredients. Mix them up and throw your mug into the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute. Stir, then cook for an additional 30 to 60 seconds. And TA-DA! A delicious hot breakfast! How simple is that??
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Surprise Muffins!

These muffins should be called double surprise muffins. One, they have a delicious surprise inside, and two, surprise they are made from pancake mix! Surprise! You may have noticed we love pancakes and pancake mix. We have made all kinds of pancakes, as well as biscuits made from pancake mix. You can imagine how excited we were when we found a whole section on dedicated to muffins made from pancake mix! We love this recipe because it is so versatile and simple. We have used it as a base for all different kinds of muffins. You can replace the oil with melted butter too - YUM! The pancake mix eliminates several other ingredients, making warm delicious muffins arrive even quicker!

Makes 12 muffins.

The Recipe:

  • 2 cups of pancake mix

  • 1 cup of milk

  • 1/3 cup of sugar (we used brown because we were out of white - either works)

  • 1 egg beaten

  • 1/3 cup oil

  • fruit preserves

    preheat oven to 425 °

Mix pancake mix and sugar together. Mix in milk, egg and oil, just until blended.
Line muffin tray, or spray with cooking spray.
Fill cups 1/2 way full with batter.They spoon about a teaspoon of fruit preserves onto each cup. Then top with the rest of the batter. Bake for 17-20 min. until golden brown.

Cool and enjoy!

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fungus Among Us!

We went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens this past weekend and saw that they had a whole exhibit on mushrooms, with tons of varieties to see and learn about. Who knew there were so many? We later took a walk and saw many beautiful ones on our own:

Also at this exhibit they had a little Homemade Mamas-style inspiration: Making spore prints! Apparently spore prints are a great way to identify mushrooms, but we thought they were just pretty and would make lovely autumnal artwork! The kids really got into this project, too! It's a great way in incorporate art and science.

What You Need:
  • various fresh mushrooms (both store bought & wild mushrooms can work great!)
  • paper
  • glass
  • knife
First, cut the stem from your mushroom, exposing the "gills" underneath.

Place your mushroom "gill" side down on your paper.

Then place a glass over the mushroom. The glass keeps air currents from disturbing the spores and giving you a better chance of getting a good print.

The glass also keeps curious cats at bay...As you can see, we did a whole bunch of these!

Now the hard part: waiting! Leave your mushrooms alone for a few hours at least (although we recommend you leave them overnight). Don't peek!

The next day, remove the glass and lift your mushroom cap straight up - try not to smudge your print. And you should have a lovely print of spores in the shape of your mushroom's "gills"!

We thought it might be fun to cover these with contact paper (to keep them from smudging), but we decided to frame them for a little fall art! This is an oddly addictive project, and one that the whole family got a kick out of!
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Homemade Gel Air Fresheners!

With 4 boys, 2 dogs, 2 husbands and a couple of cats between us - you sometimes need a little air freshener! But having 4 boys. 2 dogs, 2 husbands and a couple of cats, we worry about someone eating, licking or inhaling something that is not so good for them. So we loved this idea (and wondered why we hadn't thought of it ourselves) of making a gel air freshener out of unflavored gelatin! Safe for kids and pets!

You can customize your air freshener with any essential oil you like and use any glass container!

What you need:

  • one package unflavored gelatin

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • essential oil (15-20 drops depending on the scent)

  • small glass jar or bowl - this recipe makes one cup of liquid

  • 1 Tbl. salt (helps prevent mold)

  • food coloring - optional
So Easy! All you do is mix the ingredients together in a heatproof bowl. You want to make the essential oils to be a little stronger smelling than you would normally like. It will smell less as it cools. Let the gelatin dissolve. Stir and pour the liquid into the glass container of your choice. We decided to use some shot glasses and then place them all around the living room.

We found we preferred ours with no food coloring. They are less noticeable that way. The gel is slightly yellow when it firms up.

The air fresheners should last about a month!

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