Monday, April 30, 2012

Jedi Training Camp

Yesterday was Jack's 7th birthday, and when he was asked what kind of party he wanted, we have to admit that we groaned a little bit at his answer: A Star Wars party. (If you are new to our little blog, you should know that we have already done TWO Star Wars themed parties for Rebecca's boys Ben and Jonah) While we love Star Wars, the thought of doing a third party with this theme made us want to throw up a little bit. But we saw coming up with ideas and activities as a creative challenge...and we LOVE a challenge!
Rebecca had the fantastic idea of turning the regular Star Wars Party into a "Jedi Training Camp" party, and Jack was thrilled with that idea! We made super-simple tunics for the party guests (made out of fabric from the sale table of our local fabric store!), as well as some Jedi robes for our boys (who also insisted on "Padawan braids").  We were a little worried that perhaps the other kids wouldn't share our boys' love of costumes, but they thought it was AWESOME! Plus they got to take them home as a party favor!

We then asked Ben, as the eldest in the group, to act as the Jedi master and help lead the younger kids in our activities. He jumped at the chance to break out his best Obi-Wan Kenobi voice!

We kept our activities really simple, having the kids do things like bounce "Force Trainers" (aka balloons) on their toy light sabers as well as do a Droid Hunt. Homemade Nana printed out simple pictures of various droids from Star Wars which we then colored, cut out, and hid around the house. Our Jedis-in-training then ran around looking for them and collecting them. So easy but so much fun for them!

Another simple-but-fun activity was your basic bean bag toss...with a twist! With brown fabric we sewed simple bean bags to make them look like rocks. We then took an old box, cut three hols in it, then Maggie let her boys paint it like crazy until it was a swampy greenish-black color. We then hot glued sticks, dried cattails, and other decorative plants to the outside and made a Degobah (the home planet of Yoda where Luke Skywalker trained. Yeah...we're nerdy like that...)-themed bean bag toss! The boys practiced using The Force to get their rocks into the swamp.

But for little Charlie the best part came later when he got to sit in the "swamp" and eat a snack....

And what would a party be with out cake? This time around we decided to make a Death Star cake, in which the candles on top were made to look like the lasers shooting out (A cake with lasers...what every mother dreams of making for her little ones!)

And of course there had to be the traditional Yoda Soda, loved by Jedis...

...and evil Emperors, too!

So even though we were reluctant to have yet another Star Wars party, we all had a blast. It was simple and FUN! And at the end, all the kids received certificates starting that they were now full-fledged Jedis! What could be better!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pop-up Pancakes!

We completely stumbled upon this recipe while looking for ideas for an upcoming Jedi Training party (yes - another Star Wars party is coming up!). In the side bar of make and takes we saw a link to Pop-up Pancakes. We had to find out what a pop-up pancake was! (You know how we love pancakes!) These pretty little pancakes are baked in the over in muffin tins! Just mix up the batter and bake! No need to stand over a hot griddle! So easy you can even make them on a school morning!

What you need:

1 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
6 eggs
1/4 cup of melted butter
dash of salt
mini chocolate chips (optional)
blender - you can mix by hand, but the blender makes it so easy!
24 count muffin tin well greased.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. We poured the eggs, flour, and milk into the blender and blended. Then we added the butter and blended again! Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins. We filled them up about 1/3 of the way full. You may notice we tried useing paper muffin liners in three of the cups. DO NOT USE PAPER LINERS! They did no turn out!
We baked them for 15 minutes.

While they baked we cut up some strawberries!

When they come out of the oven they are big and puffy! They sink down as they cool and make cute little pancake cups!

We topped them with strawberries and homemade cinnamon syrup! So amazingly good! We were hoping to save some to see how they would reheat, unfortunately there were none left!

We discovered that if you turn them over they look even prettier. How fun would it be to make these for a brunch and let your guest fill them with there choice of toppings!

We will definitely be making these again!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Shapeable Ice Packs

With warm weather comes fun days playing outside. And if your kids are anything like ours, the chances are pretty good that at least once a day someone will come into the house wailing in agony over a great injury they have received. Generally speaking, these horrific wounds are mostly imaginary (our kids are little hypochondriacs), but still they require to be treated with multiple band-aids and quite a bit of pomp and circumstance. So when we saw this idea to make our own Shapeable Ice Packs from One Good Thing we knew it would be perfect to treat our kids' bumps and bruises (both real and imaginary). These won't freeze completely so they mold to the affected area unlike the pointy, lumpy, and hard ice packs we would normally whip up.

What You Need:
  • 3 parts water
  • 1 part rubbing alcohol
  • resealable sandwich bags
  • food coloring, glitter, etc. (optional)

In a sandwich bag, mix your water and alcohol together (we found that 1 1/2 cups of water to a 1/2 cup of alcohol was about the right about for the size of our bags). At this point you can seal them up, but we decided to add a drop of blue food coloring to one, and glitter to the other (glitter and fun colors make wounds heal faster. It's a scientific fact).

Then pop them into the freezer until you need to put them on your little one's bumps...

Or your not-so-little one's...

If you are feeling extra-crafty you can whip up a neat little cover for these so that they aren't in direct contact with the skin (these suckers get COLD!), however we're lazy and just use a kitchen towel! :)

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Granola Power Balls!

Okay, so these aren't the prettiest looking snack, but wait til you taste them! Oats, peanut butter, coconut, chocolate and honey - what's not to like? These no-bake energy bites make a great snack or a quick breakfast on the go! We found this recipe and were so pleased to find that we had all the ingredients on hand. This recipe is a lot like other no-bake cookies, but uses healthier ingredients. You can change the ingredients to suit your tastes. Just keep the proportions the same. Try dried fruit instead of chocolate chips.

The recipe:
1 cup of old fashioned oats
1 cup of toasted shredded coconut
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter - we used sunflower butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Measure all the ingredients into a medium bowl and mix.

Line a plate or a cookie sheet with wax paper. Roll dough into balls. We made ours about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You might find it easier if you spray a little cooking spray on your hands.

Place in the refrigerator to chill. Then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week - although we highly doubt they will still be there after a week! The recipe made about 30 bites. It was hard to count, many disappeared as mom rolled them out!
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Monday, April 16, 2012

From Stained To Spicy!

A few months ago, Maggie's husband accidentally knocked a cup of coffee into her dresser drawer. A black and white shirt got most of the damage, and after washing it unsuccessfully we were pretty sure that we only had a couple of options: try to remove the coffee stains with some Homemade Stain Remover or toss it in the trash. But then we came across a wonderful idea from Delighted Momma: using the spice turmeric to dye fabric! While that crafty Momma actually used this method to tie dye, we thought it might be the perfect solution to covering up those stains and giving new life to this old shirt! (The stains don't show up very well in the picture below, but trust us! They are there! On the front, back, and collar of the shirt! Ugh!)

What You Need:
  • 3-4 Tablespoons turmeric
  • water
  • large pot
  • fabric (in this case a stained shirt)

Fill a large pot with water and add teh turmeric. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the turmeric simmers, soak your fabric in cold water. This will help the fabric take the dye.

Next, submerge the fabric in the hot turmeric/water solution and let it sit for about an hour, stirring it every so often. Leave it in longer for a deeper color.

We left ours in for an hour and it was plenty vibrant!

Once you are happy with the color, rinse it in cold water until the water runs clear. We then decided to throw it in the wash to see how the color held up. After washing it with a dark load in cold water and drying it the color was AMAZING! It hadn't faded and was a brilliant yellow! LOVE IT!! And the stains don't show a bit!

Three cheers for natural fabric dye!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Paint Your Shoes, Instead of Your Toes!

Rebecca had an old pair of cheap canvas shoes (from Target). They were looking sooo bad we had to make some paper liners to cover the bottom of the shoes. We couldn't show them to you all - they were that bad! Anyway, we saw these cute shoes on Pinterest that had been spruced up with nail polish. What a great idea! We knew the shoes we wanted to try painting!

Now we probably could have achieved the same effect using fabric paint since we were using canvas shoes, (the original shoes were leather) but that would have meant a trip to the craft store, and you know how it is when the crafting bug strikes! You want to make it now - and well, we had lots of nail polish!

What you need:
* pair of shoes
* painter's tape
* nail polish (or fabric paint)

Because we wanted our shoes to be painted only on the straps we covered the rest with painters tape.

We carefully painted the shoes. It took three coats to get the color the way we wanted it.

They turned out so cute! We weren't sure how long the nail polish would last on canvas. However, Rebecca has been wearing them for several weeks now, and so far, they still look perfect! Hmmmmm....what else can we paint?
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Hidden Rocks, Happy Surprise!

Spring Break is over around here, so time to get back to some crafting! We had a great time hanging out with our families this past week, so we're a little sad to see the kids go back to school...just a little.... :)

Maggie's youngest was sick for most of the week, so most of their time was spent at home. While he rested, she and her older son had a fun time with this simple project: They painted rocks! Ok, ok, not that earth-shatteringly exciting, but stay with us! It gets better!

What You Need:
  • smooth stones (take a walk around the neighborhood with your littles and pick some up!)
  • acrylic paint
  • brushes

Wash and dry your rocks. Then with your brush and paints you and your helper can create mini works of art on them! The brighter the better!

Leave them to dry for a little while

Now would be a good time to wash your hands.....

Once your rocks are done, you could simply put them in a bowl and admire your artistic skills...

...but Maggie and her boys decided to take a walk around the neighborhood and put the rocks in various places for other people to find, thinking it was a creative way to brighten someone's day and to welcome in spring! A fun way to spend an afternoon and put a smile on the faces of others!

We first saw this project on Pinterest, but no link was given, nor was a source credited. So to whomever first had the idea to hide painted rocks for others to find, thank you for the inspiration!

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break!

The Mamas are on Spring Break!

photo courtesy of

Check back on Monday April 9th for more craftiness!
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