Big BIG news!

Hey friends! 

I’ve got some big news to share with you, and I’m so excited about it!!!

Melody, the creator of grkids.com, is always thinking ahead of the game.  Really, you should see this lady’s mind go.  I’m in awe sometimes.  🙂

 

Anyway, we’re joining Sandy’s Spot, the grkids.com blog, and adding a few other fantastic parenting contributors, and we’re balling it all up into one awesome site:

 

Kids On the Grand

Come on over, check it out, take off your shoes, and get comfortable!  There’s a lot to read there, and there will be plenty of fun coming down the pike.  …and we’d like you to register your email address when you come to visit.  We can’t do this for you, and if you don’t register then your grkids.com blog updates will STOP showing up in your email.

While you’re there, play around with the newest feature:  share posts with your friends on facebook or twitter with just one click! 

Come on over to Kids On the Grand where Melody has just announced a new blog hop, Handmade for the Holidays, featuring lots of giveaways and a chance to win $25 from Mom N Mia!

Hope to see you all there!

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Gobblers you’ll LOVE to gobble up.

Do you have any Thanksgiving events to attend?

 

Bringing a dessert to pass?

 

Or just having a get-together with friends and want to provide a fun little refreshment?

Well, check out this gobbler!

Yum!

 

 

Really, these are VERY easy to put together.  Easy and quick.

 

I made enough of these bad boys this morning to cover my entire MOPS table.

In 15 minutes.

To make these choco-toms, you’ll need:

  • Chocolate covered cherries (one per turkey)
  • A base cookie.  Last year, I used chocolate covered Oreo’s.  This year, I used fudge covered Grahams (they were on sale) 
  • Anna’s Chocolate Mint wafers.  I found these at Family Fare, but I’ve seen them at almost every big box grocery store.
  • A jar of chocolate frosting
  • Candy Corns.  I did not realize these were such a seasonal candy.  Most stores are out of them.  I had some left over from Halloween, but I’ve seen them in the Brach’s section at Meijer.

Ok, this is what you’ll need to make one turkey:

First, take two candy corns and cut them in half.

Keep the small pointy sections and set aside. 

Take the large halves, dip them in frosting.  Eat.  Enjoy.

Ok, back to the turkeys…

Place some frosting on part of your base cookie.  Place the chocolate covered cherry sideways on top of the frosting.

Take some more frosting and affix the chocolate mint wafer to the back of the chocolate covered cherry.

If you have a lot of frosting on between the base cookie and the cherry, you can just stick the two cut candy corns in there so they resemble feet.  Otherwise, add a small amount of frosting and place them on the base cookie close to the bottom of the cherry.

Take the un-cut candy corn, put a small amount of frosting on a flat side, and place it on the front of the cherry as the head.

Enjoy!

Gobble, yum, gobble!

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Halloween Craft #2

As holidays approach, I’m finding my craftista zen again.  Oh, how I’ve missed crafting!

Upcoming holidays really make my fingers twitch to get dirty with glue, glitter and paper pieces.

Hooray for Halloween!

Most of us found ourselves trapped in the basement with our kids on Tuesday morning. 

On the way down the steps, I grabbed as many craft items as my arms would carry. 

I knew I needed to keep anxious little (and big) hands busy.

 

I read about this craft on a blog* some time ago, and knew this was something I could do easily with my boys.  So, without further adieu:

For this craft, you will need:

  • a paper plate
  • An orange crayon
  • A yellow crayon
  • Scissors
  • String

Yep!  That’s it!

Step One:  Turn the plate over, and draw two circles. 

Sorry about the lighting here.  Remember, basement = bad bad lighting.

 

Step Two:  Have them color the outside ring orange, the middle ring yellow, and leave the center white. 

Adam (6) did very well with this.  Colin (3) just kind of colored all over the place.  But, hey, he was busy and stuck to it for 30 minutes…so who am I to criticize?

Step Three:  Cut your plate into eight equal (or, at least, equal-ish) pieces.

Step Four:  Hang on your string!

Enjoy your Halloween/ Fall Garland!

 

*again, I failed to bookmark this craft on the original blog.  I searched for it, but could not find it.  If you are the author of this craft, or know where it is listed, please let me know!  I would LOVE to give credit to the awesome craftista who created such easy awesomeness.

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Halloween Craft #1

We did this craft in our MOPS chapter on Thursday.

Don’t worry, I’m not copying the craft coordinator, because I am the craft coordinator.  🙂

I found this on a blog long long ago, and it stuck in my mind as something fun and low cost to do.

(note: I spent the last hour combing blogs to find the post to link to.  I’d LOVE to give credit where its due, but I cannot find it.  If this idea is yours, PLEASE email me the link, and I’d be happy to link up and declare your praises as a great craftista!)

For this craft you will need:

  • A glass vase, cylinder, whatever.  It needs a bottom and four sides.  I got mine from The Dollar Tree
  • 1/3 of a sheet of orange tissue paper
  • Paint brush ( a wider one)
  • Mod Podge
  • Black self-stick vinyl (or a piece of black paper)

Start by cutting your tissue paper into different width strips.  I varied them from 3/4 of an inch up to 2″ apart.

Start by applying some Mod Podge all the way down your glass.  I worked in chunks covering 1/4 of the way around.

Hint:  It’s easier to apply and control mess if you can fit your hand inside the cylinder.

 

Next, start applying your tissue strips.  Helpful hint:  I you put the finished side at the top and smooth your strip down from there, you can tear the strip off at the bottom and reuse the remaining strip on the other side.  Waste not!

 

Then, start placing the different widths next to each other. 

Make sure you overlap each strip a bit (or a lot…). 

It’s the overlapping that will give your completed project some fun dimension.

Continue this way until the entire surface is covered with long strips of the tissue paper.

Then, go back over the entire tissue paper with another coat of Mod Podge.

It will be milky white when you paint over the orange.   Allow to dry for an hour or two.

When dry, the ModPodge will be clear:

Then, pull out your piece of black self-sick vinyl (I used my Cricut raven vinyl), draw your face on the back side and cut out.  If you want to use black paper instead, just glue it on.  Mod Podge will cause the color in the paper to bleed.

Place candle in your cylinder, and light!

 

Enjoy!

 

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The best piece of advice I received from my dentist had nothing to do with teeth.

I have a piece of advice for you, my friends.

This was the best piece of “what to do with this” type advice.

And it came from my dentist.

Which, for those of you who know me and my absolutely physically- debilitating  dementia-inducing phobia of dentists, is a miracle that I remembered it.

Every year around this time, I am thankful that he told me about this idea.

Especially now that my youngest, Colin, is in preschool this year.

It’s October, and much of the beginning of the school year artwork is starting to make its way home.

Case in point:  my refrigerator.

 

Then the next one comes home, then the next one….and the list goes on and on.  What happens when the real estate on the cold box is at capacity?

Have you ever seen the look on your child’s face as you throw their artwork away?

devastation.

So, my dentist (who has 4 kids) gave me a piece of advice.  Honestly, I don’t know how the conversation got to this point…please excuse that bit of information (refer to:  the aforementioned dementia-inducing phobia).

He said, “Sandy, get a rubbermaid container.  One for each child.  Put their name on it.  When artwork comes home, display it for three days and into the bin it goes.”

So, I did.

I’d only add one thing:  put their age or grade on the back

That way if you go through it, you know how old they were when they made a self-portrait that looked like “amoeba man.”

I already had one for Adam…which was a fantastic thing.

Now, Colin’s in school.

I ran to WalMart.  I picked up a Sterlite 14 quart flap box for $9.55.

I don’t witness any heartbreak or devastation when I put the artwork into the art bins. 

The boys seem to think they are little time capsules that will preserve their hard-earned art forever and ever.

 

The bins are kept in my garage.  Next to the pipe insulation.

Cause that’s where all of our family treasures are kept, of course.

Ten Bucks.

Art Bins.

Smiley Boys.

The End.

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Three ingredient Desserts- my favorite kind

  

Here’s another awesome kids-in-the-kitchen moment. 

  

You guys up for some yummy dessert? 

  

Yeah, me too. 

  

See?  This is why I like you guys so much- you dessert lovers out there.  🙂 

  

For this recipe, you’ll need: 

– one box of cake mix.  Preferably spice cake or devils food.  (I’ve also made this with yellow – since I’m gluten free, my choices are rather limited.  If you want my honest opinion, the spice cake variation is dah-bomb.) 

– One Can of pumpkin.  Real pumpkin.  Not the pumpkin pie filling.  I purchase the larger jars because I like my mix to be very moist, and the small cans just don’t quite cut it.   (I’ve heard that thanks to a light crop this year, canned pumpkin will be in short supply.  You can make pumpkin yourself as well.  Just find a 4-6″ radius pumpkin, cut it in half, scoop out seeds, place in shallow baking pan w/ 1/2 inch water and cook at 375 for 1 hour.  Scoop out the “meat”, and you have yourself some cooked pumpkin.  Easy Cheesy.) 

– Chocolate chips – optional.  (However, if you live in my house….chocolate is never optional.) 

Ok…now.  There’s a few different ways you can make this recipe.  There’s muffins, mini-muffins, and cookies. 

  

Yep, one recipe.  Three ways.  

Variety is the spice of life, right? 

  

 

As you can see above, I opted for the mini-muffin route this time around.  Colin is modeling the spray I use for the mini-muffin pan.  I normally use Wilton’s cake-release spray, but this one isn’t Wilton…I can’t remember which one it is.  It’s ok for me to have…so I went with it.  If you making regular muffins, just put the paper liners in the tins and you’re all set.  Cookies?  Grab the sheet.  That’s it. 

Next?  Mix the three ingredients.  Yep.  That’s it.  Mix ’em up! 

I usually start with the cake mix in the bowl.  Then I add pumpkin until everything is moistened.  This may or may not be the entire contents of the can.  If you’re using the larger can, it definitely won’t be the entire contents of the can.  Note:  if you’re making cookies- I’ve used the small can of pumpkin, added the entire thing, and the batter is just moist enough to hold the drop cookie shape on the cookie sheet. 

Once the mix and pumpkin are best buddies (i.e. all mixed up), add the not-so-optional chocolate chips until you feel there’s enough chocolate in there to satisfy a sweet tooth. 

Then, distribute into your tins/ onto your cookie sheet. 

Bake at 375 for approximately 9-11 minutes. 

 

Here’s my mini-muffins cooling on my messy table.  🙂 

One more thing:  The pumpkin in these desserts keeps them very moist.  Therefore, if you keep them in an air tight container for a few days, you will develop well….shall I say a science project?  If you’re not serving them right away, my advice would be to place them in a ziplock in the freezer.  Pull a few out at a time, nuke them for approximately 14 seconds before serving.  They taste yummy-good when freshly warmed. 

Another note:  Since these are made with pumpkin, there’s a built-in satiety net to them.  You see, pumpkin has a LOT of fiber in it.  A LOT.  You eat too many, and your body will not thank you.

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Fall Craft! (and bonus family time)

What can I say?  I love fall.

 

The colors, the smells, the harvest, the crispy air…

 

….it does my soul good.

 

I realized that we haven’t done a craft together in some time!

 

Let’s fix that, shall we?

 

For this craft, you will need:

-Scissors

– Clear contact paper

Optional: construction paper

Trees that look like this:

 

Our little family took a walk through Ada Park.  Did you know that its an arbor park?  There are over a hundred different species of trees there!  We collected a few leaves along the trail.  We also came home and found a few more pretty colors, so we added them to our pile.

Then, I unrolled the contact paper and cut a straight line across the roll at the 16″ mark.  I peeled off the paper, and placed one piece of contact paper in front of each boy sticky side up.  They each took turns picking a leaf out of our pile and applying it to the “sticky paper.”

 

Note:  you may want to encourage them to leave at least 1 inch along the perimeter without any leaves- it enables a better seal.

If you want to take it to the next level, you can cut the letters from their names (that’s what the optional construction paper is for) , and let them stick their names on the sticky paper too.

When the boys were done arranging their leaves, I cut another 16″ piece of contact paper and stuck it to the top of the leaves- essentially making a contact paper/leaf sandwich.   If you’re like me, lining the edges up perfectly is near impossible.  Do your best, and trim the edges after.  🙂

Now, the boys have fall placemats to eat off that will last for the entire season!

Note:  I found my roll of clear contact paper at Wal-Mart for $5.84.  I purchased the larger roll, so I’d have more contact paper to do more placemats with the boys every year.  Each placemat used 32″.  The total cost per placemat was $.86.

Have fun and enjoy some family time!

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Winners!

Thank you, everyone for joining in on the giveaway post!  I had so much fun reading through the first day of school memories.  The winners, chosen by random.org are:

Andrea, Jennifer and Marci

Congratulations, ladies!

You should be receiving an email from the JBF sale that will contain your pre-sale pass.  Bring that pass to the desk on pre-sale night and they will gladly give you your new t-shirt!

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A few (read: THREE) tricks up my sleeve.

Ok friends. 

I told you I had a few tricks up my sleeve, right?

Well, time to let them out.

Our super awesome friends at the Just Between Friends Sale are giving away an additional THREE pre-sale bundles!

Yes, THREE!

 

To enter?

Simply leave a comment below this post telling us about your favorite first-day-of-school memory.  It can be yours, a family member’s or your own children’s.  I can’t wait to read them all!

Winners will (again) be chosen at random on Friday, September 17.

Good luck!

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Lunch Box Series: Part 2

For most of your children, today marks the second day of school.  Happy Second Day!!!  I hope this year is a great one for all of us!

Our eldest son has already been in school for a week.  We’re already in the routine.  I have to say that I’m happy to be back at it.  Summer was crazy and hap-hazard, and my boys really do better with a set schedule.

A few weeks ago, I posted the first of the Lunch Box series talking about using reusable containers.  Well, now I want to talk about what goes into those containers.  Specifically, the treat portion of the lunch.

I need to preface this by saying my family is really trying to make strides in making healthy food choices.  I enrolled in a nutrition class that has turned my thinking about food upside down, and it’s nice to be making choices that I know are healthy ones for my family.  That being said, I was shopping for Adam’s lunch last year, and went to pick up a Little Debbie treat for him.  I thought, “Hmmm, let’s see what’s in here first.”  I turned the package around…and about threw up.  I could hardly pronounce any of it!  So, back on the shelf it went, and I started looking up recipes to make ahead.

The first one, and my personal favorite (since its gluten free!!!) is the Monster Cookie.  There’s no flour in the cookie, just oats and peanut butter.  You can add in the fillers if you want (we do both chocolate chips and M & M’s) to make it more appealing to younger eyes.  Now, I do know of a few elementary schools that are completely peanut free, so this wouldn’t work for them…but for the rest of us, Monster-Cookie-Party!!!  These are inexpensive to make, and one recipe makes 6 dozen, so they’re good for freezing.  I made my first batch in the first week of August.  My husband eats 3 in his lunch, Adam eats 2 and Colin eats 1 every day with lunch.  I’ve still got about half of the batch left.  You can see the recipe I used by clicking here

Another favorite, I obtained from my friend Rachel.  This is actually a great “kids in the kitchen” opportunity.  They boys loved getting involved in this recipe, and Adam loved that he got to choose what was going into his treats.

Granola bar recipe:

4 1/2 cups oats

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup or less ground flaxseed (I do 1/4 cup, but this 1/2 is what the recipe called for)

1tsp baking soda

1tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter

2/3 cup lite corn syrup

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 TBS. Honey

2 cups chocolate chips, white chips, dried fruit (2 cups total)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease on 9 x 13 pan.  In a large mixing bowl, mix above ingredients (minus the add-ins).  Once combined, stir in the add-ins.    I let Adam choose his add-ins.  I automatically put in 1 cup of crushed peanuts (that was half of the total add-in amount), but then I gave him 1/3 measuring cup, put a few items in front of him and let him choose.  He picked one scoop of chocolate chips, one scoop of butterscotch chips, and one scoop of coconut.

Press into pan:

 & bake for 18-22 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars.  (The the picture below, I had about 1/4 cup of left over butterscotch chips, so I melted them down and spread them on top before cutting.)

 

I individually wrapped each bar in saran wrap and put them in a larger ziplock.  These keep for 2 weeks at air temperature, or you can freeze up to 6 months.

What are some of your favorite lunch treats for the kids?

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