Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rainbow Bread

Here's a fun way to make boring bread more interesting for the kiddies. All you'll need is a basic bread recipe and some food coloring. If you don't have a favorite bread recipe you can find a few good ones here.

Make the dough as directed in the recipe. Most recipes have you let the dough sit and rise twice. After the dough has risen the first time, place it on a floured surface.

Add different colors of food coloring and knead. You may have to work in extra flour as you knead since the food coloring will add extra moisture to the dough.

You can either bake the dough in a traditional bread pan or put the dough in a cupcake tin.

Don't they look like cupcakes??

It's even more beautiful after you cut into it! You can color your dinner rolls green for your St Patrick's Day dinner, or color it in pastels for Easter brunch. Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Baby Warhol

Google "customized Andy Warhol" and there will be no lack of websites that will assist you in turning your cute little baby into a piece of pop art. Of course, it'll also cost you. Here's a project that you can do on a lazy Sunday afternoon that will cost you only pennies to make!

You'll need:
  • 8 pieces of contrasting, colored paper. (I used cardstock.)
  • large piece of cardboard
  • printer
  • scissors and glue stick
Print out 4 copies of your favorite head shot of your child in black and white on 4 of the colored pieces of paper. Cut out your child's face and glue it to the one of the other pieces of colored paper. Repeat with the 3 remaining pictures. Once you've completed this step, glue the pictures to the large cardboard. Trim away any excess cardboard.

Now, and this is the most important part of the project, step back and admire your work!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Kid (and Animal) Friendly Safari Hunt!!

The weather gods must have heard my pleas! What a beautiful day we received yesterday; so I packed up the kiddies and headed straight to the zoo. Now, when we normally go to the zoo, we see the same 5 animals each time. The reason being is because we follow Archer's lead and, as you know, a 2 1/2 year old can get distracted quite easily. Why should he walk farther to see animals when there are perfectly good animals right in front of him?

Well, this time I came armed with Archer's Safari Hunt! I made a list of animals I thought he'd like to see and wrote it up on a Word doc. Since Archer can't read yet, next to each word, I added a picture of the animal. When we got to the zoo, I handed him the safari hunt list. You should have seen his face light up. He couldn't wait to find all the animals in the zoo!

Of course, you can make your list as long as you'd like. When you make your list, just be cognizant of the distance between each animal. You might not want to walk to distance of a half marathon! On the bottom of my word doc, I also added space for us to write down the other animals we saw on our trip, Archer's favorite animal that day, and the date. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Boomerang Bonanza

If you live in my part of town, you've been enjoying some pretty decent weather as of late. In order to take full advantage of this beautiful February weather, Archer and I made a boomerang to play with outside.

We used an empty cereal box. (You can use posterboard as well.):

Open it up and cut out a 8" square:

Find the center of the square. Draw a 2" line left, right, up, and down from the center. It is illustrated below in red. Then measure 2" from each corner of the square. Draw a line from these points to the end of the red line, as indicated below. And this, my friend, is the most difficult part of the project: 

Cut out the triangles:

Now, find the midpoint of the right side of each "blade". Draw a line from this point to the original red line you drew. Use a knife, ballpoint pen, etc, to score along this line:

Now the fun part...decorating your boomerang! Use paints, markers, crayons, stickers, glitter, etc. Once you're finished decorating your boomerang, fold down where you scored the cardboard:

Now for the really fun part; go outside and try out your new boomerang! When tossing around your new boomerang, hold it vertically and flick your wrist while you throw it slightly upward.

Obviously, you can purchase a sturdier boomerang for under $10, but what I really enjoy about this boomerang is the time I spent with Archer making it. He helped me count the inches on the ruler as I drew the lines and, of course, he helped me decorate it. And the absolute best part for me is the look of pride on Archer's face as he played with the toy he helped to make.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Homemade Bubble Machine

Ok, I know it's the middle of February, but I am longing for the warm days of summer so Archer can run around outside burning off the large amount of energy that can only be found in a preschooler. In honor of those glorious days of summer, I want to share with you how to make your own homemade bubble machine. You may not be able to use this outside quite yet, but your kiddies will love playing with this in the bathtub.

You'll need an empty water bottle, a piece of towel, (I used a small kitchen towel, but you can always cut up an old towel), a rubber band, and some dishwashing soap.

First, cut the bottom off the bottle.

Cover the bottom of the bottle with the towel, secure with the rubber band.

Wet the towel with water and dip in the dishwashing soap and blow through the end of the bottle where you normally drink from.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Cookies

Wanna bring a smile to your Valentine's face? Valentines of all ages will love receiving these heart-shaped cookies which are kissed with hints of vanilla, lemon, and almond.

Amazing Sugar Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
a splash of lemon extract

1.) In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt.
2.)  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.
3.) Add flour, and mix on slow. Once thoroughly mixed, add the extracts.

4.) Divide the dough in half and shape them into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate 45 minutes.
5.) Lay down parchment paper and roll out a disc of dough to a 1/4" thickness.
6.) Slide the parchment paper onto a cutting board and cover dough with another piece of parchment paper. Refridgerate for another 15 minutes.

7.) Use your heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put in freezer for 15 minutes.
8.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9.) Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be brown on the sides and just slightly brown on top.
10.) Cool on cooling rack.

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbs light corn syrup
2 tbs milk
1/4 tsp almond extract
10 drops of food coloring

1.) Stir together all the ingredients in a small plate.
2.) Dip the cookie in the glaze and twist while pulling up.
3.) Stir the glaze between each glazing.
4.) Place cookies back on the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Let sit for 3 hours.


Monday, February 13, 2012

A Time Saver a Day, Keeps the Stress Away!

Ask any harried mother, (or busy human being for that matter), what could make life a little easier, and I guarantee you that they will say a clone of themselves. As I am no mad scientist, what I can offer are some time saving tips to help you make the most of what little time you have.

Little Mesh Bag
Keep a little mesh bag in each of the kiddies' room and throw their dirty socks in there. Come laundry day, throw the bag in the washer and then the dryer. When you're ready to sort and fold the laundry, all the kids' socks will already be separated and even better, no more missing socks!

Menu Planner
Picture a very hungry family and a very tired mother standing in front of an open fridge in quiet desperation. If this scene sounds familiar to you, menu planning may be the thing for you. Before you go grocery shopping, plan your menu for the entire week. This way you know exactly what you're going to be eating each night. (You'll also save time by not walking aimlessly in the grocery store.) To save even more time, while you're chopping veggies for tonight dinner, go ahead and chop tomorrow night's as well. You already have the chopping board out. :)

Frozen Dinner
Everyone once in a while, double a batch of the dinner that you're making and freeze it; because, let's be honest, making dinner every single night is not an attainable goal. For those days when you don't have time to make a home cooked meal, just defrost one. This will save you time running out and picking up a less healthy option for your family.

Emergency Stash
There's nothing I hate more than when I'm in the middle of running errands and Archer calls from the car seat that he's hungry. Instead of wasting time by stopping by a fast-food place, have some snacks and juice boxes in the glove box.

Ready to Return
When I have items that need to be returned, I put the item in my trunk, along with the receipt in the bag. This way when I happen to pass the store in my travels, I can make a quick stop and make the return. No need to make a special trip!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The New Normal

My husband was blessed with the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl this year which meant that I was blessed(?) with the opportunity to stay home alone with two adorable, highly energetic children all by myself for 12 whole days.

Normally, I have my eye on the clock, waiting for hubby to come home from work and God help him if he encounters any traffic. He would get a prompt phone call from me, where I would be blaming him for anything from icy conditions to other people's poor driving decisions. :)

Long story short...everyone was fed and bathed, bedtime stories were read, the dog was walked, and the house was cleaned. And perhaps even more miraculous was the fact that even the trash made it out on the curb in time for pickup.

The funny thing is, my time alone with the kids was not as bad as I thought it was going to be and I told hubby so when he returned. He asked me why. I stopped to think about my answer and responded, "I guess because it was my new normal. I had to do everything by myself or it wouldn't get done and that just wasn't an option." The look on hubby's face told me that although he believed me, he didn't get what I meant. So I continued.

"Remember when we were first married and we would come home tired from work and would say nothing could get us off this couch? Then we got Nike, (our dog - named after the Greek goddess, not the shoe), and we had to get up to feed and walk her. That became our new normal. Then when each baby was born, we were exhausted at first, but then that became our new norm. And when I was alone these past 2 weeks, that became my new normal."

Imagine what we can accomplish if we set our current normal to where we want it to be. Whether this be applied at work or in our home life, if we force ourselves to be better, we can be. The trick is knowing that you must improve the way you're living your life and that there is no option in remaining stagnant.

Life is always resetting our normal, whether it be through windfall or tragedy.

Now instead of waiting for life to change you, force that change upon yourself.


Thought I'd share this great deal for mommies with children between 12-24 months in Montgomery County, MD --classes at The Jefferson Montessori School.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Super Bowl Party, Jr II

In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl, I am posting another fun Super Bowl idea for the kids...Football Krispies!

Use Cocoa Krispies and make the rice krispie treats according Kellogg's instructions.  Instead of putting the treats in a pan to cool, transfer the hot treat into a large bowl and wait for it to cool just enough so that you can handle it with your hands. Shape the treats into football shapes. Place on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Once the footballs have cooled completely, use a little white frosting to make the footballs' lacing.