Archive for the ‘Crafts & Celebrations’ Category

How to Stain a Picnic Table

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Have you ever stained a picnic table before? This was our first year staining our table and I wanted to share with you some tips on how to stain a picnic table so you can enjoy it all summer long.  Thanks to a coat of stain, our table looks and feels just like new and I can’t wait to show you just how easy it is to do.

Walmart challenged to me to showcase an idea for a Spring project and I knew that this was one of those projects that I really needed to complete on my to-do list, particularly after such a brutal Indiana winter.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Have you ever spotted something in a magazine and just knew you had to have it… yet, you could find it nowhere! Many years ago, I flipped through a magazine and spied a picnic table that Katie Brown owned that was in her backyard and I just knew I wanted a table like that. After inquiring on Facebook, we found a gentleman in town who makes picnic tables and after telling him what I envisioned, he built this beautiful table for us that comfortably sits eight to ten people.  When I look out my window, this makes me so happy and the meals shared at this table are what summer is all about.

To keep her looking good, we decided to freshen her up for another year of family meals.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed:

Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain (we did our table in Nutmeg Brown in Semi-Transparent)

Drop Cloth

Knit Rags

Paint Tray

Foam & Paint Brush

Sandpaper

Heavy-Duty Cleaner

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Directions

1. Before we begin, we need to prep our surface. Using a heavy-duty cleaner, spray and wipe down your table to remove any dirt and grime. Be sure that you clean the entire surface well and then wait 10-15 minutes, or until the table is completely dry, to begin staining. You never want to stain the table while it is wet so be sure that you are not trying to stain after a heavy rain.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

2. Since our piece was in good condition, it did not require any sanding. If your piece needs to be smoothed though, use a medium grit sandpaper sanding in the direction of the grain. This can be done with a small palm sander or can be done by hand. Once you are done with that, finish with a finer grit of sandpaper to smooth out any rough areas and give the table an even, smooth finish for the stain. Once it is sanded, make sure to use a tack cloth to remove any sanding.

3. Once your piece has been cleaned and prepped, it is time to begin applying stain.  With the Thompson’s Water Seal Waterproof Stain you do not want to thin this.  Make sure that you shake well and shake, stir or mix thoroughly before and occasionally during use. Before you begin staining, make sure you try a test run with a small trial patch in an inconspicuous place, like the underside of your bench or table, to make sure that the stain is the color you are going for.

Apply using an exterior paint pad, brush, roller, or even a rag to begin applying the stain to your table.  If you are doing the legs and underside of the table, lay down your drop cloth and invert your piece and do the bottom first. Allow the bottom to dry, it should take less than two hours to be fully dry, and then begin staining the top.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

5. Use your foam brush to get into the detail parts and legs of your table, using a rag to remove any drip marks on the ends.

6. Allow your table to dry for two hours.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

 

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

This table looks just like new again and it only cost me $30 in supplies. Since picnic tables do reside outside, they are exposed to all of the weather elements, which means you need to stain your table from time to time.  This stain typically will last two to three years, but possibly less time than that, depending on if your picnic table is in direct sunlight. The properties of  sunlight can dry out the stain and cause it to weather much faster.  It also has a lot to do with how much freezing and thawing happens, which in our area, seems to happen often! 

I’m so proud of my table and I hope it inspires you to freshen up your own picnic table for Spring.  Speaking of staining,  I am still SO proud of this stained table I created for our office. If you are looking for tips on indoor staining, be sure to visit that post!

Too intimidated by stain? Check out how I spray painted my side table and how we painted our kitchen table that is STILL going strong after all these years. And it never hurts to reupholster those chairs while you are at it!

Have you ever stained a picnic table or deck? What tips can you share on this?

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How to Style Your Bookshelves

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

How to Style Your Bookshelves from MomAdvice.com.

The art of styling bookshelves had never really been important to me until I started perusing pictures on Pinterest and saw the carefully curated collections and beauty in the organized book spines. Of course, I don’t have an unlimited budget where I can add decorative books in one carefully choreographed color or an unlimited budget for fantastic looking odds-and-ends to update my bookshelves. That is why I am excited to share with you some easy ideas for updating your bookshelves with Goodwill items and a few budget-friendly craft materials.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips Blog to grab some budget-friendly styling ideas for your bookshelves!

 

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How to Make a DIY Terrarium

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

You know people that are amazing at gardening and planting?

I’m not one of those people.

I am the girl that goes to the greenhouse and requests plants that can take care of themselves. My plants must be able to survive without water or nourishment of any kind.

Despite my black thumb, I spent many of my summers working in a greenhouse as a kid and I do know a few things about caring for plants. Thanks to my greenhouse knowledge, I know that terrariums are the perfect project for a girl with my skill set and they are also the perfect project  for any gardener-in-the-making.

For those of you itching to play in the dirt, this project is a fun one that adds a bit of green to your house while you await planting season.  If you are looking for a fun project to tackle with the kids, this can transform into a little fairy garden with a few novelty items.

I created this project for the Kenmore Blog a little over a month ago and my terrarium is still going strong. And I pat myself on the back EVERY TIME I SEE IT.

Yes, I do.

To find out how to create your own terrarium, visit the Kenmore Blog today for instructions on creating this beautiful Spring-filled addition to your home!

Learn how to make a DIY Terrarium for your home HERE.

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5 Gluten-Free Treats, Perfect for Easter

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
5 Gluten-Free Treats,  Perfect for Easter
Happy Spring, MomAdvice readers! My name is Sarah and I’m the baker/blogger over at Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats. I have loved baking for as long as I can remember and for the past 3 years, I have been baking 100% gluten free. My husband has celiac disease and both my son and I have a gluten allergy. Most of my baking is also dairy and egg free. It was quite the adventure, learning how to transition over to gluten free baking. Now I have a passion for sharing delicious gluten free recipes with others so that they can also have the confidence to bake again!
April is one of my most favorite months. Beautiful spring weather, flowers are in bloom and most importantly…Easter! Such a joyous holiday, celebrating with family and friends. We always gather around a good meal (total feast) and enjoy plenty of satisfying sweets. Always too many desserts!

I’m sharing a few of my favorite gluten free treats with you today! All of these goodies would be a lovely addition to your Easter gathering. They also egg and dairy free too (vegan), which is great for those with multiple food allergies. Each recipe features Sarah’s gluten free flour blend, a staple in my pantry. Perfect for all of your gluten free baking needs!

  Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Every celebration becomes that much more fantastic when cupcakes are involved! These chocolate cupcakes are simply delicious. Moist chocolate cake, topped with a creamy dairy free chocolate buttercream. Those colorful sprinkles are a must!

 

Gluten Free Vegan Mini Lemon Blueberry Cakes

Gluten Free Vegan Mini Lemon Blueberry Cakes

Anything in miniature size is my favorite. That’s one reason to love these mini lemon blueberry cakes. Bursting with blueberries and drizzled with a simple glaze. The fresh lemon zest gives this cake a beautiful brightness.

  Gluten Free Vegan Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Gluten Free Vegan Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Wouldn’t this apple cinnamon coffee cake be a delight to serve at your Easter brunch? Vanilla cake, topped with sliced apples and covered in cinnamon crumb topping. Everyone will be asking for a second slice.

  Gluten Free Vegan Raspberry Hand Pies

Gluten Free Vegan Raspberry Hand Pies

I remember the first time I made these raspberry hand pies. It took me right back to my childhood. Eating those “home run” pies that we would get from the local market down the street. This homemade version is even more delicious and let’s not forget…it’s pie you can eat with your hands!

  Gluten Free Vegan Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Gluten Free Vegan Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Every kid loves a good frosted sugar cookie. This gluten free version is just about as yummy as you can get. Let the kids help with the decorating and get creative. They may end up eating more frosting and sprinkles along the way, but that’s the best part!

  Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats- Sarah Hornacek

You can check out more of Sarah’s recipes at Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats. You can also follow her on facebooktwitterpinterest, and instagram. Happy baking!

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8 Fun Sweater Crafts from Goodwill

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

8 Fun Sweater Crafts from Goodwill

Although those warmer temperatures seem like they are just around the corner, here in Indiana it is still sweater weather season for awhile. Whether you are looking to switch-up your winter wardrobe staple or looking for an easy craft to beat those last-days-of-cold-weather blues, Goodwill has you covered with these fun sweater crafts you can create for a fun pick-me-up!
Sweater crafts are the types of crafts that anyone can do and the possibilities are endless. I had the best time demoing some of these fun crafts at the grand opening of our Warsaw location and now I am sharing eight more ideas with you, for fun crafts you can try with items from your own store!

 Head to the Goodwill Tips Blog today to learn 8 fun new crafts you can try with sweaters!

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How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Did you know that you can paint and dye plastic eggs that look like real eggs? Me either! Today I am showing off our ideas for decorating plastic eggs and (even more importantly!) how to get all that dye off of your hands.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs

I partnered with Walmart on today’s project to showcase a new egg that has made its way on store shelves that are simply called, “Plastic Decorating Eggs,” made by Paper Magic and they retail for, $1.97 for a dozen eggs. I found mine over by the other egg decorating supplies tucked away on the top of our shelf.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

What Do We Love About the Plastic Decorating Eggs?

I love decorating eggs with my kids, but when we do it, I wish that I could keep them longer without them spoiling or needing refrigeration. We also ran into instances of little hands being excited to dump their eggs in the dye, often resulting in cracked eggs.

These new eggs can be found over in the seasonal section of the store and are made from 100% recyclable plastic. Unlike the shiny brightly colored eggs we use for our egg hunts, these almost feel like a wooden egg with a brushed exterior, yet are lightweight since they are made from a lightweight plastic. There is a small seam that can be seen in my close-up pictures, but it does not break open like the neon plastic eggs.

 

Each kit comes with 12 eggs, 12 paper stands, and a dipper.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

How Do You Decorate Your Plastic Eggs?

We tried a couple of different techniques with the plastic eggs. One involved our favorite Kool-Aid dying technique and the other method incorporated the 24k Eggs & Speckled Eggs kits (also found in the seasonal section).

When attempting our Kool-Aid dying we found that the eggs did not lend themselves well to being dunked, due to their lightweight plastic nature, and the dye did not adhere to our eggs. We tried our most vibrant shades and still the dye did not stick. We boosted our dye with 3 teaspoons of vinegar and only achieved the softest shade of coloring. If you have younger children, this can lead to some impatience, and the kids were ready to move on to the decorating kits we purchased.

Painting our eggs, however, yielded vibrantly beautiful eggs. We combined the sponge technique with the golden glaze, and let the kids create their own masterpieces. The colors stayed very true and bright. I would recommend utilizing one of the egg painting kits for these and Walmart does offer many different varieties and you can see lots of different examples over here of ideas for decorating them.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Here are the eggs we created with our kits. Some of the most beautiful eggs actually resulted from dyed fingerprints that added color and texture to them. My daughter loved doing the speckled eggs, while my son painted his fully with a brush. We let them dry in the carton and they now have a spot in our front room in a bowl to be admired all season long.

Although I am lucky that my children do not suffer from any food allergies, these eggs would be perfect for a child that has an egg allergy and could have an allergic reaction to the eggs. 

I would recommend this kit for little hands that have a hard time handling delicate eggs, children with egg allergies, and moms that might like to keep their decorated eggs from year to year.

How to Remove Dye From Hands

That was a messy job so I am sharing our tried-and-true recipe for removing egg dye & paint off of your hands. We can attest to this formula as we may or may not have used everything in our house from rubbing alcohol to oil to try to figure out how to get the pesky dye of our hands. Smarter people might wear gloves while decorating. We risk it all for our art. That’s how we roll.

How to Remove Dye From Hands

1 squirt whitening toothpaste

1 squirt face or body exfoliant

1 squirt baby oil

Scrub well. Add a little water and continue scrubbing. Rinse. Repeat as necessary. Maybe three times if you look like a Smurf.

Looking for more Easter ideas? Check out this list of 21 Fun Easter Projects you can try with your kids!

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Have you tried the new dyeable plastic eggs? What do you think about them! Share your decorating ideas here!

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Gluten-Free Snickerdoodle Cake

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Gluten-Free Snickerdoodle Cake from MomAdvice.com.Semi homemade cakes have become a speciality of mine for birthdays. Today’s gluten-free snickerdoodle cake offered the perfect celebration cake for my husband’s birthday this year and I loved that it tastes just as heavenly as our usual snickerdoodle cake and our chocolate snickerdoodle cake that I had made before going gluten-free.

Before going gluten-free I relied heavily on cake mixes for making all of our cakes (something that I mention as a pantry necessity in my book), and that ease of pre-mixed ingredients is exactly the tradition that I have continued as I have started baking cakes that are gluten-free. As we demonstrated, cooking with cake mixes is easy enough that your child can bake it for you, the cake mix can be transformed into delicious sugar cookies, and you can even put a rainbow in the center, if you want.

Ed Emberley drawing booksEd Emberley drawing booksEd Emberley drawing books

As we have gotten older, we need less and less. Frankly, if we really want something, we usually just go and buy it for ourselves. Special & thoughtful gifts seem harder to come by, but I was determined to make this guy’s day special.

His favorite books as a child were Ed Emberley’s drawing books. While these books have been reissued, my husband more than anything wanted the original books that he had loved as a kid. I found the three of his favorites and wrapped them in ribbon to give him for his birthday. I could not wait to see his face.

Unbeknownst to me,one of the books contained Ed Emberley’s autograph, which my husband said was the best gift he had ever received. What a happy surprise that was.

If your spouse had a series of books or a book that was their childhood favorite, imagine what a joy it is to see that original again.

Gluten-Free Snickerdoodle Cake from MomAdvice.com

To top the night off, we celebrated with a slice of this cake. While I find gluten-free cakes to be a little on the dry side, we have found that a little pudding mix really helps this cake… and a thick layer of homemade cinnamon buttercream doesn’t hurt either.

The cake is laced with cinnamon, as is the frosting, and the base is made from a simply yellow cake mix. Any gluten-free brand should work beautifully in this cake.

Happiest of birthdays to the love of my life. I still shake my head that I have been present for his birthday since he was just sixteen. A million moments shared, and I pray for millions more with my best friend!

Gluten-Free Snickerdoodle Cake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
An easy gluten-free cake made from a packaged yellow cake mix. It’s the perfect cake to celebrate with!
Ingredients
  • 1 package (15 ounces) yellow gluten-free cake mix
  • ¼ cup (half of a 3.4 ounce package) vanilla instant pudding
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For frosting: 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3¾ cup confectioners sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, cinnamon, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat until incorporated.
  3. Divide batter evenly between two pans and place in oven side-by-side.
  4. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool.
  5. For the icing, beat butter until fluffy. Add all other ingredients.
  6. To assemble cake, place one layer on your cake stand. Spread the top with the cinnamon frosting.
  7. Place the next layer on top and cover the top and sides with frosting.

*this post contains affiliate links.

What is one of your favorite birthday gifts you have ever received?

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DIY Vintage Book Page Art

Monday, March 17th, 2014

From our diy/craft contributor, Sarah Milne.

DIY Vintage Book Page Art

Vintage Book Page Art

In my Pinterest travels, I stumbled upon a pin that led me to this site, Vintage Printable. Vintage Printable provides free, public domain/out-of-copyright images for you to print or download. Many of the images are vintage naturalist or scientific illustration, but there is a huge collection of other images too.

The site has been sitting in my bookmarks and I wanted to attempt an easy DIY using the gorgeous artwork. Coupled with my huge collection of vintage Reader’s Digest hardcovers, I’ve created some beautiful Springtime art to hang in your home, use for cardmaking or crafts.

There’s a handy search tool on the website. I searched for Springtime terms such as butterflies, eggs, rabbit, botanical etc. and found a beautiful assortment of images. I downloaded a collection of images I wanted to print.

Using a stack of doubles of my vintage Reader’s Digest collection, I tore out pages and trimmed the ripped edges for easing feeding through my inkjet printer. Ideally your pages should be an approximate size of 5 x 7 inches.

vintage hardcover reader's digests

how to DIY vintage book page art

To print your images, you’ll have to set up a custom size if your printer settings don’t already have a 5 x 7 option. In your printer’s settings, I set a custom page size for 127 mm x 177 mm which translates to the 5 x 7 page size. Select your custom page size, and check off your “scale to fit” and “fill entire paper”. Load your book pages into your printer tray. (My printer was a little finicky in grabbing the vintage book pages, so I actually fed one page in at a time.) And, print!

Vintage Book Page Art DIY

DIY Vintage Book Page Art

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Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I am so excited to share a delicious Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake recipe that you can make using a simple boxed mix, a little food coloring, and a few odds & ends from your pantry. This Rainbow Cake is made in a tube pan, versus a layered cake, and is a fun addition to your St. Patrick’s Day spread.

Walmart challenged me to share a St. Patrick’s Day project that you could create out of items from their store. You may remember my rainbow cakes in a jar that I created a couple of years ago. Now that I am eating gluten-free, I wanted to replicate the idea of a rainbow cake, but I wanted to do it in one pan and I wanted to make it a quicker process by using a cake mix.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

To make a vibrantly colored cake, I want to point out that it is really important to use good icing colors to achieve your rainbow cake colors. Over by the party supplies, you will find professional cake decorating supplies at Walmart. You want to purchase the Wilton Icing Colors. These concentrated gels offer a much brighter color than what you will find over in the baking section of the grocery section. I just use a toothpick to dip in the gel and then swirl it through my cake batter. You may need to do this a couple of times to achieve this level of brightness, but it still will take a lot less than the other brands of food coloring.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

When I decided I wanted to make this cake, I went through tons of tons of cake recipes to figure out how to layer the batter. My inspiration for creating my rainbow arch was from not martha and her Leprechaun Trap Cake that she created a few years ago. Her arch is so much more beautiful than mine. I highly encourage you to read her tutorial for a perfect arch and read mine for a just meh arch. That being said, do prepare this in a tube pan versus a bundt pan to achieve the best arch. 

Do you have a digital scale? I highly recommend purchasing one because it will make projects like this a million times easier. I have had mine for many years and I use it for both weighing packages and as a food scale! Be sure to tare it with the bowl on top to begin your measurements each time.

I used the measurements outlined by not martha for measurements for my batter:

  • 6 ounces – red
  • 5 ounces – orange
  • 4 ounces – yellow
  • 3 ounces – green
  • 2 ounces – blue
  • 1 ounce – purple
  • The remainder of the rest of the batter, leave it white.

To scoop batter into the bowls, I relied upon an ice cream scoop to scoop it into the bowls on the scale. To make pouring the batter easier, place the cake batter in a baggie in a tall glass and hang the opening over the sides of your glass. Pour your batter in and then seal the baggie. Just snip a corner of the baggie to begin pouring your batter into the pan.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

Gluten-free cakes tend to be more delicate so you definitely want to let this fully cool before trying to work with it. The side that has all the beautiful vibrant colors is not the top of the cake. It is the bottom of the cake. I accidentally iced this side so don’t make my mistake. If you find that your cake is puffy on the bottom, use a serrated knife to even it up a bit so your cake is not lopsided.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I posted a picture of this cake as I was glazing it on Instagram. To quote myself, “I never go easy on the sprinkles. I consider them the jazz hands on my desserts.”

Who quotes themselves? Sorry about that!

Glaze and sprinkle this cake liberally!

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I was disappointed that I had iced the wrong side and that my purple didn’t get perfectly centered. I think it is one of those cakes that might take a little more practice. My friends didn’t seem to notice or mind my errors though because this was one yummy cake! I doubt your kids would notice or care either. It might be a fun one to try together!

I hope you love it as much as we did and I hope this tutorial helps you while you make your own gluten-free rainbow cake!

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free rainbow cake perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day
Ingredients
  • 1 Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (over by the gluten-free ingredients in the candy aisle of your store, not in the baking aisle)
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 package of Wilton Gel Food Colorings
  • 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons milk (or milk substitute)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Rainbow Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan liberally with cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add cake mix and blend completely.
  3. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and beat until completely blended. The batter will be thick.
  4. Divide your batter into eight bowls using the measurements in this post and tint accordingly.
  5. First pour the larger amount of white batter into the pan. Then pour the red batter in, making it a wide ring of batter. Then pour the orange over that, keeping it inside the red. Pour in each color, creating smaller and smaller rings.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, testing with a toothpick to check when the cake is done.
  7. Once the cake is cooled, prepare your icing.
  8. Melt the butter and add to rest of ingredients. Mix until creamy.
  9. Spoon the glaze over your cake and finish with rainbow sprinkles.

Enjoy this tasty treat with a DIY Shamrock Shake and our free St. Patrick’s Day straw printable!

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How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Pen Pals are a beautiful thing in a digital age where pen, paper, the process of writing, and waiting are so hard in our fast moving culture. Today I wanted to share about our experience with finding and writing pen pals that I hope will inspire you to find a pen pal of your own for your child after hearing about our experience.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Walmart challenged me to come up with a fun Spring Break activity for kids and finding a pen pal for my children is something that I have thought a lot about doing. We found items in their office supplies section like writing tablets (for big and small children), pretty note cards, and freshly sharpened pencils. With these arsenal of tools, we are now ready to begin a new adventure for our kids.

How Do You Find a Pen Pal?

Finding a pen pal is oh-so-easy thanks to social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I posted on my Facebook page that we were looking for children in our child’s age range that did not live in the United States to be pen pals with. Within minutes, we had many people replying about friends and family that lived in other countries with kids just around our age.

Of course, if finding someone living out of the states is harder to come by in your inner circle, consider just finding families that live in other parts of the United States. A child shivering in the polar vortex of Indiana, for example, might find a child’s life in Florida or California quite inspiring!

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Encourage Your Child to Craft a Great Letter

Writing letters not only improves our vocabulary and spelling, but it also helps teach children about the give and take of conversation.

Talk with your child about crafting a great introduction about themselves and how to weave in questions to find out more about their new pen pal. When my daughter asked me if her pen pal had glasses, I told her that this would be a great question to ask her so she could look forward to her response.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Have Your Child Explore Their Pen Pal’s Town

It is easier than ever to learn more about where someone else lives thanks to Google’s Street View and Wikipedia. Although there was no street view for our pen pal, who resides in Greece, we were able to take a peek at pictures of landmark items in her country and read facts about where she lived.

Knowing information like this helps to build those initial letters as you get to know more about each other.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Send Your Letters Off

Once we were done writing our letter, we got to practice addressing an envelope and then added a few decorative touches to the back of our envelope for our new friend.

Although we ran our letter out to our mailbox at home, a great Spring Break activity might be to take that letter to the post office and make it feel even more, “official,” when sending it.

Now we must wait patiently for our response from our new friend and when she writes back, it will be a happy day, indeed!

How to Find & Write Pen Pals

I hope this inspires you to find a few pen pals of your own. And as double inspiration, here is my childhood pen pal. We met at church camp and became best friends through our letters back and forth. I remember that sweet anticipation of the mail dropping through the mail slot of our home and ripping them open to read, then reread, then reread again the precious words from my friend. 25 whopping years later, she is still my best friend for life.

I already told Emily to save her money and hopefully she will have a friend like that in her pen pal who she can visit someday! You just never know- we certainly never did! I shall be very jealous of her trips to Greece, should that happen!

Here’s a little video we put together of Emily’s first pen pal letter! I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear if you had a pen pal and what they meant to you?

 

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