Posts Tagged ‘Kid Crafts’

100 days of summer: root beer icees, corn syrup painting, & tortilla bowls

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

It was another busy week for our family. The kids started swim lessons this week and I have a feeling that the time and effort we are putting into this summer’s swim classes is really going to pay off this time.  We tried to work in a few fun activities this week including a fun fire pit night roasting s’mores over the fire, our favorite Jazzy Sunday routine with homemade whole wheat waffles topped with blueberry syrup, and lots of time spent working on the yard and playing outside.

I also implemented a chore chart for the kids and allowance program. I will let you guys know how that works out after we have been doing it for awhile.  Surprisingly, the kids are quite enthusiastic about this and money is proving to be a powerful motivator in our house.

From our 100 days of summer activity list, we tackled two fun food items and one craft idea this week.

This week we tried our hands at corn syrup painting that was featured on eighteen25 as a fun activity for the kids to do together. I mixed up a tray of paints and dug up some paint brushes and foam brushes for the kids to use to make their pictures. They each drew out their pictures in black crayon and then we painted them with the paints. The colors were beautiful and vibrant using ingredients right from our pantry.

The kids loved doing these paintings and I covered all of the paints up with plastic wrap and have put them away for a rainy day activity to keep them busy. It seems we are getting a lot of rain here in Indiana, so I am sure we will have these paints used up in no time at all.

I loved the idea of creating Coke Icees that was featured on Bake at 350 for a fun summer treat. We happened to be serving my favorite pulled pork sandwiches and the recipe calls for only 12 ounces of root beer. Instead of making root beer floats, I put four cans worth of root beer into my ice cream maker and let that churn for twenty minutes until it was nice and slushy.  We all loved these and I can’t wait to make them again with other types of soda. These were a big hit at our house so I highly recommend that activity.

Finally, we tried making baked taco bowls for our taco night this week courtesy of Annie’s Eats. I didn’t realize until I started making the bowls that I had the wrong size of tortilla. It was too late to hit the store so they were truly taco bowls rather than bite-sized taco treats. Regardless, the kids absolutely loved these and my husband & I both agreed that these were a fun addition to our taco night. I will have to give these another try with the right tortillas.

It seems that the hour is never too early to begin thinking up more daring things to do together. Emily brushed up on her daring activities in her robe and with her morning slice of toast. We couldn’t be more excited to tackle fun this summer if we tried.

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Stumped for ideas this summer? Have no fear! I have you covered this year with our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest Board.  There are 100 ideas for crafting, eating, and creating with your children of all ages.  We promise to keep it carefree on Tuesdays and share what we tackle through our mobile uploads and you can even follow our adventures in real time through Instagram or on Twitter(my name is momadvice).

Our family is on the move and we want you to be on the move too.

Do something cool together this week.

Your kids will love you for it.

What did you tackle from your summer list this week?

100 Days of Summer: Inspiration for Your Summer Break

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

There will be no cries of boredom in our house this summer because I am prepared this year. I have come up with 100 activities to do this summer and I am sharing my list of 100 activities to do with you through Pinterest. We have everything from hot air balloon making, to Netflix origami, to breakfast in bed, to making individual pizzas on the grill, to making the world’s largest bubbles, to creating your very own water park. The possibilities are endless and the majority of the activities cost next to nothing to create.

I am not a crafty parent. I can be crafty on my own, but not always the craftiest with my kids. I really, really try, but I find that crafting with my kids is a challenge. I want to overcome that challenge this summer and be the cool mom for once. Many times I find myself at my computer typing these ideas for others, but not trying any ideas myself.

This summer is going to be different.

Instead of just coming up with ideas for our readers, I am looking forward to actually tackling our summer list.  I still will be sharing a weekly recipe, our apron full of giveaways, and our notebook of inspiration. I won’t ever quit you, MomAdvice friends!

On Tuesdays though, I will be sharing what we are working on from our summer list through mobile pictures and quick notes on what fun activities we are doing at our house. I am hoping it will be an inspiration to you to get out and enjoy the summer with your children. I can’t say we will tackle a hundred activities, but I will be awfully proud if we do one cool activity a week. You can catch me on Instagram, fellow iPhone users, where I am documenting our summer with my new phone. My name is momadvice.

I hope you will enjoy our laid-back inspiration this summer!  I want to enjoy every moment I have with these two kids- my time with them feels fleeting and precious.

Next school year, I will have whole days to type away.

This summer, I am loving my mom job all day with them.

What are your favorite summer activities? How do you get inspired for summer fun? And, hey, what do you think of our summer list?

Oreo Biscotti Gifts For Your Favorite Teachers

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Three cheers for our favorite teachers! We have had truly some of the best teachers this year and this is the official Teacher Appreciation Week to really show your admiration for all that they do.  After volunteering in my son’s classroom, I know that I would not have the patience or endurance to do a job like that. I so admire the infinite patience, love, and knowledge that our teachers possess.

Both of my children have blossomed this year. With the teachers that they have, I can certainly see why!

Today I wanted to showcase an easy and fun gift that you can give to the teachers in your life. This Oreo Biscotti recipe is a dream to make and to eat. If you can make cookies, you can make biscotti! Biscotti is basically a twice baked cookie that is perfect for coffee dunking. You can find everything you need to complete this project at your local Walmart store.

Just as an aside, if I was a teacher, I would be drinking a whole heck of a lot of coffee.

Let’s shower them with cookies that they can dunk in all of that coffee today!

In your stand mixer, mix together melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar.

In a separate bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to your wet ingredients in your stand mixer and mix just until the ingredients are incorporated.

Now it is time to add the star to the biscotti show! Grab a bag of Oreo cookies (feel free to save money and substitute with the store brand on these). Use a rolling pin to break up the cookies so that you can get a bite of Oreo in each bite of your biscotti.

Add the cookies to your batter and then give the mixer a quick spin. It should look a little like cookies and cream ice cream. Resist the urge to eat the entire bowl of batter. It will be tough- this smells so good!

Dump the batter on a parchment lined cookie sheet. This dough is so easy to work with that you don’t even need to flour your hands. Divide your dough into two equal parts and then flatten the dough until it is roughly 8 inches in length, with about a 1 inch thickness. Make sure that the two balls have enough space to grow when they are baking.

Bake the biscotti at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the dough is cooked through and the edges are golden. Let the biscotti rest for ten minutes before you cut into it.  Then with a very sharp knife, cut your biscotti on a slight angle, into roughly fifteen pieces for each dough ball. Lay them flat and slide them back into an oven for eight minutes. Pull them out and flip them again. Bake an additional eight minutes on the flip-side of the cookie. Finally, let them cool while you put the rest of your gift together.

Find a cute mug for your teacher over in the aisle with all of the lunchbox supplies or even over by the coffeemakers themselves.  Cute reusable mugs are an inexpensive addition to your gift and can be found for anywhere between $4-10 depending on your budget. Fill the bottom with colored shredded paper or a little colored tissue paper. Nestle your biscotti in a clear plastic treat bags on top of your cute mug.

Editor’s Note: Now that Picnik has shut down, you can do the same edits through PicMonkey instead! Follow the directions below:

Look through pictures that you have of your child and see if you can find a picture where you can add a little text to your photo. Upload your photo to Picnik. Under the CREATE tab,  select EFFECTS, then select the BLACK & WHITE option to change your picture to a black & white image. While still under the CREATE tab, select the option for TEXT. Once you are in text, put in your message for your teacher. Make sure not to put your text all of the way to the edge of the photo because it may cut it off when you print it. It is better to get it a little further in to assure that you don’t waste ink, paper, or your time!

You can choose from a variety of fonts and colors. The font I choose for these images was Pupcat. You can do all of this with a free membership to Picnik. Additional fonts are available with a membership, but I find that the free fonts are equally fantastic!

Save your image once you have finished it. If you have a photo printer, you can print these out at home. I printed mine on 5×7 Kodak paper with my photo printer. If you don’t have a photo printer, Walmart offers one hour prints (for a 5×7) for $.58. The cards themselves are almost as awesome as the biscotti!

Whatever you do, I hope that this adds a little inspiration to your gift-giving this year. These not only would make a great teacher gift, but I can see this being made into a perfect Mother’s Day gift for a special mom in your life too.

Homemade Oreo Biscotti

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup  butter, melted
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Stir in chopped cookies. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 8″ loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes. Cut each loaf diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, on same baking sheet. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes on each side or until lightly toasted on both sides. Cool completely on wire rack.

Recipe Source: Kraft Food & Family Magazine

What gifts do you have up your sleeve for you teachers this year? What gift has been the biggest hit? I would love to hear your ideas!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

Crafting Fun: Marbleized Easter Eggs

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

One of our favorite Easter activities is decorating Easter eggs. Every year we try to do something new with our eggs. The first year I ditched the boxes of Easter egg dyes and created our own out of pantry ingredients. Last year we had a blast trying Kool-Aid egg dying which really made beautiful and vibrant eggs without any effort.

This year I ran across a fun idea for creating marbleized eggs from common items in the pantry. If you have food coloring, vinegar, and olive oil…you have the makings for beautifully marbled eggs. Pictured above are the eggs that my children created this year. This was a lot of fun because each egg could be so different and unique!

1. Hard boil your eggs as desired. In shallow bowls, mix together three cups of warm water with two tablespoons of vinegar and ten drops of food coloring. I used the Betty Crocker Neon Food Coloring that I found in the baking aisle. Whisk the ingredients together well.

2. Submerge your eggs and leave them in there until they reach the desired color. One thing we learned is that it is better to have a lighter color as the base color so the second layer of color will take well on your eggs.

3. Dry your eggs with a paper towel.

4. Repeat the process with the rest of the eggs. Rest them gently on your inverted egg carton to allow them to dry.

5. To the dye that you have already prepared, add one tablespoon of olive oil and then, using a fork, run your fork through the oil to break the oil into pieces to create the solution to roll your eggs. As the oil swirls, roll your egg once through a contrasting color. Allow the oil to pick up & create another round of color on your eggs. Blot gently with paper towels. (Editor’s Note: Many apologies for the lack of pictures after this point. We just really got into it and it was getting a little crazy with eggs dropping rolling)

6. Admire your beautiful eggs!

Don’t forget to turn those eggs into delicious deviled eggs for a fun addition to your family dinner!

What is your favorite Easter tradition?  Are you trying anything new and exciting with egg dying this year? Would love to hear what Easter crafts you are working on!

The Perfect Pink Barbie Cake Tutorial

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Over the month of December we celebrated Emily’s 5th birthday.  This was the year of the Barbie which thrilled me to no end as I had envisioned a Barbie cake for my little girl long before she was even a twinkle in our eye.  Barbie cakes are a true labor of love by the mothers who create them and this cake was a testament to my undying love for my daughter.

Today I wanted to share with you how we created our Barbie cake and some tips for creating this cake for your own little princess! The week will be filled with oodles of tutorials and ideas for making your Barbie party special and I hope to add a little inspiration to your own Barbie-inspired party!

For this cake you will need a white cake mix, strawberry gelatin dessert, eggs, milk, canola oil, a package of fresh strawberries, and your doll.

The doll that is pictured in this tutorial ended up not being used because the cake was not tall enough to form her dress and stand her upright. Doll toppers can be purchased specifically for cake decorating at Michael’s for $3.99 (you can also use on of those 40% off coupons on that purchase to save) or you can ask your bakery if they will sell you a doll that you can use for roughly the same amount. Cakes can also be improvised as Monica, from The Homespun Heart discovered, by making your cake taller to fit a Barbie. My girlfriend also found a shorter generic one that could be found at the dollar store because the generic ones are not as tall as the real Barbies.

My best friend broke the legs of her Barbie for my cake.  May you all have a super awesome mafia friend like me who is willing to donate her legless Barbie for your project.

This cake is an easy mix and dump cake, but you will need to finely chop your strawberries to mix into the cake. I used my food chopper to chop these up evenly and fine for the cake. Once you have done that, you have the brunt of the cake mixing portion done.

Dump all of the ingredients into your mixer, including those finely chopped berries, and give it a good mix.  I let it run for a good minute or two while my oven was preheating to 350 degrees.

Pour your batter into a greased mixing bowl. The mixing bowl I used for this project is the Pampered Chef Classic Batter Bowl that I had in my kitchen. Many years ago when I bought it, the consultant had shared with me that it would make the perfect Barbie cake. It doesn’t have to be a Pampered Chef bowl though, any two quart ovenproof  glass mixing bowl should do the job!

Now let Barbie sit back and take a little nap while her dress bakes. Because of the depth of the cake, this cake will take roughly an hour and ten minutes to bake. You want to make sure that the rack is not too high on your oven or it will really brown the top of your cake. You will also want to keep an eye on it and test the center after an hour to see how it is doing. Mine took the full hour and ten minutes for this cake though.

Once the cake is done baking, you can pull it out and let it rest for at least fifteen minutes. Invert your cake on a cooling rack and let it cool for three hours before decorating.

I prefer to make my cakes in a two day process so I went ahead and wrapped the cooled Barbie cake in plastic wrap and rested it on top of a dish, then covered the whole thing in foil.  When the cake is frozen it is much easier to decorate and I have a lot less crumbs to have to work around.  That little tip came courtesy of a Michael’s cake decorating course I took and has served me well over the years of making and decorating special occasion cakes.

Now it is time to make the frosting. You can definitely skip this step and just use two 16 ounce containers of vanilla frosting (tinted to your favorite cake dress color), but the jarred frosting won’t give you the stiffness you need if you want to decorate and embellish the dress. This buttercream decorator’s frosting uses the confectioner’s sugar, shortening, milk, clear butter flavor (pictured above and purchased at Michael’s) and a little Meringue Powder (pictured above and purchased at Michael’s) that gives it a yummy whipped and buttered taste without adding any off-colors to your frosting.

Making frosting is a messy, messy job and is one of my least favorite parts about cake decorating. One way you can really cut down on the mess is to dampen a kitchen towel and drape it over your mixer while you are whipping up your frosting. This will cut down on the confectioner’s sugar dust clouds that you will find all over the kitchen and you can wipe down your mixer when you are all done.

Really try hard to resist eating this frosting. You really will need all of it to decorate your cake. Doesn’t it look delicious though? Tint the frosting in your desired color. In our case it was Emily’s two favorites…pink and dark pink.

Now it is time to frost your cake. I frost my cakes frozen and they turn out beautifully. You just want to give your decorated cake a few hours to thaw before the guest arrive, but frozen cake frosting is so darn easy that you will never go back. Frost it the best you can and remember that you can add as many details as you need to and that will cover up any of the imperfect parts.

To get the surface even smoother, dip your clean spatula in hot water and run it across the surface of the cake in long strokes. This will melt the frosting slightly to help remove stroke marks. Wipe the spatula clean and dip it in the hot water before each stroke.

Once your cake is smooth (ish), you are ready to add your embellishments to decorate your dress. I used Wilton Tips #2D to make swirl flowers and my zigzag border, tip 3 to make the centers of the flowers and added dots to her dresses, and tip 21 for the shell borders and little loops on her dress.

You can add whatever details you prefer on your cake, that is the beauty of making your own Barbie cake. Embrace your inner-fashionista and have a blast making Barbie’s party dress!

Here is our finished cake. I left the top of Barbie’s dress on and tried to incorporate the lower half into looking like a continuation of her top. Her hair was tied with a little leftover grosgrain ribbon. If your Barbie has legs, you can wrap her in plastic before inserting her.  After Barbie was done with this party, I put her dress top in the dishwasher and it came out clean and perfect. Barbie just got a good wash in the sink and I put her away…just in case we might need her next year.

4.0 from 1 reviews

The Perfect Pink Barbie Cake With Buttercream Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
This cake is so moist and full of strawberry flavor.  The color from the gelatin adds a vivid pink hue and the flecks of fresh berry take these pantry ingredients to another level.  If a Barbie cake isn’t your thing, wait for your post next week where these are transformed into a grown-up cupcake complete with a Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting. While buttercream icing is not my favorite tasting frosting, this frosting is ideal for decorating and piping beautiful decorations on your Barbie cake. The butter flavor really adds a lot of richness to this frosting. This recipe creates a batch and a half (or approximately five cups of frosting). This will likely be more than you need, but I would rather have extra frosting than not enough and make it all over again. Extra frosting can also be used to decorate a batch of cupcakes for the adults!
Ingredients
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
  • 1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries with juice (approximately 1½ cups whole berries)
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • For Buttercream Icing (Medium Consistency): 1½ cups solid white shortening
  • 1½ teaspoons Wiilton Butter Flavor
  • 4-5 tablespoons milk
  • 6 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1½ tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder
  • Pinch of Salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place your oven rack into the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 2 quart oven-safe batter bowl by greasing heavily with cooking spray.
  3. Place the cake mix, gelatin strawberries and their juice,  milk, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for thirty seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat two more minutes.
  5. Pour batter carefully into your prepared batter bowl.
  6. Bake for 1 hour and ten minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed with your finger and a cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Cool for fifteen minutes and then invert your cake on a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool for a minimum of three hours before decorating. For more tips see the post above.
  8. For icing: Cream shortening flavoring, and water.
  9. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so until creamy.
  10. Tint as desired.

Disclosure: The Amazon links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books & supplies for your project quickly and easily.
Have any cake decorating tips? What was your proudest birthday cake moment? Feel free to share them here!

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Fun Holiday Kid’s Craft: Painted Mugs

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Today we are continuing our handmade gift focus with another gift that is easy to make, but that make thoughtful gifts. I wanted to share with you what we made last year for our special teachers. We will begin with beautifully painted coffee mugs made by your fabulous children. What you will need for this craft is plain white mugs like I have pictured above. I buy these at our local thrift store for $.25 each and there is usually no shortage on white mugs that are being donated.

The other thing you will need is a porcelain paint set. These can be found in the painting supplies of your craft store. You are looking for the set that does not require any heat-setting. These paints cost $4.99, but you can bring that 40% off coupon to knock down the total.

Keep in mind, before letting your children loose on painting these, they require a clear coating on them first to prep them for painting. You have to wait one hour for these to dry. After that, give your children some paint brushes and let them decorate their mugs.


Once these are all painted, let them dry overnight and then apply the final clear coat that will go on top of them. The clear paint is contained within the paint set and just requires a quick brush on top of the mugs. I was able to paint three mugs with one set of paints, in case you were planning to do several of these. Once the clear coating has been applied, they are good to go in the dishwasher after ten days of drying.


Here is what my kid’s mugs turned out like! They were so proud of their art work and we plan to give these as gifts to a few special teachers including my son’s art teacher that has inspired him so much this year and our sweet bus driver that braves the bad weather to pick him up.

These painted mugs can be filled with treats, drink mixes, gift certificates to the coffee shop or a bookstore, or whatever else you can think of. We did these for our teachers this year, but one year we made these as grandparent gifts and they were really loved by them too!

Our mugs will be packaged with these jars filled with cocoa mix for our teachers. I had this ribbon leftover from my gift wrapping supplies last year and found these adorable Christmas Story gift tags at Walmart (9 for $2) that I tied to each one with the instructions for the cocoa. The jars were over in their kitchen supplies for $2.97 each to put the cocoa mix in. To save on this expense, try the Crystal Light containers for easy transporting and to keep your gift more thrifty.


I also saw these reusable shopping bags over in the gift wrap supplies at Walmart and scooped these up to package up our gifts. These bags were $2 each and can be reused over and over again. These bags are flat-bottomed, which makes them a little easier to stay standing upright underneath the Christmas tree.

I chose reusable bags last year for gift-giving and they were a total hit! I am such a fan of the Target bags and the clever designs that they implement into their bags. These bags folded up into the size of a small cosmetic case and had a pocket in the front too, perfect for tucking a gift card or a note of appreciation to someone. These were only $1.50, but everyone was so excited to get these.

These have just a couple of pieces of tissue paper at the top, but the bottom was stuffed with newspaper that would have gone in our recycle bin. The newspaper helped these stand a little more upright since they were not flat-bottomed. I felt proud about my eco-friendly alternative and am hoping to convert some of my plastic-bag-lovin’ family members over to the joys of reusable bags.

Do you do gifts for your teachers? What do you plan to give this year? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!

Homemade Peppermint Bath Salts & Oatmeal Cookie Bath Soak (With Free Printable)

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

I was so excited to share this tutorial last year for creating these peppermint bath salts and oatmeal cookie bath for the gift-giving season. These are fabulous little “just because” gifts or a fun pick-me-up for a tired co-worker, friend, or teacher. I even have a cute little printable tag that you can use for decorating these!

Making bath salts and soaks are easy and require little effort on your part. I love to make a giant batch of these and keep them on hand for unexpected holiday occasions like hostess gifts or as a return gift for someone that may have been forgotten on the holiday gift-giving list. These are a thoughtful gift just perfect for a friend that needs a little rest and relaxation during the busy holiday season.

Today I wanted to share with you my favorite homemade oatmeal bath. I call it Oatmeal Cookies & Milk because it blends together the ingredients of an oatmeal cookie with powdered milk to make a soft & soothing bath for anyone who has sensitive skin.

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Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath

1 cup cornstarch
2 cups powdered milk
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until it is a fine powder. Just add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your bathwater for a soothing bath.

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Once the oatmeal mixture is ground up, it will look just like this. I dumped the entire amount into one jar and it filled it to the top, with just a little leftover.

This homemade oatmeal bath can be packaged with a spoon, purchased from your local thrift store, and a little holiday ribbon. How easy and simple is that?

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The next gift I want to showcase is a very festive jar of Peppermint Bath Salts. I took a picture of all of the ingredients needed so you can see exactly what they look like when you go to the store. Don’t you hate it when you can’t picture what you should be looking for?

The kosher salt is over in the baking aisle with the regular salt, the Epsom Salts should be over in the first aid supplies of your superstore or drugstore, and the glycerin will be behind the drugstore counter where you pick up your prescriptions (and can also be used for your giant bubbles in the summer).

Now head to your craft store and go into the aisle where the soap making and candle making supplies are. There you will find colorants to dye your bath salts (you need the package with red in it) and the essential oils needed (for this craft it will be the eucalyptus mint). The last thing you can buy is some peppermint striped ribbon or whatever is on sale and festive will totally do the job!

As for jars, I found those at Big Lots and you can get a dozen of them for $6.50 or check the canning supplies section of Walmart (our store was out). I hope that helps with your shopping list and helps with the visuals for what to look for!

You will need two big bowls for this and a giant spoon to mix with. Don’t you love crafts that don’t require a lot of equipment? Now, empty one bag of Epsom Salts into one bowl. Next add 3 cups of your kosher salt, and stir well. Then stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of your eucalyptus essential oil. Mix well.

In your second large mixing bowl, empty one bag of Epsom Salts and add 3 cups of your kosher salt. Stir well. Next stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of your eucalyptus essential oil. To this bowl, you will add fifteen drops of your red colorant. This will give you a pale and pretty pink bowl of salts. Mix this side really well to incorporate the coloring throughout this batch.

Now grab a 1/2 cup measuring cup and start doing layers to create the peppermint candy look in the jar- a layer of white, a layer of pink, a layer of white, and then a layer of pink. I would recommend filling them on a cookie sheet to catch any runaway salts and to make clean-up a little bit easier. Once everything is filled, you should have 12 jars full and even a little leftover for yourself.

Now tie your gift up with a little festive ribbon and a beautiful gift tag instructing the recipient to put three tablespoons of salts in the bathtub to enjoy a relaxing holiday bath.

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Candy Cane Bath Salts

12 tall jelly (12-ounce) canning jars with lid and rings
2 bags of Epsom Salts, 4 pounds each (approximately 16 cups)
4 lb kosher salt (approximately 6 cups is needed, buy two boxes and cook with the rest)
1⁄2 teaspoon glycerin, divided
16 drops eucalyptus peppermint essential oil
15 drops red colorant

Empty one bag of Epsom Salts into large mixing bowl. Add 3 cups kosher salt, stir well. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of eucalyptus
essential oil. Mix well. In second large mixing bowl, empty one bag of Epsom Salts, and add 3 cups kosher salt. Stir well. Add 1/4 teaspoon glycerin, eight drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and red colorant. Stir until completely blended. Color should be even. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill canning jars at an angle, layer salts in jars, alternating white and colored mixtures.

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Just to make your gifts a tad more festive and to ease the burden of making those gifts, we have included free gift tags to download and print for the holiday season!

Printable Gift Tags

Luckily for you, there will be just a tad too much of both of these bath mixtures to fit into the jars and you will be forced to partake of your efforts. Throw whatever is left in that food processor or bowl and put it into your bath. Now fix yourself a cup of vanilla chai tea, light a candle, and smuggle in a good book or magazine. Promptly, lock the door and pretend like you have no idea how that happened when everyone starts knocking. Enjoy a moment to yourself and relax, you deserve it!

What are some of your favorite gifts to keep on hand as impromptu gifts for the holidays? Please share your ideas and links here!

How to Create an Advent Calendar Out of Common Household Items

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

It is that time of year again and that means another Advent season. Today I wanted to share with you a “use what you have” Advent calendar that we created last year. It was such a hit that I plan to make another one for this year! This requires no pricey materials and is based around what the holiday season should be all about… being together!

In the years past, we have always had a Christmas Jar of activities. Each day we would randomly draw from a set number of activities and enjoy a holiday activity together as a family. This year, our life with our two children has become increasingly busy and scheduled. We have two school schedules, extracurricular activities, homework, holiday programs, holiday family events, and so much more going on. Our life of leisure seems to have taken a detour and I have had to be more thoughtful in our approach towards carving time out for what we would hope to accomplish this year.

I wanted to create our own countdown to Christmas in a creative way, but I didn’t want to spend any money on it. I decided to use what I had to create our homemade Advent filled with fun activities and wanted to share with you what we created!

Homemade Advent Calendar

Supplies needed:

A large circle punch (in scrapbook supplies at craft store) or a jar or glass for tracing
Tape
Scrapbook or festive holiday gift wrap
Ribbon
Marker
2 Muffin Tins
A picture frame stand or a place to prop your finished tins

I began this project by punching out 48 circles. On half of these write the numbers 1-24 and on the other half you can write fun activities to do with your children in anticipation of the big day.


Stick your holiday activity folded up inside of each muffin tin and then attach the numbered circles to each individual muffin tin. Secure with tape on both sides to hold your activities in securely.


Break out your trusty calendar and jot down the activities for each day to remind yourself what you need to plan for and what supplies will need to be purchased to accomplish the activities.

Add a little festive ribbon to the top of your muffin tin. Display the muffin tin by using a picture frame stand or finding a sturdy wall to prop it up with. Have your child draw an activity each morning to complete as a family.

Our Activity List

1. Decorate the Christmas tree.
2. Big bubble baths with holiday music playing.
3. Going to the library to pick out holiday books.
4. Special popcorn and hot cocoa snack (possible visit for the tree lighting ceremony in town).
5. Going to a Christmas Concert.
6. Decorating gingerbread houses.
7. Make Christmas cards for our special friends.
8. Watch a holiday movie.
9. Color a holiday coloring page.
10. Bake Christmas cookies.
11. Go see holiday lights.
12. Go see Santa and a trolley ride through downtown.
13. Write a letter to Santa.
14. Pop popcorn & play a board game together.
15. Host an ornament decorating party.
16. Color a holiday picture.
17. Holiday party to attend.
18. Go to the dollar theater and see a movie.
19. Go see the Christmas lights.
20. Deliver holiday treats to our friends & the firefighters in town.
21. Big bubble bath with holiday music.
22. Open one gift early.
23. Watch a holiday movie.
24. Celebrate our family Christmas.

Total cost for this project was zero and very little money will be spent to do these activities together. The memories I hope to create with my children though, I hope those will be priceless!

Do you do an Advent calendar or have a special way your family celebrates the countdown to Christmas? I would love to hear your ideas!

Creating Beautiful & Frugal Treasure Chests

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

When I was a little girl, I had a beautiful musical jewelry box with a twirling ballerina where I would store all of my little treasures. I wanted to create a little box just like that for my son and daughter so I headed to Michael’s and picked up the supplies to create their very own boxes to store all of the important treasures in their lives.

These wooden boxes were $4.99 over by the wooden crafts and paint supplies. I also selected two bottles of spray paint in the clearance section of the store. You just want to make sure to select a spray paint that says that it will work on wood so that your paint will adhere to your project.

When I got home, I spray painted the boxes evenly and then cut out the images that I wanted to decoupage on my treasure chests out of heavy card stock.  I used my Silhouette craft cutter (remember to get those entries in!) to cut out the images, but you could also stencil your images on heavy card stock and then cut them out with scissors.

If you do have  a craft cutter, I chose the princess set, a pirate flag, and a treasure map as my images. Each set was printed and then cut in two different colors that would look nice with my painted boxes and could be layered upon one another to create the images. The treasure map printed out without a “map” within it, so my husband added his art with a Sharpie to the map.

Now comes the fun part! It is time to get your decoupage on! If you have never decoupaged before, it is the coolest craft ever, requires no skills at all, and makes everything look fabulous. Just pour Mod Podge (I used a bottle of the matte finish I had in my craft supplies) into a plastic cup and then use a small sponge brush to glue each cut-out on to your boxes. Once you have glued all of the pieces on, do a light layering of glue over the entire surface, being careful to not shift or cause bubbling around your images. Allow it to dry, do another layer, allow it to dry, do another layer. Two to three layers should be plenty, but you be the judge!

If you want to add a little antiquing to it, just use a little sandpaper to rough it up. Oh, look at that vintage map on top of that little treasure chest. Don’t you just love it?

Once they are dry, they are all ready for treasure filling. Just imagine what could be stored in here. I see my son’s filling with rocks and Pokemon cards & my daughters will be stuffed with glittering plastic jewels or tiny little doll accessories. Whatever is in them,  I have a feeling that these treasure boxes will be loved for a long time.

These would make fantastic birthday gifts and are right within a frugal gal’s gift allowance (a mere $6 in supplies each!) and would be a gift that would be long- remembered!

Gift Giving: Sweet Little Ribbon Rings

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010


We finished our last day of school on Friday.  That week was extremely busy and I found myself scrambling on Thursday to pull together teacher gifts to give to our teachers. In year’s past, I just bought each teacher a bouquet of flowers. This year, I wanted to try making the fabric rings that were featured in our notebook on Make It Do instead and thought it would be a great craft to do with my kids.

I don’t sew and didn’t have any fabric laying around so I opted to follow the directions for this project, but replace the fabric with ribbon instead. The ring forms were found in the jewelry-making supplies at Michael’s ($2.99 for six ring bases) and I was ready to go.


You really could do just about any width of ribbon between 5/8″ and eve up to 1 1/2″ depending on how big you would like your ring or what you already have in your craft supplies. I will say that the lighter colored ribbon was easier to work with because the darker ribbon showed any little blob of glue that got stuck to it.

I couldn’t wait to make a few for myself and, of course, my glue gun conked out on me and I will have to buy another one. Luckily, it had enough steam in it to make the gifts and I am so proud of how they turned out!


We paired these rings with big bags of  Honey Nut Granola, tied with some yellow ribbon. I made a double batch and then baked it in the oven while I worked on the ribbon rings. I also tried to write a heartfelt note to each teacher to tell them what they have meant to our family. I have a feeling that these mean a lot more than any gift card or gift I could create for them- at least I hope they do!

Do you do teacher gifts? What did you make this year or what have you done in past years? I would love to hear your ideas!