Saturday, June 23, 2012

Things to Do Before Your Kids Leave Home - #1

The first items we tackled in the Things to do Before Your Kids Leave Home book had to do with building a bird house. But like I mentioned in my into about the book, I'm not taking each entry literally, more figuratively. So instead if building a build house we make bird seed feeders that were super easy and pretty cool, thank you very much. Those birds didn't waste any time diving in for some dinner.

Supplies Needed:
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups birdseed
  • 2 unflavored gelatin packets (1/4 ounce each)
  • Cookie Cutters (any shape will do)
  • Cookie Sheet lined with wax paper
  • Twine, String or Ribbon
  • Heat 2 cups of water in a pan. Add in 2 packets of unflavored gelatin packets. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
  • Remove pan from heat.
  • Stir in 3 cups birdseed until it is evenly coated.
  • Allow mixture to cool until gelatin is thick and coats all the birdseed.
  • Place the cookie cutters on the lined cookie sheet. NOTE: We didn’t use cooking spray and didn’t have any problems with them sticking. However, you may need to spray the foil and inside of the cookie cutters.
  • While holding the straw, drop spoonfuls of bird seed mixture into each cookie cutter. Then add enough twine so that it can be hung. Add more to the top making sure to pack the mixture in until the cookie cutter is completely full of seed.
  • Set aside and allow mixture to harden, turning once.  Should be ready in about 8 hours or less.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cool Soup, Mom.

I've read some articles on how to cool down soup without watering it down and they are pretty ridiculous to me. I remember when I was kid, my mom made soup and though an ice cube in to cool it off. Who's mom didn't, right?  I did it too. Then I had a thought. What about the colorful ice cube balls someone gave me for festive looking cocktails? I throw one or two into cool the soup down at my son's request and voila, soup that won't burn the tongue. WARNING: don't use ice cubes that are too small or give to small kids that might try to eat them. I remove the ice balls after a minute or so and wash them before returning to the freezer.
You can pick these up at all kinds places, even dollar stores. Enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Picnic Series: Making your own Picnic Basket

I'm so thrilled! Today I am being features as one of Toni's Summer Camp Councelor from

When I started thinking about making my own picnic basket I thought I would come across a classic basket I could re-do but then I ran into a great thrift store find. I don't sew so I need projects that avoid sewing or a way I can pull off a project without making a stitch. This project fits the bill.

I picked up this old suitcase for just $5! I also bought red spray paint with primer for plastic, blue trim tape, glue and two kinds of coordinating fabric. I bought 3/4 of yard of each and it was plenty.  I trimmed my suitcase with tape to cover all the silver parts I wanted to save then applied two coats of paint.

At first I thought I would hot glue the fabric in place but these glue products worked better. I used the adhesive spray to tack the fabric in place then I used Fabric Fusion to glue the fabric around the inside of the suitcase. I started at the top and folded the fabric under about 1" so I would have a clean edge. I glued one edge of the suitcase at a time. When I reached a corner I tucked the fabric under and worked the extra fabric under to make a clean edge.

Here's my finished unconventional picnic basket...shiny red and finished with fabulous fabric.

I found some plates, cups and bowls I purchased from Target to match my picnic basket. I love them...especially the small dipping bowls.

Happy Picniking!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

41 Acts of Kindness

I recently came across two websites, Action for Happiness and The Happy Movie and immediately felt motivated to get happy (or happier.) We can all benefit from more happiness and when we are happy we pass it on to others.

I joined "the Happy Movement," a 28 day program that brings happiness to the center of our lives. You can Sign up here.

Action for Happiness is a movement for positive social change. They're bringing people together from all walks of life who want to play a part in creating a happier society for everyone. How cool is that? It provides tons of information and plans for happiness.
There are Actions to move you in the right direction. The first one, Take the Action for Happiness pledge. Simple, right?

We've all heard of random acts of kindness but do we perform them?  Here's a list of suggested acts of kindess from Action for Happiness to get you started: My favorite is highlighted below.

1. Give up your seat
2. Hold a door open for someone
3. Give a (sincere) compliment
4. Make someone laugh
5. Give someone a hug
6. Take time to really listen to someone
7. Let one car in on every journey
8. Make someone new feel welcome
9. Help someone who's lost
10. Have a conversation with a stranger
11. Pick up litter as you walk
12. Let someone in front of you in the queue
13. Read a story with a child
14. Tell someone they mean a lot to you
15. Let someone have your parking spot
16. Offer your change to someone struggling to find the right amount
17. Treat a loved one to breakfast in bed
18. Buy cakes or fruit for your colleagues
19. Invite your neighbour round for a drink and a chat
20. Offer to help with someone's shopping
21. Tell someone if you notice they're doing a good job
22. Pass on a book you've enjoyed
23. Say sorry (you know who to)
24. Forgive someone for what they've done
25. Visit a sick friend, relative or neighbour
26. Buy an unexpected gift for someone
27. Bake something for a neighbor
28. Pay for someone in the queue behind
29. Do a chore that you don't normally do
30. Help out someone in need
31. Offer to look after a friend's children
32. Offer to mow your neighbour's lawn
33. Donate your old things to charity
34. Give food to a homeless person and take time to talk with them
35. Visit someone who may be lonely
36. Give blood (if you're able)
37. Get back in contact with someone you've lost touch with
38. Organize a fundraising event
39. Volunteer your time for a charity
40. Plan a street party
41. Leave a generous tip on a small tab

Which one will you choose to do today? Pass on the happy...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Picnic Series: Chicken Fingers and Dipping Sauces

Kids love to dip everything! Well, at least my kids do. For our picnic I made some dips to go along with the chicken strips I picked up at the market. Yes, I cheated because I wanted time to make the dips and I'm so glad I did.
The first dip was a horseradish dipping sauce. Oh my, this is so good. So glad I finally researched the recipe and made it my own. Now I can make it at home whenever. Next time it will be with onion rings.

Spicy Dipping Sauce
1/2 c. sour cream
2 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons cream-style horseradish sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon season salt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch black pepper
1//4 crushed red pepper flakes
In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

The second was a classic buttermilk ranch I watch Ina Garten make on the Food Network. Loved it.

  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 11/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken

  • Directions
      Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for 15 to 20 seconds to make a smooth mixture. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to develop.              

    The thirst was an asian dipping sauce.

    1/2 cup soy sauce
    1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons honey
    3 cloves minced garlic
    2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
    2 teaspoons sesame seeds
    2 teaspoons sesame oil

    Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, sesame oil in a bowl.

    Friday, June 8, 2012

    Best Friend Day

    Today is Best Friend Day, a time to enjoy and appreciate your best friend. It's a day to honor and cherish the relationship.

    I've made some great friends over the years. Some have come and gone but my BEST friends have been there with me and never left my side no matter what comes their way or mine. And whenever we get together we pick up right where we left off. It's amazing and I cherish their friendships.

    Friendships are like marriages though, you have to work at it and let them know how much they mean to you. I've always felt that I'm a better friend than more are to me but I'm sensitive and get my feelings hurt easily. That's something I always work on and I see it as a major flaw but that just me and part of my low emotional intelligence or EQ.

    Some people save best friends for someone that is the same sex but for me I'm including my husband. After all, they say you should marry your best friend and I did marry mine.

    So today try celebrating by:
    • Picking up the phone and saying Hi
    • make a lunch date
    • send a small gift or a homemade card.
    • send your friend an OLD photo of the two of you
    Best friend day always falls on June 8 so mark it on your calendar and keep your special friend in mind.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Last Day of Kindergarten

    I wanted to make the last day of school a big deal or at least make it memorable and fun sooooo...
    We started off the morning with a surprise cinnamon roll breakfast and decorations, WELCOME TO SUMMER. They were so excited!

    I made Katie a t shirt inspired by Secrets of a Super Mommy but changed the saying on the t shirt. It was cute but next time I would use something other than Sharpie markers because it went through  the shirt in inked her skin. She didn't care but it took a bit of time to remove.

    We made an 8x10 frame and wrote a poem that told Katie how special she is to us. My husband is great at poetry. We included photos from 6 months - 6 years.

    Katie and I  made a graduation cap for her special day using paper circle punches, felt flowers, ribbons and buttons. I love this.
    I have a First Grader now!

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Summer Picnic Series: Painting on Location

    One of my favorite classes in art school was Watercolor Painting. The medium was great but what made it my favorite was our location.  Each class the instructor had us meet at a new location. We met at greenhouses, farms, stables, parks, bridges, gardens, etc. It was summertime and it was beautiful being outside and being creative. I loved it.
    To me, the whole point of picnicing is to enjoy your surrounding and soaking up the outdoors and sun for that matter. So today we will paint on location.
    You don't need to be a pro to begin painting just a willingness to try. You may suprise yourself. Since I am taking the kids I made each of them travel case similar to the one I once used in college.

    what you'll need:
    tool box or tote
    water color paint of your choice (i got the kids Crayola washable watercolor paint)
    2-3 brushes
    container of water
    water color paper
    sketch paper
    paper towel

    For more outstanding tips for painting and Painting on Location check out:

    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    Things to do with your kids - Intro

    I got this book from one of my friends called 101 Things You Should Do Before Your Kids Leave Home. It's kinda like a bucket list for the entire family and a great way to collect memories. You can pick it up for under $10.
    101 Things You Should Do Before Your Kids Leave Home (Faithwords)

    Instead of following the book by the letter I thought I would take some of the suggestions and tweak them to fit our family. For example, #7. Build a bird house and wait for them to come. I  might offer that the kids just paint a pre-made birdhouse or build a bird bath, take photos of the birds when they visit and journal about it or better yet make bird feeders like the girls did at eighteen25.

    Each week you'll get to see some of the 101 things my family is doing. Stay tuned.

    Saturday, June 2, 2012

    Summer Picnic Series: Marshmallow Candy Popcorn Balls

    I think picnic treats should be easy to eat and carry. With kids running and playing at a picnic I thought popcorn balls would be a fun idea. I made a fresh version of a popcorn ball that I love. I used marshmallows instead of corn syrup which was a big hit with everyone. I even added pretzel pieces and M&Ms and satisfy every chocolate tooth.

    1 bag microwave popcorn
    6 tablespoons butter
    5 cups miniature marshmallows
    1/2 cup sprinkles
    1/2 M&M candies
    1/2 chopped pretzel sticks

    1. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Set aside.

    2. Pop popcorn as instructed then empty into a large bowl.

    3. Melt butter In a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in marshmallows and cook until melted, stirring constantly. Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn and mix with spoon to coat evenly.               

    4. Let mixture cool slightly and toss to coat with a spatula then add pretzels, M&M and sprinkles and toss completely. Smear cooking spray on your hands begin forming into 8 balls.