Archive for the ‘Kidstuff’ Category

Racetrack and Pony Birthday Cakes

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

 It took all of about 9 years, but I’ve finally grown wise to theme cakes…forget the special shapes.  Really, does my kid need a cake in the shape of a pony, and then we chop the head or leg off…kinda scary.

So now we opt for regular shaped cakes decorated with simple toys in the theme.  And not one to spend extra money, the kids understand that the toys on their cake are part of their present. 

This year Jarod got 5 new hot wheels cars and Makenna got 2 new ponies and a pegasus to add to her horse collection, and I finished their cakes in half the time.

A Quick Snack. Frozen Bananas

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I know, summer is coming to a close already, but pretty darn hot around here, so I thought I’d share a snack we reach for all the time to cool off.

Frozen bananas are a healthy alternative to all those freeze pops that invade the stores in the hot months.  And don’t worry if you’re not a big banana fan, they have a somewhat different, much creamier taste when frozen.

Just grab a bunch of bananas.  Peel them.  Cut them in half and put a wooden stick in the end.

For easy clean up.  We place a piece of plastic wrap on a large plate and then lay the bananas towards the center and cover with another piece of plastic.

The wooden sticks can be found at any craft store for about five dollars (make sure to use the 40% off coupon), and you’ll have 1000 to last for summers to come.

For a special treat, dip them in chocolate and roll them in coconut or crushed candies before eating.

For more frozen bananas check out Neverhomemaker and Choosing Raw.

Kitty Birthday Cake

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Once I got beyond the trauma of my little baby turning 3 last week, I did manage to make her her annual kitty cake and dress.   The child has adored kitties since before she ever saw one.

Being that I was too lazy busy to make a kitty shaped cake like I did last year, I opted for a cake decorated with toy kitties.  It was really quick to make and in the long run makes more sense because now she has the kitties to keep and play with whenever she wants.

After wandering the grocery store for 30 minutes trying to come up with ideas on how to decorate a cake with kitties on it I ended up with a cake that consisted of green icing with coconut dyed green for the grass.  Pretzel rods and marshmallows (dyed green again) for the trees.  A few nilla wafers for a path and yogurt drops for flowers or rocks or something…I don’t know, but they looked nice.  

My favorite part was the mice made from licoice gum drops with little tails and ears made from pieces of cut licorice and glued on with black gel icing.  If only I was smart enough to have taken a close up picture of them.

The result was that Alexandra actually squealed, “kitties!” when she saw the cake, which was adorable, but meant I probably could have placed the toy kitties on a plain cake with no icing on it and gotten the same reaction.

Oh well.

Homemade Play Doh

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

We have been meaning to make homemade play doh for over a year….and now that I know just how easy it is, and how good it turned out, I wish we’d gotten around to making it sooner. 

There are literally dozens of recipes on the internet and I’m not sure why I chose this particular one (or where I got it), but it turned out fantastic and it is the recipe I’ll stick to.

You’ll need..

2 Cups Flour

1 Cup Salt

2 Cups Water

4 Tbsp. Oil

4 Tbsp. Cream of Tartar (found in the spice aisle)

TIP  Add Peppermint Extract to help preserve the play doh and give it a great scent. 

 Mix all the ingredients together in a large pot.

Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes.  It will start to clump as you can see in the above photo.

Then it almost instantly all clumps together and looks like this.

At this point it is really soft and smooth and can be picked up and put on wax paper and kneaded and split into 3 or 4 balls depending on how many different colors you want to make.

Add several drops of food coloring and let the kids have fun mixing it in.

Then it’s playtime.

 And a picnic…

..and Alexandra is not liking the looks of the play doh hot dog too much.

Stained Glass Hearts

Monday, February 8th, 2010

This is a pretty way to use up some old crayons…and make special hearts that your ‘valentines’ can hang in their windows. 

All you need is wax paper, crayons, a sharpener and iron to start.

 For the second half of the project you’ll need construction paper scissors and glue.

First rip off two pieces of wax paper about 7 inches long.

 Next sharpen your crayons in the sharpener and scatter the crayon shavings on one sheet of waxed paper.

 We did this step right on the ironing board so we wouldn’t have to move the pieces.

Be sure to place an old sheet or towel under the wax paper because they can melt through a bit.

 Now sandwich your shavings by placing another piece of waxed paper on top of the crayons.

Then place another old sheet or pillowcase.

Iron over the pieces for about 5 seconds.  They melt quickly.

(You can do this for just a moment and then check to see how melted the pieces have gotten and melt some more if you’d like them to blend together more.) 

 To make your heart cut 2 heart frames out of construction paper.  You’ll need a piece for the front and a piece for the back.


 Next trace the smaller, inside heart onto your wax paper and cut out around the hearts about a half inch larger so you will have an edge to glue onto the construction paper.  (you’ll notice you can kinda see the pencil marks  on the hearts in this photo.)

Glue your stained glass heart onto one of the construction paper hearts.

Then glue the other heart on top.

To hang, use a needle to string a piece of thread through the top.

And have a Happy Valentines Day!

If you’d like to see more example, we used this same technique to make stained glass church Christmas cards in 2008.








Anyone want to make a kitty toy?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Makenna desperately wanted to make a kitty toy for the homeless cats at Animals in Distress.  She bugged me for days.

So we hit my fabric and ribbon stash… and this fish was what we came up with as a first effort.   Well it was stuffed too, but of course, after taking the pictures of all the different steps to make the fish, I forgot to take a picture of the finished project before we gave it to the kitties.  (My adorable son will tell you that is because ‘mommy has a small brain’.)

It was important that the toy could be made by Makenna alone, since she wants to make lots of them for the different kitty rooms at the shelter.   Since I already have a long list of sewing projects to do myself, the kitty toys need to be on her list.

The toy was made from my fabric stash with fabric ribbon and then stuffed with cut up sheets (in case the kitties managed to rip open the toy I didn’t want them choking on stuffing).

Lesson learned for the next toy.  Use strips of thin fleece (or something else that won’t fray) for the tassles because the cats claws had the ribbon shredded in about a minute.

We cut out a fish shape that was about 5 inches long by 3.5 inches high.  Next we cut pieces of ribbon in varying 4-5 inch lengths, and one 15 inch piece to use to dangle the toy.

With the right side of fabric facing up, we layed the ribbons down with the ends at the back of the fish and the long ends out past the head.  This way the ribbons will hang out the back of the fish like you want. 

Attach the ribbon with a piece of scotch tape about an inch from the end of the ribbon (where you won’t be sewing) in order to hold the ribbon in place while you sew.

With your sewing machine, run a straight stitch along the ribbons twice to attach them to the fish.

Remove the tape that was holding them inplace.

Next tape the long piece of ribbon with the end near the fish’s mouth and the long end hanging over the tail.  Tape, and sew as you did the back ribbons.

Now gather the ribbons together in the middle of the fish and tape down away from the edges so that you don’t accidently sew through them when you sew the two pieces of the fish together.

With right sides facing each other pin the pieces together and then sew a straight stitch around the perimeter of the fish about 1/4 inch from the edge leaving a 1.5 inch opening at the base of the fish for turning it right side out.

Turn your toy right side out.  Remove the tape from the ribbons.

Stuff with small pieces (about 1/2 inch) of recycled fabric.

Hand stitch the opening closed and your toy is ready.

Next toy I plan on buying 3/8 inch dowel rods which we will drill a hole through (mommy will have to do that part), and then we can tie the long ribbon through it and dangle the toy more easily for the kitties.

As soon as we make a few more toys (this weekend since we go to see the kitties again Monday) I will add some better pictures, including a few completely finished ones, and they’ll show the stick for dangling them too.

4/9/10  I still haven’t remembered to take a picture of these since we’re always so excited to give them to the kitties, but one thing we learned is to use thin fleece instead of ribbon because it holds up much better to kitty claws.

Book Review. The Magic Treehouse Series

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The Magic Treehouse Series of stories by Mary Pope Osborne.  (aka the Jack and Annie books in our home due to the names of the two main characters.) 

 5 STARS.  Our Suggested Age Range: 4-10

EDUCATIONAL/FANTASY.  Children (and moms), will learn about everything from dinosaurs to gorillas, and from ancient China to the Great SanFrancisco earthquake of 1906 and the Titanic.

OUR THOUGHTS: We all like these books so much that we have the full collection of paperbacks and get new ones as soon as they come out.

MOM:  I like them because they are great stories that are both educational and fun, so the kids don’t mind learning.   I can’t count the number of times the kids have said, “I learned that in a ‘Jack and Annie’ book.” 
JAROD: (age 8):  “I like the books because they have lots of adventure and they always escape stuff.”
MAKENNA: (age 8):  ”I love Jack and Annie because of the adventure, and because there’s usually animals in them.”

A brother and sister, (Jack and Annie).  Ages 7 and 8, respectively.
Join Jack and Annie as they discover a magic treehouse in the woods near their home.  They travel all over the world and across time where they meet intersting people (like Thomas Edison and Leonordo DaVinci) and help solve problems wherever they go.  Young readers learn about everything from dinosaurs to knights and from ancient China and Egypt to the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and the Titanic.
Currently as of Jan. 2010 there are 43 books to this series.  Each one covers a different time and place in history.  They are available in paperback, harcover and also on audio CD.
We first heard about these books when the twins were 4 and we were looking for stories on CDs that they could listen to on long car rides.  They loved them and we eventually ended up getting all the books on CD before they could read.
There is a great Magic Treehouse website featuring information about all the books, games, and links for further information on the different topics.
There are also Research Guides available to enhance the learning from each Magic Treehouse book.

Artsy Pipe Cleaner Tree

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Keep in mind, this is one of those projects that just doesn’t photograph well.  I apologize, but trust me when I say that they are really, really cute. 

Makenna and I discovered a version of these interesting trees displayed at a local elementary school over the weekend and just had to make one immediately.  Makenna made a beautiful one using our endless supply of buttons and some ribbon for decorations, unfortunately, we didn’t have enough pipe cleaners in the house to make one for me too.   (Note.  The original trees we saw were made using beads and feathers for ornaments.)

To make your own Fancy Tree you’ll need:

16 Pipe Cleaners,

Small Base of scrap wood,

Paint to paint the base (and we painted buttons too)

Glue Gun to Glue tree on the base,

Embellishements like Buttons, Ribbon, Feathers, Beads

and Glue if you are using embellishement that need to be glued on the tree.

To Start:

Line up your 16 pipe cleaners and starting about 2 inches from the bottom (that section will be the roots), twist them together for about 2 to 3 inches to form your trunk.

Now seperate the trunk into 4 sections with 4 pipe cleaners each and twist those a little.  Then seperate the groups of 4 into two pipe cleaners.   Twist a bit more, and finally you’ll have single pipe cleaner branches to bend out into the tips of branches.  (This makes a good visual lesson on how generally branches get narrower as you go up from the trunk and out to the branches).

Next add your decorations on the branches.  Either by gluing on feathers, stringing on the beads and buttons or tying on ribbons.

Set aside your tree and paint your wood base.  Let dry.

When the base is dry, apply hot glue to the ‘roots’ of the tree and quickly and firmly press it onto the center of your base.

Optional.  You can now decorate your base more to your liking.  We painted some buttons (I never pass up an opportuntiy to use up more of our 1 million buttons), and glued them on the base and roots to look as if they’d fallen off the tree.

This is definitely a project we’ll be doing again.  Different trees for different holidays/seasons.  I can see making a red, pink and white one with little hearts for Valentines Day, a Fourth of July themed tree, a beautiful white and silver winter tree with snowflakes….Oooo, I’m excited, time to go buy more pipe cleaners!


Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I’m not sure if Jarod or Brian was more excited over the weekend when their Pinewood Derby car won their Cub Scout Pack Derby.  The darn thing beat out about 50 other cars.

I will admit, I was impressed by their creation, especially since last year’s car finished about dead last.

My contribution was that fine batman paint job that I know you were admiring…I’m sure it wouldn’t have won without the paint job.

The only problem now is that Jarod is not allowed to touch the car until after regionals (in March) for fear of somehow ‘throwing off the balance’, and my hubby is spending an extended period of time looking up all things ‘Pinewood Derby’ on the internet. 

Oh, and yes, they’re already designing next year’s car.

Homemade Wild Bird Food

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

When the weather gets cold, we always make sure to take extra care of our wild feathered friends.  We give them plenty of birdseed and fresh water each day.  But, for our animal loving child (Makenna) that wasn’t enough.  She wanted to make them something.  Her first choice was pinecones lathered in peanut butter and rolled in birdseed but we’ve done those in the past….so I headed to the internet to find other recipes.

This is the first one we’ve tried, and we had lots of fun, so we’ll be sure to try some more recipes before the winter is over.

The Recipe.  Homemade Bird Food.

In large bowl combine..

1 cup Cornmeal,  1 cup Peanut Butter,  1 cup Sugar, 1/2 cup Flour

Add 1/2 cup Water.

Microwave on high 4-5 minutes until very thick.

Add 1 cup Birdseed.    Stir.   Let Cool.

Press into mold.  Milk Carton, Cool Whip container, Sour Cream container, etc. (We tried in a pie plate and it got to thin and didn’t hold together as well as we would have liked.)

Put in refrigerator to cool and harden.

Unmold and put outside for the birdies to enjoy!

There are more homemade birdfood recipes here and here.