Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to {properly} Ding Dong Ditch!

 Like every good parent, I try to teach my kids the important skills in life: manners, kindness, giving, learning, serving, oh – and how to ding dong ditch! {I wouldn’t want them to pick it up on the streets you know.} The traditional version is not always kind, but this version from Poppies at Play is full of FUN! 

So now, at our house, Ding Dong Ditching someone means you leave THIS on their doorstep:
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So here is how to {properly} Ding Dong Ditch & add some fun to your summer!

{Step 1} Give the rookie directions on how you Ding Dong Ditch. ;o)
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{Step 2} Be vewy, vewy, quiet….you don’t want to give yourself away!
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{Step 3} Proper door placement is key.
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 {Step 4} Sometimes it’s tempting to sneak a peak at your surprisee. {especially if it’s your first time!}
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{Step 5} But usually you RUUUUN!!!!
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I hope you are all having as much fun this summer as we are!!! Here are the printable tags if you want to do your own Ding Dong Ditching!!

ding-dong-ditched                        ding-dong

God Bless! xo

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Apple Nachos: Mmm Mmm Good!

I don't know what it is, maybe it's just summer, but I am all about yummy food right now! {I think Pinterest is giving me some easy inspiration too!} :) In fact, I saw these apple nachos on Pinterest and HAD to make them! My boys love apples, so it was the perfect summer treat! :)
Here is the easy recipe if you want to make your own!

Apple Nachos {mouth watering preview}:


{You will need}
  • 4 apples
  • about 1/2 bag (8 oz.) mini marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup of caramel dip
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted peanut topping {optional}
{All amounts are approximate. Change the amounts to your taste & per the # of apples you use.} :)


{Directions}
1. Core & slice apples and place on a plate.
2. Melt marshmallows & butter in a saucepan. {Think rice crispy treats!} :)
3. Drizzle melted marshmallows over your apples!
4. Drizzle caramel over your apples. {Optional: warm the caramel for about 20 seconds first.}
5. Sprinkle desired amount of mini chocolate chips over your yummy treat!
6. {Optional} Sprinkle nuts on top too!
7. Enjoy!!





One sticky happy customer! :)

God Bless! xo

Saturday, June 25, 2011

4th of July - $4 Cake Stands! {How to}

Seriously – these cost $4! I was planning a pool party for my boys, I needed cake stands and knew I wanted something I could also use for 4th of July, so I came up with this candlestick makeover cake stand:

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Here is what you’ll need:
  • Candlesticks - Wood, glass or plaster work best.{Mine were a light wood/plaster}
  • Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Spray paint in the color of your choice {I used Krylon Banner Red and Turquoise ~ I’m loving turquoise as a 4th of July color!}
  • Sealer/Poly to make the cake stand easier to wipe clean. Smile
  • PLATES {I found the plates first and then matched my paint color to them.} Target & Big Lots often have inexpensive plates. I bought my plates for $2.50 each @Target! {See pics of the plates at the bottom of this post.} Here's a pic of the supplies sans the paint & plates. {The spackle was to fill in the gaps from removing the design on the candlesticks; more on that later}:
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Directions:

1. I was so lucky to find these candlesticks at a garage sale! (All 4 for $5! Add that to the cost of the plates, makes each cake stand cost about $4!!) Woot woot!

{Shaped by Grace}
Notice the grape/leaf design thingy on them? Yeah, I didn’t like it either. {At least not for my cake stand! I DID kind of like them sitting by my fireplace though!} Anyways, I spent an HOUR chipping those grapes off with my hammer and chisel, then sanding them down. NO ME GUSTA. I hope you can find nice smooth candlesticks ready to use! If you do, I still recommend a little sanding to prep them, it makes the paint attach easier.

2. Depending on the finish, spray 1-2 coats of primer. Since these were already white, I only did one coat of spray primer.

3. I sanded a little bit again just to smooth things out and then sprayed on the color! 

4. 2-3 coats of spray paint. {Again, depending on the finish & color of your candlesticks.} I sprayed 3 coats on mine, letting each coat dry before spraying on the next coat. 

5. After the last coat of color is dry, spray on or paint on a sealer. This gives it the glossy look and also will protect it from water. {Please only hand wipe clean. These are not recommended for submersion or the dishwasher.} ;o)

6. As soon as all the paint is completely dry, time to glue on the plates! Here are your options: Hot glue, Gorilla Glue, super glue or Tacky Glue. {I used Tacky Glue.} The glue really depends on the material of the candlesticks and plates you are using. The Gorilla Glue was too industrial for me (it foams up, so using the right amount is key). A hot glue gun is usually my weapon of choice, but it was NOT permanently adhering to those candlesticks!! So, Tacky Glue it was! And, it actually worked quite well – it was easy to use, extremely durable and dries clear! {Follow your glue directions – I set something heavy on the plate to clamp down & help the glue dry tight and let it sit for 24 hrs.}

7. Once your plates are secure & dry they are ready to use and enjoy

Tie a pretty bow around the base and here is the final product! {I'm loving the current trend of turquoise instead of the usual dark blue!}

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Don’t forget to put a cake on top. ;o)



{For the how-to on that festive star cake, click here!}

If you make these candlesticks, I’d LOVE to see your final product! Attach a link in your comment below!! Happy {early} 4th of July!!


Linking up here:

Making Monday Marvelous Linky PartyTip Junkie handmade projects



itsy bitsy paper

4th of July Star Cake {Tutorial}

So, my friends know I love to bake desserts. BUT, I’m not one for rolling out pastry or fondant. I am all about EASY food! {See my Pinterest Photo Board “Food Even I Can Make”: here} Maybe if I had the time I would, but I’m a single mom folks, AND I have a full time teaching job, so any time I find a recipe that requires little effort on my part, but LOOKS like I spent a lot of time creating it, is right up my ally! ;o)
SO, I found a “fun food” recipe book for kids and it had this really cool looking star cake and it was so easy to make, I had to try it!! Here is the final product & below are the super easy directions:

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YOU WILL NEED:
  • Your favorite cake recipe. (I used a strawberry cake for the 4th of July party, since it was red)
  • White frosting
  • FRUIT ROLL UPS (Yep, I said fruit roll ups! Red & blue, but any color you want will do)
  • A STAR shaped cookie cutter {I used a 3” copper cutter}
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I will assume you know how to bake a cake, and since I am no authority on it (I’m a ‘from the box’ kind of girl) if you want some extra cake baking tips, click here

I will focus on the stars! Smile Once you bake & frost your delicious cake, it is time to roll out the fruit roll ups! {Pun intended}

Most simple directions EVER:
1. Unroll fruit roll ups.
2. Cut with {SHARP} star cookie cutter. {Fruit roll ups can be sticky}
3. Place on top of cake {or cupcake!}

READ THESE TIPS! {Trust me}
So, those directions could not be more easy, but I did learn a couple things to make it even easier:
  • Keep the fruit roll ups COLD! It was warm at my house, but even room temperature, those things stuck together making them too sticky to unroll or cut. I kept them in the ‘fridge and then pulled them out one by one as I needed to cut them.
  • Even cold, a SHARP cookie cutter works best! The roll ups WANT to stick together, so a sharp cutter and patient pulling apart of your stenciled cut out will do the job.
  • If you can keep your cake cold/refrigerated that will make the fruit roll up starts easier to cut off the cake. Next time, I’ll use a smaller cookie cutter so I can have more stars on the cake and I won’t have to worry as much about where I cut the cake.
  • Finally, I didn’t realize that PLAIN blue & red fruit roll ups would be so hard to find. I didn’t have time to shop around, so that’s why I have the multicolored stars, but I’m sure if you had time, you could find the perfect colors. Smile
Here are a few more pics of the cake:
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{If you want to learn how to make that sweet cake stand, click here!}

I’d love to see your version of this fruit roll up inspired cake decor! I am already thinking it would be fun to cut out red hearts for Valentine’s day and so many other shapes!!! Smile

Happy Baking! xo

Linking up here:
Tip Junkie handmade projects


itsy bitsy paper

First Day of Summer!

Hip Hip Hooray! Thursday was the last day of school for the boys and this year we had our 2nd annual end of year pool party! {It sounds way more official than it actually is.} The boys and some of their friends came to our pool and enjoyed a few hours of splashing, food and fun! It was a great way to kick off the summer! My favorite little man quote was: “Mom, there’s no school  today?” ME: Nope. LITTLE MAN: “Because it’s summer?” ME: Yes. LM: “Even on Tuesdays?” ME: Yes, even on Tuesdays!  {Hooray again!} My boys are so blessed to have such nice friends in our neighborhood, all the kids played so well together! AND we were also very blessed to have GREAT weather! So, great friends, great weather, some great food – isn’t that was summer is supposed to be all about?

Woo hoo!:
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{Lol – I just noticed the underwater swimmer. It must be the camera angle, but no worries – he made it safely to the edge!}

Welcome to the party…
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Friends…
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The 1st-2nd graders know how to party!

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Then I heard someone say “All the middle schoolers over here!!” Seriously? I’m still not used to hearing my #1 son referred to as a middle schooler…sigh…. but here they are – coming soon to a middle school near you!

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{Mom got to invite some friends to the party too}  
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These strawberries below were so messy looking, but SO good! You’re supposed to dip the strawberries in white chocolate candy coating {so it hardens & is smooth} and then dip it in the sprinkles so it looks all perfect and pretty – but my boys absolutely LOVE my strawberry marshmallow dip & I couldn’t say no. SO, we got messy-but-absolutely-TO-DIE-FOR tasty Red, White & Blue strawberries! :)
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I wish I took more pictures of the party d├ęcor, but we were just having too much fun!! But I DID remember to take a picture of the cake though. It was a huge hit at the party:

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For an easy ‘how-to’ make this cake, click here!

For a tutorial on how to make those red & blue cake stands (DIY – only $4!) ~ click here!

Two days of summer and we’re off to a great start! But I’m always looking for new things to do with the boys! What are your plans this summer? I’d love to hear your ideas! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FREE 4th of July Printables!!

That's right! FREE! One of my favorite blogs, Living Locurto, has highlighted a whole collection of 4th of July party tags, cupcake toppers and fun kid projects & printables all in one spot! If you are planning a 4th of July party, BBQ, birthday party {hint hint} ;) or just want some fun ideas, check 'em out! Below is my favorite picture from her post and if you scroll down even further you'll find some free tags from yours truly! :) Happy early 4th!!


Click on the picture below and the right click on it to save it to your computer! :o)

 To download ALL the freebies, click here ! Enjoy!! :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Father's Day Story Everyone Should Read

If you don't know Dick Hoyt and his son Rick's story, well, you will now. And if you have heard it before, then you know that it's worth sharing. Maybe, you will even pass this on to someone you know. All I know is that I often struggle what that image of a perfect parent looks like; how to honor God with the children he has given me... I know that the best thing we can do for our kids is to give them our unconditional love, and when I think of that kind of love, I often think of this story:

"I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.
But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.
Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.
Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?
And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.

This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.
"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. ``Put him in an Institution.''
But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was told. ``There's nothing going on in his brain.''
"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want To do that.''
Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described ``porker'' who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. ``Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. ``I was sore For two weeks.''

That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''
And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.
``No way,'' Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a Single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.
Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?''
How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he Was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you Think?
Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick does it purely for ``the awesome feeling'' he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.
This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.
``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``My dad is the Father of the Century.''
And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such great shape,'' One doctor told him, ``you probably would've died 15 years ago.'' So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.
That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.
``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''
{Article by Rick Reilly; Sports Illustrated}

And the video is below...



Happy Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“New Use” Tuesday!

The only magazine I subscribe to is Real Simple Magazine and one of my favorite sections is their “New Uses for Old Things” feature! I love that they take everyday items and use them for unusual or random things. Personally I LOVE using items for anything EXCEPT what they were meant to be used for! {That trait comes in handy when garage sale hunting.} ;o) SO, Tuesdays around here are going to be “New Uses for Old Things” Tuesdays. {Does Real Simple have that phrase copyrighted? Maybe I’ll just call it “New Use Tues.”} ;o)

Anyways, today’s first “New Use” for something old is … {drum roll please}… ALUMINUM FOIL!!
Why aluminum foil? Because I’m getting ready to do some painting this summer and in my blog hunting, I found this picture:

AluminumFoil
New Use #1: Using Aluminum Foil as a hardware protector when painting! Genius right? This is my favorite “new use!” Since foil hugs and takes the shape of whatever it covers it’s perfect for the job! This is so cool in and of itself, I could stop there, but in case you need more, here are some other new uses for aluminum foil:

#2: Aluminum foil as a make-shift funnel. In a pinch, you can roll two layers of foil in the shape of a cone and use it as a funnel.

#3: As a kitchen scrubber. Roll foil up in a ball and add some dish soap. Use to scrub stubborn food off of glass bakeware.

#4: Sharpen your scissors!! Cut about 6-8 layers of aluminum foil with a dull pair of scissors. The cut alone will sharpen the scissors! {I'll have to try this one!}

almost done…
AFironing-pant
#5: Wrinkle remover! For those of you who iron. {My current criteria for clothing is no dry cleaning and no ironing!} Smile Place aluminum foil under silk, wool and rayon clothing that can’t take direct heat. HOLD the iron 3-4 inches ABOVE the garment and the foil will radiate the heat and help take out the wrinkles! Nice…

And the finale…. Cat toy (Rolled up in a ball or with a string tied to it), baking pan covers, pie crust edge covers or wrap cheese in foil to keep it from molding. Any other ideas??

I hope you enjoyed the first “New Use Tuesday!”
Some of these ideas I got blog hunting and many I got here: Real Simple Magazine. Check ‘em out!
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