Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School Gift

This week is the first day of school for many of the students in this area.
This year I'm sending the kids to school with a cute little gift for their teachers.
A plastic mug and a package of cookies with a card that reads: "If you give a teacher a cookie, she might want a glass of milk."

Just a cute way to wish them a good start to a new school year.
Happy first day everyone!!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

North Country Trail

This scenic trail runs from New York through seven states, 12 National Forests and ends in North Dakota. It covers 4600 miles.  
We have visited portions of the trail that go through Moraine State Park and McConnell’s Mill State Park. This past weekend we stayed at the Davis Hollow Cabin which is operated as a hostel by the North Country Trail volunteers.  
For a reasonable donation you can stay at the cabin. A portion of it is over 200 years old. An addition was put on 100 years ago. It also offers tent pads around the outside of the cabin for hikers to have a base camp. We had the whole place to ourselves. We camp with another family and there was plenty of room for the nine of us.
The cabin was upgraded with a working kitchen and two bathrooms but there are no bathing facilities. However, you can use the showers at the Marina.
The cabin is a short walk to the Marina on Lake Arthur. There is also a seven mile bike trail that goes around the lake. We took our own bikes but you can rent bikes at the park. It was a weekend full of activities for the kids to build lasting memories.
Here are some photos of the cabin.
As you walk up from the driveway.
The back side. Peer through the trees and you can see the lake.
The fire pit
The picnic area next to the fire pit
The eating area as you enter from the porch
The kitchen just off the side of the eating area
From the eating area step down to the great room
The great room from another viewpoint

Go up the steps from the photo above and this room is on the left. It sleeps five people. This room and the other bedroom are also connected with the shared bathroom.

This room is to the right at the top of the steps. the door to the bathroom is in the back left corner here. This room sleeps six people.

 Such a fun relaxing weekend!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Catch a Dream

Summers around here tend to be quite busy. There are sport camps and vacation bible school, play dates, picnics in the park, weekend trips, camping and we didn’t even get to vacation yet. Yet despite the go, go, go of it all, there are still the occasional days that the kids can’t seem to find anything to do.
I think sometimes they have so many choices, that they just can’t see any of the options in front of them and nothing seems like it would be fun. If I’m on my “A” game, I try to pick something simple for them to occupy their time to use some creativity. With nothing to do…I tossed some yarn and pipe cleaners on the table.
They were able to work together to bend the pipe cleaners into a variety of shapes, wrap them in colored yarn and create several dream catchers to decorate the light above my kitchen table. I’ll be keeping these supplies close at hand for the next time I hear “There is nothing to do”.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

End of Year Teacher Gift

For my son’s Kindergarten teacher this year I planned a group gift from all the kids in the classroom. They will be giving her an apron and a cookbook.

Not just any apron…

The apron has a handprint from each of the kids in the class. I had a white canvas apron and some fabric paint. As the homeroom Mom, I knew in advance of a conference that our teacher had planned to attend. I talked with the sub and the dean of students to plan a time to come into the classroom.

Along with the apron and fabric paint, I took in some wet wipes, paper towels, several paper plates, a paint pen and a check list of student names.

My helper (aka my son) called back one kid at a time. Each child was able to choose the color they wanted, then I spread a little paint out on a plate, squished their hand into the paint and then onto the apron. While my son checked their name off the list a used the paint pen to write the name under their handprint. Then we were on to the next kid.

I timed it so I could do this project in the back of the classroom while the kids were having their snack time. I went in, set up, got all the handprints and cleaned up in just under 30 minutes.

And not just any cookbook…

I sent an e-mail out to the parents of each kid and asked them to please send me a recipe. I printed out each recipe including the child’s name at the top of the page. I put all the recipes together and found this great tutorial for bookbinding. She had great step by step instructions and a picture with numbers and arrows that made it so simple to follow. And the finished product looks so good.

I used brown cardstock for the cover and wrapped the front cover with scrapbook paper to make it pretty.

I made a template to mark off holes for the pages and then I used waxed linen cord to do the binding.
I also included this recipe for the teacher.
Recipe for the Best Kindergarten Teacher
(This will yield one very successful class)
You will need:
Handful of curiosity
1 Cup of Honesty
2 Cups of Teamwork
1 Cup of Effort
2 Cups of Kindness
1 lb. of Excitement for Learning
1 lb. of Passion for Teaching
A Pinch of Fun and a Sprinkle of Creativity
Combine all ingredients with a gentle hand and a loving heart.
Thank you for all the helping hands you have given us.
Enjoy your summer!!!

I think she’s love the gift and remember the kids when she’s looking up one of the yummy recipes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Four Star Menu

I’ve been camping with my hubby, kids and another family for about two years. I always thought, the menu when camping, would be limited to hotdogs and S’mores.
I still feel that I’m a novice at the whole thing but I did feel brave enough to suggest a few menu choices for this past trip.
We’re usually out on an adventure during the day, so lunch happens away from camp. Here’s what we had for our dinners and breakfasts this time around.

Friday Dinner: Chicken tenders, Mac-n-cheese and veggies.
Sat Breakfast: Sausage, eggs and cheese on an English muffin.
Sat Dinner: Pizza Roll.
Sunday Breakfast: Pancakes and Bacon.
Sunday Dinner: Lasagna and Salad.

I’m still amazed. Our menu at home doesn’t always look this appetizing.
Before we left for the camping trip, I made a few things ahead. The mac n cheese recipe I found here.

I altered it slightly, here’s what I did...

More than a half of a box of elbow macaroni; cooked.
An 8 oz. block of white cheddar shredded.
About a ¼ cup of parmesan cheese.
2 T. of milk (could have used a little more I think)
And 2-3 T. of butter.

In a bowl, combine the cooked macaroni and the shredded cheese. Transfer this into a foil pie pan then place pads of butter all around the top and poured the milk over. Then I sprinkled a little extra cheese over the top and covered with tin foil.

When ready to cook, place on fire or hot grill. We put ours into a Dutch oven and used the hot coals to heat.
It was really good! I think next time maybe a little more cheese and maybe some more milk to give added creaminess. With the chicken tenders (Fully cooked, bread, frozen- they just need to be heated through) some cut veggies and t6here was plenty to feed the 9 of us.

For the pizza roll I used this recipe. It is also was made in advance and frozen to be cooked on a campfire. I made two rolls and we finished the cut veggies left from the first night.
The lasagna was made in the Dutch oven with no-boil noodles (the kind that doesn’t need to be boiled ahead of time). That with a bag of spring mix salad and we had another balanced meal. Yummy!!!
Another successful camping trip full of wonderful memories for the kiddos!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Snowman in Summer

As the school year comes to an end, our schedules are filled with talent shows and other school performances. They really are one of my favorite things. What could be more adorable than lining a bunch of little kiddos up in their homemade costumes? Oh, put them on stage, giving them music and a few cute gestures! Adorable!
I’ve been to two such shows so far this month and there are two more to go still.
When my middle child started planning her performance, I was all too happy to help out with some matching shirts for her and her buddies. While they planned a riveting, show-stopping hula-hoop routine to the song “Summer” (made famous by our favorite snowman) I went into action planning their shirts.
After finding a cute image of Olaf, I printed out 3 copies. I grabbed 3 T-shirts for about 3.50 each and a couple of paint pens and was able to make them matching Olaf shirts for less than if I had bought just one shirt at a Disney store.

Here’s the easy “how to”…

1.   Pre-wash your shirt
2.   Place a plastic covered piece of cardboard inside the shirt to prevent the paint from going through. (I taped my shirts to the table too so they didn't shift while I was working)
3.   Slid the image inside the shirt and trace.

Ta-da! Three happy hula-hooping little girls! Life is good!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Easy Spring Décor

In my powder room, I have a frame that holds chicken wire. I use it to add a little touch of seasonal décor to the tiny room. I usually find a greeting card that I like and then cut it apart so I can show the front of the card as well as what might be written inside. It a simple way to bring the season or holiday into another room of the house. I use clothes pins to hold the card in place.

Originally I was using the first set of five clothes pins that I decoupaged with craft paper to match the room.

As each season rolls around, I’ve been trying to change the clothes pins as well. I bought a package of 50 at Wal-Mart of just a few dollars.
To get ready for spring, I pulled out three new clothes pins and put a quick coat of yellow paint on the top side.
 Then I used some rubber stamps that I picked up from the dollar bin at the craft store. With a little dab into ink then were ready to go.

I love projects that I can prep, finish and clean up so quickly. It’s a great way to get motivated for a bigger project too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Foolish Fun

After all the Leprechaun mischief it would be impossible to allow April fool’s day to go by without a little trickery.
For the past few years, I have been playing food games with the kiddos. Now we are to the point where they are looking forward to Mommy’s antics.
So far my April fool pranks have been a twist on what they are giving at meal time.
This year they started their day off with a fried egg…
That’s an egg, right?

Well, since they are not really fond of fried eggs, I gave them yogurt and half of an apricot. (Healthier than the white chocolate eggs they got last year.) Being that they were not sure what it was at first, there was some hesitation for the first few bites but then they caught on.

Ops, Mommy forgot to pour your milk. Here ya go… What the????
A drop of food color in the glass before they came down to the table and I was prepped for trick number 2.
Off to school after a few; “Your sock is untied” and “There’s a bug on your nose” and then I was busy plotting my dinner plans.

Jell-o in a drinking glass with a straw makes for some “hard to drink” juice. (I’ve done this one before but they love it)

For the entrée I made “pasta” I put some off-white icing in a piping bag. I chilled the bowl first so the icing would hold shape nicely. Then I filled the dish with “squiggles” (that’s a technical term).

Now for the meatballs and sauce I used Ferrero Rocher Chocolates and seedless red raspberry jam.

The only thing missing was a veggie. Oh but wait…I have the perfect fix.
I grabbed a handful of green tootsie rolls from the “pick your own” candy bin, borrowed a tablespoon of icing from the “pasta” (added a few drops of food color) and then finished the look with some dark green jimmies.

I popped the unwrapped tootsies rolls in the microwave for 5 seconds to soften them up slightly. Then I sliced halfway down each one and pulled the side out like tiny tree branches. Dip the cut ends into colored icing then into the jimmies and you have...

broccoli tops!!

The kids were thrilled with the not so healthy dinner. But what kind of Mom would I be if that is all I had them eat??? They had to have dessert too!! What better dessert than meatloaf cupcakes?

Sounds gross right?

I make a meatloaf but shaped it into cupcake sized balls and baked. Then when they were ready, I put them into a cupcake paper and cover them with (blue) mashed potato icing.

I did manage to get the “pasta” away from them while we ate our “cupcakes”. After dinner, we used Nilla wafers to scoop the pasta up for a tasty treat.

The effort is well worth it to see those smiling faces and hear them laugh and joke with each other. They have been warned that next year’s tricks will be slightly more devilish… Mwahh ha ha haaa….

Monday, March 17, 2014

Leprechaun Mischief

My kids look forward to Saint Patrick’s Day every year.

We have a few traditions that make the day (and the day before) filled with fun.

First we make treats for their classmates.

 I melt white chocolate morsels and stir in a few drops of green food coloring then we dip pretzel sticks in the chocolate and sprinkle a little green sugar on top.

Wrap them up and add a sticker and they’re ready to go.

Then we have to make our rainbow cake! I decorate the top with colored sugar to look like a rainbow with a pot at the end. We set that out to see if our Leprechaun will give us some gold coins. (He comes to visit us during the night and wreaks havoc in my house.)
Today we found that he peed green in the potty and didn’t flush. (URG!!!)
 He moved the collection of shoes from the front door to the middle of the room. He moved several of my decorations around…things from the kitchen went into the living room and vice-versa.

The worst is, he brings “Lucky Charm” cereal with him. (Mommy doesn’t buy that kind of cereal)

Of course he makes a mess with it and even added a few toys in for the fun of it. (Those are Lego houses and 3 Lego people in a canoe)

We must make him happy because he gave us gold coins (chocolate ones naturally).

The fun is not over yet…

After school the kids will go on a scavenger hunt and end finding these.

And for dinner I will make Leprechaun quesadillas. (You’ll have to wait to see those)

I hope my kids learn to add some mischief into their lives and remember how to have fun with everyday things.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!!