Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Marbled Fall Cookies


     Over fall break this year, I made some cookies with the kiddos. This is a really fun thing to do with kids because it doesn't take a lot of time, but they are still fun to make and enjoy together. I got this recipe for marbled sugar cookies, and they were quick and easy and came out perfectly.

     Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) I couldn't get a picture of the finished product because they were all eaten before I got the chance! :)

     You can get the effect by separating the dough into different bowls and dying it, then arranging colored bits close together before rolling them out. As you might guess, re-rolling the dough more than once diminishes the marbled look (oh well). To learn more about this fun activity, go to the Land O' Lakes post on marbled sugar cookies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Russian Piping Tips

      Recently, I became interested in Russian piping tips and decided to try them out. There are three types- nozzles, balls, and the basic tip. The nozzle is the most well-known, and it is often referred to as just a 'russian piping tip'. 

     Then there's the ball tip- less common, and, yes, it uses up a lot of frosting. (;

     Finally, there's the last one- the pointed tip.

     There is a great variety of each one, and, although they can be really hard to master, the effect is really stunning. For starters, you're going to need a REALLY STIFF buttercream- and I mean STIFF. This will help the piped frosting keep its shape, and will also . Make sure that you don't keep your hands around the piping bag, that will make the frosting less stiff. For the nozzle tip, you start a little ways straight up from the cupcake (or whatever it is that you are frosting) and squeeze gently until the frosting touches the surface. Still squeezing very lightly, pull up slowly. Finish. You can add a little leaf off to one side- it works best if the leaf is leaning against the piped flower.

     We did not try the other two tips this time (we had enough on our hands already), but here are some pictures from Amazon.

     This is the set we got- it is good quality and comes in a pretty little box.
     Here are some of our results- as you can see, they are not yet quite professional, but some of them were piped by an 8-year-old. :)

     The above picture is a shot of when our coupler slid out of the bag while piping. I suppose that this happened because we cut the hole too large? This happened two times before we decided to stop using the coupler. That made it harder to change tips, but we managed.

     All in all, however, we really enjoyed the experience and are definitely trying these again.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

14 Gifts for Kids who Love Words


In our family, our kids really like reading and all things associated with it. Maybe you've found, over the years, that your kids do too, or maybe you're just looking for gift ideas. Either way, these fun ideas are sure to please.

1) Hanging Pod- these are really fun and cute mini hammocks that are perfect for reading in and super easy to install indoors or outdoors! We have this one- 
2) Poetry Book- these may seem basic, but they're sure to please, and they're fun to read together. Our favorite is most likely Poems to Learn by Heart.
3) Word Snoop- a really fun and engaging book on the English language. This book turns a dry and dull subject into a fun and lively one, with games along the way!
4) Book locket- these are so cute and adorable, and are perfect for your girls!
5) Books- these are my go-to presents when I just can't get anything else. 
  • E. B. White- Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and Trumpet of the Swan. Just can't recommend these classics enough! This box set combines all three. 

  • J. R. R. Tolkien- The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Read these in order to your older kids, or you can also let them read them by themselves.
  • Lewis Carroll- Alice in Wonderland. Again, this is a better book for your older kids who are able to understand more.
8) Bannana Grams- a fun word puzzle game. You can also find ones for kids who are learning to read.
9) Journals- these are fun, meaningful ways for your kids to express themselves privately, again, better for older kids. This is only one of many colors and types.
10) Black Light Pens- or other invisible light pens. Especially good for kids who love espionage.
11) Magnetic Words- these are good for younger kids and are helpful for learning to read and write.
12) Rory's Story Cubes- cubes with story prompts.
13) Bookmark Kit- there are plenty of these that you can find, and these are fun to make together! You can also create your own with colored paper strips, markers, and stickers. Get creative!
14) Blank Books- these are white books that can be both written and illustrated by your kiddos. (You can get them in many different colors).

     With the holidays approaching, these gifts are sure to make your book-loving young ones very happy when wrapped in colored paper or to find them in a stocking on Christmas Day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Trick for Kids Who Can't Sleep

Nine years into my adventure with kids, I have witnessed my fair share of post-bedtime trips to the bathroom, desperate pleas for water and band-aids, and sad little whimpers that they "just can't sleep."

One particularly fidgety night though a couple of years ago, I stumbled on to a little trick that really does make bedtime a lot more fun for everyone in our family. I call it "the sleep assignment."

Monday, July 11, 2016

Reward Charts with Fine Art Puzzles

It's a sad but true fact that the giant art history book full of beautiful artwork is most often used in our house as a bug smasher.  I prefer it to a shoe because I can smash the bugs without coming near them.  I just pitch the thing across the room in the general direction of the offending insect and hope for the best.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Watermelon Tie Dye Beach Towels

I've been scared to death to attempt tie dye with my kids for a long time now.  And since I don't love the look (most of the time) there's never really been a reason to risk the stained hands, clothes, house, LIFE,  etc.
The other day, though, when I saw these adorable watermelon tea towels and realized that the same thing would work with beach towels, I knew it was time to take the plunge. 
When I turned to facebook to get some moral support and tips, my first piece of advice was a reassuring "DON'T!" from one commenter who does tie dye quite a bit but never with her kids.  Her warning further solidified in my mind that if we were going to attempt this project, I really needed to think it through ahead of time.
From this commenter and from other people I came up with a plan of attack.  And I'm happy to say...we survived!  Nothing was irreparably damaged, and I would even do tie dye again if there was another project I was excited about.  (Look for an upcoming post about doing tie dye with kids without losing your mind!)
But specifically, to do this project and make the cutest, juiciest beach towels on the beach, here's what you do:

What You Need:

  • White, 100% cotton towel.  (we bought super cheap bath towels which work just fine for kids)
  • 2 buckets that will hold at least a gallon of water each
  • Some sort of stirring stick (one that you don't mind getting stained)
  • Rubber bands
  • Gloves (at least one pair for each person participating)
  • Hot Water Dye Powder (you could use cold water dye, but the nice thing about hot water dye is that once it cools down, the drips don't stain as much) in two colors, green and either red or pink (or both if you'd like to layer it!)
  • Black permanent marker (big size)

What You Do:

1.  Wet your towel. The wetter the towel the more blurry your dye lines will be. (I let the kids do this part with a hose in the back yard).
2.  Tie the towel in two places with rubber bands.  The space in between the rubber bands will be the white part of the watermelon.  I made my white space a little bigger than I should have because I was afraid the colors would bleed into the white space, but they really didn't.  
3.  Heat water to almost boiling.  Pour in dye powder and stir. (the kids helped me stir)
4.  Dip one end of the towel into the bucket of dye.  Dip as far as the rubber band or a little further if you'd like a faint white stripe there.  (the kids did this part)  Let it rest there for up to a half hour.  The longer the rest, the darker the color.
5. Squeeze out the dye (use gloves) and repeat with the other side in the other color.
6.  Allow to dry overnight. 
7.  Take off the rubber bands for the reveal!  (the fun part- the kids did this)
8.  Hose the towels down again and wash separately from anything else (the first time they will bleed a little bit) in the washing machine with cold water.  
9.  Once the towels are dry,  use a black permanent marker to draw on the seeds (the kids did this part)
Time to head to the beach!