Wednesday, June 30, 2010

patriotic hair bows

Ready to wear red white and blue?  Here is a quick tutorial for the patriotic hair bows we made this year.  I first started with some red ribbon with white polka dots.  I love polkadots!!!  Make your favorite bow.  I then wanted to make some blue curly (also called korker) ribbon to tie around the middle.

I started with some 1/4 in. dowels (can be found at Walmart, any craft or hardware store), 1/4 navy blue ribbon, and some mini clothes pins.

Clip one end of the ribbon onto the dowel with a clothes pin and then wrap the ribbon all the way around until you reach the bottom.  Cut ribbon and clip this end with another clothes pin.

The next step is to bake it in the oven at 275 degrees for about 20 minutes.  If I am just doing a small amount of ribbon like this I use my small toaster oven with smaller dowels.  You can do big batches in your regular oven with longer dowels placed on a cookie sheet.  Both will work.

When the ribbon is done it will look like this when you take it off the dowel.  I cut off three pieces to tie around each bow.

This is a quick way to finish the ends of ribbon so they do not fray.  Quickly pass the ends of the ribbon by the flame to seal them.  I use tweezers for small curly ribbon like this so I don't burn my fingers.  

Tie the ribbon around the bow and secure with a dap of hot glue. Hot glue on your favorite clip.  High temp glue guns work best for hair bows.  I used a alligator clip for these because I wanted to be able to put it on a hat or in  my girls hair.  Hopefully you can follow this ok.  If you ever have any questions please ask?

I think that these would look so cute with some of these star hair dos from Princess Hairstyles.  I tried some yesterday and it turned out cute but I didn't get a picture. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

flower bed flag

I love flowers and was on the hunt. I had this idea. Lets make of flower flag!
All you really need is flowers in red, white and blue and a little space for your flag.
I can't wait to see how it looks in a few weeks when all the space as filled in.
We had such a fun time doing this all together and take great pride in our family flag. We definitely feel more patriotic and are reminded of our blessing of freedom and grateful for the men and women who put their lives on the line for us daily. Thank you!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

fourth of july desserts

Every 4th of July I look forward to creating AND eating a Red, White and Blue dessert...they are so Patriotic! I always choose a simple, fun and yummy recipe that I can successfully create. I made these the other day for my family to try...they loved them and they were super-easy.

Red, White and Blue Parfaits

1 8-ounce carton vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 of an 8-ounce container frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
3 cups fresh raspberries and/or cut-up fresh strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries

1. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt and almond extract or vanilla. Fold in whipped topping.
2. To serve, in six 12-ounce glasses or dessert dishes, alternate layers of the berries with layers of the yogurt mixture. Makes 6 servings.
Make-Ahead Directions: Prepare parfaits as directed through Step 2. Cover and chill for up to 1 hour.

Today I discovered some perfect 4th of July recipes that are simple and that anyone can create...the possibilities are endless! Now to decide which one I will make for our 4th of July Celebration.

If you need to serve a really big crowd, a Cupcake Flag (pictured below) is a great option. You can make it as big as you need to, whether you’re going to serve 36 cupcakes or 136.

Dip strawberries or oreos into melted white chocolate and roll in blue-colored sugar and decorate with sprinkles. Definitely Patriotic!

Star Pound Cake

Pound cake gets the star treatment. Use star-shape cookie cutters, one 3-inch, the other 1-inch, to cut slices of homemade or store-bought pound cake and strawberries for serving. For berries, cut off the green tops, slice in half top to bottom, and use the 1-inch cookie cutter to form stars. Drizzle with a sugar glaze and serve.

Dipped Ice Cream Sandwiches require very few ingredients and they only take 20 minutes to prepare.

4 ice cream sandwiches
1 tablespoon shortening
6 squares (1 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate
Red, white and blue sprinkles

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
Melt the chocolate and shortening in a microwave or heavy pan and mix it until it becomes very smooth and soft.
Quickly dip ice cream sandwiches in melted chocolate with sprinkles.
Place on prepared baking sheet then keep it frozen.

If you want more ideas for Red, White and Blue Desserts...go and check out these websites...
Martha Stewart
Family Fun
Better Homes and Gardens

Friday, June 25, 2010

my favorite summer container

You can find these oversized buckets anywhere. I generally shop Wal-Mart simply because it's hard to beat their price. As of recently I have seen them in some super fun colors. Not your ordinary tote, lots more character and just enough personality that they can add to your ambiance. Consider filling it with ice to chill drinks at a bbq or summer picnic. Great for water relays, filling with water balloons, or storing balls or other outside toys that have no place to call home. I keep two of them in my garage: one for balls and one for frisbees, jump ropes, water guns etc. Easy enough for the kids to pull around and definitely easy enough for them to do a quick clean up. That's always nice:) I also use a smaller version in my kids' closets for their shoes. Each child has a bucket of their own. Sooo much nicer than shoes all over the closet and bedroom floor. In the picture of my boys closet the baskets on the shelf hold their socks. Good-bye chaotic sock drawer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

freedom wand

This cute little wand is a fun activity for kids at a 4th of July party. 
To make stars:
Cut out the star shapes from colored paper. 
For a free star pattern to print onto red, white and blue paper  click here.
Glue the stars together.  You will need two full stars for one wand.
Place a 12 inch dowel, chopstick, or popscicle stick between the two stars and glue together.
Add curling ribbon, glitter, star garland, etc.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

easy play yard projects

This year as we got the kids play area ready for a summer of fun we fixed up or added a few "this makes our boring old play area totally awesome" projects.

When we replaced our old mailbox, the old one found it's home in the back yard play area.  It receives real notes and letters for the kids and lots of pretend leaf and pine cone letters too.

This tube is a drain pipe from the local Home Depot sprinkler system aisle.  The cost was around $6.00.  Before I could even get it attached to the play hut it was being filled with balls and cars racing to the bottom and was being used as a cool whisper-a-phone.  The kids begged me to give them a few more days to play with it where ever they wanted before I attached it to the play hut.  At the rate they are creating new ideas for it's many uses it may never have a permanent home.

By hanging an old piece of PVC pipe on a string from the roof, it can be used to spy things in any direction.

Simple curtains give a little extra shade, privacy and cozyness to the play hut.  One queen size sheet ripped into thirds and then cut to length was enough to make a curtain for each side.  The hem and casing can be sewn or created with fabric glue.  They hang on a laundry line string with s-hooks on the end and eye bolts in the wood.

Have some fun in the backyard!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

backyard fairy garden

At the beginning of the year we like to look for fun days to mark on our calendar through out the year.  Coming up on June 24th is one of our favorite backyard activities.  It is fairy day!  This is our day to create a little magic fairy garden that appears that some tiny creature is living there.

This is last years flower fairy garden we created in a round pot.  There is so much room for creativity.  We built a little house out of the end of a post with a little roof nailed on top and then covered with moss.   We planted some small flowers like alyssum and lobelia .  We glued on some more moss and grapevine sticks and added  some other little trinkets, butterflies, and glass rocks from the dollar store (this was a great place to find supplies for this project) or things that we found around the house.  We made a little table and a bench with wood scraps.  Ours was pretty simply but you could get as detailed and creative as you would like.  With a little water this will last all summer.  We found that Polly Pocket was the perfect size to play in our fairy garden.   Your could create a woodland fairy house under a shady tree or a secret fairy house that seems that no one would find it unless they looked closely.  There are so many fun ideas our girls love to image and create it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

turkey pesto panini

One of our favorite summer meals begins with basil from the herb garden in our back yard.  We have grown it for a few years, and have found it is easy to grow and we love the pesto we can make from it.
1/2 cup pine nuts or almonds
4 cups fresh basil leaves  (can also use some parsley)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
If using pine nuts, toast them in a 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.
Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor, and process until finely chopped.  Gradually  pour the in the olive oil while the processor is running.  Remove from the processor, and cover the surface of the pesto with plastic wrap to keep from turning brown.

Turkey Pesto Panini:
sourdough bread
sliced turkey
swiss cheese, sliced
Spread pesto on the bread and top with the turkey and cheese to create the sandwich.  Brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil and cook in a pannini maker or indoor grill until warmed through and cheese is melted.
Top sandwich with:
tomato slices
red onion slices
balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

paint with water

This is one most simple backyard activities but it still keeps our kiddos entertained while I fix dinner or get a small project done. I remember loving this when I was a littler girl. Our girls love to try different types and sizes of brushes. This is almost mess free, can be done on any small patio, deck, for sidewalk.  They love to pretend to paint their fingernails or use ice cubes and a very hot summer day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

grilled pizza

I am always looking for different ways to spice up the same old dinners that we eat regularly. This was a winner at our house. I am sure that this will be a regular request this summer. Thanks to Tidy Mom for this fun new summer idea. Head on over to get all the step by step instructions.

Tips I found when I made them:
Flip the tortillas just when they have grill marks and watch them closely.
After putting the toppings on, it will only take a few minutes before they are done. 

Happy Grilling!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

i love daddy sign with 2x4s

This is a simple sign to celebrate father's day.  This is my version of one similar that I found on How Does She.  I created three 4x6 collage pictures in Picasa (Google photo organization and editing program) because we could not decide on just three.

I started with three boards two 2x4s and one 2x2 (this was a scrap I found to make it high enough to hang the pictures).  You could always just crop to smaller pictures and use two boards.  I applied scrap book paper with modge podge (I need to practice at this a little more because there are some bubbles but at least they are behind the pictures right).  I then sanded the sides, distressed the edges with some ink,  and applied the vinyl.

Then stack them up and tie a piece of ribbon around the top block and clip on some mini clothes pins with ribbon to hold your pictures.  We love our daddy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

mini tie key chain

We loved this cute little key chain we found at Creative Itch.  
It is simple enough for the kids to make for Dad.

Monday, June 14, 2010

father's day sweet thoughts

Found this fun idea on Love, Actually and decided to make my own. Sweet Thoughts Jar for Father's Day. What father wouldn't want to get this on Father's Day. The jar is full of fun thoughts and memories about him. Every time that daddy reaches in to take out one of his favorite candy bars for a sweet treat then he will be reminded of one sweet reason we love him.

Supplies that you will need: His favorite candy bars, jar, tape or glue, love notes, and scissors.  Cut up all the love notes and tape or glue them on the candy bars. Fill the jar.
To download a copy of this label for your jar, click here.
Have a Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

these mini cakes...

look impressive and are a clever way to honor the "King of the Grill" on Father's Day. Dad's are sure to feel like royalty when they sink their teeth into these brownies. I will admit that baking is not my specialty but when these cakes were featured in FamilyFun this month...I decided to give it a whirl! They turned out perfect! They are also easy enough that little ones can help. These cakes are sure to sweeten your Sunday. HAPPY BAKING!

To make a batch of 12, place liners in a muffin pan, oil them, and fill them two thirds full of your favorite brownie batter, then bake according to the recipe directions. Let the brownies cool.

In a small bowl, mix one or two drops of black food coloring with 1/4 cup white frosting. Transfer the frosting to a ziplock bag and snip a small section from the corner. Pipe grate lines onto each brownie and let them set for 20 minutes. Add embers with a sprinkle of orange sugar.

Prepare the grill food as instructed below and press it in place atop each brownie.

Kebabs = A caramel cream and red, yellow, and green candy fruit slices, cut into small pieces + toothpick skewers

Pork chop = two thirds of a caramel cream, molded with fingers + black food coloring, applied with a toothpick

Hot dogs = Hot Tamales candies + black food coloring, applied with a toothpick

Friday, June 11, 2010

more than just a new shirt

Go the extra mile this Father's Day and put a twist on the traditional new shirt and tie for Dad by tidying up his closet space. The biggest key to a tidy closet is hangers that are uniform in shape and color. I prefer white because it doesn't over power the clothes. You can buy 10 -12 hangers for about $1. Oraganize his shirts according to color and season. Consider freshening up his older shirts with a trip to the dry cleaners or an afternoon of ironing. Have your children write notes of endearment that can be placed in the pockets along with a favorite candy bar, tickets to a game, a gift card for a night out, etc. There are countless ideas that can make this specific to the dad in your house. If you are feeling super ambitious, tackle his shoes also. Polish those that need it and create space for them to be stored in an orderly way. It would be cute to put a new sleeve of golf balls in his tennies, or a gift card to his favorite lunch spot in his work shoes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

cool ties for father and son

I loved this little tie from a cute etsy shop called Trendy Tikes.  It would be really fun to buy matching ties for the little guy and his daddy this Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

homemade yogurt

If you are looking to try something new this summer give homemade yogurt a try.  It is great for yogurt popsicles, smoothies, parfaits and so many other great recipes. It has taken some trial and error batches to get this process perfected at my house but it is worth it.  I adapted a recipe that I found at The Hillbilly Housewife.  The ingredients are very simple.

6 cups of warm tap water
    2 cups of nonfat dry milk (hillbilly housewife uses instant so I am sure that both will work)
    1/4 - 1/2 cup store bought plain yogurt with active yogurt cultures        (read the label to be sure)

You will also need a food  or candy thermometer and some kind of incubation device (more explanation later).  

In a large sauce pan combine water and dry milk.  Stir until all the dry milk has dissolved.  Heat over medium low heat  stirring occasionally (so the bottom does not scorch) until it reaches about 175-180 degrees.  I use a digital food thermometer but you could also use a candy thermometer.  This temperature kills of any competing bacteria so the the yogurt will respond better.

You then remove it from the heat and let it cool to about 115 degrees and add the plain store bought yogurt starter.  This takes a little while but if the milk is any hotter it will kill the yogurt cultures.  I like the Dannon all natural yogurt from my starter.  You can also save a little from a previous batch of yogurt but this will eventually weaken so it is good to buy some every few batches.  I have also heard of a powdered culture that can be found at health food stores but I have never tried it myself.  

I then pour it into four clean pint size canning jars and top with lids.  It is now time to incubate it for about 8-10 hours.  Everyone develops there own way of incubating yogurt.  I will share my method but there are many others.

The temperature needs to stay at about 110 degrees for about 8 hours.  I put my jars in a 
slow-cooker (or crockpot), cover them with a dishtowel for more insulation and place the thermometer in also so I can monitor the temp.  My crockpot also has a insulated cover that came with it for traveling so I put that on also.  I turn it on the warm until it reaches 120 degrees and then I turn it off (if I leave it on it gets too hot).  This incubation method holds this temperature pretty close for the time needed.

Some cooks use heating pads, warm ovens, thermoses, or a commercial yogurt maker.  You will have to do some trial and error to figure out what works for you.

After the yogurt is thick I place it in the fridge and it will keep for about two weeks.  It will taste like plain yogurt (not too tasty) but with a little sugar, jam, or honey it is yummy!

I found this honey powder at a local grocery store and I love it for yogurt and smoothies.

This is one of our favorite breakfasts.  I use freeze dried strawberries and our granola recipe found here.  
There is so many recipes to try.  It can be made into yogurt cheese, frozen yogurt, can be mixed with sour cream or mayo, used like buttermilk, and so many others. 

There is a video from the food network TV show Good Eats  about yogurt that has some interesting information.  His recipe is a little different but he explains the food science about yogurt.  I learned that if you are lactose intolerant you may still be able to eat yogurt because the lactose is broken down in the process.

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