Wallykazam T-Shirts – Nickjr

If you haven’t heard, nickjr has a new show called Wallykazam. It’s a fun show geared toward preschool-aged children that promotes literacy. The show is fun, colorful, and educational. Because it’s only been on tv for a few weeks, nickjr does not have merchandise available. For my children who watch the show everyday, that’s a problem. So, last night I broke down and made Wallykazam t-shirts for them.

Wallykazam Shirt 5

Wallykazam Shirt 3

Nickjr is amazing for multiple reasons, one being that they offer free printables, crafts, etc. The image I used on the girls’ shirts was available online. I simply added a layered border to make the image stand out more on the shirts.

If you’d like to make your own Wallykazam shirt like the ones shown above, you can download my free printable here: Wallykazam T-Shirt Printable. Simply print the image onto Avery transfer paper (I used “Dark Transfers”), trim the excess areas, and iron onto your t-shirt. The shirts are available at Hobby Lobby for $3.99 in an array of colors. Take along your 40% coupon, and the shirt is yours for $2.39. For less than $5.00, you can purchase all the supplies needed to create an adorable shirt for your child.

To learn more about Wallykazam, click here. At the provided link you can download Wallykazam printables, watch episodes, and play online games–all for free.

Disney’s Frozen Party – Snowball Cookies

Today I made a family favorite for our Super Bowl party: Mexican Wedding Cookies.  I’ve been making these for years, and have even made nearly 400 of them a couple years ago for my brother’s wedding.  They are small, delectable little treats that leave a trail of powdered sugar on those who partake in the goodness.  Once I stacked them in a bowl for the party, I remembered how much they resemble snowballs.  So, I paired them with the “Frozen Snowflake Snacks” from my last post and created a tower of Frozen-inspired treats.

February 2014 - Snowball Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies are simple to make, only require a few ingredients, are ready in about 30 minutes, and can entertain children who like to shake the baggie of sugar to coat them once baked.  Below is my recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup butter (softened)

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups pecans

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar for coating

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix all ingredients using an electric mixer until a dough ball forms.

3. Bake 10-12 minutes.

4. Let cool for approximately 15 minutes.

5. Add 1 1/2 cups confectioners to a gallon bag.  Drop the warm cookies into the bag, seal, and shake to coat.

6. Open the bag, shake off the excess sugar, and serve.  Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Disney’s Frozen “Snowflake” Snacks

In the midst of snow day #2 in Texas (this never happens!), and considering my 5 year old just built her first snowman, I can’t help but have “Frozen” on my mind–Do you wanna build a snowman?…  So, for our afternoon snack the girls and I put together a quick snowflake treat that we think Elsa would approve of.  This was also a trial run for our upcoming “Frozen” party (this summer!): white chocolate covered pretzels dusted with blue sanding sugar and topped with an Elsa card that we snagged from Subway earlier in the week.

Frozen Snowflakes 2

If you’ve never made chocolate covered pretzels, please try it!  They are fairly quick to make, only require two ingredients (three if you use sugar or sprinkles), and are adored by adults and kids alike.   Using regular pretzels results in a unique shape that resembles snowflake pieces, but dipped pretzel rods would also make a fun icicle-shaped treat for your party.

For a party treat, make them days in advance!

INGREDIENTS:
Almond bark or Wilton melting chips
Pretzels
Sanding sugar or sprinkles (optional)
Parchment Paper
DIRECTIONS:
1.  Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted, stirring between each interval (you must stir the chocolate each time or the layer against the sides of the bowl will scorch!).
2.  Drop a pretzel into the bowl, cover with chocolate, and then lift out with a fork (I place the pretzel flat on a large dinner fork).  Then, tap the handle of the fork on the side of your bowl a few times to cause the excess chocolate to drop off.
3.  Slide the pretzel onto a piece of parchment paper (aluminum foil will also work).  Top with sanding sugar or sprinkles now, as they will begin to setup after a few minutes.
4.  Allow the pretzels to sit for approximately 20 minutes.  If you’d like to speed up the process, slide the parchment paper onto a plate and slip it in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
5.  You’re pretzels are now ready to eat.  If you’re making them ahead for a party, store them in an airtight container (I use a zip-lock bag) for up to a week.
Enjoy!

Texas Snow Day – Indoor Gardening Activity for Kids

It’s not everyday (or year) that the kids get a “snow day” in Texas.  But today they did.  Yesterday I grabbed a little garden greenhouse set for the girls to plant seeds this winter in preparation for Spring, and I decided that a snow day is a great day to bring that life inside. Although they do love playing with the ice-sickles and frozen items outside, they need to warm up every now and then too.  So, I put them to “work”.  To make your own greenhouse project, grab a small plastic box like the one below (I got one that’s already setup at Lowes with small soil pods) and a few packages of seeds.  20140123_192341

Since I have two children planting, I let them divide each package into two bowl–and then had them count the seeds for good measure 🙂

20140123_191116 copy

Next, fill a watering can with warm water and pour over the soil disks.  The water (if warm enough) will make them expand, and then you can add the seeds. I have used soil disks before that were to be soaked in a bowl of water, which is quite effective too if you aren’t using a self-watering greenhouse like this one.

20140124_110333

We added about 4 pepper seeds to each pod, and 2 sunflower seeds to each pod (we had some seeds left over).  The container that we used has 32 pods, but they sell larger (and smaller) sets.

20140124_111122

If you’d like, add labels to your rows so that you can tell your plants apart.  You can download the file for the 2″ circle labels that I created for our greenhouse by clicking HERE.  If you’d like to use a 1″ circle, print the file at 75%.  I used a 1″ scalloped circle and taped them to toothpicks.

20140124_121815

Next, put the lid on top, place near a sunny window, water your seeds every couple of days, and watch them grow!

20140124_121911 copy

Note: As you see here, the plastic lid will become foggy.  This is supposed to happens–it means your plants are warm and hydrated!

20140124_121920

Enjoy growing plants with your little ones and explaining the beauty of life with them!

Disney’s Frozen Birthday Party Idea – Ice in the Summer

At this point my family and I have seen Disney’s Frozen more than once–and both of my girls want a “Frozen party”.  The downside: their birthdays are in the summer.  The upside: I have 6+ months to plan.

olof summer

While in the theater last night, I noticed that the ice block scene if very powerful.  And given my recent soap-making hobby, I made a connection: glycerin soap blocks look a lot like ice blocks.

20140119_151824_Richtone(HDR)Obviously, soap blocks won’t melt–regardless of how hot it is–and they’ll make adorable, realistic looking decorations.  Once the party is over, send the girls home with a few blocks in their goody bags.  Or, let the girls make soap as the party craft.  It’s quick and simple to make, plus it’s a favor that the kids can actually use (and be proud of)! If you’d like to purchase snowflake favors instead of making your own, click the image below.

Frozen Party FavorsIf you’ve never made melt and pour soap, check out my previous soap tutorial blog post by clicking here.  Remember to visit my blog again for more party planning tips, and feel free to message me with your own.

20140119_151648_Richtone(HDR)

Sinfully Scrumptious Chocolate Chip Cookies

The next time you’re tempted to run to the store and buy a tube of cookie dough for an upcoming event, don’t.  Make your own!  It takes 15 minutes to whip up your own batch at home (less time than you would spend perusing the aisles of your local grocery store).

January 2014 - Cookies and Milk

A classic cookie, and a favorite at my house, the recipe below is my go-to choice for chocolate chip cookies.  The cookies from this remarkable recipe are delectable out of the oven–and keep for several days in an air-tight container.  You can drop the dough by spoonfuls on your cookie pan as soon as the ingredients or mixed, or opt to refrigerate (or even freeze) plastic-wrapped “logs” for a quick slice-and-bake treat later in the week.

If you don’t have chocolate chips handy, or you’re looking for a festive twist, swap the 2 cups chocolate chips for 2.5 cups of M&Ms and leave out the pecans.

Beware, this is not your typical back-of-the-package recipe.  There are a couple extra ingredients,of which you likely have on-hand, and the results are much more tasty!

Please give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter (softened)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons hot water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans or other nut of choice (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Cream together: butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.

3.  Beat in the eggs (one at a time), then stir in the vanilla.

4.  Dissolve the baking soda in hot water, then add it to the batter.  Add the salt and cream of tarter.

5.  Stir in: flour, chocolate chips, and pecans.

6. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

7.  Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are browned.  Note: The longer your cookies bake, the crunchier they will be.

Refrigerator or Freezer Method – Instead of dropping by spoonfuls onto your cookie sheet, divide the dough into two logs and roll in plastic wrap.  When you’re ready to bake, simply slice and bake  (just like the store-bought kind).  If your dough was frozen, let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before slicing, then another 20 minutes before baking.

20140110_143934

Homemade Soap Tutorial

I love bees and all things bees (except being stung).  I’ve decided to start using products that incorporate that love into my daily life.  So, I’ve starting making honey soaps.  My first batch was a goat’s milk soap, and I must say the results smell delightful.

My favorite is variety in which I combine my favorite scents–vanilla and almond–with honey and toasted oats.  The result is a smooth, creamy soap with a gentle, earthly aroma with subtle hints of sweetness.

ImageThe idea behind the soap varieties that I’ve created is that each contains a natural exfoliating quality.  Thus far, I’ve used coconut, toasted oats, and orange zest to add texture and natural scents to my soaps.  In the image below, I chose to use the zest of one organic orange to add a fresh, invigorating scent boost–and an uplifting color punch–to an orange honey glycerin soap.

ImageYou may also choose to add colorants, as I did with my fun blue coconut variety.

ImageEnough about my soaps.  Now it’s time to make your own!

How to Make Soap – Honey Almond Vanilla Goat’s Milk Variety

Being a soap-making novice, I opted to start with a base soap.  I chose goat’s milk because I was looking for a creamy spa-like soap with a rich lather.  To make a small batch of either goat’s milk soap or glycerin soap, you will need:

8 ounces soap base

1 tsp. honey

1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp. each: almond extract, vanilla extract, and/or essential oils

1/8 cup whole oats

Soap mold(s) – available at your local craft store

ImageTo begin, melt 8 ounces of the soap base in the microwave at 30 second intervals.  You may also choose to use a double-boiler method, but I find microwaving to be more efficient when making small 8 ounce batches.

ImageBetween melting intervals, toast 1/8 cup of whole oats in a 250 degree oven for about 3 minutes.  Lay the oats in a thin layer on a baking sheet for an even toast.  You are looking for a slightly golden tint.  But, you don’t want burnt oats so watch (and smell) carefully.

ImageThen, briefly run the oats through a chopper to eliminate large pieces of oats.  The idea is to have tiny oat flecks to gently exfoliate the skin while washing.

Next, add the oats oats to the melted soap base along with: 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract (cooking grade), 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, and 1 teaspoon of honey.  Once combined, simply pour the mixture into soap molds.  If there are bubbles on the backside of the soap, simply spray it lightly with rubbing alcohol until they disappear (this is easy–and magically makes your soap appear silky smooth on the back!).

Depending on your time schedule, you may: let your soap harden on the counter (about 1 hour), put your soap molds in the refrigerator (about 30 minutes), or place the molds in your freezer (about 20 minutes).  Once hard, turn the molds over on a solid countertop and press gently in the center of the mold to release the seal.  You may find that the soaps are hard to remove.  If so, slide them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to break that seal.  NOTE: If your soap is still warm to the touch, do not attempt to release it from the mold.

Image

I hope you will find soap making to be as fun and rewarding as I have.  Once you’ve successfully made a batch, match different scents and shapes together for a cute basket to give as gifts–or simply keep for yourself to indulge in.

If you’re interested in purchasing soaps seen in this post, please visit my Etsy shop, ANESoaps, or click HERE.