What to do with all the Easter candy?

What do you with all the left over Easter candy? Make fun treats of course! Make them and share them! Ask the kids or family and friends to join in! Then send the treats to school, to work, put them out when your kids friends come over on the weekend.

Have left over Halloween candy, incorporate that into your fun treats too! Here are a few examples of fun summer treats you can easily do and share for the next few weeks. Have fun and get creative!

Peep race cars!
Ingredients: Peeps, Twinkies, Chocolate covered pretzels (don’t forget, you can melt down some left over chocolates) and mini oreos.

Cut about a 1/4 inch out of the top back half of the twinkie. enough to rest a bunny peep sitting up into the twinkie as if to drive a car. Once you have created your chocolate cover pretzel, insert it upside down in front of the bunny as of to be a steering wheel. Separate your oreos and press to the side of the twinkie to create wheels. You may need to add a little water to help make the wheels stick. You a tad to create some moisture in the area. Please the twinkie on parchment paper or a well grease pan or tray for transporting or display.


Peeps in a nest!
Ingredients: Peeps, Rice Krispie Cereal, 48 Marshmallows (large), 4 TSP Butter, small Jelly Beans, Food Coloring, Shredded Coconut, Muffin Pan, Cooking spray.

Melt butter for 45 seconds in large microwave safe bowl. Add marshmallows. Coat all with the melted butter. Melt for 45 seconds in microwave. Stir, melt for 45 seconds. Ad food coloring to the Marshmallow mixture. (I preferred Green, but any color is fun to do.) Add 6 cups of Rice Krispies. Stir. Spray the muffin pan with cooking grease. Press each pan with rice Krispies and chill. These will create your nests. After 30 mins, remove the nests from the pan. On a plate, cover with parchment paper (or tin foil or a few paper towels) spread out your shredded coconut and cover with green food coloring and mix. This will be the grass for your nest. how much food coloring will determine how dark your grass will be so start slow, you can always add more. Add the grass to each nest, then press jelly beans to each nest. I used 4-5 beans for each nest to create the eggs for the nest. Add the bird peeps to the top and display on a greased plate, try or pan. As you can see I chose a pan for ease of transportation.


CandyBar Carmel Apple Dip!
Ingredients: 12 “Fun” Size Candy Bars. (Milky Way is preferred, but twix works well too as long as caramel is involved). Use 10 for chopping and using for the dip and 2 for freezing and cutting up for the garnish, 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups of brown sugar, 1 cup of light corn syrup, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and apples.

Melt the butting in a saucepan. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt, Cook over medium heart stirring occasionally. When the mixture comes to a full boil (10-12 mins). Cut up the apples into slices while this is happening. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and the cut of candy bars. Continue stirring until candy is dissolved and the mixture is a thick consistency. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and transfer to serving bowl. Cut up the 2 previously frozen candy bars and use for garnish, sprinkle on top of the dip. Serve with the sliced apples.

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Christmas is for the birds…

Christmas is for the birds…. too!  LOL!  It’s cold outside and the birds and animals could use a holiday treat as much as the rest of us.  Here is a great DIY project you can do as a family and enjoy the birds as they come to eat.  

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2.5 cups Birdseed 
  • 2 Packages Unflavoured Gelatin (2 Tablespoons total)
  • 2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
  • 1 cup Water
  • Cookie Cutters (about 12 small ones are perfect.  Using larger ones will cause the ornament to break from the weight)
  • Drinking Straws, cut into 2″ long pieces (Enough to have one in each ornament)
  • Twine

INSTRUCTIONS: 

  1. First, follow the instructions on the packet of Gelatin. If you are going to use two packets of gelatin, add 1/2 cup of cold water into a bowl, then pour the two packets of gelatin on top of the water.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water to the mixture and stirred it until it was dissolved. (Making sure the gelatin is completely dissolved is important.  Use the microwave if needed.
  3. Once the gelatin is dissolved, add the corn syrup and stirred until it is dissolved as well.  
  4. Finally, add the birdseed to the gelatin mixture.
  5. It will be a little watery at first.  Place place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or so, or until it firms up enough that the liquid won’t seep out from under the cookie cutters.
  6. Set your cookie cutters out onto a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Spoon the mixture into each of the cookie cutters, and press it down firmly so that the cookie cutter is completely filled.  Fill the cookie cutters to the very top and press into the shape to ensure a complete fill with no gaps. 
  8. Next, cut your drinking straws into 2″ long pieces. Press a straw into the birdseed (before it’s set) so that you have a nice neat hole for the twine to go through afterwards.  Be sure to place the straw a good distance from the edge to make sure the twine doesn’t break thru from the weight of the ornament.  
  9. Once you’ve added the straws, place the ornaments in the refrigerator overnight to solidify. The next day, gently pull the edges of the cookie cutter away from the shape to help separate things, then gently push out the shape.
  10. Remove the straws, thread some twine through the holes and tie a knot.

When your ornament is complete, hang them in your trees outside and watch the birds gather.  Be sure to hang your ornaments close to other branches so the birds can perch while eating.  

You can refrigerate them or freeze them if not using right away. They last up to 1 years in freezer.  You can also do this fun DIY project at other times of the year.  Instead of Christmas cookie cutter ornaments, use a shamrock for St. Patrick’s day, egg shaped for Easter, Hearts for valentine’s day.  The possibilities are endless! 

A few notes about this a project so you are not disappointed in the outcome:

  1. let the mold dry for at least a day before attempting to hang on the twine.
  2. Be sure to hang these in cooler weather, as the Florida heat will cause the gelatin to melt and your ornament to fall.
  3. If you are doing this project throughout the year, try substituting or adding peanut butter to your recipe.  
  4. Be sure to place the hole for the twine far enough away from the edge so it better disperses the weight and doesn’t break through the edge of the ornament.  

A unique gift idea…. Family Adventures

Last year my husband and I were at a loss as to what to get our youngest son and his wife.  They are very handy and very busy with two kids, jobs, and home projects.  After watching their busy lives all year we came up with a unique gift idea.  

A family adventure album.  We bought a cute little scrapbook and filled that pages with gift certificates to all sorts of places.  The pages were filled with family fun (and date night) ideas.  Once we decided on the plan for the book, we went shopping… on-line and to the gift card aisle.  Yep, it was a book of pre-purchased family adventures.  Everything from a trip to the zoo, movie tickets,  to ice cream nights (gift certificate for Dairy Queen), beach days (complete with gift certs to subway for lunches). On the trips that would take them a distance to get to, we added in gas cards.  After all the point of this gift was not to add financial strain of accomplishing these adventures, but to make these things easy and obtainable for this kids (and gran kids) to do. This book was filled with all sorts of adventures from bowling to mini-golf to go kart racing.  

To come up with ideas we scoured the internet to check out our local city and find fun interesting places to go.  We also googled”date night” ideas to ensure they could enjoy time together without the kids.  If you are thinking of giving a gift such as this, don’t forget the handmade gift certificates that include babysitting.  It was a fun gift to make and a great way to get to know the city we live in.  

I hope you think of a gift like this (or any variation of it) when you are planning your next celebration.  

A twist on this concept is “Your year in review”.  Make a scrapbook for your loved ones of their past year.  This is a great idea for the little ones in your life.  You can give it to them on each birthday as a memory of what they have accomplished in the past year.  On the last page of the album make a list of that child’s goals for next year.  This makes an amazing keepsake and helps each child accomplish things each year.  Have fun!  Happy gift giving!

Give the gift of time…

What do you get your kids as they get older?  What do you give your spouse as the years pass on?  What about grand kids when there are so many?  Start a tradition in your family of giving the gift of time.  

My mother has done this each year with my sister and I.  Every Christmas we get a handmade gift certificate wrapped up that simply states, Good for one day with mom.  The certificate is valid for one day and is to be used sometimes in the next calendar year.  This is one of the best gifts because it ensures you get one full day without other family members, without other distractions, and you get to really enjoy the time with each other.

What do we do on these “Mom Days”?  Good question.  When we were smaller they could be anything from a nice lunch out, a beach day, or even just a fun day playing board games or cards.  As we have gotten older, we have taken advantage of these days by trying new things, getting out of our comfort zones, or just being young again.  My mom and I have taken a seq-way tour through a different city just an hour or two away.  We have gone zip-lining, gone to a hockey game, even gone to see a psychic.  

The point is, these special days can be shared with anyone who could use a break in life throughout the year.  If you have busy schedules, giving this gift to your spouse could be worth its weight in gold.  Take time out of your calendars this year and remember to enjoy the day or days with loved ones.  You only get one chance at this life and you can’t take the “stuff” with you, so make memories together and experience all this wonderful world has to offer.  

Note:  If you decide to give this gift to a special someone this year, make it a tradition and do it every year.  Make a point to try something new, take a trip on a tankful, or spend the day without the distraction of cell phones or electronics.  

Easter isn’t just for the little ones… it is a family affair!

Don’t let the fun of Easter fade just because your little ones are growing up.  This season try a new twist on the Easter holiday if you have slightly older kids in your home.  If you are planning an Easter dinner, you are of course going to spend a little on grocery shopping and that will take time.  or maybe you are planning on eating out as a family.   Well, I propose a little something different.  Take that cash you will spend and hide it in the little plastic eggs you can buy at the dollar store.  Send your kids on a fun (potentially long) egg hunt and this one could include a scavenger hunt if you have older kids.  If you prefer not to do the plastic eggs, than just make it a scavenger hunt where each clue leads your kids to a cash prize and closer to the finale where they will find out the location of dinner (and the fact that the cash is what will pay for the dinner!)  That’s right…. dinner is on them this year!

If you are a softy like me, you will of course have their Easter basket for them at the family dinner or at the final clue location so there are candy and treats to be enjoyed, but the fun can be had for older children as they figure out the clues and race through the yard as they did when they were younger hunting for eggs.  Below are some examples of great clues:

  1. If you’re in a hungry mood, go here first and find some food.
  2. Now you’re on your second clue, these go on before your shoes.
  3. If you want your teeth to shine, pick this up and spend some time.
  4. Take a walk and step outside, this is where you go to ride.
  5. I used to write to send a letter, but now this machine does it better!
  6. Rubber ducky your the one!  You make ______ lots of fun!
  7. Hickory Dickory Dock, The mouse ran up the ________!

There are so many more you can come up with.  You can google “Scavenger Hunt Clues” and the lists are endless or come up with your own to include the fun places in and around your house.  Use a theme, rhyme, or make fun jokes.  Have fun and make it interesting.  This can be a fun tradition your children will look forward to each year.

On a side note, have you ever wondered about the history of the Easter Egg or the Easter Bunny?  What are they and where did they come from?  Well here is a quick history lesson for you as we hop into the holiday and hunt for our eggs.

The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and rebirth. In Christianity it became associated with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.[102] The custom of the Easter egg originated in the early Christian community of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion.[103][104] As such, for Christians, the Easter egg is a symbol of the empty tomb.[14][15] The oldest tradition is to use dyed chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute decorated chocolate, or plastic eggs filled with candy such as jellybeans.

The Easter Bunny is a popular legendary anthropomorphic Easter gift-giving character analogous to Santa Claus in American culture. Many Americans follow the tradition of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving baskets of candy. On Easter Monday, the President of the United States holds an annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn for young children.[105] Since the rabbit is a pest in Australia, the Easter Bilby is available as an alternative. Easter eggs are a widely popular symbol of new life in Poland and other Slavic countries’ folk traditions. A batik-like decorating process known as pisanka produces intricate, brilliantly-colored eggs.

The celebrated House of Fabergé workshops created exquisite jewelled eggs for the Russian Imperial Court.

I hope you enjoyed the quick little lesson and I certainly hope you plan on trying a scavenger hunt or something fun with your family this Easter.  As always, have a happy day!

DIY – Valentine’s edition

February is a fun month!  Love is in the air.  Winter is just peaking and starting to pass.  Tulips are popping up through the snow.  It’s time to have some DIY Fun with Valentine’s Day ideas!  Here a few suggestions to get an un-expecting, friend, child, loved one, or even co-worker giggling and into the spirit. 

1.       Love potion labels – Get your kids in the Valentine’s Day spirit by removing existing water bottle labels and replacing them with these free “love potion” printables. Crack these water bottles open and love just might fill the cafeteria. Is it magic or just a mother’s love? (suggestion from good housekeeping.com)

2.       Heart Crayons – This is fun to do as a surprise for the little ones in your life or as a project with them so they can spread their own love with friends.  (NOTE: this project can be rough on your metal pans, try using a silicone heart mold.  This can be purchased on line or found in your local craft store).  Separate your crayons by color groups: reds/pinks, purples, blues, greens, oranges/yellows. To get the paper off easily, cut a slit down the length of the crayon with a knife. Break them into ~1/3″ – 1/2″ pieces and place like colors into pans. You get a better result if you mix lighter shades of a certain group with darker shades. The color contrast is pretty fun and makes for unique hearts. Bake between 225F and 250F for about 10 minutes. Take a look at them after 10 and if they are completely melted, gently take them out, and let them cool for at least 10 minutes. If there are still some chunks after 10 minutes, let them go for another minute or two. Keep an eye on them! (Recipe from goodknits.com)

3.       Heart Shaped Hand warmers (Or any shape and color to use for all cool seasons) – You will need, felt, Embroidery Floss and a needle, Un-cooked rice, dried lavender or an essential oil that you find soothing.  Cut the felt into the shape you prefer (hearts are great this time of year).  You will need a total of four identical pieces (two for each warmer).  Knot the embroidery floss and thread your needle.  Sew your two shapes together until you are about ¾ complete.  Be sure to sew you loops close together as not to allow the rice to escape through large gaps.  Add the rice and lavender / oils to the pouch you have created.  Be sure not to pack it tight as you need a little wiggle room to sew it shut and also keep them flexible.  Finish sewing the open gap closed and secure the thread.  To use these awesome warmers, microwave the, for about 30 seconds and tuck them into coat pockets.  Your hands will stay warm and toasty.  Re-heat as needed to re-use, but be sure not to heat for too long. 

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking creatively.  Ignite the passion and creativity inside your heart and share it with others.  As always, have a happy day!

A Tidy home – a little cheat sheet of suggestions to save time and money

Keeping your home clean can seem like a constant battle, especially for a large family or people with little one’s in their home.  (This is also the case after guests come to visit).  House-keeping is a constant and never-ending chore.  Here are some great tips (life hacks) for keeping up with your home and making the tasks easier or more efficient.

First, you need a few regular items on hand.  I try to get as much as I can from the dollar store and rags can come from the thrift store or even recycled clothes or possibly that one sock the dryer forgot to eat.

1.       Fresh lemons.  They last a while and are a great additive for a cleaning agent. 

2.       Kosher Salt (or table salt of some kind)

3.       Vinegar (White)

4.       Baking Soda

5.       Old socks

6.       Hair Dryer

7.       Olive Oil

8.       Cream of tartar

9.       Dryer sheets

10.   Chalk

11.   Plastic Bags

12.   Lint Rollers (Dollar Store Purchase)

13.   There are countless other items that are handy so feel free to add to this list and personalize it.

Here are some house-keeping life hacks to give a try and see what fits nicely into your schedule allowing for more time and some cost savings:

1.       Vinegar and baking soda = clean oven

2.       Vinegar and water (50/50 mix) and an old sock = clean blinds

3.       Lemons = clean facets and sink handles

4.       Lemons and salt = clean cutting board and clean coffee pot

5.       Cream of Tartar = clean stainless steel appliances

6.       Dryer Sheets – adds a fresh smell to your freezer or refrigerator (change monthly)

7.       Dryer Sheets – clean and protected baseboards

8.       Plastic bag filled with vinegar wrapped around shower heads = clean shower heads

9.       Toothpaste = clean jewelry and clean sneakers

10.   Lint Rollers = clean lamp shades

11.   Hair Dryer and Olive Oil = clean drink rings on a wooden table

12.   Baking Soda = removes oil stains from carpet

I hope this either makes things a bit easier, solves some mystery for you, or just changes up your routing at home to get your house neat and clean.  As always, have a happy day!

 

Re-purposing Christmas Cards – a Fun DIY way to keep them going

Have you ever thought that there should be a way to keep Christmas cards after the Christmas season?  So many of them are beautiful and some are sentimental.  Some are photos of loved ones and it is a great way to see how our friends and family members grow and change from year to year.  I thought it would be fun to share some DIY ideas of how to re-purpose and craft the Christmas Cards you received so that you can cherish them throughout the years.   As usual, I‘ve done some research, so I can’t take credit for all the ideas I share, and I would love to hear about any ideas you have as well.  NOTE: before you re-purpose any Christmas card or toss an envelope be sure to update your contacts and make sure you have the senders correct address so you can be sure to have them on your birthday and holiday card list for the coming year!  Especially if you have a growing business.  Sending holiday cards is a great way to keep your growing business in full swing at the close of the year.

  • If there is no writing on the backside of your card cover (where the image is), you can cut off the top fold and use it as a postcard, writing your message on the blank back side.
  • You can slice card covers into four to six different rectangles and use them as gift tags. Punch a hole in the card and slide it onto your ribbon before you tie your bow.
  • Cut the card covers into festive shapes like Christmas trees, ornaments, and stars. Then punch a hole, and tie a loop through it with ribbon. Then, use it as an ornament on your tree. You can spice them up with glitter, beading, etc.
  • Cut the card covers into star shapes and letters to spell out words like “Merry Christmas.” Then, make a garland out of them by stringing them together with twine, yarn, or ribbon.
  • Use them for book marks! Cut the image out of the front that of the card that you want to keep in a long rectangular shape.  Punch a hole in the top and thread a ribbon thru making a knot around the hole.
  • Use the images from your cards to decorate an ordinary brown gift bag. Cut the images out of the card and glue them onto the gift bag turning your gift bag into a beautiful and unique 3D gift bag and keepsake.
  • Keep photo gift cards for ornaments on your tree. Cut the photos out.  You can either laminate the photo and hot glue ribbon to the back and remember to add a date or insert the photo into a store bought photo ornament with the year already on it.  Year after year your tree will turn into a family and friend tree and keepsake.
  • In the past, you used to be able to donate your Christmas cards to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children.  This program has since been discontinued, but if you have a local organization that you work with, reach out to them and see if they can use your Christmas cards for Re-purposing.  (Be sure to remove any personal info first, of course).

Lastly,  I hope your holiday was everything you wished for and more.  Mine certainly was.  As you take down the decorations this week and move into the new year, please be sure and not pack that beautiful holiday spirit away.  That special feeling should stay with you all year long.  As always, have a happy day.

The Gingerbread House Mystery

I have questions about holiday gingerbread houses. This year, my husband and I made our first gingerbread house. It was a blast, messy, but lots of fun. However, it was not at all what I was expecting. We bought a kit from our local store and bought it home and to our surprise the walls came pre-constructed. The icing was premixed and in a foil bag. The decorations were pre-portioned and there were even decorating instructions included in the box! It was like a paint-by-number page. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I half expected to half to bake the walls and mix the icing ourselves. That the kit would have simply included a recipe, cookie cutters and the candy decorations.
We built the house and had plenty of laughs along the way none the less. Since the construction of our tiny holiday cabin of candy and icing, he and I have noticed these little houses in every holiday movie and commercial. We have found ourselves discussing the construction of the ones we see and how we would like to enhance our house building skills in years to come. So my questions for you are as follows:

1. Have you ever built a Gingerbread house? Is so, was it a kit or homemade?
2. Do you eat it after you construct it? How long after you construct it?
3. Should eating your Gingerbread House be a Christmas Day tradition in my home?
4. Is it even safe to eat the boxed kit Gingerbread houses? After all, how long have they been sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse?

I’ve done a bit of homework on the subject and asked around. Here are a few fun facts on Gingerbread houses.
1. Gingerbread is made from Ginger, cinnamon, Cloves, nutmeg, Cardamom, anise, and sweetened with honey or molasses.
2. To be considered Gingerbread, Ginger must be the dominant flavor and use either honey or molasses as the sweetener instead of sugar.
3. Queen Elizabeth I is believed to be responsible for the first Gingerbread mas as she had them made to resemble visiting dignitaries and presented to the visiting dignitaries as gifts.
4. Unmarried women in England would often eat Gingerbread men for good luck in meeting a husband.
5. Since the early 1970’s, pastry chefs have baked, constructed and decorated a gingerbread house for the enjoyment of the First Family, the American people, and White House visitors. This gingerbread house is typically a mock of the actual white house as it is decorated for Christmas that specific year (window wreaths and all)
So the mystery of the gingerbread house is this, I’ve seen many holiday movies and many house constructed in our home by families and friends, but I’ve never seen them eaten.

MYSTERY….. What happens to these houses right after Christmas?
a. Eaten?
b. Thrown in the trash?
c. Put outside for critters to find?
d. Demolition derby by children (or adults?)

Looking forward to hearing what you do or have done.  In the meantime, Have a Happy Day!

Fall is here, time to set the mood

Fall is here and we all get busy around the holidays with work, kids school activities, family activities and it can sometime be hard to get into the holiday spirit or maybe we are in a pinch for a quick last minute fall gift for a party or just a thank you.  Potpourri is always a great go-to for me and also a great way to get your own home into the holiday spirit.  Here are a few recipes for your home.  Check out my Facebook page and Instagram for some great DIY Potpourri projects and gift ideas.

It’s important to remember, there is no right or wrong combination of store bought (or home grown) fruits and spices for the fall to make your personal potpourri.  Some staples are Cinnamon, cloves, star anise, oranges and apples.  Oranges and lemons are great as well.  Here you will find two separate recipes for potpourri.

For an active potpourri (one that you will cook on your stove and need to either continuously add water too or only use for a portion of time) use the following recipe:

In a medium stove top pot, add three cups of water and turn on medium heat. Add two cinnamon sticks, half of an orange, half of a lemon, and 1 tablespoon cloves.  Once the mixture reaches a good temperature, turn to low and let this mixture sit on your stove uncovered.  The potpourri will steep for some time sending a lovely scent throughout your home.  Be sure to check the pot from time to time as the water will evaporate and you will either need to add more or remove the pot from the heat when you are thru with you potpourri for the day.

For a dry potpourri, (one that can be set out in a decorative bowl) use the following recipe:

With cinnamon, cloves, star anise, orange and apples as your ingredients you will want to start by slicing the apples and oranges thin.  Spread them onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake them at 250 degrees to dry them out.  Remove from the oven and let cool, add the remaining spices and allow them to marinate together in a decorative jar or bowl.  NOTE: This particular version makes for a great gift and it is always nice to add in the recipe on a nicely printed card so others can do the same.

Enjoy your holiday season and as always remember to Have a Happy Day!

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