Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

On this night before we celebrate Christmas, may we reflect on the greatest Gift ever given. Though it's important to remember Jesus' birth, it's even more important to remember why He came - to bring us eternal life. Thank you, Jesus!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cute Sock Cupcakes

These adorable little sock cupcakes make a simple, inexpensive gift for friends and family. Fuzzy socks work best, but you can use baby socks for a baby shower or athletic socks for the athlete in your life.

Here's what you need:
1 pair fuzzy socks
1 rubber band
1 pom pom for the cherry on top
1 paper cupcake wrapper - I used this template and some scrapbook paper
Wavy scissors or border punch
1 cellophane treat bag and ribbon to tie it
Scotch tape

Lay the socks flat and overlap a little.

Start with the top of the sock and roll tightly. Secure with a rubber band. Separate the layers slightly and fold over a couple of the edges to add some fullness.

Cut out the wrapper and use the wavy scissors or punch on one edge. Wrap around the cupcake and secure with tape. Push the pom pom down into the top of the cupcake and add a little piece of tape so it stays in place.

Slide the wrapped cupcake into the treat bag and tie up with a ribbon.

Could these cupcakes be any cuter? I can tell you they're simple and fun. I have plans to make more for a baby shower next month and for a spa gift set for a friend. Right after Christmas is a great time to stock up on fuzzy socks, too!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seen from the Kitchen Window

We've been visiting my folks in West Virginia. Here's a view from my mom's kitchen window last week. The kids were delighted to get such a close-up look at these beautiful animals.

Recycle Plastic Bottles into Bag Toppers and Spill Stoppers

My mom shared this great tip with me, and I want to share it with you. If your cupboards look anything like mine do, you have opened bags of rice or beans or marshmallows that you fold down in hopes that they don't spill. And then you clean up all the little grains of rice that have leaked out because they DO spill.

Well, here's a great solution. Cut the top off a plastic bottle. You can use a 2-liter top for bigger bags like marshmallows or a water bottle for things like rice or beans.

Thread the top of the opened bag through the bottle top. Fold the bag down over the bottle top like you fold down a sock.

Twist the top of the bottle on over the bag.

No more spills in the cupboard!

For more helpful tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Easy Bottle Cap Necklaces

If you need a quick, easy, cheap gift for a little girl in your life, I have a great idea for you.

I bought bottle cap bezels with the vague intention of creating some kind of pendant for my daughter. I thought maybe I'd use her initial or perhaps a picture of a horse or ballerina, then fill in the bezel with Glossy Accents. I set the supplies aside and forgot about doing it.

Then the Princess asked to make something for her friends for Christmas. I was busy, busy, busy and we were pinching pennies. I frantically rummaged through my craft stuff and found the bezels. Aha!!! Inspiration struck and since that doesn't happen often, I jumped on it.

Along with the bezels, I found some tiny little marbles in my stash. I mean, these things are tiny! But oh so cute! I had royal blue and multi-colored. The Princess chose multi-colored.

Using a small paintbrush, I spread a thin layer of clear-drying glue in the bezel. A toothpick would work, too.

Then I poured in the tiny marbles, making sure the entire surface was covered. I let this dry for several minutes. I shook off the excess marbles that didn't adhere.

Starting around the outside, I filled in the bezel with the Glossy Accents. This stuff dries clear and shiny. You can see tiny air bubbles in this picture. Wait for them to come to the surface, then pop them with a straight pin or toothpick.

Allow the glaze to set overnight. Then apply another layer for more shine and dimension.

The bezels already had jump rings attached, so I simply strung them on black cord and knotted it.

I got the bezels for half price, so they cost 25 cents each. The tube of marbles was 99 cents and I used maybe 1/4 teaspoon for each one. It barely made a dent in the amount in the tube! The black cord was $2 and it was enough for 4 necklaces with enough left over to make at least one more. The cost of the Glossy Accents glaze was $5. It has lasted me a long time. So I estimate the cost of each necklace to be around 75 cents. Not bad for a cute gift!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sorry it's been so long

It's been a week since I posted! Usually by now I've posted my menu plan for the week. But guess what? I'm at my Mama's and she's cooking for us! We were able to travel to West Virginia early this year due to a work project hubby has in the next town over from my parents'. So his company actually paid for us to spend the holidays with family! Love it!

We've gotten a little snow since we've been here, which the kids have loved. I'll post some snow pics later.

Just wanted you to know I haven't fallen off the face of the earth!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Double Chocolate Cake

I needed a dessert for some hungry men and children while I and some girlfriends went to a Ladies Night Out party. I didn't have time to run to the store, so I had to rely on pantry ingredients I already had. I found this recipe in Dining on a Dime by Tawra Kellem and Jill Cooper and adapted it a little to suit my style of baking.

Judging by the crumbs that were left when I got home, the cake was delicious!

Here's what you'll need:

2 cups flour (I used half white, half white wheat)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teas baking powder
1 1/2 teas baking soda
4 TBSP cocoa
1 cup cold water
1 cup mayo
2 teas vanilla

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, stir the water and may together, then add the vanilla. Mix into the dry ingredients until smooth. Spread into a greased 13x9 pan. The batter will be thick.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Poke holes in the cake with a fork. All over, even to the edges. Then go back and poke some more holes! It's fun!

Now prepare the frosting. Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in a saucepan. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, and 1/4 cup milk. Bring to a boil, then boil for one minute.

Pour over the cake and spread to cover. Oh my yum!

Here's a link to a printable recipe.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Menu Plan December 5-11

This week will be cheap and easy. We had a major plumbing disaster last week that took a huge chunk out of the budget. What am I saying? It BLEW the budget all to pieces! So I'm trying to use up what I have on hand and save a little money in the process.

Here's the plan:

Crockpot potato soup (I subbed bacon for the ham)

Hot dogs, chips

Chili made with lentils instead of ground beef, cheesy biscuit bites

Pizza pasta, green beans

Oatmeal pancakes, sausage links

Chicken nuggets, fries

Sunday School Christmas party

For more meal planning inspiration, please take a peek at Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. You can find gluten-free, low cal, leftovers - just about any kind of menus you're looking for.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sedimentary Rock Bars

We're studying rocks in science this month and the kids are loving it! We've found all sorts of neat online activities and games, as well as pictures and information. I'll share some interesting links in another post.

This post is about the food! Our science book had a recipe for Sedimentary Rock Bars to help illustrate the layers that make up this type of rock. I figured if they were yummy, the kids would remember how sedimentary rocks are formed.

Well, the bars are yummy. And the kids do remember. Mission accomplished!

To quote Mr. Lego -"These bars rock!" Oh, the dry sense of humor.

You don't have to be studying the formation of rocks to appreciate this delicious recipe, though. You probably already have the ingredients in your pantry. Or if you don't, you can substitute like I did.

Here's what you need:

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (I had none, so I used a combo of graham cracker and Ritz crackers)
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup chopped nuts

This is the Princess crushing up crumbs for me. The kids loved helping make these.

Pour the melted butter into a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle evenly with the crumbs. I liked having the Ritz crumbs in here. There was a slightly salty taste that really helped control the sweetness. I think I'll go with Ritz instead of vanilla wafers from now on.

Slowly pour the condensed milk over the crumbs. Try to make sure the whole pan is covered. Layer the chocolate chips and peanut butter chips next.

The last layer is the nuts. Sprinkle evenly over the top and gently press down.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool a little before cutting into bars.

See all those layers? The nuts on top really do resemble rocks! We loved making these and loved eating them even more. Nothing like a hands-on project to reinforce learning.

I love homeschooling!