Monday, January 31, 2011

According to Me this Accordion Hook Made Better

I found this accordion hook at a thrift store for $.99 and what a steal of deal it turned out to be. I have been a fan of these fun hooks for awhile now. I saw one featured in The Land of Nod catalog awhile back and just was not willing to pay the price they wanted.

Amazing what a little paint can do to a not so attractive item. Here is how this accordion hook was transformed. According to me, a definite improvement was made

First I painted the hook white to act like a primer, covering that not so beautiful dark wood stain.

Then I painted it red in a water wash. Dipped my brush in water and then in the red paint. I wanted some of the white to show through just a tad.

I then painted the pegs a solid red. The same red as before, just not washed down.

I cut out a star template from card stock. Traced around my star, rotating the star each time. The star was then painted a light blue.

I wanted the star to wrap around just a bit. I did one coat of blue so some of the red would show through. Keeping the wash effect consistent.

I painted the tops of the pegs the same light blue. I decided to do half stars and half just red. Sometimes less is just best. So as you can see the top pieces of wood are stars and the underneath are red. According to me, this could not have been easier for a fun result!

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Friday, January 28, 2011

A Sticky Situation

I decided to make homemade play dough. I tried a recipe I have never used before and either the recipe just does not heed the results expected or something in my prep. went a miss.

As my girls sat down to create a masterpiece from their play dough they had a surprise. The masterpiece was about to take hold of them. Well this sticky mess ended up turning out to be great fun for them. This sticky situation was turned into a positive learning moment, they had a new sensory experience that is for sure.

Not your typical play dough experience! The life lesson here, not everything in life turns out the way you plan. When you find yourself in a sticky situation, dive in, you may get messy, but all washes off in the end!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fun Food For Kids or Kids at Heart

Making food fun for kids is a great way to get them to eat what you set before them. Also it communicates I care about you... you are worth my extra effort. Here are two ways I "fun up" an ordinary meal.

First is to cut a sandwich into shapes. You could do a different shape each week for those of you who are at the stage of teaching your little one his/her shapes. A shape of the week theme.

The second way I add extra fun to a meal is a tip a friend shared with me years ago. Octopus hot dogs! Can you say FUN! Sometimes I serve them with tri-color pasta and we pretend it is seaweed. I have served it on top of buttered spaghetti noodles... really the options are up to your imagination. It is a sure way to put a smile on your little ones face.
How to make these octopus hot dogs is really simple. Before you cook them cut eight tentacles half way up the hot dog. Then make two slits for eyes and a slit for a smiling mouth. Place in a pan, bring to a boil, watch the tentacles curl and the smile appear.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egg Casserole

 Here is the recipe I have for the Crockpot Egg Casserole I referenced in my previous post (click the link Tea Party). I have made this in the crock pot and it turned out great. I let my older girls stay up late and had them help cook and layer in the ingredients. Then the next morning they served breakfast to rest of the family. From setting the table to clearing the table it was their opportunity to serve with joyful hearts. They loved doing this. 

Most often I make this on the stove in a frying pan. When in the frying pan I do not use 12 eggs. I personally do not care for eggs so I make it less eggy if you will. I have also varied the recipe by using O'Brien Potatoes also found in the freezer section.  I do not add the bell peppers and onions every time just depends if I have it on hand or not. Also when I do this in the frying pan I use butter not olive oil.
The following are not my words but that of the creator of this recipe. Hope you enjoy!

 (You may also click the below link Crockpot Egg Casserole for where I found the recipe.)
Use your imagination when making this recipe. Try Canadian bacon instead of ham. Use Havarti or Swiss cheese instead of Cheddar. Add some minced jalapeno peppers if you like hot foods. Then enjoy!

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 9 hours

Total Time: 9 hours, 25 minutes


  • 32 oz. bag frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 1 lb. cooked ham, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper


Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. In small skillet, cook onion and green pepper in olive oil until crisp tender. Let cool about 10 minutes. Place one third of the frozen hash brown potatoes in the slow cooker. Add one third of the ham, onion, green pepper and cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the cheese. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk and seasonings until well mixed. Pour over the ingredients in the slow cooker, cover and turn on low. Cook for 8-10 hours, until casserole is set and eggs are thoroughly cooked. Serves 12
If you have a new hotter cooking crockpot, you'll need to check this after 6 hours. It will probably be done after 7 hours. The eggs should reach a temperature of 160 degrees F.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tea Party

 When each of my girls tun six years of age, for their Birthdays they will or have received a porcelain tea set from me. Two of my four have hit age six, so we have been enjoying tea from tiny cups for many years now. Pinkies up, napkin in your laps and sip don't slurp, you got that "darling?"
Our tea parties have varied over the years but one thing is always the same, smiling faces on little girls acting like ladies. Sometimes we dress in dress up clothes and adorn ourselves in jewels, other times we read those adorable Fancy Nancy books while snacking on treats and sipping tea. Sometimes we have afternoon tea, or a tea party for lunch, today we had a tea party for breakfast.

We enjoyed Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls topped with cream cheese frosting. White frosting is so ordinary and not tea party fancy at all so, we made the frosting purple.  I also made a delicious egg, ham, hash brown casserole for lack of a better description, that I will share the recipe with you in a bit.
Each place was set with a teacup name tag holder, a fun paper plate, a cute napkin, and a teacup of course! Today we put to use our special tea party place mats made for a previous tea party (for how to make these place mats click here Homemade Child Made Place Mats).
Since this is a tea party and my girls are not big fans of tea, we substitute tea for juice. Usually apple juice is our choice, since it looks like real tea. Sometimes we trade back and forth between a couple of different varieties of juice, since at a real tea party a range of teas are offered. Today I decided to make our tea just a bit more of a special treat and we had sparkling apple cider. It was fabulous darling!

 I take full advantage of our tea parties to talk to my girls about proper etiquette at the table. This is an opportunity to put our good manners we learn at the dinner table to use.
A perfectly purple pinkie up tea party! I hope you enjoyed drinking a spot of tea with us today! We sure enjoyed having you at our tea party.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Homemade... Child Made Place Mats

 Due to inquires of how I made these place mats I will reveal my secret. Well it is not really a secret. It is really quite simple even a child could do it... oh wait children did. With my help that is.
First you need clear contact paper (I bought mine at Target in the home cleaning supply area where shelf paper is), then paper for a drawing, Confetti or the tin thinga ma bobs I have here. Can not for the life of me think of what they are called. You could use glitter even. Once you have the things you want to use to build your place mat you are ready to move on to the next step.
The contact paper will be folded over the top of the drawing with the edges meeting at the bottom of the place mat so you need to plan enough contact paper per sheet you cut. You will also need to cut the contact paper for each place mat (do not peel from paper yet) leaving room to decorate each side.
Begin to peel the contact paper from the bottom. Once you get half way, sticky side up, place your drawing in the middle of the contact paper. Then decorate the sides of the sticky contact paper with what you have chosen. Make sure you leave room at the side edges and the bottom, for the contact paper to stick to each other. Once finished proceed to peel the paper the rest of the way off. Fold the contact paper (how many times have I said contact paper?) over the top and smooth out as you lay it down. Forcing the air bubbles to the edge. Don't worry if the edges don't meet perfectly, you can trim them with scissors. 

Then there you have it, a place mat that holds a memory and conquers an art project for your child!
 I write name, the age of the child and the date just for memory sake. Also I have the child dictate something they want me to write on their place mat. Or you could have them write it if they are able.

Below is the other side of these place mats. My girls love tea parties so this craft was made just before we sat down to a tea party. You could decorate one side with a current photo of your child. You could do educational place mats, Holiday place mats, cute things your child says place mat, a training place mat of how to set the table, favorite animal theme, dinosaur theme... possibilities are endless.
On my youngest daughter's place mat I wrote at the top, "Hands Down the Best Meal Ever!" Hey I take my compliments where I can get them, even if I wrote it myself.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Personalized Chore Charts

I am under the belief that it is good for children to help out around the house. What I have experienced over the years is that children like helping out. When resistance comes to helping, it is usually because the fun that was once found by the child has been lost... or outgrown. Another obstacle I have faced to having my kids help out is them not remembering what has been asked of them leaving the job undone. The constant reminder or nagging to a child wears on everyone and let's face it, it is annoying! I have tried the "put a sticker on your chart" kind of chart for chores and well, it just got old after a while. I personally did not find it successful in our home for an every day chore chart. For a short period of time those type of charts work well for me (like potty training). When the chart is filled and a reward is earned works great for motivating the child. However long term, I wanted something more. Something that would not leave me nagging and frustrated and would give my kids the chance to succeed at what was being asked of them. I am thrilled to say I think I have found just that! A personalized chore chart that is easy for my kids to know exactly what is expected of them and for them to accomplish just that. I also feel that this chart can be used as early as age two, it is that simple! Though at two the child will of course need more parental guidance.

Here is what I have come up with and so far we have had great success! We have been putting this to use for a month and a half now and I am so pleased with the results! My kids love getting to see their star once they have completed a task.

I found these unfinished frames at Jo Ann's Craft store. They were in packs of four or individual packs. They have a wooden peg in the back for propping it up. Since that was not my final plan for the frame I purchased (at the hardware store) picture frame hooks that I  nailed to the back.

Next I made a template for where I would be drilling holes for the hooks. I purchased the hooks at the hardware store. They are hooks for hanging mugs.

I laid the tags on the holes to make sure my spacing was good.

You will need a drill and pliers for twisting the hooks into the wood. You will want to paint the frames first. I just tested a hook in my first frame to make sure my idea would work, before taking the time to paint.

I bought these tags at Jo Ann's Craft store in the scrap booking section. I covered the tags  in clear contact paper (purchased at Target in the home cleaning section). The back of the tag was white. I painted the tag a solid color then added a star and an encouraging word. Such as "Great Job!" You will need a hole punch to make the hole through the contact paper.

The tags for the younger kids who either don't read or are learning to read adding pictures of the chore makes this chart a success. If the child does not know what to do, then you are back to where you started from.  I am not an artist so please ignore my juvenile drawings... but hey my kids know what the chore is so all is good.

When the chore is complete the child simply turns the tag over! The side with the star shows you just gave your child an opportunity to shine!
 I hung the frames outside my girls rooms. This way they can wake up each morning and get their day "star"ted right!
Even placing the simple tasks on their chore charts of getting dressed, brush your teeth, make your bed etc. leaves me no longer reminding... aka nagging. These chore charts lead to a much happier, more peaceful and productive home... cuz Mama ain't nagging!

Tools and Supplies 

Picture hanger for back of frame
Clear Contact Paper
Mug Hooks
Acrylic Paint
Hole Punch
Picture of your sweet star

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Potty Training

Christiana Hope is my fourth child and she is now three. I potty trained all my other girls (including Christiana) at age two. Every child is different when they show signs of being ready. What I have come to know very well, is that mom must be ready too. If mom is not ready then the child is not given the proper chance to be successful. At age two Christiana was trained and then I failed her. I was busy with schooling my other girls and the distractions of the frequent bathroom visits were disruptive. My failure to take her on a regular scheduled time as I had been was leading to accidents. I found I was not ready to have the cleaning up of an accident on my agenda as well. So I decided, back on with the diapers and when I was ready we would tackle it again.
Here is one thing I have found that works for me and that is to set up what I call the Potty Party Zone. On my hard floor I set up an area full of toys and for the day she stays and plays in that area. That way cleaning up an accident is easy and less frustration for mom. Making a fun place helps encourage the child to want to go potty on the potty. Giving the place they must stay a fun name also brings excitement to the child. I also set a timer to remind myself and Christiana that it is time to potty. Once she has gone, then we celebrate and off we go to put a sticker on her chart. I also reward with a single M&M for pee pee and two for poo poo.One more helpful tip, give your child lots of liquids! Juice is a great one for potty training since it travels through the system so quickly!
So all you potty training moms... let's party!
Excuse my very quick, thrown together chart. Hey it works and she is happy!

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Morning Smiles

Caitlin my 5 year old asked me if I was going to put this mornings breakfast on my "log?" So, yes I will and I hope you enjoy my girls bright morning smiles while anticipating a fun breakfast.

Oatmeal topped with whip cream and sprinkles. Mmmm mmmm good!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Group Effort for Dinner

Years ago friend of mine shared with me a very easy recipe for chicken in the crock pot. All you do is add a jar of salsa to the boneless, skinless chicken breasts in your crock pot and then shred the chicken when done. How simple is that? Then serve in taco salad, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, turn into nachos or whatever else you come up with. Then recently another friend shared a similar recipe with me. The difference is, at the end add a block of cream cheese! I then add a can of corn and a can of black beans. Today I only had half a block of cream cheese so I added some sour cream as well, along with the corn and black beans. How you choose to eat this mixture is up to you. We have had it with chips and it was delicious. Today I decieded to layer the ingredients in a baking dish. Here is what I did...

Layer of chips
Layer of chicken mixture
Layer of cheese
and repeat one time.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minuets.
This also would be yummy with a salad alongside. Top with avocado, tomatoes... Mexican rice on the side.... DELICIOUS!

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Rice Crispy Treats With Chocolate Chips in the Middle

Another fun and easy treat to make with or for the kids. Make it a little more sophisticated by adding chocolate chips to the middle.

Yet one more way to communicate, you are special and I love you!

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