A Splash of Pink: Disney Princess Necklaces

Although I haven’t mentioned it before, in order to earn some extra money, usually for crafts, or fun money for the family, I babysit during the day. Even though I love my boys, and wouldn’t trade a single one, I do consider myself extremely blessed that during the week everyday is now filled with a splash of pink. The beautiful baby girl I watch has given me a wonderful opportunity to experiment with all things girly, which up until 9 months ago was foreign territory for me. I can’t believe how much she’s grown in the 10 months I’ve had her in my life. That being said, her 1st birthday is approaching fast, and with a ‘Princess’ theme for THE Birthday Princess, I knew these necklaces would make the perfect party favors for her special day. They couldn’t have been any easier, and I thought the results were just adorable. Each necklace represents a different Disney Princess, and in order they are: Snow White, Rapunzel, Merida, Cinderelle, Tianna, Aurora, and Ariel. I love the simplicity and the how the different colors capture the essence of each character’s unique color-scheme. I opted out of making necklaces representing Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine, and Belle, but if those are your favorite Princesses, I have listed below the ideal colors to create necklaces for them.

Disney Princess Necklaces

4 Sons 'R' Us: Disney Princess Necklaces

  • 3/4 inch wooden beads
  • 5/8 inch wide white ribbon
  • wooden skewers
  • paint brush
  • acryllic paints

Directions

  1. Thread wooden beads onto skewer. I found up to four would work and allow enough room for drying without sticking to one another.
  2. Paint beads desired color. It helps if you use only one color on beads on the same skewer. While most colors only require one coat, lighter ones such as yellow and white, may require two coats.
  3. Set skewer on top of a bowl, with beads over the center of the bowl, and allow beads to dry. 
  4. Measure ribbon around neck and add 2 inches to the desired length. Cut. Repeat for the desired number of necklaces.
  5. To prevent fraying, use a match or candle, and very carefully melt each end of the ribbon.
  6. When the beads are dry, thread them onto the ribbon into the order shown above.

Pocahontas: 2 tan, 2 brown, 1 turqoise

Belle: 3 light yellow, 2 dark yellow

Mulan: 2 light blue, 2 dark pink, 1 purple

Jasmine: 3 turquoise, 2 gold

Doctor Who: Tardis Cake & other related treats

In March my big, bad 12 year old (I’m kidding, he’s an angel) turned an even bigger and badder 13. I’m a die-hard Doctor Who fan creating another generation of fan-boys  So far all four love the show, but with my 3 year old, and the now 13 year old it’s a love bordering on obsession  The 3 year old refused to be anything other than THE Doctor for Halloween, and my birthday boys entire wishlist was related to the show. I had found this really awesome Thor hammer on clearance at Target and just knew he’d love a Thor cake (he’s a fan-boy  he loves comic books), but I was wrong. Nothing but a Doctor Who themed cake would do. The result was a lovely Tardis cake, and he was happy and impressed!

The Doctor

4 Sons 'R' Us: 'The Doctor' Costume 009

 

My little Wholigan with 10’s customary blue suit, converse sneakers, glasses, and of course his sonic screwdriver (built by my wonderful husband).

Tardis Cake

4 Sons 'R' Us: Doctor Who, Tardis Cake

  • I simply cut the Tardis shape out of a sheet cake. Frosted the whole cake blue. Piped on the doors and fake windows. The top two windows are squares of white chocolate. I used a toothpick to poke out an outline for Police Box and then traced with white icing. 

In anticipation of the premiere of the second half of season 7 of the show, I decided that since it was such an exciting night in our house, I’d make some coordinating treats to add to the anticipation. While we watched the premiere episode, ‘The Bells of St John,’ the kids munched on slices of Fish Finger and Custard Pie (which was actually a basic ‘dirt’ cake with a few changes made) and mini Adipose.

Fish Fingers & Custard Pie

4 Son's 'R' Us: Fish Fingers & Custard Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1, 8 oz, package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2, 3.5 oz, packages of instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 12oz container of cool whip, thawed
  • 1 package of oreos, about 16 ounces
  • chocolate goldfish (fish fingers)
  • whipped cream

Directions

  1. In a food processor, chop the cookies until no chunks remain and the white cream has disappeared. 
  2. Transfer cookie crumbs to a separate bowl.
  3. In the food processor, combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar until evenly combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, evenly combine milk and whipped topping.
  5. Add milk mixture to the food processor and pulse until evenly combined.
  6. Pour ‘custard’ into a pie pan.
  7. Chill until ready to serve.
  8. Top with ‘fish fingers’ and dollops of whipped cream.

Warning: Unlike me, be sure to warn your child that a ‘dirt’ cake doesn’t actually contain dirt. Otherwise they might refuse to eat it and wonder why on earth you would ever willingly feed them dirt.

Adipose

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  • large marshmallows
  • mini marshmallows
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • water
  • black icing gel

Directions

  1. Make a ‘glue’ by creating a paste of confectioners sugar and water. Keep adding confectioners sugar to a little bit of water until the mixture has the texture of paste.
  2. One at a time, add paste to one end of a mini marshmallow and hold onto a large marshmallow for a few second, until stuck.
  3. Repeat until you’ve created two arms and two legs.
  4. Once you’ve created the desired number of bodies, draw eyes and a smile on with the black icing gel.

These treats would also be great for an end of the season party or even to celebrate the 50th Anniversary special! What Whovian, young or old, wouldn’t go ga-ga over themed treats during an episode?!

Homemade Gak

How many others remember Nickelodeon, both their TV shows and their products, vividly from their childhood? Gak was one of my favorites. I vividly remember the ‘fart’ noises it made when squished, and the way my parents cringed at the thought. It stretched, it squished, it oozed. Remembering all the fun I had had as a child, I really enjoy bringing some of these toys back for my own kids to play with and enjoy today. Being a mother to 4 boys, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with any toy, or substance, that emits any noise slightly resembling flatulence. I found this recipe from Lil Luna. My boys, young and old, literally spent hours playing with the stretchy, gooey gelatinous substance. Even my teenager traded the iPod in for some good old-fashioned hands on fun with something ‘yuck’. I’m especially fond of any toys, activities, or crafts that get all four playing together. They actually cooperated, shared, and just got to enjoy each other’s company. Our first batch was yellow, but yours can be any color your heart desires. Mix and match your food coloring. Experiment, but most of all have fun!

Homemade Gak

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Gak

  • 2, 4 oz, bottles of Elmer’s Glue
  • 1 tsp borax
  • water
  • food coloring

Directions

  1. Empty both bottles of glue into a bowl. 
  2. Fill bottles with warm water, recap, shake, and then empty into the bowl.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring. Stir and set aside.
  4. To another bowl, add 1/2 cup of warm water. Add in the borax and stir until dissolved.
  5. Pour the borax mixture into the glue bowl.
  6. Begin by stirring with a spoon. Once it becomes super stringy, begin mixing and squishing by hand. It should be pretty gelatinous by this point.
  7. Let the kids play with it for a few minutes and it will become the perfect gooey consistency.

Even better, when you’re done, your Gak can be stored for play at a later date.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Gak

Simple Sensory Bags

Sensory play is a wonderful opportunity for young children to explore the world around them using their five senses while also honing their fine motor skills. My boys have always been very touch and texture oriented, and sensory bags have been a wonderful way to encourage them. Below are two examples of some of the sensory bags I’ve made for them to play with. It’s so neat to watch their little fingers as the discover how the different items in the bag feel, and watch their little fingers work to move them around. I always find myself wondering what they’re thinking and what conclusions they could be drawing during play as they become engrossed in the activity. Sensory bags are a wonderful quiet time activity. Perfect for tummy time, or anytime I need to get a little one to sit still, but still need to keep them engaged. The possibilities on themes is endless. Get creative, play with it, and see what kind of sensory bags you can come up with. Or just copy these.

Simple Sensory Bags

4 Sons 'R' Us: Simple Sensory Bags

Frog Pond

  • quart size, ziplock freezer bag
  • aloe vera gel
  • frog figures, I found an 8 pack at the dollar store
  • assorted buttons
  • 4-6 decorative glass beads
  • duck-tape

4 Sons 'R' Us: Simple Sensory Bags

Princess

  • quart size, ziplock freezer bag
  • hair gel
  • princess party favors (any type as long as there’s no sharp edges to puncture the bag)
  • assorted buttons
  • 4-6 decorative glass beads
  • duck tape

Directions

  1.  Squirt gel into bag until desired fullness is reached. Remember the bag sill has to zip and the edges be duck-taped without being so full it will pop when played with, about 1 1/4 cup of gel should be sufficient.
  2. Add in trinkets of your choosing.
  3. Compress bag gently to remove any trapped air and seal tightly.
  4. Duck tape all outer edges of the bag to make sturdier and guard against leaks.
  5. Use as a tummy time mat or lap activity and let the little ones explore and enjoy.

Easy Edible Finger Paint

Last month I found an entire box of boxes of vanilla pudding marked down to pennies at the grocery store. I purchased it knowing I would find multiple uses for it later. Plus, I realized it would have been almost mean not to take it off their hands since they were practically giving it away. One day, my 3 year old was begging me to ‘paint’, but I was out of actual finger paint with no intentions of going to the store that day. I remembered someone telling me about making a safe edible finger paint from Greek yogurt and food coloring, and thought why not? Instead of Greek yogurt, the pudding served as the paint base. This recipe and activity was a success; kid tested and baby approved! It dried just like normal paint. It almost resembles a water color painting. It’s great for kids of all ages, even age appropriate infants since it’s perfectly safe to consume, yummy even, when they stick their hands in their mouth. What toddler wouldn’t be amazed to have the activity also be the snack?

Easy Edible Finger Paint

  •  1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • food coloring

Directions

  1. Prepare pudding according to the package directions.
  2. If you’re trying for several different colors, separate the pudding into several bowls or containers.
  3. Add in drops of food coloring until desired color is reached.
  4. Paint on white paper.
  5. Let artwork dry. Voila!

Fuss-Free Finger Painting

Have you ever had one of those moments where you have a litany of tasks that need your immediate attention, but you also have a toddler clinging to your leg and you know that if you turn your back they will immediately morph into a little ball of destruction? My 3 year old would happily entertain himself, but that always results in a gigantic mess that I then have to clean up. It’s moments like those when dinner is waiting to be cooked and homework needs checking that I have to get creative to keep the 3 year old entertained without my constant supervision. Being 3, he is full of artistic ‘flair’. Give him some paints, a coloring book and crayons, you name it, and he’s happy and pumping out masterpieces. However, I know I can’t trust him alone since his creativity has a tendency to run wild. For example, he sees newly painted white walls as fresh canvas eagerly awaiting his decoration. While he could very well be a budding artiste, a future Picasso perhaps, he and I have varying tastes on what composes harmonious home decor.

It was one of these times, with my son begging to ‘paint’ and dinner bubbling away on the stove, that I grabbed a large ziplock bag and some of his tubes of finger paint, and a genius idea was born: fuss-free finger painting! He got to ‘paint’ and none of Mommy’s things got painted on. He loved it, especially since he could magically erase his doodle and begin again. Since then, we do this all the time and have used it to practice making shapes, letters, numbers, you name it. It’s saved my sanity many a time and allowed me to be productive while keeping my son safely, and cleanly, entertained. For a busy mom, fuss-free finger painting is the way to go!

Fuss-Free Finger Painting

4 Sons 'R' Us: Fuss-Free Finger Painting

  • 1 gallon ziplock bag
  • 1 piece of blank white paper
  • 2-3 different colors of finger paints
  • masking tape

Directions

  1.  Squirt several dollops of different colored finger paints into your ziplock bag.
  2. Seal bag securely.
  3. Lay your sealed bag over top of a blank sheet of white paper onto a flat surface such as a kitchen table or desk.
  4. Tape the top and bottom of the ziplock bag to your designated work surface to secure in place.
  5. Sit your child down and let them ‘paint’.
  6. When they’re done simply detach and throw your paint-filled bag away, or save it to use again later.

No mess, and no stress!

Birthday Balloon Wreath

Growing up my Mom tried really hard to make memories and create traditions for myself and my sisters. We always had something to look forward to. No matter what the holiday, we had something special to coincide. Looking back now, it always added to our anticipation and made events seem more special, even the little ones, and sometimes almost magical. Mom also loved flags. She had lots of flags, a flag for everything. We would even compete for the honorable duty of ‘changing the flag.’ Perhaps the only occasions without their own designated banner were birthdays. I will never forget the year I woke up to discover a special flag had been hung, while I slept, with a birthday cake on it. Let me tell you, when you’re under 6 and there’s a banner waving to the world announcing your birthday, you feel like royalty. Every year after that, for every birthday, we woke up to our flag flying high. I wanted to do something similar for my boys, but I didn’t inherit my mother’s love for flags, so that was out for me. However, I do love wreaths! I had seen several balloon wreaths for sale and decided that would be the perfect announcement to grace our front door announcing my own children’s special days. The boys loved it!  I loved it! It was simple, affordable, and could easily be adapted by coordinating colors for any theme or other event.

Birthday Balloon Wreath

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  • 1 12″ Straw Wreath, left in plastic wrap (but you could use a larger frame if you desired, or smaller for table centerpieces)
  • Floral pins
  • balloons (whatever colors and sizes)
  • wreath hanger

Directions

  1. Warning: Do not unwrap your straw wreath! It will make a gigantic mess and you’ll feel like you woke up in a hay field.
  2. Take one balloon and one floral pin.
  3. Starting at any point on the wreath, pin the balloons into the wreath using the floral pins.
  4. Pinning the balloons to the wreath at their middle helps ensure a more uniform look.
  5. Continue pinning balloons around the wreath, alternating colors until you’ve achieved your desired result.
  6. Display on your front door.

Rainbow Pasta

As our 3 year old is getting older, we’re working much harder on things he should know for school, especially the basics, such as letters, numbers, colors. He also loves making things with his hands and craft time. I figured rainbow pasta would be fun to use for a wide variety of crafts: necklaces, picture frames, learning to use glue, and of course, reinforcing colors! His favorite color is ‘greem’ so, of course, we made green pasta and then the primary colors. Start to finish this took maybe 20 minutes and was incredibly easy. Since my 3 year old still thinks his middle name is ‘Hoover’ and tries to eat everything I didn’t want to use rubbing alcohol to set the dye, even though that seemed to be the most common method. Instead, I used white vinegar. Grayson picked out bow tie, elbow, penne, and radiatore pastas to color. He helped with the entire project and thought it was ‘wonder-bull.’ You can also substitute rice for the pasta with the same great results for sensory activities as well as crafts.

Rainbow Pasta

  •  gallon zip lock bag
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta (your choice)
  • 5 drops food coloring of your choice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • wax paper

Directions

  1. Pour the vinegar into the zip lock bag and add the food coloring. Swish the mixture around to get the vinegar and food coloring combined
  2. Add the dried pasta and seal the bag
  3. Lay the bag down onto a flat surface, counter top or kitchen table, and smooth out the pasta so it’s spread out flat within the bag
  4. Flip the bag every 5 minutes for 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes remove the pasta from the bag, I used a slotted spoon, but most of the moisture was absorbed already, and spread the pasta out onto wax paper
  6. Try to prevent noodles from touching each other or they will dry stuck together
  7. When it’s dry, you’re ready to create!

*If you wanted to dye pasta that is safe for consumption, just add a few drops of the food coloring of your choice to boiling water and cook the pasta per the packages instructions