3 Ingredient Edible Peeps Playdough

Another Easter’s almost here, and you know what that means. PEEPS! Peeps here, Peeps there, Peeps are everywhere. The hubs and the sons go nuts for these things. The hubs prefers to slit open a package and let them sit for a couple of days as he finds them quite pleasing when stale. (YUCK!) The sons will badger me incessantly if they see a package in the pantry, even though if they just patiently wait until Easter the bunny always loads their baskets up with several packages.

The past few years, I’ve seen mroe and more ideas floating around with different ideas and suggested uses for them. Last year we made Peep kabobs for their baskets. I noticed they’re now selling them in stores this year. Well this year we took it above and beyond by making this simple, but awesome edible ‘playdough’ for Son # 4. Even the older sons wanted in on this action. Although I was forbidden from photo documenting the event. No evidence and plausible deniability… blah, blah, blah. Who knows, maybe this will find it’s way to the Peep market eventually. In the meantime, it doesn’t get any easier and it’s tons of simple, sugary fun for you and the little ones to gear up for the holiday.

 peeps playdough

3 Peeps
1 tbsp of coconut oil
3 tbsp of powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

peeps playdough 3

Put both the peeps and the oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for them for 10 seconds, just long enough to watch the peeps “grow” with the heat. Take the bowl out of the microwave and add in the powdered sugar and stir. As you stir the mixture in the bowl, the ‘dough’ should begin pulling away from the edges of the bowl. Lightly dust the lump with powdered sugar and work out any additional lumps in your dough with your hands.
If your dough is too sticky or too oily, add more powdered sugar, and alternatively if it is cracking, add a touch more oil. Use your hands to knead the dough until everything’s equally incorporated and it has reached a malleable consistency.

peeps playdough 2

Ok, so while we’re calling this playdough, it’s actually pretty much marshmallow fondant with some added pizzazz and Easter-y fun from the Peeps. The pink ball was with traditional peeps, but we went out on a limb and gave the party cake peeps a try, and it tasted even better! This edible marshmallow dough can be used and played with just like regular play dough, but it does not store well. So if you’re getting ready to make it, be sure to have the kiddos on hand to get the most play time in with it.

peeps playdough 4

Concerned this is too much sugar? Check out this version from Still Playing School that uses cornstarch instead of powdered sugar. Coincidentally, they also make a bigger batch so it’d be great for larger quantities for multiple little ones to enjoy.

Snowman Milk Bottles

So remember when we started this whole 12 Days of Christmas thing? Remember my little pre-apology just in case life got in the way of a post or two coming your way? Well, it was bound to happen and it finally did. (Although we did have a solid six day run before that. Yes!)

Long story short: Son # 4’s allergies got the best of him. Zyrtec kicked his allergies butt and dried up excessive amounts of mucus. And backed them right up into his ear which culminated in an ER visit narrowly avoiding a burst ear drum. Now that we’re all back to normal, we’re ready to resume our regularly scheduled programming. And back to the Christmas craftiness we are. In 3 … 2 … 1 …

I’m about to show you something really cute.

Like really, really cute.

And it’s so simple! Just a few supplies, and you can have an adorable Winter milk jug ready for the kids, for guests, or even for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Snowman Milk Bottle

Also, it’s Christmas time, and that means it’s also (unofficially) cookie season. And you can’t have cookies without milk. It’s just one of the unwritten laws of dessert. So whether you’re throwing a Christmas party, hosting the family baking day, or just enjoying some much needed qt with your cuties, having milk on-hand is a must, and what better way to serve it than this?!

Snowman Milk Bottles

milk bottles, I happen to own a set, but Starbucks Frappuccino bottles would work perfectly too
felt, I used red but any color would work
black buttons
straws
glue gun

Directions

1. Cut a strip of felt. Snip the ends of the strip of felt to resemble a scarf.
2. Tie the strip of felt around the neck of the bottle. Arrange the ends so they both lay flat. If needed apply some glue to the bottom strip and press the top down onto it to secure.
3. Glue two black buttons onto the midsection of the glass.
4. Fill with milk, insert a straw, and you’re ready to impress!

Sous Chef Sunday: DIY Pixie Sticks

 Pixie sticks… aka kiddie crack. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many of these sugary shots I downed as a kid. These little straw like sticks of powdered candy were a favorite of mine, and most every other kid I knew from elementary school. Can we say sugar high? I once knew a kid in middle school who took it a little too far. He had the bright idea to sniff one, acting as if he was cool in doing so. Yeah. That resulted in a horrible headache. Sugar highs aside (kids don’t care about crap like that) I know my own kids enjoy them just as much as I did. They would probably have lived off of them, and any other candied item if given the option. Balanced diet, right? When I saw a recipe for a make-it-myself version, my dormant sugar censors kicked into high gear. The sons were totally on board. And all this with ONLY two ingredients. That’s right, two.

 DIY Pixie Stix 2

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make our very own little sugar shots. Seriously, like less than 10 minutes. We made them just for fun this time, but I’m definitely going to be whipping out a bunch as part of the spread for their next birthday celebrations. What table wouldn’t look just a tad more adorable with these? The sons did almost all of the work themselves, and being Mom I was the self appointed glue-gunslinger. I love when we can all get down and crafty will all our bad little selves.

DIY Pixie Stix

DIY Pixie Sticks

Kool-Aid packets (flavor of your choice)
sugar
paper straws
glue gun

Directions

1. Take a sandwich baggie and add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the Kool-Aid dry mix.
2. Shake well until evenly dispersed.
3. Hot glue the bottoms of the straws closed by adding one dot of glue and then firmly pressing both sides together. I used a pair o scissors to press them together against my counter top.
4. Cut a small hole in the corner of your baggie and fill the straw up until about a 1/2 inch from the top.  Then hot glue the other end.
5. Told you they were easy!  Each baggie will fill about 12 straws.  They aren’t quite as pretty as the ones you can fill up at the candy store but these taste better!

DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

I love the sons to death, but sometimes I wish they’d stop badgering me about what’s for dinner. They’re like a whole revolving chorus of broken records with the question. It’s like some insane versions of food-related whac-a-mole. Get one to stop, another one pops pipes up. It makes me want to scream, and tear out tufts of hair. Sons, I’ll let you in on a little clue…if I’m not even done clearing/cleaning the breakfast dishes, I am not ready, in any way shape or form, to address the dinner issue. Sometimes when you ask me what’s for dinner…..I honestly don’t know yet! It’s not like I have an inexhaustible source from which I can pull creative meal plans to begin with, and I’m horrible under pressure. As you may have noticed. Repeatedly. To be clear, I am not, nor will I ever be, a short order cook. Some days I can barely get it together to prepare ONE meal for us all. There’s a lot of pressure to make something healthy and enjoyable for everyone…and some nights that even proves impossible. Let’s be honest, NO matter what I finally do tell you is for dinner, at least one of you will be unhappy. At least one of you, somedays more, either before sitting at the table, or in between giant mouthfuls you can barely chew, will make sure to ‘express yourself’ and rebelliously declare that you don’t, or you may have, liked it if I’d only done A or B differently. Can I just put it out there again, how much I loathed being asked the revolving question (6925x) of what’s for dinner? Even when I’d refuse to answer, the sons would continue.

Son: “What’s for dinner?”

Mom: ‘Food’

Son “What type of food?”

Mom: ‘Edible’

And then I had an epiphany. The menu board! Not only would it better help me plan my weekly menu in advance (at least for the chaotic dinner rush), but the sons could finally have answers without ever having to ask! It was a Monday morning miracle!! Hallelujah! There’s was no light bulb, but there was a heavenly chorus and golden beams of light shining down all around (well, at least in my head). The sons, knowing me, know that you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit, or you may lose your plate. This little God-send has helped save my sanity and has actually helped curb complaints. It’s in writing. On the board. It might as well be set. in. stone.

I no longer have to get cranky and frankly driven a little past crazy when they ask what’s for dinner for the eleventh time on any given day. I know my obligation to make dinner. And I do truly want to nourish them. Most nights I even enjoy it. The menu board is a promise. If somethings marked in for the day we can all just assume that at some point it will be dinner time, and at that point the sons can rest assured, I will put some form of decent –albeit occassionally uninspired– nutrients on the table for your consumption.

The world has become such a more peaceful place for the six of us. Well, seven, if you include the dog (who has, ahem, yet to ever complain about anything I’ve fed him…..just sayin’).

So simple, but cute and life-saving fully functional. Don’t have dinnertime issues? Use it as a weekly memo board so the kids (and Mom) know what the big plans are for the day.

DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

Scrapbook paper in colors of your choice

stickers, or other accents of choice (I opted for stencils)
8 frame picture frame (I purchased mine from Walmart for around $10) and you can choose from woodgrain or black frame.
Glue

Ta-Da! Turn those few supplies into this…

4 Sons ;R; Us: DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

Directions

1. Using the paper inserts (ya know the ones with random people smiling at you!) as templates for your scrapbook paper and cut out 8 rectangles.
2. Lay out your pieces of paper in the direction and order you’d like them to hang in the frame.
3. Keeping in mind which directions your board will hang, vertical or horizontal, decorate each piece to coordinate with a different day of the week.
4. Feel free to ‘bling em out’ a little but, just be careful not to over clutter as it will make it hard to write over.
5. When you’re done decorating, reassemble, and enjoy your new menu board or weekly planner.

Homemade Bath Bombs

What’s hotter than a bath? A bath with bombs! To soak away a stressful day, all you have to do is toss a bath bomb into your tub. It will set off a fizzy reaction that releases super-relaxing essential oils. Plus, they make great gifts! Pamper yourself (or your loved one) and make your own DIY bath bombs.

One of the best parts of making your own bath bombs is getting to choose the essential oils! You can go with floral scents like lavender or rosemary, or a citrus blend with lemon or grapefruit.  Some other common essential oils used for bath bombs are peppermint, vanilla and chamomile. Let the bath bombs dry for at least one day before you use them! If your bath bombs are a gift, wrap them in cellophane or tissue paper for a pretty ‘present’-tation. Get creative with these. Girls might like some glitter added to theirs. I mean, seriously, what isn’t made better by glitter? You can easily make dissoluble ‘glitter’ by adding a few drops of food coloring to some large grain sugar and mixing well. Sprinkle some on top of your bombs and pack it in. The kids will love discovering a fun bath toy revealed as the ball dissolves. Looking for a cute, frugal Valentine’s Day gift? Add a conversation heart to each one and go for shades of pink, red, and purple. If you want to get even more creative with it, check out some of the neat bath bombs offered on Etsy for some inspiration.

Homemade Bath Bombs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Bath Bombs

recipe originally from The Passionate Maker

8 oz. Baking Soda
4 oz. Citric Acid
4 oz. Corn Starch
4 oz. Epsom Salts (make sure these are fine grained)
¾ tsp Water
2 tsp* Essential oils
2 ½ Tbsp Light vegetable oil
2 drops Food Coloring
Whisk, bowl, jar, wax paper, cookie sheet, mold (opt.)

* Adjust essential oil quantity if using strong oils like geranium and be sure to avoid oils that are strong skin sensitizers like cinnamon (or be sure to only use a drop or two of such oils).

Directions

1. Blend the dry ingredients in a large glass bowl to a smooth consistency.
2. Blend wet ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake to combine.
3. Slowly whisk small amounts of the liquid into the dry ingredients. If the mixture starts to foam, you are adding the liquid too quickly.
4. When all the liquid has been added, test to see if it clumps together like wet sand when you squeeze it. If not, add more wet ingredients, a tiny bit at a time. Press the mixture into 4 to 5 round balls. You can also try using a mold such as a melon baller, candy or soap mold, or ice cube tray.
5. Let dry overnight, then store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for storage up to 6 months.
6. When ready to use, drop in a warm bath and relax. The bomb will fizz slowly because of the combination of citric acid and baking soda, and the oils will disperse.

I absolutely love the ‘rustic’ feel of these, bursting with dried flowers and herbs!

Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Centerpiece & Tutorial

I love decorating for the holidays. I just can’t shake that ‘festive’ itch. When the mantle, walls, and doors are properly decorated, and only then, I get to the kitchen table. Afterall, I wouldn’t want it to feel any holiday-envy. Imagine trying to eat dinner at a grumpy table that had been left-out. It might just decide to leave me out of dinner. I can’t have that. Every available surface should be decorated equally.

This year though, I wanted to do something a little different for our Thanksgiving centerpiece. I opted for these adorable scrapbook paper pumpkins. They’re cute, easy, and quick. Is your table looking lonely? Trying to get it up to snuff for Thanksgiving dinner? Begin creating your own fun, festive table-scape with a scrapbook paper pumpkin today.

Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Centerpiece & Tutorial

4 Sons 'R' Us: Scrapbook Paper Pumpkin Cneterpiece

  • circular item to trace, I made two sizes of paper pumpkins and used a cake pan for the large one and a bowl for the smaller
  • 8 or 16 pages of scrapbook paper, the large pumpkin only got one circle per page, the smaller got two
  • scissors
  • glue stick

Before I give you the verbal tutorial here are some step-by-step photos for you as well.

4 Sons 'R' Us

Directions

  1.  Trace and cut out 16 identical circles from scrapbook paper.
  2. Fold each circle in half with right sides together.
  3. Glue one side of the circle and place another circle patter on top of it until you have glued all the circles together.
  4.  Once you have glued all the circles together, you will have one stack of folded circles.  After the glue has dried, about 2-3 hours, unfold the circles and lay flat.  You will have two sides that have not been glued.  Glue them together so it creates an accordion.
  5. Decide which end of the pumpkin will be the bottom. Using an exacto knife or sharp scissors lay the pumpkin flat and cut a straight line about 1/4-1/2 inch from the bottom. This will enable it to ‘sit up’.
  6. Roll up a small piece of the scrap paper from where you cut out your circles to make a stem. Stick it into the tiny gap at the ‘top’ of your pumpkin.

Seriously, how cute are these little guys?!

4 Sons 'R' Us: scrapbook paper pumpkin

DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

In the past year I’ve seen fold over elastic hair ties for sale everywhere. Tons of Etsy shops, even larger, commercial retailers like Anthropologie are carrying them. When I first saw them in the store I had a moment. A serious, “Where have you been all my life?!’ moment. Then BOOM, I noticed the price tag they were toting. $12 for a set of 5. However, after looking at them (okay, okay…it was more like coveting) and their simplicity, I knew I could make my own. For pennies. A year later, I’m still in love with these bad boys. And I’m here today to share the love with you!

The Sunshine Shoppe has a great selection of fold over and regular elastic in a variety of colors (even glittery elastic! and let’s be honest, are you ever really too old for glittery accessories?) and they’re prices are great! Less than 50 cents a yard? Yes! The amount of hair ties a yard of elastic makes looks like a lifetime supply. Plenty to share with your children or your friends. Seriously, share the love. I used to use store-bought hair ties and even the ones without the metal bands still manage to catch and pull my hair. I haven’t lost a single hair, or shed a tear, with these wonderful homemade hair ties. Love them. A LOT. And I guarantee you will too.

These adorable ties are so easy to make and you don’t have to panic if you lose one. You can just cut out another. Hair ties. For pennies. Genius!

DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Boutique Style Hair Ties

  • elastic, I used 5/8 fold over elastic and 3/8 regular elastic
  • scissors

Directions

  1. Begin by creating a ‘template’ piece of elastic. To do this, gently wrap the elastic around your wrist. You want it to fit just like a regular spare hair tie would. When you’ve gotten the length right, cut the elastic.
  2. Using your template piece as a pattern, cut out the desired number of elastic strips.
  3. To form the hair tie, knot the two ends together and pull tight.
  4. Finish off the ends of the hair ties by cutting them at a diagonal or with two points

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Boutique Style HairTies

Thank you to 2 sisters, 2 cities for introducing me to The Sunshine Shoppe!

The First Day of School

I’m thinking next year, I’m going to host a big brunch, with mimosas of course, so that all my fellow SAHM’s and myself can raise a glass and a toast to the fact that we all managed to retain our sanity throughout another entire summer, and of course that all children are still happy and healthy. While I love my boys, I’m always happy to see that first day of Summer Vacation, and I’m just as happy to see it go. Does it take anyone else an entire school year to recover?

First Day of School

No, I didn’t lose a son. Son # 1 was struggling to get out the door this morning and missed the group photo ops. It seems somebody was a little to used to secretly reading half the night, and didn’t realize how early 7am would come. The days of sleeping in until noon are over. At least until next Summer, or the weekend. Here are the bright eyed and bushy-tailed ones, ready to go. I found these free, printable grade signs, which I LOVE from Designs by Nicolina.

Now, let me introduce you to my latest idea. The Homework Caddy.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homework Caddy

In an effort to cut down on wasted time, misplaced assignments and supplies, and mismanaged time all 3 big boys will be doing homework at our very large, and accommodating kitchen table this year. The homework caddy will be on-hand each day, smack dab in the middle of the table with all the supplies each boy could possibly need to complete their assignments. Best of all? There will be no reason, or excuse, for any of our homework supplies to be ‘walking off’ this year. Here’s to hoping this also prevents the over-used, ‘But Moooooom, I can’t do my homework because I don’t have…’.

Inside the caddy, which I found at Jo-Ann’s craft store, are 3 pint-sized Mason jars containing markers, sharpened pencils, and colored pencils. There’s plenty of loose-leaf tucked in the back, and even a pad of construction paper. Pens have been included and tucked away in the bottom is a pair of scissors, manual pencil sharpener, and two glue sticks. Did I manage to forget anything?

Make homework time just a little bit easier this year by making your own homework caddy today.

Oh, and fellow parents? We made it! Happy 1st Day of School 2013.

Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’ Themed Birthday Party

With four boys, you’d think that would mean A LOT of birthday parties. I used to have visions of perfectly planned out, whimsical themed parties. As the kids grew, they pretty much let me know I’d lost a marble or two. I’m lucky if the older boys let me comb their hair on their big day. All totally normal I’m told, but I still don’t have to like it. Do I?

That being said, I’m taking full advantage of the youngest son’s obsessive love of things and getting in as many themed birthday’s as I can before I’m stuck with just super heroes, and then nothing but cake, ice cream, pizza, and presents.

Since he first got it for Christmas, the youngest son has been in love with The ‘War-ax’. I had flirted with the idea of Toy Story, but as I watch his love of this famous Seuss’ character continue to thrive, logically I knew nothing else would do. That being said, while I enjoy having a ‘theme’ especially one so close to his little heart, I do have four kids and there’s only so much I can do. While I wish I had the time, and energy, and let’s be honest… motivation to throw the super elaborate parties some of my friends do where everything is planned out, coordinated, and theme-centric (virtually down to the tp in the bathroom), I just can’t.

Son # 4 walked in, took one look at the few simple treats in store for him, and his face literally lit up. Now, if only I could keep him thinking I’m that cool forever.

Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’ Themed Birthday Party

'The Lorax' Themed Birthday Party

The Lorax face was made using a pumpkin template that I traced onto construction paper. The pumpkin template can be found here. Orange Hawaiian Punch made his ‘body’.  I did have to explain that punch, in this instance, is something you drink and not something you do. The ‘UNLESS’ quote printable can be gotten from A Little Delightful. The I speak for the trees picture was made using lollipop sticks, a sharpie, sparkly pom poms, and a glue gun.

Since my son absolutely loves The Lorax movie, and it’s adorable cast of characters, I knew I wanted to have some themed goodies to snack on. We opted for Teddy Grahams ( as Barbaloots), Goldfish (representing the Humming Fish), Marshmallows (their most favorite treat), and yellow and orange Reese’s Pieces to represent The Lorax himself.

j

Also, to note, when setting out snacks at a party, vases, bowls, glasses and jars all make cute serving dishes.

Of course, the youngest son had to have a ‘War-ax’ cake. Again I used the cut out pumpkin template to ‘trace’ the basic outline with a tooth pick. The eyes were made using life savers, smarties, and miniature chocolate chips. We also made him his very own Truffula tree forest.

Lorax Party

Lorax Party 2

'The Lorax' Themed Birthday Party 3

Again, these cupcakes were made using lollipop sticks that I had ‘sharpi-ed’ Truffula bark onto. Tufts of cotton candy made the ‘wooly’ bits. While I had seen these cupcakes in several party posts, there was on lesson they all failed to mention that I had to learn the hard way. Cotton candy melts, especially in a moist atmosphere. These were what the cupcakes looked like about an hour after being tufted.

Lorax Party 3

Pretty depressing, right? I felt a brief wave of panic when I checked on them before I went to bed the night before the party and originally discovered their sorry state. However, I was easily able to re-do the sticks and waited until just before I was ready to serve cake to re-tuft, and they stayed perfectly fluffy up until the moment they were greedily gobbled up.

So, son # 4 thought he was pretty much the luckiest little boy in the whole world when he saw his special cake and cupcakes. I know this because he told me so himself the next morning when he borrowed one of my rings and proposed to me.

Lorax Party 4

DIY Tiki Torch

During the summer months, I love being able to sit out on my porch in the evenings and enjoy a good book, watch the kids play, and just take in the beautiful weather. I’ve always loved the look and feel of lit tiki torches on summer evenings. Something about it just totally sets the scene for me. There prices, however, horrified me.

I was so excited last summer, when I came across little globular tabletop torches in the store. For a great price!! I could totally envision the queenly atmosphere they would create. The part of my brain that logically rationed as Queen of my Castle I deserved to stoke my fairy-tale inspired fire, demanded their immediate purchase. I automatically saw my little piece of far, far away where I could decompress, and just lose myself for a few minutes each evening.

Naturally, I came home with a matching pair, assuming we’d live out the rest of our days creating beautiful, enchanted Summer memories together.  Unfortunately, my happily ever after just wasn’t meant to be.  Both pots (let’s face it, at this point their ambiance setting fairy God mother had abandoned them and, in my eyes, their clock had already struck twelve) leaked horribly. Despite my valiant husband’s best efforts, they just weren’t salvageable. For me, the whole affair was quite tragic. So much for my illusions of grandeur.

Ever my knight in shining armor, my husband came to my rescue! If I couldn’t buy the perfect table top torch, then he would make me one! This was his brain child.

This easy to make tiki torch was a roaring success. Using citronella infused torch fuel I’m able to keep the mosquitoes at bay, all while adding a little ‘enchantment’ to my evenings. My still full wallet was feeling pretty enchanted too!

DIY Tiki Torch

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Tiki Torch

  • old, sturdy glass bottle
  • 2 washers that fit the lip of your bottle
  • 1 spacer
  • rubber grommet (make sure it will fit tightly down into your bottle creating an airtight seal that prevents the wick from moving around)
  • tiki torch fuel (I used one with citronella to keep the mosquitoes away)
  • tiki torch wicks

Directions

  1. Add fuel to your bottle. Be careful not to over fill.
  2. Place a wick into the bottle. Leave about 2 inches exposed above the lip of the bottle.
  3. Thread the end of the wick through the grommet, pushing the grommet towards the bottle opening. Force grommet down into the neck of the bottle, leaving it flush on top with the lip. Make sure to hold onto the end of the wick so it doesn’t also get pushed down into the bottle.
  4. Take one washer and thread it onto the wick, pushing it down until it rests on the top of the bottle. Make sure there’s not gap between the bottle and washer # 1.
  5. Thread a spacer onto the wick and push it down until it’s resting flush against washer # 1.
  6. Thread washer # 2 onto the wick, pushing down until it is resting firmly against the spacer. The washers will keep the flame away from the glass preventing it from getting hot, at all.
  7. Push the exposed wick down into the bottle, leaving only about 3/4 of an inch of wick exposed and ready to light.
  8. Allow the wick time to completely saturate with tiki torch fuel before lighting.