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!
My little Wholigan with 10’s customary blue suit, converse sneakers, glasses, and of course his sonic screwdriver (built by my wonderful husband).
- 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
- 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
- In a food processor, chop the cookies until no chunks remain and the white cream has disappeared.
- Transfer cookie crumbs to a separate bowl.
- In the food processor, combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar until evenly combined.
- In a separate bowl, evenly combine milk and whipped topping.
- Add milk mixture to the food processor and pulse until evenly combined.
- Pour ‘custard’ into a pie pan.
- Chill until ready to serve.
- 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.
- large marshmallows
- mini marshmallows
- confectioners’ sugar
- black icing gel
- 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.
- 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.
- Repeat until you’ve created two arms and two legs.
- 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?!
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!
- 2, 4 oz, bottles of Elmer’s Glue
- 1 tsp borax
- food coloring
- Empty both bottles of glue into a bowl.
- Fill bottles with warm water, recap, shake, and then empty into the bowl.
- Add a few drops of food coloring. Stir and set aside.
- To another bowl, add 1/2 cup of warm water. Add in the borax and stir until dissolved.
- Pour the borax mixture into the glue bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
Do you ever have those days, or nights, where there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day? Here you were getting off work, helping with homework, tidying the house with hours to spare until dinner when all of a sudden you check the clock and it’s already almost time to sit down at the table? Happens to me all too often. Just for those nights I like to have a list of quick, easy meals that use ingredients I always have on time. Especially on those nights, rushing to get a hearty meal on the table, a meal that makes minimal mess is essential. One Pot Spaghetti, wish it’s special secret ingredient, is at the top of my list. It’s easy to throw together, and has a to die for taste that will impress even the most traditional spaghetti lovers. From the time you begin, you can be seated at the table with your family enjoying an un-rushed conversation over a hearty, hot meal in less than 30 minutes.
One Pot Spaghetti
- 1 lb ground beef (or sausage)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 3 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 oz spaghetti, whole or broken into pieces
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- In a Dutch Oven, or a large pot, brown the meat with the onion. Drain.
- Add garlic and let cook until fragrant, about one minute.
- Add broth, spaghetti sauce, and water. Bring to a boil.
- Add spaghetti and reduce heat.
- Cook covered 17-20 minutes, or until the noodles are al dente, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed.
- Stir in parmesan cheese.
You will never want to cook spaghetti the old way again. It’s incredibly tasty, and one pot makes clean up a breeze.
Ever feel a cold creeping up and need to knock it out before it has a chance to take hold? This homemade cold medicine can nip it in the bud. Designed to tackle coughs, congestion, and a sore throat, it surpasses anything I’ve ever gotten from the store and it’s my go-to recipe when someone in my house starts feeling sick. Even better, I don’t have to wonder is it safe? Is this actually the proper dosage? How many hours has it been? What is 2% of “asdlkjasdklh” for? All four major ingredients are known for their different healing and therapeutic properties. When combined they’re a cold-kicking powerhouse. I always keep some on hand stored in the fridge, especially during the winter months when my kids are more prone to catch something. Give it a try for yourself next time you or your loved ones have got the tell-tale signs you’re coming down with a cold.
Homemade Cold Medicine
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp raw honey (local is best*)
- In a small jar, combine vinegar and water.
- Dissolve cayenne and ginger into the liquids.
- Add honey.
- Shake well.
- Dosage: Adults should take 1 tbsp as needed. I give my kids** 1/2 tbsp as needed for cough/congestion.
*Some research suggests that consuming local raw honey can help allergy sufferers find some relief. Raw (unprocessed) honey still contains enzymes and pollen. Local honey contains pollen from plants in your vicinity that you’re constantly exposed to and that might be causing or triggering your allergies. Essentially, ingesting the local pollen, in small doses, over a prolonged period of time would act as a natural vaccine.
**WARNING: Children under 12 months of age should NEVER consumer honey, raw or processed, as there is a risk of Child Botulism (bacterial illness). Further, honey is acidic and the practice of keeping it sitting in the mouth for prolonged periods of time may erode dental enamel.
This version of Homemade Spaghetti O’s is always a hit with the entire family. Pasta rings coated with a sweet homemade sauce, the kids will never guess it didn’t come from a can.
This convenient, creamy Crockpot Chicken And Pesto Soup features fresh veggies, chunks of juicy chicken, chewy barley, pesto, and Parmesan in a dish that leaves you savoring each and every bite.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Add in trinkets of your choosing.
- Compress bag gently to remove any trapped air and seal tightly.
- Duck tape all outer edges of the bag to make sturdier and guard against leaks.
- Use as a tummy time mat or lap activity and let the little ones explore and enjoy.
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
- Prepare pudding according to the package directions.
- If you’re trying for several different colors, separate the pudding into several bowls or containers.
- Add in drops of food coloring until desired color is reached.
- Paint on white paper.
- Let artwork dry. Voila!
Do you ever balk at the prices of those processed loaves of cheese? Do you buy them anyway, because sometimes a recipe (or a grilled cheese) demands their melty goodness and no substitute will do? This happens to me every time I purchase that cheese. Even worse, every time in the back of my mind is a nagging reminder of all the preservatives and other things in them that I should try to avoid feeding my family. So, finally I decided that somebody, somewhere, in an effort to be more frugal or in an effort to avoid all the chemicals, must have found a way to replicate this ooey, gooey cheese and would have shared their victorious recipe. After perusing Pinterest and the web for what seemed like forever, I finally found what appeared to be a winner. My boys had asked to have BLT Mac N Cheese this week and were afraid with my new REAL cheese that it wouldn’t live up to their high standards. They couldn’t have been more shocked themselves to discover this cheese made it even better. This recipe knocked the ball out of the park! It was spot on everything I was looking for and then some. It’s real food you can make at home quickly, with ingredients you can easily find (and pronounce), without sacrificing any of that heavenly meltiness. National Grilled Cheese Day (April 12th) just passed, but I will definitely be celebrating next year with the help of my own homemade cheese.
‘Velveeta’ Style American Cheese
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin
- 12 oz Colby Jack cheese, very finely shredded (think TINY grater holes)
- 1 tbsp nonfat milk powder
- generous 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp 2% milk
- Line a small 4×5 loaf pan (I only had a full size pan handy) with plastic wrap, letting the excess hang over the sides.
- In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin. Stir. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Combine cheese, milk powder, salt, and tartar in the bowl of a food processor, pulsing a few times to combine.
- Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- When milk begins to simmer, remove from heat, transfer hot milk to a measuring cup (to make pouring easier) and slowly add milk into the food processor feed tube.
- As you slowly add the milk, pulse the food processor.
- Add prepared gelatin.
- Turn the food processor on, and continue to stir until the mixture becomes perfectly smooth. Scrap the sides if needed and whir again.
- Working quickly, transfer the mixture into the prepared mold, pressing the mixture down into the pan with a spatula to help eliminate any air bubbles.
- Smooth surface of cheese, and cover with the overlapping plastic.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight. (If pressed for time, a little over an hour and a half in the freezer will work too!)
- Slice, cube, or melt as needed and use as you would Velveeta or individually wrapped processed American cheese.
Cinnamon honey butter is a delicious way to turn an ordinary piece of bread into a sure-to-please treat. It tastes just like what you’d find at many restaurants My boys love some spread over a warm piece of toast for breakfast. They consider it a delicious dessert when it’s accompanying a slice of fresh baked bread. For snack, I’ve given them a dollop to dip their apple slices in. Have I mentioned that in addition to being delicious, it’s very versatile? Go on and give it a try today. It’s sure to add a little pizzazz to your day, and what day couldn’t use a little extra oomph?
Cinnamon Honey Butter
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Store together all ingredients until evenly combined.
- Serve on a moist roll or a warm piece of toast.