Copy-Cat ‘Frosty Paws’ Frozen Dog Treats

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a nice cold and frosty treat to help keep cool. Think of a glass of ice-cold lemonade, or a frosty popsicle fresh from the freezer. While we all have our own favorites and readily use them as part of our summer arsenal to stop the heat’s oppressive assault, pets are often left out of this kind of treat. ‘Frosty Paws’ offer an ‘ice cream’ type treat for your K-9 friend that’s perfectly safe for their consumption. However, even though our Bentley is very near and dear to my heart, I couldn’t bring myself to continue to pay the high costs just for a bag of frozen dog treats, especially when I read the ingredient list and realized how simple it would be to make my own. It was simple, easy peasy. Now Bentley is happy, healthy, and not nearly as hot after a romp outside. These are really versatile as well, and easily adaptable. While the recipe I’ve given you today is how I make them most often. I have made these with finely ground chicken & chicken broth, and I’ve also included pulverized egg shells as a calcium supplement with great success.

Copy-Cat ‘Frosty Paws’ Frozen Dog Treats

4 Sons 'R' Us: copy cat frosty paws

  •  32 oz yogurt (I’ve used plain, strawberry, and vanilla before)
  • 1 mashed ripe banana, or 1 babyfood jar of fruit
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ice cube tray

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a mixer or a blender until evenly combined. 
  2. Spoon the batter into the ice cube trays.
  3. Freeze.
  4. Pop out and store in a zip locking bag in your freezer.
  5. Give your fur-baby a treat!

All-Natural Flea And Tick Spray for Dogs

We have an almost 4 year old pug named Bentley. Bentley, ever the rebel, does not ever stop. Contrary to the accepted pug ‘stereotype’ he is not fat or lazy, but instead full of muscles and hyper-activity. He, literally, goes until he can’t go anymore, falling over in a heap of exhaustion for a cat-nap that, at most, will only last 5 minutes. While we all enjoy watching him frolic through the grass, chase bugs, fetch sticks and so on, all this play time outside meant he was a constant tick magnet. Literally, he set one paw outdoors, he had already attracted at least four of the little blood suckers. We used to buy over the counter products to help keep him bugger free, but aside from the expensive costs, we had another reason to seek out an alternative remedy. With our toddler, and other young children always in and out of our home, we just couldn’t risk the hazards of any one of them loving on the dog, and then ingesting harmful, toxic chemicals when those chubby baby hands went straight in their mouths. I tried several recipes, but this version was the immediate, and obvious winner. When applied to Bentley once a day and rubbed lightly into his coat, we haven’t seen a single tick. Not one! There’s also been no scratching that would indicate any other unwanted squatters trying to take up residence. I don’t have to worry about the little ones wanting to love on, and give kisses to, the dog. Make up your own batch today and serve an all natural, affordable eviction notice to the bugs.

All-Natural Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Natural Flea And Tick Spray

  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable, or almond, oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice, citrus oil, or peppermint oil
  • spray bottle

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray onto your pet’s dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals.
  3. When outdoors for an extended period, spray this solution on two to three times per day. When pets are outdoors generally to use the restroom only, spray the solution onto the animal’s coat once per day.

Sweet Potato Chips

This Spring, and now this Summer, I’ve been taking full advantage of our local farmers market. Every week they run these amazing specials. In addition to the specials and the low prices on fresh, locally grown, organic produce, they also offer a buyer bonus. Usually if you spend anywhere between $6-10, you leave with 3-5 lbs of a featured product. For several weeks, that free product was sweet potatoes. It’s great because I always spend at least $20 stocking up on most of my months worth of produce, and instead of purchasing the sweet potatoes as part of my grocery list, I got them free for buying other things that I needed anyway. That being said, I had to come up with new ways to use them so they didn’t go bad and so that nobody got tired of them or burnt out on the same side dish. We love homemade chips, and they are a great easy snack. It dawned on me that the same would probably be true with a sweet potato version. Instead of just lightly salting them, like I would a regular chip, I opted for a sweet garnish. You however, are not bound by my choice of toppings and have full creative license to express yourself and impress with your own batch of delicious, homemade Sweet Potato Chips.

Sweet Potato Chips

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sweet Potato Chips

  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Wash and scrub sweet potatoes clean. Dry with paper towels.
  2. Using a sharp knife, or a mandolin, carefully slice potatoes into thin coins, as thin as you can get them.
  3. Place potato slices on a non stick baking sheet, or a baking sheet that has been lightly coated with non stick spray.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until extra crisp, but not burned.
  5. In a bowl, toss the sweet potato chips with the cinnamon and honey until evenly coated.
  6. Enjoy!

Monster Bars

Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids! And, as Kim, at Cravings of  Lunatic, so eloquently put it, “and moms…and teenagers…and hubbies…and demon spawn puppies! TRIX ARE FOR EVERYONE! Change your motto Trix, it’s a new era. Silly rabbit!” Keeping this in mind, the boys and I decided Trix were even for little monsters. My youngest’s last birthday party, his 3rd, was monster-themed and we made these ‘Monster Bars’ as one of the items for all the guests, and other little monsters, at his  party to enjoy. They were a huge hit. With Monster Inc. 2, Monsters University, hitting theaters this weekend, the boys and I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to celebrate seeing the new movie this evening, by ‘pre-gaming’ with some ‘Monster Bars.’ Whether you’re seeing the new movie soon, or have some little monsters of your own, you just can’t go wrong with a delicious Monster Bar.

Monster Bars 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Monster Bars

  • 1 14 oz bag of mini marshmallows
  • 10 cups Trix cereal
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a pot on the stove, melt butter and marshmallows, stirring constantly until both are melted and evenly combined.
  2. Meanwhile, add the Trix to a large bowl, gently coated in non-stick cooking spray.
  3. When the butter and marshmallows have melted and been evenly combined, remove from heat and pour them over the Trix cereal.
  4. Using a spatula, also coated in cooking spray, stir the Trix and marshmallows together until evenly combined.
  5. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish and press them down flat using your coated spatula.
  6. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to allow everything to set.
  7. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Easy Effective All-Natural Mosquito Repellent

With the beautiful days, and all this rain, the mosquitoes are in full swing on and around my porch. Bug Spray is a must! Being that my house is always filled with little ones who still put everything in their mouths, including their own hands with no concern over what they’ve touched, I desperately needed to find a mosquito spray that was effective, but also non-toxic. I researched and researched potential recipes, including spray, tinctures, creams. You name it, I perused it online and then tried it. Finally, I found a keeper. Eventually, I did modify it slightly to fit my personal preference and found it to be every bit as effective as the original, and with an enhanced, more refreshing scent. This has been a huge hit at my house since the littles can be protected without fear of poisoning, and there’s no greasy residue left on anyone’s skin like with DEET products. Furthermore, Witch Hazel, one of the main ingredients, is renowned for it’s skin benefits. It’s great at de-greasing oily skin, hydrating dehydrated skin, soothing inflammation, and disinfecting problem complexions. An effective bug spray that’s non-toxic with skin benefits? That’s what I call a winning combination.

Easy Effective All-Natural Mosquito Repellent 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Easy, Effective Mosquito Repellent

  • 1 14 oz bottle of witch hazel
  • citronella essential oil
  • eucalyptus essential oil
  • lavender essential oil
  • spray bottle(s)

Directions

  1. In a mason jar, or other glass jar of similar size with a lid, pour in the entire bottle of witch hazel.
  2. Now add your essential oils to the jar. 15 drops each of Citronella and Eucalyptus, and 10-12 drops of lavender.
  3. Put the lid on tightly, and shake vigorously until the mixture is evenly combined.
  4. Using a funnel, pour the mixture into a spray bottle. You can either fill multiple spray bottles, depending on size, or fill one, leaving the remainder in the glass jar to refill as needed.
  5. Spray on areas of the skin commonly exposed to mosquitoes.

ImportantThis mosquito spray has not been tested nor confirmed to be effective at preventing mosquito-borne illnesses (such as West Nile Virus).  If you are concerned about you or your family contracting such an illness, please use a different product containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or IR3535.

Glow In The Dark Bathtime

Since my youngest was old enough to move, and kick his hands and feet, bath time has been his absolute, all-time favorite part of any day. As he’s aged and grown, this hasn’t changed a bit. Partly because of that, and because clean-up is easier, we do a lot of crafts and activities in the tub around bath time. A glow in the dark bath was definitely on my to-do list. This was a huge hit with the boy. So much so, that he built up an entire back story about how he was exploring in space and had found this plant on his rocket ship. It was a ‘blast’ (pun intended). Simple to do, easy to clean up, and provides endless, thought-provoking entertainment. My son’s ‘glowing’ reactions were confirmation enough that this activity was a total success.

Glow In The Dark Bath-time

4 Sons 'R' Us: Glow In The Dark Bathtime

  • 1-2 yellow highlighters (I bought a 3-pack at the Dollar Tree)
  • black light
  • bathwater 

Directions

  1. Break open the yellow highlighter, removing the cylinder ink pad. 
  2. Soak the ink pad, or pads, in bath water for about an hour, or until the pad loses its color.
  3. Note: You can dilute this A LOT and it will still glow; however, the more water you’re trying to color, the longer it may take the ink to disperse evenly throughout.
  4. To activate the ‘glow’, aim your black light at wherever the water is located and turn it on.
  5. Prepare to watch your children’s amazement!

Blueberry Cheesecake And White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love cheesecake, and the fruitier it is, the better. When I saw a recipe guaranteeing all that rich flavor, but with the ease of a cookie, I knew it was something I had to try. I had originally spotted this recipe on Pinterest; however, it took me almost a year to get around to actually making them. When I smelled them baking, I had a moment where I actually began to drool. Just a tiny bit. When I took that first bite, I could have, quite literally, kicked myself for waiting so long to give these a try. Since then, over the past year, I’ve been taking them to events and get-together’s (they’re unbelievably easy and taste spectacular), and so many friends have asked for this recipe that I just couldn’t wait another minute to share!

Blueberry Cheesecake And White Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: Blueberry Cheesecake And White Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 boxes of Jiffy blueberry muffin mix
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, optional

Directions

  1. Beat together cream cheese, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated.
  2. Combine the butter mixture with the muffin mix, mixing until evenly combined.
  3. If using the white chocolate chips, using a spatula, fold them in now.
  4. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours (this prevents the batter from spreading out too much during baking). 
  5. Form into tbsp sized balls and spread about two inches apart on a lightly greased cookies sheet.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes.
  7. Let the cookies cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

‘Break In Case Of Emergency’ Grad. Gift

Another graduate, somewhere, is preparing to walk down the aisle to receive their long sought-after diploma. Friends and family are trying to figure out the best way to recognize their achievement, or a way to put some finishing touches on a celebration or gift in their honor. I remember, after my sister’s graduation, when she was preparing to leave for college, she couldn’t help but be nervous. I mean, college is a big step. Life on your own for the first time since birth. I wanted to give her a little something at her dinner the night before she left for school, and I hate just sticking money inside of a card. This was the resulting ‘brain-child.’ She truly got a tickle out of it, especially after having seen all of the fire extinguishers in the dorm room whose displays had read them same. This is a quick and easy graduate gift, perfect for the high school graduate preparing to head off to college. It’s easy to make ahead, or even throw together last minute if you’re scrambling for some creative way to display a monetary gift. This would also be cute to give to the college graduate preparing for a move into their first home or apartment. Who doesn’t love a gift that gives them a good laugh? Especially when preparing for such a tremendous transition as embarking on the next chapter in life.

‘Break In Case Of Emergency’ Grad. Gift

4 Sons 'R' Us: Graduation Gift

  • A typed up ‘Break In Case Of Emergency’ header, printed on 81/2 x 11 computer paper
  • Either an 8 x 10 or 8 1/2 x 11 picture frame
  • 2 bills in whatever monetary increments you choose

Directions

  1. Tape your two bills, evenly spaced apart, to the ‘Break In Case of’ sheet.
  2. Put the finished paper into the frame, and secure the back of the picture frame into place.
  3. Give to a wonderful graduate with a sense of humor.