Thursday, June 30, 2011


Here's this week's dating at home idea:


Play a game of Scrabble with your spouse tonight! You can take out all the Z's, Q's, and X's and other letters that drive you crazy. Better yet, eat them!

When was the last time you had Cheez-It crackers? I forgot how good these were. YUM!

These are also good for practicing the ABC's, or sight words with your younger children. Set out a bunch of letters and see if your younger children can find a certain letter from the group. Play a game of Scrabble with your older children and work on spelling. Play a game of Hangman and use the crackers to fill in the blanks. Play a word scramble game.

The possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Super Suppers


Sunday: Polynesian BBQ chicken served with watermelon, rice, and a green salad
Monday: 4th OF JULY!
Tuesday: Taco Salad
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Ooey Gooey Crock pot chicken served over rice with a side of fresh summer fruit
Friday: Picnic in the park (KFC or pizza)

Remember to comment if you'd like any of these recipes. I'd be happy to post them. :)


Get the costume box out or some old clothes and dress up as superheroes. Make up a new superhero name for yourself. Explain your super powers and how you help people.

  • What makes you happy?
  • If you could be a superhero, who would you be and why?
  • Who is the funniest person you know?

Why I do dinner planning: Click HERE.

Tissue Paper Flowers

MJ and I made some paper flowers today. We wanted some silk flowers for our playtime but we decided to make some tissue paper flowers instead.

Here's how you make these super easy paper flowers.

Supplies needed:
Tissue paper (whichever colors you want)
Pipe cleaners (green for traditional flowers or multi-colored for whimsical flowers)

1. Take 3-4 sheets of tissue paper and layer them one on top of the other. (I cut my sheets down quite a bit. Maybe into fourths?) Then fold them back and forth like a paper fan.

2. Gather your fan together so it looks like this:

3. Cut the edges of your tissue paper for the shape of your petals. I rounded the edges on this particular flower.

4. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle of your folded paper and then fan out the petals.

5. Starting with the top tissue paper, gently pull the paper up and separate the sheets.

6. After you have pulled up and separated the tissue paper, your flower should look pretty awesome.

Here's a different shape of petal. I was going for a hydrangea-like flower.

Here's the final product.

The previous flowers were all made with 3 sheets of tissue paper. Here's a four-sheeter.

This one started out cute and wish I kept it this way. I pulled up the first sheet and liked keeping the other sheets how they were. It looked like a cute little daisy.

But my curiosity got the best of me and I kept going. Still cute but not as cute.

We made a little bouquet of flowers for our playtime. I will post later what we did with these flowers during playtime. You WILL want to see it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pudding Pops!

I crave chocolate, in almost any form, almost everyday. Today is supposed to be a nice warm summer day so I decided we were going to make Pudding Pops! (Are you thinking about Bill Cosby saying "Puddin' Pops" right now? I am!)

These were super easy to make. Three ingredients to yum! This recipe comes from Our Best Bites as you know is one of my favorite recipe blogs and cookbooks. Check out their website for really great pictures. (I'm no photographer.) Their recipe calls for peppermint extract if you want to make them minty. I decided to keep it out.

1- 3/4 c. Half & Half
1 small pkg. sugar-free instant chocolate Jell-O pudding mix
10 Oreo cookies, crushed

Blend Half & Half and pudding mix in blender until smooth. Add crushed Oreos by hand.

Spoon into popsicle molds (or ice cube trays with toothpicks) and freeze!

When they are finished freezing, dip the mold in a little warm water until pops slide out of mold. If you are using an ice cube tray, it's easier to just run a butter knife along the edges and it will pop right out.

Final product. Take my word for it when I say they were so yummers. (I believe that's the technical term to describe these.) The cookie pieces were so fun in it. I give these pudding pops two thumbs up!

MJ's pudding pop using the ice cube tray. These are like the "fun size" version.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Family Night: Game Night

Tonight for Family Night, we are going to play some games with MJ. She loves to play games with us but often times our playtime gets postponed due to preparing meals, running errands, cleaning, working, etc. So, tonight we are just going to play!

We will start our family night off with a new tradition: Accomplishments and Achievements. Each member of the family shares one thing they accomplished or achieved last week and we will all cheer for them. It can be anything from an actual award, to participating in an event, to just a kind act of service they performed for someone else. (Thanks to my little sister who gave me this idea.)


I'm pretty sure that we will play Hide-and-Seek. MJ loves this game. Even when she knows where we are hiding, she'll pretend like she doesn't and will say things like, "Is daddy under couch? No. Is he behind the TV? No."

Alphabet Relay: This is a fun one if you have active preschoolers like MJ. (My sister gave me this idea.) All you need is a set of alphabet flashcards. Pick 4 to 6 letters to lay out on the floor on one side of the room. Have your child begin on the opposite side of the room. Call out a letter that is displayed on the floor. See if your child can pick out the correct letter and run it back to where he/she began. Replace the card with a new letter so there will always be 4 to 6 letters on the floor.

Guessing Game: Gather some unique household objects. Make sure they are safe to touch. Put one object in a bag without anyone else seeing. Have those who are guessing put their hand in the bag, one at a time, and try to guess what the object is. You can also put objects in the bag that make noise and have the "guessers" listen to the object.

If you really want to get fancy, you can do this with different smells. Dab some pickle juice, lemon juice, or vinegar on a cotton ball before hand. Store each cotton ball in a separate baby food jar or other container. See how many smells the guessers can pinpoint.

Other games: click on the game title for instructions on how to play.

Red Light, Green Light : We have adapted this game for our 3 year old. Someone is "it" and controls the traffic lights (red light, green light). "It" says "stop" or "go" ("Red light"and "green light" are sometimes too difficult to say or remember what they mean at young ages) and the others respond to the requests of "it." The first person to reach "it" becomes the next "it." "It" also doesn't need to have his/her back facing the others. "It" may see the other players approaching. I made a simple "traffic light" for "It" to hold. It creates a good visual when preschoolers are playing the game. It is easier to respond when both senses are stimulated (hearing and sight).

Click HERE to download and print your own Stop & Go traffic light. Cut out the two circles and paste them back to back onto a craft stick or paint stir stick.

Dessert: White Cupcakes with Old-Fashioned Chocolate Frosting

White Cake

4 egg whites at room temperature
2 c. flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shortening
2 tsp. vanilla
Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pan. In large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, bkg powder, salt and soda. Add buttermilk, shortening and vanilla. Beat on low until combined. Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg whites slowly and beat again for 2 more minutes. Spread in pans. Bake 25 minutes or so until done. Watch and check to see when done. Cupcakes won't take more than 20 minutes. Cool and frost.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Frosting

Click HERE for the recipe to this AMAZING frosting from Our Best Bites (one of my favoriterecipe sites).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Date Night...At Home: APPLE PIE!

It's finally Friday! Hooray! I still look forward to Fridays. Being a mom is a full-time job- no break, no sick days or holidays, and even on the weekends- but at least my hubby is home to help out for 2 whole days on the weekend. I also look forward to Fridays because I usually get to hang out with my husband.

Tonight for dating at home, we will be making an easy, but delicious, apple pie! I figure that:

1. It's my husband's favorite, and
2. It gets me into the 4th of July mood- nothing says "America" and "Freedom" like an apple pie.

We like to cook and bake together and wish we could do it more often. So, here's to date night!

Apple Pie

What’s more American?


10-12 apples of choice (I like to do a medley- green, yellow, red)

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup sugar

cinnamon (my husband loves to add lots of cinnamon)

1/4 flour

4 Tbsp butter

1 tsp. salt

1 egg white

Ready made pie crust


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare pie crust and place bottom crust in pie dish.
  3. Peel and core apples. Cut apples into chunks, not slices.
  4. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and add the apples. Mix well.
  5. Pour the apples into the prepared pie crust. It will be A LOT of apples to fit into a small dish but trust me, it will be awesome.
  6. Cut butter into chunks and scatter the chunks on top of the pile of apples. Pour lemon juice on top of your heaping mound of apples.
  7. Cover your mountain of apples with the top crust. Pinch both crusts together.
  8. Brush the top crust with the egg white and sprinkle with sugar (and cinnamon if you’d like)
  9. Bake about 45-60 minutes. Put foil around the edges of the crust after the edges begin to brown to prevent them from burning.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


ON THE MENU: World Tour

SUNDAY: Crock pot Chicken Tikka Masala (India), served with turmeric rice and peas

MONDAY: Falafel Pitas (Middle East), stuffed with cucumber/tomato/feta salad, hummus, and cilantro & chive yogurt

TUESDAY: Leftovers

WEDNESDAY: Sandwiches (Anyone know this one? Mine is going to be the super American version), build your own

THURSDAY: Seco de Pollo (Ecuador), chicken cooked in a tomato, bell pepper, red onion sauce, seasoned with garlic, cumin, and aji peruano

FRIDAY: Soft Tacos (Mexico), build your own

Please feel free to comment if you would like the recipes to any of these dinner ideas. My recipes are pretty easy, don't take much time, and taste good too! (Believe me- if it doesn't taste good, I don't make it.)

Also, click HERE to see why dinnertime is a big deal around here.

DELIGHTFUL DINING: Mystery Guests (aka Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?)

Each member of the family invites someone over for dinner. Keep the name of the guest a secret from each other until he/she arrives. This will be a fun surprise for everyone. Make sure you ask your mystery guest if he/she has any dietary restrictions and let the person preparing the meal know if there are any. This will be fun and I'm looking forward to it.

TABLE TOPICS: this will be fun with your mystery guests.
  • If you could go on a vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • How would you describe yourself to someone who hasn't met you?
  • If you joined the circus, who would you like to be? What act would you do?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summertime Boredom Busters

MJ is pretty good about playing on her own but sometimes she wants to do something different. I'm a list person. I find myself constantly making lists. Here is a list of things to do when boredom hits.

Things to do inside:

  1. Decorate your own stationary with some blank paper and envelopes
  2. Make a collage with some old magazines
  3. Paint your toenails
  4. Make a border for your own room with continuous paper
  5. Make paper airplanes
  6. Play school with last year's school materials
  7. Make a family or personal calendar
  8. Make bookmarks
  9. Measure 10 things with a ruler
  10. Write a poem
  11. Write a story
  12. Make a keychain
  13. Make cookies or cupcakes
  14. Organize your clothes drawers
  15. Write a play
  16. Make a city or a castle from recycled boxes and paper towel or toilet paper tubes
  17. Write a letter to a relative
  18. Make a healthy snack with fruits and vegetables (or try some fruit sushi)
  19. Take pictures with a digital camera
  20. Call a friend
  21. Find your house on a map
  22. Fluff up the pillows in the house
  23. Make a birthday card for a friend
  24. Build something with Legos, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs or Duplo Blocks
  25. Play a board game
  26. Make a birthday or Christmas list
  27. Make animals out of pipe cleaners
  28. Change the sheets on your bed
  29. Have a picnic on the floor
  30. Read a book
  31. Make something with Origami paper
  32. Do a secret good deed
  33. Make sock puppets with old socks
  34. Sing a song
  35. Look through your old toys, books, or clothes that you have outgrown. Find something to donate.
  36. Make musical instruments (put beans in a water bottle to create a shaker)
  37. Play a musical instrument
  38. Look at old pictures
  39. Take a nap (MY FAVORITE)
  40. Take a bath
  41. Make juice popsicles
  42. Play pick-up sticks with wooden skewers
  43. Play with Play-Doh
  44. Paint, draw, color
  45. Do a workbook
  46. Make some paper dolls. Design and create clothes for them.
  47. Make paper snowflakes- work on your scissor skills
  48. Do a puzzle
  49. Blow bubbles in the bath
  50. Make a card or your own wrapping paper with some rubber stamps
  51. Make a treasure hunt with clues
  52. Do a sticker book.
  53. Do some exercises- jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, stretch
  54. Make puffy paint
  55. Make a paper bag puppet
  56. Have a tea party with your stuffed animals
  57. Build a fort with blankets and sheets
  58. Watch your favorite movie
  59. Clean your room (my other favorite)
  60. Organize your toys and books

Things to do outside:

  1. Decorate the sidewalk or patio with sidewalk chalk
  2. Make a daisy chain or flower crown
  3. Blow bubbles
  4. Ride your bike
  5. Have a picnic
  6. Pick some flowers from the yard and put them in a vase
  7. Water the garden
  8. Plant some flowers
  9. Go for a walk
  10. Build a sand castle at the beach or in the sandbox
  11. Play in the sprinklers
  12. Go swimming
  13. Go to the park
  14. Play a game of tag
  15. Make a mud pie
  16. Play whiffle ball
  17. Watch a movie outside on a warm night
  18. Observe a bug or insect
  19. Wash your bike or the family car
  20. Go roller skating
  21. Fly a kite
  22. Paint with fizzy sidewalk paint
  23. Play a game of catch with a friend
  24. Go to a playground
  25. Play frisbee
  26. Create your own golf course and play the course
  27. Set up a tent outside and go camping in the backyard
  28. Jump rope
  29. Play hopscotch
  30. Have a water fight
  31. See how many times you can bounce/dribble a ball

Places to go:

  1. Library
  2. Mall
  3. Children's Museum
  4. Ice cream shop
  5. Park
  6. Zoo
  7. Playground
  8. Car wash
  9. Beach
  10. Restaurant
  11. Chuck E. Cheese
  12. Take a train ride
  13. Movie theater
  14. Farm or Farmer's Market
  15. Miniature golf
  16. Bike trails
  17. Drive-in Theater
  18. Theme park
  19. Bowling
  20. Ice skating
  21. Arcade

What are some of your boredom busters?

I found another list that was great at Whatever Dee Dee Wants.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From Boxes to Buildings

We went through our recycle bin and found lots of boxes that would make a fun little city for MJ's cars. We decided to cover them with paper and draw on them. (MJ wanted the post office and Toys 'R Us as part of her buildings.) We might add to our city but this was a start.

MJ spent some good time playing with her cars while I made dinner. :)
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Dating At Home

It's always harder to go out with your spouse on regular dates when you have children. Finding a sitter, paying a sitter, and paying for your date can be a little challenging at times but it doesn't mean that you should stop dating your spouse. Go out when you can! And when you can't, try doing an at-home date.

Here's this week's indoor dating idea:

Play TICKET TO RIDE board game!

It comes in a box like this:

Has a board like this:

And trains like these:

The object of the game is to complete train routes by laying down tracks (or train pieces) from city to city on the game board map. Train routes are determined by mission cards that each player receives and keeps to themselves. This game is one of our favorites! We will be playing this tonight. I highly recommend adding it to your game collection.

Invite another couple over to play with you! Serve your favorite dessert, like Dreyer's French Silk ice cream. Oh my!