Sunday, February 26, 2012

Melted Multi-Color Crayons

I have made these a few times before, and I think I have perfected them through trial and error.  These are a fun project to do with older kids, or they make a great party favor or birthday favor to hand out to your child's classmates at school on their birthday. 
Here's what you need:
Muffin pan
Crayons (about 10 per crayon... or less if you a mini muffin pan)
Foil baking cups (They have to be the foil ones.  The wax will leak through the wax paper ones.)
Serrated knife
Paper plate or other disposable cutting surface

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.  Tear the paper off the crayons.  Using the knife, cut them into small pieces.
Line the muffin pan with the foil baking cups.  Fill them with the crayon pieces.  Place the muffin pan in the oven and heat for 10-12 minutes.  Make sure you do not overheat them, or you will end up with black crayons instead of multi-colored crayons.  Ask me how I know.

Remove the pan from the oven.  Let the crayons cool completely, then remove them from the pan and peel off the foil.  Place the crayons in plastic bags and tie with ribbon. 

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Corn

This is not my most healthy recipe, but it is easy and delicious!  It's my kind of recipe: throw 'n' go.  If you need an easy side dish for dinner or a potluck, I would highly recommend this one!  And if you don't have a crock pot, you can also make it on the stove top or the microwave.  The crock pot just makes it easier, as always.

Here's what you'll need:

1 stick butter or margarine
1 8 oz package cream cheese
2 15 oz cans of corn, drained (I don't recommend using frozen corn.  It's just not as good.)

If you have a mini crockette, this is the perfect size recipe for it.  If not, a regular crock pot will do.  I just love using the little one because it's easier to wash afterwards. 
Start by adding the butter and cream cheese.
Put the lid on and heat it on low until melted, about 2 hours.

Then stir in the corn.  Put the lid back on and heat until hot, about another hour or two.

Mmmm!  That's all!  Really easy and delicious, and takes up very little of your time!  As I said, it's not the healthiest recipe, but who would object to anything with butter and cream cheese in it?  To make it a little healthier, I use Neufchatel cream cheese and no sugar added corn.  It's gotta help a little, right?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

5 Ways to Save on Childrens' Birthday Parties

I have been having so much fun planning the princess party for Angie and her cousin Emily.  I always wanted a princess party for my birthday, so I am living vicariously through them!  As fun as the planning is, it can get pretty expensive.  Sure, you can go get all kinds of store-bought supplies.  Party City has a couple of aisles worth of kids' themed birthday party supplies.  But as I was planning, a light bulb turned on above my head.  Angie already has all kinds of princess stuff.  Why not use it for the party instead of buying stuff?  If your kid likes something enough to use it as a theme for their birthday party, they probably have a lot of stuff that you can use.  So here are 5 ideas for party supplies using stuff you already have, costing you absolutely nothing.

1.) Toys or ceramics as table decorations

Angie has lots of princess dolls that we can set up on the table.  It also happens that I have been a fan of the Disney princesses long before I had a daughter, so I have a few princess snow globes that will make great decorations.  If your child likes Sesame Street, you can set up their stuffed animals on the table.  If they like Bob the Builder, lay their play tools on the table.  You get the idea.

2.) Small toys as cake toppers

Angie has these small princess figurines that she plays with in her dollhouse.  I am going to use them to decorate the castle cake that I will be making (after I wash them of course).  There are a lot of options.  They make small plastic figurines of all kinds of toys, so I'm sure your child has something you can use.

3.) Bedsheets as a tablecloth
If your child has bedsheets that fit the birthday party theme, they would make a great tablecloth.  We don't have princess sheets so I don't have that option, but I wish we did!

4.) Posters as wall decorations

This princess picture has been hanging in Angie's room since she was a newborn.  For the party, I am going to move the family picture that we have hanging over the table and temporarily replace it with this picture.  If your kid has a poster or picture that fits the party theme, make use of it!

5.) Toys as games
Be creative and use any toys or games that fit the party theme as party games.  Maybe your child has a video game related to the party theme.  Or a board game.  If it's a sports theme, that makes it really easy.  Just get the sports equipment out and have the kids play for prizes.  There will only be 3 kids at our party, and they are ages 3, 3 and 5 so I haven't decided for sure if we will do any games, but I have some ideas if we do. =)

I previously posted some other birthday decoration ideas you might be interested in.  Check out my birthday candle holder and birthday wreath!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Birthday Party Candle Holder

This is a cute, easy, inexpensive DIY decoration that can be used for a birthday party or dinner.  I started with some leftover glass candle jars.  I have a lot of glass jars because I always save them when I make recycled candles. 
In addition to the glass jars, you will need:
A hot glue gun
Tea light or flameless tea light

Find one larger jar and one smaller one that will fit inside the larger one.  Make sure there is some space left between the two jars when they are nested together.
Use a hot glue gun to apply hot glue to the bottom of the smaller jar.  Place the smaller jar inside the larger jar and center it.
Wait until the glue dries.  If your smaller jar has a lid, now is a good time to use it.  Place the lid back on the jar.  If it doesn't have one, you could use a small piece of cardboard, or borrow the lid from another jar.  You just need something to cover the top of the jar to keep the sprinkles from going into the smaller jar.  You want them to fill the space between the jars.
With the lid on the smaller jar, pour the sprinkles into the larger jar.  Keep going until the sides are filled all the way up to the top edge of the small jar.

Put your tea light in the smaller jar.  That's all there is to it!
But why stop at birthday parties?  I am thinking use candy hearts for Valentine's Day, or candy corn for Halloween.  There are lots of possibilities.  Just dump out the sprinkles and fill with something else.
Here are the 2 candle holders I made for the birthday party:

Monday, February 20, 2012

DIY Treads for Slippery Shoes

I got Angie a really cure pair of boots, but the first time she wore them, she was constantly slipping and falling.  Even when she walked on carpet, which is pretty bad.  So I started to think.  What can I do to the shoes to make them less slippery?  I need something that isn't noticeable and won't fall off.  Then I decided to try my hot glue gun.  It totally worked!  I was skeptical at first because I didn't know if the glue would peel off the bottom of the shoes, but Angie has worn them a couple of times now and it's nowhere near starting to fall off.  And she hasn't slipped or fallen ever since.
As you can see, I applied the glue in straight lines, but you could do dots, or a design of your own.  I don't have any slippery shoes myself, but if I ever do, I will definitely try this.  And FYI, the shoes do make noise after you add the hot glue to them.  It helps to put a little baby powder over the glue (after it dries of course).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Birthday Wreath

My little girl's birthday is in 2 weeks, and I am planning a party as always.  I absolutely love celebrating her birthday.  I have always been a fan of my own birthday, but a lot of the fun and excitement fades away as you get older.  Ever since I had a child of my own, I got all of the fun and excitement back, only now it's for her.  But since she is a part of me, it's kind of like it's my birthday celebration too. =)
Anyway, I have been collecting ideas for several months on Pinterest.  This is one that I am really excited about.  The supplies cost a little more than I wanted to spend (who knew balloons are so expensive, especially in large quantities?) but I decided it was justified because I can reuse it every year.  Heck, I can even hang it up on my birthday!
You will need:
A straw wreath (mine is 14 inches)
About 3 bags of balloons in desired colors, 72 pack
216 floral pins, one for each balloon

There are 2 ways you can attach the balloons to the wreath.  You can either fold the balloon in half and place the pin over it, or you can stick the pin through the balloon.  About halfway through, I realized that it's better to stick the pin directly through the balloon, because that way they don't come undone.
Leaving the plastic wrap on the wreath, begin to attach the balloons with the pins.  It is easiest to do one row at a time.  I alternated colors, but you could do one row of each color if you like.  Angie helped me by handing me the balloons.  She enjoys helping me when she can. =)

Continue pinning the balloons until your wreath is full.  I ended up with about 3 rows, but I had plenty leftover to fill in the bare spots.  You could even do more rows, but you would need more balloons, and more balloons cost more money, so it's up to you.  Here is my beautiful finished wreath:
I can't wait to hang it on the front door to celebrate Angie's birthday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

I almost didn't post this recipe because I can't take any credit for it in any way, shape or form.  (Well, I guess I improved it by omitting the black beans- yuck!) I discovered it a few months ago on another blog.  It has quickly become a favorite in our house.  Not only is it incredibly delicious, but it is also insanely easy.  Most of my crock pot recipes require at least some preparation work... like pre-cooking meat or pre-chopping vegetables.  Not this one.  This is a dump-the-ingredients-in-the-crock pot-and-go recipe.

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili
2 chicken breasts, still frozen
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 15 oz can corn (don't drain)
1 can Ro-Tel Tomatoes
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder

Put the corn, tomatoes, Ranch, cumin, chili powder and onion powder in the crock pot and mix well.  Put the chicken and cream cheese on top.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Stir a couple of times to blend in the cheese.  Near the end of the cooking time, fish the chicken out with a pair of tongs and shred it with 2 forks.  Return chicken to the crock pot.
(Honestly, I took a few more pictures than this, but I don't know what happened to them... I am positive I took them, but they're not on my camera anymore.)

You can add black beans if you want... personally, I am a loather of all kinds of beans, so I am somewhat offended by the thought of adding them to my dinner.  Also the original recipe says to serve it over rice.  I think it tastes just fine without it, plus it saves you a lot of calories and carbs to skip it.
This is the kind of recipe that makes me happy.  No stress, no work, and a delicious comforting meal to look forward to at the end of the day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chip Clips Out of Old Hangers

I have been working on cleaning up and rearranging my daughter's room lately.  She is about to turn 3 and she is becoming less of a toddler and more of a little girl. *Sniff, sniff*  I am finding a lot of stuff that she hasn't used since she was a newborn.  And the closet has things hanging in it that she outgrew 2 years ago.  I already have 10+ bins of baby clothes that I am saving for the second baby we have been praying for.  I am tired of marching to Target to buy more bins, so naturally there is still a lot of stuff that hasn't been packed up.  Anyway, I have come across lots and lots of hangers that look like this:
They come with those baby outfits that have both pants and shirt.  We still use a few of them, but I have way more than I need.  I was getting ready to throw them away when I remembered this link that I saw on Pinterest several months ago.  Instead of throwing it away, I made something useful out of them.  Chip clips! 

You can either break them off using the edge of a table or counter top, or use heavy duty scissors.  Either way, you will probably need to use the scissors to cut off any sharp edges.  Ta-da!
Some other uses I thought of:
Use as clothespins
Use for craft projects to hold in place while glue is drying
Use as a paperclip

Monday, February 13, 2012

Easy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

This is one of my favorite low-calorie recipes.  I make it often.  It's good to make for lunch, and it's light enough to eat for a snack as well.  I got this recipe from a Hungry Girl cookbook.  I really like (some of) her recipes.  Although she focuses more on low-calorie and low-fat recipes and I am more concerned about the carbs, there are still some recipes that fall into all of those categories.  This is one of them.
This recipe only has 3 ingredients:
1 tray of Green Giant Just for One Vegetables- Broccoli and Cheese
1 wedge Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese
1/2 Cup Skim milk or almond milk

Cook the broccoli tray in the microwave just enough so it's no longer frozen.  Pour it into a small food processor along with the other ingredients and blend to desired consistency.
Pour into a microwave safe bowl and heat 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, and it's ready to eat!
You would never guess that it's under 150 calories.  This makes a very satisfying meal or snack.  I sometimes make several bowls of it at once and freeze them for weekday lunches.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Remote Control Basket out of Silverware Caddy

Somehow, we keep accumulating more and more remote controls.  And you can never find the one you need.  They are always scattered all over, cluttering up my living room.  They usually look something like this:
Actually, you're lucky if you find them all together like this.  I decided that we needed a place to keep the remotes, other than just laying on the couch or the end table.  I know they have little rotating cubes that you can buy for them, but that didn't quite seem right.  I already had some baskets around the house, and I thought about using those, but that didn't seem right either.  Then I started thinking, what about something with a section for each remote?  Then I thought, what about those baskets that people use to take silverware to picnics?  Perfect!  Well, I didn't actually have one since we very rarely go on picnics (something I wouldn't mind changing), so I went in search of one.  I knew I could count on Target.  They always have stuff like that, and they always have plenty of cute and stylish options to choose from.  They had 3 or 4 different ones to choose from, so I picked this one:
And now my remote controls are nice and neat in their home!

Now the only problem is making sure they always get put away in their home so we can always find them.  I'm not sure how to make that happen, other than threaten to smack the person who moves it with the remote when I find it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Weight Loss Wednesday: Cinnamon

No pounds lost for me this week. =(  I blame it entirely on my new work schedule which only allows me enough time to work out for 30 minutes a day instead of 60.  But time is time, and that's all there is.  You can't squeeze blood from a stone, can you?
Anyway, I am sharing something I discovered awhile ago, and that is the health benefits of cinnamon.  It can aid in weight loss, and has several health benefits, including:
  It can lower your cholesterol
It can regulate your blood sugar
It has an anti-clotting effect on your blood
It can kill the cold and flu viruses

Read about some of the studies that have been done to prove the super powers of cinnamon here.

Now, you're thinking, well why wouldn't everyone eat cinnamon every day?  Seems like a no-brainer given the facts.  The only problem I have run into is that cinnamon is always hanging out with his best buddy, sugar.  What is there to eat with cinnamon but no sugar?  Not a lot of options out there.  So one day, I was looking for vitamins at the drug store and I happened to find these:
Cinnamon in capsule form.  Yeah, I realize it's a little silly to take cinnamon in a pill when you could just eat it, but trust me, it makes it easier to get your daily requirement in.  So I try to remember to take 2 of these every day so I can stay healthy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mommy & Me Valentine's Day Shirts

I got this idea from one of my favorite blogs.  I did mine a little different though.  I really like this idea because it's quick and easy and it requires minimal sewing.  I decided to make shirts for both me and Angie.  I tried to find a long sleeved pink shirt for her, but I could only find short-sleeved.  And our shirts are slightly different shades of pink.  But it's no biggie.
I started by ironing a piece of interfacing to the wrong side of the shirts where the hearts would go.  (I made the hearts go across on my shirt and up and down on Angie's.)

Then I turned the shirts right side out.  I took a heart-shaped cookie cutter and traced around it where I wanted the hearts to go.

Then I turned the shirts inside out again and pinned a piece of light pink knit fabric over the interfacing.
Then you turn the shirt right side out yet again.  Sew around the hearts.
Then pull apart the front and back pieces of fabric and cut through the top layer (the layer with the shirt and the interfacing).  Be careful not to cut through the back layer with the light pink fabric.  Continue to cut out the heart shape.
Cut out the heart shape on all three hearts.  Then trim off the excess fabric on the back of the shirt.  That's pretty much it!  You can make Mommy & Me shirts, or you can make one just for yourself or just for your little one.  Here's what they look like finished: