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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Beat the Boredom" Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Pin It Now! "Mooommm, I'm BORED!"  How many times have we all heard those words come out of our darling children's mouths? Yes, even some of the most imaginative and active kids can get bored...and my kiddos are no exception.

This very thing happened one weekend and by the afternoon I was SO tired of hearing the complaints.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day outside and I was not going to just let them plop down in front of the TV, so what is the solution? I created what I like to call a "Beat the Boredom" scavenger hunt.

I basically thought up a bunch of random activities or "Eye Spy" types of things that they either had to do or find inside and outside the house.  They then had to check off the box before they could move on to the next task. At first, I thought that my 8 year old would baulk at it thinking that it was "lame", but alas, he was all for it!  The best part?  He was so sweet to help out his little sister if she needed help completing her tasks :o)

Below is an example of the list that I came up with.  As you can see, some are completely random and others are sports related...I wanted to make sure that they got some exercise and were worn out a bit when it was over (get their 'wiggles out').

You can make this list as long or short as you want, but this seemed just about right for my kids...and it kept them occupied for quite awhile! Here is a pic of them "kicking the soccer ball through the cones."

The best part is, you can sneak a chore in there (like picking up sticks in the yard) and they still think that it's part of the game ;o) LOL

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

FAT FREE Trifle Dessert...Mmmmm

Pin It Now! Dessert...Fat Free?  Should these two words even belong in the same sentence?  My answer is a resounding YES!  It's certainly not always possible, but there are times when you stumble upon something SO tasty that isn't full of fat and calories.  This trifle dessert is one of those.

I was looking for something light, yet yummy to make for dessert one night started looking around my kitchen to see what I had available and this is what I found: a store bought angel food cake, chocolate and vanilla pudding mixes and strawberries.  I thought "Hmm, I can make something out of that!"  Here is what I created...and my thought process is that EVERYTHING looks cooler when it's presented in a trifle bowl!

I made both pudding mixes and refrigerated until set and then just started to assemble in the trifle bowl...angel food cake (cut up into chunks), strawberry slices, vanilla pudding, angel food cake, strawberries, chocolate pudding, etc.  Once I was finished I refrigerated for a bit and then served.  It was DELICIOUS and the kids were in heaven! 

The best part?  It was completely FAT FREE!  How could it be you ask?  Well, angel food cake is fat free, the pudding I purchased was both fat free and sugar free (I made it with skim milk) and strawberries are fat free as there you go!  All the flavor and none of the guilt! :o)

It's amazing the things you can come up with when you put on your creative hat and begin looking around the kitchen! :o)

Monday, February 27, 2012

S'mores Cakes - in Mason Jars!

Pin It Now! Graham crackers, chocolate and ooey, gooey marshmallows...doesn't it just make your mouth water just thinking about it? S'mores are just all around AWESOME and an absolute MUST when you go camping, but who wants to wait until then?

I found some info online about some S'mores Cakes in a Jar and just HAD to try this for myself...and I have to say, it was a WINNER recipe!  I should preface by saying that I like simple recipes...and this is simple AND delicious!

[Recipe courtesy of HowSweetItIs (*I adjusted cooking time slightly from recipe)]

S’mores Cake in a Jar
makes 4 16-ounce mason jar cakes

for crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 stick butter
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter and mix in graham crumbs and salt. Mix until moistened. Spray 4 mason jars with non-stick spray, divide crumbs evenly between 4 jarr and press graham crust into bottom. I used my small Pampered Chef wooden ladel since it was rounded on the end and had a long handle...worked like a charm!
They don’t need to look perfect.

for cake:
1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sour cream

for topping:
1 bag of large marshmallows

In a bowl, mix egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk, cream, butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in sour cream. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth. Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to mason jars one scoop at a time. You only want to fill them up about half way, and the batter should work evenly for 4 jars. Again – don’t worry if it is perfect. Place mason jars in a baking dish and add about 1 1/2 cups of water to the bottom. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cake is set. (NOTE: This is where I had to adjust...because mine ended up taking 42 minutes instead of 30 to set and my oven is usually right on point, so it may take longer than 30 minutes...just a forewarning)

Remove cake from the oven and press large marshmallows down on top, being careful not to burn yourself. There is no set number of marshmallows to use, I was able to get 6 in each.

Heat the broiler on your oven and watching carefully, brown marshmallows for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not take your eyes off them! Serve immediately.

Here is our final result:

SOOOOO yummy!!!

The kids were looking forward to these all day and this was their reactions:

Needless to say, they were a HUGE hit with everyone...but be forewarned: they are sticky and very rich...none of us could finish ours, so we saved them to finish off tonight after dinner ;o)

The ever dreaded...CHORES! --- Have a Chore Scavenger Hunt!

Pin It Now! If your kids are anything like mine, they dread the sheer mention of the word "chores"! However, I feel that it is very important for kids to take part in the clean up duties around the house and have responsibility for various tasks that help keep the house in order.

That being said, there is no reason that the words "chore" and "fun" can't be used in the same sentence, right?

To help get my kids motivated to get their tasks completed, sometimes we have what is called a Chore Scavenger Hunt. Here is how it works...

First, come up with an age appropriate list of chores for your kids to do and how many you want for them to complete for that given day (For this example, we had my daughter, who is 5 years old, completing 4 chores: fold & put clothes away, wipe down bathroom sink, pick up the living room floor, and clean out my car-basically removing all of her toys/dolls/etc).

Next, come up with fun and creative "clues" that will lead them from one chore to the next...see the example below:

Once you have all of the clues written out, cut them apart and place them in "hidden" (yet not TOO difficult to find) locations that will lead them from one chore to the next.

Here is the starting clue that I placed on my daughter's bed (I told her that was where she was to start):

I try to let her figure out the clues on her own (and usually she does), but if she needed help, I of course helped to give her a clue...but the fun of the scavenger hunt for them is to try and solve the "clues" :o)

Here is the 2nd clue that was placed in her laundry basket (it was originally placed part way under a pair of pants to hide it a bit):

This clue lead her to the Clorox wipes and so on...(I didn't take photos of each step).

However, I ended with the last clue that stated "Go to where your dolls go to bed at night"...and had this little "love note" that I found online waiting for her.

I've also done it before where I left a piece of candy or some little surprise of some sort at the end to show that I appreciated all of their hard work.

This activity kept them engaged and occupied for quite some time...and it got the house clean at the same time!  What a WIN WIN!

Here is a list of chores that we have our kids (ages 5 and 8) help with, since I know that is always a big topic:
  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Swiffer kitchen floor
  • Mop kitchen floor
  • Dust
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Load dishwasher
  • Pick up living room
  • Clean their bedrooms
  • Gather trash (from all of the multiple trashcans in the house)
  • Breakdown recyclables
  • Vacuum
  • Water plants
  • Clean out cars
  • Fold and put away clothes
  • Put clothes in washing machine or dryer
  • Wipe down bathroom sink

Friday, February 24, 2012

Event Planning 101

Pin It Now!
In my 12+ years of event planning, I have come across many different styles and tips that work well...and some that don't work very well.  I thought it would be helpful to compile them into an "Event Planning 101" guide for any of you out there who are in the event planning business or are planning on entering into the business.  Certainly my suggestions would not apply to everyone and every event, but for most cases, these will hold true.  I hope you find this helpful!


Well, Today is THE Day...

Pin It Now! ...I officially became a "blogger."  I'm still not 100% sure what that entails, but I figured, what the hey! That being said, I am not quite sure that there is anyone out there that is even remotely interested in what I have to say?

I will make a confession, I am a perfectionist.  Ok, I'll make two confessions, I am a perfectionist AND I have a hard time saying 'no'. Does that sound familiar? My thought is that to say no is a sign of weakness and Pfft!, I am no weakling!...therefore, I can take it on! And IF I'm going to take something on, I'm going to give it 200%! 

We'll see if this blogging thing is the same way...but don't hold me to it! My Wonder Woman cape is at the cleaners right now, afterall...

So, a bit more about me and who I am...
*Family is #1 to me, so although I am a career woman, family is ALWAYS first!

*I am addicted to the Food Network (you name the show, I've, I HAVE seen it)

*I love to cook AND bake. Nothing specific, just anything and everything! My Grandma and my Mom definitely instilled my love of baking growing up and my major addiction to cooking shows has fed my knowledge of cooking techniques and gotten me even more excited about trying new things.

*I have a degree in fashion and LOVE to keep up on the trends and of course am in love with Project Runway and all of those fashion-related shows out there

*I am self taught in graphic design (I don't claim to be the best, but I can hold me own ;o)

*I LOVE planning my kids' birthday parties each year...and there HAS to be a theme, of course.

Well, I could go on and on, but need to move on to another project!  

Till next time!