Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012!

Photo courtesy of Zwani

A quote from Bill Vaughn- "An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves."

Our tweak on the quote- "A parent goes to bed before midnight because even though it's a new year he/she has kids to get up to in the morning. A parent with a sitter the next day still goes to bed before midnight because sleeping in sounds way too good!"

Because we are spending time with our families (and we hope you are too) there will be no Fun Stuff Friday linky today.  Instead, we encourage you to participate in the most recent Fun Stuff Friday...
We'll see you on Monday for our regular schedule!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year Of The Paper Christmas Tree--Christmas Mishap

1983, the "Year Of The Paper Christmas Tree" is a Christmas I will treasure for the rest of my life.  It is both one of the saddest and funniest Christmases I have experienced (so far).

It started a few weeks before Christmas when we went to pick out our "fresh cut" Christmas tree.  It was perfect!  In the weeks leading up to Christmas our perfect tree began to lose some needles, but what real tree doesn't lose a few needles-right?  

Christmas Eve brought a terrible snow storm and some of the coldest temps on record.  It also brought a sound, then a site, that horrified my mom...

She awoke to what she thought was the sound of running water.  She followed the sound into the living room where she witnessed what she calls "a shower of pine needles".  Almost every needle was falling off our Christmas tree in one big cascade.  She had never seen anything like it before.

My sister and I woke shortly after my mom and freaked out when we saw what was left of our beautiful tree--ornaments, stringed popcorn, and lights on bare branches.  We cried when my mom and dad told us we had to get rid of our tree because it was a fire hazard.  We went hysterical when they told us that it was too cold and there was too much snow to get a new tree.  We can't have Christmas without a tree!

Then it dawned on my parents...They had gotten us finger paints for Christmas and my neighbor had a huge roll of packing paper...we would paint a tree!

Wasn't I cute?

We took the large roll of paper and paints, went down to the laundry room of our apartment and began to paint a tree.  Half-way through, we ran out of green paint so we mixed yellow and blue and finished.  When the tree had dried, my parents hung it in the corner of our living room where the real tree had been and we proceeded to tape ornaments, lights, and our stringed popcorn on our paper tree.  It was beautiful (for a paper tree)!

Christmas morning my sister and I awoke to not many presents under our tree.  Turns out, Santa had stacked all our presents behind the tree!  No photo will ever replace the memory I have in my mind of that Christmas and our paper tree.

Do you have a Christmas mishap story from this year or a Christmas past?  Share it in our community!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Snowflake Suncatchers Using CDs

Early last month I posted a tutorial on how to make rainbow fish sun catchers using old CDs.  We had them hanging by our patio door for an entire month and go tons of compliments from people who saw them.  December came, however, and the rainbow fish really didn't fit into my winter/Christmas decorating scheme.  I got the brilliant idea to make snowflake sun catchers using old CDs!  Those have now replaced the fish and fit perfectly into my current decorating!

Here's what you'll need:
  • White paper
  • 2 CDs per snowflake
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • String/ribbon
This is super easy to do yet my girls had a ton of fun with it!

Step 1) If you are using regular 8.5 x 11 paper, fold one corner to the edge.  Cut off the non folded edge to make a square.  From that square you can make a circle or just leave it square like my girls chose to do.

Step 2) Have your kids fold their circle or square however they want.  You'll want them to fold it at least 4 times.  (At this point in time, my youngest daughter decided to go shopping with Daddy so she finished her snowflake later.  That's why the rest of the photos are of my oldest only)

Step 3)  Have your kids cut different shapes into each of the edges.  (You are making a regular, old-fashioned, paper snowflake)

Step 4)  Put glue on the printed side of one CD.  Regular school glue will work just fine since you are gluing paper.

Step 5)  Unfold your snowflake to it's original size.

Step 6)  Center your snowflake onto the CD with glue on it.

Step 6)  Put glue on the printed side of the other CD then center it on top of the snowflake/first CD.

Step 7)  Let it dry for a while, punch a hole in the center, tie a string for hanging.

Step 8)  Clean up all the tiny paper pieces that ended up all over the floor.  Hang and enjoy!

Do your kids like making paper snowflakes?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Russian Tea

I was a bit of a tomboy growing up but every now and then I liked to be girly and invite my friends over for a tea party.  My favorite tea that my mom made was Russian Tea.  My friends loved it too!
Here's what you'll need to make Russian Tea for your little girl's tea party (or just for yourself!):
  • 3 cups powdered orange drink (such as Tang)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup instant tea
  • 2 packages lemon jello
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • large mixing bowl
  • air tight storage container

The above recipe makes quite a bit of tea so if you don't think you'll drink it very fast, I would cut the recipe in half.

  • Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Make sure to mix well.  
  • Store the powdered mix in an air tight container.  
  • Serve 3 tsp mix per 1 cup of hot water (or mixed to taste).
That's it!  Super easy and super yummy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ivory soap explosion

I will be the first to admit that this is one super cool, fun science experiment!

Here is what you will need:

  • Ivory soap (It MUST be the brand name IVORY soap.  Other brands will NOT work!  It must be a fresh bar too.
  • A microwave

Ivory soap explosion

1)  Take one bar of Ivory soap and cut into half then in half again. Place one piece of the quartered soap in the microwave.

2)  Set microwave for 3minutes (even though you won't need that much time) and push start.
Ivory soap explosion

3)  Sit back and watch!
Ivory soap explosion

After about 90seconds the soap will expand to about 6 times it original size!!! It won't be too hot to touch either. Let it sit for about a minute or two and then remove it from the microwave and watch for their reaction.
Ivory soap explosion

I will admit that I wanted to see what would happen to a FULL bar of soap....learn from me...don't do it...fight the urge! I had to stop it before it finished because my entire microwave was FILLED with Ivory soap!

The soap still works the same, so don't toss it. I placed ours in my son's bathroom and he loves to snap off a chunk each time he takes a shower.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our homes to yours!
Lindsi's Kids
Jamie's Girls

May your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmas's be white!

Our Fun Stuff Friday linky was again a huge success last week.  
However, because we are spending time with our families (and we hope you are too) there will be no Fun Stuff Friday linky today or next week.  Instead, please continue to link to last weeks' Fun Stuff Fridays
We'll see you on Monday for our regular schedule!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Soap

Ever notice how the price of hand soap is more when it's put in a festive container? Solution-------- do it yourself!

Here is what you will need:
Hand soap
decorate your own soap

Carefully peel off the manufacture labels from the hand soap (and shhhhh, don't tell them you are doing this)
decorate your own soap

Remove and excess goop left behind and simply place stickers on the bottles. My kids think these are fancy shmancy soaps from the store...little do they know it cost me all of $2.00 (soap and stickers).
decorate your own soap

*a little edit for ya- I also like to add a few drops of my favorite essential oil-peppermint to make them smell festive!*
decorate your own soap

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Make your own ornaments

Something my mom and I used to do a lot when I was younger (and pre-kids) was paint Christmas ornaments. It's really simple to do and MUCH cheaper than some of those fancy shmancy ones you can purchase.

Here is what you need:
GLASS ornaments (trust me the plastic ones don't work)
Acrylic paint
how to paint your own ornaments

Add a few drops of paint to the inside of each ornament
how to paint your own ornaments

Roll the ornaments carefully around to get the paint to cover the entire inside
how to paint your own ornaments

Allow each ornament to dry upside down and the excess paint to drip out
how to paint your own ornaments

You can stop there and hang them or you can glue pretty ribbon to the tops of the's really up to you!
how to paint your own ornaments
how to paint your own ornaments

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ice Box Pudding

Don't let the title fool you...this is NOT pudding!  It's a desert made by layering Lady Fingers with rich chocolate filling and served with whipped cream.

This recipe has been a family tradition since well before I was born.  I has been handed down from my Great-Great-Grandma, to my Great-Grandma, to my Grandma, to my dad mom, and now to me.  It has traditionally been the desert served for the men's birthdays (instead of cake), but in my immediate family, it is the desert served on Christmas Eve.  You see, my dad's birthday is Christmas Eve.  My Grandma was adamant that on Christmas Eve they celebrated my dad's birthday and not Christmas.  Thus Ice Box Pudding is served on Christmas Eve.

Somewhere my mom has the recipe written in my Great-Grandma's handwriting but unfortunately, she couldn't find it in time for this post.  Above is the recipe that was handed down to me.  Written in my mom's handwriting, laminated, and ringed into a small book full of other family recipes.

Photo credit here. Keep reading to find out why I had to borrow a photo.

For such a long-standing family tradition, I realized that we had no pictures of our Ice Box Pudding or us eating it!  You'll have to excuse the lack of photos for this post.  I had to search the internet high and low to find an example that even remotely looked like our Ice Box Pudding.  The above is pretty darn close.  This year I'm determined to get some photos (but not before this post goes up)

Ok, enough rambling...on to the recipe...
  • 2 Baker semi-sweet chocolate (4 oz)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 4 Eggs (separated)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  •  About 1.5 packages of pre-made lady fingers
  • Cool Whip
Melt the first three ingredients together.  Cool a little, then beat in the 4 egg yolks.  Beat the 4 egg whites till stiff then fold into the chocolate.  Add the vanilla.**
Layer in a bread pan, beginning with chocolate, then lady fingers, then chocolate...end with chocolate.  Refrigerate over night.  Top with Cool Whip before serving.

**This recipe has gone through some revisions through the years. Because it was originally made with raw eggs, we are now working on adapting it using additional cooking time and egg white substitutes (to avoid Salmonella!).  After you beat in the 4 egg yolks, warm to a temp of 160 degrees (stirring constantly) then quickly plunge into ice water to cool.  Use heavy whipping cream, powdered egg whites, or meringue powder as a substitute for egg whites.  Please note, if you use the original recipe I have posted here, we are not responsible if someone get sick from raw eggs.  Eat with caution.  (Sorry, had to post a disclaimer).

Family traditions make for special memories. In our home, it is Ice Box Pudding on Christmas Eve.  Do you have any special holiday traditions that you follow every year?  Share them here by commenting or share them over in the Toys In The Dryer Community so we can chat about them!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Magic Reindeer Food

Are your kids worried that Santa doesn't know how to find their house?  Do they feel bad that Santa gets sweet cookies and milk but his reindeer get carrots?  Try this fun Magic Reindeer Food activity to help ease their minds!

I was introduced to Magic Reindeer Food last year by a parent from Nutty's swimming lessons.  She was giving it out as an advertisement for her photography business and I thought it was so cute!  My girls had a ton of fun sprinkling it on the snow Christmas Eve too!

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1/4 cup raw, uncooked oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • A sprinkle or two (or more) of red, green, or silver sugar crystals (for cake decorating)
  • Small plastic baggies
  • Paper (preferably cardstock)
  • Printer or markers to make your own tag
  • Stapler with staples or ribbon

1)  Make a tag that labels the reindeer food and has the instruction poem on it (make your own, find one on the internet, or attempt to download mine--sorry, I don't know how to make it downloadable)

2)  Mix the oatmeal, sugar, and colored crystals (to your liking) in a bowl

3)  Divide the mixture among bags

4)  Attach the tags to the bags with a stapler (or you could punch a hole it it and tie it around the top of the bag with ribbon)

5)  Give it to your kids just before Christmas.  You can also have your kids give it to friends or you can do what the mom in Nutty's swimming lessons did and add your website address or phone number to the tag and hand it out as advertising).  This year Tommy (our Elf On The Shelf) is bringing back the Reindeer Food from the North Pole.
 Nutty sprinkling our Reindeer Food in the snow the night before Christmas last year.

6)  Have your kids sprinkle the reindeer food on the lawn/snow the night before Santa comes to your house.

7)  Don't forget to mess up the food a little bit after the kids go to bed to make it look like Santa's reindeer ate it.  If your kids are smart like mine, they'll ask why there aren't reindeer tracks in the snow.  I told them they were flying (hovering) over the snow when they ate it so they didn't leave tracks :)

Do you think your kids would like Magic Reindeer Food?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fun Stuff Fridays (#4)- 3 weeks long for the holidays

Welcome to Fun Stuff Fridays. We had over 200 submissions last week and we were blown away! We are so impressed by everyone's creativity, passions, talents, and adventures. Wanna know more about our linky? Click on "Fun Stuff Fridays" above, then "about". With over 200 entries/submissions it took us a while to go through each one and narrow it down to our top three. Everyone who submitted had such great ideas! We wish we could feature all of them! Can't wait to see your amazing submissions this week! Remember, that this weeks linky party will be THREE weeks long because of the holidays coming up. Feel free to submit as many ideas as you want over that time. And remember- spread the word!

Our joint favorite pick was the Indoor Snowball Fight submitted by Next To Heaven. I mean let's be honest here people, this is simply one of the coolest ideas out there! This is on our list of things to do for our neighbors for next year FOR SURE! So fun, creative, and who doesn't love a good snowball fight?

Jamie's number one pick was Coffee Filter Snowman submitted by Happily Mother After. This cute craft is something kids of any age can participate in. You could have each person in your family make one and then you'd end up with the most adorable family of snowmen!

Lindsi's favorite pick from this past week was Mr. Reindeer submitted by Playing With Words 365.  For starters, the reindeer is so adorable! It's a great way to engage your child in learning. She offers printable foods with letters on them to help with letter sounds, letter recognition, and spelling. Our kids would love to have a reindeer to feed!

Fun Stuff Fridays

Fun Stuff Fridays

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrifty Christmas Shopping

Today we have the great privilege of guest hosting Ruby and Macy from Real Housewives of Minnesota!  We met Ruby and Macy at the Minnesota Blogger Conference and were immediately drawn to them because they are awesome girls, they are a blogging duo just like us and, they blog about being thrifty!  In this post they talk about saving money while shopping for Christmas presents.  Without further ado...

How To Be Thrifty When ChristmasShopping
When it comes to holiday shopping, it’s easy to spend oodles! But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of ways to save when doing your Christmas shopping. Here are some thrifty tips to keep your pocketbook safe this holiday season.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade: Santa's Naughty or Nice List
Photo by armadillo444

First off, prepare your list. Take a moment to sit and write out who you have to buy gifts for. Think hard now, and be sure to include any teachers, nannies, coaches, etc. Be sure to cover all your bases before you move on to the next step. 

Now that you’ve made your list, stick to it. The list does not expand. This list is your final list. Anyone who is not on your list does not get a gift. Whether you see something they’d like or not. Part of saving money, comes from only buying what you need to buy.

Next, brainstorm a few ideas for what you might want to give the people on your list. Write your ideas down. And, if your friends and family are cooperative, have them get you their wish-list early – I shoot for Thanksgiving. If it helps (which it probably will!), set a budget for each person and jot it down next to their name. Make it your goal to spend less than what you budgeted. It’s a great feeling when you spend less than you expected to!

Now for the actual gift getting part. I’m a big fan of making things when you can. With the help of (LOVE!), there are all kinds of homemade gifts and crafts that you can put together and give. But if you’re running out of time or would rather buy a gift, there are plenty of ways to save big!

My Little Consumer

Photo by Myles!

Now that you are about ready to hit the stores, list in hand, take a minute to do a few steps of prep work – you’ll be glad you did!
  • Glance through the newspaper advertisements first. Companies are at their prime for advertising right now and there are some great deals to be had if you just educate yourself beforehand. Make a note of how much something is at a certain store. Many stores such as Walmart will price match competitor prices. This is good information to have because it can prevent you from running around town going to different stores. I think we can all agree that one stop is better than five. 
  • Now that your mind is primed with some ideas for shopping and where you can find some good deals, narrow down your list to a couple ideas for each person of gifts you would like to give and that fall within your budget. 
  • Jot down on your list some ideas of where to get each gift. This makes the big malls seem much, much smaller AND will save you a ton of time when you get to the mall. Once you have your stores in mind that you’re going to go to, hit their websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts to look for additional savings. Sometimes if you ‘like’ a company’s page on Facebook, they will have a coupon for you. Check their Twitter to see if they tweeted out a sale or coupon that you wouldn’t normally have found online. Also try googling the store + coupon to see if there is anything you might have missed. These are all great ways to save even more money. 
  • It’s tough to catch online sales right now because it’s getting down to the wire on shipping times. Make sure to check the ship dates and see whether a site guarantees shipment by Christmas. Normal shipping times at a certain store might be pushed out a bit because of the holiday sales. If you do find a site that will ship by Christmas, do your homework and look for coupon codes. A great site for this is, and for free shipping, you can visit for awesome deals. 
  • Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of stores like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. These stores hold many designer items in store and are often sold for a fraction of the cost. It doesn’t get much better than that! 
So stick to your list, shoot for below budget, and do your coupon homework. All these things can score you great deals for your holiday shopping this year, and they’ll never know the difference!

Now that you've read their great post, go ahead and visit Ruby and Macy at Real Housewives Of MN and follow them on Twitter: @MNHousewives.
What the best Christmas shopping deal you've come across?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Origami Wreath

I was blog hopping the other day (yup, I'm a rabbit) and saw a really neat tutorial for a few Origami projects. The one that really struck me as neat was this tutorial for a wreath. I had to play around quite a bit because the tutorial was in Japanese (I think) and the measurements were in metric. The lady who shared the tutorial used paper that was about half the size, thus leading to half the size wreath...I just so happened to have a bunch of Christmas themed 12"x12" paper laying around and I thought I would try and make one with my oldest boy. I think you could say it was a success! (He.....OK, I didn't want to stop making them!)

Here is what you will need:
12 sheets of colorful paper (pattern and print of your choice)
a ruler
how to make an origami wreath

Carefully mark each sheet of paper on the back side. One line should run 5 inches from the bottom of the paper, another line should run the opposite direction about 5.4inches from each so.
how to make an origami wreath

Fold two of the corners down to the lines as demonstrated in the photo.
how to make an origami wreath
how to make an origami wreath

Continue along following the folds I have made in order.
how to make an origami wreath
how to make an origami wreath
how to make an origami wreath
how to make an origami wreath

Once you have all 12 sheets of paper folded you can insert them into each other and after the last piece you will have a BEAUTIFUL wreath.
how to make an origami wreath

I used a dab of hot glue (I like it and that is why) to add some extra strength and attached a little red ribbon to the back side and hung it on my door.
how to make an origami wreath

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