Thursday, February 28, 2013

See Through Easter Egg Window Decorations

If you've been reading our blog long enough you know that we love to make crafts out of contact paper.  We also love to make window decorations for holidays.  See Through Easter Eggs combine the best of both!
see through easter eggs
They are fun and easy to make too.  The only things you'll need are contact paper and things to decorate your eggs with such as glitter, paper, ribbon, and foam shapes (or really anything else you think might work).

If your kids want to make a framed Easter egg, help them to cut an egg shape out of paper.  Fold it in half and cut out most of the middle to make a frame.  Put the frame on the sticky side of a piece of contact paper then decorate the inside of the frame.

If your kids want a frame-less Easter egg, help them to cut an egg shape out of paper.  Lay a piece of contact paper sticky side up on top of the paper egg.  Decorate the sticky side of the contact paper only where the egg is under it.
see through easter eggs
Once the eggs are decorated, put another piece of contact paper, sticky side down (or sticky sides together) on the egg.  
Press together firmly, especially around the edges or around the foam shapes.
Last, cut of the extra contact paper around your egg, put some tape on it, and hang it on your window to enjoy!
What types of crafts have you made with contact paper?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Morning Grand Re-Opening!

Have you heard of the store Tuesday Morning?  To be honest, until this past week, I had heard the name but didn't know much about it and I had never been to one.  I am now a HUGE fan!
Tuesday Morning
All photos in this post were taken at the Woodbury, MN store.
I was asked (as a Blogger in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota) if I would help promote the Grand Re-Openings of the Woodbury and Burnsville stores.  I almost declined the offer because I didn't think it would be a fit for our blog.  Boy am I glad I did some research and changed my mind!  

Tuesday Morning is a national closeout retailer that has been in business since 1974.  They have 840 stores nationwide and 9 stores in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  I had a chance to shop at the newly revamped Woodbury store.
Tuesday Morning
Don't be fooled by the concrete floors and industrial shelving, they've got some nice stuff at Tuesday Morning!  They've got everything you can think of too, from kitchen stuff to decor, to craft stuff, toys, furniture, clothes, and outdoor/gardening items...
lets pretend school.jpg
You can't beat the prices either!  The same "Let's Pretend School" was $14 less than a popular store retailer and $33 less than a popular online retailer!!
Barbie Tuesday Morning
This Barbie doll?--$9 less than the store and $4 less than online.  Why wouldn't you shop at Tuesday Morning with these prices?  Take advantage of their TM Perks™ program and their sales and get even more for your money. I guarantee I'm buying my daughter's friend's birthday presents here!
Tuesday Morning
Ok, so I got totally distracted in the toy section during my shopping trip (because I'm such a good mom) but there were a ton of things I could have bought for me, my house, or my husband too.  I settled for a much needed sports bra ($12 for a brand name that usually retails or $20 or more!).  I left with two super nice toys (not the ones above) and my sports bra for under $25!  Tuesday Morning really has everything you need for the whole family.
What are you waiting for?  Go check out Tuesday Morning for yourself!  
If you're in the Woodbury or Burnsville area why not attend their Grand Re-Opening events on March 2nd?!
I was given money to shop at the Woodbury store.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Easter Hot Cocoa and Cocoa Mix Recipe

make your own hot chocolate mix
*jamie had a lot going on this weekend, so our posts are a little disorganized this'll be fine =)

This is a "two for one" post! You're going to get my favorite recipe of Hot Cocoa Mix and a little Easter fun too! Here's the recipe just for you! (We drink a lot of Hot Cocoa in our house, we live in the frozen tundra, so we make it in bulk. If you want to make a smaller batch just divide the ingredients in half).
make your own hot chocolate mix

3 Cups nonfat dry milk powder (powdered milk)
2 Cups powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
1 1/2 Cups Cocoa powder (we use Hershey's cocoa)
1/2 tsp salt
make your own hot chocolate mix

To make the hot cocoa stir in 3 Tablespoons of mix with 1 Cup hot milk. Top with mini marshmallows or for Easter fun, top with a Marshmallow Peep!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Embroidery Floss Eggs- Pinned it, Did it

Jamie and I have always said we'd be honest when we "failed" at here's another one of our honest posts.
Here's the original pin
here's mine
 Here's what you SHOULD do:

Blow up a balloon (pretty small), use GLUE to wet your embroidery floss and then cover the balloon with the gluey floss, After it completely dries pop the balloon and remove it. You will be left with a great looking Easter egg!
Here's what I did WRONG:
Instead of using glue, I used Mod Podge. I thought that it would be OK but it turns out that the Mod Podge left an additional shell on top of the balloon and didn't give me the effect I was hoping for.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Easter Fun With Carrots and Dip

Need a fun way to encourage your kids to eat their veggies?  This cute presentation is sure to spark their interest!
Tottie couldn't wait to eat her carrots and dip after I showed her these potted cuties.  To make your own you'll need:
  • Mini terracotta pots
  • Baby carrots
  • Parsley
  • Veggie dip
  • Medicine cups
  • Toothpicks
  • Scissors
 photo Funcarrots4.jpg
Start by filling your medicine cups with your veggie dip.  Put your medicine cups in the terracotta pots.
 photo funcarrots3.jpg
Use a toothpick to poke a hole in the top of each carrot then insert a small piece of parsley into that hole.  
Last, you'll "plant" your carrots in the dip.  If you've filled your medicine cups high enough the dip will spill over the edges when you plant your carrots.  The spilled dip helps to hide the cups.
 photo funcarrots5.jpg
Watch your kids enjoy eating their veggies!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Flash Pals--A Unique Easter Basket Gift

Looking for something unique and fun to put in an older child's Easter basket this year?  How about FlashPals!  These super cute USB drives will have all their friends talking!

FlashPals are the creation of Doug Stienstra who's girlfriend asked for a "cute" flash drive for her birthday.  When he couldn't find one he liked, he made one.  His creation was such a hit with his girlfriend and her friends that he turned it into a full-time business!  What's better, is that FlashPals has partnered with the world's leading giraffe organization, the GCF, to support their efforts to protect giraffes through sales and donations, so now FlashPals save data AND the wild.

Each FlashPal represents a real animal species that faces real threats and each has a name.  Jamie was lucky enough to review Zena the Zebra.
 photo FlashPals.jpg
Zena came in the cutest little box.  When I opened it, I was instantly in love!  Here was this super cute zebra flash drive in this awesome clear storage tube.  I was a little worried about the construction at first, but after tugging at the seams a bunch, and giving her to my girls to play with, she held together just fine.  (I wouldn't recommend purposefully trying to pull your FlashPal apart, but to give it a fair review, I did.)  She looked adorable sticking out of the side of my computer and my girls were excited when her "heart" lit up to let us know she was working.  She's got 4GB in that body of hers so there's plenty of room for all my storage needs.

I really only have one (minor) complaint.  Zena has a lot of white on her so if I want to take advantage of her nifty key chain attachment, I run the risk of getting her dirty.  I don't want to get her dirty--she's too cute!  According to the tag on her (which I cut off for general use) she is surface washable but I'm still not convinced I want to grub her up.

Lindsi received Jack the Giraffe in the mail. When I saw the little tube he came in I thought "well, that sure is adorable!" Jack came to our home with plenty of storage in his long neck, 4GB to be exact. This is a great deal of storage for such a little guy. I used Jack to store my photos from 2012 on it. I loved how when Jack the Giraffe is attached to my computer (or my sons) a little fact sheet popped up about Giraffes. Just some fun information for you and your kids from the FlashPal info sheet:

In 1999 there were over 140,000 giraffes in the wild, now there are less than 80,000. The color of a giraffe's tongue is BLACK! Giraffes have very big hearts- they weigh up to 25 pounds!!! And my personal favorite: The neck of a giraffe can be over 6.5 feet long!

Once Jack the Giraffe was plugged into our computer his BIG HEART lit up. This is a great idea because it helps my son know it is working. A great "visual" tool for a kiddo. I also loved how each FlashPal is attached to a clip that allows you to keep it on your key chain, making it portable and assuring it's with you whenever you might need it.

If you check out FlashPal's website you will see that there is an option to have them preloaded with information that would be fantastic for school! We hope you will check out FlashPals and fall in love with them like we did. This is a sponsored post written and expressed by us. FlashPals provided Jamie and Lindsi with their own FlashPal to use and review.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Frozen Bubbles

We've had a cold winter this year in Minnesota. Though most of the time we keep our kids indoors when the weather is well below freezing, there are times when sub 0°F can be a lot of fun!
frozen bubbles
Take bubbles for example...they are a summertime or indoor activity, correct?  No!  Take them outside when it's below freezing and watch what happens!
frozen bubbles 4
The colder the temp outside the faster the magic happens, however, don't go outside when it's too cold or you won't be able to do it for long. Also a bit of a hint, make sure it's pretty calm outside. Any breeze and your bubbles will fly away before you get to play with them.
frozen bubbles 2
Don't have bubble solution or a bubble wand? No problem! Make the solution out of dish soap and water. Use a straw as a wand.
frozen bubbles 3
Experiment by blowing a bubble, letting it freeze, then taking it inside. What happens?

Freezing bubbles was a ton of fun with my girls and I'm sure your kids will have just as much fun!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cadbury® Creme Eggs® Milkshakes--Pinned it, Did it!

Easter is one of my favorite times of year for candy because that's when Cadbury® Creme Eggs® come out.  I am seriously addicted to these eggs!
 I was browsing Pinterest last Easter and came across Cadbury® Creme Egg® Milkshakes.  OMG, yum!  I at first thought that this link would lead me to a recipe that made milkshakes that tasted like the best little eggs ever, however, these milkshakes are made with them.

They are nothing more than Cadbury® Creme Eggs®, vanilla ice cream, and a little bit of milk blended together.  If you want to get all technical about ratios how how much goes into the shakes you can visit the original site recipe.
Though simple, this milkshake is to die for!  Super sweet, however, so I wouldn't recommend drinking a glass the size of what they made.

What is your favorite Easter candy?

fall cookies
Click on the button above to learn more about Pinned it, Did it!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Homemade Beef Jerky

We love beef jerky in our home and we tend to make it weekly. It's really easy to do and MUCH MUCH cheaper than buying it in the store. You do NOT need a food dehydrator to do it either. Because we make it so often we did invest in a food dehydrator, but again it is certainly not required.

You will need:
a large beef roast (sliced- you can slice it yourself or have the butcher do it for you)
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 T red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
3 T honey
3T maple syrup
a pinch of garlic powder

Place your sliced beef into the mixture of marinade and let set for a MAXIMUM of 15 minutes (if you leave it in the marinade longer the taste will be incredibly strong)

Lay the beef out on a cookie sheet and place in the oven at the lowest temperature setting (usually 125-150 degrees F) and leave over night. The beef will dehydrate and dry up by morning and you will be left with some awesome homemade beef jerky. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

American Girl Fashion Show

Do your girls love American Girl®?  I know mine do.  Their favorite dolls are their Bitty Babies® and Nutty is soon to graduate to a regular American Girl® doll (for her birthday maybe?  Shhhh...).

A few weeks ago we visited the American Girl® Store at the Mall of America®.  The American Junior League of Minneapolis was there advertising their American Girl Fashion Show®.  I knew this would be a perfect fit for our blog.

What is The American Junior League?  Well, their mission statement is this:
"The Junior League of Minneapolis is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. The Junior League of Minneapolis reaches out to women of all races, religions, and national origins who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism."
So what is the American Girl Fashion Show®?  It is one of their fundraisers:
"The Junior League of Minneapolis proudly presents the 12th annual American Girl Fashion Show®. The American Girl Fashion Show is a fun-filled event for girls and their families, friends, and favorite dolls! Celebrate the experience of being a girl, whether yesterday or today, through a colorful presentation of historical and contemporary fashions. Enjoy refreshments, enter to win door prizes, and learn how clothing has changed over the years to reflect history, culture, and girls’ individual style."
This event promises to be a ton of fun whether your daughter is a model or she just wants to sit back and watch the show!  It will be hosted at the legendary Capri Theater in Minneapolis. Show times/dates are as follows:

  • Friday, March 8, 2013, 6 p.m. (Special Show)
  • Saturday, March 9, 2013, 1:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 9, 2013, 6 p.m. (VIP)
  • Sunday, March 10, 2013, at 1:30 p.m.
For more information please visit The American Junior League.  Want your daughter to be a model in she show?  Check out the model application!

I received tickets to the American Girl Fashion Show and Nutty's model fee was covered in exchange for helping to promote the event.  All opinions are 100% my own.  American Girl Fashion Show is licensed from American Girl Programs.  All American Girl trademarks, names, and characters are trademarks of American Girl, used under license. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Swiffer® WetJet®--Have you tried this yet?

We've mentioned in the past how much we love P&G products, right? Ha, ha, ha, just kidding, we KNOW we have. We have had the wonderful opportunity to try out the amazing Swiffer® WetJet® Extra Power Pad with the scrubbing power of Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser. This innovative product powers through up to 2X more dried-on dirt and grime with less effort* (*vs. mop and bucket), making it easy to get the shiny floors you always dreamed of in 2013.

With four kids in my home and two in Jamie's (not to mention her two pups) we are always looking for faster, better, easier ways to keep our home neat and clean. Let's face it, life is busy and cleaning is not something most people enjoy. With products that make cleaning easier the Swiffer® WetJet® makes that task a little more enjoyable.

This month save over $90 on innovative products including Charmin®, Pantene® and Tide® in the P&G brandSAVER® from your local Sunday paper.  Not sure if the Have You Tried This Yet? P&G brandSAVER® will be included in your paper? Visit to learn more. All savings are good through February 28, 2013.  For more exclusive savings opportunities, demo videos and bright ideas from celebrity mom Vanessa Lachey, visit

Want to win your own product package and brandSAVER®? Enter below! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We received products from P&G for our review. We received no further compensation  for this post. All opinions are 100% ours.

Monday, February 11, 2013

An Inspirational Playlist for My Girls

Recent studies show that self-esteem issues for girls begin as early as age 5 (Source).  I am all too familiar with this as I've watched my oldest (age 6.5, 1st grade) compare herself to her friends since her second year of preschool.  I've watched her go in the bathroom, stand on a stool, and look at herself in the mirror...I've heard her complain that she doesn't like her hair...
For the most part, I belive both of my girls have a pretty good self esteem.  After all, my husband and I try to foster it whenever we can.  We repeatedly tell them (and try to show them) that we love them.  We tell them they are beautiful, we praise them when they succeed at things, and we encourage them (and let them know it's ok) when they fail at something.

Sometimes we struggle though.  It's hard to find just the right words or life and time get away from us and we forget that kids need encouragement every day.  I know it will be even harder as my girls grow into the teenage years.  They will rely less on me and more on their friends.  I, the mom, will be the person who "doesn't get it".  

I've often listened to the radio, heard a song, and thought to myself, "that would be a great song for my girls to listen to when they get down on themselves.  I know I would have related to it."  I got to thinking one day, "why not start them listening to these songs now?  Why not use music to tell them something that I just can't seem to put into words."  Soo...I started downloading some inspirational songs onto Nutty's MP3 player.  Mixed in with the popular hip-hop tunes are songs from past and present meant to give Nutty (and Tottie when she's allowed to play with the MP3 player) a little bit of "feel good about yourself" without her really even knowing it.

Much to my pleasure, I often hear Nutty singing along with these songs.  What she doesn't know is that she is hearing herself saying "you are beautiful" and "you are perfect".  She may not be completely conscious of it, but I hope one day when she's feeling down, she'll remember the words she sang.     

Please be WARNED: Though all of the songs in the playlist below are appropriate for young children, some of the videos are not.
So far there are 25 songs on the playlist that I have uploaded to Nutty's MP3 player.  I will continue to add to it over the years...

A little food for thought:
  • Girls with low self-esteem less likely to receive praise from parents but more criticism
  • 34% of girls with low-self esteem feel they are not good enough of a daughter.
  • 57% of girls have mothers who criticizes her looks
  • 57% of girls don’t tell mothers things about them because of they don’t want them to think bad of them (Source)
Do you sometimes use music to try to get through to your kids? What other songs would you add to this playlist? What songs would you use in a playlist for boys?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Birch Bark Valentine

Welcome to day 14, our final day, of Toys In The Dryer 14 Days of Valentines!
For the past 14 days we've brought you non-stop Valentine's posts as a celebration of this lovely Holiday.  We hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have.  Don't forget to click on the button at the end of this post to see all of our past Valentine's posts.

We have a beautiful River Birch Tree in the front of our house.  It constantly sheds bark and I am always tempted to do something with the bark.  

(Our Birch Tree after an ice storm last winter.  The limbs are heavy with ice)

I finally came up with a unique idea for the bark--Valentines!  Super cute, super easy to make, and nearly FREE!

We started by taking some bark off of our tree.  We made sure to only take bark that was already falling off so that we did not injure the tree.

Next we pealed the layers of the bark as best we could so that it wouldn't shred any further.

Then we painted a heart on the inside of the bark.  If you are doing this project, make sure you are painting on the inside as well, because Birch bark is water resistant and your paint won't stick well to the outside.

Next write a message on the bark.  (Hint: the bark can be a bit powdery so you may have to have a scribble pad next to you so that you can get the powder off your pen).

Roll up the bark and tie it with a bow.  

You've got a Birch bark Valentine!

What have you made with Birch bark?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

7 Unique Valentine Treats

Welcome to day 13 of Toys In The Dryer 14 Days of Valentines! 
From January 25 through February 7 we'll be posting non-stop Valentine's posts to celebrate this lovely holiday.
Like most Holidays, Valentine's Day has some awesome treats associate with it.  Once again, we've scoured the internet in search of some unique morsels to share with your kids.

 photo Valentinecookie.jpg
1.  Just For You Giant Valentine Cookie--Who doesn't love cookies?  Giant ones are even better!

 photo Valentines-Love-Smoothie.jpg
2.  Love Potion #9--Considering raspberries are my favorite fruit, I'll take this potion any day!

 photo playdoughcookie5.jpg
3.  Valentine Play Dough Cookie Pops--They're actually made from cookie dough but you roll it and shape it like Play Dough.

 photo heartpizza-1.jpg
4.  Heart Shaped Pizza--Almost all kids love pizza.  Add a Valentine twist by shaping it into a heart.

 photo valtreats2.jpg
5.  DIY Personalized Valentine Treats--These are sure to make any kid feel special.

 photo loveshack.jpg
6.  Love Shack--The only thing I can say is that this is WAY too cute!

 photo sweet-shirley-temple-recipe.jpg
7.  Shirley Temple--Typically a summer drink, this will add a refreshing addition to any Valentine Party.

Click on the button below to see all of our past Valentine's posts.
14 days of valentines

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pin the Heart on the Love Bug--FREE printable!

Welcome to day 12 of Toys In The Dryer 14 Days of Valentines! 
From January 25 through February 7 we'll be posting non-stop Valentine's posts to celebrate this lovely holiday.

Do your children have Valentine Parties at school? Do you have to help plan the games for the party? Though I was not involved in planning my daughter's Valentine party this year, I did come up with a great game to help fill some time. It's a spin off of the old classic "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" but this time it's "Pin the Heart on the Love Bug!"
If you want to play Pin the Heart on the Love Bug at your school party or even at home with your kids, you'll need:
  • 4 pieces of white 8.5 x 11 paper
  • 1 piece of pink or red paper
  • A bandana to use as a blind fold
  • Tape
  • Scissors

Start by clicking each quarter of the love bug photo above to download all of them.  Once downloaded, print them, then tape them together to form one large love bug like the first picture. You may have to trim off some border before taping together.

Next, click on the hearts above to download them.  Once downloaded, print them onto the pink or red paper and cut them out.  Put each child's name on a heart to tell them apart.

Now it's time to play the game and have some fun!

1)  Hang the large love bug on a wall at the height of the children's shoulders.
2)  Give each child a heart with a piece of tape on it.
3)  Form a line a few feet from the wall.
4)  Blindfold the first child then spin him/her three times in a circle ending with facing the love bug.
5)  The child must then walk (still blindfolded) toward the love bug and place their heart as close as they think they are to the heart on the bug.
6)  Each child takes a turn being blindfolded and placing their heart on the love bug.
7)  The closest child's heart to the heart on the bug wins!

What other forms of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" have you played?
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