Featuring: Stars on a Stick

I found this fun idea at How Does She? for Stars on a Stick.   The idea originally came from Kraft Foods.  What kid doesn't like a yummy rice krispy treat and better yet, a rice krispy treat on a stick...with sprinkles!

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Featuring: Chocolate Mousse Crunch Cake

I recently found a food blog with some very yummy looking food!  There are sooo many recipes that I want to try.  It's called Our Best Bites.  You probably already know about it and have already been salivating over all of the delicious food they are making.  If not, it's definately one that I would recommend taking a look at.

For Father's Day I thought I'd try this recipe for Chocolate Mousse Crunch Cake
 Doesn't it look absolutely heavenly? 
(picture from Our Best Bites)
How could I resist this?

The directions were excellent and it went together pretty well for my first time making it.  I used dark chocolate chips because that's what my hubby likes and afterall it was made in his honor, right?  I wasn't sure how much of the ganache to spread on the top so I just kept spreading it on.  It was probably more than I should have, but it ended up tasting really good!  This cake is at the top of the list of our families favorites. 

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How to Make a Palm Tree

Are you having a luau this summer?  Are you looking for a cheap yet impressive way to decorate?  Then you may want to make yourself one of these:

...or two or three!

They are really quite simple to make and the best part is that these trees were FREE!  They actually ended up costing me nothing to make because I used what I already had.  I apologize that I don't have pictures of the process, but I think you can look at them and get a pretty good idea of how they are made.

The Trunk
1.  Start with the center tube (12 ft. long) of a roll of carpet.  A local business gave us two of them at no cost.  They would throw them away anyway. 

2.  The first roll was cut at 8ft. using a small hand saw.  This left me with a 4 ft. piece that was used to make the shorter palm tree on the table.

3.  The second tube was cut at 10ft.  Since we didn't need to worry about ceiling height we could make them tall.  They even fit in the back of a van to get them to the church.

4.  We used regular sized brown paper lunch sacks for the trunk.  Start by cutting the bottoms off of the sacks then crinkle the sacks up (this adds texture to the trunk).  Slide a sack over the tube from the top to the bottom of the trunk.  Staple or tape the sack in place around the tube at the very bottom of the trunk.  Take the next sack and slide it from the top to the bottom and then over the first sack about 2 inches or so.  Turn the bottom of the sacks under an inch or so to create the look of the lines on the trunk (the bottom of the sack is not taped, only the top).  Repeat these steps until you get to the top of the trunk.

5.  The top sack is a larger size sack.

6.  To finish it off between the small sack and the large sack at the top of the trunk, cut a strip of brown paper about 2" wide and long enough to go around the tube.  Cut slits in it every 1/2 inch.  Wrap it around the tube and tape it in place.  Curl up the ends of the fringe after you paint it.

7.  Make your base (so your have something to keep the trunk stable) and then paint.  I used a dark brown craft paint and a sponge brush.  Just lightly brush the sacks to create the look that you want.  I really had a lot of fun with the painting.  I felt so artistic!

The Base
I wish that I had a picture of how we did this.  I hope these directions make sense.

1.  We used scrap 2x4's and plywood to make the base.

2.  Cut a piece of plywood to about 3 ft. square.  Cut a 2x4 about 3ft. long (make sure it will fit inside your tube, you may need to trim the width down some).  There are two ways that you can attach the 2x4 to the plywood:  You can screw through the plywood and into the bottom of the 2x4, or you can attach brackets to the side of the 2x4 and the top of the plywood.  Is this clear as mud?  I hope you are understanding!

3.  Slide your tube trunk onto the 2x4 and it will now stand.

The Fronds
Now this is where I had to get creative.  We were working on a budget and wanted to make the trees as cheap as possible.  I thought of using paper, but it would cost more than we wanted to spend to make that many fronds.  I ended up using green plastic tablecloths.  We already had them from a previous activity and they worked great! 

1.  Make a pattern with an old newspaper for your fronds.  I made a smaller pattern for the short tree and the top 2 fronds in the tall trees and a large pattern for lower fronds on the large trees.

2.  Cut the fronds out of the plastic tablecloths.

3.  The fronds will need support.  I cut 1 1/2" wide strips of  very sturdy cardboard and taped them to the back of the fronds with packing tape.  Leave a length of cardboard for the stem (about 8-10). 

4.  Cut slits all around the plastic on the leaves.  I cut them the lenghth of a kids size of scissors and about 1 1/2" apart. 

My leaves by no means looked perfect.  They are up so tall, that it really doesn't matter if everything is cut straight and even.

1. Cut a paper sack open.

2.  Crinkle it up.

3.  Wrap it around something round.  (styrafoam ball, baseball, etc.)  This helps you shape the coconut.  Crinkle up grocery sacks and stuff them in the center of the paper.

4.  Wrap tape around the ends of the sack to hold it closed and then paint them.

5.  When dry, take three coconuts and hook them together with large safety pins or whatever you have.

6.  Tape them to a bamboo skewer.

1.  Place enough pieces of green floral foam in the top of the trunk so it is secure.

2.  Tape bamboo skewers to the cardboard stem on the fronds if your cardboard is not sturdy enough to push into the foam.

3.  Push the stems into the foam to place each fronds.

4.  Bend the cardboard down to form a curve in the frond.

5.  Attach the coconuts by sticking the skewers in the foam.

Okay, so maybe these can take a bit of time to make, but it was soooo worth it!  If you have fun doing these sorts of things it won't seem like work at all.

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Featuring: Pop Up Pancakes

I came across a recipe at Make And Takes for Pop UP Pancakes a few months ago and it is a BIG HIT with my kids.  It is basically German Pancakes cooked in muffin tins.  It has become somewhat of a ritual now to make them for our Saturday breakfast, but we have even had them for dessert.

(picture by Make and Takes)

We usually top them with fresh sliced strawberries and syrup, yummy!

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1001 Uses For Vinegar!

Last year we replaced our bathroom counter with a black faux granite looking laminite counter top.  For the first few weeks it looked so shiny and new and then around the sink it started looking white.  With four kids it's virtually impossible to keep the area around the sink dry. I didn't know if it was just hard water build up or if  the cleaner was possibly scratching my brand new counter.   I ran a search on the internet and found a tip to use a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water to clean hard water off of laminate. 

Here is the before...

And the after...

I realize that the pictures are terrible, so you may have to just take my word for it!  I am amazed at how well something so simple as vinegar and water can cut through the hard water deposits, although there are some spots that I will have to go over again. 

I wondered, what else I could use vinegar for.  Would you believe that there is a whole website dedicated to using vinegar!  It's called 1001 Uses For White Distilled Vinegar and you can link to it here.  Who knew?  

Here's a tip for shining pennies:

Shine pennies by soaking them for a couple of hours or overnight in a glass or bowl of undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Now I may not be so particular that my pennies need to be shiny, but I bet my kids would have fun giving it a try!

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Featuring: Flip-Flops A Flyin'

Today I bought my 3 year old his very first pair of flip-flops.  I was nervous to spend the money on them because I had no idea if he'd even be able to keep them on his feet.  I just happened to come across this post at Shannon Makes Stuff on how to make a strap to keep those little feet in their shoes.

(Picture is from www.shannonmakesstuff.com)

I think it looks like it would work well.  So...if he starts to run and those flip-flops go a flyin' I know now how to fix them, and I find that fabulous!

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Featuring: Repurposed Shirt and a Simple Headband

I think this idea for a girls shrug over at
Make It and Love It is so fun and practical too! 

(picture is from www.makeitandloveit.com)

I'm thinking of all of my youngest daughter's shirts that are stained and even the ones that are too short on her, that I could make into shrugs.   That is if I can just find the will to get my sewing machine out!  They would look so cute with the skirts that I just made for her.  I'll post about those soon.

(Picture is from http://www.foofanangle.com/)

...and aren't these headbands so cute?  They would look great with the shrug and the skirt.  The pattern is very simple and has a detailed tutorial that is easy to follow.

I made one of each size and they were pretty simple to sew.  They work well to.  
This is a picture of the smaller band.

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