Friday, September 24, 2010

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods

I turned in my chocolate covered pretzel rods for two bake sales today.  They turned out great!  It was super easy with no baking required and very few ingredients.  These are also great for parties.  This is how you make them:


  • Large Pretzel Rods
  • Milk Chocolate Chips
  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Rainbow Sprinkles
  • Cookies & Creme Sprinkles
  • Wax Paper
  1. Melt milk chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir.  If needed, microwave for intervals of 30 seconds (stirring each time) until chocolate is completely melted.
  2. Cover 1/2 of each pretzel rod with chocolate.  Sprinkle chocolate covered end with topping of choice.
  3. Let cool on wax paper until chocolate sets. 
  4. Repeat above steps with white chocolate and cookies & creme sprinkles.
  • Only put enough chocolate needed for sprinkles to stick on your pretzel rod.  Too much chocolate will take longer to cool and set.
  • White chocolate chips cool and set faster and harder than the milk chocolate chips.
  • Put bowl under pretzel rod when adding sprinkles.  This way you can reuse the sprinkles that don't stick to the chocolate.
  • Use pretzel bags (found in "Wilton" cake decorating section of Walmart) and curling ribbon for individual sale.  Suggested price - 75 cents.
  • If making for a school use school colors for sprinkles and/or ribbon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bake Sale Ideas

With two bake sales this weekend for our church and my son's school, I was on the search for some great bake sale ideas and recipes.  If you have some ideas you would like to share, please leave a comment below.  Here are some links that I found helpful: 

Family Circle - Sweet Success


Sunday, September 19, 2010

7-Layer Bean Dip

  • 1 can (16 oz) traditional refried beans
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix (mild)
  • 1 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup chunky salsa (mild)
  • 1 1/2 cup diced lettuce
  • 2 cups Mexican/Fiesta cheese blend
  • 1 can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • Tortilla chips for dipping
  1. Mix refried beans and taco seasoning mix in medium bowl.
  2. Spread bean mixture on bottom of 9 x 13 baking pan.
  3. Add layer of sour cream.
  4. Carefully spread salsa on top of sour cream.
  5. Evenly scatter lettuce, cheese, black olives and then tomatoes.
  6. Refrigerate until serving.
*Kick it up by using "hot" taco seasoning and salsa.  This recipe is great for parties, pot lucks and game nights.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

BBQ Ribs - Twice As Nice!


  • 4-5 Short Ribs
  • 1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray Honey Barbecue Sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spray the bottom of 9 x 13 glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place ribs in glass baking dish leaving some space between the ribs. 
  4. Pour BBQ sauce over ribs.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until meat is done to your liking.
  6. Let cool for 5 minutes, slice and then serve.
*Super easy, super fast and inexpensive!  I like to serve store bought rolls and steamed veggies. 


  • Remaining BBQ ribs (from previous recipe)
  • BBQ sauce
  • Flour Tortilla Shells
  • Shredded Cheese
  1. Slice "left-over" BBQ ribs into 1/4 - 1/2 inch strips.
  2. Place slices in tortilla shell and top with shredded cheese and more BBQ if you like.  Heat in microwave until cheese melts. 
  3. Top with lettuce to add some crunch.
  4. Roll up and you have a tasty wrap.

Traveling with Kids

Over the past couple of years our family has been blessed with lots of family trips.  However, airplane travel and road trips can get complicated with little ones in tow.  Here are some things I found helpful:

Safety First:
  • Child Restraint Systems can be tricky when it comes to flying.  Airplane seats can be pretty narrow.  So, if you choose to bring a car seat on the plane, it is best to make sure it will fit in the airplane seat before you head to the airport.  Most airlines post the width of their seats on their website or you can call to find out.  The car seat is also required to have "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft" printed on it in order to be approved by the FAA.
  • CARES is a wonderful alternative to taking a car seat.  Car seats can be big and bulky and carrying one through an airport can be frustrating.  CARES is a Child Aviation Restraint System that can be stored in a diaper bag/carry on easily.  I have personally used one and if you can afford one (or borrow one) it is totally worth it!  It is used for children 22-44 lbs.  Click here to find out more about CARES.
  • More information about child safety on airplanes click here.
In Airports/Busy Public Areas:
  • Take a Stroller for kids who may have a hard time keeping up.  You can also use the stroller to help carry light weight bags.  You can check your stroller at the gate and it will be waiting for you when you land.
  • Dress Children Brightly and in the same color if possible.  Having your child in bright colors makes it easier to spot them in a crowd.
  • Take a Picture of each child with your cell phone before travelling.  This way if they do get lost, you have a picture to show the police/security.
  • Lost and Found Temporary Tattoos come in handy if your child gets lost. 
Recommended supplies:
  • Baby Wipes and Antibacterial Wipes are great for cleaning the kids hands when there isn't a sink available.  Try using them for airplane seats and trays, restaurant tables and chairs and toys that may have fallen on the floor.  Bonus - they don't have to be checked out by airport security like hand sanitizers.
  • Baby Toy Links are perfect for keeping kids toys off the ground.  Just attach one end to the toy and the other to the child's car seat.  As my friend, Jenny, said, we don't have "go-go gadget arms" to pick up fallen toys.  Bonus - babies love to use the links themselves as toys!
  • Disposable Place Mats are great for questionable restaurant tables and airplane trays.  Choose ones with patterns like race tracks and pack a couple of matchbox cars with them to keep the kids entertained.
  • Dry Snacks like dried fruit, fruit snacks, pretzels, nuts, cereals, cookies and crackers keep from messy spills.  Make child size portions for each child.  Snack size baggies work well for older kids (those who can open and close a baggie) and small plastic bowls with lids are terrific for toddlers.  If you trust that your child can pace themselves, let them have their own stash of snacks.  Beware of sweet snacks.  Remember, your child will stuck in a car seat for some time and won't be able to burn off the sugar.
  • Sports-like Drink Bottles/ Sippy Cups help prevent spills in the car.  Be sure to keep the kids well hydrated, especially on an airplane and/or if they have a lot of salty snacks.  Remember, there are limits on what liquids you can take on a plane.  Please visit the TSA website for more information.
  • Books/Comic Books are terrific option.  If your little one can't read yet, find a book with lots of bright pictures.  Airport gift shops usually have lots of books to choose from.  Or make a special trip out to the bookstore before your trip and let your child pick out a special book for themselves.
  • Color Wonder Sets get rid of the worry that the kids with mark up the car or airplane seats while coloring.  They even have light-up markers now which would be fun for a night flight or car ride.
  • Movies/TV Shows can keep a child's attention for a while.  If you have a portable DVD player or a laptop that plays DVDs this would be a great time to use them.  You can usually find kid TV shows on DVD for a reasonable price ($5-10).
  • Video Games are great entertainment for kids.  The best part, you can find educational systems now like the Leapster and V-Smile.
For more tips on flying with your little one, check out Moneywise Baby: Flying with an Infant

No matter how you travel or how many kids are with you, it can be a fun experience for everyone if you are well prepared.  Happy and safe travels!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pokemon Birthday Party Activities

Last year for my son's 6th birthday we threw a Pokemon party.  We had 7 kids over for Pokemon fun!  I found a few crafts online that followed our theme.  The kids had  a lot fun with it and so did the parents. 

Pokeball Craft
  1. Cut out several circles in card stock.
  2. Keep enough whole circles for each guest to have two (for the base of their Pokeballs).
  3. Cut the remaining circles in half so that each Pokeball base has one half circle. 
  4. Print coloring page images of Pokemon on card stock and cut them out.
  5. The kids pick a Pokemon and color it as well as their circles and half circles.
  6. An adult staples the semi-circles on top of the Pokemon ball (covering half of it) being sure to only staple the outer edge.  This will create a pocket for their Pokemon to sit in.
  7. The kids can then color a line down the middle of their Pokeballs with a circle in the middle to resemble a real Pokeball.  There is a similar craft online - Pokeball Pocket Craft.
  1. Click here to print Pokemon Bingo cards, call cards and Pokeball markers in black and white.  (Card stock works best for this project.)
  2. Color and cut them all out.  Be sure you use the same colors on the bingo cards as you do on the call cards or the kids might get confused.  
  3. Each child gets there own bingo card and a bunch of Pokeball markers.  
  4. Put the bingo call cards in a container (I used a sandwich bag), shake them up and pull one out at a time.  Be sure all the see it.  
  5. When a child gets three markers in a row (including the FREE Pokeball in the middle) they call out BINGO and win a prize.  I had $1 coloring books and books as prizes for the winners.  We were able to play 4 rounds!  They had a blast.
Pokemon Coloring Pages

Print several coloring pages of Pokemon and leave out a bucket of crayons for guests.  Prior to the party my son and I colored a few pages and hung them up in the "party room" as decorations.  After the party we hung the pictures that were colored for and during the party in my son's bedroom.  A year later, they are still there! 
(Find more Pokemon Activities on the DLTK's Pokemon website.)  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Busy Mom Beauty Tips

What mom has time to get herself ready in the morning when she has to feed her family, make sure teeth are brushed, lunches packed, etc. But I found, the longer I was in my pajamas the more tired I was the rest of the day.  So, I decided to make the time to get ready first thing in the morning.  Once I began making time for myself, I was able to get more done and I was in a better mood.  Go figure!  If you have 15minutes, you can do it too:
  • Shower
    • You'll never have time to shower in the morning, especailly if you have preschoolers at home with you.  Shower the night before!
  • Hair 
    • Spritz your hair with water to get rid of the bedhead or use hot rollers.  Hair frizzy int he morning?  Put a little bit of styling pomade in your palm, add a splash of water to thin it out and rub it in your hands, then comb it through your hair.  Hair oily when you wake-up?  Try sprinkling a little baby powder on your roots and combing it through.  It absorbs the oil. 
    • Bobby pins are a girls best friend, no matter how short or long your hair is.  Invest in some (72 for $3.50) and take a few minutes to experiment and see what works best for you.  You'll be amazed how fast and easy it is.  Keep some in your purse for emergencies. 
  • Face 
    • Cream cleansers are great for normal and combination skin.  To help prevent blemishes choose a cleanser that has salicylic acid in it. 
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! 
    • To help slow down the aging process and protect your skin, find a moisturizer with SPF.  
  • Make-up - For a natural look minimize your make-up.  It will also help save time:
    • Under Eye Concealer - To help hide the dark circles under your eyes from sleepless nights with the baby, try Covergirl and Oil of Olay, Simply Ageless Concealer ($11).  It brightens your eyes without causing aging creases.
    • Foundation - Try applying pressed powder with a powder brush - no make-up lines and you use less.  My favorite is Covergirl's Advanced Radiance, Age-defying Pressed Powder ($8).  
    • Mascara - I love Maybelline's Great Lash Waterproof Mascara ($5).  I like the water-proof because it does not rub off on my pillow those nights I fall asleep before jumping in the shower. 
    • Blush - Covergirl's Cheekers Blush is inexpensive ($4) and has a wide variety of colors.  Love it!
    • Lip Liner and Lip Gloss - Don't want to spend the money for the "all day" lipstick?  Line your lips with lip liner then fill in your lips by lightly feathering them with lip liner.  Then apply lip gloss or chap stick for some shine. 
    • Tools - Powder brush, blush brush and eye lash curler.  That's it!
Make the time to enjoy being a woman and look good for yourself and you'll be amazed at what a difference it makes in your life.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Easy Picture Backdrop

My Mom came up with a great idea for kids parties.  At your child's next birthday party try hanging up wrapping paper on the wall as a photo backdrop.  You can use "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" wrapping paper or even better, use themed wrapping paper that is the same as the party theme.  The guests can take turns having their picture taken or cover a bigger area of the wall with the wrapping paper and take group photos.  Your wrapping paper backdrop can double as party decorations too!  Have fun!

Toy Story Birthday Party

In August, I threw a Toy Story party for my son that turned 5.  It was super easy to put together.  I cheated with a few things and bought kits from Walmart.  This was perfect for all our guests which included 14 kids and 12 parents. 
  • Invitations
    • I got them from Walmart but, you can create your own on your computer or find some free to print online like here:  Toy Story Party Invitations
  • Decorations
    • "Ready to Play" Toy Story sign (from Walmart)
    • White and blue streamers and balloons - I used the ones I had left over from last year's birthday parties.
    • Toy Story Posters - I colored a few sheets of the large Toy Story coloring pages the kids already had.  The kids were supposed to help color but were too excited about the party to sit still long enough.  I should have planned to do it earlier than the day of the party.
  • Activities
    • Outside Play - It was a beautiful summer day and we had a new play set in our backyard. So, most of the time the kids were outside. I had a basket full of bubbles, sidewalk chalk and Frisbees for the kids to play with. I also gathered some balls and asked another parent to bring a couple of balls.  The kids had a blast.
    • Buzz Lightyear Paper Airplanes - When the afternoon summer showers rolled in, the kids came inside and colored some paper airplanes I found online on the Family Fun website. I printed an airplane for each child and put a bucket full of crayons in the middle of the table. The kids loved it.
  • Food
    • Star Shaped PB&J's-  I used a star cookie cutter (to resemble Woody's star shaped sheriff's badge) and a plastic bottle cap for the circle cut out of the top star.  (All the extra bread crusts were used at our local duck pond the next day.)  For those little ones who couldn't eat peanuts yet, I used blueberry cream cheese.
    • Little Ham/Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches - They were made with Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, white American and American cheese.  Mayo and mustard were put out beside the tray.
    • Fruit Platter - Orange slices, watermelon, grapes, strawberries and blueberries sprinkled on top with vanilla yogurt for dipping.
    • Veggie Tray - Carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and black olives sprinkled over tray.  Dill vegetable dip in the center.
    • Toy Story Fruit Snacks
    • Goldfish - The colorful ones make it more fun and a Toy Story paper cup was used as a scoop.
  • Drinks
    •  Capri Suns, bottle waters and 2 liter sodas - We had Capri Suns kept cool in the fridge and bottled water in a cooler in the backyard.  We also had a few 2 liters of soda (mostly decaffeinated).
  • Dessert
    • Rocket Cakes - I found a 2 pan Rocket Cake kit at Walmart.  It came with Toy Story cake toppers.  I frosted the cake, put the topper on and put coordinating sprinkles along the edges. 
    • Cupcakes - Also at Walmart, I found Toy Story cupcake liners with matching toothpick toppers.
  • Goody Bags
    • Walmart has a kit for these too!  They come with 8 goody bags and 5 Toy Story goodies for each bag.  But you could easily make your own with a trip the your local dollar store.
  • Links for more Toy Story Party Ideas