Easy DIY Kids Activities, Edible Birds Nests

Denver Botanic Gardens.
Edible Birds Nests as pictured in DMagazine.

Egg-cellent Spring Kids Activity

We’re all washing our hands like crazy, so sticky, marshmallow-y hands are no problem! After School Enrichment kids in grades 3-5 enjoyed creating their own Spring-y, Easter-y birds nests. Because this is a messy project, I didn’t take many photos of my students’ nests; credit must be given to D Magazine’s Jessica Jones for some of the project photos.

The process is the same as making Rice Krispies Treats, only with the chow mein noodles subbing in for cereal. The measurements quoted here yield about 12 cupcake-sized nests, or one really huge nest that would be about the right size for a real bunny, if bunnies sat in nests.

Gather ingredients.
Mold chow mein/melted marshmallow mixture into a cupcake tin.
Once the Birds Nests have hardened in the fridge, pop them out of the cupcake tin and fill with jellybean eggs.
A teeny-tiny nest with one egg is perfect as a cupcake topper. 
EDIBLE NESTS RECIPE (yields about 12 cupcake-sized nests)
Ingredients:

•1/4 cup butter

•3 cups marshmallows

•5 cups chow mein noodles (Rice Krispies could be used, too.)

•Cooking spray

•Candy to fill nests

Directions:

1. Melt butter and marshmallows together over medium-low heat. Remove from heat.

2. Add chow mein noodles, and mix til combined.

3. Spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray, as well as your fingers. Mold the mixture into nest shapes in the cupcake tin.

4. Place in freezer for at least an hour. Remove nests using a knife.

5. Fill with your choice of candy.

Source: DMagazine

Little Shop of Horrors, Off Broadway

A Sun Star plant along with Brussels sprouts and cabbages welcome theatre goers. "Audrey II's" and photo care of my friend Lynn.
Plants, cabbages, and Brussels sprouts welcomed theater goers when my youngest daughter performed in her middle school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

Westside Theatre, Off Broadway

Lucky me, I’ve had a chance to see several shows in Manhattan recently, and the darkest, funniest award goes to LSOH, the 1982 musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and revived by Michael Mayer.

“A certain carnivorous plant has been repotted in Hell’s Kitchen, and I am delighted to report that it’s thriving there,” reviewed Ben Brantley for The New York Times.

[LSOH], staged in a 270-seat theater, restores the show to its original scale and sensibility, reminding us of the special potency of grisly things that come in small, impeccably wrapped packages.

Working with an ace design team, Mayer heightens the show’s classic pulp elements, its aura of low-rent noir splashed with flecks of blood-red.

The Corman film of “Shop” was, like many horror and sci-fi flicks of the Eisenhower years, a fable of the atomic age, playing to a nation’s fears of science run amok. This triumphantly revitalized musical has its own sly message for an era in which celebrity is regarded as a constitutional right:

Embrace fame at your peril. It’s a killer.

My youngest daughter was an Urchinette in her middle school’s production of the show. In keeping with the plant-out-for-blood theme, another mom and I baked and decorated 100 Audrey II cupcakes for the cast party. Fun!

Creative Cupcakes

Here’s how we made edible “Audrey II’s,” the mysterious man-eating plant.

Step 1.  Gather your ingredients.  Rather than make fondant from scratch, we used Fondarific. Supplies included cake mix, baking cups, canned icing, Wilton icing, food coloring, rubber gloves, romaine lettuce, spoons,wax paper, Wilton Decorating Bags and Tips, Swedish Fish candy and Cake Boxes.

Icing and Fondarific.
Icing and Fondarific.
Baking cups and food coloring.
Baking cups and food coloring.

 

 

 

 

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Step 2.  Prepare fondant decorations.  After the Fondarific was warmed and softened, rubber gloves were donned, and food coloring was mixed in by hand.  Small balls of fondant were pressed onto spoons. Then romaine leaves rubbed onto fondant created leaf impressions.  After carefully lifting fondant leaves off of spoons, they were layered with wax paper and left to set.  (I put them in a container covered with foil, not refrigerated, overnight.)  The leaves needed to be stiff enough to stand up, but pliable enough to form LSOH’s man-eating plant.

Add food coloring to icing and softened fondant.
Soften fondant.  *Put on rubber gloves BEFORE blending food color into it.
Form leaves--or whatever shape you want--and let them set a bit.
Form leaves–or whatever shape you want–and let them set.

 

 

 

 

 

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Step 3.  Bake cupcakes according to package directions. Food coloring was also mixed with vanilla canned icing then spread on cooled cupcakes.  Icing the cupcakes kept them fresh while the fondant leaves set overnight and formed a base to work on.

Bake cupcakes.
Bake cupcakes.
Ice cupcakes once they've cooled.
Ice cupcakes once they’ve cooled.

 

 

 

 

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Step 4.  Assemble Audrey II’s (or whatever decoration goes with your theme).  Lynn said that, though the canned icing was good for a base, the stiffer Wilton icing made better leaves surrounding the “plants” and fangs on the Audrey II’s.  She used Wilton Tip #103 to form surrounding leaves and Tip #4 for the fangs.  Mini Swedish Fish candies became tongues.  Eww and yum!

Assemble cupcake decorations.
Assemble cupcake decorations.

IMG_7206

 

"Whatever you do, don't feed the plants!"
“Whatever you do, don’t feed the plants!”
Headed to the cast party.
Cupcakes with bite!

 

DIY Desk Makeover

When one of my daughters said she’d like a desk for her Manhattan apartment, I said, “Pick one.” Stored in our attic were two dark wood desks. She chose Hubby’s childhood desk, and our mother-daughter project commenced. After the desk and its coordinating chair were painted, waxed, and cured, they were moved to their new home in Manhattan. The makeover was complete when the desk was dressed up with new handles.

The secret to this DIY project? Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, a quick drying paint that covers furniture without priming or sanding, and Clear Chalk Paint Wax, which seals the paint. I used the same products to re-finish three different colored wood dressers and a night table, as seen in the post DIY Bedroom Makeover.

Re-painting furniture is so easy, quick and satisfying! Shout out to my brother who says he and his kids pick a piece of furniture to re-paint every summer.

Hon, have you re-finished furniture recently? What were you working on and what paint or stain did you use?

Hon, I’m always interested in more DIY ideas!

Hannah painting white over dark wood.
The city desk.

DIY Paris-Inspired Terrariums

Beautiful terrariums on a table in the Maison Astor Paris.

At our chic hotel Maison Astor Paris, a tabletop arrangement of terrariums inspired me to make my own. I bought large and medium-sized glass globes and succulents to add to the vessels and plants I already had at home. I also picked up small, white rocks, soil and moss. On a walk, I found fallen pine boughs and plan to scatter tiny pine cones around the succulents. Guess what’s doubling as Thanksgiving centerpieces?

Happy indoor gardening, hon!

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Charming and Comfortable Hotel Tardif in Bayeux, France

This gorgeous courtyard leads to the main entrance.

Hôtel Tardif, Noble Guesthouse in Bayeux, France

gets my vote as the most charming place I’ve ever stayed!

Hubby and I arrived in Bayeux early in the morning after crossing the English Channel on a ferry. Friends had recommended Hôtel Tardif (shout out to Deb and Dave) and, right away, owner Anthony Voidie welcomed us, answered our questions, and even had our room prepared earlier than anticipated. After a delicious breakfast (think crêpes, croissants, and amazing coffee), we were ready to explore the town. But wait, there was so much to see in the guest house and grounds. Hubby had to convince me to leave since I was enamored of the decorating details and, hon, you know I love details! The fireplace, the fabrics, the fresh flowers…oh so lovely!

From the hotel’s website:

 Enjoy the priviledge of a stay in a  historic monument dating of the 18th century, in the heart of  medival Bayeux.

   Our guest house of charm is nestled in the former park of the botanist Moisson de Vaux, where many species like Magnolias were first acclimated in Europe. A peaceful location, between the Bayeux Tapestry museum, the cathedral, many restaurants bars and shops.

If you want more autonomy you can also opt for one of our  furnished tourism accomodation located on the street.

  You can easily reach the famous landing beaches, Omaha Beach, Arromanches, the Caen Memorial, Honfleur, Le Mont-Saint-Michel.

     This private mansion reflects a glorious past with its wood paneling, fireplaces in marble, a remarkable staircase, some rare centuries old trees …  

 

Patriotic Checkerboard Cake

I inherited a checkerboard cake pan set from my mother-in-law after commenting how great her checkerboard cakes were. Truth be told, I used the set once and then put it away, only re-discovering it recently. I decided to bake a red, white and blue cake and, though it was yummy, it wasn’t the prettiest! I guess that means I’ll have to try it again.

If you want to try to bake a checkerboard cake, click here to find sets online.

Happy baking, hon!

Assemble layers with icing and ice the cake. Enjoy!

Grad Party Decor Roundup

We thought we’d have to host the party on an ark–as in Noah’s, but the rain actually stopped, the grass dried up (mostly), and the weather was lovely–yay!

 

Family pic.

Related Posts:

DIY Graduation Party Photo Backdrop, Graduation Party Theme: Chalkboard, Graduation Cookies

DIY Graduation Party Photo Backdrop

Giant Chalkboard

I was inspired by grad party photo backdrops on Pinterest and decided to make my own. Here’s how:

Supplies

  • 4′ x 8′ particleboard
  • roll of black paper
  • staple gun
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • chalk markers, thick and thin
  • tassels

Directions

  1. Staple gun black paper to particleboard.
  2. Using ruler, pencil in border, then color in with thick chalk marker.
  3. Find chalkboard alphabet online to use as inspiration. Pencil in “Congratulations,” then outline and fill in with thin chalk marker.
  4. Add “Class of 2019” (or appropriate year)
  5. Staple gun tassels to board.

One more thing you need…

A stepladder!

Graduation Party Theme: Chalkboard

Selfie Station. Cut a window out of a Foam Core Poster, add a chalkboard panel with the year, and provide fun selfie props.

Need a cool graduation party theme?

“Chalkboard” is the theme for the party I’m throwing my youngest. Chalk markers (purchased at Michael’s)and black cardstock are all you need. Find a “chalk alphabet” online to use an inspiration, pencil in letters, then outline with the markers and fill in with hatching.

Candy Bar:

Labels for the Candy Bar: Create small labels for candy containers. Honor Roll for Tootsie Rolls, Coloring for Gummy Crayons, Phys Ed for Chocolate Sports Balls, B-Day Treats for Mini Rice Krispie Treats, and Snack Time for Fruity Chews.

Centerpieces

Black ribbon with chalk letters: Wrap ribbon around mason jars and secure with hot glue. I layered the “ABC” ribbon over burlap-wrapped jars I’d made for previous parties. What’s going inside? Yellow Gerbera Daisies.

More party decor and details on the way…

Graduation Cookies

It’s that time of year!

Graduation is less than a week away and there’s so much to do and so little time! One of my daughters suggested that I not bake cap and diploma cookies but, hon, how could I throw a graduation party and ignore those cookie cutters?! They were  calling my name!

These sugar cookies can be baked ahead of time, frozen, then defrosted and decorated or the decorated cookies can be frozen. Tip: Store decorated cookies, with wax paper in between the layers, in a airtight container.

Happy baking, hon!

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe 

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (I used margarine to make recipe non-dairy)

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 egg

2-3 teaspoons flavoring such as vanilla or almond

2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar.
  3. Crack egg into a separate bowl and add flavoring. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until egg is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, then add the dry mixture, little by little, to the butter/sugar mixture. (Tip-a paddle attachment works well. Dough will by sticky.)
  5. If the dough is too sticky, refrigerate until it stiffens.
  6. Roll out on parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thick, using flour for dusting as necessary. Cut and bake for 7 – 8 minutes.

Yield: 2 – 2 1/2 dozen cookies. The recipe doubled will yield approximately 4 -5 dozen.

Notes:  Baking times are approximate so watch the cookies. If they are browning, they’ve been in a little too long.

Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

3 Tablespoons of meringue or dried egg white powder

6 Tablespoons warm water

Beat about 4 minutes by hand. Thin icing, if needed with extra tablespoons of warm water.

Add color in small amounts. (Tip–it’s easier to darken a color than lighten it.)

Related posts: DIY Graduation Party (Party Prep Step-by-Step)American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies, Melted Snowman Cookies, Cookie Crazy, DIY Party Favors, Character Driven Gingerbread Cookies