Spring Kids Craft, Edible Birds Nests

Denver Botanic Gardens.

Edible Birds Nests.

When I taught After School Enrichment classes for grades 3-5, one of the projects we made was Edible Birds Nests. I didn’t take good pictures–think sticky-from-marshmallows-hands–so credit must be given to D Magazine’s Jessica Jones for these project photos.

Edible Birds Nests are easy, fun and perfect for celebrating Spring. Need an Easter activity for a party? This one is egg-cellent!

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. (thanks, Jessica Jones, for the suggestion.)

EDIBLE NESTS RECIPE (yields about 12 cupcake-sized nests)

Ingredients:

•1/4 cup butter

•3 cups marshmallows

•5 cups chow mein noodles

•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

Dream Writing Studio/Living Area

Barn built in 1882.

Hon, you know I love to write, right?

What better place to work on my writing than in my barn? One little problem…it’s not furnished. When Hubby and I bought our Historic Victorian, it came with this barn, which had a horse stall, hayloft and a wrought iron track from which a sliding door hung. In the years since, the wheels on the track rusted, the horse stall walls rotted, and the hayloft window was nailed shut. We’ve reappointed the stone foundation, but the main floor would need a ton of TLC to make it my…

Dream Writing Studio/Living Area

The studio would have a writing area, living area, and powder room. When it gets warmer, maybe I’ll share a “design board” for my fantasy beach house.

Thanks for indulging me!

Do you have a dream living space? What would you use it for?

Sources:  Arhaus, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren Home, Restoration Hardware, Schumacher, One King’s Lane, Refresh Living

DIY Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Wrapped and ready to give out.

Wrapped and ready to give out.

Go from this…

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to this…

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in four easy steps!

Four-Step Favors

Need a quick and easy idea for favors, goodie bags or stocking stuffers? These sweet-n-salty snacks are so yummy, my family couldn’t wait to eat the duds and broken pieces.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Ingredients:

pretzel logs

chocolate discs (click here to see Wilton’s Candy Melts)

sprinkles, cookies to crush and/or sparkly sugar

wax or parchment paper

Prep:

Pour sprinkles into pans with sides. I used several 9″ x 11″ dishes for different sprinkles. Line baking dishes with wax or parchment paper so finished pretzels can dry.

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate discs in microwave according to package directions. I used several flavors and melted one flavor at a time. (Tip. I microwaved the discs a little less time than recommended and stirred to finish melting the discs. Over doing it in the microwave causes the chocolate to get “sandy” and then it’s not usable.)
  2. Spoon melted chocolate over half a pretzel log.
  3. Immediately either roll the chocolate part in the sprinkles or spoon the sprinkles on top of the chocolate. Rolling is more efficient, but the melted chocolate drips into the sprinkles and makes the sprinkles globby. I ended up spooning decorations on top of chocolate.
  4. Line pretzels up on baking dish to dry. Drizzle melted chocolate over the bare half of the pretzel.

After all the pretzels are decorated, refrigerate them until the chocolate has hardened. Since I made these at night, I refrigerated them overnight (although they’d probably be fine in an hour) and wrapped them the next morning.

Melt chocolate in microwave.

1. Melt chocolate discs in microwave.

Spoon chocolate over half of each pretzel, then spoon sprinkles over melted chocolate.

2. Spoon chocolate over half of each pretzel.  3. Spoon sprinkles over melted chocolate.

 

 

 

 

 

Line pretzel logs on a baking sheet. Crushed cookies and sugar were used as well as sprinkles.

4. Line pretzel logs on a baking sheet. Crushed cookies and sparkly sugar were used as well as sprinkles.

Drizzle melted chocolate over bare half of pretzels.

4 continued. Drizzle melted chocolate over bare half of pretzels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These were such a hit, I’ll definitely be making them again!

Happy Holidays, hon!

American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies

Hostess gifts idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

DIY Hostess gift idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. These funky melamine dishes are from SEED387. Wrap cookies in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

Need a patriotic-themed kid activity? Or are you in the mood to bake? Either way, enjoy this re-post.

Hon, you know what I like about a holiday besides spending time with family and friends?

 The built-in theme!

One of my daughters and I had fun taking the American flag colors to the extreme.  We baked red, white and blue sugar cookies and cupcakes.  Click here for sugar cookie and Royal Icing recipes.  My daughter decorated with flags while I tried my hand at tie dye effects. I used a toothpick to “drag” two or three icing colors from the center out, then swirled with the toothpick to create a tie dye look.

Patriotic Cookies

Patriotic Cookies.

Tie Dye effect.

Tie Dye effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Coloring on cookies.

Coloring on cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baking Day continued with red, white and blue cupcakes. 

We were inspired by Ziploc Bag’s Patriotic Piped Tri-Colored Cupcakes, but they turned out to be more challenging than they looked.  So, we abandoned our pastry bags and spooned the colored batter into baking cups.  The result?  Still patriotic, fun and delicious.

*Tip:  Wear plastic gloves because colored batter is messy and stains.

1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl vanilla.

2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl plain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3. Transfer three bowls of batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored strips.

3. Spoon batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored stripes.

 

 

4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags at all.

4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags.

 

 

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5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

 

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

American Flag Fun!

American Flag Fun!

DIY Graduation Party, Words of Wisdom

Proud of our grads!

Proud of our grads!

Miles of milestones.

Our Words of Wisdom Box was inspired by Advice Boxes on Pinterest. After the graduation party, one of my daughters Tweeted, “”Last night my backyard was basically a Pinterest board.” What can I say? I love a party and I love a theme. If I can combine both, even better!

Words of Wisdom Box

Supplies:

shoebox, wrapping paper, Exacto knife, index cards, scissors, pens, sign, frame, basket or other vessel

Instructions:

  1. Wrap a shoebox in wrapping paper.
  2. Cut index cards in half.
  3. Cut a slit in top of shoebox long enough to slip index cards through.
  4. Make a Words of Wisdom sign. (“Give advice to our new graduates.”)
  5. Set up box, pens, index cards and sign.
  6. Invite guests to be creative.
Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Words to live by.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

“Remember there are a thousand things you haven’t done yet.”

“Believe in yourself. Dream. Try. Do Good.
“Stay true to who you are.”

“Be confident. You are both great. (No tattoos!)”

“Always say yes to opportunities.”

“Never give up!”

“Find something to be thankful for every day.”

“Be a better student. Nevermind, you already graduated!”

 

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guests know where to drop their words of wisdom.

DIY Graduation Party, S’mores Station

Dessert Table.

Dessert Table.

What’s a party without dessert?

Set up a Make-Your-Own-S’mores station. Surround mini burners with marshmallows and graham crackers lined with chocolate.

Do you toast your marshmallow until its lightly-browned or burnt-to-a-crisp? These are important decisions!

One side of the S'mores station.

The graham cracker and chocolate side of the S’mores station.

The marshmallow side of the S'mores station.

The marshmallow side of the S’mores station.

S'more Cupcakes made by The Jersey Smore.

S’more Cupcakes made by The Jersey S’more. These are no ordinary cupcakes. Under the chocolate coating is a s’more. Yum!

Related Posts:

DIY Graduation Party, Step-by-Step Prep

DIY Graduation Party, Cookie Favors

DIY Graduation Party, Mason Jar Centerpieces

DIY Graduation Party, Outdoor Decor

DIY Graduation Party, Selfie Station

Sources: In Thyme Catered Events and The Jersey S’more Company

 

 

 

DIY Graduation Party, Selfie Station

The church bells rang as I took this picture!

Church bells rang in celebration!

Polaroid-Inspired Pics

A Selfie Station is a fun idea for any celebration. Set it up and say, “Cheese!”

Selfie Station How To

  1. Gather supplies: hot glue gun, large piece of foam board or tag board, Exacto knife, photo props (At Michael’s, we found a kit with die-cut graduation props), container to stand props in, large sheet or towel, pushpins, markers.
  2. Assemble props by hot-gluing props to dowels. Stand in a container.
  3. Cut a “window” out of the foam board. Decide if your giant photo frame will be landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) and, using Exacto knife, cut out a large “window” in the middle. Leave a larger band of foam board along the bottom.
  4. Personalize the bottom of your giant photo frame.
  5. Set up a backdrop. Hang a sheet or towel as a backdrop. Keep the sides in place with push pins. (Tip. I tapped each pin with a small hammer, making the backdrop extra secure.)
  6.  Hand write or print out a Selfie Station sign. Place the sign along with props next to the backdrop.
Hot-glue dowels to back of die-cut props.

Hot glue dowels to back of die-cut props.

Fun photo props.

Fun photo props.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut out middle of foam or tag board, leaving a larger space at the bottom for personalization.

Cut a “window” out of the foam board, leaving a large space at the bottom for personalization.

Using pushpins, secure asheet or towel as a backdrop. Set up photo area.

Use pushpins to secure a sheet or towel to the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let guests know where the Photo Booth is with a sign.

Set up the Selfie Station by the backdrop, including props and a sign.

Me and my Muhlenberg grad.

Me and my Muhlenberg grad.

My college girlfriends' daughters and mine.

My college girlfriends’ daughters and my Plus One. How fun!

 Related Posts on a DIY Graduation Party: 

Party Prep, Step-by-StepCookie Favors, Mason Jar Centerpieces, Outdoor Decor

DIY Graduation Party, Outdoor Decor

Drinks table.

Set up one table for drinks.

Backyard BBQ

It was hot and humid, but it didn’t rain!

I recently posted about Party Prep, and how to create your own Mason Jar Centerpieces and Graduation Hat and Diploma Cookie Favors. If your (graduation, Father’s Day or other milestone) party is approaching, here are some tips and pics on setting up your celebration.

Black and white tablecloths with check napkins said "BBQ, graduation and dressy casual."

Pick colors that set the mood. Black and white tablecloths with check napkins say “BBQ, graduation and dressy casual.”

An old barn crate turned on its side set off the wine.

Turn a crate on its side and add burlap to set off wine bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tie a banner for a banner year. We downloaded this banner from Lil Sprout (Greetings), printed it on card stock, cut it out and assembled it.

Tie a banner for a banner year. We downloaded this banner from Lil Sprout (Greetings), printed it on card stock, cut it out and assembled it.

String party lights across wooden stakes delineating the celebration space.

String party lights across wooden stakes delineating the celebration space.

Party lights were also strung along a stone wall.

Set up Tiki torches to keep mosquitoes away and also provide light.

Add tea lights and citronella candles to the tables. The caterer used wooden blocks to raise small flower arrangements.

Add tea lights and citronella candles to the tables. The caterer used wooden blocks to raise small flower arrangements.

Shout out to In Thyme Catered Events who provided the food and great set-up and service.

Happy party planning, hon!

DIY Graduation Party, Mason Jar Centerpieces

Mason jar centerpieces.

Mason jar centerpieces.

I admit it. I love mason jars!

I’ve decorated mason jars in the past and will use them again in the future. I collected centerpiece ideas on Pinterest, then Grad #1 and I put ours together.

Graduation Party Mason Jar Centerpieces How-To

  1. Figure out how many mason to use, and use your own or purchase jars at a craft store.
  2. Measure diameter of jars to figure out how much burlap, or other trim, will be needed. I decided to use a wide burlap ribbon on a tall mason jar to balance the size of the pennants.
  3. Design pennants and print out on card stock. My in-house graphic design guy, aka Hubby, used Adobe Illustrator. There are also sites that offer free, downloadable graduation designs. We found a variety of graduation designs on the site Lil Sprout (Greetings).Cut out pennants.
  4. Hot-glue dowels to back of pennants. Trim pennants to desired height with garden clippers.
  5. Decide on additional decorations. Red Gerber Daisies were a must for our centerpieces, and we added foam graduation sticker-decorated dowels. (Tip: I ran out of dowels but created new ones by hot-gluing craft sticks together. Call me resourceful!)
  6. Weight the mason jars and anchor the pennants with glass marbles. (Tip: I added a small amount of water to each jar so the Gerber Daisies wouldn’t wilt.)
  7. Set tables and enjoy!
Pennants printed on card stock and dowels.

Pennants printed on card stock and dowels.

Decide on which width ribbon works on what size jar.

Choose ribbon based on size of jars.

Measure and cut burlap ribbon.

Measure and cut burlap ribbon.

 

Wrap burlap ribbon around jar and hot glue ends together.

Wrap burlap ribbon around jar and hot glue ends together.

DIY Graduation Party, Cookie Favors

Fun favors!

Favors ready to hand out. I tied (so punny!) the black and white check theme to the cookie colors and ribbon.

Graduation Hats.

Graduation Hats.

Diplomas.

Diplomas.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun Favors! 

Throwing a party? You might think favors would be last on the list of things to take care of, but if you plan on handing out cookies, make them in advance. They’re a lot of work, but worth it. Trust me!

Sugar cookies can be baked ahead of time and frozen, then defrosted and decorated OR the finished cookies can be frozen. Either way, set aside time if you are going to bag and wrap them.

Shout out to Michele Schonhorn, who showed me how to make the icing smoother and outline the design. Her sugar cookie recipe is slightly different than mine so I’m listing it here. Shout out also to my assistant baker, none other than Graduate #1.

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. 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:  The dough DOES not need to be refrigerated, but it does need to rest a little after mixing. It will firm up a bit after a minute or two. 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