Friday, June 22, 2012

Please Don't Eat Shawna the Sheep

I'm helping out in Primary teaching a group of 7 year old children.  They love games and I've found that doing a game half way through helps them to be more involved in the lesson.  This week's lesson is Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd (Primary 2, Lesson 23).  I always check Sugardoodle for lesson helps and there are several for this lesson.  One of the ideas is a link to the March 2001 Friend, "For Little Friends" section.  There are two games at the bottom of the page, one of which is "Please Don't Eat Shawna the Sheep".  I can remember playing "Don't Eat Pete" when I was younger, so this game will already to be familiar to some.  I used the illustration from the Friend and created my own game board for the class.  If you would like a copy, then click on the image, download and print from your computer (personal use only).  I'll probably laminate mine and keep it in the Primary lesson binder.  This would also be a good addition to Family Home Evening, especially since it can be played with all ages.

Here are the instructions for the game: Lay the sheep on a flat surface. Then place a small candy on each sheep. One family member leaves the room while everyone else chooses one sheep to be Shawna. The person comes back and begins to eat the candies one at a time. When the person tries to eat Shawna, everyone yells, “Don’t eat Shawna!” That person’s turn is over. Replace the eaten candies and let someone else have a turn.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nuts About Dad Bow Tie Tutorial

 I'm happy to finally have a tutorial done for the good 'ole, neglected blog.  It is just in the nick of time for Father's Day.  There are so many good ideas out there for Father's Day.  We had a project day with our Webelos Scouts earlier in the month and presented them with a couple of gifts they could make including the Best Daddy Ever Beans, Hugs & Kisses Jar, and A "Tie-riffic" Card.  They were some of my favorite Father's Day gift ideas.

Fast forward to this week, I've been helping out in Primary lately and in preparation for my lesson I decided that we would do a gift for the enrichment activity at the end.  I wanted something that was interactive, but not too intensive (due to time and attention spans).  I've seen clear bags filled with candy and tied to form a tie or bow tie.  That was part one of my inspiration.  The next part came from all of the crafts that I saw that were Nuts About You/Dad.

My end result was actually a happy accident.  Originally, I was going to make the bow tie tag and attach it to the bag with a chenille twist tie or some twine.  When I went to pick up my print order from Office Depot, they had enlarged my document to fit the page.  Of course I didn't notice until I got home.  I was a little disappointed, but I decided to not give in to my OCD side (it was only a half of an inch longer).  So I went on to gathering supplies only to find that I was out of sandwich baggies.  Seriously?!  I buy the bulk boxes of baggies at Costco and I thought I had at least one more box left.

Well, I started to think of what I could do (without a trip to the store) and I remembered I had a box of cellophane treat bags sitting on a shelf in my craft room.  It didn't take long before I was creating what you see now and I'm actually more happy with it than my original idea. 

The nuts that I made to fill the ties with are Cinnamon Almonds via One Charming Party.  They are delicious (& dairy free)!  The only thing I would change is increase the spice and pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (per comments on their blog) for extra crispiness.

Below are the free templates and tutorial for this project.  Click on the page that you want to download and a box will appear that will give you the option to save or view the file.  Once you've downloaded the file, you will be able to print from your computer.  You'll notice there are two different bow ties.  They are both modified to fit the stitching (that wasn't originally planned for) and the second one has a middle section since I ended up not attaching the tie to the bag in the center.  These are free for personal use only (meaning they can not be used for monetary gain).

Background Paper Credit: Celeste Knight

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

I made this little morsels the other day when I needed a thank you gift for a friend.  I had all the ingredients on hand and they didn't take long to make.  The only thing that I didn't like was the pretzels I had.  They were butter flavored and I would have preferred plain ones.  Next time I make them, I am going use different pretzels and put more filling in each one.  The recipe I used comes from Foodiphilia.  I have slight variations in the instructions, since I generally do not like to put chocolate in a freezer or dip things into chocolate that are frozen.  When melted chocolate is put in the freezer or fridge to set up, it will accumulate moisture on the outside.  When you bring the chocolate out of the freezer the moisture will evaporate into the chocolate causing spots and sometimes change the texture.  If you are going to serve them right away, then it may not be an issue...but I try to avoid it.

I promise the next post will not be something that involves food.  I just realized I've posted all food items that have a neutral color palette.  We do eat colors around here!  Anyway, I've sewn a couple of things over the past few weeks that I want to share.  They all will include links to free patterns!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easy Agave Marshmallows

A couple years ago, I was looking for treats that didn't have highly refined sugars.  I really liked marshmallows and I was tickled pink to find a recipe for ones made with agave nectar.  They turned out beautifully on the first try and my husband even likes them better than regular marshmallows.  I started to blog about these delectable treats back in early 2009, but never published the post.

Since that time, I've experimented with variations and different flavors.  My favorite is a vanilla bean marshmallow with toasted coconut.  The agave lends a nice, subtle flavor.  It is much stronger when you first whip up a batch, but it mellows as it sets up.  I'm almost sure you could replicate this recipe with honey in place of agave, if you don't like agave or don't have any on hand.  These are really simple and easy to make if you haven't made marshmallows before.  You don't have to worry about cooking a sugar syrup to a certain degree, which also eliminates the need of a candy thermometer. 

 On a side note, there is a new recipe book out dedicated to marshmallows of all shaped and kind, called "Marshmallow Madness! by Shauna Sever".  I can't wait to get my hands on it and review it!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Who doesn't love a warm soft pretzel?  They are definitely a snack that we love around my house.  When I started making these pretzels, I would make them into bite sized pieces.  They were good, but I like them best in pretzel form.  Plus reheating them is much easier when you aren't dealing with tiny pieces.

In preparation for our upcoming Pinewood Derby (for Cub Scouts), we had our Webelos Scouts make part of the refreshment...soft pretzels.  I made a double batch of dough ahead of time and then my lovely friend/Webelos Leader brought all of the ingredients to our Den meeting, so the boys could experience measuring the ingredients and mixing the dough.

I was surprised at how involved the boys wanted to be in mixing the dough.  When it came to shaping the dough into pretzels, they caught on quick.  Even my  friend's five year old was able to produce nice looking pretzels.  It was great to have so many hands to get our 36 pretzels shaped and ready for the boil & bake.  I highly recommend getting your kids involved in making these.

One of the best things about these pretzels, besides being delicious, is that they freeze really well.  Once they have cooled, place into freezer bags and freeze.  They can be reheated in a toaster oven or conventional oven.  I toast them for about 5 minutes, but that will vary based on your toaster oven.  For conventional oven, heat oven to 425 degrees and bake for 6-8 minutes (until pretzels are heated all the way through).

After you make the recipe once, you will realize why I double the recipe and freeze the pretzels.  They are perfect snacks and everyone loves them!

P.S.  This is another recipe that the butter can be subbed with Earth Balance, for those with allergies or diet restrictions.  I've made them both ways and they are both tasty.

This recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay's recipe.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a wonderful friend, who is also my Visiting Teaching Partner & the wife of our Bishop, who makes The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies...seriously.  My husband is an aficionado of cookies (& cookie dough!) and now he has two favorite cookies; this one & his Mom's Almond Sandwich Cookies.

Since my friend's name is Catherine, my husband aptly named these cookies C4's for Catherine's Chocolate Chip Cookies and they are totally 'da bomb!  They are slightly puff with the perfect combination of chewy and a little crispy on the bottom.  It is exactly how we like our cookies.  You have to try them and then tell me how you like them.

P.S.  Make sure you have an oven thermometer, unless you know your oven well.  I've had a ton of success with all my baking once I invested in one.

P.S.S. These cookies can be made with Smart Balance or Earth Balance in place of the butter, for those that can't do butter (due to diet or allergy) and they turn out really well.  Of course butter is best, but not everyone can do butter.

2 Years Later

Life has bought me back to my neglected blog, which needs a bit of a makeover.  I'm in the midst of trying to be the best mom I can be while balancing my other passions in life.  Ahh, the joys of motherhood!