Scout Shadow Box

March 4, 2013 by Alana

My youngest redhead completed his Arrow of Light, isn’t he adorable?
Scouts 001
Many packs have a tradition of shadow boxes for the scouts crossing over. What this means is that the parents collect all of the patches, pins, ribbons and awards from the boy’s time in Cub Scouts and then glue them onto the back of a shadow box.
I’ve seen them done for Boy Scouts also. I haven’t seen many done for Girl Scouts, but if I knew where all my patches were, I’d get busy on one for myself.

I started planning this last year and found some amazing links, but nothing that talked about what adhesive they used and if they cut the pin backs off or not.

I also found this amazing medallion for Webelos Super Achiever. Since it was on our plan to get all 20 Webelos Activity Badges, I pinned the link on Pinterest for future reference.  When it came in, I was so happy with it. You can order one here
Super Achiever Medallion

I didn’t take any pictures during the making process, but the process is fairly simple.
I knew already that I was going to need a large shadow box, because we were busy scouters. When you are buying a shadow box, please keep an eye out for when they go on sale. All the major craft stores have had them on sale at various times. I got mine at JoAnn’s, 50% off and then a 20% off of total purchase coupon. Do not pay full price for a shadow box, it is unnecessary.
I laid out all the patches for what I wanted on top, put the medallion in the center below that and then placed the other stuff around it to fit.

Scout Shadow Box

We used a glue gun to stick everything to it, cut some of the pin backs off, including the Summertime Activity awards and part of the Webelos ribbon. With the Compass Emblem, I cut the pins off and used E6000 to glue the Compass Points to the patch. The medallion is stuck on with about 15-20 “glue dots”.

 

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

February 28, 2013 by Meredith

These cookies were unbelievably easy and delicious. I didn’t even get any pictures of the final product & they are all gone!  I used a Devil’s Food cake mix, but any chocolate one would do, I think.  I used Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips because they’ve been sitting in my pantry since before Christmas.  The combo was heaven!  I’ll make some more, using the Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips and post my results.  I’ve used those before in cookies at Christmas and the flavor was OK, but not very strong.  The peppermint version has the superior flavor, in my opinion.  I used my medium cookie scoop and got an even 2.5 dozen.

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Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards & our winner

February 9, 2013 by Meredith

Thanks to you all who entered our little giveaway.  We are so glad you stopped by!  Our winner, chosen in a totally random pick of the hat draw by Alana’s middle child was Shell.  Shell, your package will be on it’s way.  Stay tuned, because we’ll have a little something special planned for Easter too.

In other news, Alana pulled out my Cricut and dusted it off recently.  So for Islay’s school Valentine’s party, we made valentines using the Cricut Wild Card cartridge.  Total cost – $0 because we already had paper, glue and the cartridge.  Islay will decorate the inside with stickers now that the glue is all dried.  I’ll post a finished product picture over on facebook.  Which reminds me, if you haven’t checked out our facebook page, come by and say hi.

Valentine's Day cards made on the Cricut

Valentine’s Day cards made on the Cricut

All lined up, drying valentines

All lined up, drying valentines

Valentine’s Day Made Easy & A Giveaway!

February 7, 2013 by Alana

Valentine’s Day, especially for the kiddos, doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. It can be as easy as the usual things with hearts involved. Pancakes, sandwiches, tortillas, cookies, all kinds of things can be cut into heart shapes to make them special.
For a simple Valentine’s breakfast, a heart shaped toad-in-the-hole is a great idea.

  1. Preheat a large skillet to a high heat.
  2. With a heart shaped cutter remove centers from bread. Butter slices on one side only.
  3. Grill bread until lightly toasted.
  4. Crack an egg into each bread hole (be careful not to break the yolk).
  5. Cook until eggs are cooked to your desired consistency.

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Also, sugar cookies are very simple. You probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen for Lala’s Sugar Cookies. Just cut into heart, sprinkle a little red or pink sugar on, bake & enjoy!  You can even let the little ones help you for a homemade gift.

Heart Cookies

Cookie Dough

This is what you get when you let your 3 year old help you.
This is what you get when you let your 3 year old help you.

What is your idea for a simple, inexpensive way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? We’d like to reward you with our first ever giveaway!  We have a set of Wilton Valentine’s Day cookie cutters to give away to one reader. Just leave a comment with your idea, and we’ll randomly pick 1 winner.  Contest ends Friday at 11 pm central/midnight eastern.  We’ll email the winner for their address.

Photo courtesy of Wilton

Disclaimer: Wilton has no idea who we are and did not provide us anything.  We bought this product on our own to share with our readers.

World’s Simplest Valentine’s Day Project for Toddlers

January 31, 2013 by Meredith

Islay’s school sent home a blank heart with instructions for us to decorate it together with things she likes.  That was our afternoon project today.  I printed up some “stickers” at home of family pictures and her favorite superheroes and stuff she likes to do.  Then she spent about 1o minutes smashing it all on the paper.

School heart

Heart for School

She didn’t want to stop sticking stickers on everything, so save our already beaten up kitchen table some extra wear, I cut out another heart from scrapbook paper and left her to it.  I put her name in foam letters on it.  Now it graces our refrigerator and makes for excellent Valentine’s Day decor.  So simple – super easy and good for kids of practically all ages.

home heart

Heart for Home

 

Happy Burns Night!

January 25, 2013 by Meredith

It’s finally Burns Night, and we had a great time visiting with our friends.  Our menu consisted of haggis, neeps & tatties.  We had a lovely cheese plate with a Farmhouse Cheddar with Whiskey, Wensleydale with cranberries, Red Leicester, and a Sage Derby. I made Scottish shortbread and a Tispy Laird Trifle.

BurnsNight

 

Neeps are just turnips (or rutabagas) cooked and mashed like you would potatoes.  Tatties are simply mashed potatoes.  We used a canned haggis from Caledonian Kitchen. They make good, reasonably priced canned haggis, even if it is made in the USA. I swear I could not find a reasonably priced stuffed one.

Haggis & Tipsy Laird Trifle

Haggis & Tipsy Laird Trifle

The trifle was easily put together using pound cake & canned British custard – found in the international section of my local HEB.  It was topped with homemade whipped cream.  If you haven’t tried this, you absolutely should. It’s super easy and delicious.  Take 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and add 1 tsp of vanilla and 1-2 tbsp of sugar (depending on how sweet you want it). Whip together using a mixer until stiff.  It’s best used right away, but you can keep it in the refrigerator for a short time.

Kid Approved Mac and Cheese

January 21, 2013 by Meredith

My children eat a lot of mac and cheese.  For one thing, we don’t get them meals when we get takeout – which is maybe once a week or so. I’ve found the oldest won’t eat what we order for her, so I don’t even bother.  But she will gobble up my mac and cheese.

MacNCheese

There’s a twist, though, before you start calling nutritionists for me.  I mix in mashed white beans and vegetables, usually butternut squash or sweet potato or both.  So it’s full of veggies, fiber, protein.  It’s great to have in the fridge or freezer.  It’s also a good way to use up any random vegetables you have laying about, as long as you can mash or puree them.  My kids like more texture so I just mash it.  You can also add whatever seasonings you want.  I’ve done Italian herbs, parsley, sage, curry even.

 

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Burns Night Supper

January 19, 2013 by Meredith

What is Burns Night, you might ask?  My husband hails from Scotland originally and his family is mostly still there.  We like to incorporate some Scottish feel into our lives. One of those is Burns Night.  It’s a Scottish tradition celebrating the life of Robert Burns, traditionally held on (or near) his birthday on January 25th.

We do a rather informal Burns Night.  For one, it’s very hard to find haggis. When you do, it’s expensive. (I’ve been looking for two weeks and I found a frozen one I can order online, but 3 pounds is $50. Nothing local, even from our British grocer.) So our menu will be traditional haggis, neeps & tatties (that’s turnips/rutabagas and potatoes), cauliflower cheese (a family favorite) along with some shortbread, a cheese plate, and probably a variation of whiskey truffles.

For a formal Burns Night, you begin with a welcoming speech by the host and the Selkirk grace.

The Selkirk Grace: Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, And sae let the Lord be thankit.

This is followed by Piping in the Haggis (you need a bagpiper for this), where the cook brings the haggis in on a platter.  Then, you have the recitation of Address to A Haggis.  Then a toast of whiskey and everyone eats.  The rest of the evening is spent toasting, drinking, and reciting poetry.  Not a bad evening!

We don’t have the room for a sit down supper for 12 in our tiny house, so we’ll skip a lot of this.  Mostly Burns Night, in our house, is an excuse to visit with friends and eat haggis.  Yes, we like haggis.  Even the 3 year old likes haggis. I just don’t look too closely at the ingredient list.

Valentine’s Day Scented Play Dough

January 11, 2013 by Meredith

I just discovered the joy of homemade play dough.  My source was Musings From A Stay at Home Mom.  We never got play dough as a child.  I’m pretty sure it had to do with my mother and the inevitable mess left behind.  The closest we got was artist’s clay from my parent’s friend, H. Clay Dahlberg, the sculptor.  He’s give us a little rectangle when we’d come visit.  Which did leave a mess behind!

But – this homemade version is so much better than commercial!  First of all, it’s super easy to make.  Secondly, it’s from ingredients in your pantry. Third, it’s non-toxic. Fourth, it’s totally customizable! Fifth, it’s easy to clean up.  What is not to love?

I made my first batch and by accident made Mardi Gras colors.  Yellow, green and purple.

Mardi Gras Play Dough

Mardi Gras Play Dough

But that sparked an idea – why couldn’t I do colors for holidays?  Then I read someone added scent to theirs.  So of course, I had to try it.  Now, I wish I had oils and not extract, but I don’t.  I used peppermint extract in my Valentine’s version and it worked out fine. It smells good and didn’t seem to change the consistency of the dough.  I may try to buy some oil and use that, but it’s really not necessary.

The Secret Ingredient

Valentine’s Peppermint Scented Play Dough

Peppermint Valentine’s Day Homemade Play Dough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/3 cup salt (Kosher worked fine for me)
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract – more for strong scent
  • Red and pink food coloring (I used Kroger brand food coloring, nothing fancy)

(I used regular Iodized table salt in my first batch and switched to Kosher for the rest.  I had very little regular salt and a LOT of Kosher salt.  I can’t tell a difference between them.)

1. Put all the ingredients in the pan and cook on low/medium.

2. Add your food coloring.  I had the best luck with good color when I added the food coloring after incorporating all the ingredients but before it got too lumpy. When I waited until it just started to thicken, it didn’t work in as well – that was the yellow.

Mixing in the food coloring

Mixing in the food coloring

3. Now stir, and stir and stir until it starts to stick to your spoon.

4. Remove from pan and let cool. I first let it cool on a plate. It stuck to the plate.  Then I remembered I had Silpat mats and I used them. Worked perfectly, no sticking.

Cooling on the SilPat

Cooling on the SilPat

This recipe makes a lot. Probably a lot more than I need. I broke each bit up in half and only give the toddler that part and store the rest in the tub.  Her favorite part is using the cookie cutters and just making impressions.

I’m just blown away thinking of all the possibilities with this.  Gifts for the school group?  Birthday party favors? Easter basket presents? Wish I’d thought of this for Christmas! How perfect would red & green peppermint scented play dough be for class gifts?

Plaster Neckerchief Slides

January 6, 2013 by Alana

My youngest is a Webelos. For those who may not know what that is, it is the final stage of Cub Scouting, preparing the boys to move up to Boy Scouts. Recently, we made neckerchief slides out of plaster and I thought I’d share the idea.

Scout project

Digital Camera

Materials needed:
PermaStone or some other plaster powder
“Wedding” rings, the little metal rings from the wedding section of the craft store, they come in bags of 25+, and color shouldn’t really matter since they aren’t seen.
Candy Molds~ we found a Fleur De Lis mold, but any mold that you think your boys will like will work.
Paint
Paint brushes
Plastic cups (for mixing the plaster)
Plastic Spoons
Water
Paper towels

If using this craft as an advancement or badge requirement, give each boy a cup and spoon. They’ll only need about a tablespoon of plaster to fill the mold.
1) Mix PermaStone with water per package instructions (mine said to the consistency of heavy cream)
2) Spoon carefully into mold cavities and let sit for a few minutes.
3) Insert ring into plaster. Be careful not to bump too much after this, and if you do, straighten the rings quickly.
4) Let dry per package instructions
5) Paint

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