August 31, 2011

Living in Colonial Times

Well, that's what I feel like anyway!  We didn't have too much physical damage from Hurricane Irene other than a few downed branches and trees, but the storms knocked out our power late Saturday night.  As of right now, Wednesday afternoon, we are still without electricity.  We've been playing a lot of card games during the day and I've been catching up on some reading by flashlight after the kids go to bed.  (The bonus is that they go to bed a lot easier since everything is dark by 7:45).  Crafting has been limited with no hot glue gun, iron, sewing machine, etc. 

Most of our area schools were able to finally open today and we're hoping power is restored by this weekend.  Until then, I have very limited internet access (I'm on the computer at the public library right now) so there won't be any new posts for a few more days.

August 16, 2011

School Days Link Party

 Welcome to our School Days Link Party!

Our  Summer Fun Party became 
such a great resource for creative ideas 
to have fun during the summer.   
I  want the idea sharing to continue 
as we head back to school.  

Turn to this on-going party 
to share and be inspired by ideas 
for back-to-school, teacher gifts, 
lunchbox suggestions, classroom parties, 
or anything else school-related!  

It will continue throughout the year, 
so come back often 
to link up new posts or check out new ideas.  
I'll showcase your ideas periodically 
in my "Five Fun Ideas..." posts.

A few guidelines:

1.  Please link to your specific blog post relating to SCHOOL  ~ crafts, projects, activities or recipes.

2.  Please do not link to an Etsy shop, business, or someone else's post.

3.  Finally, the more people who link up to this party, the better it will be.  Please help me spread the word by linking back either with a text link or by grabbing a button.

Come Together Kids

August 14, 2011

Easy Peach Cobbler

Fresh, local peaches are now in season here.  It was a gorgeous day outside on Friday so we headed out to a local orchard for some peach picking.  The kids had fun and we ended up with a half bushel of yummy peaches.  

Picking a perfect peach

That's a lot of peaches!

As soon as we got the peaches home, the kids started begging me to make their peaches into a peach pie.  Unfortunately, I'm not much of a baker and I know a homemade pie crust is way outside my skill set, so I set off to find an alternative that was more do-able for me.  I found THIS recipe on the Food Network site for an Easy Peach Cobbler ~ what a hit!!  It wasn't hard to make and we all thought it was delicious.

Right out of the oven


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch  of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups peeled, pitted and thinly sliced fresh peaches (5 to 6 medium peaches)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Several dashes of ground cinnamon or ground nutmeg (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Pour the melted butter into a 13" x 9" baking dish
3.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup of sugar,  baking powder, and salt and mix well. Stir in the milk, mixing until just combined. Pour the batter over the butter but do not stir them together.
4.  In a small saucepan, combine the peaches, lemon juice, and remaining cup of sugar and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour the peaches over the batter without stirring them together. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg if desired ( I used a little bit of cinnamon).
5.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden-brown. Serve warm or cold.  (We loved it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!)

Summer Fun Checklist Update

Back in June, we made up a Summer Fun Checklist with all sorts of fun activities and outings to fill our summer days.  Well, with only two weeks now until school starts back up again, I'm happy to say that we've been able to cross off quite a few things. 

Look at all the things we've crossed off our list (and many of the others we're doing soon):

  • Go to the ZOO
  • Swim in the POOL
  • Hike to a WATERFALL
  • Make GAK (recipe here)
  • Do a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT (see it here)
  • Play in the SPRINKLER (see it here)
  • Have a SPONGEBALL FIGHT (directions here)
  • Bake COOKIES (easy recipe here)
  • Go to the BUTTERFLY GARDEN (see our trip here)
  • Jump off the DIVING BOARD
  • Mail a LETTER
  • Play with SIDEWALK PAINT (recipe here)
  • Pick FRUIT (here)
  • Go to the LIBRARY
  • Make PLAY DOUGH (recipes here and here)
  • Paddle a KAYAK
  • Go to IKEA
  • Make a CLUBHOUSE
  • Go to a SANDY BEACH
  • Go on a HIKE
  • Try a NEW FOOD (from this cool cookbook)
  • Go to THE COW (awesome local italian ice stand)
  • Catch LIGHTNING BUGS (see our cool jar here)
  • Play with BUBBLES ( see here, here and here)
  • Go to the PLAYGROUND ( here or here)
  • Do a 1,000 PIECE PUZZLE
  • Have a SLEEPOVER
  • Make ICE CREAM
  • Play a BOARD GAME
  • Go to DELAWARE
  • Have a PICNIC
  • Have a PLAYDATE
  • Go see FIREWORKS
  • Make S'MORES  
Just today, we were able to check off "Do a 1,000 PIECE PUZZLE".  I'd picked up  THIS United States of America puzzle  and it was the perfect "hard" puzzle for us to tackle.  It had so many fun images and details about the U.S., that we were able to look at the box cover and get a good idea where each piece would go.  My oldest daughter really enjoyed working on it with me (the other two helped a little bit) and it only took us a couple days.  We plan on using some puzzle saver glue on it, putting it in a frame and displaying it in the playroom.  

Hard at work

We did it!!

August 10, 2011

Paint Swatch Scavenger Hunt

I saw THIS awesome idea at Frugal Family Fun Blog a few months ago and thought it was such a cool idea.  

The kids always love picking out paint swatches when we go to Home Depot, so the other day, I grabbed a bunch too.  Then I just punched a hole in each card, attached a few cards with a piece of string and let the kids loose in the backyard to see who could find the best match.

Close match for this berry

This gray matches the latch on the fence gate

Found a match in the sandbox

This dead pine branch is the perfect rust color

Looks like a close match for this patch of dirt

This little leaf might be the winner!

The kids had a blast and we definitely plan on doing it again.  My "big" kids had fun, but it would also be an awesome way to practice colors for even the littlest preschooler.  

I chose earth tones this time because I planned on having them do it outdoors, but bright color swatches would be perfect for a playroom scavenger hunt or autumn hues would be great when the leaves start changing colors.

August 1, 2011

Personalized Lunchboxes

 Aren't these personalized lunchboxes cute?  Thanks to some freezer paper stencils and a little bit of acrylic paint, I was able to turn some plain lunchbags into something special just for my kids.

Last year, I ordered the kids' lunchbox sets from and it worked out great for us.  The prices were quite reasonable compared to others I'd seen and they held up really well.

I really liked the plastic Food Containers in the set I'd ordered ~ it was so easy to pack a variety of foods in their lunches and their sandwiches didn't get smushed.  I also really liked the  Insulated Cooler Bags that went with the containers.  The containers fit in it perfectly, with plenty of room for an ice pack, container of yogurt, water bottle, etc.  I could even fit three of the plastic containers packed with snacks in one bag when we went out somewhere for the day.

The only problem was that the lunch bags only came in plain colors.  The kids thought they were just too boring compared to the fancier lunchboxes covered with their favorite characters.  They used their plain ones last year, but kept asking for character ones as we were starting our school shopping this week.  I wasn't about to give up the convenience of the handy containers and bags, so it was freezer paper stencils to the rescue!!  (See some other stencil projects HERE and HERE)

Cute dolphin instead of just a plain blue lunch bag!

Here's what I did (you'll see my pictures will alternate between the two different lunchboxes I did, I was working on this project in bits and pieces and didn't take all the pictures I needed on the first try):

1.  I found a font and clip art that I liked on my computer.  (Because the lunch boxes aren't quite as stable to work with as fabric, you'll want letters and images that aren't really detailed). I enlarged it to the size I needed, cut a piece of freezer paper to 8.5" x 11"then printed it directly on the paper side of the freezer paper. 

2.  Using a pair of fine-tipped scissors and an exacto-knife, I cut out my stencil.  (Those of you with handy cutting machines can probably eliminate a couple steps here!)

 3.  With my iron on a medium heat, no steam, I ironed the stencil onto the lunchbox with the waxy side DOWN.  Make sure the edges are securely adhered.

I put a few books inside the lunch box so there would be a hard surface to work on.

Here I could just open up the top flap to iron the stencil on

 4. Using my acrylic paint, I painted in the stencil.  Don't put a lot of paint on your brush and paint from the paper in towards the center so the paint won't bleed under the stencil.

See how I'm painting from the outside in?

The stencil did pucker up in a few places

So I just held it down with a fingertip as I painted.
5.  Continue filling in your stencil, adding a second coat if necessary, until you have the coverage you desire.

6.  I'm never patient enough to wait for the paint to dry, so I just carefully pull off the stencil when I'm finished painting.

7.  And there you have it!  A name or image that's personalized for your child!

No more plain lunchboxes for us!  (Now that my youngest is starting kindergarten, I just ordered her a lunchbox of her own ~ she chose hot pink and a butterfly for the front!)

I was really pleased with how well they turned out and plan to do some more freezer paper stenciling on some pencil cases and binders!

Chalkboard Notebook

How cool is this chalkboard notebook?  The cover of a regular composition book is painted with chalkboard paint that you can make in ANY color.  Once dry, you can write messages with regular chalk, erase, and then write some more!

Now, wait till you see how easy it is!

Here's what I did to go from a plain notebook to a super cool chalkboard notebook:

1.  Gather your supplies:  Composition books, acrylic paint, unsanded tile grout, paintbrush, spray paint (not pictured ~ optional)

I found the tile grout near the tiles at Home Depot, it was less than $2
2.  Next, mix up your chalkboard paint.  I originally saw the idea HERE (thanks, Martha!).  Because I wasn't going to be covering a large area, I made a smaller batch.  I used 1/4 cup acrylic paint and 1 1/2 teaspoons grout powder.  ( I had a big bottle of acrylic paint, but the smaller 2 oz. bottles should equal 1/4 cup exactly)

Adding the grout powder

Mix it up.  It'll be about the consistency of pancake batter.
3.  Paint the cover of your notebook.  I did three coats, allowing it to dry in between.  I also switched the direction of my brush strokes on each layer, first going horizontally, then vertically, then horizontally again.

4.  NOTE:  If you will be doing a fairly light color of paint, you might want to give the cover a quick coat of spray paint first.  I was pretty pleased with the coverage of three coats of the pink, but you could still faintly see the design underneath.  You can either do 4 coats of the chalkboard paint, or "prime" it with a coat of spray paint.

The notebook on the right had a coat of white spray paint first.
5.  Allow the chalkboard paint to dry completely, then prepare the surface by rubbing it with a piece of chalk held sideways.  Cover the entire surface, then erase it ( I used an old sock!).

5.  Now you're ready to use your new notebook!  You can write new messages and then erase it over and over again.

I'm definitely going to be testing this out on other school supplies too.  It worked well on the composition books because they have a thicker cardboard cover and the surface isn't too glossy.  I did try it on a folder and it worked pretty well, although the paint did warp it a little.

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