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Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Who is ready for this evening? We are staying in and ringing in the New Year with our kiddo. Will be a fun time.  We have a finger food menu planned and some Champagne Strawberry Jello Bites for just us parents.

All simple and easy recipes. Prepping the Jello right now. Have go let it sit in time for the Ball Drop Tonight 😉

What is on YOUR menu and agenda tonight?

 

 

MUFFALETTA RING

 

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30 Handmade Ornaments for the kids

GREAT post I found on http://handsonaswegrow.com/ and wanted to share with you. 30 Homemade Ornaments for the kids. So super cute!!

http://handsonaswegrow.com/30-homemade-ornaments-for-the-kids/

Thirty homemade ornaments to make with your kids for keepsakes this Christmas, or just for fun!

I especially love the globe ornaments, so I even included a section of just those!

Six keepsake ornaments. Ten globe ornaments. And even fourteen homemade ornaments that the kids can make!

So call the kids over as you scroll through these and decide which ornament you’ll make today! [And then choose another to make tomorrow! I think you’ll have enough to do one each day until Christmas!]

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Homemade Flubber For Kids

Some water, glue, borax, and food coloring is all you need. mix the glue, water, and food coloring in one bowl. in a separate bowl, mix hot water and borax. when you mix the two together, a magical thing happens – it turns into this smooth elastic-y substance that i can’t quite describe. Are you curious to know for yourself what this stuff is like?! Try it yourself – your kids will love it!! Here’s the recipe!

what you need:

3/4 cup cold water

1 cup Elmer’s glue

liquid food coloring

1/2 cup hot water

1 teaspoon borax (you can find this in a box in the laundry aisle)

directions:

step 1: in bowl 1 – mix together the cold water, glue, and food coloring. set aside.

step 2: in bowl 2 – mix together the hot water and borax, until the borax is completely dissolved.

step 3: slowly add glue mixture to borax mixture. mix well. pour off excess water.

Source: http://www.livecrafteat.com/craft/homemade-flubber-for-kids/#ixzz3OL1N1eH9

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How to Start an Indoor Winter Garden

The ground may be frozen, but you can grow produce all winter long, and right in your own home.

If you’re a fruit and vegetables lover, you’ve probably gotten a little too well-acquainted with the Whole Foods produce section. But this year, why not take matters into your own hands? Growing your own produce and herbs indoors is a great way to complement grocery store and winter farmers market trips, and you don’t need a green thumb—or an enormous budget—to do it right. Plant these crops in your house or apartment this winter and reap the benefits through spring.

Herbs

Herbs are by far the easiest things to grow inside, and you’ll put them to good use if you’re a cook. Basil is probably the simplest of all—just plant a packet of seeds and place the pot next to a south-facing window for maximum sunlight. If you buy cuttings of oregano, parsley, thyme, or rosemary and plant them in a small pot, they’ll also grow well near a south-facing window.

Root Vegetables

Round varieties of carrots and radishes, which tend not to root as deeply as other varieties, do well indoors if their seeds are sewn at any point from late winter to mid-autumn. All you need is a box, trough, or pan to get started.

Mushrooms

If you have a dark, draft-free place like a pantry or cupboard, it’s possible to grow mushrooms with ease. You can buy special bags of compost with mushroom spawn already included—just water the soil and leave it in your dark place, preferably with the temperature set between 50 and 60 degrees.

Leafy Greens

Growing plants like lettuce, spinach, and arugula indoors is a slightly more involved process, but by no means impossible. Since leafy greens require a bit more sunlight than the short winter days produce naturally, your best bet is to invest in fluorescent grow lights. Though they can get a little pricey, the lights will ensure optimum growing conditions. Just plant your seeds in moist potting soil, water regularly, and leave the grow lights on for 10 to 12 hours a day.

Tomatoes

No more mealy tomatoes for you! If you’re willing to put in a bit of extra work, you can grow small types of tomatoes inside. You’ll still need to stake the plants so they can bear the fruit’s weight, and most plants will need to be transferred from a small pot filled with starter mix to a larger container of potting soil as they grow, but the end product is well worth the chore.

Source: www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/01/15/indoor-winter-garden/

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Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cookies

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cookies
Serves: makes about 20-24 cookies
Ingredients
For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
2 eggs, whisked
2-3 tablespoons milk
For the caramel:
1 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
2 large apples, cored, peeled and small diced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the egg wash:
1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
sugar for sprinkling
Instructions
The dough. Make the dough following the directions given below this recipe. Form dough into 4 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for around 30 minutes. A chilled dough is easier to handle.
The caramel. First, make sure you have all of the ingredients ready. Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula (or wooden spoon). Once it starts melting, stir continuously as it cooks, until all clumps are melted down. Be careful not to burn. When the sugar is completely melted and reaches a deep amber color, immediately add all the butter. BE CAREFUL because the caramel will bubble rapidly when you do this! Stir until butter is completely melted. Immediately remove pan from heat, and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Stir until caramel is smooth. Stir in the salt. Let cool in saucepan for a couple of minutes before pouring into a mason jar. Let cool to room temperature (makes 1 cup).
The filling. Toss the diced apples and lemon juice in a medium bowl. In a separate, small bowl, stir together the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cornstarch. Pour this mixture over the apples and gently toss to combine. Set aside.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Assembling apple pie cookies. Work with one dough ball at a time (keep the others refrigerated till ready to use). On a floured surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet (about ⅛ to ¼-inch thick). Use a 2½ to 3 inch round cookie cutter to cut as many rounds as possible from the dough. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process with the second dough ball. When the baking sheet is full, put it in the refrigerator. Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Refrigerate the dough scraps if they become too stretchy and soft. I usually place it in the freezer, so it chills faster.
Place about a heaping teaspoon or so of the apple filling in the center of the circle. Add a dollop of salted caramel on top (don’t add too much or it will leak out during baking). Layer a second round of dough on top and press the edges to seal. Repeat this process with the remaining circles and the filling. Refrigerate the cookies for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
When all mini pies are chilled, crimp the edges of each pie with a fork. Lightly brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash, then sprinkle them with the sugar. Use a paring knife to cut slits in the top of each pie.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and golden brown (watch carefully as they can burn quickly). Remove from oven and let sit for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Microwave the remaining caramel until smooth and pourable, and drizzle over the top of each cookie. Enjoy!

1. The dough. Add the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and mix until combined. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or two blunt knives to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles crumbs. Pour whisked eggs and 2 tablespoons of milk into the butter/flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Gather the dough into a ball. If dough doesn’t stick together, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a ball can be formed. Knead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes (add more flour as you knead, if it’s extremely sticky). Form dough into 4 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for around 30 minutes. A chilled dough is easier to handle.

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Peppermint Salt Dough Recipe

Scented Sensory Salt Dough Play!

Easy no cook salt dough recipe for sensory play! We livened it up with a wonderful peppermint scent and natural coloring too! I love no cook dough for how easy it is to make. Our apple sauce no cook dough and harvest no cook dough were a real hit. This recipe is one of my favorites and part of our 12 Awesome Sensory Play Recipes. I am pleased to be a part of an awesome group called All Things Kids! Each month we join together to bring you a great resource of the wonderful kids activities. This month is all about Salt Doughs for the 12 Months of Sensory Dough hosted by Lemon Lime Adventures.
Peppermint Salt Dough Recipe {No Cook!}

What is salt dough? It is a very simple mixture that creates a sort of modeling dough and can be air-dried and saved. We simply use it for sensory play He loves when I start pulling out ingredients from the kitchen, especially candy canes, and I tell him we are going to invent a new dough to play with today! I think he loves the novelty of creating something brand new! Read all about Tactile Sensory Play and its great benefits! Today we have a quick salt dough recipe provided by one of my awesome friends that we have used before!
Supplies needed:

1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Table Salt
1/2 Water
Candy Canes or Peppermints
Bowl and Spoon to mix
Cookie Cutters, Spatula, Rolling Pin and other play items!
So quick and EASY! While we were eating breakfast, I measured the water and added a few broken candy canes to it! This is where the lovely smell and color come from, but it needs some time to dissolve! We even made a peppermint water science experiment earlier in the week! We measured the salt and flour and poured them both into the bowl and then added peppermint water. Mix, knead, roll and play! SIMPLE!
Credit: http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/peppermint-salt-dough-recipe/
Salt-Dough-Recipe-Peppermint-Scented-Sensory-Dough-768×1024

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The Story Of Lye

At our last market, I was asked numerous times “Do you use lye?” The answer is yes. Soap cannot be made without lye, whether it is handmade or commercially made, it was made using lye. Most of the people I talked to understood the process as I explained it to them, but I had a few that just didn’t “get it”, which prompted me to find a way to spell it out as an explanation  for EVERYONE. I found this article on https://www.soap-cart.com/the-story-of-lye/. I’ve linked the original author of the article at the bottom of this page. She wrote it perfectly.

 

All soap is made with the chemical reaction between a base and alkali. Now, you might say, “I don’t want to wash with anything that has lye in it!” Well, me either. That’s why I don’t. That’s why I would never expect my customers to.

When the soap is cured, the base and alkali turns into a salt leaving no trace of lye (or sodium hydroxide) in the final bar.

When someone says “Here is a recipe for lye-free soap…” the recipe calls for already made soap (such as glycerine soap) which has been made using lye in the first place!

Confused? Here is a fun, informative illustration about how REAL soap is made:

THE CAST OF CHARACTERS:

 

Let’s say you have a great big grassy field. On one side of the field are lurking a bunch of hungry wolves. The middle of the field is filled with soft, fluffy bunnies, and of course, the hungry wolves want to eat them.

So the wolves run into the field and start eating bunnies.

But an interesting thing happens. Every time a wolf eats five bunnies –*Pop!* – he changes into an energetic busy Border Collie and some peaceful, soothing sheep! So, if there had been 500 bunnies in the field to  begin with, and 100 hungry wolves, all the wolves would eat all the bunnies and you’d be left with a field full of busy Border Collies and soothing sheep but no more bunnies or wolves!

This is what happens when you pour the lye solution into the oils – the lye “consumes” the oils and the resulting chemical reaction produces saponified oils (soap) and glycerin. This is the process called “Saponification”.

 

 

And what if there had been only 450 bunnies in the field to begin with?
Well, then the 100 hungry wolves would have eaten all the bunnies and most of them would be transformed into useful Border Collies and soothing Sheep. But there would still also be 10 hungry wolves left over with no bunnies left to eat, and you’d probably get bitten. Not good! This is a lye heavy soap! Good to shred and use for laundry as it is very cleansing but not too good on your skin, It leaves it dry and provides no glycerin to naturally moisturize.

 

 

This is why it is so important to make sure you have always calculated and measured your recipe carefully. You don’t want to end up with any “leftover lye” when you’re finished!

On the other hand, maybe you really like having a few soft, fluffy
bunnies around. So you make sure that there are five hundred AND FIVE bunnies in the field before you let the 100 hungry wolves in.

NOW after all the wolves have eaten their share of bunnies and been transformed into useful Border Collies and soothing Sheep you will still have five soft, fluffy bunnies left over and NO hungry wolves. This is a balanced soap.

This is “Superfatting”. Superfatting is when you deliberately add more oil to your recipe than the lye can consume. In addition to saponified oils and glycerine, a superfatted soap will also contain some oils which have been left unchanged by the saponification process and still have their original properties.

So having leftover bunnies is a good thing, right? And if 5 leftover bunnies is a good thing, then 10 leftover bunnies would be even better, right? Or 15 leftover bunnies? Or more? The more leftover bunnies the better, right?

 

 

Well, maybe, and maybe not. If you have too MANY leftover bunnies, they’ll get in the way of the Border Collies who are trying to do their job and distract them. Or the bunnies might eat all the grass in the field and then the field is no good for sheep or anything else. So while having leftover bunnies is certainly better than having leftover wolves, you still need to know just how many leftover bunnies you can have before you start getting too much of a good thing!

Remember this when you decide to superfat a soap recipe. A superfatted recipe can give you a nice mild soap with the added bonus of insurance against having any leftover lye. But if you have too much “leftover oil”, then your soap won’t be a very useful soap any more!

 

 

What it all comes down to is you gotta know your bunnies! And you don’t want to have any wolves lurking around!

So now you know. All soap is made with lye. Good Balanced Soap has No Lye! and that is No Lie!

 

Original credit to: https://www.soap-cart.com/the-story-of-lye/