DIY Bath Bombs and Smile Train

DIY Bath Bombs and Smile Train

We all know that sometimes our children have assignments that feel like “Mom Assignments”.  Recently a mom craft, DIY Bath Bombs, materialized into a “Mom Assignment” and a really great way for my kids to help other children through service.

Smile Bombs by Sam
This year in 3rd grade my son Sam had the opportunity to participate in a grade-wide service project to help earn money to donate to Smile Train. Smile Train is an international organization with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Sam was particularly effected by the challenges facing children with cleft lips and palates. He wanted to do something that would earn “loads of money” for these children. We came up with the idea of selling  DIY Bath Bombs with a toy surprise. We call them Smile Bombs. For every DIY Bath Bomb we sold, we donated $2 to Smile Train.  The response was amazing!   In just 10 days, Sam was able to raise $200 for the organization and we are on track to donate $350 this month.

The service project ended but Sam’s quest continues.  We have adjusted our donation level to 15% of all profits but sales are going strong.  Here is a link to our Smile Bombs on Etsy  if you want to take a look. We are currently offering and additional 15% off for all of our readers. Just use coupon code OPINION.  It is such a great cause we are so excited to help these children.

Now, since we are givers, I’m sharing a copy of basic recipe we use to make our bath bombs.  This recipe makes about 7 2-inch bath bombs. It takes a little bit of practice but with a little practice you’ll be a DIY Bath Bomb making machine!

A couple random questions and links you might want to check out regarding my supplies

I buy my Citric Acid on Amazon.  I’ve bought it at Walmart in the canning section but they have been out the last few times I’ve checked

Fragrance Oil – You can buy oil at Micheal’s Craft or even Walmart in the Vitamin section.  Obviously if you have prefer you can use essential oils as well.

This is the mold that I use.  I find it easy to work with and the perfect size for my DIY Bath Bombs

Witch hazel is sold in most stores near the rubbing alcohol.  It is a natural astringent and since it evaporates quickly, it is a easy to use to moisten the mix.

DIY Bath Bomb Recipe

1/2 cup Citric Acid
1 cup Baking Soda
1/2 cup Cornstarch
1/2 cup Epsom salt
2 tsp oil (Grapeseed, Coconut or Olive Oil)
1-2 tsp Witch Hazel
1 tsp Fragrance Oil

Food coloring as desired.

1 Sift and mix all dry ingredients into a large bowl

2. In a small bowl mix oil, fragrance and food coloring.

3. Slowly add the wet ingredients above to the dry mixture, continuously mixing.

4. A few drops at a time, add witch hazel to the mixture until it resembles wet sand. Test by molding a bath bomb

5. Form bath bombs using the mold of your choice. I like to place mine a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Try to wait 12 hours or overnight before use.

Now

Valentine Printables and The Importance of Proofreading.

Once upon a time, I decided to paint a wood sign for my Valentine mantle.  I was so excited about the prospect that I even made some Valentine printables to share.  For the quote I chose a line from a song that Ben and I listened to a lot while dating.  Here’s a little video of the song.

Anywho . . . after lots of time formatting and getting the sign just right I got to work painting it. Then I sent this shot over to one of my besties.

Valentine Printables Mantel

She promptly pointed out a spelling error. After I had painted the sign.

This is what I get for not sending it to Erika for proofing.

You’ll be happy to know that after a little bit of sanding and painting the sign is correct and darling. And lucky for ya’ll. I was able to fix the spelling error on the printable.  So here’s a little valentine gift from us to you.   Print and enjoy some valentine printables on us.

Also!  Be sure to take out childcare survey!  We want your opinion on babysitters, your expectations and what you are willing to pay!  We will be sharing our results next week. Thanks! http://bit.ly/1n1oK3v

Valentine Printables Block Valentine Printables Script

 

Christmas Printables

It’s freezing over here on the west coast today. Actually, it’s literally below freezing. I woke up to -8 today and the high is only 14. But here are some free Christmas printables to help make your spirits merry and bright, and hopefully a little warmer if you’re as cold as I’ve been all day.

Christmas_Printable_ColdOutside Christmas_Printable_ColdOutside2 Christmas_Printable_comfortandjoy Christmas_Printable_JoyWorld Christmas_Printable_JoyWorld2 Christmas_Printable_mayyourdays

Christmas_Printable_WonderfulTime Christmas_Printable_WonderfulTime2 Christmas_Printable_WonderfulTime3I have one printed out and sitting in a frame by my tree:

tree

 

Pumpkin Spice Arctic White Hot Cocoa

pumpkincocoa

We know, the name of this concoction is quite a mouthful. Pumpkin Spice Arctic White Hot Cocoa. But trust me, your mouth (and tastebuds) will be thanking us once you try this deliciousness. This was a joint effort on mine and Tracey’s part. I helped her discover the Land O’ Lakes hot chocolate last year. Then she said to me, a couple weeks ago, “Dude. Land O’ Lakes Arctic White hot cocoa mix and pumpkin spice creamer. It will change your world. Go. Now.” So I did. And she was right. It changed my world. I haven’t even attempted to make any other hot chocolate variation since trying this one. But, I added my own little twists to Tracey’s recipe too.

Here’s the final recipe: Make Arctic White according to package directions. Add about 2-3 tablespoons pumpkin spice creamer (depending on how pumpkiny you like it). Add 2 dollops of cool whip (generally I use a good ol’ spray bottle of whipped cream on my hot cocoa, but I didn’t have one at the time, so I used cool whip instead, and boy am I glad I did). Top with mini marshmallows and a couple sprinkles of ground cinnamon.

I think I’ve had one of these bad boys every day since I first tried it. It’s perfectly warming to the soul and tastes incredible.

beverage

Samoa Popcorn

Samoa Popcorn

 

So I’m supposed to be sharing my Christmas wishlist today.  Based on the photo above, I think we all know that isn’t happening.  At least not tonight. Instead we are sharing Samoa Popcorn.  The perfect treat for a November day that saw a high of 70 degrees.  You heard it.  70 degrees.

With this kind of weather it is no surprise I’m not feeling overly Christmas-ey today.  I am, however, tired from all of the pre-Christmas photo shoots that have been going on around here.

Instead of Christmas listing, tonight’s agenda includes catching  up on Nashville (Hello? The last thing I saw was Juliette kissin’ a girl. Whaaaa?) and hanging out with my husband, drinking lots of Diet Dr Pepper and eating copious amounts of sugar. Just in case you don’t have a sweet treat for you Friday night here is easiest and most satisfying treat you can make, Samoa Popcorn. It is also happens to be the easiest and most satisfying post I can share tonight.

In the interest in giving credit where it is due, originally my sister found this recipe on Cookies and Cups.  Check that gurl out.  She has some goooooood recipes. Recipes with lotso sugar.

For this recipe I made a couple little changes that worked better for me.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies with Kids

Recently, my little guy has taken an interest in cooking.  Every Sunday he gets out his “baking stool” and we bake something together.  Bread, cake, pie, muffins, cookies . . . whatever. He
doesn’t eat sweets so it usually means we make a treat I like. He just likes to help.

Chef Sam

And crack eggs.  Seriously, the kid is obsessed with eggs.  Sometimes I catch him standing in front of the fridge examining an egg.  Not my favorite thing to find.

Every week he asks if we are going to use butter, flour, sugar and, of course, eggs.  OBSESSED!

My parents were here over the weekend and Grandpa suggested that we make Magic Cookies.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

What are magic cookies you ask?  Well, they aren’t actually magic.  Once upon a time my dad asked my sister where we bought the special Hershey Kisses that don’t melt in the oven.  After what was probably ten minutes of hysterical laughter, Bethany explained that you put the Kisses on the cookies after you bake the cookies.

Magic cookies are the perfect cookie to make with little friends.  When I look for recipes to make together I look for a couple of things.

1.  The recipe must be fairly forgiving.  If a measurement is exactly right, the end result should taste about the same.  Kids love to help with ingredients and sometimes 1 cup might be a little more or less than it would be if an adult were measuring.

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2.  There should be lots of steps for kids to help perform.  Sam helped me form the cookies into balls and roll them in sugar.  He also helped Grandpa unwrap Hershey Kisses. All of these steps are also great for developing fine motor skills.

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3. Finally, the should be able to help from start to finish. Sam was super excited to top the cookies with Hershey Kisses and have Grandpa taste them.

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Sidenote: Don’t be afraid to switch it up a bit. Caramel filled Hershey Kisses in Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies? Genius!

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Halloween Costume for 2 Under $40

Well hellllooooo there! With Halloween just two days away, I know most of you probably already have your costumes planned out, for you, your significant other, and/or your children. Buuut, just in case you don’t, I’m going to share an idea with you.

Mostly, I just wanted to show off our costume from this year. But then, when I couldn’t think of a post title to put that humbly, I decided I liked the idea of sharing how I kept both costumes under $40.

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So, if you couldn’t guess from the picture above, this year, Kent and I were Woody and Jessie from Toy Story. Or as everyone at the church Halloween party said, “Woody and…. the girl cowboy… what’s her name?” Jessie. For the record, I was Jessie. ; ) Unfortunately, we came in second in the costume contest to the man dressed as Mr. Monopoly. But, really, it was fair. I would’ve sworn on the snake in Kent’s boot that the Mr. Monopoly legitimately scooted himself off the board game and into the cultural hall for the party. The costume was thaaat good. Don’t pass go. Don’t collect $200. Don’t ever try to win a Halloween costume with this guy around.

As I was saying, Kent and I were Woody and Jessie, and our costumes were completely homemade. And they were completely homemade on a budget. Because, we have bills, people. I gathered up everything we had first. Jeans, belt, and 2 white t-shirts. Then, I went on a mission to find everything else. I started at Goodwill. (Because there’s no DI in Colorado.) First, I searched for cowboy boots for Kent (I already had some for me), but they were $50. Even at Goodwill. Uhm, really? No. So, I had Kent ask around and he found a coworker who was kind enough to let him borrow a pair. Whew!

While at Goodwill, I found a cowgirl set in their Halloween section. Hat, belt and buckle, and lasso rope for $5. After Goodwill, I went to Walmart. There, I bought some white sweats for $6 and some fabric paint/markers for $12. Next, I went to Target and found a yellow men’s shirt on clearance for $4. My next stop was a Halloween store where everything was 50% off. Yep. So, I bought another cowboy hat, a bandana, and a Sheriff’s badge. It was $7 total.

My last stop was the dollar store, where I found a little toy gun for Woody to carry. $1.

Total = $35 (not including taxes)

When I got home, I cut the sweats into some chaps , then used my black fabric paint to put cow spots on them. I took the 2 white shirts and colored one with the markers to look like Jessie’s shirt, and cut the other one into a vest and used the paint to put cow spots on that too. Allow to dry for 6-8 hours.

So, you have two costumes, one afternoon of bargain shopping, and one evening of painting/coloring. Half a day, $40, and a second-place Halloween costume for two ; )

Happy Halloween, y’all!

 

Pumpkin Muffins (Tracey’s Muffin Musts)

Pumpkin Muffins

Up today: Pumpkin Muffins.  But not just any pumpkin muffin.  We are talking about:

“Oatmeal-Filled-Chocolate-Studded-Struesel-Topped-Bursting-With-Fall-Spices Pumpkin Muffins”

Do I have your attention? Good.

How have we not talked about muffins yet?!  (Also, am I the only person who giggles immaturely when I hear the word muffin? Just sayin.) I love muffins. However, there are a couple of rules that must be followed when making muffins. 

Tracey’s 5 Rules of Muffin Making

1.  Muffins are essentially cupcakes for breakfast. In order to get away with this, you need to make sure there is at least one redeeming ingredient in said cupcakes muffins.  This can include: fiber, fruits, berries, nuts or vegetables. This recipe includes pumpkin (fruit) and oats (fiber). Check and check.

2.  Due to it’s cupcake-like nature, it must contain something tasty and preferably sweet. Fruit or berries can fulfill this requirement or you can just throw caution to the wind and toss in some chocolate chips as I did with this recipe.

3. Struesel is highly-recommended. If there is any sort of berry involved, it is almost universally required. Crunchy, sweet topping?  Yes, please.

4. A muffin must be larger than your average cupcake. Again, if this think is going to be my breakfast (as it has been for the last four days) it better keep me full for a couple of hours.

5. Muffins should be served warm. I’m not saying make a fresh batch everyday (although I don’t know why you couldn’t . . . ) I’m just saying throw that little treasure in the microwave for 45 seconds to let it reach it’s full potential. Also, warm muffins make your house smell good.  There is nothing more inviting for a house guest than the smell of warm baked goods. 

In my quest for the perfect pumpkin muffin I came across this great little recipe. However, I have rules so a couple of changes were required.  First up, it calls for raisins.  I am not a huge fan.  The movie “Benny & Joon” perfectly described this in a way my 14 year old mind could appreciate.

“They used to be fat and juicy and now they’re twisted. They had their lives stolen. Well, they taste sweet, but really they’re just humiliated grapes. I can’t say I am a big supporter of the raisin council.”

So, I added substituted chocolate chips.

Next, I went heavy on the oats.  It’s breakfast people. Get your fiber. Also, since I love me some streusel, I tripled the amount required and increased the flour. Finally, I don’t mess around with average sized muffins.  I used my large muffin tin and got exactly 12 beautiful muffins out of the batch.

So here you go my friends, the perfect Pumpkin Muffin. Keep this little gem in your back pocket for any time you need to feed people over the holidays. Halloween party?  Pumpkin Muffins.  Thanksgiving breakfast? Pumpkin Muffins.  Black Friday? Christmas Morning? New Years Day? Holiday Brunch with the church ladies?  PUMPKIN MUFFINS!

Enjoy!

 

Super Easy & Delicious Halloween Treats

Wanna be the nice neighbor who gives out Halloween treat platters to those mediocre people who live next door? But, let me guess, you probably don’t have bunches of extra time just lying about in which to participate in such activities. Right? So, what you do is you put together these super quick and easy treats, pile ’em on a cutesy Halloween plate, secure it all in some plastic wrap and tie a pretty bow on it. Easy, quick, delicious, and just enough to show Mr. and Mrs. Mediocre a couple houses down that you’re actually a step above the mediocre neighbor that they think you are. And who knows… maybe one day you all might be friends. Just maybe one day you guys will all play Yahtzee together. Here’s to hoping!

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The first Halloween treat is one my mom has been making for as long as I can remember. And I am probably this treat’s biggest fan. The best part is you can customize for any holiday, depending on the candy you put on top. M&Ms are available pretty much any holiday — Easter, Christmas, Halloween. And the other best part is that these taste good no matter what time of year you make them. So for our purposes today, we’re gonna Halloween-ize them.

ritzbitsYou start with vanilla almond bark and melt according to the instructions on the package. Then, take the peanut butter Ritz Bits sandwiches and dip them in the melted almond bark. I suggest using a fork because the melted bark will probably be too hot to touch. And also, whomever you give these to will probably appreciate your fingers not fondling all over their treats.

Lift the treats out of the bark (using said fork) and place onto parchment or wax paper to cool. Immediately add M&M treat of choice (we used the white chocolate candy corn flavor for festive reasons). And you can get crazy and add other treats you like also. I happen to be in this ongoing love affair with candy corn that I can’t seem to quit. So, yep.

5The next Halloween treat is a tale as old as time (an aside — did you know Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie?). You make peanut butter cookies as normal. Homemade is always preferable, but if you’re lazy like I am, just use a package. Plus, the words “super easy” are in the title of this post, so for the sake of that, I’m a big proponent for the package. Then, instead of adding chocolate kisses when they come out of the oven, just add the pumpkin spice flavored ones (Hershey’s, of course). Bam. Classic treat, Halloween style.

3The third and final Halloween treat involves lollipops. And who doesn’t love lollis?! Ghost lollis. I’m sure you’ve seen these before, but my mom has been making these for as long as I can remember, just like the Ritz Bits treats. So I’m including them here because mom trumps everything, always. And did you see what I said up there? GHOST. Ghost lollis! Trust me, you can’t possibly get more Halloween-festive than this. And it’s probably the easiest of all my treats today. Here’s what you need:

ghostlolliA box/bag/collection of lollipops. I prefer to use the Tootsie Pops because, how many licks? You know? And because it’s what my mom used. Old habits die hard and things like that. A box of tissue. A spool (? — what is the correct terminology here anywho?) of ribbon. I used black this time, to keep in the spirit of the season. A sharpie.

Take one lolli. Take one tissue. Wrap tissue around lolli. Tie tissue onto lolli using ribbon. Draw eyes onto tissue. Voila! A ghost!

Now take all your treats and arrange on a cute Halloween paper plate. Pull some Saran wrap up around all the goodies so as that they will stay in place. Tie Saran wrap closed with some of the leftover ribbon from your lolli project and there you have it. Easy, delicious, Halloween treats that will make your neighbors love you.

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Now go find those Joneses or Smiths and start spreading that Halloween cheer! And please remember to let us know how your Yahtzee game goes!

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

So maybe I’m being lazy with this post. And maybe this is one of the easiest posts I’ve ever posted. And maybe I should feel kind of bad about how little effort actually went into this post. But maybe I am going to call it OK because I think it’ll be worth it. Because, you guys, this recipe. It is so easy. And it is so soo worth it. And thus continues our unqualified love affair with fall, with this so-super-simple-it-should-be-illegal recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Huzzah!

I got this recipe from my mom originally. And lemme tell ya, Momma Porter can bake. So you know it’s a good recipe. But I digress. I’m not sure where she got the recipe from, but she sent it without the pumpkin in it. So I took the liberty of adding that part. Mostly for the blog, because I wanted a good fall recipe to share. And, gosh darn if I haven’t been eating pumpkin cinnamon rolls for breakfast all week. Oh, the sacrifices I make for this blog ; ) So anyway, if you love fall. If you love pumpkin. If you love cinnamon. If you love sugar. If you love bread. If you love any or all of those things… I can pretty much guarantee you, you won’t be disappointed by these here festive pumpkin cinnamon rolls. And have I mentioned how easy they are?

Pumpkin-Cinnamon-Rolls

And just so you all know, if you’re like my sister-in-law who said to me, “Wait, your pumpkin cinnamon rolls don’t even have pumpkin IN the dough?”, this recipe has husband’s approval AND husband’s-coworkers’ approval. So, I mean, they really are quite tasty. It’s just the right amount of pumpkin flavoring. And anyway, this concludes my lazy, easy, but oh-so-worth it recipe post. Thanks for reading! : )

Also, don’t forget to enter Monday’s giveaway! It ends on Friday.