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{The Friday Yum} The Outlaw Mom (TM)’s Easy Frozen Berry Summer Smoothie

2 Sep

It still feels like summer around here, so we’re still outside concocting refreshing ways to beat the heat.

Unlike the White Wine Summer Fruit Sangria, this cool down beverage is toddler-friendly.  Jane had fun mixing, stirring and pouring our drinks!

The best thing about this no-fail, never-forget recipe?  It’s as easy as one.  One cup of each ingredient.  One step.  One perfect Frozen Berry Summer Smoothie every time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nonfat French Vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup frozen berry medley (try Trader Joe’s Fancy Berry Medley)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (try Trader Joe’s Pineapple Tidbits
  • apple juice to taste (optional –  use only if you need extra sweetness)

Step 1

Pour all the ingredients into your blender and crush, mix and stir until the smoothie reaches your desired level of smooth.  (I like mine chunky, so stop a little sooner than traditional smoothie texture).

That’s it.

Now, enjoy!

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{Toddler Thursday} Summer Spray Painting

1 Sep

It’s the first of September and summer is almost officially over, but there’s still time for outdoor fun and making summer memories even though it’s back to school!

Materials

  • spray bottle
  • paint
  • paper
  • water (optional)

Step 1

Fill your spray bottle with paint.  (We picked ours up for $1 at Target).  Dilute the paint with water if desired.

Step 2

Get ready to get messy and spray away!

For more fun, spray with different colors and watch the colors mix together.  Try to see how many color combinations you can make with three spray bottles filled with the primary colors.  You can also tape down images and shapes and lift the tape when you’re finished for a splatter paint effect.

LEARN!  Colors, fine motor skills, planning, creativity

{Toddler Thursday} Bubble Wrap Fun

25 Aug

As Jane and Sam found out after Hubby brought home a custom handmade double guitar stand swaddled in miles of protective plastic, it’s fun to snap bubble wrap!

I know plastic is bad.  It kills our planet and can kill our babies.  But this swath of giant bubble wrap was headed straight for the recycling bin after only a few hours of protecting the guitar stand we had made as a wedding gift for our dear friends M and E, so we had to rescue it and get some enjoyment out of it!

And enjoy it we did.  Snap!  Pop!  Crack!

We snapped it between our fingers.

Popped it under our palms.

Stomped on it underfoot.

Then, we rolled it out as a runway and ran up and down our bubble carpet creating enough explosive noise to put the Fourth of July fireworks to shame.

We also tried rolling down the bubble runway and crawled down it on all fours.  Finally, we taped it to the wall and body slammed into it.

This was a great material manipulation activity and the perfect pre-bedtime activity:  both kids were fast asleep within five seconds after their little heads hit their pillows.

Need another great bubble wrap idea?  Try bubble wrap painting as beautifully done over at Red Ted Art’s Blog!

LEARN!  Fine motor skills, gross motor skills, cause and effect, sensory exploration

{The Friday Yum} The Outlaw Mom(TM)’s No Bake Oreo Truffle Cake

19 Aug

For J’s birthday, I wanted to create something Oreo-ish since we were having dinner at a restaurant famed – at least in our circle – for its Oreo dessert.  I also wanted to incorporate cream cheese since J had mentioned my Gingerbread Sweeheart Mini Cakes would have been tastier with a cream cheese frosting.  With no extra time on hand and two little munchkins wrapped around my ankles, the easiest thing to do:  mix the two ingredients to make a No Bake Oreo Truffle Cake!

Ingredients

  • 1 – 3 row package of Oreo cookies
  • 1 – 8 ounce package of room temperature cream cheese
  • baking pan (or other mould) lined with cling wrap
  • chocolate chips
  • candy melts (optional)

Step 1

Throw your Oreos into the food processor and grind into a smooth, fine cookie sand.  Tip:  You can put the cookies into a ziploc bag first and pound away at them with your fist to shorten the food processing time and to work out any stress or frustration you might be harboring.

Step 2

Pour the cookie sand into a large bowl and mix the cream cheese in with a spoon until everything is well-blended.  Press the mixture into your lined baking pan (or any mould of your choosing) to form the cake.  Make sure to leave some extra cling wrap hanging over the sides.  Roll balls out of any remaining mixture to make stand-alone truffles.  Refrigerate.

Step 3

While the Oreo mixture is setting, melt your candy melts in the microwave or double boiler.

Step 4

Remove your Oreo cake from the pan by lifting it out with the cling wrap.  Line the side facing up with a layer of candy melts to form a sturdy base.  I chose white to mimic the colors of an Oreo.

Step 5

Melt your chocolate chips, then coat your cake and truffles.  Tip:  To jazz things up a bit, use chocolate or candy melts to decorate the individual truffles.  I also used heart-shaped edible gold accents.

Happy Baking!
Todays Creative Blog

{Toddler Thursday} Fun With Pasta! Pasta Necklaces

18 Aug

Fun With Pasta! is our latest installment of the Fun With Food! series.

What do you get when you mix pasta + paint + a toddler?  Painted pasta necklaces and a whole lotta messy fun along the way!

Here’s what you’ll need to make your pasta jewelry (think bracelets, headbands and crowns, too):

Materials

  • paint
  • paintbrushes
  • tube pasta (try penne)
  • ribbon, string or yarn
  • work surface saver (e.g., newspaper, cardboard, paper grocery bags)

Step 1

Paint your pasta.  I tried using a flattened cardboard box from the recycling bin as our paint palette, but Jane decided it would be her canvas instead.  She wasn’t ready to paint the penne right away.

Then she decided making handprints would be more fun than painting the pasta.

Eventually, she came around the idea of painting the penne.

Step 2

String each painted and dried piece of pasta together.  We used curly ribbon we had lying around the house, but you can use any type of ribbon, string or yarn handy.  Just tie several knots on top of each other to form a ball larger than the opening of the pasta; thread the pasta; and knot the two ends of the necklaces together.

Step 3

Don your fabulous creations!

LEARN! Colors, fine motor skills, manual dexterity, concentration

If you liked this post, check out other posts in the Fun With Food! series, like Fun With Beans and Fun With Gumdrops.

Construction Paper Dress and Windsock

11 Aug

As y’all know, I love making crafts or projects using the bazillion brown paper grocery bags we have stockpiled in our kitchen drawer from over the years (like this One Minute Paper Bag Monster) or other recyclables lying around our house that would otherwise turn to waste (like this Repurposed Easter Grass Garden, these Rock Candy Maracas or our paper roll projects like these telescopes, binoculars and finger puppets).

This time around we made a paper dress using the top of a brown paper grocery bag and strips of construction paper:

When the fun of the dress wore off, we hung it in our backyard as a colorful, fluttery windsock:

Materials

  • brown paper grocery bag
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • tape

Step 1

Cut off the top third of the grocery bag, which will form the top or “bust” portion of the dress.

Step 2

Snip lengthwise strips of the construction paper in whatever colors suit your fancy.  Tape the strips hanging vertically from the bust.

Step 3

Cut an additional strip as a border for the top of dress and tape it down horizontally.

Do the same for the remaining three sides of the bag.

Step 5

Embellish with cutout shapes or glue on gems and glitter.  Now twirl!

LEARN!  Colors, scissor cutting, pretend play.

Themed Sticker Books

4 Aug

In the middle of Week One of my adventures as a working mom staying at home, I stood in the middle of our kitchen/family room scanning the busy counter spaces and heaving bookshelves, waiting for inspiration to pop out at me.  Luckily, it did.

“Let’s make a book!” I exclaimed to Jane, who was supposed to be sleeping but had decided to give up napping for my first week home.  She was keen and our project was on.

Here’s how you can make your own sticker book:

Materials

  • hole punch
  • cardstock
  • ribbon
  • stickers
  • markers or crayons

Step 1

Fold three sheets of cardstock in half cross-wise.

Step 2

Punch one hole in the fold at the top and the bottom of the crease line that forms the book’s “spine.”

Step 3

String the ribbon through the holes and tie a knot on the outer spine side.  You could staple the book together, but since Sam is still in the eat-everything-in-sight stage, I wanted to avoid retrieving swallowed staples from his stomach.

Step 4

Let your toddler decorate the pages of her new book and don’t forget to give your book a title on the front cover!

We chose puffy bug stickers and Jane enjoyed sticking and re-sticking the insects to different pages.  She decided this would be a “Bug Book” for Uncle B.

At this age (2.5), the fact that Jane made a book and the joy of peeling and placing the stickers was enough for her to feel satisfied with the activity.

For an older child, you might want to write the names of the various insects (or whatever theme you have chosen) underneath each sticker.  For an insect-themed book like ours, you could add fun facts about each bug and talk about what the bugs eat, where they live, and even go outside to look for one in your backyard!

LEARN!  Fine motor skills, concentration, manual dexterity, topical facts

The Outlaw Mom’s Gingerbread Sweetheart Mini Cakes and Cake Balls

21 Jul

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E & C are getting married!

To celebrate, Jane and I made them Gingerbread Sweetheart Cakes.

These sweet little cakes would be perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day, a birthday or an anniversary, too!

Ingredients

  • gingerbread cake (from scratch or mix)
  • almond buttercream frosting (or cream cheese frosting)
  • fondant
  • candy melts (or white chocolate)
  • heart-shaped cookie cutter

Step 1

Follow my cake pop tutorial to combine your gingerbread cake and my favorite buttercream frosting (or any vanilla frosting) into cake pop mix.  Instead of using all of the mix to create cake balls, form and flatten three or four palm-sized balls of the mix and use a cookie cutter to cut out heart-shaped cakes.  With the remainder of the mix, form your standard cake balls used for making cake pops.

Step 2

While your mini cakes and cake balls are chilling in the refrigerator, roll out and cut your fondant using the same cookie cutter from Step 1.  (If you dislike the taste of fondant, you could substitute the fondant with marzipan or leave it out completely and stick with the buttercream or cream cheese frosting).  You can also cut out any other decorative shapes now.

Step 3

Attach the fondant heart cutouts to the mini cakes with a generous layer of frosting.  I used my favorite buttercream frosting, but substituted the vanilla extract with almond extract for a more exciting flavor against the warm and spicy gingerbread.

Step 4

Turn your cakes upside down and spread a layer of melted candy melts to the entire base of each cake.  This will give the cake a more solid surface to sit on and also add another sugar kick to the overall taste of the cakes.  You could always substitute white chocolate for the candy melts, but keep in mind that if the weather is warm, the chocolate will melt or sweat, while the candy melt will stay put longer.

Step 5

After your cakes have been chilled and the candy melt bases have dried, start decorating!  For fun, I decorated the cake balls with Xs and Os, attached with a candy melt base.  Again, you could substitute chocolate for the candy melts.

Happy Baking!  And Long Live Love!

Potato Stamping

15 Jul

This toddler activity is an old favorite from my own childhood.  Nothing like some good ol’ fashioned potato stamping fun, or “playing Juicy,” as Jane calls it.

It’s so simple, you have no excuse not to try this.  Unless, of course, you’re planning to serve the potatoes for dinner.

Step 1

Cut a potato in half and carve out a shape for your stamp.

Step 2

Mix food coloring and water to make stamping ink.

Step 3

Stamp away!

Not part of the potato stamping process, but part of Jane’s fun:  drawing on the paper with crayons dipped in the ink!

LEARN!  Shapes, colors, fine motor skills, manual dexterity.

Salt Dough Hand Prints

28 Jun

Inspired by these salt dough footprint keepsakes from The Imagination Tree, we made these salt dough handprints as one of Hubby’s Father’s Day presents:

We followed The Imagination Tree’s tutorial, so I won’t re-post it here, but will just say that it is oh-so-fun for the kids to mix and knead the dough and make the prints.

You can paint yours, but Jane and Sam were so delighted with the unpainted versions, that we still haven’t gotten around to it!

Read here for how we packaged them and to see the Truffle Brownie S’More Pops we made for Hubby on Father’s Day.

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