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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spiderweb Plate Kids' Craft

I love making things with my kids, and I thought a laced spiderweb craft would be perfect to help get us even more excited for Halloween (as if we need the help). Ha!

  I'm always drawn to inexpensive, fun ways to let my kids get creative, so I thought, why not put together "spiderwebs" on simple paper plates?  
Aren't they cute?

It doubles as a decoration and, as my kids pointed out, a "play thing", because they removed the spider and started a game of "make believe".  It made me smile.  My daughter was a gigantic Black Widow and my son was a Tarantula.  The thoughts give me the creeps, but since I know they're not real, I'll live.  :) 
Here's what you'll need to make this ultra cute spiderweb Halloween craft:

Paper plates of any size (I used small)
white string
black pipe cleaners
black pom poms
small googly eyes
hot glue gun
hole punch
scissors
Begin by punching holes all around your paper plate.  Mine were a little over 1" apart, but it's hard to go wrong here.
Cut a long piece of white string and thread it through the holes around the plate, making sure they criss-cross nicely to create a "web" look.  It's fine if you don't end up using all the holes.  No worries.
The kids loved this part!

When you're pleased with your web on front, tie the ends in back and trim.
Now make a cute spider by cutting eight small pieces of pipe cleaner.  Hot glue them to the sides of your black pom pom and bend to look like legs.  Then glue on two googly eyes and admire the cute little guy.  You can either glue the spider onto the web if you plan to hang the plate, or just set him on there if the plate will be sitting flat.


It's a super fun and simple kids craft that is sure to bring a Halloween vibe to your home!




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Friday, October 24, 2014

Baby Food Jar Spider Craft

This Baby Food Jar Pipe Cleaner Spider is a super simple and inexpensive craft that the kids can help with too!  It also doubles as a fun Halloween decoration!
Aren't they cute little creepy crawly guys?  I knew those baby food jars I saved would come in handy one day.  :)  You won't believe how easy these things are to make!  You'll just need to allow time for them to dry.

{SUPPLIES}

Large baby food jars
googly eyes
black paint
black pipe cleaners
hot glue gun

Use the tutorial HERE for painting the jars.  You'll simply squirt the paint inside, put the lid on, and shake it all around until fully covered.  Then let dry overnight.  I like to move the jars around a bit so they don't stick to the scratch paper when the paint pools.  

Then just glue on eight pieces of bent pipe cleaner, four on each side of the jar, for the legs.  Lastly glue on two googly eyes and you're done! 
Now that's my kind of spider.  The type that doesn't crawl or land on me in my sleep.  Yes, it's happened and I still have the heebie jeebies. 
I'll be using these critters as table centerpieces at a party soon.
Happy Halloween!

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Witch's Fingers Halloween Treat

These Witch's Fingers may take you a little off-guard at first, but they are sure a tasty and intriguing Halloween treat!  
Halloween is a time when it's ok to give others a little spook.  In fact, it's kind of fun.  Though I don't get into the really gruesome tricks and treats, I enjoy the cute, creepy kind. 

Basically if my little kids would think it was exciting and wouldn't scream, cringe, or have nightmares at the sight of it, we're safe.  :)
This treat passed the kid test with flying colors.  My seven-year-old daughter came home from school and I directed her to the bowl filled with Witch's Fingers.  She looked at it, grinned from ear to ear, and grabbed a few for a snack.

Today's Halloween recipe brings to mind the show The Wizard of Oz with one of our favorite scenes where Dorothy pours a bucket of water on the very green Wicked Witch and she screams, "I'm melting!"  It's a nice reminder that good does prevail.

Anyway, let's have a quick run-down on how to make these cute things! They are seriously a cinch!

{INGREDIENTS}

Green candy melts
Straight, long and narrow mini candy bars (I used Kit Kats)
Peanuts
Put your candy bars in the fridge or freezer just until the chocolate is hardened well enough that it won't easily melt while dipping.  Next, melt your candy melts in the microwave and stir until smooth.  Let cool for a few minutes, or your candy bars will melt when you start to dip them.
Use a fork to turn the candy bar in the candy melts until it's completely covered.
Transfer to a baking sheet that's lined with wax paper.  Add a peanut half for the fingernail.  Use a toothpick to make the knuckle creases.  

Let the green coating set completely.  I like to put mine in the fridge for about 10 minutes to speed up the process.  After it's set, use a butter knife to remove any messy edges.
Yes those fingernails are in need of a serious manicure, but they taste great!  Ha!

I'll be sending a bowl of these with my husband for his work Halloween party where hopefully they'll have a shot at winning the "Most Creative Halloween Food" Prize.

Enjoy!
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Best Toys and Tips for Making Learning Fun for Kids

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #TargetToys #CollectiveBias

Today I'm sharing some great tips for making learning fun for kids with the help of the Target Toy Emporium (available online)!
My kids would play all day if I let them.  You can probably relate.  In fact, we have a hard time working in chores because they enjoy the fun part of life so much.  :)  I love watching them having a good time, but so many times "relaxation" turns into mindless vegging and then quarreling.  

So I like to encourage them to do something constructive while taking a break from the typical demands of the day.  This comes with providing them with ample opportunities to explore, discover, and create, outside of the classroom.  In other words, I like to help keep their minds and hands busy, being productive, whenever possible!  

In order for the kids to get on board, my job is to make it fun!  The Target Toy Emporium (available online) makes my quest a cinch!


  
They've got oodles of great toys to select from, in multiple categories, all aimed at helping kids explore and learn while enjoying it at the same time.  

These exploratory toys work in tandem with my tips for making learning fun for kids.

1.  Make a simple craft.
Kids love art projects, and creativity is a critical part of a child's intellectual development.  My son made a paper door hanger for his room with the Melissa & Doug Wooden Animal Stamp Set.  I love that the ink is washable!
I cut out the hanger on my Silhouette and then he went to town giving it his own spin.
Now he's an expert stamper!

2.  Turn the experience into a little challenge, accompanied with lots of encouragement.


My son loves building and constructing things, so I knew he would love the Melissa & Doug (we're huge fans of Melissa & Doug, if you couldn't tell) Magnetic Pattern Blocks Set from the Toy Emporium (available online).  It came with different suggestions for use, depending on the age of the child.  

Younger kids can place a paper pattern on the board and and then place the magnetic shapes on top.  My son decided to use the pattern as a guide instead.  And then he gave it a little flair by adding orange squares for hair, because his human was a girl.  :)
He got slightly frustrated at times, trying to get the shapes to turn just like those on the model, but with mommy coaching and cheering from behind, he did just fine.  :)
He was so proud of his accomplishment!  Now he's worked his way up to the tougher samples and even enjoys creating his own designs.

I appreciate that, not only is he reinforcing his shapes and colors, but he's learning spacial and pattern recognition with this fun toy.  Possibly my favorite part was that no assembly was required, and the magnet shapes are pure genius. :)

3. Be enthusiastic and praise their efforts.
Get excited with them when they show you what they've made and compliment them on the specifics of what you like about it.  Then display it around the house for all to see!  There's nothing that makes a child prouder than knowing his or her creations are treasured.
We had a fun time browsing the Target Toy Emporium (available online) together.  I'll definitely be frequenting it, especially with the holidays just around the corner, because it's a great one-stop place to shop!

Feel free to visit the Pinterest board below for more inspiration!

What tips would you add to help make learning fun for kids?  I'd love to hear!
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DIY Fringe Ghost Decoration

You can never have too much Halloween decor, at least that's my firm belief, so I made a Fringe Ghost Decoration with inexpensive tissue paper to "spookify" my home a little!  It's deceivingly easy to do, too!  Come see!
This cute ghost could hang outdoors (if covered from the elements, of course) or indoors!  I can picture him under a porch awning,waiting to greet the little trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.  :)

Fringe is all the rage these days, and I love it, so I chose to give our little guy some fun dimension with it!  What do you think?
  
{SUPPLIES} 

-Paper plates (this is optional, but will help when you draw the ghost shape)
-White tissue paper
-Elmer's Glue
Black construction paper, Cardstock, or vinyl
-please disregard the black marker
-Scissors

Begin by laying your paper plate out on a piece of white tissue paper, or, for better durability, a piece of white posterboard.  I didn't think it all the way through at first, so I used tissue paper and then backed it with something more sturdy afterwards.  Draw a ghost shape, using the rounded edge of the paper plate on top for the head portion.  Mine turned out to be basically a bell shape.
Begin by putting four pieces of tissue paper together and folding them accordion style, with folds about 2 1/2" wide. Be sure to get the folds as even as possible.
Now trim the excess on top.

Make fringe on the strip by cutting up all the way across, within about 1/4" of the top.

Now we're going to separate the pieces by cutting across the top.  Be sure not to cut too far down because you'll need space for gluing, and we wouldn't want to mess up that pretty fringe.
Now we're going to begin gluing the fringe on.
Separate your fringe pieces (most pieces will be double layered, but that's good).  Starting at the bottom of your ghost, lay them out how you like them, going all the way up.  
Your ghost should be fully covered at this point. You'll want to end so your last strip of fringe has some room to be glued to the backing without destroying the fringe look.
Now carefully glue the fringe to the back by lifting pieces and putting a few dots of glue underneath at the top.  You want your fringe to look free-hanging for dimension, so be sure to glue right up top and not on the actual fringe.  This may seem tedious, but it really is quick because you can glue here and there.  Be sure to glue well around the edges of your ghost, though.
Once you're done gluing, flip the ghost over and cut him out.
He should look like this. Now add the eyes by cutting ovals out of your black paper or vinyl.  I used adhesive-backed vinyl because it was really handy to be able to stick it directly to the ghost and not have to glue, but paper works too.
Now punch a hole in the top and hang the cute and spooky ghost!  I'm really loving the black and white Halloween color scheme this year, so I'm running with it!

I'm thinking I'll make a few more of these and hang them from the chandeliers on my tall ceilings.

Happy creating!



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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie...Halloween Style

When Halloween time comes around, I love trying to find ways to make our normal meals a little more festive...like with this Chicken Pot Pie with a cute edible veggie pumpkin decoration on top!


I have the hardest time getting my kids to eat veggies!  Do you have the same battle with yours?  It's like pulling teeth to get them to even try a bite of vegetables, let alone eat an entire helping of them as a dinner side.  I've done the bribing thing and even threatened to take away precious possessions or privileges, but nothing seems to work!  

So this time, I slipped some Birds Eye Fresh Frozen Vegetables into a pie and made a fun pumpkin on top to entice them to partake.  I have to say that it worked much better than my other ploys.  :)
Because, seriously...do you know a kid that wouldn't at least want to see what was inside of this adorable creation?  Interest piqued. :)

And then, after you've grabbed the kids' attention, proceed to tell them a Halloween story about a sad pumpkin who was rejected by all his friends (witch, Frankenstein, black cat, ghost...everyone) and needs to feel wanted and loved again.  

The cued reaction (i.e. the one you really hope you'll get, but can improvise if you don't) is..."I'll be his friend!"  

"Great!"

"You can start by eating his pie."  "He would be so, so happy if you would enjoy the special pie that he made just for you."  :)

And then you proceed to cut into it with the kids intensely watching, still maybe slightly skeptical.
  But if they don't want to hurt Mr. Pumpkin's feelings, they'll agree to give it a shot.  We wouldn't want the tears to start flowing from those sad pumpkin pea eyes, now would we?  

And then, with any luck, they'll decide that they like it after bite one and thank Mr. Pumpkin for the wonderful gift of his pie.  At the very least, you'll be able to get a few forkfuls of veggies into their tummies, which is better than nothing.  I call that a small success!  I'm taking it one bite at a time.  :)

My kids noted that vegetables are much better with sauce and a crust.  

So here's what you'll need to make this Halloween Chicken Pot Pie that will hopefully get the kids to enjoy or at the very least, try eating veggies, once again.
A few cups of fresh frozen Birds Eye veggies, some chicken and pie crust, along with a couple sauce ingredients are all it takes to make a hearty, family-pleasing meal!

I know that my household needs to really work on veggie consumption, but I was baffled to learn that 9 out of 10 people in the U.S. don't get the proper amount of vegetables, according to the State of the Plate Report.  That's crazy!  

Which is why I love that Birds Eye is on a mission to help families eat more vegetables.  They're doing so by showing moms fun and simple ways that we can serve those bright, healthy veggies that everyone will enjoy!  

Bird's Eye provides more than 40 unique vegetable blends throughout the year at very affordable prices, making it so easy for us to serve up well-rounded meals at the dinner table each evening.

This year, Birds Eye has partnered with Melissa d’Arabian, celebrity chef, mom of four, and host of FoodNetwork.com’s web series The Picky Eaters Project, to make a difference and help moms with the dinnertime dilemma.  If you're like me, I'm always looking for fresh, new ways to incorporate veggies into my family's meals, so I'm all over this!

Now let's make a Halloween-ified Chicken Pot Pie that will wow the kids!

{CHICKEN POT PIE...HALLOWEEN STYLE}
Adapted heavily from All Recipes

(2) 9" Pie Crusts (homemade or store-bought)
1 lb. (or about 2 cups) cooked chicken breast, shredded (be sure to keep the broth)
1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1 3/4 c. chicken broth
1 3/4 tsp. chicken bouillon
2/3 c. milk
2 1/2 c. fresh frozen Birds Eye Vegetables

Boil chicken until cooked through.  Shred chicken and set aside.  Reserve 1 3/4 c. broth and whisk in chicken bouillon.  Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat and add celery and onion.  Cook until onions and celery are soft.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper and celery seed.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk.  Simmer over medium-low heat until thick.  Remove from heat.

Lightly spray your pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.  Place one of your crusts in the bottom of the pan and stab it with a fork to allow the pie to breath while baking.
Toss in cooked, shredded chicken.
Top with Birds Eye Fresh Frozen Vegetables.  I'd recommend stirring the veggies and sauce together.  I'll do that next time for sure, just to better spread the flavor and moisture of the sauce.
Now top with another pie crust and seal the edges.  I just used a fork and pressed it on the dough, ensuring that the crust was hugging the pie plate so it didn't shrink while baking.  Then cut a few slits in the top again for breathing purposes and so the excess heat can escape.  Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is browned to your liking and filling is bubbly.  Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

I recommend waiting until the pie is baked to add the pumpkin on top.  Just zap a few frozen fresh Birds Eye carrot slices, a green bean piece and two peas in the microwave until warm.  Then arrange in the pattern of a pumpkin on top with a cute face.

Isn't it cute?  The fresh frozen Birds Eye vegetables really are tasty!  We thoroughly enjoyed getting our daily dose of veggies in this Halloween Chicken Pot Pie.  I hope it's a hit with your family too!

May this be the beginning of many veggie dinner successes to come!

Follow Birds Eye on:
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Here's Melissa D'Arabian with more great ways to add vegetables into your family's meals.



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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