Summer Project Ideas

Lovely readers, I need suggestions.  I don’t want the summer to just fizzle and burn away (although, we live in Kansas, so the fizzle and burn will probably turn into sizzle and burn!) .

I’d like to have at least a little bit of structure for the girls.

Please, vote…and then comment with your best, most wonderful, fantabulous ideas!


Easter 2013

Easter was early this year, but we were blessed with gorgeous weather
here in the Midwest. I can’t remember the last time we could wear
Easter dresses without sweaters and tights.


As a family, we keep the focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection
instead of the Easter Bunny. On occasion, however, a pretty darn cute bunny finds us.  Easter5

We decorate with eggs, though: lots and lots of eggs.
This was our Spring Break craft project this year.
(I HATE dying eggs…shhh…don’t tell my kids!)
I found cardboard eggs at Hobby Lobby, and we used almost 16 ounces of glue
to decoupage hundreds, maybe thousands of little pieces of colored tissue paper.
We also decorated a tray, a platter and wooden baskets. eggs9

I did bake the girls a bunny cake, using the Wilton Bunny Pan.
I took a plain white cake and turned it into a Jell-o Poke Cake,
which just adds such a yummy, summery taste.
Lizzie dove in before I could even decorate it. IMG_6377

We hosted Easter Lunch for Bob’s family this year
(and I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures!).
For dessert, Lauren and I made this cake.
The handle is folded aluminum foil covered with ribbon.

The most important part of Easter, though, is shown in Lauren’s contribution.
She spent a long time (and made a HUGE mess in the garage)
nailing and painting this cross.
She even wrote INRI on the placard and placed it by the rose bush
to represent Christ’s crown of thorns.


CHOCOLATE for Breakfast!!

As any chocolatephile (is that a word?) knows, the best way to start the morning is with chocolate.  Now, if it’s a chocolate bar, a piece of chocolate cake or a bowl of chocolate ice cream, then one should generally sneak it in before her children find her!  If, though, it’s officially breakfast food, then she can share it with the world!


I found this recipe for Cocoa Pancakes in my latest Taste of Home recipe magazine.  I didn’t have the mini-chocolate chips to add, but I did use Special Dark Hershey’s Cocoa, which more than made up for it.  I’m all for changing the name of the pancakes to CHOCOLATE pancakes, though, just because it sounds more decadent.

See, even the batter looks yummy:


I made fresh whipped cream for topping because I didn’t want to distract from the CHOCOLATE with plain ole syrup.  Lizzie was my taste-tester. chocolatepancakes5







I subscribe to the idea that bacon for breakfast keeps all sorts of ills away.  What a glorious start to our day!


Dr. Suess Cake

Who doesn’t like Dr. Suess?  I can’t imagine this type of person…I don’t think I would want to be friends with her!  My children “read” these books early on in their educational careers, and Sam, I am is a close friend of the family.  That said, I can only follow the Cat’s antics for so many days in a row before I go bonkers.  (Just a side note, I first wrote “bankers,” which I can only figure out in a combination of “bonkers” and “batty.”  Rather apt description!)

I previously posted my Polka Dotty Cake excitement, and I’m happy to report that the first graders in Caroline’s class were tickled to find the polka dots in the cake I made for them.

I started the cake early the day before I needed to finish.  Somehow, I just felt it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing.  My original design (it never got out of my head) called for a Cat-in-the-Hat hat on one side of an open book and aDr. Suess5 fish-in-the-teacup on the other side.  My first attempt at the hat looked great.

It was a pain to stack, though, and I had to freeze the layers and the dirty icing to keep everything from sticking to my fingers.  I had baked 9-inch rounds and cut 4-inch circles to layer; several dowel rods (OK, they’re really bamboo skewers, which, by the way, don’t work nearly as well as real, solid dowel rods!) are poked through the layers for stability.  All the debris is my attempt to “ruffle” the brim of the hat.

That evening, though, this is what happened to my very heavy, precariously stacked hat:

Dr. Suess6

I went to bed with NO PLAN!!  In the middle of the night, more ideas came to me.  I would use rice krispie treats (RKT) to form the hat, much smaller, thinner and lighter.  If I had time, I would make the teacup with a fish.  As it turns out, I didn’t have time for the teacup, but Caroline did!  The fish is just plastic. 😦

Dr. Suess2

In case you, gentle reader, want to form your own teacup out of RKT, be sure your handle is strong enough to stay upright.  I didn’t do this, but perhaps wrapping the RKY around a wire would help it keep its shape.  Also, be sure to use something sharp and pointy to attach the handle to the cup; I used a toothpick broken in half, which worked well enough.

The final product:

Dr. Suess1

I used edible decorating markers to outline the letters, hat stripes and the bookmark, and Caroline used them to decorate the teacup.  This was a new trick for me, and I’m pleased with the effect.

Caroline posing with “her” cake in her classroom:

Dr. Suess4

And I had leftover cake and fondant, so the teachers got a quickie.

Dr. Suess3

Polka Dotty Cake

It’s Dr. Seuss Week, you know!  Caroline’s 1st grade class does a week-long unit using all things Seussical, and the teacher asked me to make a cake to finish off the festivities.  I Googled Dr. Suess Cakes…and whew!  It’s a little overwhelming. 😦

Undaunted, I came up with a grand plan for my own cake, which I will reveal on Friday.  Before I started the fancy-dancy final cake, though, I wanted to practice:

I started by making red velvet cake balls. I found a pancake batter dispenser a few months ago that works like a dream for this: NO DRIPS!  I undercooked the balls just slightly.

Polka dot cake 4

I used a yellow cake mix for contrast and spread a thin layer on the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Polka dot cake1Once I placed the balls gently on the batter, I covered them (mostly) with the rest of the batter.  (For future reference, I think 8″ pans would work better since they’re deeper.)

Polka dot cake2










I baked the cakes for the regular time, layered them, frosted them, rainbow-sprinkled them (of course!).

Wa-La:  A Polka Dotty Cake!

Polka dot cake5

Note: Check out that snazzy cake server!  I’ve decided to start collecting them…

Pancakes for Breakfast…or…My Little Girl is Growing Up Too Quickly

Mornings are a little rough for Lauren: she takes a theme from one of her aunts (Rachel, do you remember the agony we went through getting you up and moving in the mornings?) and would prefer to just wait to start her day until the rest of the household is ready for a late morning nap.

So, I’m continually trying to find ways to make mornings easier, less painful for her (and for the rest of us!).  This morning, I asked her to make breakfast for the family.  Lauren hopped out of bed and dashed for the kitchen.

“What am I making, Mama?”  I suggested pancakes and handed her this recipe from that fabulous site, (The only “extra” added this morning was vanilla.)

I was prepared to help her measure, pour and stir.  I left the kitchen for a moment to do my every-minute-of-every-waking-hour sweep of Josie’s mouth to clear it of small, random pieces of things, and when I came back, this is what I found:

How did she know how to measure, pour and stir?  I asked her, and she just shrugged. “I’m 8 years old, Mama.”  ANd that confirmed it…I guess.  Of course, I’m thrilled she’s growing up self-confident and able, but geez, did it have to happen so soon?

Anyway, back to breakfast.  Lauren waited impatiently and flipped with panache.










And her family ate with relish…um…syrup, actually.

A Clean Face? A Shower Everyday? Luxuries, I tell you!

Having four children is one of the best parts of my life…it’s also one of the most frustrating.  If I don’t shower before my husband leaves for work, I generally have two options: take a shower with an audience (and this audience opens and closes the shower door, often tossing in non-water-resistant objects in the shower floor) or go stinky for the day.

I’m all about trying to expedite my routines.  To date, I’ve found that since I’ve cut my hair short, I can use a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner; I shave my legs with this, too (also, using Bob’s razor is quicker because he remembers to change his blade!  Shhhh…don’t tell him, please!); and now, I’ve found a way to wash my face morning and night that only takes a minute…at most!

I tripped over a website called the other day.  Not only did I find a lot of good ideas for cooking ahead (another post, dear friends!), but the author posted a recipe for facial cleanser/moisturizer.  I made some up, and I love it!!

Here’s the link to the original recipe (, but I, of course, had to tweak it just a bit.

6 T castor oil
(yes, the same stuff that does NOT bring on labor)
3 T olive oil
(I used cold-pressed extra-virgin because that’s what I already had)
10 drops lavender essential oil
(for stress-relieving properties)
(Thanks, Mom, for the lavender!!)

I use a cute bottle I found at Dillons, Wal-mart, Target, Aldi’s…take your pick because I can’t remember, and squeeze a little onto a cotton ball.


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