Sunday, July 31, 2011

Paint Swatch Memory Game

I'm sure this wasn't what the paint company had in mind with their paint swatches, but this is a super fun game, for FREE. 

We gathered 7 different colors times two.  You play it just like it's memory. 

This is also a great game for little ones to learn their colors. 
So, the next time you hit Wal-mart or your local paint store, grab a few swatches, and get creative!

Friday, July 29, 2011

National Lasagna Day - June 29

Feta and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

I joined a freezer group last year through my church.  48 people get together and we usually prepare about 6-8 freezer meals.  Most of the recipes are from this book called Fix, Freeze, Feast.  Many of them make 3-8 entrees.

One of my family's favorite recipes is the Feta and Spinach Lasagna Rolls.
It makes 8 Entrees, 6-8 Rolls Each

3 1/2 boxes lasagna noodles
1 (24 ounce) container crumbled feta cheese (about 5 cups)
1 (32 ounce) container low-fat cottage cheese (4 cups)
1 (32 ounce) countainer part-skim ricotta cheese (3 1/2 cups)
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons black pepper
14 ounces frozen chopped spinach, broken apart and leaves separated
8 one-gallon freezer bags, labeled

On Hand for Cooking Each Entree
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Aluminum Foil

1.  Working in batches, boil noodles until flexible enough to roll, but not completely cooked.
2.  Meanwhile, mix feta, cottage cheese, ricotta, Asiago, Parmesan, and pepper in a large bowl.  Stir in spinach leaves.

3. Place partially cooked noodles on a clean work surface in a single layer (do not overlap)
4.  Spread 3 tablespoons filling down the lenth of each noodle.  Roll noodle and place seam side down on a rimmed baking sheet.  Place rolls in the freezer for 30 minutes.

5.  Divide frozen rolls evenly among freezer bags.  Seal and refreeze. 

1. Place lasagna rolls in a greased baking dish.  Cover with foi; completely thaw in the refrigerators. 
2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Pour 2 cups marinara over rolls and top with mozzarella; replace foil.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is hot and cheese is melted.

These are delicious and the kids love them!  You may also add chicken. 

Duct Tape Boats

National Rain Day - July 29
We are very lucky to live in a cul de sac.  All of the neighbor kids delight in playing outside on a rainy day.  With significant amounts of rain the curb and gutter fills with a mini flowing creek of water.  We have gathered plastic ducks and have duck races. 

This year after we mastered the art of origami folded boats, we came up with the fun idea of covering them with duct tape.  We had so much fun not only creating boats, but having boat races around the gutter.

So don't let the rain force you inside, get out there and make a huge splash with your kiddos.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cheesecake on a Stick ~ July 30th is National Cheesecake Day

When I go to craft fairs to sell my meal planners there are always vendors there selling Cheesecake on a Stick.  I LOVE cheesecake, so I had to get one last year.  Here is how I think they make them.

Cheesecake on a Stick

1 frozen cheesecake
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup milk
popsicle sticks or skewers

Cut your cheesecake into slices if it isn't already cut and insert the sticks.  (You could cut them smaller than mine to make more.)  Then put your chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl along with the milk.  Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring each time until it is smooth and creamy.  Then take your cheesecake and dip them in the chocolate.  Place them on a piece of foil and return them to the freezer to allow the chocolate to harden.  Make sure to get chocolate all the way around the stick so that the cheesecake will stay on the stick as it thaws while you eat it (I learned the hard way).  You can remove them from the freezer just before eating.

You could also use the Smuckers Magic Shell ice cream topping.  Just put your frozen cheesecake on the sticks and dip it in magic shell.  It should harden almost immediately.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake ~ July 30th is National Cheesecake Day

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 (3 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz) container whipped topping, thawed
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 can cherry pie filling

In a large mixer bowl beat cream cheese, sugar and butter until smooth.  Stir in whipped topping until blended; spoon into crust.  Cover and chill until firm.  Top with cherry pie filling.

(We enjoyed the No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake so much that I decided to make this the same way.  I just left out the chocolate and added cherries.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lasagna ~ July 29th is National Lasagna Day

I LOVE this Lasagna recipe because you do not have to boil the noodles.  You just put them in the pan and bake your lasagna!


1 lb ground beef
¼ tsp salt
1 jar prepared spaghetti sauce
1 can (14 ½ oz) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ tsp ground red pepper
1 carton (15 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
10 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Brown ground beef until no longer pink, drain.  Season beef with salt; stir in spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, and red pepper; set aside.  In medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg.  Spread 2 cups beef sauce over bottom of 9x13-inch pan.  Arrange lasagna noodles lengthwise in single layer.  Place 5th noodle across end of baking dish, breaking noodle to fit dish; press noodles into sauce.  Spread entire ricotta cheese mixture over noodles; sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and top with 1 ½ cups beef sauce.  Arrange remaining noodles in single layer; press lightly into sauce.  Top with remaining beef sauce.  

Bake 45 minutes or until noodles are tender.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top; tent lightly with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amelia Earhart's Birthday, July 24th

Amelia Earhart's Birthday
Amelia Earhart was from my home town, Atchison, Kansas.  July 24, 2011 would have been her 114th Birthday.  Every year, for the last 14 years, Atchison, Kansas pays tribute to this famous Kansas daughter.  She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. gives you a brief biography of this famous aviatrix. 
I used to be the Tourism Director in Atchison.  I was in that position when the first Amelia Earhart Festival took place in Atchison.  Growing up in the hometown of such a famous woman, you really learn a lot about her. Next time you are in Atchison, Kansas, be sure to stop by her Birthplace museum.

I encourage you to do a little research about this famous aviatrix today, and maybe do this little craft with your kiddos.

Grab some stick gum, some packages of smarties, a few rubber bands and some lifesavors.

String a rubber band through two lifesavers, or the airplane wheels.
Place the smarties, or the plane, between the wheels.

Grab a stick of gum, and bring the rubber band ends up over each wing, and there you have it, a candy made biplane.

Happy Birthday, Amelia.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Homemade Ice Cream

Here is a new recipe we tried for homemade ice cream and you don't need an ice cream maker to make it.

Beat 4 eggs in a mixer, add in 1 3/4 cups sugar and beat.  Heat 2 cups of milk in the microwave and add to the egg mixture and beat well.  Add in 1 box vanilla instant pudding, 1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip and 1 Tbsp vanilla.  Mix well. 

Pour mixture into a container large enough to hold 1 gallon of liquid.  (We found the largest container I had with a lid and poured a gallon of water in the container to see where 1 gallon was and placed a piece of tape in that spot.)  After you have poured the mixture in the container fill the container to the gallon line with milk.  Put your container in the freezer and freeze over night or until set.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Splash Golf

It was 103 degrees yesterday. HOT!  The kids and I decided to create a new game called Splash Golf.  We went to the Dollar Tree and bought 6 buckets.  I cut vinyl numbers, 1-6, with my Silhouette Die Cut Machine. 

We filled the baskets with water, and each kid grabbed a sponge.  The rules are the same as golf.  You count how many throws it takes to get to the bucket.  Once you get to the next hole, you have to squeeze the sponge full of water over your head how ever many throws it took to get to the hole.

There were some funny antics in between holes;)

We also, spread sprinklers throught the "splash course" to keep the participants cool and comfy.

This game cost us less than $10, and we will be playing it for the rest of the summer.
Happy "Splash" golfing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Family Reunion Silent Auction

This was a BRILLIANT idea for our family reunion this year.  Everyone brought a silent auction item from the city they came from.  We set up a silent auction for each item.  All of the family members had about 3 hours to bid on fun baskets and items that their relatives brought . 

Several relatives brought nostalgic, sentimental items.  My favorite item that was donated by cousin Tina, was Grandma Herman's cookie jar.  All the kids and grandkids remembered the cookies that Grandma Herman used to make and keep in her cookie jar.  My sister-in-law, Sondra, won the bid on the cookie jar.  The only stipulation was that she would have to bring it back for the next reunion.

We won the bid on an apron that one of my husband's aunts made.  It was made with embroidered tea towel that were embroidered by Grandma Herman.

The silent auction made over $1200.  We were only about $100 short of paying for the food and activities.  We passed a basket, and the whole event was paid for.  So, if you are planning your next family reunion, consider a silent auction.  It might pay for the entire event.

National Independent Retailer Month

We all eat at chain restaurants, we shop at big box retailers, but before all of these things existed, it was the mom & pop businesses that supplied us with the things we needed, wanted and desired. It's much harder for an independent to stay in business.  They don't have the massive support of 20+ stores behind them.  But, the mom & pop retailer is unique.  What sets them apart from the big box retailer?  Most often you can get very unique products, personal service, and the independent retailer can make decisions the larger businesses can't. 

When we go on vacation, we always try to scope out unique, independent retailers to patronize.  We have had some amazing experiences at many of these places.

I challenge you to look for these businesses in your community.  You will be surprised at the hidden treasures within your community.

Celebrate Independent Retail

Independent Retailer Month is a campaign to highlight the important role independent retailers play within the retail sector as a whole.
Many towns are suffering record vacancy rates. It is hardly surprising that when the street is bland and boring consumers are not attracted there to shop. Conversely when it is vibrant, exciting and fresh, with a diverse mix of both independents and chains, it is far more attractive and the decision to 'Shop Local' is an easy one.
These independent retailers provide the local flavor and color to a community. Imagine how tasteless it would be to travel around the country where each community had the same businesses as the next community.
It does not matter what country, province, or state we are talking about. Nor does it matter who the mass merchant is; every community, big or small should be a combination of the families that have chosen to live in the community and build their own business.
Shopping in these businesses is a sure way to be certain your money stays in and supports your community. When the media remind the community of this special relationship, our goal is moving forward. When local residents and other businesses make an effort to do business with locally owned retail businesses, our goal is achieved.

Independent Retailer Month: What it's all about

Independent retailer month focuses on 3 things:
  • Encouraging consumers to celebrate their favorite independent retailers, to remind themselves of the fantastic mom and pops on their door-steps, and to vote with their feet if they really do want to help local retail!
  • Encouraging independent retailers to create a buzz in July - to let people know that they are celebrating Independent Retailer Month, that they are proud of their store. To attract attention and to get customers, suppliers and the local press talking about them!
  • Encouraging suppliers and all those who service the independent retail sector to spread the word - to tell their customers, to support them with ideas and in store events to really take advantage of all the focus!

Lollipop Topiary ~ July 20th is National Lollipop Day

Instead of telling you to give your kids a lollipop today, I thought I would share a craft that you can do with them instead.  My kids and I made a Lollipop Topiary.  It was rather simple to make.  We took a trip to Hobby Lobby and purchased a styrofoam ball, a wooden dowel rod, a metal bucket, a styrofoam piece to fit inside the bucket, some glass pebbles, and ribbon.  Then we headed to the grocery store for some lollipops.

The next step was to cut the wooden dowel rod.  After a few cuts, I decided 15 inches was a good size.  We chose to cover our wooden dowel rod with white Duck tape (since my kids are now so into Duck tape after Amy has introduced all the Duct tape crafts to them).  You could also stain the stick, paint it or glue a ribbon to it.  Then you need to put the wooden dowel rod into the center of the styrofoam in the bucket and then center the ball of styrofoam on the top of the dowel.  (It is okay if you don't get it right the first time, just take it off and try again.)

Now it is time to start adding the lollipops.  You want to do this in a stair stepped arrangement in order to hide as much styrofoam as possible. 

After a trip to Target to get the super large bag of lollipops we were able to complete our project.  Last steps were to tie on a bow and put the glass pebbles in the bucket so that the topiary did not fall. 

Once it is complete, go ahead and let your kids enjoy a lollipop.  After all it is National Lollipop Day!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Family Reunion Crafts

This year I was put in charge of coming up with a craft table for the kids at the reunion. 
My kids are really into duct tape so we decided to go that direction.  Kids young and old really got into this project.  I purchased clip boards and mini notebooks at the dollar store and the kids covered them. 

My son, Jake, masterd the art of making duct tape wallets.

But, the most amazing duct tape project, was cousin Mike's duct tape baseball cap.

We also had water balloons that we tied on to barrettes to make balloony bows. 
Other activities included a playdough, volleyball and badminton, family conversations rings, bubbles, scoop ball games, and more.

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