Monday, March 17, 2014

Top Of the Mornin' To Ya!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The Monkey set her trap last night to catch the leprechaun, but he's a sneaky fellow.  He ate all the gold chocolate coins, and left the wrappers on the floor.  He was nice enough to leave her a new pair of socks (fun stuff, right), nail stickers, and candy.  I don't think she will ever catch him.

I try to send in a little something for her class every holiday, and I didn't want St. Patrick's Day to be ignored.  These treats were simple to put together -- we probably spent an hour working on them. 

Her classmates are going to get some Leprechaun Kisses.  We were going to do something with "Kiss Me, I'm Irish", but she's at the age where she doesn't want the boys to get the wrong idea.  I found this free poem here.  You could print it out on card stock so it's sturdy, but I used plain old white paper.

We filled green sandwich baggies (found them at Target) with Hersey Kisses.  I cut the tops of the
bag (removing the zipper part), and used green ribbon to tie the bags closed.  To finish the treat, I stapled the poem to the top of the bag.  BAM! 

We did something similar for the 4th grade teachers, and her band instructor.  Instead of Hershey Kisses, we put Peppermint Patties in gold sandwich baggies (gotta love the Target!).  I found the cute tag here, and stapled it to the bag. 

This is what she put together for her teacher.  The Monkey did this one all herself.  It's a Pot of Gold.  She painted a flower pot black, made a rainbow out of pipe cleaners, and filled it up with Rolo candy.  You could use the chocolate gold coins to fill up the pot if you wanted to.

I hope that you and your family have a great St. Patrick's Day.  I want to leave you with this one thought:

You son is your son today, but your daughter is your daughter forever.

A man is only a son until he takes a wife. But as a daughter gets older, she will stay near the family, draining it of money and time for years to come. In Irish Gaelic, it's Is é do mhac do mhac inniú, ach is í d’iníon d’iníon go deo.


Friday, November 1, 2013

My Adventures With Pumpkin Cookies

The Monkey’s school holds a Fall Festival each year, and we have not missed one since she started in 2009.  The school’s PTO (which is AWESOME) organizes the festival, and the Monkey loves it.  They have games, a DJ (!), lots of food and drinks, and the ever popular classroom pumpkin contest.  Each class chooses a theme, and then the students decorate pumpkins to reflect it.  It’s really cool, because the students keep their ideas a secret from one another until the day of the reveal.  The secret keeping is amazing in itself, but what’s really amazing are the pumpkins.  This year there were owls, minions, M&Ms, and aliens.  The students put a lot of time and pride in their work.

The Monkey's Class

One of the winning entries

This year the PTO held  its first Pumpkin Bake Off.  Hot damn.  Something I might be good at.  (Spoiler Alert: I wasn’t so good at it).   I filled out my paperwork, submitted my $5 entrance fee, and then searched Pinterest for the absolutely best pumpkin recipe I could find.

I found this one.  The title of the recipe said it all.  Melt In Your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies.

Each contestant had to bring 25 samples of their recipe to the event.  For a $5 fee, festival goers could taste each of the contestants goodies.  The contest was a popular one – there were 15 entries.  Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cake, pumpkin truffles, pumpkin creme brulee, and pumpkin cupcakes.  This is not a contest to take part in if you are diabetic.  Once you tasted all of the treats, you had to become a judge and pick your favorite.  The contestant that had the most tickets in their ballet box won the contest.

I didn’t win.

Not even close to winning.

How many tickets did I get? 


One freaking ticket.

I am happy to say that no one in my family voted for me (we didn’t take part in the eating).  So, one person out there liked my cookies.  Or they had a heart, and didn’t want me to not get any votes.  Whoever you are, thank you for your pity.

Don't fret -- the cookies didn't go to waste.  My family enjoyed them, and truth be told, the cookies tasted better the next day.  I'm not sure, but it seemed as if the pumpkin flavor came through better the longer the cookies sat around.

Want to give it try?  Just follow the recipe below.  Best of luck! 

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies
(from Better Homes & Garden)

Cookie Ingredients
2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (15 oz) can  pumpkin
4 cups all-purpose flour

Frosting Ingredients
1/2 cup  butter
1/2 cup  packed brown sugar
1/4 cup  milk
1 teaspoon  vanilla
2 3/4 cups  powdered sugar
 Ground cinnamon (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat 2 cups butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. If desired, sprinkle with additional cinnamon. Makes about 60 cookies.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Jello Molds -- For the Young and the Old

When I say the words Jello Mold, what comes to mind?  For me, I think of old ladies that lunch.  Isn't that something they would bring to a lunch?  Jello in the shape of something, with fruit in it?  I also think of Aunt Bethany from Christmas Vacation.  She was kind of enough to bring a special jello mold to dinner.

Every so often, you can find special Jello molds in the grocery stores, especially when a kids movie comes to the theaters.  I wasn't looking for this Monsters University mold, but when I saw it, I picked it up. I attempted to make Jello Jigglers, but those were an epic fail.  EPIC. FAIL.

I started to think of what else I could use this mold for.  Clay?  Really?  What the heck would I do with a clay monster.  Melted crayons?  Aren't they all the rage right now?  I see a lot of crayon ideas on Pinterest.

How about candy?  This mold is really no different than the chocolate candy molds you can purchase from the arts-and-crafts store.  In fact, this one is way cooler because its Monsters University.  You can make your own chocolate monster.

The gangs all here
Meet Squishy

This is Art, who is voiced by Charlie Day (who happens to be my favorite from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)



It's not rocket science to make these.  You need to get chocolate wafers, which you can find at the arts-and-crafts store, or even your grocery store.  Following the melting directions on the packaging, pour the chocolate in the mold, and allow the candy to set.  The entire process takes less than a 1/2 hour.  I only had milk chocolate on hand, so mine look a little boring.  You could really jazz things up by using the colored chocolate -- make a blue Sully and a green Mike.  The sky is the limit.

And if you haven't seen Monsters University yet, I just have to ask....What are you waiting for?

Until next time.....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.....

The coolest thing arrived in the mail today.


That's right.  The Monkey got a postcard from her Elf on the Shelf, Bob.  He and his other elf friends are on a much needed, and equally deserved, Florida vacation.  Bob is having a great time, and by the looks of the photo, he is hanging pool side with his girlfriend.

His girlfriend?!  That blew the Monkey's mind.  Who knew Elves could date?  She thought they were too busy making the toys.  Speaking of his girlfriend, check out her bikini.  She's rocking it.

I can't take any credit for this awesome idea.  This postcard came from Elf Outfitters, a new business that took legs in December 2012.  The creators wanted to raise the bar, so they came up with great accessories for the elves, including cool dress up kits.  My favorite is the Elf Superhero Kit because we are a house of superhero fans, and I think a lot of parents can agree -- the Elf can often save the day!  The website also has free printables like scavenger and treasure hunts.  They also send postcards like the one the Monkey received so your child can experience the magic throughout the year.

Here's the cool first giveaway!  I have been given the chance to offer one of my readers a $10 gift certificate to Elf Outfitters.  That's right!  You can get your own Superhero Kit and postcard!  Here's how to enter.

  • Visit Elf Outfitters, and check out all the cool stuff they have to offer (including free printables!).
  • Leave a comment in this post with your name, email address, and be sure to tell me what your favorite Elf Outfitters accessory is and why.
  • Enter by Friday, July 26th, at midnight.  On Saturday we will randomly choose a winner.
  • Be sure to LIKE Elf Outfitters on Facebook.

Good Luck Everyone!

**Legal News: I was compensated for this blog post with a personalized postcard.  All opinions are my own.