Thursday, February 28, 2013

Peep This!

The Monkey and I were at Target the other day for no particular reason, other than to look around and spend some money on things we didn't need.  I love checking out their seasonal stuff, especially this time of year because I think the Easter things are way too cute.

Like this thing...Peeps on a Stick!  The Monkey found this, and asked if she could get it.  I had no problem telling her no, because this cost $2 for four (1) Peeps.  That's $.50 per marshmallow, and that is C-R-A-Z-Y!!!   I explained to her that we could make our own, for much less money, and to own liking.  The snack in the store had four Peeps on it.  Why couldn't we make one with six Peeps on it?  That got her attention.

Here is what you will need:

  • Packages of Peeps, in any color.  We used chicks because that's what the Monkey likes.  I actually like the bunny ones better!  You'll notice the multiple colors...that's because I let the Monkey pick things out.
  • Lollipop sticks.  You'll notice we used bamboo skewers.  That's just what we had on hand.
  • Wilton Favor Bags (which I didn't have on hand)
  • Ribbon (which I also didn't have on hand).

Here's the tough part -- Take a Peep, and stab it onto the stick.  Stand back and admire your hard work.

I will admit that these chicks look they were in a war, and they lost their wings.  To fix this issue (meaning to cover up the exposed marshmallow) you could apply colored sugar crystals.  Much like the bags and ribbon, I didn't have colored sugar on hand.  It really didn't matter, because as soon as these were finished, the Monkey ate them.

To give these away as party favors, or classroom treats (which is what she plans to do), you can wrap each skewer with the favor bags, and use pretty ribbon to tie things up.  When we make these for her class in March, I'll post some pictures so you can see how they turned out.

One happy Monkey
Instead of paying $2 for the store-made Peeps on a Stick, I paid $1.99 for one package of Peeps, which had 15 marshmallows in it.  I used skewers I already had on hand.  Using the items we purchased, and what we had on hand, we made 15 treats on a stick for $7.96.  That sure beats paying $29.85 for 15 Peeps on a Stick!

Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mean People Suck!

Just as I was settling in, getting ready to watch the Oscars, I discovered that the plans for the next night’s Girl Scout meeting fell through.  Crap!  I thought I was in the clear, and didn’t have to do anything, but I was wrong.  I found myself scrambling to come up with something for ten girls to do – and it had to be something that required minimal preparation.

I’m not sure why, but I started to look up ideas about No Bullying.  I guess I think the girls are at the age when they start to find out that MEAN PEOPLE SUCK.   I wanted to help get the message across without being to preachy, and without the girls feeling like they were back in their classrooms.

After some searching on the Internet, I came up with these ideas.

Crossing the Line     

This is a simple game to get the girls to think about how others often “cross the line” with their words.  I took a jump rope, and laid it on the ground in a straight line.  I asked the girls to line up, shoulder to shoulder, on one side of the rope.  Before we started, I asked the girls if they knew what it meant when someone crosses the line.  One girl said her mom says it to her all the time!  I explained that crossing the line means someone says or does something in a way that makes another person feel badly.  I read some ways that people in the troop or in their class might behave.  If the girls though it was “bad” they took a step over the rope (thus, they crossed the line). 

Here are some of the things I read to the girls:

“Would you like to eat lunch with me?”
“Did you really wear that ugly shirt to school?”
“Only my friends can play this game at recess.”
“Sorry, my mom said I can only have 5 people at my party.  But, I will invite you over to play another time.”

This game allowed the girls to think for themselves, because while some thought the behavior was bad, some did not agree.  It was a good activity to get the girls talking.

Wrinkled Heart

You probably saw this activity all over Pinterest (because I did!).  I gave each girl a paper heart, and every time I said something not nice, they had to fold the paper.  Eventually, the paper heart took the shape of a paper ball.   I explained to the girls that every time you say something hurtful to others, you are putting a wrinkle on their heart.   I then complimented each girl, and with each compliment, the girls could unfold their paper.  I explained to the girls that even though the words were taken away, the wrinkles remain and that we should be careful with what we say.   We then took this poem (Before you speak, Think and be smart.  It's hard to fix a wrinkled heart), and attached it to our hearts with a band-aid.  

SpongeBob can definitely help to heal a hurt heart.

  Compliment Catcher

I don’t think we compliment one another as much as we should.  Too much time is spent on the negative, and not on the positive.  I think this is the truth for Brownie Scouts as much as it is true for those in the workplace.   It seems to be easier for people to put things in writing rather than actually saying it, so that’s what I asked the girls to do. 

Each girl was given a sheet of adhesive labels and a pen.  I asked them to write down as many nice words as they could think of on each label.  At first it was met with some whining, but once they got into the swing of things, each was able to fill in the entire sheet.  Each girl was then given a paper plate shield to wear (I prepared these before the meeting.  I punched two holes at the top of the plate, and tied string around it to make a necklace.  The plates were labeled with their names).  The girls were told to wear their plates on their back.  Then I released the hounds: the girls had to walk around the room, and had to place a compliment sticker on another girl’s plate.  At times they looked like a dog that was chasing its tail!  They were walking in circles after one another, giggling the entire time.  After the last sticker was placed, they took a look at their plates and discovered each one was filled with kind words.  I told them that whenever they have a bad day, and someone said something hurtful, they could go home and look at their plate to remember the nice things their sister scouts said.

This was my Monkey's plate.

So, here is what I have left to say about this lesson: Pay it forward tomorrow…do something nice for someone….say something kind to another person....SMILE.

Until next time.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mommy Mac-and-Cheese

I make this meal for my family twice a week.  I'm sure the monkey would want to have this five days a week.  It's the one meal that we all eat.  See, the monkey is a picky eater.  Let me say that another way.  She is a super crazy, not to be messed with, P-I-C-K-Y eater.  Here's her food list: hot dogs, noodles, and pancakes. 

This is real easy to make.  Seriously, look at what goes in it.  To tell the truth, the monkey makes this.  I boil the pasta, but she takes it from there.

I call it the "Working Woman" because, well, that's what I am.  I work full time 8-5, and then come home to take care of my family.  I have to find meals that a quick and tasty, and that do not require me to go through a drive thru.

Working Woman's Mac-and-Cheese
(a.k.a. "Mommy Mac-N-Cheese")
  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 1 jar Ragu Double Cheddar Cheese sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 8 oz. block extra sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
Cook the pasta according to directions.  Drain, and return the pasta to the pot.  Add the cheese sauce, and stir to coat.  Add the remaining cheeses.  Cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously for five minutes.  Remove from heat, and serve immediately.

It's not pretty, but it's tasty...and this is all that is left at the end of the night
On another note....we decided things weren't hectic enough with work, school, and Girl Scouts so we signed the Monkey up for softball.  She showed a true interest in it, and after I forked over the registration fee, I told  her she better like it or pretend she likes it because she is not allowed to quit.

Taking swings in the batting cage

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sticky Fingers

What happens when you give a group of girls a bag of marshmallows and a box of spaghetti?  Well, besides a lot of giggles and sticky fingers, you get some creative towers.

We did this activity a few weeks ago (I just neglected to share it with you!).  Believe it or not, I did not find this off of Pinterest (SHOCKING, right?).  This was something we did at my place of work years ago, and it is still talked about.

Here is what you need: one bag of marshmallows per team, one box of spaghetti per team, and willing participants.  You can make the teams as large or as small as you want.  I had eight girls at the meeting, which made things easy for me, as I split the girls up into groups of four.  I gave them 20 minutes to work together to build a tower as tall as they could without having it fall over.  I also had to tell them not to eat their materials!  It only took them a matter of minutes to figure out that they could use the marshmallows as the “building cement”. 

I take that back….it took a matter of seconds for one scout to say: “Wouldn’t it be best if we drew up some blueprints before we start building this?”.

They worked quietly and quickly together on their buildings.  Some girls took on the role of the supervisors (like my Monkey) and others were happy to be the worker bees.

In the end, one team did a little better job than the other, as the one tower fell apart at the last minute.  But it didn't matter.  All that mattered was that they worked together, and had fun while doing it.

The last man standing
I think I will revisit this idea towards the end of the year, and provide both large and small marshmallows, and perhaps only provide a certain number of pasta strands.  They have the experience under their belt already, so I'm sure they could handle the task.

Until next time......

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Me: What kind of valentine cards do you want to give out to your class this year?
Monkey:  I don’t want to give out any.
Me: What?  You have to.
Monkey:  All the cards have love on them.  I don’t want to give them out to the boys.
Me: How about we get girl and boy valentines?  Look, here are baseball theme ones.
Monkey: (Looks at the back of the box).  Nope
Me: Why?
Monkey: (Reading the box)  Valentines, let’s take a walk in the ballpark together.  See!  It’s like I am asking him out on a date.
End scene.

I thought we could get one more year out of boxed Valentine cards, but I quickly found out that I was wrong.  I didn’t want the holiday to go by without it recognizing, so I started to brainstorm for ideas.  Where did I turn?  Why, Pinterest of course!  I found this Star Wars idea, but the Monkey was not having it.  I went back to the drawing board, and found this cute idea – Pixie Stix magic wands.  Winner!

This is a super easy idea, and can be adapted for any holiday (more on that later).  I bought a box of Pixie Stix at Sam’s Club (50 sticks for $12).  The ribbon was left over from Christmas.  I wanted to use hearts as the topper, but the Monkey said no way.  We found these cute Princess crown and Prince shields at the Dollar Tree (pack of 10 for $1).

Putting them together is a piece of cake, and can be done in four steps. 
  1. Step One:  Tape the topper to the label on the candy tube (this will cover it up). 
  2. Step Two:  Cut the ribbon into 12” lengths, and tie on the tube. 
  3. Step Three: Use your scissors to curl the ribbon to make things extra pretty. 
  4. Step Four: Admire your handiwork.

The Monkey loved the end result, and was super excited to give them out to her classmates.  I am sure that the class is going to LOVE them, and I am confident that their parents are going to HATE me.  Today is her classroom party, and I made cupcakes.  Totally not going to lie – these are from a box, and the frosting came from a can.  

Like I said, you can adapt these to any holiday.  Here are some ideas that you can build on:
St. Patrick’s Day à Shamrocks and green ribbon
Easter à Bunnies/Eggs and pink ribbon
Birthday à Balloons and any color ribbon

However you celebrate, have a Happy Valentine's Day.

Until next time....

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Operation Baking Gals

A few months ago I came across an article (can’t remember where) about this great program called Operation Baking Gals.  GALS stands for Give A Little Support (so men can play along too!).  It’s a group of volunteer bakers from around the country who bake and ship homemade treats to military men and woman that are currently deployed in war zones.

I became a member of the program back in October, and this was my second time participating.  Teams are formed each month, and how much you want to participate depends on you.  Don’t have the time this month?  Don’t sign up.  It’s as easy as that.  Not a baker?  Send a box of Oreos.  It’s really not what you send – it’s the fact that you sent them something.  The men and women need to know that they are thought of, and that they service is appreciated.

I whipped up a quick batch of Banana Muffins to send, only because I had all the ingredients on hand.  I was short on time, so that’s the only homemade goodie I made.  I didn’t want the care package to look “skinny”, so I included boxes of Girl Scout cookies, peanuts, oatmeal packets, and candy that I had in my pantry. The Daisy Girl Scout troop that meets at our school made Valentines (it was a way for them to earn their Caring and Considerate petal).  I think a little note from a 5 year old would bring a smile to anyone’s face, wouldn’t you?

Operation Baking Gals is a fun way to give back, and would make a super service project for scouts.  If time permits, I would like to do this each month.  I am always looking for people to play along, so let me know if you would to.

Oh, by the way.....the boxes are free from the US Postal Service, and they have this neat image on the side.

Easy Banana Bread
  • 4 large bananas (well riped), mashed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp.salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl.   Add sugar, eggs, and oil to the bananas, and mix well. Sift the dry ingredients together, and add to the banana mixture.   Spoon into well-greased muffin tins.  Bakes for 15 to 20 minutes, or until done (the tops of the muffins will bounce back).  

Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stupid Cupid, Stop Picking On Me

I find myself researching Pinterest all the time to come up with ideas to use at our Girl Scout meetings, and I am never let down.  Three of the activities we did last night were the brain child of Pinterest.  Scouts doesn't always have to be about earning badges, and reading stories.  It should be about having fun, and I think that's what the girls had last night.

Minute To Win It with Conversation Hearts

I have NEVER watched Minute To Win It, but I assume the contestants have one minute to do something.  Duh.  That's what the girls had last night.  They had one minute to stack as many conversation hearts that they could.  It sounds easy, but you have to know that candy hearts aren't smooth, and sometimes they are broken or stuck together.  For one minute, the room was quiet.  The girls worked hard to build their towers, but gravity was not their friend.

The Monkey stacking her hearts

We did another game using the candy hearts.  This time, the girls had one minute to transfer the hearts from one plate to the other by only using a pair of chop sticks.  Several of them said they had used chop sticks before, so they thought that would work to their advantage.  However, I quickly found that they didn't know how to properly use the sticks!  The rules stated they could only use the sticks, and they could not drag the candy from plate to plate.  Again, the room fell silent for one minute as each girl concentrated on their task.  Some girls struggled, and some girls had great success.  In the end, one scout transferred 27 hearts to her plate, and she was rewarded with a bag of Cotton Candy (much to her mother's happiness).

The Love Train

The last activity we did was The Love Train, which involves one of the most important thing about scouting -- teamwork.  The girls lined up (in alphabetical order, so we could avoid a lot of this: "I want to be first"), and I placed a balloon between each girl.  They had to walk across the room together without dropping the balloons.  If one fell, they had to start all over again.  They started off taking small steps, but gradually worked their way to walking "normally" across the room.  Once they figured out how to work together, they found it to be easy.  I was happy that they learned this out on their own without help from the adults!
Choo!  Choo!

We finished the evening with a small craft, and then the girls decorated sugar cookies for their snack.  They were then sent home with bellies full of sugar.

Until next time.....