Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! The kids and I had a lot of fun working on our handmade Valentine’s this year and I wanted to show you what we created. In year’s past, I haven’t been this ambitious, but I am beginning to realize that our days of crafting Valentines are numbered. I really wanted to take advantage of our time together and thought this would be a fun way to spend it.
Emily has been begging me to make fabric flower barrettes for her friends and I thought this would be the perfect time to share them with her friends. I found these fabric quarters at Walmart and used them to create matching hair accessories for all of her friends. The flip side had white felt hearts to pull them together. These are so inexpensive to make, but I hope that her friends have fun sporting their new hair accessories.
I happened to have some Valentine’s Day themed stamps in my craft supplies and I had Emily stamp and sign cards for all of the girls We just clasped the barrettes right on to the cards and they were ready to hand out to all of the girls in her class.
For the boys in her class, we made Superhero Valentines using Zakka Life’s free superhero cape and mask printables. These are the cutest and I love that other than cutting them out, they basically held together by themselves with just a single piece of tape. Thanks, Zakka Life, for helping us create cool Valentine’s for boys this year.
Do you have any fun projects, recipes, or crafts that you did to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? Feel free to link up your projects below and share them! I would love to see what you created this year!
Maybe you were one of those lucky kids chopping up coffee filter flowers in elementary school. I never had a tutorial on this in my art class though, but I have been dying to make coffee filter flowers and wanted to share with you just how easy and inexpensive it is to make these for a fun table centerpiece for the holidays or just a few posies on your nightstand in those cold winter months. If you made the Coffee Filter Wreath from last week, you should have enough left to make a few of these pretty posies!
To begin our flowers, we will need to dye our coffee filters. The trick with getting these to look like real flowers is to divide the filters into three different bowls with three different shades of dye.
Pour a 1/2 cup of hot water into each dish, two tablespoons of vinegar, and ten drops of food coloring your first bowl. In the next bowl add the hot water and vinegar, but add only eight drops of food coloring. In the last bowl, we will be doing the same thing again, but only six drops of food coloring. Submerge fifteen coffee filters into each bowl and wait ten to fifteen minutes.
I used the Betty Crocker pink neon food coloring for this project (leftover from our marbled egg dying from this past year) so these only required about five minutes in the bowls. Just keep half an eye on them until you reach the desired color that you are going for.
Once the coffee filters are done, you need to spread them out on an old towel and let them dry. Ignore comments from your husband like, “Yum, yum! Coffee filters for dinner?” or, “Oh, wow! ANOTHER craft project?”
You are on the fast track to being another Martha Stewart even though the house looks like a bomb exploded and it WILL be coffee filters for dinner tonight. You can’t be good at everything.
If you want to speed up the process a bit, you can blow dry these coffee filters. Again, ignore your husband when he busts in on you hunched over with coffee filters blowing around the bathroom as you blow dry them. Just keep thinking,
“Martha would totally do this…or,ahem, she has PEOPLE who would totally do this. Totally.”
Grab some floral tape and floral wire from your craft supplies (or over in the floral section of the craft supply store. Cut the wire to the length that you desire and twist and wrap the floral wire with the floral tape until the wire is covered. You can also cover a wooden skewer with floral wire if you want a flower that stands straight up. I prefer the wire because you can bend it a bit and make the flowers a little more droopy so they look a little more natural.
Here is a handy chart for what we are going for with these. You need two of the darkest coffee filters cut like this for the center of the flower, two coffee filters in the medium dye for the middle of your flower, and just one coffee filter cut like this for the outer part of the flower.
To make the center, fold your coffee filter in half, in half again, in half again, and then in half again (four folds). Take your scissors and cut it as pictured above. Repeat with another filter in the same shade.
To make the middle of your flower, fold your coffee filter in half, in half again, in half again (three folds). Take your scissors and cut it as pictured above (but better than me since I am not the brightest with my cutting). Repeat with another filter in the same shade.
To make the outside of your flower, fold your coffee filter in half and then in half again (two folds). Take your scissors and cut a scalloped edge to your flower. You just need one of these.
Stack your flowers (still folded) and then trim the tiniest little end off of the bottom of them. This will create a small hole so that we can insert the wire into the center of it.
Slip the first filter over your wire twist it at the base, and then wrap a little floral tape around it to hold it all in place. Repeat with the next dark filter, than the each medium filter, and finish with the exterior of your flower. Finish the flower with a little more floral tape to secure everything in place.
Behold your posy! Isn’t she pretty? Make as many as you like for a fun addition to any room. I saved a stack of coffee filters and plan to make this pretty flowers to adorn my daughter’s birthday presents this year.
These posies have found a home on my daughter’s nightstand in her new big girl room. I found a short glass vase for $3.99 at Meijer Supermarket that was just the perfect size to hold three of these coffee filter flowers. I think these would make such a fun birthday centerpiece addition though with hanging tissue paper pom poms in the same shades for a birthday party.
Right next to those flowers is this handmade lampshade that I made. I will show you how I did that last week. It is another fun, easy, and inexpensive craft that would be a cute addition to any room.
What craft projects have you been working on? Did you ever make coffee filter flowers when you were a kid? Feel free to share any links to what you are working on! Access all of our craft fun on MomAdvice by visiting our Craft Section. Happy crafting, friends!
This is the true story of two girls. One girl had a strong will and was a perfectionist. The other girl had a strong will and was a perfectionist. These two girls had a hard time coexisting together. One girl had to become a little softer with her heart and learn to let the little stuff go. The other girl turned four and just became a tad more laid back and a little easier for her mother to deal with.
Suddenly, these two became not only mother & daughter, but fabulous friends. They went on outings together, sang in the car wherever they went, watched girlie movies on Netflix, and had many Chinese & haircut dates together. They did everything together and learned to love each other even more than before.
Now my best friend is leaving me for kindergarten.
Please don’t ask me about it.
I will cry.
This craft is an idea born from my own bittersweet sadness about my Emily leaving me for school. I wanted to create a little something for her that would remind her that mommy was always with her and was always thinking about her no matter where she was. This is my Close to My Heart pin and I am sharing this craft idea with you today for the back-to-school season!
Head to your local Walmart and visit the craft supplies section of the store and you will find fabric quarters available for purchase for $1.27 each. You will also need one sheet of red felt for this project for the base of your fabric flower for a mere $.20! If you are creating a pin for attaching the fabric flower to clothing, look in the jewelry section for 1 1/2″ bar pins with an adhesive backing. If you want to clip the fabric flower in your daughter’s hair, you can also find metal barrettes, hair clips, or even headbands in the jewelry section or by the ribbon to attach these simple flowers to.
If you don’t have a glue gun and glue sticks, be sure to pick those up as well.
You will need to cut nine circles out of your fabric. I used a large circle punch and created my template out of scrap card stock. You could also just trace a lid to a canning jar, if you don’t have a circle punch handy.
Grab your red felt and cut a heart out for the base of your flower. I just folded it in half and cut it just like I used to do my hearts for my Valentine’s. This is the sentimental part of this pin for your sweet child, but if you just want to do a felt circle, you can do that as well!
Let’s make some flower petals. Fold your circle in half as shown.
Fold up one side of the circle that has been folded in half.
Fold up the other half of the halved circle and have it meet with the other side to form a petal.
It should look like this swirly thing on top.
Now hot glue the seam just a tiny bit together where the petal is gathered and then hot glue the end of the petal to the felt heart. Repeat this with all four ends of the heart. In the spaces left, fill in with three or four more petals. At the end, you will have one hole in the center to put in one or two petals that you have left. To get more visuals on this, I have created a vlog below where you can watch the petals being applied in action.
Once it is all filled in, it will look like this. You can leave it plain like this or you can add a cute button in the center by just smashing down the petals and hot gluing a button in the center. I think it looks pretty both ways!
On the back of your fabric flower, you can attach either a pin (for pinning to their jacket or backpack) or a metal barrette to pull back their hair. We did a few each way so that we could accessorize those uniforms and glam up her backpack too.
I hope she knows how much I love her while she is off to school and be reminded of my love when she looks at her pin. I hope you can give this easy craft a try and that it can serve as a reminder to your daughter how special she is to you.
I love you, Emily!
What special traditions have you created for the back-to-school season in your house? I would love to hear your ideas! Be sure to check out my vlog below for a step-by-step tutorial on how to make these easy pins!
I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.
It was another busy week for our family. The kids started swim lessons this week and I have a feeling that the time and effort we are putting into this summer’s swim classes is really going to pay off this time. We tried to work in a few fun activities this week including a fun fire pit night roasting s’mores over the fire, our favorite Jazzy Sunday routine with homemade whole wheat waffles topped with blueberry syrup, and lots of time spent working on the yard and playing outside.
I also implemented a chore chart for the kids and allowance program. I will let you guys know how that works out after we have been doing it for awhile. Surprisingly, the kids are quite enthusiastic about this and money is proving to be a powerful motivator in our house.
From our 100 days of summer activity list, we tackled two fun food items and one craft idea this week.
This week we tried our hands at corn syrup painting that was featured on eighteen25 as a fun activity for the kids to do together. I mixed up a tray of paints and dug up some paint brushes and foam brushes for the kids to use to make their pictures. They each drew out their pictures in black crayon and then we painted them with the paints. The colors were beautiful and vibrant using ingredients right from our pantry.
The kids loved doing these paintings and I covered all of the paints up with plastic wrap and have put them away for a rainy day activity to keep them busy. It seems we are getting a lot of rain here in Indiana, so I am sure we will have these paints used up in no time at all.
I loved the idea of creating Coke Icees that was featured on Bake at 350 for a fun summer treat. We happened to be serving my favorite pulled pork sandwiches and the recipe calls for only 12 ounces of root beer. Instead of making root beer floats, I put four cans worth of root beer into my ice cream maker and let that churn for twenty minutes until it was nice and slushy. We all loved these and I can’t wait to make them again with other types of soda. These were a big hit at our house so I highly recommend that activity.
Finally, we tried making baked taco bowls for our taco night this week courtesy of Annie’s Eats. I didn’t realize until I started making the bowls that I had the wrong size of tortilla. It was too late to hit the store so they were truly taco bowls rather than bite-sized taco treats. Regardless, the kids absolutely loved these and my husband & I both agreed that these were a fun addition to our taco night. I will have to give these another try with the right tortillas.
It seems that the hour is never too early to begin thinking up more daring things to do together. Emily brushed up on her daring activities in her robe and with her morning slice of toast. We couldn’t be more excited to tackle fun this summer if we tried.
Stumped for ideas this summer? Have no fear! I have you covered this year with our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest Board. There are 100 ideas for crafting, eating, and creating with your children of all ages. We promise to keep it carefree on Tuesdays and share what we tackle through our mobile uploads and you can even follow our adventures in real time through Instagram or on Twitter(my name is momadvice).
Our family is on the move and we want you to be on the move too.
Do something cool together this week.
Your kids will love you for it.
What did you tackle from your summer list this week?
There will be no cries of boredom in our house this summer because I am prepared this year. I have come up with 100 activities to do this summer and I am sharing my list of 100 activities to do with you through Pinterest. We have everything from hot air balloon making, to Netflix origami, to breakfast in bed, to making individual pizzas on the grill, to making the world’s largest bubbles, to creating your very own water park. The possibilities are endless and the majority of the activities cost next to nothing to create.
I am not a crafty parent. I can be crafty on my own, but not always the craftiest with my kids. I really, really try, but I find that crafting with my kids is a challenge. I want to overcome that challenge this summer and be the cool mom for once. Many times I find myself at my computer typing these ideas for others, but not trying any ideas myself.
This summer is going to be different.
Instead of just coming up with ideas for our readers, I am looking forward to actually tackling our summer list. I still will be sharing a weekly recipe, our apron full of giveaways, and our notebook of inspiration. I won’t ever quit you, MomAdvice friends!
On Tuesdays though, I will be sharing what we are working on from our summer list through mobile pictures and quick notes on what fun activities we are doing at our house. I am hoping it will be an inspiration to you to get out and enjoy the summer with your children. I can’t say we will tackle a hundred activities, but I will be awfully proud if we do one cool activity a week. You can catch me on Instagram, fellow iPhone users, where I am documenting our summer with my new phone. My name is momadvice.
I hope you will enjoy our laid-back inspiration this summer! I want to enjoy every moment I have with these two kids- my time with them feels fleeting and precious.
Next school year, I will have whole days to type away.
This summer, I am loving my mom job all day with them.
What are your favorite summer activities? How do you get inspired for summer fun? And, hey, what do you think of our summer list?
Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Three cheers for our favorite teachers! We have had truly some of the best teachers this year and this is the official Teacher Appreciation Week to really show your admiration for all that they do. After volunteering in my son’s classroom, I know that I would not have the patience or endurance to do a job like that. I so admire the infinite patience, love, and knowledge that our teachers possess.
Both of my children have blossomed this year. With the teachers that they have, I can certainly see why!
Today I wanted to showcase an easy and fun gift that you can give to the teachers in your life. This Oreo Biscotti recipe is a dream to make and to eat. If you can make cookies, you can make biscotti! Biscotti is basically a twice baked cookie that is perfect for coffee dunking. You can find everything you need to complete this project at your local Walmart store.
Just as an aside, if I was a teacher, I would be drinking a whole heck of a lot of coffee.
Let’s shower them with cookies that they can dunk in all of that coffee today!
In your stand mixer, mix together melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar.
In a separate bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to your wet ingredients in your stand mixer and mix just until the ingredients are incorporated.
Now it is time to add the star to the biscotti show! Grab a bag of Oreo cookies (feel free to save money and substitute with the store brand on these). Use a rolling pin to break up the cookies so that you can get a bite of Oreo in each bite of your biscotti.
Add the cookies to your batter and then give the mixer a quick spin. It should look a little like cookies and cream ice cream. Resist the urge to eat the entire bowl of batter. It will be tough- this smells so good!
Dump the batter on a parchment lined cookie sheet. This dough is so easy to work with that you don’t even need to flour your hands. Divide your dough into two equal parts and then flatten the dough until it is roughly 8 inches in length, with about a 1 inch thickness. Make sure that the two balls have enough space to grow when they are baking.
Bake the biscotti at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the dough is cooked through and the edges are golden. Let the biscotti rest for ten minutes before you cut into it. Then with a very sharp knife, cut your biscotti on a slight angle, into roughly fifteen pieces for each dough ball. Lay them flat and slide them back into an oven for eight minutes. Pull them out and flip them again. Bake an additional eight minutes on the flip-side of the cookie. Finally, let them cool while you put the rest of your gift together.
Find a cute mug for your teacher over in the aisle with all of the lunchbox supplies or even over by the coffeemakers themselves. Cute reusable mugs are an inexpensive addition to your gift and can be found for anywhere between $4-10 depending on your budget. Fill the bottom with colored shredded paper or a little colored tissue paper. Nestle your biscotti in a clear plastic treat bags on top of your cute mug.
Editor’s Note: Now that Picnik has shut down, you can do the same edits through PicMonkey instead! Follow the directions below:
Look through pictures that you have of your child and see if you can find a picture where you can add a little text to your photo. Upload your photo to Picnik. Under the CREATE tab, select EFFECTS, then select the BLACK & WHITE option to change your picture to a black & white image. While still under the CREATE tab, select the option for TEXT. Once you are in text, put in your message for your teacher. Make sure not to put your text all of the way to the edge of the photo because it may cut it off when you print it. It is better to get it a little further in to assure that you don’t waste ink, paper, or your time!
You can choose from a variety of fonts and colors. The font I choose for these images was Pupcat. You can do all of this with a free membership to Picnik. Additional fonts are available with a membership, but I find that the free fonts are equally fantastic!
Save your image once you have finished it. If you have a photo printer, you can print these out at home. I printed mine on 5×7 Kodak paper with my photo printer. If you don’t have a photo printer, Walmart offers one hour prints (for a 5×7) for $.58. The cards themselves are almost as awesome as the biscotti!
Whatever you do, I hope that this adds a little inspiration to your gift-giving this year. These not only would make a great teacher gift, but I can see this being made into a perfect Mother’s Day gift for a special mom in your life too.
Homemade Oreo Biscotti
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Stir in chopped cookies. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 8″ loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes. Cut each loaf diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, on same baking sheet. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes on each side or until lightly toasted on both sides. Cool completely on wire rack.
Recipe Source: Kraft Food & Family Magazine
What gifts do you have up your sleeve for you teachers this year? What gift has been the biggest hit? I would love to hear your ideas!
I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.
One of our favorite Easter activities is decorating Easter eggs. Every year we try to do something new with our eggs. The first year I ditched the boxes of Easter egg dyes and created our own out of pantry ingredients. Last year we had a blast trying Kool-Aid egg dying which really made beautiful and vibrant eggs without any effort.
This year I ran across a fun idea for creating marbleized eggs from common items in the pantry. If you have food coloring, vinegar, and olive oil…you have the makings for beautifully marbled eggs. Pictured above are the eggs that my children created this year. This was a lot of fun because each egg could be so different and unique!
1. Hard boil your eggs as desired. In shallow bowls, mix together three cups of warm water with two tablespoons of vinegar and ten drops of food coloring. I used the Betty Crocker Neon Food Coloring that I found in the baking aisle. Whisk the ingredients together well.
2. Submerge your eggs and leave them in there until they reach the desired color. One thing we learned is that it is better to have a lighter color as the base color so the second layer of color will take well on your eggs.
3. Dry your eggs with a paper towel.
4. Repeat the process with the rest of the eggs. Rest them gently on your inverted egg carton to allow them to dry.
5. To the dye that you have already prepared, add one tablespoon of olive oil and then, using a fork, run your fork through the oil to break the oil into pieces to create the solution to roll your eggs. As the oil swirls, roll your egg once through a contrasting color. Allow the oil to pick up & create another round of color on your eggs. Blot gently with paper towels. (Editor’s Note: Many apologies for the lack of pictures after this point. We just really got into it and it was getting a little crazy with eggs dropping rolling)
Make the birthday cake of your daughter’s dreams with this DIY Barbie Doll Cake Tutorial. This simple bowl cake is the base of the Barbie dress to make a perfect princess cake.
Over the month of December we celebrated Emily’s 5th birthday. This was the year of the Barbie which thrilled me to no end as I had envisioned a DIY Barbie Cake for my little girl long before she was even a twinkle in our eye. Barbie birthday cakes are a true labor of love by the mothers who create them and this cake was a testament to my undying love for my daughter.
Today I wanted to share with you how we created our Barbie cake and some tips for creating this cake for your own little princess! The week will be filled with oodles of tutorials and ideas for making your Barbie party special and I hope to add a little inspiration to your own Barbie-inspired party!
For this cake you will need a white cake mix, strawberry gelatin dessert, eggs, milk, canola oil, a package of fresh strawberries, and your doll.
The doll that is pictured in this tutorial ended up not being used because the cake was not tall enough to form her dress and stand her upright. Doll toppers can be purchased specifically for your cake or you can ask your bakery if they will sell you a doll that you can use for roughly the same amount. My girlfriend also found a shorter generic one that could be found at the dollar store because the generic ones are not as tall as the real Barbies.
My best friend broke the legs of her Barbie for my cake. May you all have a super awesome mafia friend like me who is willing to donate her legless Barbie for your project.
This cake recipe is an easy mix and dump cake, but you will need to finely chop your strawberries to mix into the cake. I used my food chopper to chop these up evenly and fine for the cake. Once you have done that, you have the brunt of the cake mixing portion done.
Dump all of the ingredients into your mixer, including those finely chopped berries, and give it a good mix. I let it run for a good minute or two while my oven was preheating to 350 degrees.
Pour your batter into a greased mixing bowl. The mixing bowl I used for this project isa two-quart Batter Bowl that I had in my kitchen, a long ago purchase that I made with Pampered Chef. Many years ago when I bought it, the consultant had shared with me that it would make the perfect Barbie cake.
Now let Barbie sit back and take a little nap while her dress bakes.
Because of the depth of the cake, this cake will take roughly an hour and ten minutes to bake.
You want to make sure that the rack is not too high on your oven or it will really brown the top of your cake.
You will also want to keep an eye on it and test the center after an hour to see how it is doing. Mine took the full hour and ten minutes for this cake though.
Once the cake is done baking, you can pull it out and let it rest for at least fifteen minutes. Invert your cake on a cooling rack and let it cool for three hours before decorating.
I prefer to make my cakes in a two day process so I went ahead and wrapped the cooled Barbie cake in plastic wrap and rested it on top of a dish, then covered the whole thing in foil. Make sure that your cake is completely cool before wrapping it for freezing. I tucked this in our freezer in a cake pan for support.
When the cake is frozen it is much easier to decorate and I have a lot less crumbs to have to work around. That little tip came courtesy of a Michael’s cake decorating course I took and has served me well over the years of making and decorating special occasion cakes.
Now it is time to make the frosting.
You can definitely skip this step and just use two 16 ounce containers of vanilla frosting (tinted to your favorite cake dress color), but the jarred frosting won’t give you the stiffness you need if you want to decorate and embellish the dress.
This buttercream decorator’s frosting uses the confectioner’s sugar, shortening, milk, clear butter flavor (pictured above and purchased at Michael’s) and a little Meringue Powder that gives it a yummy whipped and buttered taste without adding any off-colors to your frosting.
Making frosting is a messy, messy job and is one of my least favorite parts about cake decorating. One way you can really cut down on the mess is to dampen a kitchen towel and drape it over your mixer while you are whipping up your frosting. This will cut down on the confectioner’s sugar dust clouds that you will find all over the kitchen and you can wipe down your mixer when you are all done.
Really try hard to resist eating this frosting. You really will need all of it to decorate your cake.
Doesn’t it look delicious though?
Tint the frosting, with food coloring, in your desired color. In our case it was Emily’s two favorites…pink and dark pink.
Now it is time to frost your cake. I frost my cakes frozen and they turn out beautifully. You just want to give your decorated cake a few hours to thaw before the guests arrive, but frozen cake frosting is so darn easy that you will never go back. It, basically, eliminates the need to do a crumb coat entirely. Frost it the best you can and remember that you can add as many details as you need to and that will cover up any of the imperfect parts.
To get the surface even smoother, dip your clean spatula in hot water and run it across the surface of the cake in long strokes. This will melt the frosting slightly to help remove stroke marks. Wipe the spatula clean and dip it in the hot water before each stroke.
Once your cake is smooth (ish), you are ready to add your embellishments to decorate your dress. Assemble your pastry bag with some of your extra frosting. I used Wilton Tips #2D to makeswirl flowers and my zigzag border, tip 3 to make the centers of the flowers andadded dots to her dresses, and tip 21 for theshell borders and little loops on her dress.
You can add whatever details you prefer on your cake, that is the beauty of making your own Barbie cake. Embrace your inner-fashionista and have a blast making Barbie’s party dress!
Here is our finished diy barbie cake.
I left the top of Barbie’s dress on and tried to incorporate the lower half into looking like a continuation of her top.
Her hair was tied with a little leftover grosgrain ribbon.
If your Barbie has legs, you can wrap her in plastic before inserting her.
There is no need to cut a circle, she should wedge pretty easily without the extra step.
After Barbie was done with this party, I put her dress top in the dishwasher and it came out clean and perfect. Barbie just got a good wash in the sink and I put her away…just in case we might need her next year.
The Perfect Pink Barbie Cake With Buttercream Frosting
Author: Adapted from The Cake Doctor Cookbook
Recipe type: Dessert
This cake is so moist and full of strawberry flavor. The color from the gelatin adds a vivid pink hue and the flecks of fresh berry take these pantry ingredients to another level. If a Barbie cake isn't your thing, wait for your post next week where these are transformed into a grown-up cupcake complete with a Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting. While buttercream icing is not my favorite tasting frosting, this frosting is ideal for decorating and piping beautiful decorations on your Barbie cake. The butter flavor really adds a lot of richness to this frosting. This recipe creates a batch and a half (or approximately five cups of frosting). This will likely be more than you need, but I would rather have extra frosting than not enough and make it all over again. Extra frosting can also be used to decorate a batch of cupcakes for the adults!
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin
1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries with juice (approximately 1½ cups whole berries)
¾ cup milk
¾ cup canola oil
4 large eggs
For Buttercream Icing (Medium Consistency): 1½ cups solid white shortening
Place your oven rack into the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a 2 quart oven-safe batter bowl by greasing heavily with cooking spray.
Place the cake mix, gelatin strawberries and their juice, milk, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.
Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for thirty seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat two more minutes.
Pour batter carefully into your prepared batter bowl.
Bake for 1 hour and ten minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed with your finger and a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool for fifteen minutes and then invert your cake on a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool for a minimum of three hours before decorating. For more tips see the post above.
For icing: Cream shortening flavoring, and water.
Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so until creamy.
Tint as desired.
Love this tutorial? Here are a few of our other favorite family birthday cake recipes!
Today we are continuing our handmade gift focus with another gift that is easy to make, but that make thoughtful gifts. I wanted to share with you what we made last year for our special teachers. We will begin with beautifully painted coffee mugs made by your fabulous children. What you will need for this craft is plain white mugs like I have pictured above. I buy these at our local thrift store for $.25 each and there is usually no shortage on white mugs that are being donated.
The other thing you will need is a porcelain paint set. These can be found in the painting supplies of your craft store. You are looking for the set that does not require any heat-setting. These paints cost $4.99, but you can bring that 40% off coupon to knock down the total.
Keep in mind, before letting your children loose on painting these, they require a clear coating on them first to prep them for painting. You have to wait one hour for these to dry. After that, give your children some paint brushes and let them decorate their mugs.
Once these are all painted, let them dry overnight and then apply the final clear coat that will go on top of them. The clear paint is contained within the paint set and just requires a quick brush on top of the mugs. I was able to paint three mugs with one set of paints, in case you were planning to do several of these. Once the clear coating has been applied, they are good to go in the dishwasher after ten days of drying.
Here is what my kid’s mugs turned out like! They were so proud of their art work and we plan to give these as gifts to a few special teachers including my son’s art teacher that has inspired him so much this year and our sweet bus driver that braves the bad weather to pick him up.
These painted mugs can be filled with treats, drink mixes, gift certificates to the coffee shop or a bookstore, or whatever else you can think of. We did these for our teachers this year, but one year we made these as grandparent gifts and they were really loved by them too!
Our mugs will be packaged with these jars filled with cocoa mix for our teachers. I had this ribbon leftover from my gift wrapping supplies last year and found these adorable Christmas Story gift tags at Walmart (9 for $2) that I tied to each one with the instructions for the cocoa. The jars were over in their kitchen supplies for $2.97 each to put the cocoa mix in. To save on this expense, try the Crystal Light containers for easy transporting and to keep your gift more thrifty.
I also saw these reusable shopping bags over in the gift wrap supplies at Walmart and scooped these up to package up our gifts. These bags were $2 each and can be reused over and over again. These bags are flat-bottomed, which makes them a little easier to stay standing upright underneath the Christmas tree.
I chose reusable bags last year for gift-giving and they were a total hit! I am such a fan of the Target bags and the clever designs that they implement into their bags. These bags folded up into the size of a small cosmetic case and had a pocket in the front too, perfect for tucking a gift card or a note of appreciation to someone. These were only $1.50, but everyone was so excited to get these.
These have just a couple of pieces of tissue paper at the top, but the bottom was stuffed with newspaper that would have gone in our recycle bin. The newspaper helped these stand a little more upright since they were not flat-bottomed. I felt proud about my eco-friendly alternative and am hoping to convert some of my plastic-bag-lovin’ family members over to the joys of reusable bags.
Do you do gifts for your teachers? What do you plan to give this year? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!
I was so excited to share this tutorial last year for creating these peppermint bath salts and oatmeal cookie bath for the gift-giving season. These are fabulous little “just because” gifts or a fun pick-me-up for a tired co-worker, friend, or teacher. I even have a cute little printable tag that you can use for decorating these!
Making bath salts and soaks are easy and require little effort on your part. I love to make a giant batch of these and keep them on hand for unexpected holiday occasions like hostess gifts or as a return gift for someone that may have been forgotten on the holiday gift-giving list. These are a thoughtful gift just perfect for a friend that needs a little rest and relaxation during the busy holiday season.
Today I wanted to share with you my favorite homemade oatmeal bath. I call it Oatmeal Cookies & Milk because it blends together the ingredients of an oatmeal cookie with powdered milk to make a soft & soothing bath for anyone who has sensitive skin.
**************** Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups powdered milk
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until it is a fine powder. Just add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your bathwater for a soothing bath.
Once the oatmeal mixture is ground up, it will look just like this. I dumped the entire amount into one jar and it filled it to the top, with just a little leftover.
This homemade oatmeal bath can be packaged with a spoon, purchased from your local thrift store, and a little holiday ribbon. How easy and simple is that?
The next gift I want to showcase is a very festive jar of Peppermint Bath Salts. I took a picture of all of the ingredients needed so you can see exactly what they look like when you go to the store. Don’t you hate it when you can’t picture what you should be looking for?
The kosher salt is over in the baking aisle with the regular salt, the Epsom Salts should be over in the first aid supplies of your superstore or drugstore, and the glycerin will be behind the drugstore counter where you pick up your prescriptions (and can also be used for your giant bubbles in the summer).
Now head to your craft store and go into the aisle where the soap making and candle making supplies are. There you will find colorants to dye your bath salts (you need the package with red in it) and the essential oils needed (for this craft it will be the eucalyptus mint). The last thing you can buy is some peppermint striped ribbon or whatever is on sale and festive will totally do the job!
As for jars, I found those at Big Lots and you can get a dozen of them for $6.50 or check the canning supplies section of Walmart (our store was out). I hope that helps with your shopping list and helps with the visuals for what to look for!
You will need two big bowls for this and a giant spoon to mix with. Don’t you love crafts that don’t require a lot of equipment? Now, empty one bag of Epsom Salts into one bowl. Next add 3 cups of your kosher salt, and stir well. Then stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of your eucalyptus essential oil. Mix well.
In your second large mixing bowl, empty one bag of Epsom Salts and add 3 cups of your kosher salt. Stir well. Next stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of your eucalyptus essential oil. To this bowl, you will add fifteen drops of your red colorant. This will give you a pale and pretty pink bowl of salts. Mix this side really well to incorporate the coloring throughout this batch.
Now grab a 1/2 cup measuring cup and start doing layers to create the peppermint candy look in the jar- a layer of white, a layer of pink, a layer of white, and then a layer of pink. I would recommend filling them on a cookie sheet to catch any runaway salts and to make clean-up a little bit easier. Once everything is filled, you should have 12 jars full and even a little leftover for yourself.
Now tie your gift up with a little festive ribbon and a beautiful gift tag instructing the recipient to put three tablespoons of salts in the bathtub to enjoy a relaxing holiday bath.
Candy Cane Bath Salts
12 tall jelly (12-ounce) canning jars with lid and rings
2 bags of Epsom Salts, 4 pounds each (approximately 16 cups)
4 lb kosher salt (approximately 6 cups is needed, buy two boxes and cook with the rest)
1⁄2 teaspoon glycerin, divided
16 drops eucalyptus peppermint essential oil
15 drops red colorant
Empty one bag of Epsom Salts into large mixing bowl. Add 3 cups kosher salt, stir well. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of eucalyptus
essential oil. Mix well. In second large mixing bowl, empty one bag of Epsom Salts, and add 3 cups kosher salt. Stir well. Add 1/4 teaspoon glycerin, eight drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and red colorant. Stir until completely blended. Color should be even. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill canning jars at an angle, layer salts in jars, alternating white and colored mixtures.
**************** Just to make your gifts a tad more festive and to ease the burden of making those gifts, we have included free gift tags to download and print for the holiday season!
Luckily for you, there will be just a tad too much of both of these bath mixtures to fit into the jars and you will be forced to partake of your efforts. Throw whatever is left in that food processor or bowl and put it into your bath. Now fix yourself a cup of vanilla chai tea, light a candle, and smuggle in a good book or magazine. Promptly, lock the door and pretend like you have no idea how that happened when everyone starts knocking. Enjoy a moment to yourself and relax, you deserve it!
What are some of your favorite gifts to keep on hand as impromptu gifts for the holidays? Please share your ideas and links here!