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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reese Peanut Butter Cups No-Bake Bars

Big thanks to my friend Gina for posting this awesome recipe on Facebook. It really does taste like a Reeses peanut butter cup! (However, it is very sweet!) The "real" reason I made it is because I couldn't stop thinking about it AND I had these crushed up graham crackers already.  I am not going to re-post the directions because they are below. However, I would add a little milk or water while melting the chocolate chips. I couldn't figure out how to use a less powerful microwave setting so I just used the re-heat setting. You don't want to burn the chocolate chips when melting them. (I used caramel flavored coffee creamer to keep the chocolate from burning.)
Also, I washed my hands (You're welcome!) and then just punched down the peanut butter mix.
Pour the chocolate out quickly as it will start to re-harden quickly.
Spread the chocolate over the mix using a spatula.  Refrigerate for one hour before cutting.
Please use caution and label correctly if bringing this to a party! Remember that many people have serious peanut allergies.

"I See the Moon" Glow-in-the-Dark Birthday Card

Super Moon June 2013
My nephew loves the moon.  When he was only a few months old, I took him out on my mom's deck and pointed to the moon.  He was riveted. Although he could barely talk, he kept saying, "moon, moon" over and over again. When he got a little older, he would try to sneak out and look for "luna" or the moon.  Another new development is that he also loves the dark.  I started buying him glow sticks that we can take into the windowless bathroom and play with.  It's a big hit. 

Step 1: I printed out a picture of the moon that I "binged."  (I used Bing Rewards so it all goes through Bing. I already have $20 in Amazon gift cards.  I guess I spend too much time online.)
I also found a verse of the "I Love the Moon" poem because I always sing that to Bubba when we are looking at the moon.

Step 2: Cut out images/words.
Step 3:  I used a clear glue to coat the spots on the moon image. Then I covered this with Martha Stewart's Glow-in-the-Dark glitter.  (Remember to put two sheets of paper under glitter so you don't waste any.  Sift excess glitter back into container.)  I got this glitter off of Ebay for about $12.  Pricey but you really don't need a lot for a great effect.  I don't know why I am fascinated by everything glow-in-the-dark but it is really cool to be able to make anything glow!
Step 4: Let the glittery moon dry. Expose to bright light and test in a dark room.  Add more glitter if needed.
Step 5 (not pictured):  I just folded a black piece of Colorblok cardstock into a card. I glued the moon on the front. I prefer to use glue runners instead of wet glue so there is no rippling on the thin copier paper.  I added my nephew's name (not Bubba, ha ha)to the front using clear scrapbook stickers.  I glued the poem on the inside of the card.  Since I was using black paper I used my white gel pen to write a birthday message. 
I also made a quick envelope using another piece of scrapbook paper.  Envelopes are really easy to make.  Here's a funny video from Angry Chicken on how to make a "lazy" envelope: Love it!
When I gave the card to Bubba and showed him that it glowed, he said, "Wow!"

Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Grow an Avocado Plant from the Pit-Update!


 I love guacamole or even adding slices of avocado to my salads. A while ago, I had friends over and they were like, "What is that?" It was my avocado "plant." Really, it was just a shoot from an used avocado pit.  From what I understand this will never produce a tree but just a plant. Avocado trees are from the south of Mexico and probably would not do well here in zone 5.  I learned the method from my grandmother who had a huge "green thumb." I will update the pictures as my plant grows.  This project takes a while to spout but it is an interesting activity to do.
Step One: Buy avocados.  There are several different varieties but I only buy them on sale. I also try to get avocados that are softer and riper as these can take a long time to ripen.

Step Two:  Cut the avocados in half. 

Step Three: Put the avocado "meat" in a bowl.  Make guacamole.  Use a fork to mash. Refrigerate.  Eat later.

Step Four: Wash the pit.  It will be slippery.  I usually make a two avocado guacamole so I will use two pits.
 Step Five: After washing, find your toothpicks.
Step Six: Insert toothpicks into the pit in a + manner. The pit will be hard and slippery. You may break several toothpicks while attempting to insert.
Step Seven:  Lay toothpicks over a cup of water. Fill the water to the very top so the avocado pit is 50% submerged.  You want to make sure to refill water as it evaporates. 
Step Eight:  Put the pit in a sunny location. Continue to "water" it.  Eventually, a green spout will split out.  Let this grow for a few more weeks. Then, re-plant. 
 I noticed a few days ago that the avocado pit had split.  Roots started to grow downward in only one of the pits.  The other is still whole.  I had to replace the paper cups as they seemed to be getting mushy.
 Remember to replace and refill your water every few days.
Only the best for my "pits"!

Soon, I think a green spout will start growing up from the center. I have to keep remembering to keep watering these avocados. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How to Have a John Deere Birthday Party

Happy 2nd  Birthday, Bubba!  It's hard to believe that our sweet little boy is now a "terrific" two! He is obsessed with trucks, tractors, and transportation so it wasn't hard to decide on a John Deere theme.  I never thought having a nephew would turn me into a party planner!   They had a great party for him.  It was much smaller than last year's due to my sister being nine months pregnant.  However, a great time was had by all. It was a GREAT day being both sunny and hot. The pool really helped. [ I did manage to get my first sunburn in many years. I just never had time to put on sunscreen. Bad idea.  I actually bathed in green tea. (Thanks, Pinterest!) Not only do I hate the taste of green tea, I had a ton of it that I wanted to get rid of. So I just added to my bath. Strangely, it seemed to work. I also cut aloe from my plant and squeezed it on my bath.]
1. John Deere cake and cup cakes
Here's the cake table. No, I did not make the cake and cup cakes just the cup cake toppers. My sister has a "cake girl" who is really good. She also made the elephant fondant cake from the sprinkle.  My sister ordered the table cloth online.  I got the yellow and green plastic cups from Walmart. 
His nonny got him a John Deere t-shirt at a farm store!
2. John Deere banner/decorations  I made this banner using Opposites Attract and Beep, Beep Cricut cartridges. I ran out of green, yellow, and black paper. I will post a separate banner making tutorial.  Most of the other decorations had to be ordered online. 
3. Activities for kids:
Car piñata:   I couldn't find a truck piñata so we weren't going to do one. However, one of my brother-in-laws friend's gave this one to them for free. It was also filled with candy. The older kids liked this.
Sprinkler pool: This was a big hit with the kids too small for the "big" pool.  You had to connect the hose to it and it rained on the sliding board. 
Batting practice: After cleaning, I spent most of the day filling up water balloons on Friday. We had one of those t-ball stands for the kids to do "batting" practice with the water balloons. I filled up a huge plastic container with water balloons. The kids actually had a huge water battle instead of hitting the balloons on the stand!  I don't have any pictures because I don't want my iphone 5 getting wet! (My 3gs got fried by water! My iphone 4 fell in the toilet.)  My sister's mother-in-law then picked up every scrap of balloon so the dog and kids didn't ingest it. Safety first!
 4. John Deere Big gift: John Deere tractor! My mom, sister, brother-in-law and I all chipped in for Bubba's tractor! We've been talking about this gift for a year. Now, it is a reality.  All the boys loved it and the boy of the hour was off... 
My sister kept "encouraging" kids to wear these John Deere party hats!
With daddy!
The best part: a license plate saying BUBBA!  He really needs a John Deere hat now.












Lavender Bath Bombs

 It's funny but on Pinterest, I kept coming across all these recipes for bath bombs.  I used to make my own bath bombs at least ten years ago.This rekindled my interest in them. I remember going to a Lush store with friends in Atlantic City a few years back. They spent a lot of money on the huge bath bombs and soaps. However, I actually didn't buy anything because "why-would-I-spend-all-that-money-when-I-could-make-it-myself?"  .  Sure enough, I found some of my old supplies in my garage.  I was almost overwhelmed by all the different recipes that I found.  I decided to use one that required cocoa butter as I still had some that was quite old.  Strangely, the recipe I used was from by Abby Girl. Bath bombs are in no way edible. Also, they can make your bath tub extremely slippery. I think that is why I stopped making them...I didn't live alone and was afraid that one of my family members would take a header in the shower!
How to make your own cheap bath bombs with real essential oils:
I've been covering my dining room table with a plastic tablecloth that I bought at Walmart for $1.  I really find that I need space these days to do anything. Gone are the days of trying to create in a small dorm room or in my old bedroom.  I can spread out now and it is so much easier.

I decided to also use an old container of citrus acid.  I ordered a new supply off of Ebay for $15. This is what makes the bath bombs "fizz."  The cocoa butter is hard and smells like chocolate.  Luckily, it doesn't seem to go bad.  I am planning to order more soon.  You can also use it in a lot of other products.
I put out all of my supplies. I had several different recipes. I ended up not needing the witch hazel and Epson salt in this one.
Bath Bombs with Cocoa Butter Recipe
*2 cups of baking soda
*1 cup of citrus acid
*1 cup corn starch
*1 tablespoon borax
*Essential oils
*85 grams of cocoa butter, melted (I weighted this with the food scale)
(Optional: I used my mortal and pestle to crush up some dried chamomile and lavender to add to the dry mix)
*Need a pot to melt the cocoa butter, spoon, and a large bowl to mix ingredients
*Molds to pack the bath bombs in (ice tray, plastic containers, or clear Christmas ornaments to make the round ones)
After getting all of my supplies and food scale out, I started to mix the dry ingredients: baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch, and borax.  After I use the bowls, pots, spoons in body product creation, I no longer use it for food. I store it separately, just in case.

Stir. Melt the cocoa butter and add to the dry ingredients. I added my essential oil (lavender) to the cocoa butter. The smell was amazing!
Stir quickly.  Start to pack into molds. I couldn't find my ice trays so I ended up using plastic molds from cookies or something.

Pack firmly.  Let dry for four hours. Then, carefully pop out and lay on a paper towel for 12 hours.  I had a lot left over and I couldn't find any more molds so I put the excess in a plastic container.  These will still fizz and can be put in a decorative container with a small spoon. The trick is to not get water in it because they will fizz. 
I plan to try a couple more different recipes.  Some of the older ones I used to use are quite different. 
I've been using the loose bath fizz and they really fizz.  I also love how moisturizing the cocoa butter feels on my skin. I should have skipped the dried lavender because it looked like little bugs.  After bathing, the little pieces of lavender stuck to my skin. Also, this stuff really turns your tub into a death trap!  You really need to rinse and wipe down the tub after using.  I also put something like a bottle of shampoo in the middle of the tub so I remember that it might be slippery the next time I use it.

I think I am going to skip the cocoa butter next time (using oil instead) to see if this makes the tub less slippery.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dry DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent

After making the liquid detergent, I had to try the dry recipe.  I already had all the ingredient out. (Read: I made a huge mess!)  I covered both my dining room and kitchen tables with a plastic table cloth.
  It is the same ingredients as the liquid recipe.  I used:
*2 cups of ground up Fels Naptha
*1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
*1 cup of 20 Mules Borax
 I knew that I had to really grind the Fels Naptha soap much better this time. Luckily, I noticed I had an old food processor in my garage. My mom gave it to me and I think I used it once and found it to be too much trouble. 
I used a really sharp knife to cut the soap into chunks.
I put the chunks into the food processor. Wow, this was much easier than grating it by hand.
I even gave the soap a second pass through the processor just to catch any larger chunks.
I was going to store the soap in an airtight container. However, I ended up just using it all.  I mixed up all the ingredients with a spoon. My hoarding paid off when I was able to remove the labels from some used glass jars to re-purpose. My motto is: Use what you already have!
I hand wrote a quick tag with directions on it.  Two tablespoons should be sufficient for one regular load. Of course for a really dirty load,  you may have to adjust.  I gave one jar to my sister and another to my mom to test out.  This recipe should be good in a HE washer because the soap does not create a lot of suds. I am planning to use my liquid detergent first. 
 I will miss the addictive smell of Gain. However, I could never really smell it on the dried clothes anyway.  You really don't appreciate clean laundry until you don't have it. Not to go into detail but washing your clothes with soap in a bathtub DOES NOT CUT IT. Yes, the joys of travel are vast...Really, I am very thankful for my washing machine!
I also wrote the National Poison Emergency number 1-800-222-1222 on the back of the directions.  Keep away from children and pets.  Remember, the super washing soda is considered caustic so use caution.