Fireworks Cookies, Made by Kids

In my summer job as cruise director for the hooligans, I spend a lot of time making them think the things I need done are really fun craft projects.  Case in point…I needed these cookies decorated for this post, and they were already claiming to be bored a week into summer break, so I turned it into a family effort. Effort is an exaggeration…including making the icing, this took less than thirty minutes to complete. With the cookies already baked earlier in the week, that is.

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How gorgeous are those?  I first saw these in a Martha Stewart magazine a few years ago, and I’ve found numerous occasions that they’re perfect for (that Army life we lead, you know!).

The first step is to bake your cookies.  These are some sugar cookies that Princess Thundercloud and I made for her kindergarten celebration at the end of the school year. We used our favorite recipe, which you can find here.  Then I made some royal icing, following the directions on the can of meringue powder.  You can find the powder anywhere you buy cake decorating stuff, even Walmart. The icing needs to be fairly fluid, but not so much that it runs off the sides of the cookies.

Anyway, next tint your icing however you’d like. We left the majority white, then added red and blue to small amounts.  Put the small amounts in ziploc bags and snip a small corner off each bag. Here’s the supplies we used (we did this outside because it was a gorgeous day and I really didn’t want my kitchen messy).

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You’ll need a bowl and wooden spoon that stretches across it, to easily dip the cookies in the main color, then skim off the excess on the handle of the spoon. See how here…it’s super simple.

In addition to the bags of colored icing, you’ll need toothpicks, wire racks with parchment or wax paper underneath to catch drips, and your cookies, of course.

Put the base coat on a few cookies (not too many or they’ll be too dry to decorate easily). Then make circles or dots on the white icing using the colored icing. Cookies-Bullseye-ChaosServe

Next, using a toothpick, slowly drag the toothpick from the center to the edge, then move a little way along the edge and drag the toothpick back to the center. Repeat until you’re all the way around. See…it’s simple!

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The kids LOVE decorating cookies this way, and I love that their efforts almost always look fabulous. They occasionally get a little over-zealous and mix the colors too much so they look a bit muddy, but even those are still pretty. Cookies-Above-ChaosServedDaCookies-Trio-ChaosServedDai

My mom, my favorite GI Joe, and I made about 150 of these for his change of command ceremony in Wisconsin. And it was still SO much faster than any other decorating method. Ours looked a bit better than the kids (and more consistent), but, like I said, the kids are so impressed with their decorating abilities with these! Here’s a peek at the ones we made in Wisconsin:

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Gorgeous, right?  So go make some cookies and decorate them with your kids!

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TBT: Sharpie Fireworks T-Shirts

We love these t-shirts, and they were so much fun to make!  I have to say, though, that I’ve not found a way to make Sharpie shirts colorfast when you wash them, despite all the tips I’ve found online. I’ve tossed them in a hot dryer, ironed them, put vinegar in the wash with them…nothing seems to set the color that well. It’s still a great activity for the 4th, though, and since I can get a pack of tees for less than $10 and the hooligans outgrow them every year anyway, we look forward to our new fireworks shirts.  Here’s the original post from a couple of years ago…enjoy!

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We’re going to be in Oklahoma for the Fourth (without the hubs…apparently the Army thinks patriotic holidays are good recruiting opportunities or something…whatev), so we made these shirts to take with us.

DSC_0002The hooligans each made their own, while I made some for the Okie cousins.

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I first made these back in March after seeing them on the Martha show. Then we used green and orange for St. Patrick’s Day (and because Princess Thundercloud needed those colors to match some pants).

To make them, just make dots with a Sharpie on a white t-shirt, then use an eyedropper to drop rubbing alcohol into the center of each cluster.  It just takes a few drops and spreads out in a very cool pattern.  We put wax paper inside the shirt to keep the marker from bleeding through when we drew on them.

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When the fireworks dried, I drew some sketchy lines with a Sharpie, just to suggest the trajectory for the fireworks.

Super cool, we think…and with adult supervision and nerves of steel, totally a kid-friendly, instant gratification craft!

 

DIY Find It Bottles

It’s simply amazing the things you find when you finally force your kids to organize their closets (with your help, of course!). When we left Wisconsin last July, one of Princess Thundercloud’s sweet little friends gave her a handmade Find It Bottle.  She played with it a lot on our trip, as did her brothers, but then our 20,000 pounds of stuff arrived and needed unpacking, so I forgot she had it in her closet. Apparently she’s been playing with it all year in her room and I just didn’t know it!

Anyway, I’m sharing it today because I think it’s such a great idea. You can, of course, buy similar ones, but they’re $20 or so, and if you want each kid to have their own, that adds up quickly!

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I’m sure you can figure this out…clean an empty bottle (this was an olive oil one), dry it thoroughly, and add rice and all the little things to find. Here’s the list in hers:

  • Q-tip
  • Pink hairband
  • Quarter
  • Penny
  • Orange dinosaur
  • Green dinosaur
  • Pink star bead
  • Green bead
  • Green button
  • Pink Button
  • Paper clip
  • Rotini noodle
  • Green smiley face super ball
  • Hello Kitty sticker
  • Tiger head eraser
  • Chocolate Teddy Graham
  • Goldfish
  • Red Rubber Band
  • Yellow Pompom
  • Sparkly Purple Pompom

I love that it’s things you’d find in your house already, so there’s very little cost to make them, and you’re recycling a bottle! This bottle is glass, which cuts down on the static cling inside it, but you could certainly use a clear plastic bottle just as easily. Oh, and it’s a good idea glue the lid on when you’re done, using Super Glue or E6000.  You don’t want any dumped bottles in the backseat of your car!

As I said, this entertained the hooligans for hours in the car, but they’ve enjoyed it at home, as well.  So even you’re stay-cationing this summer, your kids will love this boredom-buster!

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Grilled Salmon with Tomato, Cucumber, and Caper Salsa

One recent Sunday evening, we had possibly the most perfect summer dinner you can in the Pacific Northwest. Copper River salmon was fresh that day, and, if you’ve never had it, everyday salmon just cannot compare.  It’s rich, buttery, and utterly non-fishy tasting. I am not a salmon eater normally, but I’m happy to make an exception for Copper River.

One of my friends, who is an excellent cook, told me years ago to just wrap a salmon fillet in foil, add olive oil, lemon, and dill, and grill it for about 15 minutes. The skin sticks to the foil and you can use a then metal spatula to lift the fish right off it. It works like a charm!

This same friend texted a link to an Epicurious recipe for salmon that they really like, so we tried it. And loved it. And fought over the leftovers for lunch the next day.

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I followed the salsa recipe exactly…you can get it here, at Epicurious.com.  After mixing the salsa together, I made the salmon a bit differently than they did, using the foil method for easy cleanup.

I measured out a double layer of foil (because I didn’t have the heavy duty kind) and put the salmon in the center of it.  I drizzled olive oil over it, then sprinkled it heavily with lemon pepper and dill.  I closed the foil up, and the hubs grilled it for fifteen minutes. We also wrapped our corn in foil and grilled it for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. I think 15 would have been fine for it, too, but you know men and their grills.

In all, it was a thirty-minute meal, since the salsa was supposed to sit to let the flavors meld for 30 minutes. The recipe also said to marinate the salmon in some of the salsa ingredients, but I didn’t do that. I might, for non-Copper River salmon, the next time we have that.

The next day, I used the leftover salsa (which is really more like a salad), mixed with leftover corn and some chopped grilled chicken, to make a delicious lunch for just me. I was enjoying my last week of peaceful lunches before school was out for the summer and my favorite GI Joe finished his military career and was also home for the summer. Now I’m back to making lunch for five everyday. Woohoo.

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Could Not Be Simpler Ice Cream Sandwiches

Last week, on the last day of school, I planned to have hot dogs and root beer floats for dinner. Then I realized, at 5:30, that we didn’t have hot dogs.  But we did have some turkey Italian sausages, so those worked. Then I realized that the hooligans had helped themselves to the cans of root beer in the garage and we didn’t have that, either. To be clear, it was a six-pack of root beer I bought last fall to celebrate the first day of school, so they’ve had 10 months to consume the three cans that were left. Ice-Cream-ChaosServedDaily

Happily, I had some plain sugar cookies that I hadn’t yet decorated for a Fourth of July post I’m doing for next week.  I just put a half-scoop of ice cream on three cookies, smooshed it down a little flat, and added another cookie on top.  I rolled the edges in sprinkles (I had to press them on a little, but that was easy) and put them in the freezer until dinner was finished.

The kids said I’m the best mom ever. But they might be biased.

If you’re like me, you rarely have plain sugar cookies sitting around waiting on an ice cream sandwich emergency to arise. I’m thinking you could use vanilla wafers to make super cute mini sandwiches, still with sprinkles, of course.  Or those chocolate wafer cookies might work, if they’re not too thin. Or chocolate chip or any other cookie you happen to have, really!

And, again if you’re like me, you may rarely even have ice cream on hand. I do always have yogurt, though…check out these fun Easy-Peasy Yogurt Pops I made last summer!

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Hope you’re enjoying a summer filled with plenty of treats, planned or not!

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Photos for the Grands

You know how it is…the grandparents have everything they could ever need, so for holidays we generally send either photos, food, or both. This year, we had seen gorgeous wildflowers when walking the dog, so we went to the woods across the road to take some photos.  0614 Dads Day 140614 Dads Day 10614 Dads Day 3

Have I mentioned how happy it makes me that my hooligans are finally old enough to be cooperative when I want some decent photos?  Not always, of course, but Saturday morning I plied them with pancakes, bacon, eggs, and fruit salad, then hustled everyone out the door while they were full and on a sugar high.0614 Dads Day 11

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Even the dog was semi-helpful about going where we wanted.0614 Dads Day 50614 Dads Day 7

They found lots of nature to stop and examine, too, which was entertaining. The middle one wanted to wear that long, stringy moss on his head for photos, and then he saw a wildflower that had an entire lifecycle on one stem, from bud to death. I suspect his sister was just feigning interest, but it was nice of her to listen.

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When we made it back home, I edited the photos a bit, to make them a little more polished-looking, then I uploaded them all to Costco and made 11×14 collages. They look great…my only complaint with Costco collages is that you can’t place the photos as you want them.  You just have to keep clicking “Shuffle photos” until an arrangement you like comes up.  The one I went with isn’t perfect, but I’d shuffled about 25 times and it was as close to perfect as it got!

I mailed them in tubes, since the grands have asked us not to send anymore frames…they use the ones they already have. Knowing that both papas have a sweet tooth, we poured saltwater taffy into the center of the tubes to fill them up. See…photos and little something sweet (as though pics of their grandkids weren’t sweet enough!).

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Upcycled Ruffled Jeans

Princess Thundercloud makes me kind of crazy…she has this long, long legs and a skinny little waist, and she’s always outgrowing jeans in length before the waist, even when I cinch up the waist with those adjustor thingies. And she inherits a lot of jeans with the knees ripped out from her big brother, too.  I hate giving perfectly good jeans to the thrift shop, so I often turn hers into shorts or capris.  With a little embellishment, she thinks they’re brand-new and can’t wait to wear them. It’s all a mindgame, I know…but I love messing with those little brains!Crops-Title

ALl you need is a pair of jeans, cut off wherever you’d like, some strips of fabric about 1-1/2” to 2” wide and a half inch longer that the circumference of the jean leg where it’s cut off, and some ruffled eyelet trim, also 1/2” longer than the circumference of the jean leg. And a sewing machine and thread, of course.

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Start by sewing the ends of the printed fabric together to make a loop. Then sew it to the pant leg, about an inch in.

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Turn the fabric and tuck the raw edge under the end of the jeans.  Iron it to make a crease, then sew around the leg, catching the eyelet ruffle, the jean leg, and the printed fabric.

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Then give them to your kid and tell her you got her some new capris!

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This photo was taken on the last day of school last year, and just made me miss our old school in Wisconsin…again! On the bright side, here it is a year later, and she can still wear these capris!

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TBT: Dad’s Day Gifts from the Past

What with the end of school, my birthday, and all the other daily stuff we do, Fathers Day always sneaks up on me!  In case that’s true for you, as well, here are a few ideas we’ve made in the past…in a hurry!

Last year, we made these fabulous Shadow Photo Posters for the hubs and the grandpas. They loved them, and it really took very little time to do!  Gravel-CHaosServedDaily

Before that, the hooligans loved making Cookies and Cream Fudge Rocks for their dad…and helping him eat them, of course!

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Last but not least, the kids’ photos cut into their handprints made a super fun Hands Down, You’re the Best! canvas for his office.

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Perfect Cold-Brewed Coffee

We’ve had about three days when the temperature has been above 75 degrees, so I am craving iced coffee rather than hot.  When I don’t plan ahead, I have to brew a Keurig cup of coffee and wait for it to cool, which is annoying.  So I try to always have a pitcher of this Perfect Cold-brewed Coffee in the refrigerator.  I’ve found cold-brewed coffee results in a more mellow, less acidic flavor for iced coffee, and it’s super simple to do.

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The supplies are simple:

  • 1/2 pound ground coffee
  • 1 gallon pitcher
  • A large pot
  • Cheesecloth (in the notions section of the fabric store)
  • Fine mesh strainer

1. Put the ground coffee in your pitcher and pour cold water over it. Let it sit on your counter for at least 8 hours.

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2. Prepare your pot and strainer: Set the strainer in the top of the pot and line the strainer with cheesecloth. You don’t want to be picking coffee grounds out of your teeth as you drink, do you?

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3. Carefully pour the brewed cold coffee through the strainer, catching the grounds in the cheesecloth.Coffee-Strain1-ChaosServedD

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See, there’s a lot of grounds left in the pitcher. Dump those in the trash or work them into the soil in your garden or flowerbed.

4. Pour the strained coffee from the pot into a pitcher and chill it in the frig. It will keep for about a week when refrigerated. And it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying iced coffee at your favorite coffee shack!Coffee-Pitcher-ChaosServedD

Since I’ve been on this semi-Paleo plan, I don’t eat dairy at all and I drink my coffee black, but I’ve found coconut milk and coffee makes a delightfully decadent-tasting treat on a hot afternoon.  Okay, a warm afternoon here in the Pacific Northwest!  But one day it might actually reach the 80’s…in August, maybe.

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Semi-Homemade Thank You Notes

Now I love creating cards from scratch, but….sometimes I just need a bunch of notes in a jiffy.  What to do?  Use a packet of notes and a few embellishments to make them your own!

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I found these adorable library card notes at Marshalls for $3.99 for a pack of ten, including envelopes. What a deal! The stickers are from K and Co. and I bought them at Target, but you can find similar ones at any craft store. I liked the 3-D effect of these, and loved the colors with the kraft and white cards.

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I spent less than five minutes making these…taking the photos for this post took longer than the actual crafting did. So there’s a quick idea for a Friday…I hope you can grab a few minutes to get your craft on this weekend, too!

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