Posted 10-30-2016 at 06:40 AM by Jessica
You may be thinking I’m crazy for even mentioning another holiday that could require a dinner. You’ve already got Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner to worry about, after all. But honestly, this will be the easiest of them all. No need to invite anyone but your immediate family (unless you want to!) and you don’t need much food, just enough for your standard dinner with possibly a few fun twists on it, too! (If you don’t feel like cooking you can always order a pizza and arrange the olives or pepperoni’s into a jack-o-lantern face if you want something super simple but still festive!)
It doesn’t require a whole lot of extra work; simply relocating a few of the decorations you already have to the table and adding a spooky twist on a few of the foods is enough to make the dinner unique and fun! Here are 3 easy tips to making a Halloween dinner your family will love.
- Turn off the lights and light a few candles. Eating in the flickering candle light is sure to set a spooky mood!
- Decorate the table. Even if it’s just with a few decorations you already have! Place a pumpkin or two in between the candles and you’re set! Halloween paper plates can easily fill in for decor, and just changing the table cloth can make a huge difference.
- Halloween-ify your food! Simply googling or pinteresting (that should be a verb nowadays, don’t you think?) ‘Halloween Food’ will leave you with so many ideas you’ll be tempted to make a whole buffet!
It’s really that simple! Just a little decor to change the atmosphere and some fun food will make your Halloween dinner a tradition that your family will look forward to each and every year!
Posted 10-28-2016 at 11:38 PM by Jessica
As much as I love carving pumpkins (mostly just so that I can roast the seeds!) it can be a huge mess and a hassle dealing with all of the goop. And actually carving out nice shapes into the pumpkin is a lot harder than you anticipate each and every year. Especially if your daughter is insisting on having beautiful Elsa carved into her pumpkin this time.
You don’t know what you’re in for, friend.
Maybe instead of going with the traditional carving for all of the pumpkins, opt to carve just one or two and go with one of these other decorating ideas for the rest! Trust me, you, your kitchen floors, and even your kids will thank you.
I can’t wait to try this one! Simply change out the size of the drill bit for varying sized holes and make some fun designs.
Studded Thumbtack Pumpkins
All you need for this idea is some paint and tacks! Super easy, and they look really cool. I especially like how the stump is painted to match the gold in the tacks.
Crackled Painted Pumpkin
This is my most favorite idea out of them all. How brilliant is this crackled pumpkin idea? I want to buy a fake pumpkin so that I can make this and have it last long enough to be used for decoration for years. Just click on the link to find the super easy instructions for “crackling” your pumpkin. (I also really like how she used thumbtacks along the ridges of the other pumpkin.)
Puffy Paint Pumpkins
How adorable is this idea? The things people come up with just astound me. Why have I never thought to use puffy paint on a pumpkin?
Finger Painted Pumpkins
This last idea is a great way to get your youngest kids involved without simply having them pick out a design that you’ll spend hours carving. This way you’ve got nothing to carve, and they will feel like they created a masterpiece!
Which idea did you like best? Are you going to stick with the traditional carving, or will you try out a no-carve decorating technique this year?
Posted 10-27-2016 at 11:50 PM by Jessica
I know that one of my favorite parts of the fall season are the roasted pumpkin seeds. It makes all of the work carving and scooping out the pumpkin insides worth it after you’ve roasted up a batch of these!
No matter which flavor variation you choose it’s all very simple, just a little mixing up of the seasonings and placing them in the oven and in no time you have a yummy snack.
And did you know that pumpkin seeds contain zinc, protein and antioxidants? Those tiny little seeds are packed with nutrition, making them not just delicious, but also good for you!
1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
3 teaspoons melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse the seeds to remove the pumpkin and pat them dry with a towel.
Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt, then spread the seeds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring and flipping them occasionally.
- 1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Toss seeds in a bowl with the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Spread on lightly greased cookie sheet in single layer.
Bake about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Those are just two of the most basic pumpkin seed recipes to get you started. Once you try one of these, though, you’ll be hooked and can easily find dozens of different flavor variations.
Let me know if you have a favorite recipe for pumpkin seeds that you’d like to share!
Posted 10-26-2016 at 11:51 PM by Jessica
I always find it so sad to see all of the Jack-o-lanterns withering away and growing moldy, especially when they’re looking pretty sad even before Halloween comes around. (Though no judgement if your Jack-o-lanterns are molding on your porch; maybe that’s just part of the spooky Halloween look you’re going for?) If you aren’t looking to have pile of mush on your porch come the end of October, though, try out these steps for preserving your pumpkins.
- Mix up a solution of 2 teaspoons household bleach for every gallon of water. Put the solution in a bin or bucket large enough to fit your carved pumpkin.
- Place your jack-o-lantern inside the solution and let it sit overnight (about 8 hours). The bleach will kill off any bacteria and mold that will start the wilting and molding process.
- After it’s done soaking let the pumpkin air dry.
- Get a spray bottle and mix together the solution again, using 1 teaspoon of bleach and filling up the rest of the bottle with water. Spray the inside of the pumpkin each day, killing off any bacteria that may start to form.
- Smear some petroleum jelly onto the cut surfaces of the pumpkin. The jelly will lock in the moisture and keep the pumpkin from withering too quickly.
There you go! If you follow those simple steps your Jack-o-lantern can last for a few weeks leading up to Halloween! Meaning that you can get started with the carving come the second week of October.
Go ahead and give those tips a try and let us know how they worked for you! Also let us know if you have any other tried-and-true tips for keeping your jack-o-lantern looking happy throughout the month.
Posted 10-16-2016 at 09:23 PM by Jessica
Are you looking to spruce up your dinner menu? Is your family getting sick of the same old dishes over and over again? Do you want to teach your kids about other cultures but aren’t quite sure how to do it?
Do you want to teach your kids about other cultures without having to pay thousands of dollars to travel to a different continent?
How about you try an “International Night?”
Because each country is bound to have a traditional food, why not try your hand at making it? Having a Mexican theme one month and then trying Indian the next month, Moroccan another month… The options are endless! And nowadays it is so easy to find a whole lot of different recipes, you’re sure to find something that the whole family would love with just a few Google or Pinterest searches!
While you can do a full dinner with an entree from that country along with appetizers and a dessert, you can totally just do a dessert or just a simple dish if you don’t have the time or resources to go all out. Just print out a photo of the country and get the family together to talk about what you know about the country already, and then do some research together to broaden your knowledge! You can even find out how to say basic phrases in that language and practice saying “hello” and “good-bye” to each other. Music is also a great way to learn about that country; find a few fun songs originating from that place and listen to them! Honestly there are so many simple ways to learn more about different countries and help your kids, too!
Who knows, they may even ace their next geography test after a few of these “International Nights!”
Let us know if you have any other ideas on learning about other countries and cultures! If you have any fun international recipes, please share them in the comments as well!
Posted 10-14-2016 at 09:08 PM by Jessica
How cute would an ice cream sundae party be? It’s the perfect idea for a birthday party, family reunion, or just a fun get-together!
Ice cream is usually a pretty universally loved treat, and with so many different flavors there can really be something for everyone! I’ve put together a list of what you’d need in order to create the best Ice Cream Sundae Party ever.
1. Ice Cream. It might be kind of hard to have an ice cream party without the ice cream… Make sure you have a large variety of flavors, and don’t forget some good old-fashioned vanilla for those boring people out there (totally kidding! Kind of).
2. Spoons and Napkins. I don’t think those need too much explaining…
3. Bowls and Cones. Give everyone the choice with cute bowls and lots of cones.
4. Candy Toppings. Sprinkles are a necessity. Also marshmallows, chocolate chips and nuts!
5. Fruit Toppings. Bananas, strawberries, raspberries… You can really go with just about any fruit!
6. Syrups. If nothing else, set out some chocolate syrup and whipped cream. If you’re feeling fancy grab some pineapple preserves and some caramel and strawberry toppings too.
7. Ice Cream Scoops. If you really want to be cool, keep them in a large bowl of hot water so that there is less flavor mixing and it’s easier to scoop!
8. Decorations. How cute are these ice cream balloons? Even if you just make a few of these and set everything out on a nice tablecloth, you’re set!
9. Invitations. Make your own, like these adorable invites, or simply send out a mass text. Anything works.
There you go! An Ice Cream Social is a super cute party idea for any time of the year, not just the Summer! It doesn’t take much work or planning, just the right supplies!
Let us know how it goes, we’d love to hear it!
Posted 10-13-2016 at 09:02 PM by Jessica
It is officially Fall, and I’m always looking for unique ways to celebrate the season. Pumpkin themed recipes and Autumn inspired crafts are always super fun, but sometimes you just want something different! When I stumbled upon this Pumpkin Scented DIY Soap, I just knew I had to make it, and I sure am glad I did!
There is just something super luxurious about a fun-scented soap. Especially if it is homemade! Of course a bar of Dial does the job, but wouldn’t you rather have something that cleans, moisturizes and makes you smell pretty?
We have officially made it into the Autumn season and since I am obsessed with all things seasonal I decided that a pumpkin spice scented soap was not only a good idea but the absolute best idea. Of course, if you’re not feeling the pumpkin scent (how dare you!) you can replace the spices with some essential oils. Lavender is my favorite oil to add to soaps, but there are so many great options!
Now, heading out to buy a block handmade soap can end up running you more that you’d probably like, which is why I found an easy DIY version to save you money and still have you smelling beautiful!
Alrighty, now that I’ve chatted for a while, lets get to the soap concocting! I got this recipe from Happiness is Homemade, so head on over there with this link!
I promise you’re going to love how soft your skin feels, and the sweet pumpkin scent. Have I mentioned that this is a fantastic gift idea as well? Make a couple of these bars and give one to your mom, your niece, your neighbor! Inexpensive and easy!
Tell me in the comments if you ended up making this, and how you liked it! Did you use the pumpkin scent, or did you try something else?
Posted 10-11-2016 at 08:57 PM by Jessica
Did you know that a portion of your energy bill is paying for devices that you aren’t even using just because they are plugged into the wall? While it’s not always a lot of money, maybe a few dollars a month, it certainly can add up! Leaving a device plugged in 24/7 still siphons away some energy, and that is energy that will show up on your bill each month.
Unplugging some devices when you leave for the day or before you go to bed at night, or simply once you’re done using it can save you quite a bit in the long run.
Here are a handful of devices that you can benefit from having unplugged:
- Desktop and Laptop computers
- Your TV
- DVD players
- Cable TV boxes (though this one could be a pain to wait for it to reboot each time)
- Cordless phones
- Stereos and radios
- Your Coffeemaker
- Microwave (sometimes this is an easy plug to reach, if not, don’t bother with it)
- Game Consoles
Now, you may be thinking “so I have to run around the house unplugging things over and over?” The answer is no, you can actually make this much easier on yourself (especially if there are multiple cords in the same area) if you plug the devices into a power strip and just switch the power strip off.
Pretty easy, right?
Let us know how this works for you, we’d love to hear it!
Posted 10-9-2016 at 08:54 PM by Jessica
Science has been my favorite subject for as long as I can remember, and I think that a lot of what made me enjoy it as a child was the fun experiments I did in my class.
In my 4th grade class my teacher told us that we were going to make our very own rock candy! I don’t think that you can fully understand how exciting that is to a class of 9 year olds. The idea that science can lead to a sweet candy is sometimes a new concept as most kids only think of science as a study of bugs, plants, and possibly mixing liquids together that blow up.
I’ve found that same experiment that I did as a kid, and I’m going to share it with you!
This is a super easy experiment that does require adult supervision because you’re dealing with very hot liquids, but it’s simple enough that most kids will really enjoy it. All that is required is some patience as it will take 3-7 days for the sugar crystals to fully develop. But honestly, checking to see what’s grown each morning is almost as fun as eating the candy once it’s done!
I’ve copied the supplies needed and instructions down below for easy reference, but feel free to pop over to the Science Bob website for some photo demonstrations and tips.
- A wooden skewer or chopstick
- A large clothespin
- 1 cup of water
- 2-3 cups of granulated sugar
- A tall narrow glass or jar
- Clip the wooden skewer into the clothespin so that it hangs down inside the glass and is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the bottom of the glass. (as shown)
- Remove the skewer and clothespin and put them aside for now.
- Get a helpful adult!
- Pour the water into a pan and bring it to boil.
- Pour about 1/4 cup of sugar into the boiling water, stirring until it dissolves.
- Keep adding more and more sugar, each time stirring it until it dissolves, until no more will dissolve. This will take time and patience and it will take longer for the sugar to dissolve each time.Be sure you don’t give up too soon. Once no more sugar will dissolve, remove it from heat and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes.
NOTE: While it is cooling, some people like to dip half of the skewer in the sugar solution and then roll it in some sugar to help jump start the crystal growth. If you do this, be sure to let the skewer cool completely so that sugar crystals do not fall off when you place it back in the glass.
- Have your friendly ADULT carefully pour the sugar solution into the jar almost to the top. Then submerge the skewer back into the glass making sure that it is hanging straight down the middle without touching the sides.
- Allow the jar to fully cool and put it someplace where it will not be disturbed.
- Now just wait. The sugar crystals will grow over the next 3-7 days.
Want colored rock candy? Add food coloring to your sugar water and make sure sure that it is pretty dark in color for the best result.
And that’s it! Just check back each morning to see the sugar crystals magically forming on the stick! Your kids will love this. And since it’s made with just sugar and water (and possibly food coloring) it is totally safe to eat!
Let us know how this fun experiment turned out for you!
Posted 10-8-2016 at 08:40 PM by Jessica
As a kid my siblings and I enthusiastically referred to Fridays as “Stay Up Late Night.” It was the one night that my parents did not implement a bed-time and we could stay up as late as we wanted to (we’d usually crash before we ever reached 10pm, though) and we’d have a blast watching movies and eating pizza. Pure kid heaven, let me tell you.
Fridays were the best days ever because our school let out early so we usually went to get lunch with my mom and grandma. After that we’d head home to board games, movies projected onto the wall with my dads dinosaur of a projector, and lots of other fun. Having those fun activities to look forward to during the week was the greatest, and I’d love to share some fun ideas with you so that you can host your own “Friday Stay Up Late Night” with your family each week.
Pick out a movie: After school my mom would take us to Blockbuster (do you remember Blockbuster?! Holy cow I can’t believe it’s gone. So much of my childhood was spent at Blockbuster) and we’d pick out a movie. Now all you have to do is open up Netflix and let the kids choose what they want to watch.
Buy some treats: Or better yet, bake some together!
Break out the board games: Apples to Apples, Monopoly (if you really want to stay up late…), Clue, Trivial Pursuit… Grab a few and have a blast!
Create a cozy viewing area: Have everyone bring all of their blankets and pillows and stuffed animals into the living room. Your kids will get a kick out of the chaotic coziness.
No bed-time: Seriously, just let them fall asleep whenever they feel like it. (Most likely, it won’t be much later than their bed-time anyways…) Even if this is just a once-a-month thing, they’ll love it!
Invite friends over: While I wasn’t able to have sleepovers with friends, we could have “late nights!” (Meaning that we got picked up from the friend’s house around 11pm, right around when we’d usually just fall asleep anyways.) Inviting some cousins or friends over to enjoy the junk food and games will make it that much more fun!
There’s so much you can do on a Friday night in with the family, these are just a few of the things that I loved as a kid.
Do you have any fun Friday ideas? Let me know what you like to do as a family!