5 Yummy Caramel Apple Desserts for Fall

Fall is right around the corner here in the OC, although the hot steamy weather sure does make you think that Summer is trying its hardest to hang on for dear life. I say, let’s get in the Fall spirit, and maybe the weather will cooperate and we will get some relief from the boiling temperatures outside.

In the spirit of Fall, I’ve rounded up five fabulous desserts inspired by a Fall favorite – the caramel apple.

These Caramel Apple Cupcakes from Six Sisters’ Stuff look divine, and could be a fun Fall party or classroom treat.

The sweet crunchy topping on these Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars from The Girl Who Ate Everything takes cheesecake to a whole new level.

Who wouldn’t love to wake up to these warm Caramel Apple Scones from Created by Diane. Yum!

Apple pie is one thing, but this Salted Caramel Apple Pie from Sally’s Baking Addiction may just take the cake!

This sweet twist on pizza is a fun family treat. This Caramel Apple Dessert Pizza from Mom, What’s for Dinner? uses a gluten-free crust, or you can also use regular pizza dough if you prefer.

Are you ready for Fall? Try one of these yummy desserts to get you in the Fall spirit.

Enjoy!

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Handy Tips for Making School Lunches

Back-to-school time is here. My niece starts middle school next week, and my daughter starts at the beginning of September. Making school lunches is one of those parent tasks that can be really frustrating. My girl has been in Girl Scout day camp all week, and I have had to pack her lunch

As we all gear up for back-to-school, here are some handy tips from my experience, and from some of great mom blogs, to hopefully help make lunchbox packing easier:

1. The freezer can be your friend

I’ve know many moms to use this trick. Prepare a week’s worth of sandwiches and separate each into sandwich bags and freeze. Pull one out in the morning, and by lunchtime the sandwich is nicely defrosted and fresh and ready to eat. Just keep in mind that depending on what type of sandwich your child likes, some ingredients won’t freeze and defrost well, like lettuce.

Is your child not a sandwich type of kid? Try freezer smoothies! Prepare smoothies ahead of time, freeze in ice cubes. Pop the ice cubes into a thermal drink container and by the time it’s lunch, they will be semi-defrosted and your child just needs to shake up their drink container to blend together. The Food for my Family blog has some really great tips on preparing lunchbox smoothies.

 

2. Get creative when packaging their lunches

Bento boxes are all the rage when it comes to lunchtime. The whole concept is to compartmentalize each food in one container. You can buy a container with separate compartments, use small plastic storage containers, or divide a bigger container using silicone cupcake cups to divide each food group. The Wendolinablog gives some great ideas about how to make the a great bento box lunch, and unique lunch box ideas.

Keep in mind, a sandwich doesn’t always have to look like a sandwich. You can deconstruct a sandwich to make it more interesting, or separate the protein from the grains. Try rolled up lunchmeat and cheeses, with some whole grain cereal. Or how about some leftover pancakes from breakfast?

 

3. Keep it fresh

My daughter loves apples, but doesn’t always like to bite into them the traditional way. Somehow the apple tastes better when it is sliced up. The problem? Apples brown when cut into and by lunch she won’t eat it anymore. The Momables blog has some great tips on how to keep apples from browning from citric acid to lemon juice.

4. Create a lunch assembly line

Mornings can be so rushed. We a little prep work, your lunch packing can go seamlessly, and the kids can even get involved. Create a “snack station” in your fridge and pantry filled will a variety of food packed or wrapped in individual servings. Build your lunchbox with a variety of items from each section quickly and easily. Real Simple has some great ideas on what to pack in your “snack stations”. The best part is that this could work for packing lunches and for the kids are at home and are ready for an after school snack. Just send them to the “station” to grab-and-go.

As you can imagination, preparation is key. Set aside time on Sunday nights to prep and prepare lunches and snacks for the week. The time you spend on Sunday night will save you all the time in the world in the mornings.

 

5. Wrap it up in foil

Does your child crave a hot lunch, like mine does sometime? I’ve been using this trick for years, and it is still a lunchbox standard in our house. I make a hot quesadilla in the morning while I’m making breakfast pancakes for my daughter. While the quesadilla is still hot, I wrap it in aluminum foil and put in her lunch. I’ve also heard of other mothers trying this trick with warmed up corn dogs.

 

What tips can you share on packing creative lunches? Write them in the comments below.

I’d love to hear them!

 

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Back to School BINGO

Have you begun the countdown for the kids going back to school yet? How much reading have they done. Do they still remember what 6×8 is?

We have a a blast of a summer so far, but one thing is for sure, your kids can never do too much reading or workbook pages in order to keep up some of their school skills. Am I right?

It is coming down to the last weeks of summer fun, and I created a fun game to help motivate my girl into keeping up with summer schoolwork, and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Here is my version of Back to School BINGO!

I created a board filled with 5 different activities that I would love for my daughter to keep up with, reading, writing, typing, math skills, and general workbook pages.

Each time she completes a task, she can put a sticker on that space, or draw a dot on it.

Then, I’m going to work with her to fill in the “prize” box on the bottom for what she achieves when she gets 5 in a row, or a BINGO.

You can download the BINGO board above here:

BACK TO SCHOOL BINGO for tween

or, if you want to customize one for your child, here is a blank BINGO board to fill in:

BACK TO SCHOOL BINGO blank

Enjoy! Good luck with your kids on the last days of summer!

My girl has begun her BINGO board tasks. Yay!

 

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Keepin’ Cool with Ice Chalk

It’s Summer, and it’s HOT! How are you keeping the kids cool?

Besides the usual swimming in the pool or running through the sprinklers, my daughter and I got a little crafty and recently tried ice chalk as a fun way to keep cool. I’ve seen this crafty idea floating around Pinterest, and knew I had to give it a try. I’ve seen many variations of the “ice chalk” recipe, but after doing a bit of experimenting, here is what we used to make our ice chalk. Not only is the chalk icy, but there is a secret ingredient that makes it sizzle!

I used fun shaped silicone ice trays, baking soda, tempera washable watercolor paint, and water to make the ice. The secret ingredient to make them sizzle is white vinegar.

First I mixed 1 cup of warm water with 3 tablespoons of baking soda and stirred until dissolved. Then I added about 2 squirts of the washable paint into the baking soda mixture and stirred.

Then it was just a matter of pouring the mixture into the ice trays and putting it in the freezer to freeze.

I made four trays of different colored ice chalk. When they were all set and frozen, it was time for play!

Mid afternoon is when the sun is the hottest and brightest in our backyard. The concrete can get really hot! So this was the perfect canvas to try out our ice chalks.

I gave my daughter all four ice trays and a spray bottle filled with white vinegar.

We popped them all onto the concrete and they immediately start to melt.

Then she had fun moving them around and mixing the different colors together. The feel of the ice was a really nice contrast to the hot sun.

This isn’t like traditional chalk where you can make designs and pictures. Ice chalk, we found, is more about cold sensory fun and watching the pretty colors melt together.

Then to make them sizzle, all you need to do is squirt the vinegar on top of the ice and it starts to bubble. The baking soda in the ice reacts to the vinegar and makes a sizzling, bubbling sound.

We had fun playing with the chalk until it melted. It was a mini reprieve from the heat!

Hope you and family are beating some of the summer heat! Enjoy this crafty idea with your kids.

Happy crafting!

 

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More Than Just a Marshmallow – 5 Marvelous Ideas

When I think of Summer, I think of camping. When I think of camping, I think of smores. When I think of smores, I think of marshmallows. Today is a little tribute this super simple, yet sugary treat.

Here are 5 fun and creative ways to enjoy the classic marshmallow:

1. When it’s hot outside, don’t you just want to cool down with a tasty cold treat? Try this Polka Dot Strawberry Shake from Sweet Paul! Marshmallow polka dots make this yummy shake so pretty and cute!

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2. This idea has been popping around Pinterest for awhile, but I still can’t get over how simple, yet so pretty these Color Dipped Marshmallows from IdleWife are. This could make any cup of hot cocoa a celebration.

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3. And speaking of perfect party marshmallows, I love these Marshmallow Treat Pops from Hostess with the Mostess.

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4. And for all of you crafty over achievers, how about whipping up some Marshmallow Ropes from Sprinkle Bakes. Absolutely divine!

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5. And for just some simple Summertime fun, you have got to make these Marshmallow Shooters from Come Together Kids!

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Happy marshmallow eating!

 

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Patriotic Party Poppers DIY

Do you have 4th of July party plans yet? This fun craft idea can get everyone involved and ready to celebrate.

First step – save those toilet paper rolls. You are going to upcycle them and fill them with candy.

Next, gather tissue paper in patriotic color of choice. I had red and white on hand.You will also need ribbon, tape, and scissors.

Print and cut out the party popper wrappers with your free printable here:

4th of July Party Popper Printable

Roll and wrap an empty toilet paper roll with tissue paper and secure one end with ribbon. Make sure the toilet paper is at least 3-4 longer than the toilet paper roll on each end.

Then fill the tube with candy of choice. I used some yummy taffy candy to fill my party poppers. Just keep in mind that once they are “popped” candy will go flying. That is the fun part, but you may want to fill with wrapped candy pieces.

Finish the party craft by securing the other end with another piece of ribbon. Wrap the decorative paper sleeve around the roll and secure with a piece of tape.

When you are ready to “pop” it open, simply pull on each end of the tissue paper and the candy will come
pouring out.

I hope you and your family all have a fun and safe 4th of July!

Enjoy!

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Five 4th of July Craft Ideas for Kids

Summer is here, and 4th of July seems like the perfect holiday to kick off your summer festivities. Get in the patriotic spirit and get ready for this red, white, and blue holiday with these 5 fun craft ideas to do with your kids.

Start with Fireworks in a Jar

There is a science and crafty experiment behind this 4th of July inspired craft idea from Janae at I Can Teach My Child. Kids will love to see the colors pop in a jar!

Fly a Popsicle Stick Flag

Get creative with large craft sticks glued together to make a patriotic flag. Great party decor and kids craft idea from Ginger Snap Crafts!

Throw some Confetti with these Patriotic Rockets

Toilet paper 4th of July craft

Alpha Mom shows you how to make this perfect party craft.  Love these confetti filled pop rockets from toilet paper rolls.

Put on your Party Hat

Kids can decorate paper bags to make their own Stars ‘n Stripes hat. Perfect for party or parade wear! Super fun and easy craft idea from Spoonful.

Serve the Perfect Patriotic Party Food

Who knew fruit could be so festive? Love these American flag fruit kabobs from Menus 4 Moms.

How are you and your family celebrating the upcoming 4th of July holiday? Enjoy these crafty ideas and get in the patriotic spirit.

 

Make a Glass of Homemade Lemonade with Watermelon Ice Cubes

School is almost out for my daughter, and we have definitely got Summer fever! I don’t think of summertime fun without thinking about watermelon, am I right? Today, I’m combining homemade lemonade with watermelon for a yummy refreshing, kid-pleasing treat!

It is super simple to make watermelon ice cubes. Start with a seedless watermelon. Cube the watermelon, minus the rind, and place into a blender. Puree until smooth, and pour into ice cube tray. Place in freezer. It’s that simple!

I had a star-shaped ice cube tray, which was perfect for this fun twist on an ice cube. This would be a fun addition to a 4th of July party.

You can also make watermelon freezer pops. I had enough puree for a whole tray of ice cubes and four popsicles from half of a watermelon pureed.

When the ice is frozen, mix up a glass of fresh homemade lemonade.

I squeezed one whole lemon into 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and stirred. Then, I plopped the pretty watermelon ice cubes into the lemonade for a perfect summertime drink.

As the watermelon ice cubes melted, it not only flavored the lemonade with watermelon juice, but it also turned the drink into a pretty pink delight.

Get ready for summer, and make a glass of homemade lemonade with fancy watermelon ice cubes. It was a huge hit with in my house!

Enjoy!

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Graduation Homemade Gift Idea and Printable

Do you have someone in your life graduating this year? There are so many different stages of graduation in a person’s life it seems, from kindergarten graduation to college graduation. My daughter is getting ready for her 5th grade graduation this year, and that is all she can talk about. She has picked out a fancy dress to wear to the ceremony, and she has got her eyes on a special present to celebrate the big event. I’m not going to reveal the present we have planned for her here. No matter what physical present she gets, the biggest thing I want to her to feel as she moves onto the next level of her education is hope, excitement, confidence, and dreams.

I love this quote from Thoreau, ” Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you imagined.” I think that is good advice for anyone, in any stage of their life.

Today’s post is a pretty printable and homemade gift idea that you can use for a graduation gift idea. You may event decide to make one for yourself!

Grab your free printable here:

Go Confidently Graduation Poster Printable

Print and cut it out and place into a standard 5″ x 7″ frame. Decorate your frame for an extra special touch.

I used washi tape along the top and bottom edges of the plain white frame.

Enjoy!

Go confidently and craft! = )

 

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10 Cool and Creative Recycling Craft Ideas

In the spirit of Earth Day, and recycling, reinventing, and being crafty, here are 10 easy and fun recycle craft ideas for kids.

I’m still thinking up creative ways to reuse plastic eggs from Easter, and this great idea for Egg and plastic spoon maracas from Made is perfect. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, make some music, or just have a maraca party.

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And speaking of eggs, how about the egg cartons. These egg carton lilies from Mr. Printables are so pretty and easy to make. How about a homemade Mother’s Day bouquet? Love it.

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Spring is in the air. How about a pretty colored key wind chime from Inner Child Giving. I know I have old keys laying around that I totally forget where they go to. I love this great Spring craft idea. Go on a nature hunt and find the perfect stick to decorate and hang these painted keys from.

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Teacher appreciation day is coming up too. Here is a fun recycle craft gift idea – apple treat cups from Saved by Love Creations. The treat cup is actually the bottle of a plastic bottle, painted red, and then filled with red candies.

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Love this creative recycle craft using old CDs. These CD coasters from Crafts by Amanda make a perfect homemade gift idea, or just some fun way to dress up your home decor.

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And who doesn’t love a little glitter? Reuse a plastic container and add some sparkle. These glittery boxes from Madigan Made are a fun way to organize or use as a small gift box.

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Planning a backyard party? or looking for a creative camping craft. Love these simple yet beautiful tin can lanterns from Mama Scout.

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Looking for a little playtime? Or a and handmade toy idea? I think this mouse tin from mmmcrafts is the epitomy of cute! I want a little mouse friend for my desk.

Pop the champagne, and make these cork mushrooms from Red Ted Art. Pair it with pipe cleaner fairies and you are set!

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And last, but certainly not least. I giggle every time I look at this picture. These Sumo wrestler bowling pins from Sugar and Dots would be a perfect homemade game for my nephews who like to throw things and knock things down. Hilarious!

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So, next time you are ready to recycle something or throw it away, take a moment to look at in a different light, through your crafty glasses. Who knows what you can create!

Happy crafting!

 

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