camp in with your kids

campinFinding things to entertain your children through the long winter months, especially those that are very active outdoors when it’s warm, can be challenging. So why not think inside your box and have a camp in. I’ve not met a kid yet that cared if their s’ mores was made over a campfire or in an oven.

Here are a few ideas on how to set the stage and enjoy some family time:

  • Campfire – most of us have one built right in; it’s called a fireplace.
  • Sleeping arrangements- for young kids, pitch a tent in the living room, the kind that pop to life. For everyone else, arrange sleeping bags on the floor.
  • Ghost stories -leave the television off for a night and tell ghost stories to each other. And if you just must have the television, make it a movie night without cell phones or computers.
  • Goodies – serve all the same things you would if you were outside: hotdogs, marshmallows, hot chocolate, popcorn.
  • Night sky - pick up those peel-n-stick stars that glow in the dark. I know what you’re thinking, “I’m not putting those on my living room ceiling.” Don’t peel off the backing, instead use some double sided tape or a hot glue gun to attach them to the ceiling and they’ll pull right off with no damage in the morning.
  • Breakfast – don’t let the fun end as soon as the sun rises. Have breakfast together and leave the outside world at bay as long as you all can resist.

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Valentine crispy messages

valentinecrispysSome of you may wonder why crispy treats. Why not sugar cookies? The simple answer is, I have a child that suffers from severe food allergies and crispy treats are an easy sweet to modify. So here goes. For this fun treat you’ll need:

ingredients:

  • 6 cups rice crispy cereal
  • 1 bag large marshmallows
  • 3 tsp butter (or vegan Smart Balance)
  • 1 can cream cheese icing
  • red food coloring

tools:

  • heart shaped cookie cutter (inch deep)
  • parchment paper
  • cooking spray
  • large spoon
  • resealable bags
  • icing connectors (NOTE: These are available at craft stores and are roughly 4 for $2)
  • #4 and #2 icing tips
  • toothpicks

valentinecrispies3And here are the steps:

crispy treats:

  1. Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat.
  2. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and spray your heart cookie cutter with cooking spray so that your crispy cereal will release easily.
  3. Add your rice crispies to your marshmallows and butter and stir well. (Tip: Add the cereal a little at a time to ensure you don’t make them too dry.)
  4. Spray a large spoon with cooking spray and then scoop up the crispy cereal and mold it into your cookie cutter. Pack down the cereal mixture and set the newly formed heart to the side. Repeat until you’re out of mixture and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes before icing.

 icing:

  1. Spoon out about a half of the icing into two bowls and tint it pink red (gel food coloring works best).
  2. Clip the corner of a resealable bag, insert the bottom of a connector, and add 3 large spoons of icing into the bag. Place the #4 tip on the outside, secure the top of the connector and pipe an outline on the heart.
  3. Microwave the remaining red icing in the bowl for 10 to 15 seconds until dripping but not soupy.
  4. Slowly spoon or pour red icing into the heart area and smooth it in with a toothpick. Doing this quickly will produce a smooth surface once the icing dries.
  5. Allow the icing to set for at least five minutes.
  6. Taking a second resealable bag, clip a corner, insert the bottom of a connector, spoon in the pink icing, attach the #2 tip and the top of the connector, and pipe your lettering.
  7. Set your crispies aside and allow them to harden for several hours before packaging. 

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batter up baseball cupcakes

baseball_cupcakesOkay, so I’m loving KraftFoods.com this week, but I had to share this idea too. These are super easy and a great addition to any baseball themed birthday. Or, better yet, just a great treat to take to the ball field this spring.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pkg. white cake mix (and required additional ingredients)
  • 10 OREO Cookies, crushed
  • 2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping or can white icing
  • Tube red decorating gel
  • White muffin cups

And here’s how you make it:

  1. Prepare the cake batter as directed on the package and stir in cookie crumbs; spoon evenly into 24 paper-lined medium muffin cups. (NOTE: To make these egg and dairy free, use puree apricots, two halves to one egg, in the place of the egg and ice with dairy free can frosting.)
  2. Bake and allow cupcakes to cool completely.
  3. Frost cupcakes with the whipped topping (requires storing the finished cupcake in the refrigerator). Or, if you decide to use regular icing, heat it in 15 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave and dip your cupcakes allowing the excess icing to drip off before setting them aside to cool. Use the decorating gel to draw stitching lines on top of each cupcake to resemble a baseball.

Happy baking!

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cupid’s treat cup

cupidscupI ran across these on KraftFoods.com, one of my favorite sites for easy recipes, and just had to share because they are soooo darn cute.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 square BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups boiling water, divided
  • 2 pkg. (3 oz. each) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water, divided
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
  • Decorations: assorted Valentine sprinkles and candies

And here’s how you make it:

  1. Draw a heart design or write a Valentine’s Day message in each of 8 (6-oz.) clear plastic cups by piping chocolate onto insides of cups. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.
  2. Add 1 cup boiling water to 1 pkg. gelatin mix in medium bowl; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in 1 cup cold water; pour into cups. Refrigerate 1 hour or until gelatin is firm.
  3. Meanwhile, add remaining boiling water to remaining gelatin mix; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Add enough ice to remaining cold water to measure 1 cup. Add to gelatin; stir until thickened. Stir in COOL WHIP; spoon over gelatin layer in cups. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Decorate as desired.

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cowboy favors how to video

Thanks to everyone who watched me craft loot favor bags and stick ponies on Daytime Columbus with Gail Hogan this past Wednesday. And for those of you who didn’t catch it, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a clip and don’t forget to check out our wild west cowboy birthday invitation and decor before you go.

Happy crafting!

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Valentine cookies: flooding fun

redheartValentine’s Day is on our doorstep and wouldn’t it be fun to flood beautiful cookies for your kids to take to school with their Valentine cards? Yes, you could go and get some from the grocery, but if you want some great tips on how to be the envy of the other moms, read on.

Icing – First of all, you have to have the right type of icing: royal icing. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s just one pound of confectioner’s sugar, five tablespoons of meringue powder, a half cup of water (or less) and gel-paste food coloring (available at most bakery and craft stores; the food coloring in grocery stores is usually very watery taking more of it to achieve the color you want). You’ll need to mix the icing until it’s fluffy, yet dense, about seven to eight minutes. Then you’ll need to use the icing immediately or transfer it to an airtight container.

Coloring – Separate your icing into the number of colors you need for your project. Then color your icing one drop of gel at a time. It’s a lot stronger than you might think. Once all the icing is the colors you need, separate them again so that you can thin one half for flooding. With your second set, thin each color with one teaspoon of water at a time. Often, one teaspoon is all it takes depending on how many times you’ve separated your icing. Now you have thick and thin versions of all the colors you need.

Tools – Trim one corner of a resealable bag and insert a #3 icing tip with a connector. Repeat this process for each of your colors (thin and thick). Then spoon each into a bag. (I always mark the thin bags so I don’t accidentally ruin a cookie by trying to trim it with the thin icing.)

Flooding technique – Now that your icing is prepped, take a cooled sugar cookie and pipe an outline around the shape. Allow it to set for 10 to 15 seconds and then you can flood the cookie with the thinner version of the color. While the flooded color is still wet, you can add a different thinned color to make polka dots or other designs. Doing it quickly will allow the second color to settle into the flooded color and dry flat. Allow the flooded colors to set for several minutes before adding any additional piping or layers to your design.

Okay, now that you’ve read the basics, here’s how you create the red heart cookies shown:

  1. Pipe red icing using a #3 tip around the outer edge of a cooled sugar cookie.
  2. Allow the icing to set for at least 10-15 seconds.
  3. Pipe the thinner red icing into the center of the cookie and spread it out to the corners with a toothpick.
  4. Allow the cookie to set for at least 4-5 minutes and then pipe red zigzags on the cookie using the #3 tip again.
  5. Allow the cookie to set for at least a half hour before packaging.   

 Happy baking everyone!

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simple chocolate transfer

chocolatetransferChocolate transfer is another one of those techniques that can appear difficult when in reality it is very easy. Today’s post is just the basics, but I’ll follow-up with more complex ideas very soon.

So, for an easy chocolate heart to top your Valentine cupcakes, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chocolate wafers (the right type of chocolate is essential, not all chocolate is equal when melted)
  • Wax paper
  • Heart stencil
  • Resealable plastic bag
  • Double boiler (or microwave if you’re very careful and only heat in 8-10 second intervals massaging the chocolate between heating)

And here are the easy steps:

  1. Lay your stencils under wax paper so that you have a guide while piping.
  2. Melt your chocolate and insert it into a resealable plastic bag.
  3. Snip one corner about a ¼ inch and pipe the chocolate over the stencil in one motion per side. If you stop and start your heart won’t be smooth.
  4. Allow the chocolate to set for at least 3-4 minutes.
  5. Carefully peel the heart from the wax paper and apply it to your cupcake.

I know, simple!

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stick pony favor

stickponyThis might be my favorite craft of recent months. While I was creating these, my boys were so excited they kept trying to sneak them from my craft table, which of course tells me that these fun stick ponies will be a great favor at any Wild West Cowboy bash. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • ½ yard of brown felt
  • 2 precut felt squares of complementary color
  • ¼ yard of batting
  • 2 large buttons
  • Ribbon
  • ¾ inch dowel
  • Fabric glue
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Stick pony template (head, nose, neck); NOTE: Print each on 8 1/2 x 11 paper and piece together

And here are the super simple steps:

  1. Using the template (all three pieces), cut two shapes out of the brown felt and one out of the batting. (You’ll need to trim your batting about another ½ inch all the way around so that it easily tucks into your pony silhouette.)
  2. Determine where you want your button eyes and stitch them into place on both sides.
  3. To create the mane, use the curve of the pony’s head/neck as a guide and lay the precut felt square along the back of the pony’s neck so that it overlaps about an inch. This part of the felt will be tucked into the pony silhouette. Take your scissors and cut (shorter at the top and longer at the bottom) off a half moon shape on the right of the felt square.  (You may have to trim the bottom off a bit more for the mane to end at the neck.) This should leave the shape of a pony’s mane. Now, cut thin strips, to resemble hair, all the way up the felt.
  4. For the top of the mane, use roughly a quarter of the second square of felt and lay it over the ears and forehead. Trim the felt in a curving motion allowing the mane on top of the pony’s head to be longer and to gradually get shorter on the forehead. Again, cut thin strips to resemble hair.
  5. To assemble the pony, tack the batting to one side of the pony with fabric glue and then tack the mane pieces into place. For the final pony silhouette, use a solid stream of glue around all edges except roughly an inch in the bottom where your dowel will be inserted. (TIP: If you get glue on the felt or if it spills over the edges, let it dry and then snip it off with your scissors.)
  6. For the bridal, select a thick ribbon and cut two pieces. One to go the length of the nose to the bottom of the neck and the second over the head between the ears. Apply the ribbon by tacking it into place with fabric glue.

Visit our shoppe to see all of our wild west decor including our custom invitation, complete with Texas Longhorns! And we would love to see your creativity. Please share with us at  ideas@celebrationshoppe.com. Happy crafting!

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wild west loot favor

Cowboy goody bagCowboys and girls will happily ride off into the sunset with these loot-filled goody bags and you’ll love how easy they are to make. Here’s what you need:

Cut out the template and trace the dollar-sign onto your brown lunch bag (about an inch-and-a-half from the bottom). Fill the outline in with the black Sharpie and fill each bag with treats. Then simply gather the bag at the top, tie on the twine and attach the Sherriff badge (they usually have clips on the back) and you’re done.

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hoedown on Daytime Columbus

cowboyGail Hogan from NBC’s Daytime Columbus has asked us back again. (Can you believe she isn’t tired of us yet!?) So this time I thought it would be fun to share two quick favor ideas for a Wild West hoedown.

If you’re in the Columbus Ohio area, please join us at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday February 4, 2009, on NBC. And if you’re not, no worries. I’ll post the loot favor bag idea tomorrow and the coolest stick horse idea you’ve ever seen on Wednesday morning before the show. Plus, the video of the show will be available right here on our blog by Friday.

Visit our shoppe to see our Wild West birthday decor and custom invitations. (Oh, and no, this isn’t one of my little guys, but cute isn’t he!)

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