Tile Hide and Seek

I recently received a Tile and I immediately thought of all the practical ways to use it. Sticking it on keys, bags, phones, maybe even the dog. I thought how it would make a great Mother’s day gift for some of my mom friends.

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My kids had a different plan –  use it for Hide and Seek.

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It started off as hide the Tile in the house and find it.  It then evolved in to a backyard game of capture the flag and my children begging for me to get more of this cool new toy.

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How would you use Tile? Leave a comment below and I will randomly select a winner to receive a free Tile.  Drawing will be held on Mother’s Day – May 10th, so get your comments in!

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Are there certain items you always misplace and scramble around to find minutes before you have to walk out of the house? Like your keys, wallet, bags – your kids.  You know those small, unimportant items.  I was recently introduced to an item that may just save you a little sanity and eliminate the morning treasure hunts.

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The Tile is an amazing time saving, sanity restoring device.

Simply stick it on an item you would hate to go missing and download the app.  Then when you are getting ready to head out the door in the morning and your youngest child has lost her backpack again – this is not based on real life events that occur in my house –  you can simply log in to the app and track down the missing item.

Tile uses bluetooth technology.  If you are far from the missing item it will show you on a map where the item was last detected.  If you are close you can use the signal strength identifier to track it down.  My kids love this feature, a real life game of hot and cold.

Just imagine having a Tile in your car and being able to easily find it in a massive parking lot! Or even better being able to find it like this couple did – Stolen Car Recovered With Tile – using the Community Feature.

The Tile is small, easy to set-up – just download the free app – and the places to stick-it are endless, but the best part is the price. At only $25 you can Tile anything that matters

Got visit the Tile site to get more information!

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I received a sample product and compensation for this post, but the thoughts are all mine

Mini Fruit Tarts

One of my favorite cooking activities with kids are mini fruit tarts.  They are a perfect project for kids of all ages.  Kids get an opportunity to practice cutting, mixing and presentation. They are a great way to introduce new fruits  and best of all they can be eaten right after making them, no waiting necessary

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The filling and crust are just as versatile as the fruit.  This time I use leftover sugar cookie dough for the crust, but you can also use a pie dough, graham cracker crumbs or any sweet dough.  For the filling I used cream cheese lemon curd, but again this could be substituted or a different flavor curd or a jam and or even pudding which is always a favorite with my kids.

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This is the perfect treat that gives kids the opportunity to create their own unique dessert that is a sweet treat for all!

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Mini Fruit Tarts

1 recipe sweet dough (sugar cookie or pie dough)
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup lemon curd (or any jam) – amount can be adjusted if you want more or less flavor
Assortment of fruit, cut into small bite sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 350. Roll dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut into rounds slightly larger than the cups of a mini muffin tin. Press a round of dough into each cup. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool. In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese and lemon curd. Stir until combined. Place mixture in a pastry bag.Fill each cup with lemon curd mixture, top with an assortment of fruit.

Glue Art

If your kids are anything like mine they probably love squeezing glue out of a bottle. Yes it can be messy and wasteful, but I will admit I love doing it too. There is something very soothing watching the slow steady stream as the glue puddles up.  031415 (27)

When we do gluing projects at school my parent helpers often have a hard time turning the glue bottle over to the kids. Or if they do let the kids do the gluing themselves the parent is often hovering very close by ready to quickly grab the bottle if the glue starts flowing to freely.

To help the parents realize the joy of squeezing a glue bottle and to give the kids the opportunity to just squeeze away we recently made sun catchers.

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This is a project I first did at my daughter’s 6th birthday and kids of all ages love this project.  It is super easy and inexpensive.  All you need are cheap frames, glue and food coloring. I got the frames at the dollar store and purchased a large jug of glue, at Michael’s using my 40% off coupon.

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To start pop the glass out of the frames, using a glue gun run a bead of glue around the inside then reinsert the glass. This not only ensures the glass will stay in place, but prevents the glue from leaking through the frame.

For the glue I like to start with a half bottle of glue.  Add a few drops of food coloring, stir to combine then slowly add more glue, stirring as you go.

Once you have all the materials ready turn it over to the kids and let them get squeezing. Resist the urge to step in.  Let the glue puddle and the colors combine.  The big glue puddles will take a long time to dry (we are talking days until it is completely dry) but the big puddles look just as neat as the small sleek lines.

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I did put out toothpicks for the kids to swirl the glue with, but too much swirling muddled the colors and just letting the colors naturally flow together  produced a much cooler look.

I highly recommend you mix up a few bottles of glue and let your kids get to work squeezing and don’t forget to join them in the fun.

On the Go

It is that time of year where the days just fly by.  Every day is filled to the brim with after school activities. It is fun and I love every minute of it, but it makes it difficult to feed my family

Right now I am trying to plan my menu for the week.  We have one night when we can have a family dinner, the other nights dinner will be eaten at the field or in shifts at home. So now I am in search of meals that can be made ahead, eaten cold or taken to go.

I am getting to know COSTCO’s frozen food and premade food sections very well and have already mad a few best friends, like this guy.

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I don’t know if it is a new COSTCO item, or just new to me, but we have gone through three bags of these chicken tenders in the past four weeks. I bake off half a bag at a time, keep them in the fridge and use them for dinner, lunch and snacks.  

The salsa is also a COSTCO favorite and is used almost daily, which is why I only have an empty container and spoonful of salsa to show you. Like the chicken this is super versatile, wonderful on it’s own or as a mix-in, and is perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack time.

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The chicken and salsa is a wonderful combination and this sandwich has been a favorite for the past two weeks.

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My son makes it as an after-school, before baseball snack and then makes it again after-baseball and calls it dinner.

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The chicken sandwich isn’t on my menu this week, although I am sure a few will still be eaten.  I am still working on the menu for this week, but here is my menu from last week. I have 8 more weeks of this crazy schedule and need more ideas. What are your family favorites?

Monday – pasta with Kale pesto and sun-dried tomatoes
Tuesday – Crock-pot chili – eaten with Fritos at the field
Wednesday – Salad Nicoise
Thursday – pizza
Friday – make it yourself

Preschool Life: For the Birds

A flock of seagulls appeared on the preschool playground earlier this week.

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Like real seagulls, the children discovered a pile of fabric – that had been purposely placed on the tables for the children to find – swooped in and began  pulling out what they needed.

The kids played with the fabric for a while simply running around holding the fabric or draping it over play structures.  After a few minutes they began asking to have the fabric tied to form capes, so we brought out clothes pins and rubber bands.  The fabric was clipped on to the children’s jackets and we also offered to attach the fabric to their wrists, using rubber bands.

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As the children were running around my co-teacher made the comment that the children looked like a flock of birds.  My co-teacher and I began talking about what type of birds they might be and where they might live.  We did not include the children in this short conversation, but it was held in ear shot of some of the children. Soon the play turned from super heroes to birds.  Many of the birds still had super powers, but they began making bird sounds and our more nurturing children began talking about building a nest and laying eggs.

While we want the children to play freely we also want to encourage higher level play and sometimes they need a little nudge to go in that direction.  A pile of fabric placed on a table and a conversation between adults is much likelier to direct play than if we had said to the kids “we have been talking about birds at circle and now we want you to go play like birds.”

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How do you encourage your child’s play without directing it?

Stout Cupcakes

Kids often get special cupcakes on their birthdays, so why can’t adults. These cupcakes are always a big hit and a perfect treat for the birthday girl or boy who has been celebrating birthdays for a couple of decades. These are also the perfect sweet treat for St. Patrick’s Day, but please don’t wait until next St. Patrick’s day before you give them a try.

Car Bomb cupcakes

There are a couple of steps involved, but each step is quick and easy.

Stout Cupcakes3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa plus more for dusting at the end
2 cups sugar
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp Baking soda
Pinch of fine salt
1 bottle of Guinness (room temperature)
1 stick melted butter (cooled slightly)
1 tbs Pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cups sour creamPreheat oven to 350. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners
Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl. In another mixing bowl combine stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream until combined and smooth. Gradually add in the dry.Evenly divide among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 15-20 or until cake tester comes out clean.
Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup shortening
4 C. powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueurIn mixing bowl cream butter and shortening until smooth. Slowly add powder sugar, scraping down the sides as needed. Beat for 3-4 until frosting is light and fluffy. Add Bailey’s, mix for another 3-4 minutes making a light and creamy frosting.
Whiskey Ganache8 oz. dark chocolate (chips or finely chopped)
2/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. WhiskeyPlace chocolate in small bowl. In small saucepan heat milk over medium high heat, bring to a simmer. Pour milk over chocolate, let sit for 1-2 minutes then stir until smooth. Add butter and whiskey, stir until smooth and combined. Let ganache cool and thicken.

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Cupcake assembly: Once cooled remove center of cupcake using the bottom of a large pastry tip. Fill with ganache. Once all cupcakes are filled top with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting.

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