Enchanted Mommy

A Bunny-Farm Birthday Party!

This past weekend I went to my nieces 8th birthday party in West Palm Beach, Florida.  It was so well done that I felt like I needed to write about it! Even though it was at specific place, I think a lot of the ideas can be incorporated anywhere.

The party was at a place called the Edu-Garden.  It was made and designed by 7th grade students and their science teacher (my sister).  The middle school students plant vegetables and care for bunnies and chickens as part of their school science lab at a public charter school.

The Edu-Garden

The party set up at the Edu-Garden patio

The party was a huge hit… and how could it not be when you can hold and play with real bunnies!!!  One of the bunnies just had babies so the kids got to see the little tiny baby bunnies as well.  They fed the bunnies lettuce and carrots and fed the chickens raisins.  The garden was huge and had a ton of hands on and educational stuff to do.

My niece, the birthday girl, with the baby bunny

Besides the animals, the kids hunted for bugs then used identification cards to identify them.  They also had plastic critter puzzles the kids used to catagorize and match up different types of  bugs.

My 2 year old niece, chasing bunnies around. The bunnies sure got a good work out!

My nephew catagorizing bugs during the party

Critter categorizing puzzle

My niece planting her sunflower

Basically, the kids had free reign of the garden where they could play with the bunnies, feed the chickens, plant a sunflower to take home, identify different bugs, and play with plastic bug puzzles.  They also had a gated parking lot where they set up relay race games using scooters.

The scooter relay races were a big hit!

The party ended with an adorable pair of bunny birthday cakes and party favors of plastic bugs and a sunflower they planted themselves.

It was all very cute and all the kids had a great time!

Decorating an Elephant Pumpkin

My son’s first grade teacher asked me to be in charge of their class pumpkin this year.  The class voted on one of their favorite book characters to create for the school pumpkin contest.  Gerald the elephant won the contest so I started up on google to see the best way to create an elephant pumpkin.

Gerald the Elephant Pumpkin – The final product

I got the idea from Michaels.com and loved it for a class project because it had so many different pieces to it that it was easy to get all 25 kids to help with at least one part.

This is the book character the 1st grad class voted to make

This is the book Character the class voted for

 Materials:

1 large tall shaped pumpkin (for the body)
1 small round shaped pumpkin (for the head)
4 Styrofoam cones about 9 inches long (for the arms and legs)
12 half wooden robin eggs (fingernails)
2 wooden circles (eyes)
Black yarn (eye brows)
Black pipe cleaner (glasses)
Sharpie (to draw the mouth and pupils on the eyes)
Strong Tooth picks (to secure pumpkin heads together and limbs to the pumpkin)
4 artificial pumpkins (to glue together to make the trunk)
Cardboard (to cut ears out)
White paint (for the fingernails and eyes)
Grey paint (for the pumpkins, legs, trunk, and ears)

 Instructions:

  • Paint the pumpkins, cylinders, artificial pumpkins, and ears grey
  • Paint the wooden half robin eggs and the wooden circles white
  • After the pumpkins are completely dry, place four or five toothpicks in the bottom of the smaller pumpkin about halfway in.  Carefully put the small pumpkin on top of the large pumpkin pressing the toothpicks into the larger pumpkin
  • Glue the artificial pumpkins together in the shape of a trunk, then use a tooth pick to secure trunk to the pumpkin face
  • Glue three fingernails to the large end of each cone and secure cones to the large pumpkin with toothpicks
  • Use a sharpie to draw a mouth on the pumpkin and and pupils on eyes
  • Use a hot glue gun or super glue to glue the eyes, eyebrows, ears, and glasses to the pumpkin

Best Looking Deviled Eggs on the Planet!

good looking deviled eggs

Aren't they amazingly beautiful?!

So, when you’re going to someone’s house for a BBQ and you want to bring a side, this is it!!!!  Not only do people love deviled eggs, you will get extra bonus points for making them look incredibly awesome and taste better than any before.  Always remember, people eat with their eyes.

Ingredients

stuff for deviled eggs

This is what you need for awesome deviled eggs!

  • dozen eggs (I always make a couple extra in case they somehow get messed up)
  • 4 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • bacon (approximately 5 strips)
  • 1 teaspoon of splenda or sugar (optional)
To make them look cool
  • crinkle cutter (this is another one of my favorite kitchen gadgets)
  • white deviled egg plate
  • large ziplock baggie
Directions
  • Get a large pot and fill with hot water.  Put eggs in pot with lid and bring to a boil.  Once it is brought to a boil, keep it at a low boil for 12 minutes.
  • Remove from pan and place in large bowl of ice water for five minutes.
bowl of ice water

Make sure it has a lot of ice in it. This keeps the eggs from continuing to cook.

  • Leave in ice water for approximately 5 minutes
  • Crack eggs and take off the shells
  • Cut egg in half with crinkle cutter
crinkle cut deviled egg

Isn't this a beauty?! Notice the inside is all yellow and not green or brown. It is perfect when you follow my boiling instructions!

  • Take all of the hardened yolks out of the eggs and put them in your large bag.
  • Press on yolks with hand until the lumps are all gone.
hardboiled egg yolk

This is the hard yolk of eggs in bag and crumbled all together.

  • Add your mayo, mustard, salt (or bacon salt if you have it), pepper, vinegar and sugar
  • Mix all together well
  • Add more mayo if necessary
  • Cut the corner off the bag (start really small and keep cutting if you need)
filling of egg

This is about how much should be cut off the tip.

  • Fill each egg with mix and make a circular motion so your eggs look like these:
deviled eggs

The piping makes a big difference!

  • Chop up your bacon and sprinkle on top and wahlaaaaa, you’re done!
So, I never really paid attention to detail until I had a very detailed oriented husband.  It truly does make a difference!  Take the extra steps and everyone will be amazed!

How to Make Bacon Salt

I think everyone on the planet loves bacon, especially men (so make them this and they will LOVE you)!  Ever since I first read the story of the guys who created bacon salt a few years ago, I’ve been wanting.  Infused salts are nothing new, but the idea of easily infusing bacon flavor into almost anything seemed beyond amazing.  Bacon flavoring is not used often in grilling because it isn’t something people typically grill, so bacon salt would provide the perfect opportunity to add a kiss of bacon flavor to grilled steak, chicken, pork, and seafood.

Bacon + Salt = Bacon Salt

In concept, this should all be much, much more simple.  If you take some really crispy bacon and pulverize it, and add it to a bunch of salt, you get salt that tastes just like bacon.  In experimenting, we also added some black pepper into this to round it as a seasoning that could stand solidly on its own.

It's simple: Bacon, Salt, Pepper

We ground up the bacon using my favorite kitchen gadget again, the Magic Bullet, and further used it to mix in the salt and pepper thoroughly.  However, you don’t have to use the Magic Bullet to do this (although it is the best thing ever).  You could accomplish this with a food processor, a mini-food processor, a Morter and Pestle, or blender. A nice benefit to the Magic Bullet is that it has a sealable lid and also a ‘shaker’ lid so you can “shake it like a salt shaker”!

Here is the recipe:

Recipe: Homemade Bacon Salt

Ingredients

  • 6 Slices of Extra Crispy Bacon – almost blackened
  • 1/2 Cup Salt
  • 3 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the 6 slices of bacon into a grinding tool (Magic Bullet, Blender, Food Processor, etc)
  2. Process until there are no large chunks
  3. Add in the salt and process/mix until well blended
  4. Mix in the black pepper
  5. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator when not in use

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

The bacon ready to be ground up

The finished product

Shake it like a salt shaker!

A Few Tips for Success

There are a few things that can help you make this really perfect:

  1. You should use really, really cripy bacon.  In fact, it should just be turning black.
  2. Cook the bacon in the oven, low and slow.  For us, 40 minutes at 325 rendered most of the fat out.  For this purpose, you don’t want fat in the bacon.
  3. Use good quality salt.  When recipes require very few ingredients, you should really use the best you can get your hands on. So… skip the table salt.

What Do I Do With This?

Your options for this are really limitless.  Anywhere you would normally use salt, you can instead use your bacon salt!  Some delicious ideas to get you salivating include:

  • Almost every grilled piece of meat.  A nice steak would only be made better with some bacon flavor.
  • A fun topping for corn on the cob (or any other steamed vegetable)
  • Sprinkled over a caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, and basil)
  • A nice alternative topping to deviled eggs (instead of paprika)
  • A secret ingredient in guacamole
OK, times up.  Go make bacon salt.  Like right now.

A Different Fun Fall Activity

Looking for a fun, exciting, and different fall activity?  Last weekend we took our three little monkeys to Kings Dominion for their annual Howl-o-Fest.  Besides the usual amusement park rides, they have a cute little pirate treasure hunt included with your regular admission. You pick up a treasure map and go to each marked location to pick up a piece of the “treasure.”  The treasure was different at each location and included, a pirate hat, a pirate bandana, an eye patch, a beaded necklace, a spyglass, a black pirate flag, and a pumpkin.   In the end, it was all the makings of a cute pirate costume.

The Loot! My kids have pretty much dressed up and played pirates every day since!

At one location you had to find your way to the end of the hay and corn maze to earn your prize.  At another, it was running through the “Seven Seas Foam Pit” made of waist high foamy soap bubbles.  There was also a great Charlie Brown Pirate Show, pumpkin painting, and all the staff in the children’s area dressed as pirates (some of them even walking on tall stilts).

My 3 year old painting his pumpkin in the pumkin patch

The kids had a great time and so did we.  The staff was very enthusiastic and really made it a fun environment.   This was definitely something a little different, but so fun that we will be making a tradition out of it.

To see if there is a park near you, visit cedarpark.com.

You don’t have to go all the way to an amusement park to do this activity though.  Host a treasure hunt in your back yard for your kids.  We did this too and now my six year old is obsessed with hiding a toy somewhere in the house and giving his little brother or cousin a hand drawn map to find it.  So fun and keeps the kids busy for hours!

My six year old painting his pumpkin in the pumpkin patch.

Fashion Show, Fashion Show, Fashion Show at Lunch

I got the name of this blog post from this hilarious scene from the office:

This morning my poor 6 month old, Anna, was not feeling well.  I didn’t want to leave the house because I wanted her to rest well in her bed and not out and about.  Poor thing slept for 3.5 hours this morning (on top of her 13.5 hours of sleep she had last night). So….. Ella and I did a fashion show.  She didn’t quite understand exactly how it worked, but I made it seem so fun!

The first outfit, I told her she was so pretty and she kept saying “I’m very pretty, mommy.”  I let her jump on my bed to make it more fun and tried capturing some pics of her high jumps!  I got the red sweater at the consignment sale last weekend that I talked about in my previous post for $3 and it’s from baby gap!  Can you believe it?!?!?!?!

baby gap red sweater

Ella loving her fashion show! This is her $3 sweater from baby gap. She might be a future bball player!

Next, we got to pretend it was winter time and she was very cold!  This is her $8 winter coat from Old Navy.  WAY too cute to pass up.  It is a size 2T (yes, Ella is VERY tiny), but it can fit her again next year and then my sweet sweet Anna after that.  Here is a similar one on sale for $35.

old navy jacket

Isn't this $8 coat just adorable?!

I guess we were on the jacket fix, so here is a genuine kids oshkosh coat that I picked up for $4.  This is also a little big, but will definitely continue to fit!

genuine kids by oshkosh jacket

$4 coat find. Good as new!

The next outfit, she by far had the most fun with!  Ella got to pretend we were going out in the snow!  Hopefully we will see some snow this year because I got her this great snow outfit for $5 and these adorable boots for $2.

snow outfit pink

Even if it doesn't snow, she can have fun pretending it will!

Here is a close up of the $2 boots.

$2 snow boots

AWESOME find! Look almost as good as new!

Now do you see why I love consignment sales?!  My kids can get everything they need for a fraction of the price and I get an amazing feeling when I get such good deals on cute stuff!

 

Making Baby Food, Fruit this Time!

My last baby food post was for vegetables.  You really can’t get any easier than veggies, but of course your precious needs fruits too!  So, here’s a step-by-step guide to making fruit.

What you need to get started

  • saucepan
  • apples (or fruit of choice)
  • magic bullet or other blender or food processor
  • large ziplock freezer bag
  • ice tray
making fruit baby food

saucepan, apples (or fruit of choice), magic bullet or other blender or food processor, large ziplock freezer bag, and ice tray

Directions

  • Peel and core as many apples (or other fruit) as you would like to use (don’t mind my coring job, my corer is awful)
  • Cut up the apples a little more
  • Throw them in the saucepan with water just covering the apples
  • boil until soft (it took mine about 8 minutes)
  • Put apples in magic bullet (I saved some out and will tell you why in a minute)
  • Take some of the water from the sauce pan and put it in with apples in your blender
  • Blend away (add water if they are too thick)
  • Pour into ice cube tray
  • Freeze and then pour into a ziplock bag with name and date on it
Wahlaaaaaa and you are done!
apples getting soft for baby food

Here are my apples boiling. They smell SO good!

making baby food in magic bullet

If you read my veggie post, I described a little bit of my love for the magic bullet. It seriously makes it so perfect.

freezing baby food

I didn't quite fill up the ice cube tray because I saved some of the apples. Read below!

They always say “variety is the spice of life”.  So, I got ideas from walking down the baby aisle and seeing all of the different mixes they used.  We had some bananas so I took the rest of the apples and a banana and threw them in the bullet.  Wahlaaaaaa again, now we have apple-banana food too!

banana and apple baby food

It's as easy as this!

Next, I might try some blueberry apples or some banana berry.  Yummm!  Be creative and have fun!!

Four Easy Steps to Cutting Hair at Home

Giving haircuts at home is really easy!  I have never been trained to cut hair in anyway, but through practice the last several years I have learned how to cut a decent haircut in just a few simple steps!  You don’t even need an expensive fancy set of buzzers.  I paid $25 for mine on Amazon.com and it came with all the guides and some scissors. QUICK MONEY FACT:  Cutting hair at home can save you hundreds per year.  If you consider that a typical boys haircut costs about $20 with tip and they need their cut every 6 weeks, you are looking at about 9 haircuts a year, or $180 per year.  I have three little guys, plus my hubby, so by cutting hair at home I am essentially saving about $720 per year.

Here is a quick tutorial using my almost 4 year old, Tyson, and my 2 year old, Andy.

Step 1:  Shape the top of the Head
Start with a larger sized guide comb.  I usually pick the largest or second largest.  Remember, you can always go shorter, but once you have cut it short there is no going back.  Cut just the top and around the crown of the head for now.

Cutting the top of Tyson's hair

Andy

Andy after step one

Step 2:  Cut the sides, back, and around the ears
Use one of the smaller sized guide combs.  I usually start with the second or third smallest and go from there.  Cut the sides, back, and around the ears.  You should see a line of hair around the top of the head from where you used the longer guide comb.

Notice the hair line across Andy's head showing the length of the different guide combs

Cutting Tyson's Hair - Step 2

Step 3:  Blending
I found that it is completely unnecessary to use a blending guide comb for this part.  Just pick a mid size guide comb.  I pick one that is just 2 sizes up from what I used on the back and sides.  Start at the bottom of the head and and go straight up, crossing over the line made from using the larger guide.  DO NOT round the buzzers to follow the shape of the head, just go straight up.  If you let the buzzers follow the round part of the head you will end up having to buzz all of the hair on the top to match and will end up with a very short military buzz.  Just keep moving the buzzers straight through the hair line made previously, going from one side of the head to the other until you can know longer see a line and the hair is completely blended.  You might need to switch to a bigger or smaller guide comb to get the hair line completely blended.  This all depends on how large the guide comb you used on the top was.

Move the buzzers straight up across the longer hair line, but not around the head. Notice the M&M's in the background.... bribery goes a long way!!!

***Once you get some practice in blending you can use an even smaller guide comb on the sides and back.  I can now use the largest comb guide on the top and the very smallest on the sides and back and get it blending perfectly… it took lots of haircuts before I got to this point though, so don’t get discouraged.

Step 4:  Trim around the ears, back of the neck, and bangs
Take off the guide comb.  Make sure the handle on your buzzers is down so that the blade is at its shortest so you can get the cleanest cut.  Carefully (these are sharp with out the guide combs on) trim the hair around the ears by gently pressing buzzers down on desired part.  Do the same for the side burns.  Trim a straight line across the back of the neck.  Do not trim to high up on the back of the neck.  I did this once and my hubby was not very happy  :).  You can trim the bangs the same way with the buzzers, or if you are more comfortable you can use regular hair cutting scissors.    PLEASE NOTE:  I do not do any of this step with very young kids, including my two year old.  They just wiggle too much and I feel like it is way to dangerous.   It also seems unnecessary to me since their hair is still mostly light fuzz at the back of the neck anyway.

Hold buzzers in a straight line and press gently to make a straight horizontal cut

Trim a straight horizontal line across the back of the neck

That’s it!  You’re done!  Don’t worry, you really do get better with each haircut.  The best part about cutting boys hair is that it grows back so fast!  If you accidentally cut to short you can always just buzz it all one length and try again in a few weeks when it grows back.  So don’t get yourself to syked out… you will get better with each cut!

If you have any questions before you get started, let me know!  In the meantime, here are some before and after pics of the boys.

Andy before his big cut

Andy, before his big hair cut

Tyson, before his cute hair cut

Handsome Andy after the big cut

Handsome Andy after the big cut

Handsome Tyson after his hair cut

Handsome Tyson after his hair cut

Andy profile view before pic

Andy, profile view before his haircut

Tyson profile before pic

Tyson, profile view before haircut

Andy - After profile view

Tyson - After profile view

Tyson - After profile view

Awesome Consignment Finds

After today I decided that I’m no longer shopping in stores for clothes or toys for the girls.  Of course I say that now, but I found so many amazing deals at a local church’s twice a year consignment sale today.  You need it for a child, they had it.  They only accept things that are great condition.  If anything looks even slightly worn then they put it on a special rack that says “worn or out of season”.

When I say they had everything, they had tons and tons of shoes, clothes, walkers, high chairs, strollers, potties, books, DVDs, cribs, rockers, toys, bikes, coats, snow suits, pack n plays, exersaucers, bjorns, jumpers, socks, and even tons of Halloween costumes.  If you are having a baby or you want a nice treat for your child, this is what you so need to do.

I will save the clothing for later when my girls are in a great mood to model it for you and after it’s washed.  I even went back for more clothes later in the day because they have a “dollar dash” which is everything that is left is $1.  Obviously, this stuff was more picked over, but I did get a jean skirt, sweater and pajamas for Anna and I picked up my friend’s son two shirts.

Here are two things that I bought my girls:

baby walker from consignment

Anna with her consignment item, retails for $39.99, I paid $10

Riding Dora Scooter

Ella did watch the neighbor play with a scooter and wanted one. I couldn't pass this up. This scooter retails for $25 and I paid $6.

So for $16, they had a great day and I have this to show for it.

Dora scooter, baby trend walker

I think the sweetness of this picture alone is worth $16. I love that they both have a sister 🙂

Now, go find a local consignment near you and then feel the awesomeness with me!

Making Baby Food

l’m almost embarrassed to write this post because I’m on my 2nd child and I just learned the easiest thing ever how to make baby food.  I often see posts on Facebook of people wanting advice and that they’ve read up on it.  Well, it’s.so.dang.easy.

Magic Bullet Use

What you need to make baby food

Here’s what you need:

  • Magic Bullet – okay, I’m super partial to my bullet because it’s such an inexpensive small blender (I should be the lady in the pink dress in the crazy infomercial below… and yes you need to watch it for comic relief) Seriously though, it’s everything that they say it lives up to. OR you can use any blender or food processor. They also have a baby bullet, for me it’s not necessary when I can use the regular bullet for many things.
  • Ice Cube Tray(s)
  • Large Ziploc Freezer Bags
  • Frozen Veggies to Steam
  • Water to create the thickness

Directions

Steam your veggies according to package
Throw as many veggies in your blender that you can
Add a bit water (remember you can always add more)
Mix it up
Add more water if it’s too thick and mix again

Magic Bullet Making Baby Food

Mixed Veggies in the Bullet, looks perfect, huh?!

Pour into your ice tray, but make sure you don’t go over the dividers (we did that before and it’s so hard to get them out once they are frozen).

Baby Food in ice tray

So simple!  Throw this in the freezer!

Freeze the veggies
Dump them into a labeled freezer bag
Pull out as many as you need at the time
I do put mine in the microwave before I feed it to Anna, but I make sure I mix is really well so there aren’t any hot spots.

AND you’re done!  So easy, so cheap and for me, I feel like I accomplished something healthy for my little one.

It’s WAY cheaper

I figured out the cost too.  The bag of veggies is 99¢ and you get at least one full ice cube tray out of them.  Approximately two cubes = one container of baby food.  There are two containers (of Gerber, which I found is the cheapest) together for approximately $1 (at a well-priced grocery store). Therefore, you are cutting the price by at least 67%.