Enchanted Mommy

S’mores Cookies

As the warm weather has drifted away I have had to come to terms with the fact that camping season has also come and gone.  I love camping season though, and am not ready to give up all its fun completely.

So what is the best part of camping?  The S’mores of course!



I found this genius s’more cookie recipe on a food blog I just started following.  They turned out so great!  The kids couldn’t get enough of them.  The neighbor kids came over and had some too.  The kids sat outside on the deck eating them with their friends talking about different camping trips we took this past summer.  Love it!  Camping lives on!

Here you can see I averaged between 1 and 2 Tablespoons per scoop

Almost done... just need the hershey piece to melt into the cookie a little more

 
S’more Cookies
Source:  The-girl-who-ate-everything.com

11 Tb. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
3 regular sized Hershey’s bars (I ended up needing 4)
1-2 package graham crackers, broken into squares (I ended up using 1 entire box, I also used the cinnamon graham crackers to give it an extra cinnamon taste)

  • Preheat over to 375 degrees and line 2 backing sheets with parchment paper.
  • Put graham crackers side by side so they are touching across pan.  How many graham crackers you use really depends on how much cookie dough you use on each cracker.
  • Whisk flour, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl; set aside
  • Beat butter and both sugars together until fluffy
  • Add eggs and vanilla until combined
  • Using low speed, combine the flour mixture with butter mixture
  • Gently stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows
  • Place 1 to 2 Tb of dough on each graham cracker square and press down lightly with fingertips
  • Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from oven and press Hershey’s bar piece in each cookie
  • Bake for 5 to 7 minutes more then cool on wire rack
  • Cut cookies with a sharp knife to separate after cookies are completely cool

I stored my cookies in an airtight container and the stayed perfectly soft and were delicious even days later.  Loved this recipe and would definitely make these again.

Cupcake Birthday Cake

Zebra Elmo cupcake cake

Isn't this so cute... and it's SO easy to make!

I just love planning for my girls birthday parties far in advance!  I have SO much fun finding ideas!  Although, let me just tell you that I’m not a theme type of person.  My house and my clothes are all boring neutral.  So, when it comes to planning my kids birthday parties, it’s hard.  Like many soon to be two year olds, Ella had her favorite character.  At that time, it was Elmo.

I can’t say that I find it cute.  I’m not one of those women that like cartoon characters at an older age (in fact, I’m total opposite).  Because of this, I had to find something that incorporated simplicity along with her Elmo.

I knew I had to give a little.  Nevermind the fact that I (and mostly all moms) would do anything for my kids.  She sang all of Elmo’s songs and watched him on the iPad every chance we allowed her.  How could I not give her an Elmo themed party?  So, I did.  I gave her a zebra print party with Elmo accent.  I got the idea when I found the shirt below on etsy.

Elmo birthday shirt

This shirt gave me the idea for Ella's party

Now, you’re probably reading this post so you can learn how to make the cupcake cake.  So here you go!

You will need:

  • cake flavor of your choice
  • two white icings (I wouldn’t use a creamy or whipped)
  • pink cake coloring for icing (you can get this from any craft store in the cake aisle)
  • cupcake cake pan
  • black wilton sparkle gel (I found mine at party city, but I also saw that they sold it in grocery stores)
  • star cake tip
  • large ziplock bag to squeeze icing
pan for cupcake cake

This is the cupcake cake pan that I have

 

star cake tip
This is what the star tip looks like

Directions

  • cook cake according to the box and cupcake cake pan directions (the cupcake pan will tell you cooking instructions)
  • Let cake completely cool
  • Put white icing all over cake bottom and top so that it looks smooth
  • Put the top piece on the bottom piece
  • Mix the pink icing coloring with the icing with a mixer to make it really pink (remember: a little of this goes a long way and you can always add more)
  • Put the pink icing in the ziplock bags and do stars all over the top of the cake
  • Use the black sparkly gel to make lines all over the bottom of the cake (just random zebra lines)
You’re done 🙂  You can also do a little extra by decorating the plate!
Zebra print and Elmo party invite

I even had a friend design her invitations according to her shirt.

***  Side note.  I just love cupcake cakes.  I also used the pan for her 1st birthday party smash cake.  It was really cute and a big hit!  So, I will probably let the tradition continue each year for Ella.

Magical Peanut Butter Cookies, South Beach Style

If I look at sugar, it goes straight to my butt.  The End.

So, I’ve gotten pretty good at modifying recipes so they are South Beach friendly.  This definitely fulfills my sweet tooth, it is such a great alternative to Paula Dean’s regular recipe.  You have to think that it’s all mental and that you have to modify food choices to get/stay slim.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Looks Delicious, huh?! Goes great with a glass of skim milk!

I’ve italicized and bolded my changes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy 1 cup all natural peanut butter (only ingredients are peanuts and oil), creamy or crunchy 
  • 1 1/3 cups baking sugar replacement (recommended: Splenda)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Modified ingredients peanut butter cookies

Vanilla extract, two eggs, all natural peanut butter and granulated splenda (I doubled my recipe, that's why there are two eggs in the picture)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter (make sure you stir the natural peanut butter first), 1 cup sugar replacement, the egg, and vanilla, and stir well with a spoon. Roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. With a fork, dipped in sugar replacement to prevent sticking, press a crisscross design on each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes I baked for 11, it is SO important to not overbake cookies (they will become hard), remove from the oven, and sprinkle the cookies with some of the remaining sugar replacement. Cool slightly before removing from pan.

Bammmmm…. that wasn’t too hard to modify and you have a great sweet treat that won’t go to your butt!

Encouraging Creativity and Imagination with a Fun Clown Project

Creativity and imagination are the most cherished parts of childhood.  I love watching my little monkeys in their moments of crazy make believe games and stories.

My six year old came home from school today with a story he wrote about warriors and dragons.  It was about him and his best friend using their super powers to battle the dragons and rescue both of their little brothers from the dungeon.  He was so proud of his story.  At dinner I asked what his favorite part of his day was.  He said it was bringing his “book” home to show me.  Oh how I love that little guy!

This post is in honor of encouraging and developing creativity.  The idea is to pick a project, tell the kids what they are making, and then give them all of the supplies they need.  Then, let them go to town with it.  DO NOT guide them in anyway.  Sure, if they need help squeezing the glue give them a little help, but make sure they are placing each piece where they want it.  If they want a mouth on the forehead and seven eyes on the chin, let them.  This is their creation.

There are times when you are doing projects where you might guide your child to using the correct color or putting the pieces in the correct place because you want to teach them about that specific object you are making.  This is not one of those times.  Let them have fun with this and create their own masterpiece.  Some kids may want to put the parts in the right place and that is okay too.  If anything, it can teach us to recognize and embrace the sweet and unique personalities each child has.

I decided to do clowns because they are already silly to begin with.  I pre-cut different shapes that could be used for parts of the clown face, put out a pile of googly eyes and a couple bottles of glue and let the kids create their masterpieces.

C is for Caterpillar: A Fun And Easy Craft

One of my favorite childhood books was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I loved reading it and looking at all the colorful illustrations.  It just so happened that I was assigned to teach the letter C for my co-op preschool program my 3 year old participates in. Ah ha!  Perfect reason to pull out my old book!

We learned about caterpillars, pretended we were caterpillars, and painted caterpillars!  It was a fun day!  The paintings turned out so cute I had to post them!

I gave all the kids cotton rounds and paint and let them have at it.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this project without layering the table with newspaper first.  The kids sort of went nuts painting the newspaper after they ran out of cotton rounds. 

Another great trick that helps with clean up is to mix soap in the paint.  It can be dish soap or even hand soap.  I use it even if the paint is washable; it just makes spills and hand washing that much easier to clean.

Materials:  I used cotton rounds for the body, yarn for the smile, and googly eyes.  These items could be switched out for pretty much anything similar you have around the house.

I had the kids color with greens and browns for the backround.  I am a little biased, but they turned out great!

Check out this Clown craft for another letter C activity!

Fun Handprint and Footprint Quick Halloween Project

Got 20 minutes?  I’ve been searching around to find some fun Halloween crafts for my 2 year old.  This was perfect for her attention span and it is something great for me to keep and do every year for memories!

Halloween Foot Print Ghost

Here is Ella’s Footprint Ghosts!

 

Spider handprints

Both Handprints for Spider

Supplies Needed:

Supplies for Halloween Handprint and Footprint project

Paper towels, black paint, white paint, 2 big brushes, 2 little brushes, two pieces of contruction paper (you can choose colors)

  • Paper Towels: I wet like 5 of them to clean off paint from hand and foot right away
  • Black Paint: used for handprint spider, ghosts eyes and mouths and for spider eyes
  • White Paint: used for ghosts footprints and spider eyes
  • Two big paintbrushes: used to paint feet and hands
  • Two small paintbrushes: used to paint eyes and mouths
  • Two pieces of construction paper: used for base

Ghosts Directions

Paint feet white with brush

white foot for ghost

Ella’s foot painted white

Put foot directly on construction paper, repeat with other foot.

ghost footprints

Here is the base of your ghosts

Paint Eyes and Mouth on your Ghosts (I also put Ella’s name and year on it, for memory sake) and you’re done!

Spider Directions

Paint hand black minus the thumb

hand black for spider

Ella’s hand painted black minus her thumb

Put one hand on the paper and clean hand
Paint other hand and do it the opposite way

Handprint black spider

Ella’s handprint spider before eyes

Paint white circles with black dots in them.

You’re done!!  Such an easy and fun project!!

 

 

 

How I Deal with my Toddler’s Car Sickness

I’ve always been able to read, play video games and write in the car without ever feeling sick.   On the other hand, my husband is very prone to motion sickness.  We were at Kings Dominion last weekend and he couldn’t ride half of the roller coasters because he got “headachy.”  Ella, my two year old daughter, got my husband’s gene with this one. She is severely effected by motion sickness.  Whether it is a short trip to the store or 4 hour drive to the beach, we always need to have a bag ready.

I had no idea that motion sickness starts out in your head (not stomach).  Once it hits, Ella gets so delusional and cannot even look at you or hold a conversation.  Then, her head craziness affects her stomach and it happens.  She throws up, and it’s not a small amount. It’s almost like a volcano erupting.  I have caught it in a bag at least 10 times (go me).  Here are a few of my tips for handling car sickness.

Drive Carefully
This might be a given, but it is really important.  I was running late to a workout class one day, frazzled while driving .  The class was only eight minutes away from home, but it happened.  She got very sick and threw up in the car.  It was all over her clothes, car seat and even some on the seat of my car. Of course it happened on a day that I was meeting my friend that is always late and I specifically told her that I didn’t want to walk in late so I passive aggressively kindly asked her to be on time.  I wiped her down and thank goodness, my friend had some extra clothes in her car that fit Ella. Talk about feeling like an unprepared mother and awful friend.  I got the prize that day.  This was the worst because I was driving alone with two kids and became even more late with the hold up.

So, note to self and to you, keep the wheel steady and not pump the gas or brake.

Keep Windows Down
Fresh air is a must and definitely helps.  Of course this is hard when it’s raining, but there have been times when she was about to throw up and I put the window down and it prevented her from getting sick.

Avoid Traffic
I live in the D.C. area where there is a crazy amount of traffic.  Ella has gotten sick so much more in stop and go traffic.  From our house to the zoo (about 36 miles), Ella threw up 6 times.  Therefore, I try to plan around traffic because once again, the smoother the ride, the less likely she is to get sick.

Buy the Motion Sickness Bracelets
We were taking our first vacation as a family of four and Ella threw up three times on the way down there and once on a boat ride.  So, when we were on our way back home we decided to stop at Rite Aid to see if they had something for car sickness.  We knew if we didn’t find something, Ella throwing up was inevitable and  I would have to stay turned around and keep my eyes on her at all times.  My husband saw these $12 motion sickness bracelets, although skeptical, he thought they were worth a shot.  We had read about them before and I even posted something on my Facebook wall desperately wanting help with this and someone had mentioned the bracelets.  My husband picked up the Sea Bracelets and I truly believe these things are a miracle in our house.  Here are some pictures of them.

car sickness bracelets

Ella wearing adult motion sickness bracelets.

The bracelets work by pressure being added to your acupressure points and she doesn’t even notice they are on.

motion sickness bracelet

Close-up of bracelet on Ella's arm

Even though these are made for adults, they fit perfect on my tiny toddler’s arm.

Motion Sickness Bracelets

Close-up off the arm

Age definitely plays a factor.  When your child is less than two, they definitely cannot tell you when they are sick.  When they can tell you, you can be prepared, but it’s better if it doesn’t have to come to that.  No one likes feeling nauseous.  I think these bracelets are key.

I hope my tricks can help you some.  It was a miserable few months in our house before I was able to control the issue.  Good luck!

Chocolate Chip Snicker Cookies

So last night my husband and I were really having a sweet tooth craving and were trying to decide what we wanted.  I decided to browse my pinterest food board to see if I had anything good saved on there.  I came across these chocolate chip snicker cookies I have been dying to try for a while.  They are chocolate chip cookies with a mini snickers wrapped in the middle!  What’s not to love!  These cookies were relatively easy to make, but did have an unusual step in it I wasn’t expecting.  You actually brown the butter in a pan over the stove instead of just using softened butter.  Interesting!  It gave the cookies a really flavorful toffee taste.  And just a warning… the toffee taste made the cookie dough IRRESISTIBLE.

M

I adapted the recipe slightly because I felt like the cookies were too doughy and I couldn’t mold the cookie around the snickers very well.

CHOCOLATE CHIP SNICKER COOKIES

Adapted from bakersroyale.com |   Makes 24 large cookies

2 ¼  Cups flour
½ Teaspoon baking soda
16 Tablespoons butter
¾ Cup brown sugar
½ Cup granulated sugar
¾ Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 Cup chocolate chips
I bag of mini or fun size snickers

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together flour and baking soda in separate bowl
  • Put 10 of the 16 TB of butter in a skillet pan and heat over medium until completely melted.  Then continue to brown the butter until it is a dark golden brown color.  Make sure to stir continually or swirl the pan so the butter doesn’t burn.  This only takes a couple minutes.  Put the butter in a large bowl and stir in the remaining 6 TB of butter until it is completely melted.
  • Add the sugars, salt, and vanilla.  Then come the eggs.  Add the eggs and whisk for 30 seconds. Then let it sit for 3 minutes.  Repeat this 30 second whisk-3 minute rest two more times.  The dough should now be thick and smooth.
  • Add the flour. Mix very briefly… this is the key to good cookies!  The more you mix the more cake-like your cookies are… the less mixing you can get away with, the more chewy your cookies will be.  I love my cookies chewy so I mix until the flour is just barely combined.
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • Scoop cookies leaving at least 2 inches between cookies… I used an ice cream scooper to scoop.  Place the snickers slice on top of each cookie and fold the edges over to completely hide the snickers.  Dice up the remaining cookie and press them into the top of the cookies.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  The cookies should still be puffy and the center will have just begun to set.  Cool on a wire rack.

Handprint Butterflies

I got a call from my mother-in-law today.  It was a familiar call…  she always calls a week or two after her grand kids visit to get nostalgic about all the cute little fingerprints on her walls that have finally faded away and to beg us to come back to visit soon.   The fingerprints I spend hours cleaning with a magic eraser are cherished and endeared by her.

I looked at my house with this new perspective and saw all the little fingerprints all over my walls.  If there is one thing that defines our lives as mothers, there it is.  Perfect… what defines a life full of little children if not the fingerprints they leave behind!  They are a reminder of the fun and chaos that defines them.

I thought it would be fun to start off the blog with a great hand print butterfly project! I have been doing this project for years now.  It is always a lot of fun to see how the kids react to the cold paint and ticklish brush on their hands.  This is a great activity for sensory development.  It has the potential to be messy, but is so worth it.  Sensory activities help promote social, emotional, and intellectual development so have fun and keep a soap bucket close by!


Supplies:  paint, brushes, paper, bucket of soapy water

Instructions:  Draw the body of a butterfly without the wings.  Paint your child’s hand and let them place it on on the side of the butterfly body.  The hand print will be the butterfly wings.  Use as many colors as you want to make the butterfly wings colorful.


Learning the letter B

Keeping kids busy…  what a task.  I have three little boys that are better known as my three little monkeys.  I recently joined a co-op preschool program with a few other mommies in the area.  This basically means that we trade off who hosts and teaches all the children while the kids move from house to house based on whose turn it is to teach.  It was my turn to teach this week and we did a lot of fun things that I thought were easy and interesting enough to mention.

We did a great sorting activity with random stickers and foam pieces I had around the house.  The kids loved it!  Each one got a milk carton to themselves.  Then I had them sort all of the objects on the table based on color.  They ate it up.  After this we sorted objects by type (animal, shape, flowers, etc..) and then by size.  Great activity!  Kept the kids happy and busy while they learned a basic math less on classification and sorting.  Great activity for fine motor development as well!


We also went on a “B” hunt searching and collecting all the objects we could find around the house that start with the letter B.  The kids loved this and got to show the group what they found and sound it out exaggerating the B sound at the beginning.  We ended up with a great collection!
I have to say though, the kids had the most fun throwing the beach ball at the letter B we taped up.  Something about being allowed to throw things really got them excited and not just the boys. The girls loved it to!  They cheered each other on and clapped when one of them hit the letter.  It was a great activity to help them memorize the letter B, increase gross motor skills, and improve hand-eye coordination.

We also made Hand print butterflies!  So cute and so much fun!  This is a great sensory activity to do with the kids!