February 28, 2013

Blue Ribbon Brownies

This recipe comes from my sister-in-law, Tiffany.  She's the same sister-in-law who gave me the delicious cinnamon-sugar topped poppy seed cake with almond glaze.   These brownies are so amazing!  They only have 4 tablespoons of coca, so they're not your super dark, rich brownies- they're better!  They're also like the Kneaders sugar cookies in that I can eat them plain.  Of course, a little powdered sugar or frosting never hurts, and they do make a great base for mint brownies (I LOVE Our Best Bites' mint brownies). You really can't go wrong with them.  Dressed up or not, they'll taste delicious!


This recipe is so easy, and you probably have all the ingredients in your fridge and cupboard right now- so go make yourself a batch. 
 Click here to print the recipe.
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February 27, 2013

Lego Instruction Manual Organizer & Printable

I have three young boys at my house, and for us that means Legos!  I know there are many, many moms out there who can relate.  I actually really like Legos (although I wouldn't cry if their prices were lower).  I feel that the building and thought process involved is extremely beneficial for my boys.  They could build all day long!  They love building sets that come with instructions, or coming up with their own creations. 

Last year I realized I needed to get a handle on all the Lego instruction manuals we were collecting.  I had them stashed in a box with all the Legos, but they were getting torn apart. 

 I decided to put them in sheet  protectors and then in a binder.  The one binder we had began to swell as our Lego collection grew, and so we added a few more binders.  All the fun chalkboard art out there inspired me to make a cute cover for my boys' Lego binders.  Here's what it looks like.

Maybe you don't keep all your instruction manuals, but if you do this system works really well.  So well, that I've made binders for our Trio Block manuals, Bionicle manuals, and any other toy that comes with a manual or instructions of some kind (that's worth keeping).  My boys know exactly where to go when they need a set of Lego instructions.  

You can click here and here to print your Lego instruction manual covers.
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February 26, 2013

Printable Dr. Seuss Quotes

Once upon a time (two months ago) I decided Tuesday would   be quote day here at Blissful Roots.  I did a whole post, and then made a printable quote at the end.  Well, that proved to be a lot of work!  I love the quote idea however, so I've decided to devote my entire Tuesday posts to just printable quotes.

Today, in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday (March 2) I have three printable quotes.  
I've loved Dr. Seuss for as long as I can remember.  Who doesn't love Dr. Seuss?  I loved his books when I was little, I read his books all the time as a first grade teacher, and Dr. Seuss even helped me earn a partial scholarship during my college days.  There was a part on the scholarship application where you were asked to write a short essay on who you would choose to meet if you could meet anyone in the world (living or not). I chose Dr. Seuss.  I don't remember anything I wrote in my essay, but I remember being awfully glad I chose him.  Thanks, Dr. Seuss!

I love this quote because I have three little boys, and I often need reminded that they're people just like me.  They maybe smaller, but they're really no different than me. 
 They get frustrated- so do I.
They have bad days- so do I.
They get cranky sometimes- so do I.  
Every time I think of this quote, I remember I need to be a bit more patient and understanding.

I had a hard time picking just three of Dr. Seuss' quotes (there are so many great ones to choose from!), but these are a few of my favorites.  If you're interested in more of his quotes, you can click here.

Happy Birthday, Dr.Seuss!
Simply click on the image of each quote to print.  
Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you found a little something worth your time.

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February 25, 2013

DIY Gift Tags

After all the birthday mayhem (my three-year-old's birthday is the day after my twins' birthday) at our house last October, I decided I needed to get a bit more organized in the wrapping, packaging, and gift tap department.  I love making gifts looks extra special, but with three birthdays in two days, wrapping always seems to take a backseat to everything else.  
I started the day after the birthday bashes and got busy making gift tags.  I wanted to make tons, so I could just pull one out at any given time to wrap up a special gift.  I also stocked up on solid wrapping paper colors (I love brown craft paper) and cute toppers.  I wanted everything ready to go, so wrapping a cute gift would be quick and easy! I took a bunch of my scrapbook paper scraps (perfect project them) and started mixing and matching.  It was so much fun to come up with different combinations!

*scrapbook paper (scraps work great)
*Cricut & Preserves Cartridge
*alphabet stamp set
*black ink
*distressing ink

*Cut tags (2 sizes, 1/4" in difference) using Cricut Preserves Cartridge
*Distress edges of tags with distressing ink
*Stamp To: and From: on the tags
*Layer tags and adhere

If you don't have a Cricut, you could easily cut the tags out with scissors or a paper cutter.  Square or rectangle tags would look great!  And if you don't have an alphabet stamp set, you could print out To: and From: on your computer or even write them by hand.  

Have fun with the tags- mix and match whatever scraps you have.  I didn't buy a single piece of new paper for this project.  I love how using what you have can produce such fun and unexpected results!  And the fun just continues when you mix and match ribbons and toppers with the tags. 

P.S.  These tags would be a great addition to the DIY gift boxes I posted about back in December.
Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you found a little something worth your time.

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February 22, 2013

Whole Wheat Pita Chips & Chive Dip

More often than not, I have my sister Melissa to thank for my new recipes (remember the quinoa-pumpkin seed granola?). She loves to cook and is always up for trying new things.  We both tend to read cookbooks (and now cooking blogs) like novels.  Do you do that?  Honestly, I could read cookbooks for hours on end.  

Here's one of my favorite appetizer/snack recipes Melissa introduced me to.  It's one of Giada's from the Food Network (you can click here for the original recipe).  The whole wheat pitas are nice and health.  I can eat the pita chips alone, but the chive dip (not quite as healthy) makes them really amazing!

You can click here to print my version of the recipe.

Next time you need a crowd-pleasing appetizer, give these a try.  I promise they won't disappoint!  The chips also keep really well in an air-tight container, and the chives in the dip are even more flavorful the next day.

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February 21, 2013

Dollar Store Map

We went up to my parents over the long weekend, and of course my mom had tons of fun activities for my boys to do.  One of them was a HUGE map of the United States from Dollar Tree.  I still can't believe this came from the dollar store!  What an amazing piece of art and learning tool for just a dollar.  Not to mention the we're-going-to-finish-this-if-it-kills-us stamina my boys developed while doing it.

The map comes in twelve individual pieces of paper measuring 10"x 10" (the competed map is 40" wide and 30" tall).  The individual pieces made the map easy to color.  My twins divided the pages up and went to town.  I can easily tell who colored what.  One of my twins colors hard and dark- he gets it from me (and apparently it carries over to my toothbrushes- they look a year old after a week) and my other twin colors soft and light.  Can you see the difference?


My boys did run into a bit of a problem on a few of the individual pieces as they were coloring them.  After a couple of pages they realized some of the states that were split between two pages weren't being colored the same colors.  It didn't take them long to realize they needed to converse together before coloring certain states, so they would match when they were put together.

Here's a picture overload of the map, but I had to show as many sections as I could.  It turned out so cute!  My boys are so proud of it, and I can't say I blame them. 

We simply taped the back of the map together with Scotch tape one piece at a time when they were finished.  It went together really easily.  My mom was so in love with the map that she took it to be laminated, but it was too big to fit through the laminating machine.  She did find a roll of lamination that she bought at her local office supply store, and we used that to cover the map.  That was a bit trickier than the taping part, but the map will last a lot longer now.  

We have family in five different states, so my boys love looking at the map to see where all their cousins are.  It's already proving to be a favorite part of their room.  
So, hurry out to Dollar Tree and find yourself a map.  They also had a cute alphabet and counting one as well.

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February 20, 2013

Inserting Special Characters {Fruit Edition}

I've done a couple of posts lately with Inserting Special Characters in a word processing document(typing in circles and typed embellishments).  There seems to be quite a bit of interest with these posts, so I thought I'd share another fun special character that can be inserted.  Fruit.  Don't you get antsy for summer and the fresh fruit season?  I sure do!  Strawberries (at good prices) are beginning to pop up all over my local grocery stores. 

Arent' these cute?  They can be found in the Apple Color Emoji font.  The steps to inserting the special characters can be found here.  Follow the steps outlined in the post, but look for Apple Color Emoji instead of GungSeo.

You can use these fruits for anything!  I decided to try a fruit Sudoku game with them.  I became a Sudoku fan when my doctor told me I needed to quit teaching and take it easy for the last month of my pregnancy with my twins.  I had a lot of time on my hands, so my mom brought me a Sudoku book.  I was a bit skeptical, but after one puzzle I was hooked!

   This Sudoku game is intended for young kids.  It's perfect for reinforcing mathematical and reasoning skills.  My six-year-old twins can do this on their own, and even my three-year-old can do it with a bit of help.
 If you aren't familiar with Sudoku, the objective of the game is to fill in the entire board with fruit (in this case).  You may only have one of each kind of fruit in a row and in each quadrant (outlined by the darker lines on the table).
 The board above already has fruit placed in some of the squares.  You will need to print out the page of fruits (below) and fill in the remaining squares.

This page of fruit will need to be printed out.  You will then cut out each individual fruit to fill in the squares of your board.

Here's a blank board for you to make your own puzzles.  I found some Sudoku puzzles to copy at this website.  I used the 'Kids' column and clicked on the medium level.  Just replace the numbers with fruit.

You can make more simple (4 squares by 4 squares) or advanced (9 squares by 9 squares) boards if you'd like.  You can also adjust the level of the game by how many fruits you put on the board to begin with.  Lots of possibilities!  You can also choose other fruit to use.  I only used six of the fruits available from Apple Color Emoji.
Click here, here, and here to print the game boards and fruit page.  
Happy puzzling!

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February 19, 2013

Cinnamon-Sugar Topped Poppy Seed Cake With Almond Glaze

This cake's name is a bit of a mouthful, but each layer of the cake makes it so delicious that I couldn't leave one out. 

I got this recipe from my sister-in-law several months back.  She's always made it, and I love it every time she does.  It's so light and fluffy, then there's the crunch from the cinnamon-sugar topping that's sprinkled in the bundt pan, and finally the glaze on top- perfection!

The recipe is really simple.  Anyone can make it!  I haven't always had the best of luck with bundt cakes, but I think the cinnamon-sugar topping helps this cake come right out when it's done. 

As I state in the recipe, you can put the extra cinnamon-sugar topping and the glaze over the entire cake, or cut the cake into individual pieces, and then put the toppings on.  You can also play around with the glaze.  I LOVE the almond, but vanilla works, and I'm sure a lemon glaze would be amazing as well.  
Click here to print the recipe.
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February 15, 2013

Favorite Birthday Traditions

I did a post for Mariel over at Or So She Says back in January.  I posted a little part of it here last month, but not the entire post.  Here's the whole shebang.   

 Birthdays are kind of a big deal at our house.  My three year old was born the day after my twins' birthday, so we have three birthdays in two days.  It's madness, but tons of fun!  I love celebrating each of my boys and making them feel as special as I can on their day.  Here' some of our favorite ways to celebrate.

The teacher in me loves having a book (or many books) for every occasion.  Birthdays are no exception.  Here are a few of my favorites. 

I found these darling personalized birthday books at I See Me (they have so many versions of personalized books, go check them out!  And you can click here for great coupons they offer.).  From my days of teaching, I know kids LOVE to see their name.  How fun would it be to see their own name in a birthday book?  These books are going to be a new tradition at our house this year.

You can't go wrong with Dr. Seuss.  I found this cute pop-up version of his Happy Birthday To You at Barnes & Noble.  You know the quote, "...there is no one alive who is you-er than you!" well, it came from this book.  Dr. Seuss has the best quotes!  I have a whole file of them.  


Have you heard of this book?  On the Day You Were Born makes a great baby shower gift (books always make great gifts).  It's a beautifully written book about earth, nature, animals, and a baby's birth.  This is a fun book to read every year on your child's birthday.  I love remembering the days my boys were born.  There's a bit of sacredness about each one of them. 

For some reason, it's kind of hard to find a good version of the traditional 'Happy Birthday' song (if you have one, let me know).  I've had the one on this CD since my twins were two.  It is a bit on the juvenile side, but it's really cute.  I did try to find some new ones on iTunes, but this one is still my favorite.  iTunes did have a Happy Birthday! 20 Birthday Songs CD you can check out.  I like to play the Happy Birthday song the second my boys wake up on their birthday.  I usually just put it on repeat and let it play over and over (the song is only 42 seconds long) until they get sick of it. :)

I first saw the idea of birthday chairs from Alicia Bangerter.  I instantly fell in love with them.  Well, I mentioned the idea to my mom (if I ever need anything, I just need to let my mom know) and before I knew it she had found two chairs from her local thrift store that were just waiting to be transformed into birthday chairs.  I had to get two because I have twins.  Unless you have twins, or two members of you family share a birthday, you'll just need one chair.  I set up my boys' presents on and around the chairs in the morning, and then they sit on the chair at every meal that day.  You can make your birthday chair as plain or fancy as you'd like.  I painted mine, added glitter sticker letters, and cut out a cupcake to put on the seat ( I Mod Podged it on).  I also tie balloons to the chair.  

And what's a birthday chair without a birthday hat?  I found these great birthday hats at  Party City.   My favorite is the birthday cake with the candles.  I guess I'll be buying two of them (I'm kind of used to that now).  I'm betting my boys will be a bit more excited about the birthday hat than my husband.  He'll love having a birthday picture in his new hat! :)

I love memory boards and have grand plans to make one for every holiday, special occasion, and even every room in my house someday.  For now, I have a birthday one.  I'm going to put this up for every birthday at our house.  Most of the things on the board can stay the same for each birthday, but I can switch out a few names, numbers, dates, and pictures to make it more personal for each birthday.  

The birthday quotes I used on my memory board can be printed here.  I'm a big quote person (I post one every Tuesday at Blissful Roots).  Memory boards give me a good excuse to type up cute quotes and display them in style.

I discovered another cute birthday board idea a few years back when I stopped by my neighbor's house on her daughter's birthday.  She had the cutest large chalkboard (aren't chalkboards and chalkboard art everywhere these days?) on her porch.  It had balloons tied to it and the words, "Kate is 7 today!  Happy Birthday!" on it.  It made me smile.  What a fun way to let your neighbors, and anyone else who might show up at you doorstep, know there's a birthday at your house.  I need to make me one of these for sure.  

In My Own Style

This darling chalkboard is from Diane at In My Own Style.  She used her chalkboard as a menu, but you could easily adapt the words.  She also has a great tutorial on chalkboard art.

Graphics Fairy
Pictures really are worth a thousand words.  My husband came up with this idea several years back, and it has become my favorite birthday tradition.  He takes all the pictures of our boys from the previous year and puts them all together in a slide show with music and everything.  One year he was really ambitious and even put some video of our boys in with the pictures.  We always have one big party with our families for our boys' birthday, and we play the DVD during the party.  Everyone sits down to watch at one point or another during the party.  Some even sit and watch it over and over.  It's always a hit, and it never fails to make me a bit teary-eyed.  Pictures put to music at special occasions tend to have that affect on me.  Anyone else?  

We store all of our photos in iPhoto, and my husband uses iMovie to put the whole DVD together.  I'm most familiar with iPhoto, but I'm sure most photo editing programs allow you to make slide shows.  Even if you don't burn your slide show on to a disc, you could just show the slide show from your computer during your party.  There are also digital picture frames that would work really well.  You can make this as complex or simple as you want.  I challenge you to come up with some way, any way to display pictures of your child from the previous year on his/her birthday.  It's so fun to see their growth and remember good times!

My husband doesn't like desserts (crazy, I know!).  He's a candy guy.  All three of my boys have inherited his sweet tooth.  I can honestly say I don't think I've ever made my husband a birthday cake.  I've made him birthday cookies and brownies, but never cake.  And I have to tell you, my biggest stress with three birthdays in two days- the cakes!  Making three fun and exciting, fresh cakes is slightly overwhelming for me.  This last year after my boys' birthdays, I realized I needed a change in the birthday cake department.  I found this cute candy cake at Goodeelicious (a little sweet shop in Pittsburgh) and knew all my birthday cake problems had been solved.  I don't think I'll ever have to bake another birthday cake as long as I live.  All of the boys in my house would much rather have a candy cake like this than a cake cake.  I'm not sure if it will save me a whole lot of time, but I really like the idea that I can make this in advance and it will still be good on the actual birthday.

Well, I hope you found an idea or two that you'd like to add to your birthday traditions.  Here's to wishing you and your family a year full of happy, happy birthdays!  We'll see you next month.

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