Five {5} Things That You’ll Need for Back-to-School This Year

The close to the summer is almost here.  Kids in some parts of the country have already started back to school.  We still have one more week before we meet the teachers, and then just a handful of days following that when the first day of school will begin.

I have put together a list of essentials to make sure that you have everything that you need for the big day.

1. Back packs

Back packs are a must!  Whether you’re going with plain or patterned, gold or glitter (make sure that it’s not against your school’s policies), Justice or Pottery Barn – every child will need a back pack.  There are some places, like Pottery Barn that actually offer back packs in a variety of sizes, based on ages & grade level.  Check with what your school or teacher recommends and then go and get the back pack that is right for you!

2. Lunch boxes

Every child wants a nice lunch box.  If possible, I say to personalize it.  There are lots of places (like Etsy or monogram shops) that will personalize lunch bags for you.   I’m not so keen on having a name on the outside of a backpack, but lunch boxes in my opinion are a must, if you can.  Depending on where you get your box from; many shops on Etsy will offer personalization of the bag when you purchase.  If you walk inside to a brick & mortar facility, it will all depend on what they offer.  Some require that you buy the item from them before they’ll personalize.  Other’s will charge an additional fee if you bring in an item from the outside.  Go with what will work best, and get your child’s lunch box, with their name or initials on it.

3. Lunch containers

There are a lot of different types of lunch containers out there.  Everything from individual & separatable compartments, to bento-style boxes, to ones that just fit a sandwich and no more.

Go with a lunch container that is dishwasher safe, that can be used every day (get more than one for a back-up just in case something happens to the one you have), and one that fits into the lunch bag that you picked out.  You can have the lunch container personalized with waterproof vinyl or with the next item on this list.

4. Kid Labels

Labels, labels, labels.  I could only imagine the frustration that faculty and teachers go through when they’re trying to figure out, “Who in the world, this xyz belongs to…?!”  In the past, we’ve used sharpie markers but this year, we are all about the labels.  What we cannot use sharpie marker on, I have found some wonderful multi-surface & waterproof labels to label all of our kids items with.  One of these days I will break into the world of diy-printable vinyl.   Until then, I’ll be ordering them pre-designed by the experts!

5. {Printed} First Day of School Signs

Are you that mom that wakes up, gets her child up for school, gets them dressed, gives them a good breakfast, a kiss and a hug and then sends them on their way to school.  Only to find out later, after logging in to social media, that everyone else in the cyber-world has a picture of their child smiling with a handy-dandy ready to go “First Day of School” sign?

Now, it’s not that you need to have that sign so that you can be like everyone else.  But if you would like to be able to look back, even if for your knowing or even a picture to send to family or place in a scrapbook, you’ll want to have that sign printed possibly even the day or week before.  Just go ahead and print your’s off now.  There are a ton of options out there from printed to physical hand-held chalk-boards.

You can do this.

Just don’t wait until the last minute….

Chemeeka 

 

4th of July Red {Mint} Blue Punch

This 4th of July, I’ve come up with something fresh delicious & practically takes no time to make for your 4th July gatherings.  It’s my Red, {Mint} & Blue 4th of July punch.

 

 

Start with 2 cups of boiled water in a pourable, heat safe container.

Add one teaspoon of Wilton Royal Blue gel food coloring.  Add it to the hot water and stir to let it dissolve & cool to room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, you’ll need one of these star ice cube trays that I found for less than $1.50 at Walmart or you could also use a standard ice tray.  In the end, it’s the same effect.  The blue ice lends the blue color to the punch whether you use stars or not.  (I thought that the stars were cute).

 

Pour the cooled blue water carefully into the ice tray as best you can.  You will only need one batch of ice cubes.

In a large half gallon water pitcher, squeeze the juice of 4 limes & add two cups of granulated sugar.

Stir to dissolve the lime juice and sugar & fill the pitcher 3/4 of the way full with filtered water.

Add in your blue ice cubes and slices of fresh strawberries.

Here’s a little tip: To keep my strawberry slices from turning to mush in my punch, I sliced them up the night before and put them in the freezer until I was ready for them.

Add in a handful of fresh mint leaves & your done!

 

 

So what are you bringing to the 4th of July picnic this year?

10 Minute DIY Popsicle Flower Pot {Magnet} Gift Idea for Mom

I whipped up some of these fun Mother’s Day popsicle flower pots for some of the special “mothers” in our lives.

The supply list is rather simple, and it can take all of 10 minutes to complete, from start-to-finish.

Supplies:

4 wide popsicle sticks

2 bottles of craft paint

a paint brush & paint plate

glue gun

glue sticks

4 magnets (can be found in the craft section of Walmart)

a 5 X7 photo or print out, cut to size

3 green pipe cleaners

scrapbooking paper for flowers

a glue stick

clear packing tape or scotch tape

You will start by painting the front and back of each of the popsicle sticks.

While you are waiting on these to dry, cut out three 3 inch flowers, and 3 yellow circles and assemble together with your glue stick.

Then once the popsicle sticks are dry, hot glue the ends together forming a box.

After you have your box in place, hot glue one of each of the four magnets to the corners of the frame.

(I did all of this before adding my picture).

Next, add your picture.  I used a 5 x 7 printout of a color copy of my photo on copy paper and actually had to cut it down to size.  The inside of this box is bigger than a 4 x 6, but smaller then a 5 x 7.  So I took just a portion of the background out from the 2/3’s line (in width) of the picture to make it fit and then secured it with clear packer’s tape to the sides of the popsicle frame.

Once you have your photo in place then hot glue the cardstock flowers to the pipe cleaner stems and then add them to the back of the photo.

After that step is complete, you are done!  Here you have these adorable popsicle fridge magnet flower pots that mom, grandma, neighbor, friend can look at year round.

Popsicle magnet flower pots also make a great homemade gift idea for friends, family, neighbors, teachers, and more! Whip up a few in about 10 minutes for a thoughtful handmade present!

 

 

 

9 Awesome DIY Gifts for Teachers

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and it’s that time again to put your time & creativity to let all of the teacher’s in our lives know that we care.  Below, I have rounded up nine of my all time favorite teacher appreciation gifts.  Some require a small purchase, a printable & time.

How special will your child’s teacher(s) feel when they receive this gift.  Best of all to know that you care and took the time to let them know that they are in fact making a difference.

  1. A Decorative filled candy jar

2. A Bundlet (or two or three…) with printable at Eighteen 25

 

3. An apple-theme painted mason jar at Tilly’s Nest

I will also put this one on my list for a great “back-to-school” gift.

4. You’re SO-DA bomb soda pop at Glue to My Crafts

 

5. “Muffin” like a great teacher bag at The Domesticated Lady

 

6. Berry Nice Teacher, Thank you Printable at Sweet Metel Moments

 

 

7.  DIY Sharpie Marker Mug at The Princess Pinky Girl

 

8. “Thank you for helping me grow” at Snippets of Creation

 

9. Free Donut printable at Happiness is Homemade

Chemeeka

 

10 Handmade Gifts for Mom

Mother’s Day is literally right around the corner.  I have become so intentional about having a game plan together before the day (or the day before) arrives.

I have put together this list of easy, thoughtful, creative and equally heart-warming hand-made gifts that you can make for mom or grandma this Mother’s Day.

  1. Sending hugs card at Montando Minha Festa 

 

2. Handprint Flower Bouquet at  Glued to My Crafts

 

3. The Noodle Card at  Crafty Morning

4.  Pom Pom Flowers at The Best Ideas for Kids

 

5. Handprint Coasters at Crafty Morning

6. The Doily Bouquet at The Healthy Happy Teacher

 

7. The Handprint Princess

8. Bloom A Smile at Paging Supermom

 

9. Thumbprint Butterfly Mugs at The Best Ideas for Kids 

 

10. Button Bouquet at Customizando

 

All of these ideas are fun, creative & most of all, easy-peasy.   So what are you making for Mom this Mother’s Day? 

My Giant Samoa Cookie

I made this version of a giant Samoa cookie for our Girl Scout End Year Celebration last year & have made it again, this year.  Now, I  want to share it with you!

Giant Samoa Cookie

Ingredients:

Cookie Base-

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Samoa Topping-

  • 3 cups shredded coconut, sweetened

  • 1 1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted

  • 425 grams soft caramels

  • 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

  2. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Watch the video here to get a visual of this technique.

  1. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch-thick. Use a bowl or plate to cut it into a large circle (make sure it will fit on your baking sheet!). Transfer the circle to a sheet of parchment paper, then place on a baking sheet. Slice a smaller circle out of the center to create a ring. Prick the surface with a fork, then bake at 325F for 20 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Cool completely on the baking sheet.

  1. Evenly sprinkle the shredded coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, until the coconut is toasted. Set aside.

  1. Spread about half of the melted chocolate onto the underside of the shortbread cookie, completely covering the base. Transfer the cookie to the freezer or fridge for the chocolate to set, while you make the topping.Place the soft caramels, milk and salt in a pot and set to medium heat. Stir constantly until the caramel has completely melted. Pour the caramel into a bowl with the toasted coconut, reserving about 1/3 cup of caramel. Mix the coconut and caramel mixture together.

  1. Spread the remaining caramel onto the non-chocolate side of the shortbread cookie. Generously spoon the coconut caramel mixture on top. Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate on top of the coconut. Enjoy!

So that’s it!  These are all pics from my very own creations.  All of the pictures in this post were from this year & last.    I hope that you enjoy & that you make it for your next Girl Scout celebration!

 

 

Sweet Cream Cookies

I love making homemade cookies.  Each year, usually around Christmas, Thanksgiving or holidays (or anytime), I break out a batch of cookies & every now and again, I hit on a favorite.  THIS particular cookie has been a real favorite of the ones that I’ve made for my own family & relatives alike.

I call it my Sweet Cream Cookie because although the originally recipe says that it’s “Stawberries & Cream”, I have used so many different varieties of fruit fillings to fill the center with.

 

I’ve done these cookies with guava, blackberry, strawberry, apricot, blueberry, and lime.  They’re absolutely delicious with whatever fruit flavored filling, you fill them with.

Where did I get the original recipe?  From this Cookie Magazine here:

It was one of those $9.99 magazines that you see at the checkout counter that actually looks different from the rest, and I don’t mean in just the content.

It’s the quality of the cover & the quality of the image of the recipe.  And if you’re used to cooking & baking, then you can sometimes just look at the cover image that’s on the magazine & know that the recipes that are inside are going to be GREAT.  Then, you’ll usually look down to check the price of said cover and it’s, oh, $9.99 or $10.99….and in this case, totally worth it! 

 

I have been making cookie recipes out of this magazine for almost ten years (since 2009)!  And, I love them every time.  There are old favorites that are tried and true to my repertoire and this is one of them.

You start this cookie, just like you would any rich & buttery cookie, with butter and cream cheese.  And then it all goes uphill from there!

 

My dad asked me to make this cookie the other day, so I wanted to start out with a new variety of flavors. First I went with the recipe original,

which is strawberry, and then I added the apricot jelly to it, and last but not least, I got lucky at the new LIDL’s by us and found this nice blueberry jelly.

You don’t often see blueberry jellies or jams sold in stores.  I don’t ever have a problem finding strawberry, blackberry, grape or apricot, but when I can find something like peach or blueberry, I grab it!

I made a single batch of this recipe (which yields about 5 dozen cookies–that’s if you don’t eat the batter along the way, lol!)

I grabbed my cookie containers for $1/each from the Dollar Tree (and that includes the top and the bottom of the container), and I made one to send to a friend & one to my dad.

They were absolutely delicious!

 

~Chemeeka 

Valentine’s Day Toffee Crackers

I loved making the Christmas toffee crackers with my kids, so much that they inspired me to make them in this sweet Valentine’s Day version.

All of the steps in the process are pretty much the same.

 

Except, you will want to substitute out pink vanilla wafers for your chocolate chips.

 

Add in your Valentine’s sprinkles & your good-to-go!

 

Now was that easy or what for a Valentine’s treat?

So what are you making for the kids this Valentine’s Day?

 

xo- Chemeeka  

Old Fashioned Pancake Recipe

One of my favorite things to make, is a batch of fluffy, buttery, homemade pancakes.  My kids absolutely LOVE it when make them my homemade pancakes & syrup and I do too!  Often times, I will whip up a batch following scrambled eggs & sausage, or on an occasion we will just have the pancakes with eggs, for breakfast OR dinner.

(Sorry for the blurry pic).

The crux of these pancakes, is all in the whisk!  Here are a few tips:

(1) Make it by hand, and with a hand whisk.

Call me old-fashioned, but pancakes and waffles are one semi-baked item (if you’re making waffles) that you don’t need any equipment.

(This post contains affiliate links).

(2) Take the time to make sure that your dry ingredients are blended well, before adding the wet ingredients.

I know that we all have that moment that we just want to, “get it done!”  Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a dessert, lots of times, we’re ready to just throw it all into a pan or a bowl and let it go.  Whisper, “You can do that with this.”

It is always best to combine your dry ingredients fully, first.  Why?  Because the arduous task of trying to back-peddle those clumps of un-combined flour aren’t worth it.  And they’re going to turn your fluffy, butter pancakes into, “Hmm, what was that?  Hmm, that was just a hardened clump of cooked flour.”  You don’t want that!

(3) If at all possible, use a pour-able bowl.  It just makes it easier when it’s time to make your pancakes/waffles.  I am using one that I got from Pampered Chef years ago.  If you don’t have a local PC rep, you can also try using one of these:

Mainstays BPA-free Plastic 6pc Mixing Bowl Set

Cake Boss 2-Piece Melamine Mixing Bowl Set

OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set, Blue/Green/Yellow

Next, you’ll want to use a hot pan or griddle.   For my pancakes, I use a flat metal griddle, like this one.  However, a portable cook-top style griddle could work just as well.

Presto 07211 Liddle Griddle
When it comes to serving, we’ve had everything from fresh fruit and whipped cream, to chocolate syrup & chocolate chips.

However, sometimes old classics never go out of style.

 

-Chemeeka 

Printable copy here: Old Fashioned Pancake Recipe

 

8 Traditions that you should start this Christmas…

Christmas can be that time of year when the days fly by, financial stressors are high, schedules are busier, and for one reason or another, the magic of Christmas seems to always be outside of your reach.

This Christmas, I want to give you 8 practical ways, to make your home a haven and the destination of your heart a place where Christmas finds it’s warmth and the season finds a spot for you to sip and savor in those moments that your family will treasure for years to come!

This is my guide for the 8 Traditions that you’ll want to start this Christmas:

  1. Make Christmas ornaments

Pom Pom & Pinecone Ornaments

There are a TON of handmade ornaments that your kids can make.  Some with little or no help from mom/dad and others that you’ll have to more closely manage.

Santa Handprint Ornaments

Nonetheless, being able to capture the preciousness of having an item that was handmade by your child to look back on, is always a priceless treasure.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Don’t forget to scribble their name & age on the back (ie.  “Maria, age 4-Christmas 2017”) before you stash them away  until next year.

2. Bake cookies

There are so many yummy & simple Christmas cookies recipes out there that you really don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

(This post contains affiliate links)

The most important thing about this step is actually getting into the kitchen with your little ones.  Take a simple recipe like Russian Tea Cakes, grab some aprons, (a little patience) and enjoy!  I will assure you that there are memories in measuring out the flour & sugar that your kids won’t soon forget.

3. Decorating the Tree

The task seems simple enough, “Right?”  Well, not always.  If you’re one of those that has OOPD (Obsessive Ornament Placement Disorder-I’m not 100 % sure but I have heard that such a thing does exist) than having your kids join you -or take over completely- in the decorating of the Christmas tree may not seem like a doable option.  However if you’re a part of the percentage of the population that doesn’t mind where the ornaments go, then why not this Christmas, share the task of trimming the tree with the little ones in your home.  They’d likely always remember that they played an important part of helping to bring the magic of Christmas into your home.

4. Come home to the sound of  Christmas music

I feel like most of the retail stores have my number when I am not even thinking about Christmas just yet, and I walk in their door to pick up something totally random and I smell the scent of cinnamon and hear Christmas music playing.  Nothing puts me into the spirit faster than a few decorations, some holiday scents, and Christmas music.

This Christmas, grab a couple of Christmas cd’s at that start of your morning or just before the kids get home from school, throw a disc of season-themed music into the cd player and get the sounds of Christmas swirling around the atmosphere!

5. Make Hot Apple Cider

The smells of Christmas…ah, yes!  Nothing says Christmas more in your home that the aroma.  If you’re not a baker, than this recipe is perfect for you!  Grab some oranges, cinnamon sticks, a few frozen cranberries and some apple cider, throw them into your crock pot and you’re good to go!

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider 

Not a fan of cranberry, then check out these other recipes: Crockpot Caramel Apple Cider, Crockpot Mulled Apple Cider, and Slow Cooker Apple Cider.

6. Open a gift per night

We often use Thanksgiving as a time to rehearse the things in our lives that we are thankful for.  Why not this Christmas use simple gift wrapping ideas and package up individual gifts that have one word on a sheet of paper per box.

Alternate each night who gets to pick to open a gift, and for the word that is found on the paper inside (“Grateful”, “hopeful”, “thankful”, “happy” etc.) , go around the family and share expressions of what that word makes you think of and what are they, “hopeful” for.

 

7. Read Christmas stories

It’s easy to forgo sitting down & snuggling up to the sounds of mom or dad reading an old Christmas story but this really is the time of year to do so.  Rather than keeping up with the demands of the hurriedness of the season.  Grab some of your favorite Christmas stories & make the memory of reading them together with your family.  Whether around the dinner table or just before bed, this is a moment that you’re kids will enjoy.

8. Set up a hot cocoa bar

Add a little bit of magic to your Christmas decor this year by having a designated space (a small side table will do) for a hot cocoa bar.  Set out Christmas mugs (I found these at the Dollar Tree), some hot cocoa packets, Christmas cookies, and add a bowl of white chocolate chips, brown chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows, and candy canes.

You can also grab everything that you’ll need for your hot cocoa bar here:

Melamine Christmas Tree Platter
Santa Claus Christmas Decor Mug Dishwasher/Microwave Safe (4)
Chocolate Dipped Oreo Cookies decorated for Christmas 7 Oreo Assortment, Milk Chocolate
Nestle TOLL HOUSE Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels 12 oz. Bag
Nestle Tollhouse Premier White Morsels, 12 Ounce
Jet Puffed Miniature Marshmallows – 16 Ounces
Brachs 12- 6oz. Peppermint Candy Canes

With that, you should be off to a great start for a Merry Christmas!