Saturday, June 23, 2012

Best Zucchini Bread

I was having a horribly, stressful week last month and so my friend drove all the way to my house just to bring me some zucchini muffins that she had baked that day.  It was love at first bite.  I wanted to eat all the muffins she brought over and not share with my family. ;-)  What I love about this recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, is that it has the perfect blend of spices, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips.  I might actually like zucchini bread better than pumpkin and banana bread now. 

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination of the 3 (optional)

First preheat the oven to 350°F.  I decided to make muffins since it's easier for the kids to hold.  This recipe makes 24 muffins...which really isn't enough for a recipe this good. If you choose to bake loaves then liberally grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat 3 eggs with a whisk. My 3-year old is getting pretty good at cracking an egg open. ;-)

Mix in 1 cup of vegetable oil (or you can use olive oil) and 1 3/4 cups sugar.

Then add 2 cups grated zucchini and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, add 3 cups all-purpose flour.

Then add 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.

My kids can be pretty picky.  They're really not into eating dried cranberries and/or raisins.  In fact, when my friend brought her muffins over, my kids loved the muffin, however they made me pick out all the cranberries and raisins.

So rather than add these ingredients to the dry mixture, as Smitten Kitchen does in her recipe, I first stirred the egg mixture into the flour mixture and then divided the batter into two separate bowls.  I added about 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips to one bowl (for the kids) and I added 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of dried cranberries to the other bowl.  I didn't have any raisins, so that's why they didn't get put into this batch.

Next, either put your batter into your loaf pans or put them in muffin tins with paper liners.

Muffins will bake quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.  For the loaves, bake them for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Soooooo yummy!

My kids enjoying their muffins.

My son begging to have a third muffin!  Yes, a third!  I had to break the news to him that he would have to wait until after dinner time. ;-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Bucket List 2012

I was inspired by quite a few bloggers to write out a summer bucket list with the kids.  We didn't have a whole lot of time to sit down and write this list out before summer now that we're finally on break here's what the kids and I came up with:

-Have a picnic at a park
-Go on a color scavenger hunt
-Make a fruit pizza
-Make S'mores
-Go on a hike
-Send postcards to some friends
-Make smoothies
-Make homemade giant bubbles
-Make some sponge bombs and have a water fight
-Play Frisbee
-Find 3 new parks
-Watch the sunset
-Make homemade rock candy
-Go on a road trip
-Visit a new beach
-Go swimming
-Build a sand castle
-Go bike racing
-Create Frozen Painting art
-Visit a water park
-Go to a baseball game
-Have a balloon car race
-Make cookies
-Have a lemonade stand
-Have a pajama day
-Build a fort
-Make homemade ice cream 
-Read books outside
-Make frozen banana treats
-Have a movie night

We did one thing on our bucket list last night...we watched a beautiful sunset at the beach.

What's on your summer bucket list?

Check out these other summer bucket lists from a few of the bloggers that gave us this inspiration!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Virtual Book Club - Mo Willems

Welcome to the June edition of the Summer Virtual Book Club! This month Juggling With Kids and 15+ bloggers are reading books by Mo Willems.

We love reading the Pigeon series by Mo Willems.  It's one of our favorite series.  Back in November we did a cute hand print craft for the book Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!

For the Summer Virtual Book Club we decided to have a have a fun snack with another one of our favorite Pigeon series books, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! My kids really get into the roll of interacting with this book by telling the pigeon "NO!" as he tries to convince them, the readers, to let him drive the bus after the driver has left the bus in the capable hands of the "readers".

The graham cracker school bus snack was inspired by a Kindergarten blog. And yes we decided to let the pigeon drive the bus for our snack. ;-)   However, I used cream cheese instead of icing, because I didn't want the snack to be overly sweet.

-Graham crackers
-Cream cheese
-Food coloring (yellow & blue)
-Mini Oreo cookies
-Mini Nilla wafers cookies
-Golden Graham cereal (any square cereal will work)
-Mini chocolate chips
-Starburst candy (yellow)

In two separate bowls, mix in the yellow food coloring with the cream cheese for the bus and blue food coloring for the pigeon's head.  How much cream cheese you use will depend on how many kids you are making these for, but you will definitely need more for the bus than you need for the pigeon.

Spread a thin layer of yellow cream cheese on the graham cracker.

Next take some Golden Graham cereal and place them on the graham cracker to make the windows for the bus.

Next, split a mini Oreo cookie and place them onto the graham cracker for the wheels.

For the pigeon's head, spread blue cream cheese on the flat side of the mini Nilla wafers and place onto the graham cracker.

For the eye, take a mini chocolate chip and dab a little white cream cheese on the pointed part and place it on the Nilla wafer.  Then take a yellow Starburst and soften it in the microwave for a few seconds (in mine it was about 10 seconds).  Tear a little piece off and mold it into a beak for the pigeon and place it on the Nilla wafer.

My daughter was cracking up and kept saying "mommy I ate the pigeon's nose!"

My son enjoying his bus snack.


The Summer Virtual Book Club for Kids is a place for bloggers/parents/teachers, etc. to explore some fabulous authors and new books! Each month we will study a new author and each participant will choose a book (or more than one) to share on their blog by that author. Each month we will have a link up where we can share any book-related activities, projects, etc.
Here are the authors for this summer and linky dates:
June 18th- Mo Willems
July 16th- Don and Audrey Wood
August 20th- Kevin Henkes

If you've done a Mo Willems activity, join the fun and link up with us and all these other wonderful bloggers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DIY Photo Coasters for Father's Day

A girlfriend of mine recently taught me how to make these adorable DIY photo coasters, so I decided to make them as a gift to my husband for Father's Day. They were surprisingly easy to make and I hope to make some more soon!

-Tile (I found mine at Home Depot for 16 cents a piece)
-Modge Podge Gloss-Lustre
-Modge Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer
-Sponge brush
-Paper trimmer or x-acto knife
-Photo corner rounder (optional)


My friend took her photos and roughly tore them to size to give it a rough look, however I decided I wanted a cleaner cut look. I started by cutting out a 3.5" x 3.5" square out of construction paper.  You don't have to use my measurements...these tiles are 4.25" x 4.25", so technically you can cut your photos a little larger.

I then placed that square on top of my photos to where I wanted to crop them.

I then lightly marked the photo by tracing the square onto it.  I mostly traced the corners so I knew where to cut the photo. (as you can see in the picture below)

You can use an x-acto knife, however I used my paper trimmer to cut the photos to size.

So now I have a 3.5" x 3.5" photo of my kids.

I then decided to round the corners of the photos (this is optional).

All done cutting them out! Now comes the fun part!

Take a tile and apply a thin layer of the Modge Podge Gloss-Lustre.

Then place your photo in the center of the tile.

Next apply another layer of Modge Podge Gloss-Lustre.  On the first coat make sure you go up and down. Then let it sit and dry for about 10-15 minutes.  Apply a second coat, this time going left to right.  And again let it sit and dry for about 10-15 minutes.

Take your coasters outside (believe won't want to do the next part inside).  Place them on top of some newspaper or a grocery bag and start spraying a thin layer of the Modge Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer. I let it dry for about 15 minutes and then applied a second coat.  This is to seal it and protect the surface of the coasters.

I waited about 2-3 hours before I did the next step...but I think the can of acrylic said to let it dry for 24 hours. I cut out a square piece of felt using scissors for each tile.  I think these were roughly 4" x 4" in size.  I applied a layer of Modge Podge Gloss-Lustre to the bottom of the tile then adhered the felt to it.

All finished!

Check out our free printable Father's Day Questionnaire for kids!

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekly Kids Co-op: Come and play! {#8}

The Weekly Kid's Co-op

 Only one more week till school is out and summer officially starts!  We've been trying to compile a list of all the fun things we want to do.  What's on your summer bucket list?  

This list of campfire/bonfire desserts by Cherrios & Lattes will surely come in handy for the summer.

Here's a great way to keep the kids cool this summer...NurtureStore has compiled lots of fun ways to play with ice!

ice play

Healthy Family Cookin' compiled a great list of 100 Frugal Family Activities for the summer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pretend "Car" Wash

A few years ago, when my son was in preschool, I vaguely remember him telling me that they had a "car" wash and washed the bicycles at school.  With the weather warming up, it's the perfect summer activity.  And since my kids love playing with water, we decided to give our bicycles a good cleaning by having our own pretend "car" wash.

-Shaving cream

Fill a bucket or two with water... 

Then let the kids start spraying shaving cream onto their bicycles.

Then they can wash the dirt off their bicycles using the sponges.

Scrub, scrub, scrub.... missed a spot brother...let me get that for you!

Apply more shaving cream...

Scrub some more...

Scrub it really good...

Might as well give myself a wash down as well.

Time to rinse everything off with the hose.

All sparkly clean!