Archive | October 2013

Robot Snacks

Yes, it was a huge shock to have a 2nd child 12.5 years after your one and only child. Long story short, we waited two years after our first born to try to have another child. Steve and I always figured we would have at least 6 since our last name is “Pack” bwahahahaha!

Seriously, we always thought we would have a large family. Well 3 years of fertility treatments by three different doctors and it was a very sad reality for us that a large family wasn’t meant for us. We were told that I just wasn’t releasing eggs for this reason or another, can’t exactly remember all the blah, blah, blah…I was too heartbroken to hear about the “why”, I was focused on the “why not”. We were told that our best bet was in vitro fertilization but that it was also not a guarantee…and it would cost $10,000 at least. That was back in 1999. We laughed at the dollar amount and then decided that for whatever reason, God wanted us to have just one healthy son. Then a few years later I was diagnosed with PH and well, we just forgot about wanting another child and focused on survival. So although Spencer was a huge, huge, huge surprise, he was wanted so desperately for so many years…and it turns out that several doctors were wrong, lol!

So this time around with our 2nd “only” child…that’s really what it’s like when your kids are 12.5 years apart, lol…I am “experienced” and can’t wait to do all the cool mom stuff again! With him starting preschool this year, I had a flood of memories of all the fun crafts and baking I did with our oldest son, Steve, when he was Spencer’s age. I couldn’t wait to make pudding dirt cups with gummy worms hanging out of it! That was Steve’s favorite and he still talks about that! He told all the girls in his class the dirt was real (although it was just crushed Oreos, lol). Then came the preschool handbook. In big, bold letters, absolutely no home-made food items can be brought to the school for the kids to share. All food items had to be in original packages with the ingredients clearly listed. Also, any baked items had to come in their original containers and also have a full ingredients label attached. This was part of the state regulations that governs the preschool and based on protecting children with allergies. Oh I get it, I am still of course a nurse…anaphylactic shock is no joke but my heart sunk a little with the realization that I wasn’t going to be able to make all those fun treats in my kitchen for all the kiddos. I do get it, I really do get it and Lord knows I don’t want a child hurt from eating something I made!

Spencer’s Halloween party is tomorrow and I signed up for snacks. I may not be able to whip up some fun preschool treats but that doesn’t mean the creativity has to stop! I found this picture above on Pinterest. How cute are these Robot Snacks?! I knew instantly that this is what I would make for Spencer’s preschool class! Alas, it was a bad pin. When you clicked on the link, it just took you to a blown up picture of the same picture. But that’s ok, the wheels were turning and I enjoyed figuring out how to make these Robot Snacks! So this post is all about how to make these awesome Robot Snacks!

Items you will need (the amount needed for each item is dependent on how many Robot Snacks you are making – the amount listed is needed to make one Robot Snack):

  • 2 small snack-size Sun-maid Raisin boxes
  • 1 Minute Maid 100% Juice Box
  • 2 Mini Roll Fruit Roll-ups (available in this size during Halloween season for folks to pass out instead of candy)
  • 1 Apple Sauce (I used Meijer’s brand)
  • 1 Plastic Spoon
  • Scotch Brand Double-sided Tape
  • Regular Transparent Tape

Directions:

First gather your supplies and remove the individual portions needed of each item.

I specifically chose 100% fruit juice for the kiddos. Start by turning the juice box upside down and placing a piece of double sided tape on each end of the box (see photo where the arrows are).

Next, place your two small raisin boxes next to each other but slightly tilted out to create the feet (see above photo).

Push down the juice box (tape side down) on top of the two raisin boxes. I put the juice box more toward the center of the raisin boxes for better stability. I also made the side that did not have the straw attached as the front. I kept the straw attached.

Place a piece of double sided tape on each side of the top of the juice box (see the arrows in the picture above). This is where the arms (the mini Fruit Roll-ups) will go.

Firmly push down the package of Fruit Roll-up so that it hangs down the side of the juice box.

Apply a long piece of tape across the front and back of the juice box (see the arrows in the above photo).

Gently, but firmly, push down the apple sauce upside down on to the top of the juice box. The Meijer brand applesauce had the expiration date imprinted on the apple sauce container, I just made sure the date was facing the back of the robot.

Get out your googly eyes. I bought mine at Dollar Tree for only $1.00! Get your glue sticks (again purchased at the Dollar Tree for $1.00) and your glue gun out. Heat up up a stick of glue inside the glue gun. The googly eyes came in 3 different sizes. One big eye would have been awesome however, I was afraid that if they all didn’t look the same that there may be some arguments between the kiddos. So the same size eyes went on the ones I made for his class.

Add a small drop onto the back of each eye. I allowed the glue blob to sit there for about 30 seconds because one, I didn’t want to burn my fingerprints off and two, I didn’t want the glue to melt through the apple sauce container. Carefully push the eyes on to the front of the applesauce container. I chose Meijer brand because the sides of the apple sauce container were smooth. I originally had Mott’s Applesauce but the container is textured to look like a barrel. I knew I wanted a smooth surface for the eyes so I went with Meijer brand…funny thing is that I paid a few cents more for Meijer because the Mott’s was actually on sale, lol!

I thought they turned out awesome! Yes, it doesn’t take much for these to fall apart. That was my intent. As fun as it is to look at, it’s still food and I want the kids to be able to take it apart and eat it.

So I was comparing my creation with the original Pinterest photo and realized I forgot to add the spoon “antenna”! So I taped the spoon to the back of the juice box. This was a bit tricky because the applesauce did stick out on the backside of the juicebox like it does in the front (the diameter of the applesauce is larger than the diameter of the juice box). I just used a longer piece of regular transparent tape and made sure it wrapped around the sides of the juice box.

Spencer’s Robot Snacks are ready to go, all 16 of them!

Happy Halloween folks!

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DIY Fall Wreath – Dollar Tree Craft!

So Spencer has really settled into preschool. He loves it and is learning so much. It is 3 days a week but only for a few hours. I hate to waste gas going back and forth so I just hang out in the little town his preschool is in. Unfortunately for our bank account, there is a Dollar Tree store just around the corner from his preschool. Everything is just $1.00! So with $10 or $20 bucks you feel like you went on a massive shopping spree! I literally go in there everyday Spencer is in school. So much so that the other day an employee was trying to find fake eyelashes for a customer who wanted it for Halloween…I was in the next aisle and yelled out where they were located in the store, hahaha! When I checked out last Friday, the cashier literally said, “See you on Monday” hahahahaha! She is so right! Last week I spotted these gold, glittery, filigree maple leaves. I am a sucker for anything that sparkles! Then I saw the spool of sheer gold wire ribbon…9 feet of it on one spool! Then the deep purple and orange flowers. Then the plastic green gourd and jewel-crusted, plastic orange gourd. I felt a new fall wreath was coming on! $7.00 later I had the makings of an awesome wreath! I hopped on over to Walmart and picked up a straw wreath for $2.97. With my magic glue gun, I created our new $10.00 Fall Wreath in under half an hour! Be sure to visit your local dollar store, there are treasures to be found within! Happy Crafting!

Stove Top Lasagna

One of our family’s tried and true, simple to do recipes is Stove Top Lasagna. Everything we normally put in our 21 Layer Lasagna goes into our Stove Top Lasagna. The only difference is quantity and we switch the lasagna noodles out with penne noodles. This recipe is perfect for when you want lasagna but don’t have time to layer it and also when it is blazing hot out and you don’t want to turn your stove on. You can certainly add more like green peppers but this basic recipe is quick to come together!

Printable Directions: Stove Top Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced (not pictured)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic * We love our Spice World Minced Garlic!
  • 1 lb ground beef/chuck
  • 1 lb of penne noodles
  • 16 oz of large curd cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper to taste (not pictured)
  • 1 can Hunts Spaghetti Sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Paremesan cheese (optional & not pictured)

Directions:

Boil penne noodles as directed on box in a large stockpot.

Once fully cooked, drain and return to pot noodles originally were cooked in. I personally run cold water over my noodles while they are still in the strainer to stop the cooking process and then put them back in the original pot it was cooked in. I like my noodles to be al dente.

While the noodles are boiling add diced onions, minced garlic and ground beef to a large skillet. Cook over medium heat till meat is brown throughout. We are a garlic loving family! There are very few things we make in which garlic is not added. Our favorite ingredient in most dishes is the Spice World Minced Garlic! Squeeze the amount you need right into your recipe!

While waiting for the meat and noodles to cook, drain and rinse the cottage cheese in a strainer.

Place cottage cheese in a medium-sized bowl. Add the egg and salt and pepper to taste. Stir till well-combined and set aside. Drain grease from cooked brown beef/chuck if necessary once fully cooked.

Add cottage cheese mix and cook over medium heat until cottage cheese mix is heated throughout. The large curds will break down slightly but will keep their shape somewhat. If you use ricotta cheese versus cottage cheese in your lasagna, you certainly can use that in this step instead of the cottage cheese.

Add Hunts spaghetti sauce to the skillet of ground beef. A can of Hunts Spaghetti Sauce is typically around $1.00. Perfect price on our fixed income. They are packed full of flavor and what we always use in our Italian dishes!

Turn burner down to low-medium heat and cook until sauce is heated throughout.

Add spaghetti meat mix to the cooked noodles. Stir till well combined.

Add shredded mozzarella cheese and stir until cheese is well combined and melted throughout. It will get ooey-gooey and stringy…that is a really good thing!

Serve immediately with your favorite garlic bread! We buy fresh made bread from our local Sedalia Food Mart. We slice the loaf in half and slop on a good layer of butter/margarine. Sprinkle on garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Throw in the oven with the broiler on. Once the edges are deep golden in color, it’s done! Takes less than 5 minutes to make perfect garlic bread! Don’t forget to sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese!

Super delicious and both our 4-year-old and 16-year-old love it!

Enjoy!