Homemade Craft Dough Recipe

play-dohToys are very different today than when we were kids — even in the last ten years, technology has made toys evermore complicated. But there’s one toy that will always stay the same: Play-doh. Tomorrow is National Play-Doh day so in honor of timeless toy, here’s a recipe for homemade craft dough: IMG_4650

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups water
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 c. salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cream of tartar
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Food Coloring

Play-doh collage

  • In a large pot (a 4 or 5-quart stock pot), mix everything together except for the food coloring. Stir with a wooden spoon until it’s well-combined. It’s OK if it’s lumpy – it will work itself out during the kneading process.
  • Over low heat, cook the dough. Stir frequently. As it cooks, it will start to pull away from the sides of the pot and form dough – it takes about ten minutes, but the time may vary.
  • Remove the pot from the heat.

Play-doh collage2

  • Turn the dough out on a clean surface and knead it until it’s smooth.
  • Divide the dough into as many pieces for different colors as you want. This recipe yields about 44 oz. (almost 3lbs); for four colors, you can have about 1.5lbs for each color.
  • To color, drop the color on each ball and then knead it until the color is even. You may have to play around a bit with the amount of color you add. For vibrant blue, green and yellow, ten drops was enough, but to get a vivid red, more food coloring was required.

 

Store the dough in airtight containers or sealable plastic bags. They should last for several months. This is an excellent winter activity for when your kids are stuck inside.

play-doh pic

Positive Thinking Day: 16 Positive Quotes to Give Your Spirit a Boost

positive-thinkingSome days are better than others and on the bad days, it’s hard to stay positive. September 13th is Positive Thinking Day and to honor the day, here are 16 positive quotes to give your spirit a boost – no matter what kind of day you’re having.

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” — Maori Proverb

“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.”–Bill Meyer

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life’s about creating yourself.”– George Bernard Shaw

“I have for many years endeavored to make this vital truth clear; and still people marvel when I tell them that I am happy. They imagine that my limitations weigh heavily upon my spirit, and chain me to the rock of despair. Yet, it seems to me, happiness has very little to do with the senses. If we make up our minds that this is a drab and purposeless universe, it will be that, and nothing else. On the other hand, if we believe that the earth is ours, and that the sun and moon hang in the sky for our delight, there will be joy upon the hills and gladness in the fields because the Artist in our souls glorifies creation. Surely, it gives dignity to life to believe that we are born into this world for noble ends, and that we have a higher destiny than can be accomplished within the narrow limits of this physical life.” — Helen Keller

positive-thinking“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. –Alice Walker

“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” –Zig Ziglar

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”–Roald Dahl 

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” –Oprah Winfrey

“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want.”–Oscar Wilde

“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.”– Hubert Humphrey

positive-thinking“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”–Groucho Marx

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”–Mary Engelbreit

“To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.” –Ken S. Keyes, Jr.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” — Willie Nelson

Soccer Mom Must-Haves

soccer-momSchool is back in session and that means it’s time to work sports into your fall schedule. Whether your kids are new to the field or you’re a veteran to the sidelines, here are some soccer mom must-haves so you can show your support all season.

Comfort You want to be as close to the action as you can and seating isn’t available at every soccer field, but you need to be comfortable when you give your soccer player a shout-out – have a collapsible chair handy in the car. And, for the most part,  games are played, rain or shine, so keep this in mind as you pack your car. Bring gloves, ponchos and umbrellas so when the weather turns, it won’t turn you away.

soccer-momCravings Every good soccer mom has a cooler packed with snacks and sodas for her hungry brood and their friends for after the game – but while the game is on, you’ll need to do snacking and sipping on your own. Bring a travel mug full of hot coffee — it goes well with the fall weather.

Camera Your smartphone likely has a camera on it, but in case you don’t have enough cloud storage for all of the action shots you want to take of your soccer player (that perfect header or that surprise save) having an extra contraption to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments couldn’t hurt.

soccer-momConclusion Winner or not, your soccer player needs just as much support after the game as he does during the game. Make sure to bring him a change of clothes and a blanket to stay warm, a first aid kit to bandage any scrapes and bumps and a big hug just in case he didn’t hear you cheer from him on the side lines.

Being a soccer mom is hard work – getting everyone to and from games with enough energy to root for your team can drain you, but if you’re organized, you can cheer with the best of them.

Fall Football Kickoff: Tailgating Tips

tailgatingPartying in the parking lot before a game has become as much of an institution as the sport of football itself. Tailgating can be so much more than just a cooler of drinks and a portable grill. It is a movable feast of food and fun that can get complicated. Here are some tailgating tips to make sure you don’t miss anything and have plenty of time to enjoy yourself.

Food and Drink Plan your menu ahead of time to ensure you have everything you will need. Hot dogs, hamburgers, kabobs, barbecue chicken, and brats are tailgate classics. Pack the right charcoal or propane canister to cook them on your portable grill. Sides like chips, potato salad, deviled eggs, and dips are a must. If you or your guests are watching what you eat, try some lighter options. For dessert, try something sophisticated or go for home-baked favorites like cookies and cupcakes. Y ou can even whip up icing in your team’s colors. A wide variety of drinks chilled in a cooler of ice will tackle your thirst. If the forecast suggests a hot day, include plenty of water and sports drinks to keep everyone hydrated.

tailgatingBase Camp Essentials The spot around your vehicle will be your headquarters during the party and the game, so make sure it is fully equipped and comfortable. Bring a portable canopy to keep the sun off your spot and help your party stand out in the parking lot. Camp chairs and a folding table to hold all the food are necessary. For safety, pack a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and extra sunscreen. Stay on top of all the game action with a radio or portable television. Remember plenty of batteries or a generator and extension cords for all your electronics. Pack a box or bag with the plates, cups, utensils, and napkins, and throw in cleaning supplies like garbage bags, paper towels, and extra water to put out a charcoal grill.

Games and Fun Tailgaters begin the party hours before kickoff. Lawn games and other portable pursuits give the guests who are not cooking something to do. They also keep children out of the chef’s way! Many games like bean bag toss and ladder ball are delightful for all ages. Kids practice their aim with hoop toss and mini disc golf. Take along a football for a game of catch.

tailgatingDesignated Drivers Perhaps the most important things for any party are the designated drivers. This is especially true for tailgating parties. Because they are held often at crowded stadiums, it can be difficult to catch a cab after the game is over. If you are hosting the party, encourage your guests to plan ahead to carpool to and from the tailgate site. If you are a guest, make sure you know how you can get home if you enjoy a beer or are simply tired out by all the fun.

Fall and football go hand-in-hand — here’s to a great season!

Baby Safety Month: 4 Ideas to Remember for Baby-Proofing Your Home

baby-safetySeptember is Baby Safety Month. As parents we watch and hover but there’s always a moment when we take our eyes off our crawling children. Baby-proofing your home is an extra measure of precaution for those times when we look away. Here are 4 ideas to remember when you baby-proof your house.

Big Survey your house for big pieces of furniture that look like an opportunity for climbing or tugging that could possibly topple like a bookcase or a chest of drawers. To get perspective, crawl on the floor as if you were a baby and look for things you might like to use to pull yourself up or even just to grab on to. Make sure those items are securely anchored to the wall and won’t move with a big push or pull.

baby-safety

Image Source: Jeff Berman via Flickr

Small Remove any kind of knickknacks from reach or view. Babies don’t have boundaries or a sense of limitation so if they see something they like, they will do anything in their power to get to it and probably put it in their mouths. Remove the temptation and you reduce the risk of injury from a failed attempt to grab an out of reach item or choking from trying to eat the item. You may have to put tiny, tempting items away for many years, but you’ll get to keep your keepsake and keep your baby safe.

Up Look for anything dangling within reach of a flexible baby. Think about table cloths, panhandles, utensils, plants, and electrical cords for table lamps. In the kitchen, while you’re cooking, make sure knives and sharp kitchen tools are away from the edge of the counter and panhandles are turned inward. Install knob covers on the stove range dial as well as any other doors around the house. Secure lamp cords to the backs of end tables or to the wall so they’re out of sight and not easy to grab. For plants, do research on houseplants you keep and make sure they’re not poinsonous. For windows, make sure there’s a window guard for windows you open often. Secure cords for blinds or drapes so they’re out of reach and babies can’t pull on them or get tangled up in them. Put floor lamps behind large pieces of furniture that can’t topple like a couch or recliner.

baby-safetyDown Cover all electrical outlets. Cover any sharp corners with edge guards and install latches on cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom where babies encounter the most dangers like cleaning supplies and small appliances.  Hide or conceal electrical cords. Install safety gates at stairwells and around rooms you don’t want your baby to enter. Put drawer latches on all drawers. Babies love to pull on drawer handles and use drawers as stepping stools.

Having babies around puts us on high alert, but we can never be too cautious when it comes to our little ones. Even if you think you’ve taken all the right precautions, it doesn’t hurt to make another safety check every so often.

Pinteresting Picks for August

Summer has come to an end, and it is time get our homes ready for relaxing indoors. The thoughts of our followers on Pinterest definitely turned inward, with a lot of attention paid to making homes more convenient and comfortable as the weather cools. Here are our Pinteresting Picks for August.

Deluxe Smartphone Charging Station keeps your phone protected and off the floor. Designed for versatility, it has 3 standard outlets, so you can keep other appliances plugged in along with your charger, or charge up to 3 additional devices at once.

Deluxe Smartphone Charging Station keeps your phone protected and off the floor. Designed for versatility, it has 3 standard outlets, so you can keep other appliances plugged in along with your charger, or charge up to 3 additional devices at once.

Shot Glass Display Shelf organizes your collection with ease. It holds up to 36 shot glasses for all to see.

Shot Glass Display Shelf organizes your collection with ease. It holds up to 36 shot glasses for all to see.

Trade your real candles for this Set of 6 LED Candles for the safety of your children or pets.

Trade your real candles for this Set of 6 LED Candles for the safety of your children or pets.

The Wine Bottle Glass is perfect for the wine lover. It hold a full-sized 750ml bottle.

The Wine Bottle Glass is perfect for the wine lover. It hold a full-sized 750ml bottle.

5 Back to School Brain Boosts

back-to-school No matter how much reading your kids get done over the summer, learning in those first few weeks of school can be a shock to the brain. Here are five back to school brain boosts for your kids so they are ready to learn when the first bell rings.

1. The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard Today’s schoolchildren have more gadgets at their disposal than previous generations could dream of. Smartphones, tablets, and computers are great tools for education, but there still is a place for the written word. Studies show that hand writing new information helps students of all ages commit it to memory. Writing something out engages more of the brain than typing, and since it takes longer, the brain has more time to process the information. Writing is especially helpful with spelling, reading comprehension, and mathematics. If your child is stuck on something or needs to memorize a fact, encourage them to write it out.

2. Make Sure Kids Catch Plenty of Zzzzs It is normal to be a little lax on bedtimes during the summer. When school starts, parents should enforce the rules to make sure children get a good night’s rest. Sleep is essential for any mind to function at its best. Not only does a well-rested mind pay attention during the day, sleep is the “down time” when short-term memories become long-term ones.

back-to-school3. Feed the Brain Our bodies, including the brain, need the right fuel to do their jobs. While sugar and caffeine are useful for quick bursts of energy, they do not help build the brain. Antioxidants and vitamins found in vegetables and fruits fight brain cell damage and increase cognitive function. Experiment to find veggies your children will enjoy without a fight. No brain can function well without the amino acids in proteins like meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Proteins especially are important at breakfast because they satisfy hunger, ensuring your stays focused in the morning.

4. Get Moving! The link between brainpower and exercise has been confirmed again and again in scientific studies. Unfortunately, many schools must limit the amount of exercise kids get during the day in order to squeeze in extra classroom time. Just 20 to 40 minutes of vigorous play every day can increase a child’s brain activity. It also improves concentration and a child’s ability to work for long periods of time without interruption. The exercise can be as simple as jumping rope, running games or hula hooping.

back-to-school5. Review to Remember Repetition is the key to learning and memorizing new information. Every day, ask your children what they learned in school that day. Ask for specifics about the subjects you know they struggle with. One good idea is to make reviewing the day’s lessons a part of the nightly bedtime routine.

Starting a new school year is never easy. But with a little extra work, you can make sure your children get the most out of every day.

Back to School: 10 Morning Time Savers

Back to school means changing your morning routine. Getting the kids up and out of the house could double your morning workload, but there are tricks to get you out the door on time. Here are 10 morning time savers.

1. EAT Do not skip breakfast because yoBack-To-Schoolu are tight on time! Get ingredients and utensils ready the night before. You even can prep things over the weekend, like smoothie packs that go straight from the freezer or fridge to the blender.
2. PLAN TO EAT Plan lunch a day (or even a week) ahead. Pack as much of the meal in the evening as possible, and make sure ingredients for the rest are in one spot and easy to find. If necessary, keep the fully packed lunch bag in the fridge overnight.
3. PICK AN OUTFIT One of the biggest sources of last-minute struggles is clothing. Avoid this one by helping kids pick out clothes the day before. Children can take all the time they want to create an outfit, and parents have chances to make sure clothing is appropriate and clean.
Back-To-School4. PLAN A ROUTINE Create a simple routine that is similar to your family’s bedtime routine. This will prevent forgetting important things like brushing teeth and combing hair. The routine should include a bathroom schedule to make sure everyone gets the time they need.
5. GET UP EARLY Wake up before the kids. It is easier to get them up and going when you are up and going. Take a little time to shower, have a cup of coffee and get dressed before you need to focus on getting your children ready.
6. LEAVE IT AT THE DOOR Select a spot near the door specifically for things you need to grab on the way out, like shoes, bags, jackets, keys, and more. This will prevent a hurried search for a backpack or matching boots.
7. MENTAL NOTES Before you go to bed, go over the next day’s schedule. Don’t forget to check the weather report, too. You also can take this time to finalize transportation and carpool arrangements to avoid last minute scrambling.
8. TIME IT Use a timer to keep everything on track. Figure out how long you have to complete each task before you head out the door, then set a kitchen timer or the timer on your phone. That way, time will not slip away from you.
Back-To-School9. TUNE OUT Avoid the news unless the rest of your to-do list is finished. It is easy to get distracted by interesting—or depressing—stories from around the world. Staying up-to-date is important, but in the mornings, you need to concentrate on preparing yourself and your children for the day. There is plenty of time during the rest of the morning to catch up on current events. If there is a morning show you cannot miss, record it and watch it later.
10. STAY FOCUSED Resist the temptation to wash dishes, clean up an e-mail inbox, and other chores that do not need to be done in the morning. Once you have a morning routine down, you can add other activities to it if you have the time.

Do not wait until you are running late to find ways to save time. Plan ahead, and you will be ahead of schedule before you know it.

7 First Day of School Traditions to Start This Year

Image source: Flickr

Image source: Flickr

The first day of school is exciting and there are only so many we get to experience with our kids. Here are 7 first day of school traditions to make every first day of school memorable.

Preservation The night before the first day of school is almost as exciting as Christmas. To get rid of that nervous energy, help them craft a box where they can save their papers and artwork for the school year. It will be a collection of their progress and at the end of the year, have them sift through it to create a scrapbook. They can fill it with memories and see how they mature over the school year.

Fashion Show Help them pick out their favorite outfit to wear on the first day back to school. What they like to wear and what looks good for the first day of school might be two different things, so they may need guidance on how to be camera ready. Add something new to the outfit to mark the day – like a sparkly barrette or a hat – and look good for a picture.

Image source: Young Sok Yun via Fickr

Image source: Young Sok Yun via Fickr

Breakfast Your kids no longer get up or eat when they want, so make it easy on them and prepare a breakfast to entice them out of bed. Make an effort, but not so much effort you can’t get to work on time. Make healthy pancakes (it pleases you as much as it pleases them) or French toast (with whole grain bread, of course). Cut up fruit and make the batter the night before so all you have to do in the morning is heat the griddle.

Expectations Over breakfast, have them make a list in a cute, crafty notebook of what they’re excited about for the new school year. Talk about their friends, what they want to learn and their new teachers. Save the notebook and pull it out to review on the last day of school.

Pack It Help them pack their lunches. Make it extra special with a fun dessert and a note from you. Tell them how proud you are of them and what kind of potential they have for the school year. Give them gentle encouragement to finish the day.

Picture It Take a picture of them before they leave for school or at the bus stop. Have them hold up a sign – pre-printed, on a chalkboard, or hand-drawn – with the date, their age and grade. Take an identical picture of them on the last day of school to show how much they’ve changed over the school year.

Dinner

Image Source: Zeetz Jones via Flickr

Dinner The first day of school is exciting and stressful. Treat them to a family meal of comfort food. Make them things only you can make right – like your perfect macaroni and cheese, oven-fried chicken or broccoli pie. After dinner, set up an ice cream sundae bar and take dessert to the patio to talk about the first day of school. Ask about what they did at school, what their teacher is like and who they were excited to see.

It’s just the first day of school, but there are only so many you get to witness in your child’s lifetime. You’ll be glad you marked the days for your memories and for theirs.

Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week

Summer’s days are ticking away. Soon, kids’ schedules will be full of school, homework, practices, and lessons. Make sure your child takes advantage of every chance to play with toys and gear from the Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.

More fun than bumper cars or a pillow fight, this Sumo Bumper Bopper has a fun, kid-friendly design.

More fun than bumper cars or a pillow fight, this Sumo Bumper Bopper has a fun, kid-friendly design.

Your little girl will feel like she's caring for a real baby with a La Newborn Real Life 14" Doll Set or Outfits.

Your little girl will feel like she’s caring for a real baby with a La Newborn Real Life 14″ Doll Set or Outfits.

Fun lights, sounds, and moving parts on this Rush & Rescue Remote Control Vehicle will help your little one save the day.

Fun lights, sounds, and moving parts on this Rush & Rescue Remote Control Vehicle will help your little one save the day.

She can create her own fairytales with Disney Magnetic Paper Dolls.

She can create her own fairytales with Disney Magnetic Paper Dolls.

They will make a splash while staying dry in cute Kids' Disney Rain Gear.

They will make a splash while staying dry in cute Kids’ Disney Rain Gear.