A New Year’s noisemaker craft and how to survive the night

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I remember my first New Year’s Eve as a new mom. Wait, no I don’t. Not really. I remember being in a roomful of people, sitting on the couch…and that was it, I was out. I woke up for about 30 seconds when everyone cheered at midnight, and that’s all I remember. My party animal ways have continued…I can’t remember a single year where I’ve made it til midnight since then.

So yeah, New Year’s Eve with kids is a different animal. Here are a few tips to get you through the night:

  • for the love, don’t celebrate at actual midnight. Google a countdown clock, and find somewhere in the world where midnight comes at a reasonable hour for you. I’ve found that if I do a countdown an hour after everyone’s normal bedtime, it’s a special treat and the kids feel like they’ve gotten away with something…but they’re not completely fried the next morning.
  • lay in some sparkling cider and do a special toast. We do this every year — we even get out the fancy crystal glasses because what good are they if I just keep them hidden? Go for it.
  • talk about the cool things that happened over the year. At dinner on New Year’s Eve (which is fondue, you remember), we talk about the past year. And I feel like this year, while everyone on social media is droning on about how awful 2016 was, it’s even more important. We went on a great vacation. One of the kids started elementary school. Someone learned to read. Someone learned to swim. These are things to be celebrated, and when you really start thinking I’m guessing you’ll be amazed at all the things that happened in 365 days.
  • and be sure to have some noisemakers on-hand. You can grab them at grocery stores and dollar stores, or you can make your own. If you’re feeling especially brave (or just suffer from hearing loss like I do), you can bring out the pots, pans, and spoons and let the kids go nuts. Or you can make these simple ones below.

(NOTE: This craft involves dried beans, which can be a choking hazard. As with any project, supervise all children closely.)

pinterest

Supplies:

  • paper plates
  • curling ribbon (we like sparkly and metallic for the occasion)
  • stapler
  • glue
  • dried beans
  • metallic pens, glitter glue, glitter, stickers, other items to decorate your plates

April drawing

Instructions:

Decorate the outside (bottom) of your plate with markers, glue, glitter, stickers, etc. Cut small lengths of curling ribbon and glue along the inside edge of one half of your plate. Allow to dry.

Fold your plate in half, so the outside decorations are showing, and crease along the folded edge. Staple along the edge until plate is 3/4 of the way shut.

april filling

Using the small opening that is left, add a handful of dried beans. Don’t overfill, or the beans won’t have room to move and make much noise. Staple the rest of the way around the plate. Finish by curling the ribbon ends.

finished

Shake ’em like a maniac and have fun! (and perhaps invest in a pair of earplugs? I forgot to put that on the supply list.)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Do you have any favorite NYE family traditions?

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

 

A New Year’s noisemaker craft and how to survive the night

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I remember my first New Year’s Eve as a new mom. Wait, no I don’t. Not really. I remember being in a roomful of people, sitting on the couch…and that was it, I was out. I woke up for about 30 seconds when everyone cheered at midnight, and that’s all I remember. My party animal ways have continued…I can’t remember a single year where I’ve made it til midnight since then.

So yeah, New Year’s Eve with kids is a different animal. Here are a few tips to get you through the night:

  • for the love, don’t celebrate at actual midnight. Google a countdown clock, and find somewhere in the world where midnight comes at a reasonable hour for you. I’ve found that if I do a countdown an hour after everyone’s normal bedtime, it’s a special treat and the kids feel like they’ve gotten away with something…but they’re not completely fried the next morning.
  • lay in some sparkling cider and do a special toast. We do this every year — we even get out the fancy crystal glasses because what good are they if I just keep them hidden? Go for it.
  • talk about the cool things that happened over the year. At dinner on New Year’s Eve (which is fondue, you remember), we talk about the past year. And I feel like this year, while everyone on social media is droning on about how awful 2016 was, it’s even more important. We went on a great vacation. One of the kids started elementary school. Someone learned to read. Someone learned to swim. These are things to be celebrated, and when you really start thinking I’m guessing you’ll be amazed at all the things that happened in 365 days.
  • and be sure to have some noisemakers on-hand. You can grab them at grocery stores and dollar stores, or you can make your own. If you’re feeling especially brave (or just suffer from hearing loss like I do), you can bring out the pots, pans, and spoons and let the kids go nuts. Or you can make these simple ones below.

(NOTE: This craft involves dried beans, which can be a choking hazard. As with any project, supervise all children closely.)

pinterest

Supplies:

  • paper plates
  • curling ribbon (we like sparkly and metallic for the occasion)
  • stapler
  • glue
  • dried beans
  • metallic pens, glitter glue, glitter, stickers, other items to decorate your plates

April drawing

Instructions:

Decorate the outside (bottom) of your plate with markers, glue, glitter, stickers, etc. Cut small lengths of curling ribbon and glue along the inside edge of one half of your plate. Allow to dry.

Fold your plate in half, so the outside decorations are showing, and crease along the folded edge. Staple along the edge until plate is 3/4 of the way shut.

april filling

Using the small opening that is left, add a handful of dried beans. Don’t overfill, or the beans won’t have room to move and make much noise. Staple the rest of the way around the plate. Finish by curling the ribbon ends.

finished

Shake ’em like a maniac and have fun! (and perhaps invest in a pair of earplugs? I forgot to put that on the supply list.)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Do you have any favorite NYE family traditions?

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

 

A deliciously simple New Year’s fondue recipe

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

Do you fondue?

It’s our New Year’s Eve tradition — we always have fondue night. Actually, my husband goes a little nuts.

fondue pots

That’s not even all our fondue pots!!! Clearly, he has issues, which we cannot delve into during a holiday week, but…someone help me.

If you do not have seven of your own fondue pots, don’t fret. You don’t really even need one. It helps, but it’s not a deal-breaker. You can keep your fondue warm in a slow cooker instead, and use wooden skewers for dipping. But you can probably find one or two pots (if you want both dinner and dessert) for cheap at thrift stores. That’s where we’ve gotten all of ours.

My other tips for surviving New Year’s Eve Fondue Night — just strip down everyone who’s young enough before you even start, and invest in a stain-remover. This is not a clean endeavor, you understand. It’s good, messy fun. And keep the camera ready.

April fondue

Now THAT’S a party.

So this is a simple cheese fondue recipe. I’d accompany it with bread cubes (toasted if you’re feeling ambitious…), baby carrots, broccoli, apples, and cauliflower if you can get your kids to eat it. If you’re looking for an equally easy dessert recipe, try this chocolate fondue recipe as well.

simple tasty cheese fondue

Easy Cheese Fondue Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 Tb Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tb flour
  • 2 c shredded cheese (cheddar, or a mix of cheddar and Swiss)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

Instructions:

Pour milk, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and flour into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.

Rub the inside of a fondue pot with the garlic clove, then pour cheese mixture into the pot and keep warm. Dip bread, vegetables, or apples. Wash children thoroughly when finished.

If you’re looking for some more tips to celebrate New Year’s Eve, try one of these:

Happy New Year, everyone!

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

 

A deliciously simple New Year’s fondue recipe

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

Do you fondue?

It’s our New Year’s Eve tradition — we always have fondue night. Actually, my husband goes a little nuts.

fondue pots

That’s not even all our fondue pots!!! Clearly, he has issues, which we cannot delve into during a holiday week, but…someone help me.

If you do not have seven of your own fondue pots, don’t fret. You don’t really even need one. It helps, but it’s not a deal-breaker. You can keep your fondue warm in a slow cooker instead, and use wooden skewers for dipping. But you can probably find one or two pots (if you want both dinner and dessert) for cheap at thrift stores. That’s where we’ve gotten all of ours.

My other tips for surviving New Year’s Eve Fondue Night — just strip down everyone who’s young enough before you even start, and invest in a stain-remover. This is not a clean endeavor, you understand. It’s good, messy fun. And keep the camera ready.

April fondue

Now THAT’S a party.

So this is a simple cheese fondue recipe. I’d accompany it with bread cubes (toasted if you’re feeling ambitious…), baby carrots, broccoli, apples, and cauliflower if you can get your kids to eat it. If you’re looking for an equally easy dessert recipe, try this chocolate fondue recipe as well.

simple tasty cheese fondue

Easy Cheese Fondue Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 Tb Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tb flour
  • 2 c shredded cheese (cheddar, or a mix of cheddar and Swiss)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

Instructions:

Pour milk, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and flour into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.

Rub the inside of a fondue pot with the garlic clove, then pour cheese mixture into the pot and keep warm. Dip bread, vegetables, or apples. Wash children thoroughly when finished.

If you’re looking for some more tips to celebrate New Year’s Eve, try one of these:

Happy New Year, everyone!

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

 

Make melt-in-your-mouth Mexican wedding cookies

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

Every year my sweet friend hosts a cookie exchange. I love that she does this. It’s such a fun tradition. This was the exchange’s third year and I decided to bring Mexican wedding cookies this time.

Mexican-Wedding-Cookies-recipe-NoBiggie.net_

I love these cookies. They really do melt in your mouth. They definitely are not the prettiest cookies to look at, but they make up for it in taste.

Mexican wedding cookies:

Ingredients:
2 sticks of butter (at room temperature – 16 tablespoons)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
¾ cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions:

1. Toast the pecans: place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast them at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until they smell nutty. Allow to cool before using them in this recipe.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use silicone baking sheets.
3. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream together butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl until very light and fluffy (about three minutes). Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour, mixing until just combined. Add pecans and mix until evenly distributed. Form the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
4. Roll dough into small 1-inch balls and place about an inch and a half apart on the lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are light and golden. Turn the baking sheet around in the oven half way through. Cool the cookies about 5 minutes.
5. Place half of the powdered sugar in a bowl. Roll the warm cookies in the sugar to coat. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Roll the cookies in the powdered sugar a second time.

If you don’t have enough time to chill the dough in the fridge, they will spread out more while baking. Ours did (you can see it in the picture above). They still taste great, just look different.

Have you ever been to a cookie exchange?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


Mexican wedding cookies

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

Every year my sweet friend hosts a cookie exchange. I love that she does this. It’s such a fun tradition. This was it’s third year and I decided to bring Mexican Wedding cookies this time.

Mexican-Wedding-Cookies-recipe-NoBiggie.net_

I love these cookies. They really do melt in your mouth. They definitely are not the prettiest cookies to look at, but they make up for it in taste.

Mexican Wedding Cookies:

Ingredients:
2 sticks of butter (at room temperature – 16 tablespoons)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
¾ cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions:
1. Toast the pecans. Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast them at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until they smell nutty. Allow to cool before using them in this recipe.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheets.
3. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream together butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl until very light and fluffy (about three minutes). Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour, mixing until just combined. Add pecans and mix until evenly distributed. Form the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
4. Roll dough into small 1 inch balls and place about an inch and a half apart on the lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are light and golden. Turn the baking sheet around in the oven half way through. Cool the cookies about 5 minutes.
5. Place half of the powdered sugar in a bowl. Roll the warm cookies in the sugar to coat. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Roll the cookies in the powdered sugar a second time.

If you don’t have enough time to chill the dough in the fridge, they will spread out more while baking. Ours did (you can see it in the picture above). They still taste great, just look different.

Have you ever been to a cookie exchange?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


Here’s your Christmas dessert…

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

If my 12 Days of Cookies haven’t gotten you yet, this little gem might. Easy? Check. Beautiful? Check. Deeeelicious? Check.

This is my go-to shortcut cake recipe. Yes, it starts with a mix (which some of you will love and some will hate). But by the time you’re done with it, no one — I repeat no one — will know.

A simple cake mix is dressed up with pudding mix (which makes it moist and tender), chocolate chips, coffee and peppermint. Throw a satiny chocolate glaze on top and display it on a bed of peppermint bark (which — full disclosure — I purchased from Sam’s Club).

We lurve this cake, kids. I hope your family does too. Merry, merry to each and every one of you!

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

chocolate peppermint cake 2_small

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) package Duncan Hines devil’s food cake mix (doesn’t have pudding mix already in it)
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm coffee
2 cups semisweet chocolate mini chips

Satiny Peppermint Glaze

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick baking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and coffee. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and center of cake does not joggle when you shake the pan. Cool completely.

For the glaze, combine chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup in a heatproof bowl over hot, but not boiling water. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add peppermint. Spread warm glaze over top of cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

Here’s your Christmas dessert…

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

If my 12 Days of Cookies haven’t gotten you yet, this little gem might. Easy? Check. Beautiful? Check. Deeeelicious? Check.

This is my go-to shortcut cake recipe. Yes, it starts with a mix (which some of you will love and some will hate). But by the time you’re done with it, no one — I repeat no one — will know.

A simple cake mix is dressed up with pudding mix (which makes it moist and tender), chocolate chips, coffee and peppermint. Throw a satiny chocolate glaze on top and display it on a bed of peppermint bark (which — full disclosure — I purchased from Sam’s Club).

We lurve this cake, kids. I hope your family does too. Merry, merry to each and every one of you!

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

chocolate peppermint cake 2_small

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) package Duncan Hines devil’s food cake mix (doesn’t have pudding mix already in it)
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm coffee
2 cups semisweet chocolate mini chips

Satiny Peppermint Glaze

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick baking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and coffee. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and center of cake does not joggle when you shake the pan. Cool completely.

For the glaze, combine chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup in a heatproof bowl over hot, but not boiling water. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add peppermint. Spread warm glaze over top of cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

Cinnamon hot chocolate (plus a spiked version for adults!)

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I do love me some hot cocoa. We’ve had a few snowy days here in the past weeks, and the kids always come in from playing outside in the cold and beg for some hot chocolate to warm up. And because I love them dearly (but mostly because I love hot chocolate), I almost always make it.

cinnamon hot chocolate

We like to make our hot cocoa from scratch — it isn’t hard, and it tastes so much better than the powdery stuff where you just add water. There are many ways to make your own hot chocolate, but the simplest is just semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk, heated and stirred with a milk frother.

And this cinnamon version is an unexpected twist on our favorite.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 c water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 Tb semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c milk
  • whipped cream and extra cinnamon sticks for garnish

Instructions:

To make cinnamon simple syrup — add water and cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and add sugar, bring heat back up to high and stir until sugar is dissolved and the water is no longer cloudy. Set aside.

To make hot chocolate — Put chocolate chips in the bottom of a microwaveable mug. Add milk and microwave until hot. Using a milk frother or spoon, stir until chocolate is melted and stirred through the mixture. Add 1/4 c cinnamon simple syrup and garnish with whipped cream and extra cinnamon.

hot chocolate with firewiskey

 

Now, if you’re a grown-up…say, a parent who’s now facing three weeks at home with your children out of school on winter break…you can spike this with a little Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. Actually, you can spike quite a few things with this — like coffee or apple cider. But for today, we’re going to kick our cocoa up just a bit with it. To spike your drink, make your hot chocolate according to the instructions above. Then add one shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky to your drink.

cinnamon hot chocolate-wiskey

That’s it! Again, you can garnish your cocoa with whipped cream and more cinnamon and serve it up.

Cinnamon hot chocolate (plus a spiked version for adults!)

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I do love me some hot cocoa. We’ve had a few snowy days here in the past weeks, and the kids always come in from playing outside in the cold and beg for some hot chocolate to warm up. And because I love them dearly (but mostly because I love hot chocolate), I almost always make it.

cinnamon hot chocolate

We like to make our hot cocoa from scratch — it isn’t hard, and it tastes so much better than the powdery stuff where you just add water. There are many ways to make your own hot chocolate, but the simplest is just semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk, heated and stirred with a milk frother.

And this cinnamon version is an unexpected twist on our favorite.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 c water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 Tb semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c milk
  • whipped cream and extra cinnamon sticks for garnish

Instructions:

To make cinnamon simple syrup — add water and cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and add sugar, bring heat back up to high and stir until sugar is dissolved and the water is no longer cloudy. Set aside.

To make hot chocolate — Put chocolate chips in the bottom of a microwaveable mug. Add milk and microwave until hot. Using a milk frother or spoon, stir until chocolate is melted and stirred through the mixture. Add 1/4 c cinnamon simple syrup and garnish with whipped cream and extra cinnamon.

hot chocolate with firewiskey

 

Now, if you’re a grown-up…say, a parent who’s now facing three weeks at home with your children out of school on winter break…you can spike this with a little Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. Actually, you can spike quite a few things with this — like coffee or apple cider. But for today, we’re going to kick our cocoa up just a bit with it. To spike your drink, make your hot chocolate according to the instructions above. Then add one shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky to your drink.

cinnamon hot chocolate-wiskey

That’s it! Again, you can garnish your cocoa with whipped cream and more cinnamon and serve it up.