Food Fun Friday - New Year's Cookies

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I had originally planned to make some Christmas cookies with the girls, but we had so many goodies and sweets given to us by family and friends that the last thing we needed were more cookies.  So the plans changed and we decided to make cookies to celebrate the New Year. 

Supplies you will need:
  • Ingredients to make your favorite sugar cookies or you can cheat like me and use a mix.
  • Numbered cookie cutters (specifically numbers 2, 1, and 0)
  • Toppings of your choice for cookies
  • Eager helpers

The girls were very excited to help with the cookie making.  Here is A pouring the melted butter in the bowl with the cookie mix.  Only a little bit got on the table. 

B dumps some flour in the bowl.

Little C helps to stir.  She was very determined that no one help her with this step. 

The kids have seen me use a rolling pin many times while making pizza, and they could not wait to use one to roll out their cookies.

Next, they used the numbered cookie cutters to cut out the numbers 2012.

We used m&m's and different colored sprinkles to decorate the cookies.  I gave the girls a handful of m&m's and they pushed them into the cookie dough.

Here are our New Years Cookies fresh out of the oven!  Goodbye 2011, hello 2012.  Happy New Year everyone!  

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Thrifty Thursday - A World of Family Fun at the Library

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Something that almost everyone has access to is the public library.  Yet I am often surprised when I talk to friends, how few people actually take advantage of this resource.  Here are some simple ways your family can save money, learn something and be entertained at your local library.

Image: Sura Nualpradid /

Each week we take a trip to the library where we borrow books, DVD's and CD's.  My daughters were having a tough time going down for their nap because they kept talking and playing.  I borrowed some stories on CD from the library and played one at the start of each naptime.  This has made naps so much easier.  Our library has a great selection of children's books on CD and we borrow a bunch each week for the girl's naptime.

Each night, hubby reads the girls a book before bed.  We quickly ran out of books in our personal collection so we headed to the library.  Now we read them a new book almost every night.  We read old favorites many times during the day, but at bedtime, the girls are always treated to a new book.

Image: Ambro /
A trip to the library can become a family outing.  My girls fight over who will put the checked in books into the book return.  I think they like doing things they see adults doing.  In the children's area of our library, there is a puzzle table and my kids love going there and working on puzzle after puzzle. My library also has computers with kids games for older children. I don't think the puzzles or computer games are unique to the libraries in my county.

Aside from all the books, the library offers free story-times and opportunities for family events.  Before Christmas we went to a fun family sing-a-long at the library. But one of the coolest things that many libraries offer are free museum passes.  That's right, you can have free family outings thanks to the library.  My county library allows you to reserve and print these passes at home.  What more could you ask for?

Needless to say, the public library is a frugal mom's best friend.  But you will find something there for everyone.  When I move to a new town, the first thing I do is get a library card.  Please explore all that your local library has to offer.  Just make sure to return your items on time.  Late charges are not so frugal.
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Snow Scene with Shredded Paper

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The snowman theme continues at Mess For Less.  Today I will show you how to make more snowmen using items I picked up for $1.  You are probably thinking that I got all my supplies at the dollar store.  Well, you're wrong. I only got one of the items at the dollar store.  This summer while visiting yard sales, I happened upon this large bag full of foam snowmen and snowflakes.  Even thought it was summer, I could not resist all these great items for just $1.  So I stored the bag away and was so proud when I actually found it recently.  If you haven't stumbled upon a bag like this at a yard sale (odds are you have not), then you can just pick up some at Michael's or your local craft store.

Supplies you will need:
  • Foam cut outs of snowmen and snowflakes 
  • Blue construction paper
  • Shredded white paper (I found mine at the dollar store but you can make your own with a shredder)
  • Glue and brush
  • Black marker
  • Pom poms

I gave the kids some foam pieces and we talked about how we could use them to make a snowman.  They were able to glue these pieces to the blue construction paper to create some snow friends.

They then used some foam snowflakes to dress up their winter scene.

The shredded paper was used to make a blanket of snow for our snowmen.  This required a bit more glue and pressing, but eventually it all stuck. 

Next, we added some faces with our black marker.

Doesn't he look content?

Finally, some pom pom buttons.  

Here are the finished products.  First, is Little C's snowman decked out in his holiday best.

B's snowman sure loves his buttons.

"A's snowman has the last laugh.

I love how these guys came out.  This was an easy kids activity that allowed the girls to really add their own personal touches.   If you can't find some foam snowmen you can make some circles from paper or felt.  There are many ways to personalize these with your kids.  
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Making Snowmen with Hair Curlers

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We don't see any snow here in our part of California, but that doesn't mean my kids don't love snowmen.  Recently, I have been on the lookout for different ways to do snowman art with the kids.  This method was inspired by the dollar store.  I get inspired there a lot!

Supplies you will need:
  • White paint
  • Tray or plate
  • Black construction paper
  • Sponge hair curler
  • Foam stickers
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue and brush
  • Felt cut into scarf shape
  • Black marker

I found some pink spongy hair curlers at the dollar store and immediately thought they would be great for snowmen.  That doesn't usually happen to me.  Normally, I see something at the dollar store and buy it even though I have no idea what I will do with it.  I forget how many were in the package (I'm thinking 8) but it's a pretty good deal for $1.

Pour some white paint into a tray or plate for dipping. Have your child dip one side of the sponge curler into the white paint and then press it horizontally on the bottom of the black construction paper to make snow.

Little C did this part with gusto!

Next, the kids will hold the curler vertically and stamp some snowmen on top of the snow.

Now your paint will need to dry.  Once that happens you are ready to decorate.  I used some square foam stickers that I cut into the shape of a hat.  I made some scarves by cutting some felt.  Add in some googly eyes and your snowman will soon come to life.

When you have glued on your eyes, hats, and scarves, use a black marker to add the finishing touches.  

Here you see A making a nose, mouth and buttons with her marker.

She then used the markers to make feet.  What's the matter, you never heard of snowmen with feet?

My favorites were Little C's Picasso-like snowmen.

So look around your house and your world.  You never know what interesting objects you can re-purpose into kids art supplies.  It's not only inexpensive, but the results can be quite fun.

Linking to: Monday: Made By Little HandsMaking the World CuterMotivate Me MondaySumo's Sweet StuffEmbellishing LifeWhat I Whipped UpHey Mom, Look What I Did Tuesday: Too Cute TuesdayGet Your Craft on TuesdayABC and 123 LearningShow Me What Ya GotTuesday Time OutCreative Creations TuesdayHope StudiosSugar Bee CraftsProject QueenPassionately ArtisticSew Crafty Tuesday Wednesday: Red Ted ArtBlue Cricket Design, Milk and CuddlesWe Are That FamilyMy Backyard Eden, Someday CraftsCreations by KaraGinger Snap CraftsThe Shady Porch Thursday: Fireflies and JellybeansHouse of HepworthsCreative Juice ThursdayWhat's Allie Making Now20 Below ThursdayA Glimpse Inside Friday: The Play AcademyFun For Kids FridayFor the Kids FridayWeekend Showoff PartyWhipperberryPity PartyCreation CornerTatertots and JelloLamb Around,Growing Up GardnerDelicate ConstructionSaturday: Homemaker in HeelsShow and Tell SaturdaysThe Gingerbread BlogYoung and CraftyFamily Ever After Sunday: No Time For FlashcardsFlaming ToesSeasonal SundaysSunday ShowcaseSundae Scoop 
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Fun Activities to Keep Kids Busy

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Hope you all had a great Christmas with family and friends!  I have gotten a lot of new readers over the past few months, so I thought I would go back into the Mess For Less archives and share some of my favorite activities to keep your little ones busy during their school break.

Fruit Loop Towers
This is an easy activity using items most of you already have at home.  This is a great one for fine motor skills.

A fun way to make prints using yarn and blocks.

Some ordinary play doh, googly eyes, feathers and Popsicle sticks are all it takes to make these fun creatures.

Hope these keep you busy today!  We will be back tomorrow with some all new ideas.  See you then!
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Food Fun Friday - Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

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The last few years I have made chocolate dipped pretzel rods to give as gifts. Recently, when my girls saw me making a batch, they wanted to help. If you've ever had three toddlers helping you in the kitchen, you realize it's not really that helpful. But kids benefit so much from these kinds of hands-on experiences, so we gave it a try. Here are our surprisingly successful results.

Supplies you will need:

  • Milk Chocolate candy melts or chocolate chips
  • Pretzel rods
  • Sprinkles
  • Mug for dipping
  • Spoon
  • Drying rack or wax paper
  • Tray for sprinkles

We only made 5 pretzels since I didn't want a bunch of these things around the house.  I have enough food temptations around, thank you.  I used about a one third of the bag of candy melts and that was plenty.  I had some extra melted chocolate at the end and just made some chocolate candies.

Since I wasn't making a bunch, I just melted the candy melts in the same mug we would use for dipping.  One less thing to clean!  I put them in the microwave for 1 minute at 40% power.  I would then stir the candy melts and microwave for another 30 seconds.  I repeated the stirring and microwaving until the chocolate was totally melted.  Take care not to overheat the chocolate.  Most times as you are stirring, it will melt to the correct consistency.

When the chocolate is melted, you can start dipping.  This works best with a long, tall cup.  I just used my mug and a spoon.  "A" ended up dipping a bit of the pretzel and then I helped scoop some chocolate on more of the pretzel with a spoon.  After that you will want to shake off the excess chocolate into a bowl or back into the mug.  If you skip this step, when you go to put sprinkles on the pretzel, gobs of chocolate will fall off into your sprinkles.

Some people like to cover almost the whole pretzel in chocolate, but I've gotta live with the these kids and I didn't want them on too much of a sugar high. Also, if you are giving these to young kids, you want them to have something to hold on to.

I poured some festive sprinkles in a tray and "A" dipped her pretzel rod in the sprinkles while the chocolate was still melted.

B dips too.

Little C dips her pretzel.  While she was waiting her turn she took a bite from the top of her pretzel.  23 month olds are not known for their self control.  

Can you spot C's pretzel?

We put them to dry on our drying rack.  As the chocolate dries it gets harder and keeps all those yummy sprinkles on.  There are lots of variations you can try with these pretzels.  You can use white chocolate with crushed candy canes for peppermint bark pretzels or roll in M and M's or chopped nuts.  The options are endless.  This is a fun snack for kids and a great gift for everyone on your list.

Merry Christmas to the best darn readers a girl could ask for!
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