Rainbow Cupcakes Tutorial

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rainbow cupcakes for a rainbow party

Faithful Mess For Less readers will remember that I threw my twins a rainbow party for their fourth birthday this past weekend. The party was a big hit and everyone had a great time. 

For those of you looking for ideas and inspiration, I will be sharing all the different facets of the party and how easy or difficult things were to create. At the end, I will do a compilation post with a bunch of rainbow party resources to help you plan your party. 

So, what's a rainbow party without some rainbow cupcakes? Some of you out there might be great bakers and like to make everything from scratch. I admire you! I am not that person. If someone has a mix in a box and can save me some time I am all over that! So you can make your favorite recipe for cupcakes or pick a box mix. I won't tell.
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Rainbow Jello - Food Fun Friday

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Rainbow Jello - Perfect for Saint Patrick's Day. Kids will love this! #rainbow #jello

What could be more fun that Rainbow Jello? It is so pretty to look at and the ultimate in Family Friendly Recipes. I had seen these on Glorious Treats and thought they would be be perfect for a rainbow party I was throwing for my girls. I will start off by saying they came out great and that I will never make them again. They are that labor intensive. It took me a full day to make thirty cups of Jello. 
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Tissue Paper Pom Poms

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tissue paper pom poms, tissue paper balls

My twins 4th birthday party is this weekend. We are having their party at our house which seemed like a good idea. Now I am realizing how much work it's going to be. What was I thinking? The kids love rainbows so we are going with a rainbow theme. I decided to make some of my own rainbow decor to try and save some money. 
Martha Stewart has a great tutorial for making pom pom balls using tissue paper. I am not going to try and outdo Martha, but she did provide some great inspiration. 
You will need:
  • Tissue paper in various colors
  • Scissors
  • Floral wire or twist ties
  • Fishing line or clear or white thread for hanging
how to make pom poms

The dollar store sells a variety of colors of tissue paper and you can probably find something that will match your theme. I really like the rainbow stripes and dots tissue paper they sell.

The size tissue paper you use will determine the size of the pom poms you get. The tissue paper I got was sized 20 by 20 and is great if you want to make really BIG pom poms. 

Stack four sheets of tissue paper and start folding in an accordion pattern like you would to make a paper fan. I tried to make each fold 1 1/2 inches wide. 

making tissue paper balls

tissue paper

When you are done, you should have something that looks like this.

Martha Stewart used floral wire for this next step, but I am more a use what you have kind of girl. I don't think it would shock anyone who knows me that I don't have floral wire lying around. But I do have lots and lots of twist ties that I save when we get various items. So I found a twist tie that fit around the folded tissue paper and secured it in the middle.

Next, I rounded the edges using a scissor. Make sure you have a sharp, strong scissor as you will be cutting through a lot of paper at once. You can get different looks for your pom poms depending on how you cut the edges. The red pom pom you will see below has pointed edges which I made by cutting the ends to look like an a "V."

Then you want to fan it open and start pulling the tissue paper up layer by layer. Make sure you pull it in different directions - some going up and some going down so you get a nice full pom pom.

tissue paper decor

tissue paper ball tutorial

Here it is when it's all fluffed out. I cut off six inches from the 20 x 20 tissue paper to get this sized pom pom. I like the idea of having various sizes hanging as I feel it adds interest.

To hang the pom poms you can use some fishing line or clear quilting thread. I used some white thread because I had neither of those around and it looks fine too.

hanging tissue paper decoration

Here are some of the different colors I made. I will hang them all up outdoors the day of the party and will be sure to post some photos of the decor next week. 

colorful tissue paper decor

hanging paper balls

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Letting Kids Work it Out

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My twins turn four next week and my youngest is currently two and a half. Being a parent is never easy, but our house had become a war zone. It seemed like all the kids ever did was fight. Sure there were moments of laughter and sweetness among them, but the general sound we heard around here was that of children arguing.

I was at my wits' end and most days I just contributed to the fray by yelling at the kids to stop yelling. Needless to say, this was not very effective and didn't make the kids or me feel very good. My husband (a far wiser person that I) suggested we just let them work it out. This goes against everything I have ever done. Isn't my job as a mom to keep things happy and harmonious? To protect them from hurt and sadness?

Anytime I would hear the slightest sound of discord I would come swooping in and break it up. I could even determine when an argument would start based on the tone of the conversation, and I would attempt to get in there to defuse the situation before it began. I felt like a super hero who was just waiting for the call to come in and save the day. Here's the thing they don't tell you about being a super hero: it's exhausting. I felt like I was always on a state of high alert waiting for the next disaster to strike.

So back to husband's radical suggestion that we don't keep trying to break up these incidents. I was trying to think of what would happen. My youngest resorts to hitting and hair pulling when she is upset with her sisters. My older two just yell and cry. I could just see my baby terrorizing her siblings, hitting one while simultaneously yanking a chunk of the other's hair. But my husband asked me to think about what was the worse that could happen. To quote him, "she doesn't have access to a razor blade." (Please note, if your kids do have access to razor blades, this advice might not apply.)

So with some apprehension on my part, we have stopped swooping. I must confess even though I am not swooping, I am peeking behind doorways. And sure enough my little one is hitting her sisters when she gets upset. Normally when I would swoop in and pry her away, the child who was the victim would start crying and making a big scene (for my benefit perhaps?). But interestingly enough, when she hits her sisters now, they raise their voice, confront her and say "You don't hit me. NO!" Then my little terror will either yell in return or simply retreat. And it ends. No crying children. No calling for mommy. The same has occurred when the girls have only been arguing verbally.

I wish I could say letting the kids work it out has made for a lot fewer arguments around here. I haven't noticed that yet, but things definitely don't escalate or last as long as they previously did. I still keep my eyes and ears open and peek a bit, but I am feeling more confidence in the kids' ability to stand up for themselves. And even better, I know that I am raising kids who will be able to deal with sadness, disappointment and hurt. In trying to shield them from those things, I was doing them a huge disservice. I was not allowing them the opportunity to discover the strength of who they are and how they relate to others.

*You know your children best. I am in no way advocating ignoring your children or allowing them to do serious damage to each other. I am just sharing something that is working for our family. Your results may vary.

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Food Fun Friday - Pretzel Bark

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easy pretzel bark

I recently purchased some pretzels for a snack for the kids and myself. I was thinking about how I love chocolate covered pretzel rods. In fact, we even made some ourselves this past Christmas. This gave me the idea to make some pretzel bark. It is super simple to make and the kids just love helping out.
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Review and Giveaway: Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo®

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If you have kids or pets then you know your floors can look like a disaster at the end of the day. We recently moved to a new house with wood floors on the first level and carpet upstairs. My floors were drowning in pet hair, food crumbs and assorted debris. Enter the Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo®.

I recently got to try out the Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo® which retails for $39.99. This is a battery operated, rechargeable sweeper. I can appreciate the fact that it is cordless. I can't tell you how many times I have been vacuuming and gone too far and had the entire cord come out of the wall or worse yet, tripped over the cord. That is no longer a concern. The Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo® will run for up to 60 minutes between charges. I have been using mine daily for almost a week without the charge running out.

I was concerned that a rechargeable sweeper wouldn't have the same power as something you'd plug in, but this little guy is deceptive. It cleans as well as it's bigger, corded friends. It does lack a few things that bigger sweepers and vacuums have. Namely, noise and weight. The Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo® is so quiet that I can vacuum around the kitchen table while my kids are there eating snack. The noise doesn't bother them! My cat no longer runs away in terror. And the light weight makes it perfect for cleaning the stairs. I used to leave the stair vacuuming to my husband since I could not lug the heavy vacuum up and down the steps. Now thanks to this sweeper, I can vacuum the stairs myself. Did I mention my hubby loves this thing?

The light weight makes it perfect for all members of the family. My mom is a senior and has a hard time pushing a traditional vacuum around. She was over the other day and wanted to try the Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo® for herself. She was able to push it easily without getting tired. 

The Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo® will work on rugs, carpets and hard floors. I have used it on carpets and hard wood and had great results on both. It is thin and compact enough to fit into tight corners. 

The Bissell has a clear top loading dirt container which makes it perfect for when you accidentally pick up something you shouldn't have, like a child's small toy. I swept up a toy coin the other day and was easily able to see it and fish it out. 

As you can see, I am a fan of the Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo®. It certainly has made my life easier and solved our messy floor problem. Do you have a messy floor problem as well? Well today is your lucky day. We are giving away a Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo® to one lucky Mess For Less reader. Thanks to the kind folks at Bissell! Rules and entry are below. Good luck!

Disclosure:  I was sent this product for review.  All opinions expressed are my own. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

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Hot Glue Crayon Rubbings

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If you're like me then you have lots of peeled crayons lying around. I don't know how this happens exactly. Who wouldn't want to keep a wrapper on a crayon? Apparently, my kids. They have so much fun peeling the wrappers off. Today's activity is a way to use those unwrapped crayons and create some fun kid art at the same time. 

You will need:
  • Hot glue gun
  • Cereal box
  • Unwrapped crayons

Cut your cereal box so you have two large sides. You will be using the back of the box to create your rubbing template.

Using your hot glue gun, draw designs onto the back of the cereal box. You can make a specific picture, designs or even your child's name. Hot glue is extremely hot, so make sure the glue is totally dried and hardened before giving the cardboard to your child.

crayon rubbings using hot glue

The kids enjoyed feeling the cards before we started the crayon rubbing. This provided a fun sensory experience as they ran their fingers back and forth over the glue.

I gave the kids some plain white copy paper and demonstrated how they needed to hold the paper over the cardboard and rub the crayon across. This was probably the trickiest part for the kids. It took them a few tries to figure out how to hold the paper so it would not move when they were doing their rubbing.

crayon rubbings

I thought the kids would just enjoy making the rubbings, but after my daughter B made a rainbow rubbing, she decided the color it in. She made her own coloring page!

kids activity with crayons

One fun idea we discovered was that you could do the rubbing in different colors and a produce a rainbow effect picture. The bottom one in the photo was created using this technique.

kids fun, crayon rubbing activity

If you are at all crafty, or want to be, then you probably have a hot glue gun at home. Now you have a new way to use it. Happy gluing!
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Review and Giveaway: Building Family Ties With Faith, Love & Laughter

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Dave Stone has written another essential book for parents looking to create strong family bonds. Building Family Ties With Faith, Love & Laughter is the second in his Faithful Families series and is published by Thomas Nelson

Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter, Dave Stone

This book is a quick read with a lasting impact. Even though my kids are young, Dave Stone has provided ideas for laying the groundwork for their spiritual growth and the growth of our family. One of his suggestions is to come up with a family mission statement. I have heard of mission statements used for corporations before but never thought about using them in a family. But it makes sense doesn't it? Stone believes that the family should come up with the mission statement together and check in once in a while to see how they are doing. What a great way to have an ongoing dialogue with your kids.

In Building Family Ties With Faith, Love & Laughter, Dave Stone stresses how important it is for families to be able to laugh together. He provides some great examples of things he has done with  his family that makes me wish he would adopt me! I confess that I am a big planner and this book really touches on the importance of being able to be spontaneous. I will certainly be using some of Pastor Stone's suggestions for ways to have more spontaneous fun with my family.

In our home we make it a point to try and always have dinner as a family. This has involved shifting some schedules around a bit, but I feel it's worth it. Dave Stone agrees and has some pretty powerful statistics to back up how important family meals can be.

What are some of your favorite ways to build and strengthen family ties? Please share below in the comments section and while you're at it, don't forget to enter the giveaway for your very own copy of Building Family Ties With Faith, Love & Laughter. Thanks to our friends at Thomas Nelson for another great title!

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Candy Color Sort

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colored candy sorted
We are planning a backyard bash for the twins' 4th birthday. I have decided to do a rainbow theme since both girls love rainbows. If you've planned a party before, you know what an undertaking it can be. Lucky for me I have some party helpers in the house. You see, when you are turning four, you want to help with EVERYTHING. My two year old doesn't quite want to help with everything yet, but she does want to do whatever her sisters do, so I put her to work too.
I plan to have a table with candy and other fun treats at the party and I really wanted to do some jars of rainbow candy. I found some candy coated chocolate balls at the party store. They were all mixed in a bag and I really wanted to layer them in a jar. So all the candy needed to be sorted into four colors. Sounds like a good learning opportunity to me!
You will need:
  • Candy coated chocolate balls (M&M's work well too)
  • Clear glass or plastic jar
  • Bowls and cups for sorting

We started out by washing our hands very well. Since I was going to be serving these to party guests, I wanted to make sure everyone's hands were super clean.

The candy came in four colors - red, yellow, blue and green. I gave each child four plastic cups and   a bowl filled with candy. I started them off by placing one of each color in each of the cups. They took it from there.

kids sorting colored candy

I was worried there would be a big spill and I would have a floor filled with hundreds of candy balls but I think only three actually fell. The girls worked diligently. A and B, the twins, kept asking for more balls when they would run out. Little C got bored after she finished sorting her first set. 

Candy Sorting, fun kids activity

The kids were able to go through three bags of candy. When the candy was done being sorted I place it in a glass jar to see how it would look for the party. Not too bad! 

Oh and I should mention I am not the meanest mom in the world. I gave each child some of the candies as a "thank you" for a job well done.

One chore checked off my list. I will keep you posted on our preparation and on the final results of our party planning!
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Food Fun Friday: Sundae Toppings for Kids

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Sundae Toppings

My kids love going out to get frozen yogurt. Their favorite thing is to pick toppings for their frozen yogurt from the sundae toppings area. If you've ever been to a frozen yogurt shop, then you know that this can get pricey fast. I decided we could do something similar at home with sundae toppings we already had around. Actually, I did need to buy some ice cream (on sale of course!) but we had everything else.

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We're Going on a Water Balloon Hunt

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We're Going on a Water Balloon Hunt - Fill up some balloons, add a learning element and hide them around the yard. Perfect fun for a HOT day!

Most of the country has been experiencing a heat wave and few things help us beat the heat more than water. My kids love swimming and running through a sprinkler, but water balloons are an extra special treat for them. We have had fun learning and playing with a Water Balloon Phonics game. They sell water balloons at the dollar store but I don't use them a lot because they just take forever to fill up and are tossed and broken before you know it. So I devised the idea of having a water balloon hunt.
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Silly Sock Matching Game

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Silly Sock Matching Game, #kids

This matching game was inspired by the show Play With Me Sesame. If you have never seen it, it's where the Sesame Street characters play games and "interact" with kids. On a recent episode, they played a game where they had to match socks on a computer screen. This gave me the idea of creating a hands-on sock matching game. This was very easy to create with some basic supplies.

You will need:

  • Patterned paper
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Large piece of construction paper

I used large 12 X 12 scrapbook paper and this seemed like a good use for it since I can't remember the last time I scrapbooked. I stacked a few sheets together and folded them in half. Then, I drew socks on them with a black marker and cut them out. When you are done with this step you should have two of each kind of sock.

After I cut out the socks, I glued one of each pattern on a large piece of construction paper. I made sure to leave space for the kids to glue the matching sock.

I gave each child a pile of paper socks. To make things interesting I cut out some socks from patterns I didn't glue on the construction paper. This made the activity trickier for the kids since some socks had no mate. Poor single socks!

The kids had fun matching the socks. I gave them each some glue sticks and asked them to glue the matching sock next to it's partner.

Don't you wish it was this easy to get all your real socks matched up? Am I the only one with a bag of solo socks forever looking for mates? What happens to them all?

Little C is very proud of her socks! All the kids did great with this activity. If you want to reuse the socks you can skip the part where you glue them on the paper and just have the kids match them up at a table or on the floor.

Sock Matching, #game

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