Friday, March 28, 2014

Mickey Mouse Rice Krispie Treats

The day Maddie and I left for our trip to South Carolina, some friends from church were throwing a baby shower for the wife of one of the teachers at our school.  I was sad to have to miss the shower, but I offered to help if there was something I could do ahead of time, since I knew I would be busy packing and preparing for our trip that week.  They asked me if I would make some rice krispie treats, dipped in chocolate, and I readily agreed.  I thought it would be a quick and easy project, and it would have been, until a friend suggested making Mickey Mouse shaped rice krispie treats.  The mother-to-be loves everything Mickey and Disney, and since it was going to be a Mickey-themed shower, the Mickey treats would be perfect, but much more labor-intensive than simply making treats the ordinary way (as I had planned to do!).
I started by mixing up a batch of rice krispie treats.  I just used the recipe on the back of the box, but I will share it here.

Rice Krispie Treats
6 cups rice krispie cereal
10 oz. package of marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place butter and marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl.  Heat on high for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.  Add vanilla and stir until smooth.  Add cereal and stir until coated.

 Once I had it all mixed up, I took large sheets of aluminum foil and lightly misted them with cooking spray.  I put the Mickey cookie cutter on the foil, and then I started packing hunks of the rice krispie mixture into the cookie cutter.  I made sure it was packed all the way to the edges, and I patted down the tops of the treats to make them as level as I could.  It was a sticky job, and I found that it helped to periodically spray my fingertips with cooking spray to keep the sticky mixture from caking to my fingers.
 Once the treats were shaped, I pushed down gently on the treats with one hand, while carefully lifting the cookie cutter with the other.  The treats held together pretty well as I removed the cookie cutter, but they were still very pliable, and I could fix them up a bit if they got misshapen.  After I had each batch shaped, I took the foil sheet of treats and placed it in the refrigerator to harden a bit.  I found that each batch made about 9 large treats, but the number would obviously depend on the size of your cookie cutter (mine was quite big).  By shaping my treats right in the cookie cutter (instead of cutting them from a larger sheet of treats with the cookie cutter), I was able to eliminate a lot of wasted treats and use every bit of the mixture.
I had planned to dip the Mickey ears in melted chocolate, but because of the angle of the ears, I had trouble dipping them and making them look nice.  I ended up frosting the ears with the melted chocolate.  I just used melted chocolate chips, and they worked well.
Here's how the ladies decorated for the shower.  SO cute!
I was pretty happy with the way the treats turned out, and I heard that the ladies at the shower enjoyed them.  They were a fun little project (that would have been a little less stressful had I been making them on a normal week), and they were perfect for the shower.  I was glad I got to have a little part in the shower even though I couldn't be there myself.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Project Life 2014 - Weeks 6 and 7

I have some fun, busy weeks of Project Life to share today!
Week 6:
Maddie and I had a lot of fun at our church preschool group's mini Olympics this week!
 The children played lots of fun games in the gym.

Then we had a cute little Olympics-themed lunch.  I loved the torches (ice cream cones filled with Cheetos)!
 We also ate mini bagel sandwiches that were meant to resemble the Olympic rings.
 The morning ended with medals for each child, made from cookies!  It was a fun morning!
 One of my big projects this week was making 40 Mickey Mouse rice krispie treats for a baby shower.
 I will be sharing more about these later this week.
 Another big event for Maddie and me this week was a flight to South Carolina!  We had planned to travel to South Carolina as a family in mid-February when Jim went down for a teacher recruitment conference, but when my sister had her baby a month early, Jim and I decided that Maddie and I should go down early to meet Baby Della, and then the guys would join us the following week when Jim came for his conference.
Our flight left Saturday morning.  I debated about taking a stroller, but decided to let Maddie walk.  I thought it might be easier to get through security without the stroller, and I thought that Maddie would enjoy being able to move and get some energy out as we walked through the airports.
 We had two flights on our way from Detroit to Greenville, with a very short layover in Baltimore.  Our first flight was totally full, so Maddie had to sit on my lap (she was flying for free since she was not quite 2).  When we landed in Baltimore, we saw that our second flight was already boarding, so we got right in line.  The second flight had many empty seats, and we were able to have our own row all to ourselves.  Maddie did very well, for the most part, and I kept her entertained with snacks, books, a coloring book, and my Kindle Fire.
 That evening, my brother and sister and their families came over to my parents' house for dinner, and we got to meet Della.  She was still just tiny then.
 Maddie loves babies, and she was excited to get to hold her new cousin.
 Maddie is right between my brother's two children in age, and she and her older cousin, Ryan, had fun playing my parents' piano.

Here's what I did for Week 6.
 I added a little flap with an extra travel picture and some extra journaling about our flights.

Week 7:
This was our week apart from each other, with the girls in South Carolina and the boys in Michigan.  It was a very busy week for Jim as he prepared for the recruitment conference, so being a single parent for the week added to the craziness!  Our friend, Kristen, took Drew home from school on Wednesday so Jim could go to his weekly staff meeting at church.  Drew had lots of fun with Kristen's boys.
 Drew's class celebrated the 100th day of school on Monday.
 They did lots of fun games and activities.
 Maddie and I got to spend quite a bit of time with my sister and Della.
 We had quite a bit of excitement mid-week when we got a winter snow and ice storm.  The storm began on Tuesday and stretched over three days.  It brought about 6 inches of snow and then about 1/4 inch of ice.  The governor declared a state of emergency, and the local news was full of "helpful" hints about dealing with this "historic" snowfall.  The amount of snow was more than they normally ever get there, but the main issue was actually the ice.  Between the hilly roads, lack of road equipment, and loss of power that ice storms usually cause in that area, there was some legitimate cause for concern.
 After a few days of being snowed in, the snow and ice finally stopped Thursday morning.  By that afternoon, the temperature was in the forties, and the snow and ice started to melt pretty quickly.  It was interesting to be there for a different kind of winter storm than the ones we experience in Michigan.
 Once the roads cleared, we were able to spend time with family again.  Maddie enjoyed going to pick up Della each day.  She liked riding beside Della in the back seat of my mom's car.
 Friday was Valentine's Day and Maddie's birthday!  We were planning a family party for that weekend when Jim and Drew arrived, so we didn't do much to celebrate on Maddie's actual birthday.  We spent a nice, quiet day at my parents' house.
Here's what I did for Week 7.
 I also made an insert with one of Drew's Ninja Turtle Valentine cards that he gave out to his classmates and a little Valentine project and note from Drew.
 I love his handwriting and his creative spellings!
Here's how the two pages look side by side,
 and with the Valentine insert flipped.
This ended up being a huge post!  I am hoping to be back later this week with a post about rice krispy treats.

Friday, March 21, 2014

M&M Pudding Cookies

Earlier this year, I discovered a recipe for M&M pudding cookies, and they have been quite popular at our house!  I am planning to make them again this weekend for our school's open house, and I thought I would share the recipe here on my blog.  I use less chocolate chips and M&M's than the original recipe, so I am sharing the recipe the way I make it.
M&M Pudding Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini M&M's

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar.  Add egg and vanilla, and combine.  Add flour, pudding mix, baking soda, and salt, and mix until well combined.  Add chocolate chips and M&M's.
Scoop onto cookie sheet with a small cookie scoop.  Bake 10-12 minutes until cooked through.  Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, and then move cookies to a rack to finish cooling.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Project Life 2014 - Weeks 4 and 5

So, it has been a while since I last blogged!  I have been computerless for the past couple of weeks (after Maddie stepped on the screen of our old laptop and killed it a few weeks ago).  Jim went out this past weekend and replaced our old computer with a new one, so I am blogging from the new laptop today, and I am hoping to get back into a blogging routine again soon!
I have two weeks of Project Life to share today, Weeks 4 and 5.
Week 4:
Sunday was Jim's 40th birthday!  It was a nice day, and one of the highlights was when our pastor announced during the morning service that it was Jim's 40th birthday.  He had the whole congregation sing to Jim, and we were mortified when Drew belted out a very loud, "Cha, cha, cha!" in the middle of the song.  Late that evening we got several calls (one after we had been in bed for a few hours) from the school's security company to tell Jim that the alarm had been tripped in the office area of the building.  He had the police go by to check on the school, and they reported that everything looked fine, so Jim asked that the security company disregard any other alarms that night.  
When Jim got to school the next morning, he found his office totally covered in black - black streamers, balloons, and tablecloths.
 There were also several large signs with some "encouraging" words about being 40.  The decorations were what had tripped the alarms!
I snapped this picture during Sunday evening church.  Drew was drawing a ninja turtle battle in his notebook.
 Drew has two sets of ninja turtle masks and weapons, and he and Maddie decided to wear the masks one day.
 (And Maddie decided to show off her skill of finding people's noses!)
 Donuts are a favorite weekend treat!
 Drew got his second quarter report card this week - all A's!
 We got more snow this week, and the guys had another snow day.
 Our church preschool group had a lunch play date this week.  Maddie enjoyed playing with the kids.
 I thought Maddie looked so cute all wrapped up in her duck towel after her bath!
 Here's what I did for Week 4.
I also did a small insert about Jim's 40th birthday decorations.

Week 5:
I worked in Maddie's class during Sunday school this week.  She and the youth pastor's daughter are often the only ones in the class during Sunday School.  The two girls had fun pushing their babies around the nursery.
 Drew has been trying to sing from the hymnal lately, now that he is reading well.  It has been fun to see him  following along, and we can even hear him singing sometimes.
 We had some more snow/extreme cold days off from school this week, so we went over to Jim's mom's apartment on one of the cold days to celebrate her birthday a few days early.
 Drew and Maddie were holding hands as we left the apartment.
 Maddie has been climbing a lot lately (I hate it!).  She got stuck on one of the changing table shelves.
 This week was spirit week at school, but the days got messed up  because of the cold and snow days, so the first day of school for the week ended up being Thursday!  Thursday was career day, and Drew dressed as a golfer.
 Friday was Patriot/school colors day.  The guys wore their Patriot hoodies.
The elementary students went to Pump It Up for a special Spirit Week activity.  Drew had a great time!
 Jim has a former student who is the coach of a local college hockey team.  Jim took Drew to one of their games on Saturday night.  Drew ended up getting two pucks, and they had a great time!

Here's what I did for Week 5.
 This is how Weeks 4 and 5 look together.
 I am hoping to get caught up on sharing my Project Life in the next few weeks, and I have some other things to share soon as well!