Frugal Living

Interactive Children’s Reading Activities for Summertime

May 27, 2014 · 0 comments

by Katie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

childrens-reading



Summer’s here! With the excitement and joy that summer brings, don’t forget to incorporate some learning into all those hours of freedom. We have been looking at ways to do this based on various school subjects over the last few weeks, and now we take a look at reading. Summer is a great time for kids to realize that learning is fun, and reading is one of those areas that just may need some extra motivation and enjoyment attached to it for your child!

One of the best ways you can foster the love of reading is by doing just that- reading! Let your kids read what they want to read. Self-selected instead of teacher or parent-selected books can encourage enjoyment because the topics relate to that child’s specific interests. Encourage reading for pleasure by not just limiting reading to books, but allow your child to choose from a variety of reading materials such as magazines or comic books. Although it may sound strange, your kids seeing YOU reading can be a big motivator. Don’t expect your kids to form a habit of reading unless they see you doing it and enjoying it, too.

Here are some unconventional and exciting ways to incorporate reading into the summer:

Don’t skip family meal time: It may sound strange, but you can achieve the same (if not better) vocabulary development that is achieved through reading by making sure you are eating together regularly. Even though it can be easy to get a bit lazy about having everyone sit down to the table during the summer, keeping up this practice can foster similar gains to reading in the category of overall language development. Keep those conversations flowing to help kids continue learning!

Have a family book/movie club: Your kids may not even realize that many of the movies they love were originally story books. Have the family read some of those books throughout the summer. Celebrate the completion of each book by having a family movie night to compare the book to the movie. Kids may realize how much richness can be found in reading when they see how many details are left out of the movie.

Take advantage of all that libraries have to offer: In addition to going to the library to have kids self-
select books, libraries offer many other benefits. Check into summer reading programs that offer incentives and prizes for reading hours or number of books read. Explore sections of the library you haven’t been to before such as the international section to take a stab at reading a book in another language. Rent a free movie or two or enjoy a read-aloud session while you’re there.

Encourage comprehension development through games: Younger kids may need assistance in understanding what they read. In order to be sure their reading has meaning, write general questions on a beach ball or purchase a pre-made one. These could include where the story takes place, what characters were in the story, what your favorite part of the book was, or the order of story events. Toss the ball to each other, and answer the question that your right thumb lands on.

No matter what activities you do this summer related to academics, be sure to keep them fun and interactive so that kids will want to keep doing them. We would love to hear other ideas you use to foster the learning of social studies, writing, math, science, and reading concepts at your house. Please feel free to share comments below and on the other posts in this series.

summer-writing-for-kids

If you love this post, make sure to also check out these which are part of our Children's Summer Learning series:

Interactive Children’s Science Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Math Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Writing Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Social Studies Activities for Summertime

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Interactive Children’s Science Activities for Summertime

May 25, 2014 · 0 comments

by Katie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

childrens-science-activities

Swimming pools are opening, camping gear is out of storage, and many kids are out of school. All of these are signs that summer is upon us! Over the last couple weeks, we have been sharing some activities geared toward making summer not just about pleasure but also about continued learning in fun ways, too. This time we’ll take a look at science activities to do at home or on simple excursions in surrounding communities.

Science at Home:

Without even thinking about it, many home projects relate well to science. Whether you’re cooking or planting a garden, there are science lessons to be learned. Invite the kids into the kitchen and yard with you. As you interact, kids can learn about the chemistry behind yeast as you bake bread or the parts of a plant as you garden. There are lots of ways to do experiments at home. Be creative with finding ways to make home projects into science learning opportunities, and enjoy the results- some of which may even be edible!

For a floral science experiment, have kids plant their own flowers in small pots and water them using a variety of liquids (water, soda, milk, lemonade, juice, kool aid, etc.). Hypothesize which one will grow the tallest, and see what happens! Talk about the importance of keeping other factors the same such as where the plants are located, how often and how much they are “fed”, etc.

Making homemade ice cream can be a science experiment, too. Learn the science behind the freezing point of water. Believe it or not, the salt lowers the water’s freezing point, which helps freeze the ice cream!

Science in the Community:

Just as there are many wonderful places to visit that teach us more about social studies such as historical landmarks and history museums, there are opportunities everywhere to learn about science in our communities. Three major divisions of science that are studied throughout elementary, middle, and high school are life science, physical science, and earth science. Consider visiting places that showcase those forms of science. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Life Science- zoos, animal sanctuaries, botanical gardens, farms, state parks, etc.

Physical Science- discovery museums, science museums, manufacturing factories that give tours, etc.

Earth Science- planetariums, observatories, weather stations, etc.

If you have a college or university in your area, check out summer programs there. Many schools offer science camps, special exhibits, and other science-related activities during the summer that are suited perfectly for kids!

If you think about it, the world we live in really is a giant science lab so have fun getting out there and exploring this summer!

summer-writing-for-kids

If you love this post, make sure to also check out these which are part of our Children's Summer Learning series:

Interactive Children’s Science Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Math Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Writing Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Social Studies Activities for Summertime

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Interactive Children’s Math Activities for Summertime

May 22, 2014 · 0 comments

by Katie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

kids-math-activities
The lazy days of summer are right around the corner. With all of those hours to fill with fun, it is easy to find time for enjoyable learning opportunities as well. Instead of taking a break from learning this summer, help your kids make learning fun. We’ve already looked at ways to incorporate social studies and writing activities into summer fun. Now, let’s explore some ways to use math in fun and real-life ways throughout the season.

childrens-math-activities

Math for Young Minds

Younger kids are learning so many essential math concepts their first years of school. Besides addition and subtraction, there are so many other skills to work on. Consider things like place value, telling time, counting money, etc.

-Place Value: Purchase three different colors of embroidery canvas sheets (available at craft stores). Cut one color into individual squares, another color into strips of ten squares and a third into blocks of 100 squares each. Use these to practice creating numbers in different combinations to visualize the difference between ones, tens, and hundreds.

days-of-summer

Another way to practice place value is to create a pocket chart to count the days of summer. Use drinking straws as counters. Using baggies taped to a white board, create pockets for tens and ones.

Label the bags. Have your child add a straw each day and label the bags according to how many are in each. Each time the ones bag has ten straws, bundle it with a rubber band and add it to the tens column.

Talk to your child about how only one number can be written for each bag so if two numbers are needed it is time to move it to the next pouch.

-Telling Time: Before your child leaves for a play date or slumber party, create a card for them with a stamped or drawn ANALOG clock showing what time they’ll need to be back home. Have them figure out what time it is as a fun little game and a sweet “miss you” card. Create a series of clocks without hands on paper and have them draw in the hands and say the time as a practice of telling time.

-Counting Money: Money seems to be one of those concepts that can be super tricky for kids. Give them practice with coins in particular by having them pay for a movie or other activity in coins only, and require that they give exact change. If there is an incentive of a fun event tied to them being able to figure out how to pay for it correctly, there will also be motivation to really learn their coins!

Make it a game at the grocery store to figure out how much money mom is going to save using coupons by having them add up all of the coupons. Don’t expect them to understand coupon doubling, but it can be a fun way for kids to practice money and learn the practical value of couponing early on by counting and adding up the face value of all of them. Surprise them on a shopping trip and let them keep the money you saved by using coupons after they’ve figured out that amount!

Math for Youth

As kids get older, there are still plenty of math concepts needing attention and practice. Use the summer as a time to invite your pre-teen or teenager into your family’s financial realm a bit. This could include things like showing them how you write checks to pay for their sporting events, letting them plan and figure out savings for an upcoming grocery shopping trip or figuring out their budget with you for summer activities and camps. You could even try playing the board game Monopoly as a family and talking about the real-life economic connections in the game. Teaching kids how to use and save money at an early age and informing them about other financial topics will be an incredible blessing to them later on, and it will be fun for them to get to participate in some simple financial decisions alongside you.

It seems that many adults, not just kids, are scared of math! Let this summer be a time when you discover how valuable math is by simply sharing your world and the “real” world of how math is all around us.

summer-writing-for-kids

If you love this post, make sure to also check out these which are part of our Children's Summer Learning series:

Interactive Children’s Science Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Math Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Writing Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Social Studies Activities for Summertime

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Interactive Children’s Writing Activities for Summertime

May 21, 2014 · 5 comments

by Katie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

summer-writing-for-kids

With summer right around the corner, now is a great time to start thinking about and maybe even preparing some activities to help your children practice and enhance their academic skills this summer.

It does not take much effort, but the benefits are great in preventing a slip in abilities over the long summer break. Last week, we looked at how to incorporate social studies enrichment into your summer travel plans or from home. This week, we are offering some tips for making writing an integral yet exciting part of the season for kids of all ages.

summer-writing

Making Writing Fun for Young Kids

-Writing alphabet letters using shaving cream: Using a gallon size bag that closes completely, fill it with shaving cream while leaving some room for it to move around. Seal it tightly after letting out extra air. Kids can push the cream with their finger to create letters. The same idea can be achieved using hair gel, food coloring, and glitter that are mixed together. The whole idea is making letter practice fun and unconventional.

-Writing words in a mini sand box: Partially fill an old baking pan with plain sand, colored sand, or flour. Let your child use their finger to write words. Simply rub a hand over the content to create new words. To create rhyming words, simply brush over the first letter and change it to a new letter. It’s as simple as making a mini “indoor sand box” and is perfect for kinesthetic learners.

-Practicing sentences using unconventional writing tools: Motivate kids to write by letting the method with which they create sentences be unconventional. Think outside the box, and let kids use rubber stamps, stencils, or other items to create sentences. Without realizing it, kids are still practicing the same skills but in more entertaining ways.

Making Writing Personal and Pleasurable for Older Kids

Let’s face it, most kids don’t like to write because they only see their writing being used for assignments instead of in real life. Summer can be a great opportunity to let kids simply write without confines… no pre-determined context, no pre-created questions, no length requirements, etc. It is all about allowing them to choose what to write and how based on what personally interests them.

-Journaling: Allow your child to choose a journal that they love and writing utensils they enjoy using most. Their journal could be as simple as a spiral notebook or as elaborate as a locking diary with their favorite characters on it. They could even create their own by cutting out pictures from magazines and placing them on a composition book by brushing diluted glue over them. Once the journal has been chosen, simply let kids write. If they need guidance, encourage them to write about their daily activities, to record family vacation memories, write letters to their future self or someone else, or create creative stories.

-Progressive Stories: Instead of leaving all of the writing up to the child(ren), get involved yourself or have the whole family participate. Have everyone who will participate write an introduction to a story. After a pre-determined length of time (every day or every week), have everyone switch stories and add on based on what was written before. Continue writing and swapping throughout the summer. Celebrate at the end of the summer with a story sharing night. It’s sure to be a source of laughter and family fun!

 

kids-math-activities

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to also check out these which are part of our Children's Summer Learning series:

Interactive Children’s Science Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Math Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Writing Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Social Studies Activities for Summertime

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Denver Staycation Ideas and Summer Activities for 2014!

May 13, 2014 · 12 comments

by Jennie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

denver-staycation-ideasHave you checked out my post on 10 Ways to Save on Your Summer Vacation? One of them is to take a staycation which is a fantastic option for those of you that would prefer to stay close to home this year. A staycation is similar to a vacation, except you get to pass on the flight tickets, long road-trip gas costs and hotel expenses. ;) One of the most difficult things about planning a staycation is thinking of creative things to do. This is where a theme can really come in handy. Select a theme that your family is interested in and then seek out activities that fit within that theme. For those of you that are in Colorado, I have included a round-up of some of my favorite Denver staycation and summer activity ideas below!

Historic Denver Activities

Denver Mint: Tours of the Denver Mint are free, but you will need to make a reservation online. Keep in mind that you must be at the tour entrance no later than 15 minutes before your tour time.  Also, don't forget that there is no parking at the Mint, so you will need allow for some extra time to find a public lot in the area and walk back before your tour is scheduled to start. Lastly (I learned this the hard way), the Denver Mint does not allow any bags in their facility (with no exceptions) and there are also not any storage options, so make sure to leave all bags and purses at home or in your car.

Red Rocks Park: Admission to the park and parking is free. They also have guided tours available for $6 for adults and $3 for children and seniors.

The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave: Open daily 9:00am to 5:00pm through October 31st. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors over the age of 65, $1 for children between the ages of 6 and 15 and free for children under 5. Visit the Buffalo Bill Museum website  for more information about this attraction.

Dinosaur Ridge: Visit Dinosaur Ridge  the first and third Saturdays of each month for a 2 ½ -hour detailed walking tour of the Ridge with one of their geologists. Tours start at 9:00 am and reservations can be made at 303-697-3466 Ext. 103 prior to 5:00pm the night before. Shuttle bus tours are available for $4 or you can tour the exhibit hall for $1. **Head on over here for more Museums and Historic Sites in Colorado.

Outdoor/Nature Themed Denver Activities

Denver Museum of Nature and Science: The museum is open daily 9:00am-5:00pm. Adult tickets are $13, seniors over 65 are 10, ages 3-18 are $8 and children under 2 are free. There are also a few package deals available if you want to visit the IMAX  while you are at the museum. Make sure to also check out the list of free admission days  for 2013.

Denver Botanic Gardens: Tickets are $12.50 for adults, $9 for children between the ages of 3 and 15 and free for little ones under the age of two. They are open 9:00am to 8:00pm daily through September 30th. Make sure to also check out the list of free admission days  for 2013.

Hudson Gardens in Littleton: Admission is free through the month of May and only $1.50 per person (adult or child) after May. There are also lots of bonus activities throughout the summer, so make sure to check out their activities page while planning your visit.

Denver Zoo: The Denver Zoo is open 9:00am to 5:00pm through October 31st. Tickets are $15 for ages 12-64, $12 for 65+, $10 for ages 3-11 and free for children under the age of 2. There are a lot of demonstrations and activities to participate in while you are there, so make sure to check out their daily calendar online. The Denver Zoo can be very busy on the weekends, so if you can plan this activity for a weekday you are likely to have a far more enjoyable visit. Make sure to also check out the list of free admission days  for 2013.

Visit a Mountain Town or Take a Hike: There is no shortage of beautiful mountain towns and hiking trails in Colorado. Visit the State Park website  for lots of ideas.

Amusement Park Themed Denver Activities

Elitch Gardens in Denver: For a limited time, purchase season tickets and you'll get them for $79.99 per person $10 off the regular price), plus they will throw in a free parking pass. There are also lots of other perks to having a season pass. Check them all out and purchase your season passes on the Elich Gardens website.

Water World in Denver: There are a number of different admission options  that start at free for children under 40"and go up to $39.99 for an all day General Admission pass. Front Range King Soopers stores also sell discounted ($5 off) General Admission and Child tickets. King Soopers also sells Family 4-Pack ticket packages that include 4 admissions, 4 personal pizzas and 4 drinks.The Family 4-Pack is $139.96 (tax is already included--this works out to be $34.99 per person). If you purchase your tickets form King Soopers you can bypass the ticket windows and head straight for the entry turnstiles. Make sure to also check out the Water World  website for other discount and coupon options.

This is just very small sample of the things that there are to do in Colorado, I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments section of this post.

A few other theme ideas include: Adventure Theme (sky diving, white water rafting, paintball), Volunteer Theme (select several different charities to volunteer your time with), or Spa Theme (schedule a few different spa treatments throughout the week, also be sure to check out my post on at home spa treatments).

 

Do you plan to take a staycation this year? Share with us in the comments section!

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Interactive Children’s Social Studies Activities for Summertime

May 7, 2014 · 0 comments

by Katie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

social-studies-activities


It is hard to believe that students will be saying goodbye to one grade level in just a few short weeks and will have a summer off before the next one begins. For most families, summer plans are well underway.

As you plan for the summer, have you taken time to think about how you’ll incorporate academics into your summer plans? As teachers, we often dread the so-called “Summer Slip”— students losing ground academically because of a lengthy time off from concentrated learning. This summer, why not incorporate fun and interactive activities into your plans that will help alleviate this slip and keep your kids on the path to academic success?! Over the next several weeks, we will be providing ideas on how to do just that. Each week we will look at a new subject area. Not only will the activities provide opportunities for learning and fun, but they may just serve as boredom busters as well. This week, let’s take a look at social studies ideas.

Social Studies Day Trips or Family Vacations

As a child, our family took a trip each summer. Often, this trip was associated with what we had learned that year in school or what we would be learning the next year. Some were elaborate, and others were simpler. Regardless, they afforded us the opportunity to experience places and people first-hand and gave greater insight and understanding to the content we had or would study. If you’re unsure what to do for a getaway this year, consider planning it around a topic of past or future study from social studies classes. Here are some examples based on typical learning progressions by grade level, but it is also a good idea to talk to your child’s current or future teachers at school to get a better idea of what has been or will be taught in social studies. Be creative, and think about what little gems may be worth visiting in your community, state, or surrounding areas.

• Local trips for lower elementary grades: Early elementary students typically study about their own immediate neighborhoods and communities. Consider a trip to a local factory to see how products are made. Go and see local government offices and explain what they do. Take a tour of your own city or visit a local museum. Visit and volunteer at a local non-profit or charity to see how communities help their community members. Participate in a community event such as a holiday celebration.

• State-wide trips for upper elementary grades: Upper elementary students typically learn about the state they are from and its history at this age. Design a trip throughout your state that incorporates key cities and landmarks associated with its history. Find a few historical sites from early American history to visit in your state such as old forts. Visit your state capitol, and talk about your state government.

• National getaways for middle school grades: Middle school students learn about our national government and our nation’s history. Take a trip to one of our nation’s founding cities out east or to another key area in our nation’s history that is closer to home. Consider a trip to a colonial village, or tour a modern-day government hub.

• International excursions for high school grades: As world language classes and international relations become the focus in high school, consider a larger trip either this summer or in the future. Experiencing how others live, talk, and govern are hugely eye-opening. Consider going to a place that speaks the language your child is studying. Go and explore a country that influenced a certain time period in history. The possibilities are endless!

Social Studies Activities at Home

If a trip is not in your budget this summer, you can still engage kids in furthering their social studies learning. Consider finding a pen pal for them (such as a childhood friend’s child) who lives in another state or country, and have them start a snail mail exchange. Snail mail is a treat these days, and learning about someone else’s life and culture is important life learning! Research what your library has to offer, and check out books and movies related to learning themes to enjoy as a family throughout the summer.

Whatever you do, be intentional about helping your kids learn and enjoy social studies this summer.

summer-writing-for-kids

If you love this post, make sure to also check out these which are part of our Children's Summer Learning series:

Interactive Children’s Science Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Math Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Writing Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Social Studies Activities for Summertime

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Spring Cleaning Up, Down, In and Out: Tips to Get Your Home Spick and Span

April 20, 2014 · 2 comments

by Katie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

 spring-cleaning-list

Once upon a time, I was fresh out of college and in my first home. I thought to myself, what is this spring cleaning frenzy all about? I’ll just do my routine cleaning-- sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, etc. That must be good enough, right? Then came the day to sell that first place, and I was amazed at what the realtor told me was needed before showing the space.

Do you remember that, too? There’s something about selling a home that reminds you there’s a lot more to cleaning than just the obvious tasks. In addition to the need to transition wardrobes and bedding from winter to summer and a general time to purge, I use the advice my realtor gave me as a guide for my spring cleaning. Those nooks and crannies that still need a little attention every once in a while are the source of my attention this time of year.

When you are all finished with your cleaning frenzy, pretend you are touring the house as if it were not your own to see if you approve of the look. I hope these realtor-approved tips and tricks will assist you with spring cleaning this year even if you have no intention of moving.

Two simple yet comprehensive rules for spring cleaning:

1. Look Up, Look Down, Look In, and Look Out. It’s easy to spot what needs some cleaning at eye level (need I even mention splattered mirrors?!?), but don’t forget to clean less obvious spots.

Clean UP high:

• corners where ceilings and walls meet
• ceiling fan blades
• inside tall floor lamps and overhead lights
• top of the refrigerator
• tops of bookshelves
• top rim where bathtub meets wall
• bathroom vents

Clean DOWN low:

• baseboards
• legs of furniture
• underneath shelves, bookcases, couches, furniture pieces (did you happen upon any buried treasures?!)
• floor lamp bases
• base of windows including inside the tracks (with open and closed windows to get all areas)
• wash rugs (including bath mats)

Clean INSIDE things:

• refrigerator (drawers and shelves de-crumbed and not sticky, old food tossed, etc.)
• kitchen cabinets (items organized and matching items paired together)
• shower and bathtub drains
• linen and hall closets
• bathroom cabinets
• window blind panels

Clean OUTSIDE the house: (After all, it’s your home’s first impression!)

• Weed around yard including in rock beds
• Mulch (is it time for some new mulch?)
• Uncover patio furniture
• Add décor (welcome mat, potted plants)
• Repair sprinklers as needed
• Replace old, rusted edging
• Organize garages and sheds

2. Start at the top and work your way down. It’s hard enough to do the cleaning once let alone having to go over your work again. Start at the top of each room and work down to the floor. The dust from those ceiling fan blades can fall to the ground without fear because the vacuum will pick it all up at the end. Yes, it’s a simple rule yet such a time-saver.

Happy cleaning! Remember, some cleaning now will mean not missing out on those warm, beautiful days that are just around the corner.

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Muffin Tin Recipes for Any Time of Day

April 14, 2014 · 0 comments

by Jennie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

muffin-tin-recipes

Over the past three weeks we have been sharing various recipes to use pantry staples in new ways for main dishes, appetizers, and desserts. To culminate the recipe series, the following recipes encompass ideas for all meals of the day and are all made using muffin tins (mini muffin tins, regular muffin cups, and tins flipped upside down for an even bigger size of “cup”). They allow you to use leftovers in innovative ways or to create portion-perfect deliciousness!

I hope you have enjoyed some fresh ideas for using what you most likely already have on hand over the past several weeks. Some of the recipes below were shared by a fellow Bargain Blessings reader. Thanks, Hazel. Feel free to share your favorite pantry staple and leftover re-mix recipes with us, too. We can all use a recipe re-fresh from time-to-
time! Bon appétit!

Egg Biscuit Muffins (use regular muffin tins)

Ingredients:

1 package refrigerated biscuits (8-10 biscuits)

3 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

1/3 cup shredded cheddar

4 slices bacon (or turkey bacon)

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Cook the bacon in a pan or in the oven until it’s almost done. Chop into small bits and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Whisk together eggs and milk, a pinch of salt and some cracked pepper to taste and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, using a rolling pin, roll out each biscuit until it’s slightly bigger than the circumference of your regular muffin tin. Grease the muffin tin with cooking spray and push one biscuit into each muffin cup being sure to push it all the way down and to the sides. Leave the ridge hanging over the edge.

4. Divide the cheese evenly in each of the biscuit cups and then pour egg in, filling each cup only 1/2 way. They will look empty, but you must account for the biscuits puffing up! Sprinkle bacon atop of the egg.

5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits are golden and eggs are set. Use a butter knife to loosen each muffin and serve warm.

Note: If your egg does overflow, just let it bake the rest of the way and then remove the extra egg when you are loosening the muffins. Also, add chopped vegetables such as green peppers before baking or in place of the bacon for a vegetarian variety.

Breakfast Cupcakes (use regular muffin tins)

Ingredients:

½ lb. sausage

12 eggs

½ cup chopped onion

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

¼ tsp. garlic powder

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in sausage; cook and stir until sausage is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink (about 10 to 15 minutes); drain.

3. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in onion, black pepper, salt and garlic powder. Mix in sausage and cheese.

4. Spoon 1/3 cup of mixture into each muffin cup.

5. Bake in preheated oven until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Note: Vary the recipe by adding a variety of other vegetables or other cooked meat. These freeze easily for grab and go breakfasts!

Muffin Tin Mini-Meal Tartlets (use mini muffin tins)

Ingredients:

Refrigerated Pie Crust Sheets

Cooked leftovers (meats, cheeses, etc.)

Directions:

1. Unroll the pie crust, use a drinking glass, and cut circles out of it. Spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray, and press one pie crust circle into each.

2. Fill them up with whatever you would like, and bake at 450°F for 9-12 minutes.

Some ideas include:

Thanksgiving Mini-Meals – cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and gravy. Dollop cranberry sauce on each after baking.

Pizza Mini-Meals – sausage or pepperoni, pizza sauce, cheese

Italian Mini-Meals – meatball slices, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese

Tartlet Treats (use back side of regular muffin tins)

Ingredients:

Refrigerated pie crust sheets, softened

Fresh or frozen fruit (sliced and thawed as needed)

Fruit glaze (if desired)

Whipped topping

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Unroll pie crust sheets, and place them on a flat work surface. With a 5-inch round cutter or an inverted bowl, cut out circles from each crust.

2. Fit each circle over the back of an ungreased muffin cup. Pinch equally spaced pleats around the side of each cup. Prick throughout the dough with a fork to prevent bubbles.

3. Bake cups for 9-13 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely (about 30 minutes). Remove pie crust bowls from the muffin cups.

4. Add fruit to each bowl and top with whipped topping just before serving. To make the tartlets more like traditional tarts, mix fruit and fruit glaze together and refrigerate until chilled before adding them to the pie crust bowls and topping with whipped topping.

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How to Make Colorful Deviled Eggs

April 13, 2014 · 1 comment

by Katie
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

colorful-deviled-eggs

Isn't it a bummer how we go to all of the hard work of dying Easter eggs only to have to throw the beautiful shells away in order to eat them? This year, make the edible part beautiful, and add some color to the Easter meal. Here’s how:

egg-1 Prepare eggs as you normally would for deviled eggs (hard boil, peel, etc.).

egg-2 When the egg whites are cut in half and the yolks have been placed in a separate bowl to be mixed with your favorite deviled egg ingredients (mayonnaise, mustard, etc.), place the egg white halves in small bowls or cups filled with a mixture of water and food coloring (more coloring= darker shades of the color). Unlike dying the shells, using vinegar in the mixture will affect the taste of the cooked egg whites so it is not used.

egg-3When the whites have turned the color you want, remove them from the water mixture. Let them dry on a paper towel.

egg-4 Fill each half with some of the prepared deviled egg mixture. Top with paprika and serve

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Easter Egg Hunt Ideas for Kids Young and Old!

April 13, 2014 · 0 comments

by Katie
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easter-egg-hunt-ideas

No matter what season in life you may find yourself in, we are never too young or too old for some good old fashioned fun! This Easter, consider incorporating an egg hunt into the festivities no matter who is around to do it-- young kids, older kids, children of all ages, or just all of us kids at heart (yes, that means us adults, too). Using the following ideas, your egg hunt will take on a fresh and new spin will keeping the tradition alive.

Egg Hunts for “Older” Kids

I vividly remember the time when my cousins and I thought we were too cool to do the Easter egg hunt anymore. At the same time, it was a fond memory for all of us. So, my dad added a new twist that we all loved. He filled the eggs with cash instead of candy, and one egg had a dollar instead of coins. He went to extra heights to make the hiding spots better than ever. It was a challenge not only to get as many eggs as possible (so we could make more money!) but to be the one to score the “big” cash of the dollar egg.

If you’re looking for a way to keep older kids into the festivities, consider adding cash into the egg hunt. Don’t just limit it to the teenagers as this could also be a fun way to earn money above and beyond allowance for younger kids. Besides, who says adults can’t have an Easter egg hunt, too?!?!

bean-line

Egg Hunts for Small Children

Give younger children the opportunity to actually enjoy “hunting” for eggs and not just be disappointed that the older, faster kids got them all first. Create a separate space either inside or outside for each young child to follow their own jelly bean trail leading to each of their eggs (several jelly beans laid out in a line then one egg, repeat).

The colors and candy will motivate them to actually stay on track, and the Easter egg hunt will be much more than just setting out eggs on the grass for the little ones to try to.

Happy hunting to you and yours this Easter!

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