Sunday, October 22, 2017

Scary Story for Halloween - DRACULA by Bram Stoker

I love to incorporate stories and reading into our holiday celebrations. Halloween is just around the corner and I have the perfect classic book to recommend to you: Dracula!


I'm sure you have seen all sorts of Dracula movies because there are like a million different spoofs done with Dracula. But have you actually read the classic story told by Bram Stoker? When I finally did I as hooked!

Bram Stoker uses a unique style of writing to craft this story called epistolary writing, which is a fancy way of saying the story is told through a bunch of letters, diary entries or even newspaper clippings. The story flows so well as you read these personal letters between the characters you forget you are reading a novel. As the letters unfold and the events of the encounter with Dracula build, you the reader are sucked in (pun intended), craving to know what happens next.

Let me just say it is a hard book to put down!

This is definitely not a book for young children to read but it would be appropriate for an older teen to read.

Download  Dracula by Bram Stoker and start reading now!! This version, found on Amazon includes a fascinating short biography of Bram Stoker

Friday, August 18, 2017

Five Awesome Solar Eclipse Activities for Kids



Hey, have you heard there is going to be a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017?

What is a total solar eclipse you ask - let me explain.  A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes in between the earth and the sun causing a shadow of the moon to fall on certain portions of the earth. Here is a link to a great video you and your kids can watch to learn more about the solar eclipse:



What a great opportunity to teach and experience something astronomical all at once! My kids love crafts and I think the crafts below help reinforce the concepts taught in the video and they are just plain fun to do.

Here are some great craft ideas all about the solar eclipse you can do with your kids:

1 - Solar Eclipse Chalk Art

Requires minimal supplies and is simple enough for young children to participate in. Find complete instructions and a list of materials at Books and Giggles.

2 - Solar Eclipse Pin Hole Camera


Stay safe and still enjoy the sun's stellar shows by creating your very own pinhole camera. It's easy! All the instructions and pictures showing a step by step process can be found here : JPL NASA

3 - Solar Eclipse Coffee Filter Craft



Here is a great craft to do with your kids to teach them about the solar eclipse. For the complete tutorial check out this site - Look We're Learning.

4 - Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model


Recreating a model of the solar (and lunar) eclipse for your kids to touch, play with and just experiment with will help your kids understand what an eclipse is and how it works. Follow the pictures at Arvin Gupta Toys to make your own.

5 - Solar Eclipse Cookies


Sun shaped cookie cutter and a circle cookie cutter along with some frosting and sugar cookie dough make for a sweet and educational solar eclipse. Need a great sugar cookie recipe? My favorite recipe for sugar cookies can be found at Sallys Baking Addiction

If you get a chance to step outside on the day of the eclipse please make sure you tell your kids how dangerous it is to look directly at the sun. Keep those little (and grown up ) eyes protected properly.


Friday, July 21, 2017

10 Awesome Crafts for Teens


This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

Looking for a great way to bond with your teenage daughter? Why not craft together! Even if you aren't a "crafty" person you and your daughter can make some memorable moments together all while making something awesome together. Start with a simple project the first time to avoid serious frustrations and work your way up to a more difficult project as you improve your crafting skills.

The projects on this list are are cute, fun and easy to create! So let's get started.

10 Amazing Crafts Teen Daughter 

Will Love !!

Source: something turquoise

1. DIY Glitter Glass Jar

This simple craft from Martha Stewart (who can go wrong with Martha, right?) quickly turns a plain glass jar into something sparkly and beautiful. Color coordinate to match your daughter's room and use as a trinket holder, electric votive candle holder or even a pencil/pen container. This DIY project doesn't require a lot of time or planning and is a great starter project for the craft-challenged mom.


Source: studio diy

2. DIY Conversation Heart Rings

No advanced crafting skills needed to make these adorable rings! It doesn't even have to be Valentine's Day to make these. Wouldn't these rings be a fun afternoon project to make with your daughter. Made using hot glue, heart molds, blank ring bands and some fingernail polish as paint. Let your daughter give them out to her friends or keep them to match yours! 

Find the easy to follow tutorial by visiting Studio DIY.


Source: hwtm

3. DIY Yarn Chandelier

A little messy but well worth it to get these colorful chandeliers. You and your teen will have a blast making these. A little glue mixture, balloons and some colorful yarn is basically all you need. 

Visit Hostess With the Mostess for more ideas.

Source: green wedding shoes

4. DIY String Art Heart

Here is a craft project that also falls into the simple to make category and turns out looking amazing! There is no right or wrong way to wrap the string around the heart shape and the more lines the better it looks! Not into hearts? How about a monogram letter? You can get lots of great shapes or letters online to use as a stencil for this project. 

Not only would this be a great gift you can work together on (or keep for yourself) but it will give you lots of time to spend with your teen making something to be proud of!

Head over to Green Wedding Shoes to find the list of supplies and tutorial.

Source: hello glow

5. DIY Braided T-Shirt Bracelets

You've probably been hounding your teen to clean her room, right? How about give her some incentive to get rid of those outgrown (or stained) t-shirts shoved in the back of the dresser drawer? Everyone has a spare t-shirt (or 5?) laying around. If not a quick trip to a thrift store will provide you with some colorful tee shirts to use. Get out the scissors and start cutting strips to braid together to make these bracelets. You could make them using your teen's school colors or favorite team too!

Visit Hello Glow for the tutorial and other fun craft ideas and inspiration.
6. DIY Galaxy Bath Bombs

Bath bombs are amazing - drop them in the bath and they look like you are swimming in a painting! The swirling colors are absolutely celestial and relaxing. A little pre-planning to make sure you have all your supplies handy makes this craft super fun for your teen (and you!). They make great gifts too (think birthday, or Christmas). 
Source: craft by photo

7. DIY Firefly Lamp

Is your teen into upcycling? I know mine loves to find new uses for old things (trash to treasure, right?). Raid the Dollar Store for some mini twinkle lights or get the LED lights here to use with this craft or click image below to find these battery operated LED twinkle lights.



A big empty coffee can or smaller size tin cans are all you need along with a drill to make holes. Don't have a drill? No worries, a hammer and a big nail will punch holes just as easy through the sides of a tin can. Here is a quick trick if you are going to use the hammer and nail - fill your empty tin can almost to the top with water, stick it in the freezer overnight and then when you are ready to make this lamp pound the nails through the tin into the ice. The ice inside will prevent your can from denting! Check out the photo tutorial for this craft on Craft by Photo.


Source: running with sisters

8. DIY Barefoot Beaded Sandals

Teen girls love to accessorize! These barefoot beaded sandals are sure to be a hit with your teen girl. An afternoon creating these together is a great way to make a lasting memory with your teen. Running With Sisters has the complete tutorial and supply list ready for you to follow. 

Find the Stretch Magic Bead and Jewelry Cord for this project here on Amazon. 



I found these beautiful glass beads that would be perfect for this project here:





Source: buzzfeed


9. DIY Marbled Stationery

Help your teen make her own custom stationery by following this simple and easy tutorial on Buzzfeed. Order a packet of blank cards and envelops like this: 




And get crafting! Mixing colors and swirling patterns into the shaving cream make the results of the stationery endless. 

Source: ben franklin crafts monroe

10. DIY Melted Crayon Art

Ever wonder what to do with all those broken or dull crayons you have been keeping in a box? We have this HUGE bucket of crayon pieces that I just can't seem to throw away - never know when you might need that little chunk of color right? This crayon art project is just the thing to do with all of those crayons! The tutorial and pictures of other inspiring projects can be found on the Ben Franklin Crafts Monroe site. If you don't have a hot glue gun or heat gun you can find them here:


heat gun
glue gun

Crafting with your teen is a great way to make some lasting memories with your daughter.

Looking for some more great crafts for kids or teens? I published Secret Garden Crafts, 10 Nature Inspired Crafts  available on Kindle - get your copy today (and please don't forget to leave a review!)






Sunday, July 9, 2017

10 Easy Popsicle Recipes You WIll Love



Popsicles are the number one requested treat my kids beg for on a hot summer day. I have to admit I love them too!

Just the other day my sons and three of their buddies were over playing outside. After an active game of basketball I asked it anyone wanted a Popsicle - their hands shot up so fast you think they were hailing a cab. After they each had picked out their favorite flavor I grabbed one for myself. The boys' friends stared at me amazed that an adult would want to enjoy a "kid's" treat. 

I don't really have a favorite flavor - I like them all. Since we go through so many Popsicles throughout the summer the same old flavors can get a little boring to my kids so I thought it might be fun to try some new flavors and make them ourselves. 

Years ago when I was a kid my mom had this great Tupperware Popsicle mold that she would pour in some Kool Aid, freeze and make our own Popsicles. I loved the "stick" that came with her set - it was just a plastic stick with a small lip just above where you held on so that the melted Popsicle juice would drip into it instead of on your hand. When you were all done eating the Popsicle you could sip up the juice that was left behind. 

I found a similar Popsicle mold to try at home but I have to say there are WAY more options now a days than there used to be! If you're old school and love wooden sticks in your Popsicles here is the gadget for you:

I've gathered some great Popsicle recipes to share with you so you can have just as much fun experimenting with different flavors beyond the four main flavors you get in a box from the store (cherry, grape, orange, lime). Have fun and enjoy making some cool summer treats!



via: a moms take

These Sour Worm Popsicles are so fruity and flavorful they will be an instant hit with the whole block!

#2 - Pink Lemonade Popsicles


via: jojotastic
A refreshing and light treat for those really hot summer days!

#3 - Natural Mango Popsicles

via: homemadeinterest
No sugar added - can't beat that right?!!

#4 - Orange Creamsicles


via: belly full
A mixture of creamy ingredients (yogurt & ice cream) plus orange juice and honey frozen together to make a wonderful summer treat.

This Lekue Popsicle molds are fabulous for making homemade Popsicles.



#5 -  Mint Chocolate Chip Greek Yogurt Popsicles 

via: marshas baking addiction
Minty goodness meets homemade magic shell! Yum.


via: happy healthy mama
Just 3 ingredients to make this dairy free (and vegan) treat. 

Looking for a plastic free (bpa free) Popsicle mold? Here is a great option - stainless steel:



#7 - Blueberries & Cream Popsicle


via: a simple pantry

A very simple (4 ingredients folks!) recipe with amazing results. Don't they just look decadent?


via: rachel cooks
The word FUN is in this recipe so of course it is a no-brainer and should be made, eaten and repeated many times over!

These were made using the reusable Ozera Popsicle molds







#9 - Raspberry Popsicles

via: premeditated leftovers
The fresh raspberries make this such an inviting treat to eat in the summer.


via: poofy cheeks

My kids love Jello - so this will be a hit at our house!

Not interested in Popsicle mold but still need some sticks to make the homemade treat? How about these chunky wood sticks that you could stick into paper cups to make your own Popsicles!



Stay cool this summer and enjoy a good homemade Popsicle!