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Thursday, April 5, 2012

preschool bag of tricks

   My nephews, ages roughly 1 1/2 and 3 1/2, are coming down for Easter this year. They live in another state, so coming to see Grandma and Papa means they leave behind a lot of their usual toys and activities. I thought it would be fun to put together a 'bag of tricks' that they can enjoy while they are here, and a fair few of the 'tricks' should pack flat enough they can take them home when they leave. My cunning plan is to test some of my ideas on my nephews before my son gets to that age!

Upper and lower case letters for matching on Easter eggs.

 Canvas square (roughly 18x18 inches) with road map drawn on. Folds flat to make a handy car game.

Playdough with plastic utensils and paper plates

Fingerpaint! Not what you would grab to take to church on Sunday morning, but useful for Grandma's house.

Things that open and close. The younger boy is in mind with this one.

Giant crayons with notepads.

Felt fun -- 2 pizzas to assemble, plus a felt mouse friend and finger puppets.

my honey's chocolate 30th birthday

My honey had his 30th birthday yesterday. I am married to a man now in his 30's. Ha! I don't know why but that makes me chuckle. Anyway, I LOVE to bake, so his birthday was the perfect excuse to not clean the bathrooms and bake cupcakes all morning. What? From scratch, of course, including the frosting. I have only ever resorted to using a box cake once in my life, and that was because I wanted to turn a perfectly white cake layer into a perfectly red cake layer for use in a "fireworks" cake last year for July 4th.

The cake recipe is the easiest and yummiest in my book. I think it's originally Betty Crocker, but it's been a family favorite since I was a kid. Black Midnight cake. The recipe makes a 2 layer cake or 24 cupcakes. My frosting is a chocolate fudge kind that I have had in my recipe box -- yes, in my own handwriting -- for years now, and I have absolutely no idea where it's from. Sorry.

Ladies, it is ridiculously easy to pipe frosting. I don't know why more of us don't know how. Or don't bother. I knocked up these designs all with the same frosting tip (barring the two on the left of the plate that are clearly hand frosted with a butter knife) and it took almost no time at all. I was rather sad when, 15 minutes later, all 24 of my cupcakes had been frosted and I had no more left. About 8 were kept at home for my man, and the rest went in to his workplace this morning for a quick birthday deal. Huge hit. So here is my challenge. Run out right now to your local Walmart (or otherwise known as 'the-place-that-shall-not-be-named' by my in-law family), buy yourself a small box of frosting bags and a 4-pack of tips, and start using them. Cupcakes are the easiest thing to begin with because if you goof up it is so easy to scrape off and redo. Or, you simply eat the cake. ;)