Candy Flower Cupcakes

Flower Cupcake 1

My 8-year-old helped me decorate these amazingly simple cupcakes for her birthday this year.  I simply made cupcakes with a boxed cake mix and frosted them with store-bought frosting.  I chose to make lemon cake with cream cheese icing, but feel free to choose whichever flavors you like best.  Then my daughter used M&Ms to create the cute flower on each one.  We were really pleased with the results and it was a fun and simple activity to do together!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cake mix + ingredients to make it
  • frosting (from grocery store or homemade)
  • M&Ms candies

Directions:

Make cupcakes according to package directions.  Let cool.  Frost.  Use M&Ms to make a flower on each cupcake.  Enjoy!

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

For some odd reason I decided to make our bark in a pie pan.  Bad idea–stick to waxed paper on a jellyroll pan.  I love how the salty pretzels help offset the sweet of the candy bark.  Once the candy has melted, you’ll want to work quickly so that it doesn’t set before you place your decorations on it.  Thanks to Wilton for the original idea!

Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Ingredients:

  • white candy bark
  • chocolate candy bark
  • pretzel twists
  • M&Ms
  • sprinkles

Directions:

Line jellyroll pan with wax paper.  In microwave safe bowl, melt white candy bark according to package directions.  Spread over wax paper in thin layer.  Lightly place pretzels on white bark as desired.  Melt 1/4 to 1/3 package of chocolate candy bark according to package directions.  Carefully spoon into openings of pretzels, covering pretzel so that it resembles a chocolate heart in the center.  Place M&M or desired candy in middle of pretzel hearts.  Decorate white bark with sprinkles.  Leave at room temperature or put in cool place to harden.  Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

Spoons Game Giveaway – Cross Promotion

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Howdy Moms!  I’m promoting my giveaway for the game of Spoons on this site, as well as on my game-themed site.  It struck me that moms might want to participate in this giveaway too, and score a fun game to play with their family.  I love playing this game with a bunch of kids.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s open to U.S. residents and ends on February 28, 2017.  Good luck to you!

LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out – Movie 2013

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The kids wanted to check out this short movie from the library, so being the occasionally obliging mother that I am, I got it for them.  At first I was content to let them watch it by themselves, but I took note of the fact that they were laughing at it.  Hmm, I didn’t think that it was supposed to be a funny movie, just fighting and stuff.

Before we returned it to the library, I figured I should give it a view.  I’m glad I did, because it was so funny!  I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy it much.  Most kids’ shows nowadays usually leave something to be desired.  This one is different, though.  The people who did it are obviously fans of both LEGO and Star Wars.  The subtle humor for fans is sparkling.  And because it’s so short (22 minutes), you won’t feel too guilty about sitting down to watch it with your kids.  I highly recommend Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out for fun family viewing.

Rated: G

Bananagrams

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Look at those beautiful letter tiles from a game that’s a bit like Scrabble, but more akin to a party game!  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy Scrabble, but it can become incredibly tedious when you play it with people who are freakishly bent on getting the most points out of their words.  When you can get up and make yourself a cup of tea in the amount of time it takes your opponent to make their move, you know you’re playing that kind of game.  Can you tell this hits home for me?

Bananagrams is simpler than Scrabble, and I’d say a whole lot more kid-friendly.  Each person starts out with a whole lot of tiles, instead of just a few.  Players work on their own “boards” (really just an open space on the table) simultaneously to make an interconnected set of words, trying to use up all their tiles in the process.  Once a player has used all of his/her tiles, they say, “peel,” and everyone takes another tile from the middle.  The challenge is in constantly getting new letters to add to your board, which means you need to shuffle things around.

If you are not a good speller, or quick-thinking games are not your bag, this would be a very frustrating game.  It is also a challenge for kids to play against adults, but we let our kids bend the rules by not requiring that their words be interconnected.  We will also help them with spelling if they ask.

Basically, if you enjoy Scrabble, try out this game for a raucous good time.

Ages: School-age+

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Authors

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I was introduced to Authors while at a family reunion on my husband’s side.  That was 11 years ago, when my eldest son was one month old.  How time flies.  Tonight my two sons and I played this game, which is like a glorified version of Go Fish.  Instead of collecting pairs of cards, you collect sets of four.  In this game, sets of four books published by a common author.  The authors featured are Louisa May Alcott, James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Henry W. Longfellow, Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Walter Scott, William Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Mark Twain.  If you’re a fan of classic literature, this is a nice little game to have around.  Bonus–my kids have started asking me about these authors and what their books are about.  Score!  I would love to have them someday read and discuss classic literature with me!

There are other versions of this game as well, with differing themes:

American Authors

American Women Authors

Children’s Authors

Composers

Explorers

Famous Women in American History

Inventors

Presidents

Scientists

*The squiggle on the box is to keep our last name out of the post.  You’ll see it on many of the game photos I post.  Our games like to travel, and we have to make sure they find their way home again.

Sorry

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As part of our impromptu game night, the boys and I played Sorry!  Yes, that classic board game you played as a kid.  The one that prompted whining, pouting, bad sportsmanship, and sometimes all out brawls.  We got ours from my cousin’s thrift sale for $2.  It’s been well-loved, with cards that easily fold in half and a green token which lost its top to a dog’s need to chew.

I always approach this game with trepidation, almost expecting it to go off like a ticking time bomb.  There were too many instances of hurt feelings resulting from this game when I was a kid.  I’ve never really gotten over it.  It surprises me, therefore, that my boys seem to love it.  Say what!  What’s wrong with you kids?  While Sorry! sparks years-long family feuds in most instances, my boys simply laugh about bumping each other off the board.  I do not get it.

My feelings for the game have changed somewhat, due to the relaxed view my kids take of it.  I’ll tell you what, though–if my brother and I sat down to play together, there’d be some fur flying.  Just sayin’.  Be careful who you play this with.

Ages: 5+

Clue

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Long before my boys had the deductive reasoning skills to play Clue, they were fascinated with the small figures and weapons.  There was a period of time when they would sneak down to the basement to find the box, no matter how many times I tried to hide it away.  The pull of playing with those little tokens was just too strong; resistance was futile.  Surprisingly, they only lost one weapon–the wrench.  Now we have a little slip of paper labeled “wrench.”

We played Clue the other night, after the girls were in bed.  My seven-year-old just now understands how to play effectively by himself.  Some kids might not be ready until they’re a bit older.  I know that some people don’t like the idea of promoting a game whose focus is murder, but really my kids don’t think of it that way when we’re playing.  It’s more like they’re trying to figure out a puzzle.

Personally, I have a soft spot in my heart for this game.  It seems like only yesterday my cousins and I were gathered around Grandma’s table after we had stuffed ourselves on the Christmas meal and the presents had been opened.  We loved playing games when we got together, and this one usually ended up being pretty hardcore.

Ages: 7+

Uno

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Last night I taught the boys how to play Uno.  It’s good Spanish review, right?  Oh man, be glad you’re not around me all the time.  I’m the queen of bad jokes.  The game was a hit with the boys and they asked to play it again tonight.  Unfortunately, only one of them actually got to play because a certain someone was sent to bed early for poor behavior.  Sometimes I just have to shake my head at what boys deem appropriate.

Uno always provides me with a blast from the past, in memories.  My cousins and I commonly played cards when we’d go camping.  After curfew, when we had to be back at the campsite, it was the perfect opportunity to play cards, drink pop, and munch on snacks.  We’d either snag a free camper, or set up at a picnic table.  I’m so nostalgic.

I also remember a time when my brother and I played possibly the longest game of Uno ever–3 hours!  After three hours, neither of us had won, so we decided to call it a draw.  What are the odds of a game lasting that long?

Ages: 5+

There’s a Moose in the House

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Also last night, the boys convinced me to play There’s A Moose In The House from Gamewright.  The goal of this card game is to be the person with the fewest moose at the end.  You can add rooms to other players’ houses and put moose in their empty rooms.  We have lots of fun talking about how our opponents’ rooms really need a moose, how they’ll have to go potty outside because there’s a moose in their bathroom, etc.  To defend yourself, you can slam the door shut on an empty room, or use a moose trap to catch a stray moose who wanders in.

We enjoy this lighthearted card game.  It’s quite simple to learn, and even young kids can understand it.  My kids would give it two big thumbs up!

Ages: 4+