}

Cool Crafts for Kids – African Masks

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This art project is one that my kids loved doing and the finished products were fantastic.  It was inexpensive to do and easy to adapt for kids of different ages.

Cut pieces of different shapes and sizes in cardboard.  This is something that older children can do themselves, but for younger children, you will want to have the pieces cut ahead of time.  You can use cardboard in a variety of thicknesses.

Provide glue (hot glue sticks work best but to use these, they will need to be supervised) and paint.

Have the kids layer pieces of cardboard to create the look they want.  It’s a good idea to show them pictures of actual African masks to give them ideas.

When the pieces are layered and glued on the way things want them to be, provide the kids with paint and have them use their imaginations to create the masks the way they want them.

This craft is also great to tie in to a homeschool lesson about Africa.  There are many books and Internet sites that can aid you in this lesson and the craft can be a fun way to finish off and to add a hands-on aspect.

How to Make Cute Frog Cupcakes

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Here are step by step instructions and pictures detailing how I made frog cupcakes for Dancing Girl’s Princess and the Frog birthday party.  The cupcakes were adorable and a big hit!

Adorable frog cupcakes - easy to makeMaterials needed for decorating the frog cupcakes:

1.  Start by baking white or vanilla cupcakes using a mix or your favourite recipe. Add green food colouring or green food paste into the batter and mix in. If you can find green cupcake liners, use those. I was not able to find any, so I used white cupcake liners. Bake as directed in the recipe.

2.  Allow the cupcakes to cool. Add green food paste into icing to create green icing. Decorate the cupcakes one at a time so that the candy sticks into the icing. Top a cupcake with the green icing.

3.  Slice green sour apple ring candy in half. You will only be using the green halves.

4.  Place two apple ring candy halves on top of the cupcake.

5.  Add two brown M+Ms, leaning them up against the candy slices and put a dab of white icing in the centre of each M+M to create the frog’s eyes.

6.  Make a smile using a small piece of red shoestring licorice.

7.  Create a nose by painting two lines using black food paste on a toothpick. Cut a tongue for the frog out of strawberry Fruit by the Foot and slide it under the mouth.

Adorable frog cupcakes - easy to makeVoila! A Frog cupcake!

Here is a list of ideas for planning a fun Princess and the Frog themed birthday party.

Princess and the Frog Birthday Party

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Dancing Queen asked for a Princess and the Frog themed party this year. Ever since she saw Disney’s Princess and the Frog movie, she has been talking about Princess Tiana and I was excited to plan this party for her. Princess and the Frog PartyI had a bit of a hard time finding decorations and ideas since the movie had just recently come out, so I’ve made a little list of what I did in case anyone else is looking for ideas for planning their own Princess and the Frog party.

The cake.

For the Princess and the Frog theme, you could make a castle cake using Wilton’s castle shaped cake pan. For Dancing Queen’s birthday party, I made frog cupcakes.

I have provided step-by-step instructions for making the frog cupcakes here. I also was able to find frog shaped candles. As we were having adults and children at her party and I wasn’t sure if the adults wanted to eat green cupcakes, I also made my delicious chocolate cherry cake for the adults.

Decorations.

I was able to find the Princess and the Frog themed napkins, Princess Tiana crowns, cups, plates, and tablecloth. I ordered them online as none of the local stores had them. As the Princess and the Frog movie takes place in New Orleans, I also used Mardi Gras necklaces and masks.

As a centrepiece, I put a small crown on a stuffed frog. I also used purple ribbon here and there and decorated a box to hold the treat bags using balloons.

Food.

As the movie took place in New Orleans, Louisiana style food such as Gumbo, Po Boy Sandwiches, and Jambalaya are good choices. I also put green candy, included candy frogs, in decorative bowls that added to the decor of the party.

Activities.

An easy game to play is musical lily pads. The lily pads can be made easily by cutting pieces of green paper or foam sheets.

The Princess and the Frog colouring sheets can be printed for the kids to colour.

The party guests can decorate foam tiaras or wands using craft jewels, ribbons, feathers, and stickers. I was able to find Princess and the Frog stickers for the kids to use to decorate their wands with.

Extras.

I was able to find frog hats for the boys who came to the party to wear instead of the crowns that the girls wore.

For party favors, I included princess notebooksMardi Gras necklaces, frog candies, frog pencils, and prisms.

At the end of the party, you can have the guests watch The Princess and the Frog movie while they wait for their parents to pick them up. To tie in the colour purple that was the accent colour for the party, I also put purple and opal beads in Dancing Girl’s hair.

If you are looking for more party ideas, you may want to follow my Party Planning board on Pinterest.

Soups Using Leftovers

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Saving money on our grocery budget is a huge priority for me trying to feed my husband and I and our seven kids.  Stretching leftovers by turning them into soups is one of the ways that I accomplish that.

Whenever I make a chicken meal, I add one extra chicken breast.  When dinner is done, I cut up the leftover chicken and scoop that, along with all the leftover sauce into a bag.  So if we had teriyaki chicken for supper, then the leftover chicken once cubed gets added, along with all the teriyaki sauce or marinade.  Next, I add whatever side dishes are leftover into the bag.  This usually means vegetables and rice or potatoes.  Even if there is just a handful of peas leftover or two pieces of cooked carrot, they go into the bag.  Nothing goes to waste.  This bag then gets sealed and put into the freezer.  If I have time to make the soup that night or the next morning, then I put these into a pot instead, but usually, they go into a freezer bag.  The freezer bag gets labelled with the type of meat and the name of the sauce it was in.

I have a few variations that I make on the recipe, but the soup will taste different every time because the sauce on the chicken will add to the flavour, as will the seasonings that were on the rice and vegetables.

Here are two basic recipes.  At the bottom, I will also add a few tips.

Version #1:

1 chopped onion

8 carrots, cut

6 chopped and peeled potatoes

1/2 cup of barley

2 cups of mixed beans

2 cans of tomato soup

3-5 cups of water

bag of leftovers

seasonings: pepper, parsley, basil, oregano, etc. depending on the soup (see below)

Saute onion.  Add other vegetables.  Add everything else and simmer for about one hour.

Version #2:

1 chopped onion

2 tsp. minced garlic

whatever vegetables you have in the pantry or freezer (carrots, peas, zucchini, green beans, celery, corn, etc.)

28 oz. can diced tomatoes

5 cups vegetable stock (you can make your own by saving the water you have been cooking your potatoes and other veggies in)

bag of leftovers

seasonings: pepper, basil, oregano, chilis, chipotle, bay leaves, etc. depending on the soup

Saute onions and garlic.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer.

Tips:

Use the bag of leftovers as your base for determining what flavourings to add to your soup.  If you are using a leftover tex mex chicken, then corn and black beans are good additions and chipotle spice works well.  If you are using leftover meatballs, then a tomato based soup with Italian seasonings usually works well.  For leftover curried chicken, adding more curry, along with peas and rice goes well.  For teriyaki or honey mustard chicken leftovers, an Asian inspired soup is delicious.  You can even add noodles in the last few minutes of cooking.  A minestrone type of soup with zucchini, green beans, kidney and/ or white beans, small pasta shells, tomatoes, and Italian seasonings work well with a blander leftover chicken or beef.  Leftover roast can be transformed into a beef barley soup.

Making soups from your leftovers is so cost effective.  It can stretch that one extra chicken breast to feed an entire family for another two meals.  It also uses the sauce and small portions of leftover vegetables that would probably otherwise have been thrown away.  Using this method can prove to cut back on your grocery budget significantly, especially if you make your own stock and buy some of the other ingredients in bulk.