Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Toddler Tuesdays--and My First Cricut Project Share!

Welcome to Toddler Tuesday!

We were past the toddler stage. Our kids were seven and five and we were confidently moving forward into the world of big kids... and then we found out we were adding a new member to our family. And so when the big kids were eight and almost six, a new little guy joined our family and now we are starting all over!

We have found that homeschooling with a toddler in the house is a serious challenge. He doesn't want to be left alone. He is very confused and jealous when the rest of us have things to do other than entertain him! He is a true baby of the family, and he thinks the rest of us live to entertain him.

I have started putting together toddler games for him to play during school time. Some of them are my own creations and some are the result of too many hours on Pinterest. I plan to share a new idea every Tuesday. Follow along and grow your collection of quiet activities for your toddler. We personally use ours during school time but there are so many uses! I know some people who need to keep kids in church use them to keep kids quiet during the service (thankfully my church has a nursery and kids classes during adult service so I have never had to face this challenge!). Others use them in waiting rooms or at restaurants. Of course, you can use them any time you need your toddler to be quiet and somewhat still!

My first Toddler Tuesday Project was made using the Cricut.

The two images I purchased were:

Crayon #M3AAD1


Card Holder Tag #M3AA2B

Each image was $0.99 so you can make this project for $1.98 plus four pieces of card stock.

If you have a Cricut Explore and have Design Space installed on your computer, you can easily cut this project using this link:  Crayon Toddler Busy Bag Game. I designed it to fit 8.5x11 card stock so that you don't need 12x12 to get it done. You will also need a Cricut scoring tool to make the fold lines and a pen that fits the Cricut machine. Personally, I use regular Crayola skinny markers. The plain old white ones you probably have around the house. The washable ones don't fit right but the regular ones work fabulous, write better than the Cricut pens, are so much cheaper and come in more colors!

To make the crayons last longer, I also laminated them. I couldn't laminate the pouches because then you wouldn't be able to slide the crayons inside. They seem to be holding up OK.

To play, just mix up all the crayons and have your toddler try to put them away in the correct pouches. My toddler likes to pretend they need to go to bed and put them to sleep!

If you don't have a Cricut, don't fret! A quick google search for "card holder template" and "crayon template" brought up tons of images to print and color. You can print them on color card stock (so much cheaper than printing in color!) and get the same finished product.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Perfect Pretzel Dough

I love soft pretzels. They just put an Auntie Anne's in my local grocery store and it's a battle week after week to avoid going! Luckily, I have an amazing recipe for soft pretzels at home and honestly, it's better than anything my grocery store can offer.

I tried a bunch of recipes that were miserable failures and then I came across this one. I used it for a long time and it got rave reviews but I still felt like something was missing. Then one day on a road trip, we stopped at an adorable little place called Grandpa's Cheesebarn. They sold pretzel dough mix and I noticed that one of the ingredients was brown sugar. AH HA!

So I reworked my recipe to add in the brown sugar. At first I replaced the white sugar with brown but that turned out really... blah. So next I tried adding a half cup of brown sugar and deducting a half cup of flour. BINGO! We had a winner! I made a few other small changes along the way as well so my official recipe now is...


I broke the ingredients down by the order that they are used.

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cup of warm water


4 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


4 or 5 cups of hot water
1 cup of baking soda


1 stick of butter (real is best but margarine will do the trick)
Kosher salt


1. Mix water, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar together. Let sit a few minutes to activate yeast.
2. Add flour, white and brown sugar, salt, and oil. Knead until a dough forms. (Alternately, you can be like me and dump it all into the bread machine and put it on the dough setting and let the machine do the work). If you knead it by hand, coat it with some oil to keep it from drying out, cover and let rise for at least an hour.
3. Form pretzels. Cut the dough into long strips and twist into pretzel shapes. We watched YouTube videos to learn how but it's not too hard to figure out. But lately we prefer to make pretzel bites. Roll out the whole ball of dough and use a pizza roller to cut it strips, then cut the strips into smaller pieces.
4. Fill a medium mixing bowl with warm water and baking soda. Whisk it together to mix it up. The baking soda settles quickly so you will need to remix it every few minutes. Lay out a hand or kitchen towel next to the bowl.
5. Dip your pretzels or bites quickly into the water/baking soda mix. Lay them on the towel to dry.
6. Spray a cookie sheet GENEROUSLY with cooking spray.
7. Lay your pretzels or bites on the cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.
8. While the pretzels bake, melt your butter and pour it into a shallow pan, like a cake pan.* When the pretzels come out of the oven, dip them face down in the butter while they are still hot. Lay them back on the sheet or on a cooling rack. Then sprinkle with kosher salt and ENJOY!

*Or, if you are in a rush or don't feel like dealing with extra dishes, skip this step. Just take the stick of butter and rub it all over the tops of the pretzels immediately after taking them out of the oven. I often do this to save myself a little trouble! Don't forget the salt!