Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chocolate Playdough

Playdough is one of the best creations E-V-E-R! My kids especially love helping me make it. The process really is quite fascinating.  The only thing better than making just regular playdough is CHOCOLATE PLAYDOUGH :)! 

It's not edible (well, I guess it is, but it's REALLY disgusting and salty).
However, it does smell and feel A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!

You can make it any color....
call it dark chocolate or pink chocolate.

Definitely, brings hours of fun and yummy scents!

Even put it mason jars and give as a gift....

Chocolate Playdough Recipe

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp. oil
2 tsp.cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tsp or small bottle chocolate flavoring OR 2 tsp chocolate extract
food coloring of choice

Mix all ingredients into smallish sauce pan (food coloring can be added now or after- whichever you prefer).
Cook on medium heat until ingredients form into a ball. It may not be a perfect ball like many other home made playdough recipes. This one is a bit more firm.  I

Remove from heat.  Let cool and work food coloring into dough, if you have not already added it.

This can be stored in jars, plastic wrap, or ziplock bags.

Have fun!!
Nancy Pin It

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Weapon for Mass Destructions

Photo Credit
It is official, I have a toddler running loose in my house! What this means is that a tornado of destruction whirls through my home daily. My little guy's latest project included painting my couch with fingernail polish, ARGH!!! While his big blue eyes get him out of quite a bit of trouble, it is going to take a little more  for moments like these.

I am sure you have seen renditions of this all over Pinterest and such, but it works! So, here is another post about it. I like to call it my "Weapon for Mass Destructions". I have used this formula to get out grass stains, arm  pit stains,mud, red punch and most recently fingernail polish. This formula is great for clothing, carpet and most fabrics.

-Hydrogen Peroxide
-Baking Soda
-Dish Soap (if the stain is oil based)

In a small bowl pour approx. 1/4 cup of Hydrogen Peroxide (more if you have a serious situation on your hands), add enough baking soda to make a thick paste. If the stain is oil based (like grease, lipstick, etc.) add a couple of drops of dish soap to mixture.

Paint the mixture on the stain and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse with water or launder as you would regularly. Repeat if necessary. (You may want to test a small area before going all out, just to make sure you don't do more damage to your crime scene).

Good Luck,

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Summer Fun: Marshmallow Sculptures

This is such a fun and easy Summer Project that is NOT messy!!!  After playing out in the water we came in and made marshmallow sculptures. 

All  you need is:
tooth picks
mini marshmallows (use the colored ones for more fun!)
and a wild imagine. (which every kid has)  

Put a marshmallow in each side of the toothpick and then just attach another toothpick to the marshmallow and add another marshmallow. Repeat over and over again making shapes and buildings.  This is a perfect activity if you need to cook dinner and then the kiddos play or if you want to get involved and let your little creative side come out!


Linking to:
Marvelous Mondays
Mad in Crafts
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Friday Forum: 5 Fun Questions to ask at Dinner

One of my favorite things to do is sit around the table
at dinner and talk. 
 It doesn't happen very often with my family, our dinner time is more like when pigs are eating from their trough.
Photo Credit
 We are also blessed with a daughter who decides if she doesn't want something, her Dad needs it, who is across the table from her. And he NEEDS it NOW!!!!!
She is not as innocent as she looks!!
So I try to come up with questions to ask my family, while they are inhaling their food. Here are  Five Fun Questions you can ask your family while eating dinner.
1. What was your favorite part of the day?
2. What did someone do nice for you today?
3. What did you do nice for someone else today?
4. Who would you like to be eating dinner with today?
5. What new thing did you learn today?
So if you don't have daily food fights and pigs at your table, 
What do you talk about at dinner? 
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Moving?... Do you need help?

My family just made the move from Utah County to Las Vegas this week, and oh am I EVER exhausted!!! However, I am SOOOOO thankful for all the help from my wonderful friends and family.

I re-learned some important life lessons during this move that I hope I'll always remember... {that's why I'm writing them here....}

1. Never ignore a generous thought!
 When someone needs help, think of something, and then do it. DON'T EVER EVER say "Call me if you need anything". Most likely, even if people desperately need help, they will NOT call you. Just do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My dear friends and family did these things that GREATLY helped during this move:
  • Watched my kids while I packed and cleaned (even at Midnight the night before we moved!)
  • Made dinner for my family-- even several nights in a row!
  • Helped scrub walls, floors, tubs, and even toilets
  • Helped move boxes and furniture to and from the moving van
  • set up beds, and helped unpack a few boxes 
  • Made pen pal kits for my kids- so they could keep in touch with friends
  • Brought bubbles to keep my kids occupied during the unpacking time 
  •  Brought the BEST donuts in town for breakfast the next morning with a business card so we could find those donuts again
I feel so thankful for AWESOME friends and family who just pitched in and helped. I love you guys!

2. Stuff is stuff!  
It's hard to lug stuff around. Best thing is to just get rid of the extra baggage!
When my grandma had to move out of her home to an assisted living facility, she had almost every item she owned in a big pile in the middle of her living room. It was all up for grabs. That was such an "a-ha" moment for me... we can't take anything with us, so why let it clutter our lives? 

Yes, we need stuff, but not excess! I sure wish I'd had less during this move!!!

3. Life is awesome!
On our way to Las Vegas, one of my twins kept saying, "I don't want to go to Las Vegas, I just want to go home :(". 
That made me cry right along with her. I realized how grateful I am that we loved where we were so much that it was painful to leave.

Life is full of such great times, and such hard times, and everything in between. There is always a whole lot to love and be thankful for no matter where we are. The trick is gratitude. One of my heroes, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” 



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6 Summer Funtivities

So guess what? The official season of happiness is here this week. Is it too apparent how very much I love summer? It's almost painful how much I love it. It's like if I'm not outside soaking up every available ray of joyous sunshine somehow I'm turning my back on it and bidding winter to come back three months early.. So what do you do in the summertime? Here are some ideas I have:

1. Visit a splash pad. If you live in Utah, do a splash pad marathon and visit them all.

2. Eat yummy food. I know everyone is worrying about looking swimsuit ready but honestly there is just not enough summers in a lifetime to spend precious playtime energy worrying about body image issues. So I, Maren Elizabeth Costa do hereby grant you on this day in two thousand and thirteen, freedom from counting calories, weigh ins, all scales actually, and request your total enjoyment drinking life in to it's fullest and with that enjoying some terrific food. Here are some recipes to try. So call up those friends that you've been meaning to get together with, and enjoy some good food.

Sweet Lime Enchiladas

Paradise Punch Pie

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Thai Chicken Sundaes

3. Fix up your favorite beverage, take a blanket, a good book and stretch out on the lawn. Or your balcony if you're in an apartment. Ahhhh heaven.

4. Make a masterpiece in sidewalk chalk. I have to confess I have not done a lot of coloring in my adult life.
Image source
 But having a professional colorer by my side all day who demands to get her work down on concrete makes
it easy to get out. I've found there's something relaxing about mindless doodling in the warm sunshine.

5. Take a picnic up the canyon. Sometimes the heat can get a little much around July time so lose some degrees by increasing elevation.
Pack up any of the aforementioned foods, your frisbee, and enjoy the fabulous outdoors.

6. Do whatever the heck you want. I mean, it's summer! Anything is possible.

~Maren Pin It

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sweet Lime Chicken Enchiladas

I am not sure where I found the original recipe for this dish, but with a few adjustments it has become one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Serve with Black Bean & Corn Salsa and you have yourself an easy meal that hits the spot!

1 lb. of boneless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 Cup Honey
Juice of 2 limes (1/4 c.)
2 tsp. of Sriracha Chile Sauce
2 large cloves of garlic, minced

In a bowl, whisk the above ingredients together and combine with the chicken. Let marinade for at least 1/2 hour or while you prepare the tortillas.

Corn tortillas
1 14 oz. can of green enchilada sauce
1 cup heavy cream
2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Heat a griddle and add a little oil. Heat the tortillas for about 20 seconds on each side so that they are warm and flexible.

In another bowl, combine the cream with the enchilada sauce. Pour half of the sauce into a 9x13 baking dish and reserve the rest for later.

Add a large spoonful of the chicken mixture with a spoonful of cheese into the center of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla up and line the baking dish. Add the remaining cream mixture to the top and sprinkle the top with extra cheese and cilantro.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Black Bean & Corn Salsa:
2 large tomatoes
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Juice of 2 limes
Approx. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 package Good Season's Italian dressing

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.


Linking to:
Not Just a Housewife
Today's Creative Blog
Marvelous Mondays
Jam Hands
Mad in Crafts
Craft-O-Maniac Monday Pin It

Monday, June 17, 2013

Paradise Punch Pie

This is the such a great summer dessert.  It is light and refreshing and super easy.

You'll need:

1 graham cracker crust
1 can Hawaiian Own "Paradise Punch" concentrate (or your favorite juice concentrate)
1 gallon of vanilla ice cream

Mix one can of  juice concentrate (without the added water) with the gallon of vanilla ice cream.  I mixed it with my kitchen aid but you could use a wooden spoon or hand mixer.  You will have a little extra ice cream to enjoy, but fill the rest into graham cracker crust and freeze. Once ice cream is solid (2-3 hours) cut into pieces, you can add fruit to the top for an extra touch.  I have also made it with pink lemonade juice and is super yummy and tangy!!

Enjoy some "Paradise" this summer!

Marvelous Mondays
Jam Hands
Mad in Crafts
Not Just a Housewife
Today's Creative Blog Pin It

Friday, June 14, 2013

15 Educational " Summer of Service" Projects for Kids

I feel urgency  to teach my children about the world, the community, and how to make a difference. There is no better time to teach children than during the summer vacation- when they have lots of extra time on their hands!

 I've designed this list so that they can do a variety of things and learn a variety of skills.
My hope is that they will gain an education while serving people. Doing this list will help them to feel gratitude for their own blessings, to be resourceful, kind, and compassionate, care more about the environment, safety, animals, and mostly people.

The projects are organized into months, but really any project would work any time! I made a huge list HERE. These are definitely tailored to kids, but they'll  need an adult to guide these activities.

1. Decorate and donate flip flops to children living in La Chureca, Nicaragua {a literal dump}
Photo image: Craft Hope
 Craft Hope is teaming up with Mission Nicaragua to help the children who live in La Chureca- which literally is a dump. There are about 5,000 people who live here. Nicaragua is the 2nd poorest nation in the world, and this particular place is most definitely the poorest of the poor. Craft Hope is collecting flip flops to take to these children, and she suggests that children can help decorate them.  Read more about the project, and where to send the flip flops HERE.

***SKILLS: Geography, compassion, empathy, art, design, gratitude
Teach children where Nicaragua is. Show them pictures of the children who live there. Have them compare and contrast the differences in living in Nicaragua verses where you live. Ask children what they are thankful for. Let them choose flip flops and decorate them with fabric, bows, flowers, or even paint.

2. Choose a favorite park or hiking trail.  Beautify it by picking up litter or anything else that would help the area.

***Skills: Work, citizenship, awareness about the environment and the earth.
 Let your children decide where they would like to "beautify." Ask how they feel in that space before and after you cleaned up. Talk about the responsibility we have to the earth.

3. Help children plan a simple bike rodeo, and invite their friends to participate.  Invite parents and grandparents to watch.
image source
*** Skills: Safety, planning, performing, teaching
Use this as an opportunity to let children "teach" bike safety, and of course have some fun. Let them learn how to plan and put on a simple program- with refreshments and all :). Point out to them that they are serving the community by learning to follow safety rules and be good examples to other kids. Also point out that not all adults know the rules of biking, and this is their opportunity to tell them! (Most of all, this will teach the kids the whys of safety and then they will be more willing to follow).

4. Write letters and/or send packages to soldiers or missionaries.
image source

***Skills: Geography, gratitude, thinking of others, patriotism
 Operation Write Home collects beautifully handmade cards for soldiers to send to their families. Moms who love to make cards or papercrafts could participate with their children in this.  Operation Write Home also has AnyHero mail for children to write to soldiers. Find out more about it HERE.

5.  Have children clean out their bedroom and donate gently used clothes and toys they've outgrown to a second hand store such as Deseret Industries of the Salvation Army.

*** Skills: organization, cleanliness,  selflessness, sacrifice
Teach them that giving our stuff is not always easy, but it can greatly benefit other people.  Learn together about organizations such as Deseret Industries or the Salvation Army. Find out why donating to organizations such as these helps others.

6. Make rice bags for Elderly people in a rest home. Deliver the rice bags and visit with the people. Or take flowers to widows in your neighborhood. 
 ***Skills: Kindness, remembering the elderly, socialization, listening, sewing
One of the greatest things for children is to realize how happy it makes Elderly people to be remembered.  They need visitors and enjoy them.  Children can learn much from Elderly people.  
Rice bags are made by sewing simple rectangles out of fabric and then stuffing them with rice. These are used as hot packs for aches and pains. Children can assist in the simple sewing and adding of rice.

7.  Have a lemonade stand, and then use money to donate to an animal shelter for cat or dog food. While there, visit the animals.

*** Skills: Entrepreneurship, caring about animals, selflessness, responsibility
Many children love animals, and this is a simple way to make a difference. This project may help the children as much as the animals :).

8. Make homemade playdough, lip gloss, or bookmarks. Let the kids take the "surprises" to school friends they haven't seen for a while, or a friend who is sick, or even mail to cousins who live far away.
image source
***Skills: Creativity, thinking about those we love, friendship, mail system, crafting
 It's good to remember that sometimes the best service is something small for people we know. These projects also help children with their own creativity.

9. Collect Pennies for Peace, and send!

***Skills: fundraising, understanding importance of education, geography, culture, value of money, gratitude, patriotism
 Talk about the importance and privilege of  education. Show your children the Pennies for Peace program, and explain that in some countries children don't get to go to school.  Talk about why we should be grateful for education and how it benefits us. Geography, gratitude, and desire for education should increase as children participate in this project.

10. Make pillowcases for cancer patients or for children in the hospital.
Find this simple pattern by Dana HERE

***Skills: empathy, learning about health, care for those who are ill, brainstorming, design, sewing
 This is a great opportunity to talk about health, and the blessings of having good health. Show pictures and find stories about children who are terminally ill, or have cancer, or other diseases and disabilities. Discuss anything else you could do to help these sick children or their families.Let children pick out the colors for the pillowcases, and let older children help sew them. Have children accompany you to deliver or mail them. 

 11. Make sack lunches and take them to a soup kitchen. Or collect food for local food bank.
***Skills: Awareness of hunger, homelessness, and poverty; service, not "judging", kindness
This project provides the opportunity to discuss hunger and homelessness. Have children think about a time when they were hungriest, and how it felt.  Have them imagine what it would be like to not know when you would be able to eat again. Show pictures of people who are hungry and homeless, and discuss how we must not judge them, but find ways to help when we can.

12. Write thank you notes and make cookies for firefighters, police men, librarians, garbage men, mail carriers, or city officials. 
Find this recipe HERE
****Skills: Learning about community, gratitude, local awareness, baking, writing
 Along with this project, talk about the importance of people who work in these ways for communities. Discuss what these people do, and why we should be thankful for their service.

13. As a family, set up a recycling system in your home.
image source
***Skills: Research, recycling, responsibility, awareness of the environment
 Research together why we should recycle and the difference in makes in the environment.

14.  Learn about recent natural disasters, practice what to do if a disaster hits. Then make emergency kits. Make one for a neighbor or a friend too.

***Skills: Preparedness, practice, empathy, resourcefulness, geography, understanding weather

15. Make birthday cards for foster kids.
 This is a great idea from Somewhat Simple. Read more about her project HERE.
*** Skills:Awareness of children who can't live with their own parents, reaching out, art, gratitude

Bonus Idea:
Chores for UNICEF. Teach your children about UNICEF. Pay them for chores, and suggest to them to donate that money.

***Skills: Awareness of global issues, responsibility, sacrifice, gratitude


Linking to:
Marvelous Mondays
Mad in Crafts
Craft-O-Maniac Monday
Not Just a Housewife Pin It

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Perfect Party Punch

Do you need a the perfect punch for your Party, Bridal Shower, Baby Shower, potluck or sitting on the porch on a warm summer night? This drink is for you.....oh and did I mention not only is it perfect, it is super easy!!!  This recipe came from my friend Noelle. THANKS!!

1 can lemonade concentrate (without the water)
1 lemonade Kool-Aid packet (without the water)
1 cup sugar
1 2L Bottle of Shasta Raspberry Crème
and LOTS of Ice.

You can add raspberries, blue berries or strawberries for décor!


Linking to:
Marvelous Mondays
Jam Hands
Mad in Crafts
Craft-O-Maniac Monday
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

... AND my sister's {elope} wedding...

This is a week that will go down in the history of my life!! Yes, one of those :)! My husband just got a job in Vegas. We're packing like crazy and moving next week...the house is in boxes and shambles.  But, some fantastic excitement overtook the packing frenzy...

On Tuesday night, my sister Stacy called. She was engaged to be married on the 26th of July. She asked me to put the phone on speaker and then announced to my husband and me that she was getting married the next day at 6:00 p.m.

I thought she was joking!!!!!!!!  But, no, she wasn't. There had been a few conflicts with the original date-  an aunt who had planned a family reunion on that day was upset that the wedding would overtake the reunion... and there were a few minor upsets here and there with every other day possible. So, why not get married the next day?!?!

And so they did!!!

Before I go on with the recipe, I must explain a few funny little things that happened.

 To be honest, when I went to bed the night before the wedding, I wasn't sure that they could pull this off. Especially, I felt this way because they planned to marry in the Salt Lake Temple (and no other place).  In our Church, not everyone can just up and get married in the temple. Each couple must meet with their Bishop and Stake President (ecclesiastical leaders) to be sure they are living by the standards necessary to enter the temple. It's not easy to just make everyone's schedule magically cohesive in one day... that's why I didn't really think this would happen the next day.

Oh, but I was of little faith :).

The morning of the wedding, Stacy called me and asked if I could make her a wedding cake that day... in the next few hours.  Haha! Anyone who knows about baking wedding cakes knows that it takes about a week to get the supplies together, bake, and decorate... even the ones that look simple take a long time. I did agree however, that I would try my best to get something together.

Amidst my shambled boxed up house, this Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake is what I came up with. I didn't even have time to get flowers on it, but hey, I only had a few short hours and the supplies on hand to get this together.

All was well after making the cake, and we drove the hour from our house to the Salt Lake Temple. Just as we arrived at the parking lot, Stacy called my phone.  All kinds of thoughts circled in my head. Why would she be calling me when she was supposed to be getting ready for her wedding? Well, well, well...

She and Spencer didn't have time to get rings!!! She asked if I would quickly go pick them out some wedding rings right then. YES, you read that right... she was asking me to find a store by the temple, pick out some wedding rings, and bring them back before the wedding was scheduled to start {IN 20 MINUTES!!!}.

Um, my husband has been unemployed for the last 6 months, and we're counting every penny for this move to Vegas. So, we headed as fast as we could to good old Walmart.  I ran like a banshee straight to the jewelry section, asked the kind lady to help me. I found a a beautiful sparkly "diamond" and band for her {$8}, and a nice looking band for him. Then I payed and RAN!!!

We arrived back at the temple just as the wedding was scheduled to start. I was sweating bullets! Luckily we met my other sister and her husband there, and tried to find the wedding room as fast as we could. All the other guests were seated, and looked funnily at us as we walked in so late. Little did they know, I'd just performed 2 small miracles for this youngest sister of mine! I had a definite excuse to be late.

Thankfully, we made it. She was a beautiful and happy bride.

We ended the wedding day with hamburgers at the park... (Remember Father of the Bride?) Every dad's dream come true!

My sister is definitely a bit crazy, but I love her! Congrats Stace and Spencer!!!!!

Now on with the recipe.... you never know when a great and easy recipe like this just may come in handy.
It's good and it's quick!!

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
1 pkg yellow cake mix
2 pkgs lemon pudding
4 eggs
1 cup water
3/4 cup oil
2 Tb. poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour bundt cake pan.
Mix all ingredients together until well mixed... but don't over mix.
Put batter in bundt pan.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Garnish with powdered sugar and berries.... or anything else that would taste good.

(For this "wedding cake" I made 2 cakes, and cut one a little shorter than the other, and then stacked it on top of the other one). I put the part that I cut off in the hole, and then stacked berries on that).


P.S. When my twins woke up this morning (the day after the wedding), the first thing they both said was, "I want to see Stacy's dress again!"
A good time was had by all :)!

Even the boys had fun :).


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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Riding in cars with babies

Is there anything more exciting than a new project? The adrenaline surge that comes from knowing you are going to take something lame and make it awesome? When I saw this sad weather worn car in the yard area at DI I knew it was meant to come home with me and be my new best friend for the next couple days. It was a yucky pink and I felt it should be candy apple red not only because red cars are so cool, but just in case any boy babies came our way and would want to ride it.

Sanding got pink dust alllll over

Inspecting the work

Had to make sure everything was taped just right especially those darling little headlights. So cute!
Finished! Ready to take the buddies for a spin. Don't worry when she felt the car was rocking to hard for their safety she put them both inside.

Have fun!

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