Almost Free Summer Kids Movies

I am guest posting over at San Diego Bargain Mama with a listing of our local sand diego kids summer movie series. We love this! It breaks up our week and helps us beat the heat during those hot summer months.

Do you have anything like this where you live? How do you beat the heat where you live? I would love to know.

Easy Dipped Oreo Cookies For Fourth Of July

Simple, easy,and done in minutes, these 4th of July chocolate dipped Oreo cookies are sure to be a hit at your Independence Day event. And it's a great way to let the kids help with the festivities! For the full tutorial, head to my original chocolate covered Oreo post.

Muffin Tin Monday

It's Muffin Tin Monday! I have been enjoying this little break from the themes. How about you? I spent the better part of the weekend glues to my computer, getting out the muffin tin swap emails to all of those particpating. It's a lot of work up front, but when it's done, it feels so good! Look for the swap round-up post sometime next week.

Here's what we had this week: chicken nuggets, mozarella cheese circles (with cute animal shaped picks), sliced green apple, sliced carrots and ranch dip, and green grapes.

Everything was gone, although there was a little bartering and trading going on for the chicken and grapes. :)

What did you make? Share your link by clicking on the blue "inlinkz" button. you don't have to have a blog to particpate, just a photo online (might I suggest flickr?-preferably set to public viewing).

No Need For The Sunday Paper

Happy Sunday! This is your weekly dose of link love and a little breather from that nasty thing called "the newspaper." Hope you enjoy this week's links!

I can't get enough of tumblr! I mentioned it last week and Carissa of 1 Plus 1 Equals 1 put together a fantastic post detailing a little more how to use it for links and what it's all about. I will tell you this, it has made my sharing links with friends and all of you so much easier.

Super cute Butterfly popsicle craft by Parents Connect. (found via Impress Your Kids who has a great camp themed series going on.)

I love these simple fondant cupcake toppers by Tonya of This and That (photo credit above). They seem so simple and easy. I am thinking I will make them for 4th of july with a star stamp.

#$@% My Kids Ruined: (disclaimer: site name has a "naughty S word") but I laughed out loud and cried a little at all the carnage of things ruined by kids.

Little Birdie Secrets: This simple washer necklace made with E6000 is so adorable. I could see myself making a few of these!!


No bible verse for this week. I have had the song "From the Inside Out" in my head all day today. Hope you are touch by it as I have been.

Thank You Mom

Over Mother's Day, I submitted the story of my amazing mother to the 2010 P & G "Thank You Mom" Campaign and I was notified yesterday that I am one of 30 FINALISTS!!!  15 of those with the most vote for their mom will win $1000 towards a reunion with their mom and a camcorder to record the time together. It sounds cliche to say that I have already won to have such a wonderful woman in my life-but I have - but it would be nice to fly her to Chicago to see my sister or to fly my sister here. :)

Click over here to VOTE VOTE VOTE for this amazing woman! 

**Voting has closed, but please take a moment to read about how much I love my mother!

My entry was inspired by a post I wrote back in 2008 (reprinted with permission):

"She is my greatest cheerleader, my biggest believer, my heart's champion-She is my step-mother. I usually never refer to her in such a way: step-mother. She is no step orhalf-wayalmost, or only-on-the-weekendsmother. No ma'am. She is much more. She is is my better-than-bloodI-chose-you, loved-you-as-if-I gave-birth-to-you mother. She is my mother, and if you know me and hear me talking about this amazing woman in my life-you know she is my mother in every way that eternally matters.

My mother, the one who gave birth to me, the one who passed away last February, made choices in her life that affected everyone (mostly related to her addiction issues) around her and left me a confused tween. My step-mother was able to pick up the pieces with such grace, such love, such patience. She taught me, very early on in our relationship what it meant to be beautiful, both inside and out. She continues to teach me with her words of love and encouragement.

There is so much to her-so much I want to share with you. She has made a difference on such a profound level, it is difficult to adequately describe. Part of what keeps me in awe of her is that she chose me-well, she chose my father-but by choosing him, she chose me too- and I am honored to be loved in such a way. Another thing that blows me away, is that she has been present at every one of my major life events. College? She helped me move into my dorm-spent hours helping me make it mine. Wedding? She helped me plan it-was there at the "aha!" moment when you find your wedding dress. Babies? She was there, holding my precious daughter in the crook of her arms and tenderly rubbing the tips of her fingers along her brows. Cancer? She was there-praising God with me for His mercy and grace. And she is still here-in the everydayness of it all-a phone call away- the one I call for recipes, parenting advice and Godly counsel.

I wish you all could meet her-this mother of mine. She is so special to me-she lights up a room with her smile and her eyes sparkle when she talks lovingly of my father. I am so thankful for her. I am more than thankful. Is there a word for more than thankful? How about indebted?

I am indebted to you, Robyn. Thank you for being my mom.

Is there someone in your life who could use a "more-than-thank-you" or "I love you". Tell them. If it's too hard, write it down. Don't waste another minute.

Please Vote.

Kids Perler Bead Art Work

perler beads kids art


We have a bucket of perler beads that gets toted to and fro, all over the house and with them to friend’s houses. We have even left said bucket with friends only to purchase a second bucket of perler beads after the muffin tin kids are sorely missing their beads.


In one day, I believe we made 10 different perler bead creations. hmmm…..What to do, what to do….cue light bulb overhead….I had several canvases I  had purchased when they were on sale for super cheap because, well, you never know when you are going to need a canvas, right? (that’s just me?)


I couldn’t bare the thought of their creations going to waste and I also couldn’t bare them getting lost among the hundreds or miscellaneous toys we have tossed in the kid’s toy box. So here’s what we did:


You’ll need a few things”

  • Decoupage glue of a glue gun.
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Paint brush we like the sponge kind)
  • Blank 8 1/2 x 11 canvas (comes in 3 pk from Michael’s crafts)
  • Perler bead creations ( ours were hearts and stars
  • ribbon (optional)


2010-06-21 11.42.27 Steps to get you there:

1. assmeble perler bead creations as desired. We love Fun fusion products found at Michael’s and online. Set aside.


2. Paint canvas desired color of acryllic paint. Let dry.

3. Using the decoupage glue (mod podge) or a glue gun, adhere to slather it on one side of the perler bead hearts and apply firmly and evenly to the painted canvas.


4. Apply consistent pressure to the heart to allow them to dry properly. I used glasses. Once dry, remove glasses.

2010-06-21 12.06.40

5. If desired, glue gun some ribbon to the top corners so you are able to hang it properly.


perler bead kids art 

Prefect! You would never know that my 5 and 6 year old made these!

Birthday Gift Idea – Create A Kid’s Art Box

create a crayola kids art box (2)


We love art around here. And when the kids and I went shopping for their cousin’s birthday yesterday, we had art on the brain!  So I decided to make up an art box and the kids loved the idea. I chose a low flat box for a couple reasons. 1) It was wide enough to accommodate a large 9x12 pad of drawing paper and 2) It would store easier and you wouldn’t have to dig through the box as much to find your supplies.


Here’s what we included:

  • Set of washable markers
  • 48 ct pack of crayons
  • Twistable Colored pencils (my kids new fave coloring tool)
  • No Drip Paint Brushes – my kids also love these-so much so that I have to be careful they don’t blow through and entire ream of paper)
  • Window Markers – for when you want to take your art vertical
  • Large Pad of Paper
  • *Bonus: Light sticks for 4th of July and bedtime impromptu night lights

create a kids art box


The box was purchased at Walmart and I love it because the side latch closed. And it is easy for kids to carry.


Total cost was around $26. Remove the light sticks and it was $23. Remove one of the coloring packs and it was $20. Not bad.


I did not plan for all the supplies to be Crayola brand! The kids picked the twistables colored pencils and we went from there. :)

Muffin Tin Monday

Welcome to Muffin Tin Mom, the official home of Muffin Tin Monday! I trust you all had a wonderful Father's Day. We are continuing with no themes this Summer. Going to keep it simple today. Here's what we made.

This week we decided to do a yogurt sampler dessert muffin tin with toppings: Strawbeery yogurt, reeses pieces, sprinkles, m & m's, cinnamon toast crunch cereal and fruit gushers. Definitely lots of sugar!

What did you make? Won't you share it with us? If you want to participate in Muffin Tin Monday, click on the blue "inlinkz" button to add the url to your blog post and or photo.

No Need For The Sunday Paper

This week I came across several links I know you will love and will give you a little respite from the craziness of life. I hope you enjoy!

If you are participating in the Muffin Tin Monday Swap....expect and email in the next couple of days...

Some  wonderful blog finds:

Motherlode: Camille is amazing. She is supremely creative and she shares such wonderful ideas backed by her inspiring photography. A few of the ideas that have inspired me are her pollock inspired pavement painting (yay for her muffin tin painters pallet-photo credit above) and her playdough flower garden idea which was featured on The Crafty Crow.

Mad in Crafts: I found Mad via Dollar Store Crafts. and I can't. stop. looking through her posts! Her outer space themed big boy bedroom is so cute. I especially love the robot side table.

More Awesomeness:

Katie's Nesting Spot: love love love this family name tracing book. It's a great way to promote literacy, writing and family roles and socialization. oooohhhh Tumblr! Tumblr is a blogging platform that Camille of Motherlode introduced me to. Camille keeps all the links that inspire her by adding them to her tumblr site. She uses it like a social bookmarking site-but they are kept as photo thumbnails. Genious. You'll have to click over to see what I am talking about. I am officially in love with Tumblr! I have added one of my own and will be backlogging some of my fave NNFSP links as well as adding fresh links.

Online Fun For Kids:

Both activities are from the National Gallery of Art educational resource site, also their Kids Zone is incredible and great online fun for kids. Your child could spend an afternoon learning interactively about art!

Paint Box:...A lot like the Paint program on your PC, but with an emphasis on technique, effects, and symetry. Your child can even print their masterpiece right from the site. Suitable for Preschool on up.

Cake Maker: you can choose your cake color and shape and then add stamped design and write with virtual frosting. Also printable.

Scripture for Sunday
Romans 12:1-2

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Friday Find

To look through this book is to love it...Special thanks to Lucia for letting me browse through it. :)

Polymer Clay Fruit Food Picks

**Updated: with a tutorial**
Make your own fruit themed food picks using polymer clay and toothpicks. Super fun. The kids even made some minus the picks...

I helped with the leaves, but I think they did a pretty good job. Muffin Tin Boy said that the brown and blue blob is a "magical mushroom".

Here are the tools you will need:

  • Assorted Polymer Clay 2oz. packs (we used Sculpey III)
  • Toothpicks
  • Sculpting tool (optional)
  • Conventional Oven

Here's How:

Shave off a small piece of clay with a tool (or your fingers)

Knead the clay between your fingers for a few moments, until it becomes soft and pliable.Roll the piece of clay between your flat palms until it forms into a ball. 

It should look like this.

Repeat the first several steps  for the colors brown and green.

Using a tool or the tips of your index finger, gently press down on the ball of clay to give it more of an apple shape. Set aside.

Flatten the green clay ball. Pinch one side to give it a leaf shape.

Using a toothpick, sculpt the leaf veins: one down the center vertically and several on the sides. Set aside.

Roll the brown ball out to make a cylinder with a tool (or your index finger) as shown below.

I wasn't quite satisfied with the size of my leaf or stem, so I cut them in half. :)

Now you are ready to assemble your apple.

Slide a toothpick in the bottom and back at 275 degrees for 15 minutes (or as directed on the package).

**To get rid of finger prints try wearing latex gloves or buffing with a light grain sand paper after baking.
**Polymer Clay should be kept in a cool dry place and sore in an air tight container or bag.
**It's a good idea to keep baby wipes or a wet hand towel nearby when working, so as to keep your hands clean
**Never ever injest it and keep away from children who might be prone to injesting it.

Turn a Word Search Into An Alphabet Letter Recognition Activity

My soon-to-be kindergartener (can it be he is no longer in preschool?) loves to "do" word searches, however he isn't quite cognitively there yet. So I decided to turn his love for word searches into an age appropriate activity by having him search for all the same uppercase letters at a time.

In other words, I have him search for all the "A"'s then all the "B"'s, etc. After each letter, he counts them up and tallies them on the side. If he sees a word he recognizes that is bonus points!

This is great a great activity for on the go and when we go to restaurants and the little kids meal activity page has word searches.

We print our word searches on the  HP Photosmart Premium Touchsmart Web Printer I won last year, which has fantastic application based printables for kids of all ages (like the "avatar" word search from the nickelodeon app pictured above) and adults too - everything from coupons and printable calenders, to coloring pages and word searches and you don't even need a computer, just an internet connection. We love it!
*this is not a sponsored post

Muffin Tin Monday

Welcome to Muffin Tin Monday! The weekly blog link up where participants from all over the web (and world) come together and share the muffin tin meals they make for their kids. What's a Muffin Tin Meal? It's pretty simple, it's a meal, snack or dessert served in a muffin tin.  Muffin Tin Mom is the "Official (and longtime) Home of the Muffin Tin Meal". To check out more about how MTM got started and to learn some tips,check out the FAQ page or view past weekly MTM link ups.

In our tin today, from top left:

Green apple slices, orange slices, fried chow mien noodles, heart-shaped turkey and cheese sandwich, fishy crackers, heart shaped sandwich x2, mini chocolate chips, bananas, granola, fruit loops, green apple slices.

Everything was downed except for the granola, Muffin Tin Girl is not big on the granola. I think this is beyond our 10th time of "introducing it" and she still wont eat it. I think it is a lost cause. Too bad, because I love granola and it can be very good for you! Oh, and MT Girl has also moved to occasionally eating a whole 12 cup tin by herself! Hard to believe...

To make our sandwiches, we used this super handy stainless steel rice mold and cookie cutter. They make them in the several different shapes. It comes with a little press which is great for smooshing it down just so! I purchased it at our local Japanese discount market, but you can get them online, but they can be pricey, so do your research.

So, what did you make for Muffin Tin Monday? Won't you share it with us? Remember to add your blog post or photo URL link by clicking the blue "inklinkz" button

No Need For The Sunday Paper

It's Sunday and let me tell you that yesterday's paper was torturous.  Mayem, I tell you. Mayhem. Is it me, or is the "news" becoming worse than fictional movies and TV? Well, I hope you find this week's links a little diverting.

Love love love this "junk food sushi" made by Blue Cricket Design and found via Tip Junkie

Check out the Father's Day printables from HP Creative Studio.

Learn some tips for crafting with polymer clay from Family Fun

Also from Family Fun and in this month's magazine issue: play Tic-tac-toe outdoors with this simple take on an old classic!


Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble

“Discovery”: A Simple Preschool Scavenger Hunt

preschool scavenger hunt

A great way to encourage a young child’s imagination, among other things, is to have a scavenger hunt. Around here we call it “discovery”. They can discover, investigate, estimate and  document what they see around the house, in nature, or in a public place.

You can give your discovery hunt themes like:
  • Shapes
  • Colors
  • Alphabet
  • Nature
  • Faces

Or you can even hypothesize about the story behind a certain object found.
  • Where did it come from?
  • How did it get there?
We have a pesky gopher in our yard that leaves all sorts of treats around like half eaten tangerines (from the neighbor’s tree) and other suspicious items. It was fun to suppose what the gopher looks like and we surmised that the tangerines came from the neighbor, since we don’t have a tree.

You’ll also need some handy tools like:
  • A pad of paper
  • A writing device
  • Binoculars
  • Flashlight
  • Magnifying glass
Investigating and having your child go on a scavenger hunt can aid in the development of their verbal skills. Encouraging writing and documenting encourages their emerging writing skills-even chicken scratches are beneficial. Using any kind of writing utensil, be it crayon or pencil enhances fine motor development. With lots of opportunity and praise, your child will see their efforts in a positive way and this builds their concept of self-efficacy and self-esteem. Cognitively, investigating is part of early learning science.

More on Preschool Science
More on how to encourage language and literacy in your preschooler

How would you play “discovery”?

Muffin Tin Monday Swap 2010

I am so excited to announce the return of the Muffin Tin Monday Swap!

**THE SWAP IS NOW CLOSED, check back soon for the Post with all the participants swap packages!

Here are some of the fine details:

~The deadline to enter is June 18th. This is also the deadline to cancel.
~Anyone who committed to sending a package last time and did not send it, will not be able to participate this time around.

~To participate, you must send me (via email at vistamommy(at)yahoo(dot)com):

  • Your name
  • Your address 
  • Names (optional) and ages of your kids that will be enjoying the swap package, and 
  • brief Muffin Tin Meal "wish list". 
  • Your preferred shipping method (How packages can arrive the best. USPS, Fed Ex, UPS, etc.) 

You may also include the button above (linking back to either Muffin Tin Mom or this direct post. ) in your sidebar is you wish, but it is not required. If you are unsure of how to do this, email me.

~ You will receive an email by June 21st with your partner participant's info.

~You will then purchase Muffin Tin Meal accessories between $10-$20 + shipping for your partner. No more than that. I chose this amount because of the price of muffin tins. You do what you can afford. We all understand these hard economic times. Below I will give some suggestions for you to make it more cost effective. However, if you think you will not be able to afford it, then please to not sign up to participate...And that's okay, this is purely optional...If you think it might be more fun to just go buy yourself some new MTM supplies, then do that!

~You will have until Friday, July 9th to purchase/create your Muffin Tin Monday swap package and send it out! Special grace and consideration should be given to those who live/ship internationally. Package contents will include anything Muffin Tin Meal related: Muffin Tins, paper muffin/cupcake cups, shaped cookie cutters, party picks, etc.

~On a date yet to be determined, I will be doing a MTM Swap Feature where we can all link up and see each other's swap packages.

~This swap IS open to international participants. Please indicate if you would or would not be willing to ship internationally. You don't have to be willing to participate.

~You also do not need to have a blog to participate, just send me an email and I will connect you with another participant!

Sound like fun? Then shoot me an email!

Here are some ideas/ways to make your package more budget-friendly.
~Sometimes less is more. Think quality for less,
~Even before you know who your partner is, be scouring thrift stores and garage sales for muffin tins that are clean &a in good condition. They can be 12 or 6 cup (or whatever).
~Tooth picks cost about $1 and you can add super cute tags with a little paper and glue to the ends.
~Disposable muffin tins and cookie cutters also can be found at the dollar store.
~Michael's and Joann's both sell cookie & cake decorating supplies and both accept each other's 40% off coupons! I purchased my flower silicone muffin cups there for 40% off (of $9.99) at Michael's.
~Party Supply stores carry cute food picks and forks and much more.
~bento box supplies are also a great way to go-"google" bento box supplies to see what's out there-they have rice and egg molds, colorful paper muffin cups, and much more!

Oh, and if you leave a comment in this post, that is not considered entry to the swap, but it sure would be nice.

*portions of this post were reprinted from my swap post last year

Muffin Tin Monday

It's Muffin Tin Monday! That weekly blog link up that is all about silly smiles and happy tummies. I mentioned last week that the themes are on hiatus for the summer. But that doesn't mean you can't do one. I have seen some of you get super creative with your MTM's.

The Muffin Tin Meals Facebook Page already has over 400 members. Wow. This has become a great way to interact with all of you Muffin Tin Mamas. I share exclusive MTM ideas, photos, and more. Come on over!

One of the things I love the most about blogging has been the opportunity to meet some of the friends I have made online. And this past weekend I was so excited to meet Jamie of Momma's Playground. I love her blog, especially her family movie nights she plans. She is so creative. And to my delight, Jamie brought with her a gift on Saturday. Look!

  • red/blue foil fun picks
  • flowers and dots paper cups and picks
  • red,white and blue paper cups and flag picks 
  • noah's ark mini cookie cutters

Oh my goodness! I love them all!

Jamie's gracious and generous gift has inspired me to do another Muffin Tin Monday Swap! That's right, I'm bringing it back. I have consulted a few friends on "best swap practices" to make sure everyone gets their package in a timely manner. It will be open to international mamas and there will be a full post on it tomorrow, so check back then if you are interested.

Here's what we did with what Jamie gave us!

It's a little blurry...Muffin Tin Girl was literally standing next to me with her fingertips on the plate, jumping up and down, begging me to eat it. I also turned the cups inside out so we could see the pretty pattern. MT Girl said she prefers it the other way and will just turn her head to look at it. Ha! Thank you so much Jamie for helping make our muffin tin meal extra special this week!

Can't wait to see what you have made! Remember to click the blue inlinkz button and provide the link to your individual blog post. Happy Monday everyone!

No Need For The Sunday Paper

There has been much sad news this week, so it is my hope that you will be offered a little mental vacation with today's link line up. Goodbye Sunday newspaper, hello link love!

I love the re-purposed glass bottles featured over at Someday Crafts...such delightfully inspiring projects and you can even add your own!

Speaking of someday....It is my dream to have an outdoor space like this outdoor lounge. I'll have to get my husband to learn how to cut PVC pipe first. (Found via One Pretty Thing's outdoor round up)

Make your own baby coffee table art gallery with Just Something I Made. I wish I had found this idea when the Muffin Tin Kids were babes. This would have been so fun!

Since Friday, we have already done this Alphabet and Numbers Clothespin Match Up Activity from Confessions of A Homeschooler twice (photo credit above)! It's brilliant and there's a free printable. This is a fantastic activity to have on hand over the summer for those parents of preschoolers and Kindergarteners who want their little ones to retain what they learned. 

Love, love, love the clay marbles craft actvitiy from Pink and Green Mama... and I love her site-she always seems like she has so much fun not only crafting with her kids, but just being with them.

And just when I think I have seen it all, my heart skips a joyful beat when I see these adorable scooby doo peg dolls from fancie fannie's etsy shop. The shaggy doll even has a little chin scruff-so perfect!

whew....there's a lot of good stuff out there, happy clicking!

Scripture For Sunday
Lamentations 3:22-24 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him.

Playing With Playdough At Starbucks

The next time you need to get out of the house with your child, take some play-dough and accessories to Starbucks. Everyone may look at you funny, but your 5 year old will have the best time ever.

*Perfect "sitting quietly" practice for those active wiggle worms in your life.
*Hot Chocolate is $1.10. It maybe the cheapest date you will ever go on.

Preschool Craft: Toilet Paper Roll Rocket

Here's What You'll Need:

  • Empty Toilet Paper Roll
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 3-4 Small triangles of carboard (ours are from an empty mac n' cheese box)
  • Contruction paper circle
  • Stickers and paint (oprional)
Here's How To:
  • Cut a small circle out of construction paper. Cut a slit from the edge to the center. Fold it in, so it make a cone shape (this is your top). Staple it or tape it shut.
  • Cut 3-4 triangles out of cardboard. Cut a slit in each and slide them on the edge of toilet paper roll.
  • Tape (or glue if you want) the cone shaped top to the roll.
  • Paint and adhere stickers if desired! 

*I prepped all the pieces and let my preschooler assemble and decorate it.

Handprint Butterfly Craft

This simple handprint butterfly craft can be accomplished in one (or more if you have a toddler) sittings. It makes a great project for Spring or Summer and is perfect for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and even older children! You could make a family of butterflies, each member making their own hand print project

Here's what you'll need:
  • Tempera washable paint in any color (black also for the body)
  • Construction paper
  • Little hands, of course 

The short How To
Using a large paint brush, paint your child's hand (one at a time). Lay it flat on a piece of paper, the base of the palms touching (as shown in the photo). Paint a thine black line or small circles for the body.

Older kids might enjoy the 3 hand print version...

Some Very Helpful Tips:
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare!
  • Gather all your supplies before you begin. Lay down newspaper, cardboard, or a vinyl tablecloth.
  • Sponge brushes work great on little hands and cover a wider surface area in a short amount of time.
  • Tell your child what you will be doing ahead of time, using short clear specific directions.
  • Paint one hand at a time to minimize mess.
  • It is difficult to know, until you have done it, whether or not your child will sit long enough for you to paint his hand. Don't give up before you start. If you have a toddler or infant, try doing one hand print at a time a few hours or days apart.
  • Oh, and if you leave your child unsupervised with paint of any kind (even washable)....beware....

.Here is what my preschooler did all on his own (after we did it once). Using a smaller brush, he painted each part of his hand a different color and made his own body. Pretty sweet :)