Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easy Easter Lamb Donut Hole Treats!

We thought this would be the cutest thing for the kids - and you - this Easter! If you folllow our last steps, even your teenage boys are going to love this Easter treat! Now, that's a rare lamb!

This is so easy! Knowing most of our customers are moms, and moms have no time, the DoodleDees and I wanted something that would be really cute, but doesn't involve cooking or baking. They are also incredibly budget friendly, and you don't have to be especially artsy. ANYONE can do this, the kids can too!

You can add these donut lambs to a bento lunch, the top of a cake, or set one on top of cupcake. You'll come up with something really clever, I'm sure!

Shopping list:
Donut holes (powdered, preferably with rasberry jelly filling!)
Pretzel sticks (2 1/2 sticks per lamb)
Marshmallows (standard sized, 1/2 a piece per lamb)

You will also need a black edible ink marker or a few chocolate chips to melt in the microwave for the eyes. If you go with the chocolate, you can dab "eyes" on with a toothpick.

If you got a dozen donut holes, this is what you'd need for that many:

30 pretzel sticks

6 marshmallows

Optional upgrade, if you've got the time and skills:
~ If you want to fancy up these lambs, melt white chocolate and dip the pretzel "legs" in. Let the chocolate cool and harden before inserting into the donut holes. 
~ Another option is to use plain donut holes instead, dunk them in melted white chocolate, and roll around in coconut shreds. The only drawback is these won't work as well for the scene towards the bottom of this post because they're not jelly-filled. (You'll see what I mean!)

Cover your eyes, lamb fans. It's about to get much worse. :) We don't know if the jelly massacre you're about to see is in good taste, but the cleanup sure tasted good! We meant for it to be fun and silly, and hope we didn't offend any vegetarians, or any black bear lovers. Whether you choose to create your own jelly massacre scene (if you use jelly filled donuts), let your kids create it, or just let your kids get a giggle when they bite into the lambs and see GUTS, we hope you have a lot of fun with these Easter treats!

If you make these cute donut hole lambs for Easter or anytime (how perfect for a farm or barn themed birthday party), please share them with us!

Happy Easter!
Megan, Doodle Director

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Who Needs More Family Unity in Their Life? (Me!)

"That's my toy."
"No, it's mine!"
"I had it first."
"But it's MINE!"

Sound familiar?  This could be my sister or brother and I thirty years ago, or it could be my own children now.  It seems whatever one has, the other wants.  (I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same!)

As a child educator since 2000, and as a mother, I am always looking for new ways to develop problem solving skills in children.  When I first saw pictures of the get along shirts on Pinterest, I thought "What a clever idea that is!  Yes, that would be great!"  But then, I was very disturbed by the genuine distress that the children wearing the shirt were always in.  Observe...

(Photos found on the web, on Pinterest, etc. No photo credit is known.)

Sadness, anger, confusion, distress... even choking on a snug neckline! That is what I kept seeing in the children's faces wearing these shirts.  In some cases the children were older and appeared humiliated, while in one picture the children appear too young to comprehend the lesson. 

We know the parents were just trying to teach their children a lesson, and love them very much. But, were they really getting along any better?  Tough to say.  From the pictures, I'm guessing "no." Not in the long term, and not in a deeper sense. There may have been improvement in their behavior out of the threat of wearing the shirt, but the opportunity to bond the children with a positive approach, teaching them to recognize their love for each other as siblings, was totally lost.

And, was it their parents' fault that these "get along shirts" aren't the best idea
No. They were probably desperate to find a solution to siblings' fighting,
and didn't know that guidance with the shirt was necessary.
Can a child educator show parents a better way, step-by-step? YES!

So I spoke with my talented friends at Doodlekins Cartoon Families, and we worked together to come up with a program to make the clever "get along shirt" be a real success, with HAPPY siblings!

Doodlekins designed a logo for a very large, extra soft, scoop necked t-shirt that could be personalized for 2-5 children, aged 3-10 years.  (Worn by two children at a time, of course! In larger families, any two kiddos can be placed in the shirt interchangeably.)

The focus is on smiles and loving, and in learning more than punishing.

The shirts are personalized with the names of the siblings, and slogan:
"Side by side, together we're tied; by more than a tee...we're FAMILY!"™

2-5 customized cartoon doodle children can be added to the heart:

Drawing on my experience as a sister, elementary teacher, and mother of two, I wrote a short story for parents to read to children while they were wearing the UniTEE .  The story was to be used as an example for siblings- demonstrating a fight they could relate to, and how the UniTEE  helped them solve that fight and grow closer together.  

The story also shows 
Doodlekins™ colorfully illustrated "gems" of real-life situations where siblings resent each other or argue, and how they overcome those feelings.


Doodlekins  and I then wrote the Family UniTEE™  program together, describing exactly how and when parents should use the UniTEE shirt with their children.  We also explained how the siblings can EARN THE SHIRT'S REMOVAL (*important!*) and how they can begin to learn and show APPRECIATION of their sibling (*very important!*)

I tested this Family UniTEE  program on my own children first, of course; catching them at a notoriously cranky time of day.  The shirt is large and comfortable, with a wide neck that fit my kiddos nicely. I was amazed at how the Family UniTEE™  program really did help them settle down from their argument, and learn to "get along" better!  Since then, my children have been much more tolerant and appreciative of each other too.  WOW!  

You can see the sequence of events below.  From the children's fight, to UniTEE  shirt, to sitting calmly and thoughtfully for the story, to making up and playing together. THAT is a "get along shirt" that truly works.  I followed this program, and it gave my children real family unity (or UniTEE , as we called it!)

Family UniTEE™ program even includes a free graduation kit that is mailed to you,
with a personalized certificate, stickers and perforated coupon/mini-cards.
These tools, and more on the website, help you through critical maintenance
for many happy years to come!  (My children loooove seeing themselves pictured on stickers and mini-cards, and are very proud of their graduation certificate!)

Intrigued?  Want to hear more details?  Check out www.familyunitee.com for more information, and have fun personalizing your children's faces and shirt colors for their very own UniTEE get along shirt!

* Social media fan?  You can visit us at www.facebook.com/FamilyUniTEE or twitter.com/FamilyUniTEE.

* We also have a Pinterest page at www.
pinterest.com/FamilyUniTEE, filled with sibling fun, activities for kids, family recipes, and laughs for moms!

Until next time, I hope you and your family can enjoy some TEES and harmony in your life too- with children who really DO get along!

"It's mine."
"No, it's MINE!"
"Actually, let's share!  It's ours!"

Monday, December 17, 2012

That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles...

It's the holiday season!  Which means it's time for lots of baking and COOKIES!  Combine that with eggnog, and what could be better?

I have several great cookie recipes that I usually use for cookie exchanges, but I wanted to try something new this year.  So I turned to my best buddy Pinterest to see what caught my eye.  

Well, lookie lookie!  Stained glass cookies!  Made by dropping crushed up hard candies into the centers of sugar cookies, which then melt as they bake.  I could do that!  Let's see, which shapes and colors do I want to use...

Looking good!

Wow, so pretty!

OK, now they're just showing off...

"Yeah, I could make those!" I thought to myself.  "They would impress the socks off my Mom's Group when I bring them for our cookie exchange!"

But I forgot the one big rule of baking - don't make something new for a cookie exchange without trying it out on your family ahead of time.

So here they are, all set to go into the oven and become beautiful stained glass cookies!

Though I followed the directions exactly, removing these cookies was not a success...

So I thought, "Maybe I need to try a different shape?  Perhaps those pointy stars are doomed to snap apart?"

Nope.  It's not the shape that's the problem!

Not willing to toss out a perfectly good dough AND all of my backbreaking work crushing those hard candies, I thought I'd try sprinkling the candies on top of the cookies before baking.

 Great, now it looks like a murder scene on my cookie sheet.  Both alien and human lives were lost...

Because I am stubborn brilliant, I finally just mixed the crushed hard candies straight into the dough and cut cookies out of that.  You can see the little bits of candy sprinkled throughout the cookies below...  They were "ok", but not spectacular.  

Of course, everything looks (and tastes!) better with frosting!  So a generous helping of cookie icing from the grocery store helped to finish these cookies off and kept them from being a complete embarrassment at my cookie exchange.  

But what a far cry these were from the stained glass cookies they were supposed to be!

Needless to say, I will not be making these particular cookies when my in-laws visit in a few weeks.  But I don't want to give up on them completely because I still think they're beautiful!  I just need to figure out what to do differently.  Which brings me to...

I followed the directions in the stained glass cookie recipe here perfectly, but they just didn't hold up.  Those candy centers kept sticking straight to the pan, though it was very generously greased each time.  Do you bakers out there have any suggestions?

So I'll be using a more tried-and-true cookie recipe for my in-laws' upcoming visit... these holiday CookieKins with their faces on the edible icing transfers!  (Click HERE for my previous blog with CookieKins how-to directions).  Ah yes, my never-fail sugar cookies with royal icing and a CookieKins edible transfer on top are guaranteed to please.

Oh my, these are almost too cute to eat!  ALMOST...
Grandaddy and Grams IRL (In Real Life)

And really, how can I go possibly wrong with pre-made sugar cookie dough?  

Oh dear, I just had to ask...