10/31/12

Halloween Frankenstein Pops

Since you guys seem to enjoy craft and food ideas, I've been trying to share more of them since I really like to Martha Stewart it up as much as possible.

I especially like it when it's REALLY easy.  The Frankenstein Pops I shared on Facebook? They're so easy a four year old can do it.

Assemble your troops.  You'll need frosting, sugar bones, sugar eyes, lollipop sticks, and black sugar or chocolate jimmies, oh, and marshmallows.
 Step One: Get a bag of frosting out of your freezer.  Here we have cream cheese frosting, vanilla buttercream, and hot pink lemonade buttercream.  What's that? You don't make a double batch of frosting every time and freeze the leftovers for emergency cake-frosting? You don't MAKE your own frosting? Sigh.  Yes, go ask Betty Crocker for a can of white frosting...that'll work, too.
 Step Two: Plop your frosting into a bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds if it's room temperature, or about a minute if it was a popsicle when you put it in there.  You're looking for fondue-consistency frosting.
 Step Three: Curse yourself for not getting green food dye at the Walmart when you were JUST THERE.  Remember that yellow an blue make green.  Mix well. (These are Wilton gel dyes, which I love because they don't water down whatever you're tinting.  However, for this, you could use the liquid dye you get at the grocery store, too.  Wilton gels are sold at craft stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels and Walmart stores)
Step Four: Pop a marshmallow onto a lollipop stick and dunk it in your frosting.  Tap gently on the side of the bowl to remove any excess and then set the stick into a heavy glass cup set over a plate to let the frosting set just slightly (a minute or two, tops).
 Step Five: After your frosting has had a minute to settle and drip off and excess, give your marshmallow a roll in the black sugar or chocolate jimmies to add hair.
 Step Six: Add eyes (you could pipe these on, but this whole treat was inspired by the sugar candy eyeballs being on sale for $2) and imbed a sugar bone on either side of your Frankenstein's head.  You could also pipe on a mouth, but if I was creating a monster, it would do my bidding without talking back.  I'm just saying.
Optional Bonus Points For Step Seven: Pop some floral foam covered in a seasonal napkin inside your Frankenstein Can and go on a shock and awe campaign at your preschool party.  Winning.

You could also do these heads with cake pops, you'd just want to form them into squares instead of balls.  Witches would be cute, too, with purple frosting, a mini green m&m nose, and just the cookie part of an Oreo with a Hershey's Kiss glued on top with some melted chocolate.

Have fun!

10/30/12

Trick or Treating in Prince William County

Many of you have asked what day and time Prince William County trick or treating is.  Apparently in some parts of the country they change trick-or-treat to be a weekend night each year so that children aren't tripped out on candy and less sleep than normal on a school night.

Please, we know how much our teachers love overtired children with a sugar buzz ;)

In Prince William County (with possible exceptions if you live in a neighborhood with a home owners association) whether you're in Woodbridge, Gainesville, Haymarket, or Lake Ridge, trick-or-treat happens on October 31st, regardless of the day of the week, from dusk to 9pm.  As a general courtesy, and for safety reasons, only knock on doors that have well-lit porches and interiors.  

The Department of Fire and Rescue reminds you that when trick-or-treating:
Child Pedestrians
• Children under 12 should trick-or-treat and cross streets with an adult.
• Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
• Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Parents should remind children to watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
• Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.

Drivers
• Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
• Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day so you can spot children from greater distances.
• Remember costumes can limit children’s visibility and they may not be able to see your vehicle.
• Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.


If you would rather not trick-or-treat in your neighborhood, there are several local churches and areas that typically offer trunk or treat options on halloween night (but check their website to make sure):
~First Baptist Church of Woodbridge (not in 2012)
~Potomac Mills Mall beginning at 6pm
~Christ Chapel (not in 2012)
~ Manassas St. Thomas  (appears to be on- 6:30pm)
~Manassas Baptist (appears to be on- 6pm)
~First Nazarene Woodbridge (appears to be on- 7pm)

If you'd like to add your church or location to the list, please just shoot me an email

Readers Recommend: Bad Weather Fun

So we all made it relatively unscathed by Frankenstorm, thank God.  As we go about the next few days, please keep an ear out for opportunities to help those who were not so fortunate.  The pictures of New York and New Jersey are heartbreaking.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post.  Check out their storm coverage here
Also, if you're of the praying persuasion, you could continue to offer petitions on behalf of the first responders and National Guard who will be continuing to pick up the pieces today.

In the meantime, it's mushy and grey outside, which means that we've all got to keep our kiddos happy inside.  Well, almost all of us- some of us are going to make them do schoolwork anyway because we're mean horrible people sent here to ruin their childhoods responsible homeschoolers.

I asked yesterday what you guys recommended to beat the weather-based blues, and here's what you guys sent me:

For the Adults:
*Poker tournament with the neighbors
*Wine
*Crocheting
*Wine
*Online Shopping
*Wine is a great idea!
Sounds like you guys rather enjoy your vino.

In the Kitchen:
*Baking- apple pie,
*Make Stone Soup
*Quesadillas
*Fresh Ice Cream Sandwiches with homemade cookies (hey, Beth! You sent a picture!! Email me your address and I'm mailing you something cool.)
Kickin' it Frankenstorm-Style

With the Kids:
*Reading books
*Stacking the tea lights
*Glow Bracelet War
*Uno
*Indoor Tent

For Those Who Like to Live Dangerously:
*Monopoly
(If you don't have little ears around and aren't easily offended, I tend to agree with Dane Cook's assessment of monopoly- but he does drop an f-bomb, so watch out.)

Bonus Points To:
Jennifer Peterson Singh who did a whole Pinterest Board! I've got a PwcMoms one, too, but that's not news.

Thanks for sharing what you did this Frankenstorm!

10/29/12

What To Do During a Frankenstorm, Day 1

As of right now, it's not so bad out there.  Better safe than sorry, of course, but that fans that you're probably at home with some kiddos who need some entertainment.  While TV and video games are definitely an option, here's a few fun plans to try, too.

My kids spent the night with PwcGrammy on Saturday night so that we could go to a Halloween party.  Being the awesome grandma that she is, she had a whole night of fun planned for the kids including pumpkin carving, seed roasting, caramel apple making, and crafting.  I thought the crafts were adorable, and could be adapted to use what you have at home (or you could pop out to Walmart before the wind gets bad, but that's a personal judgement call).

Idea 1: Frankenstorm Can
 Alright, he's really supposed to be Frankenstein, but it's kinda funny to call him Frankenstorm :) This one is made with a #10 (Food Service Size) can painted green.  The "knobs" are wooden pieces that were painted silver.  You could just as easily use game pieces that have lost their home or empty prescription bottles.  Don't have silver paint? Glitter would work, too.  The smile is sharpie marker, the nose is another painted wooden piece, but you could substitute for a button or draw the nose, too.  The hair is sparkle felt cut to be pointed on one side and folded over the top of the can, but you could easily swap that out for construction paper if that's what you have at home!

Idea #2 Halloween Bat
 This little guy is also made from a can, but this time it's standard soup-can size.  (I don't think I mentioned this on Frankencan, but obviously you're going to want to wash your can thoroughly and dry it well before starting). Our bad is covered with glitter felt, but you could use black paint or black construction paper.  The smile is made of tiny jewels, but you could use pony beads or crayon.  I think googly-eyes should be a household staple if you have kids, but you could also do the eyes in paint or crayon.  My 4 year old made this craft, so you can see she added lots of pink using a crayon or chalk, and both showed up well on the black felt.  For the wings, use a black pipe cleaner (or you could use a wooden skewer, pencil, or other straight object) and roll it under a piece of cut felt or construction paper and then glue the wings to the back of your can.

Idea 3: Caramel Apples
We've always got apples in our fruit drawer.  That used to be because they were a cheap fruit option, but I refuse to say that about anything that's almost $2 a pound, so I guess it's just a habit at this point.  If you don't have craft sticks, you can use a turning fork to dunk your apples in caramel and then cut them into wedges after they dry.  If you still want the stick, use a toothpick on the wedges you cut.  Caramels are super easy to melt following the package directions, or, if you are a baker and keep the ingredients on hand, you can make your own caramel:
1 cup butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large pot, combine butter, sugar, corn syrup and 1 cup heavy cream. Heat mixture to a boil just over medium heat stirring frequently. Once it boils, stir the other one cup heavy cream. Then without stirring, bring mixture to exactly 239 degrees then immediately remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before dipping apples.

The kids decorated their apples with fall M&Ms and sprinkles, but if you really want to go all-out, melt a couple of Hershey bars or chocolate chips in the microwave (30 seconds at a time, stirring frequently) and after you dip your apples in caramel, dip them in chocolate and then add your decorations.  Yum!

Also, you can engage your kids in some fun learning online about the storm! Try the Weather Channel for Kids or Oklahoma News 9s Interactive Weather Tracker, which even offers streaming video.

Stay Safe and Have Fun!! (And no matter how bad it gets, don't bring out Monopoly! That never ends without a fight!) 

10/24/12

Upcoming at Leesylvania State Park


Haunted History Hike
Date:
10/27/2012
Time:
7:30 p.m.   To  9:00 p.m.
Location:
Shelter #1
Description:
The spirits of Leesylvania have begun wandering our woods at night reliving moments from their lives. Join us for a guided evening walk which will take you back through history. Don't forget to take a hay ride and visit our different crafts for the kids. This is a family friendly Halloween event. Please call for event price.

Mommy Meet-Ups: Basket Weaving
Date:
11/08/2012
Time:
11:00 a.m.   To  12:00 p.m.
Location:
Visitor Center
Description:
Calling all moms! Leesylvania State Park invites you to take a break from your busy schedule to enjoy refreshments and socializing at our Visitor Center. Our monthly meet-ups will also feature different activities for you to try while relaxing.

On November 8th we will be making baskets just in time for harvest decorating to begin.  Choose from a selection of basket styles, receive a 20% discount off of the kit price, and the fee of the class is included! To see a selection of our available baskets and pricing please emailleesylvaniavc@dcr.virginia.gov. Please RSVP by the 6th so that we can have your basket materials soaked and ready to go on the 8th.

Veteran's Day Wall of Honor
Date:
11/11/2012
Time:
11:00 a.m.   To  4:00 p.m.
Location:
Visitor Center
Description:
Leesylvania State Park would love for you to honor your family member by bringing a photograph, how they served, when they served, and would love to hear how they inspire you.  We will have a temporary Wall of Honor set up in the Visitor Center for all to see.  Don't forget on Veteran's Day the parking fee is waived.

Harvest Crafts Food Drive
Date:
11/17/2012
Time:
11:00 a.m.   To  3:00 p.m.
Location:
Visitor Center
Description:
Thanksgiving is near!!  Join us as we use our natural resources to make festive crafts.  Cost for the program will be one food item per person (i.e. canned protein, canned fruits, juices, grains, soups, multigrain cereal).  The proceeds will go to Capital Area Food Bank.

10/23/12

Help Set a Record!


Media Advisory
National Geographic Kids Magazine Sets Out to Claim 2 Guinness World Records® Titles Tied to Running and Recycling
Marine Corps Marathon Healthy Kids Fun Run participants to help set 100-meter record;
Collection effort underway for 25,000 sneakers for recycling, with celebrity help

WHAT:            On Saturday, Oct. 27, media are invited to watch 3,600 kids help break the Guinness World Records® title for most people running 100 meters within a 24-hour period. Through National Geographic Kids’ Run for the Planet program, in coordination with the Marine Corps Marathon’s Healthy Kids Fun Run, the Pentagon North parking lot will be packed with kids devoted to fitness, with Marines cheering them on.

Kids Run participants will contribute to the record as they complete a one-miler, and all runners will be observed by Guinness World Records representative Mike Janela. Per record rules, runners also will be confirmed by two independent witnesses: healthy lifestyle coach Kathy Pugh, owner of women’s running boot camp EZ8DC; and DeShay Williams, co-owner of personal training studio Definitions (both of Washington, D.C.). In addition, runners worldwide will help set the record with 100-meter runs between noon ET, Friday, Oct. 26, and noon ET Saturday, Oct. 27. Five thousand participants are needed for the record.

                        To simultaneously engage people in recycling, National Geographic Kids is also collecting old athletic shoes for the longest chain of shoes. With the help of Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program, the sneakers will be recycled into Nike Grind — a material used in athletic surfaces such as basketball courts and running tracks — after they have been tied into a chain later this year. The goal: 25,000 shoes. Shoes contributed by stars such as the NFL’s Eli Manning and race car driver Danica Patrick can be seen at National Geographic's Washington headquarters, 1145 17th St. NW, where people can also drop off their shoes through Nov. 9.

Macerich malls across the country — including Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Va. — will be holding events. See macerich.com/ngkids for details. For more on either record attempt, go to kids.nationalgeographic.com/run-for-the-planet/.

WHERE:         Marine Corps Marathon Healthy Kids Fun Run, Pentagon North Parking Lot

WHEN:             Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Final wave organized by National Geographic     
     Kids: 11:57 a.m.

WHO:              Rachel Buchholz, Executive Editor, National Geographic Kids magazine
            Mike Janela, Head of U.S. Records Management, Guinness World Records
    North America, Inc.

CONTACTS:  Barbara Fallon, (703) 489-0880, bfallon@ngs.org
                       Anna Irwin, (202) 870-3759, airwin@ngs.org
###



(l to r): Eli Manning, Danica Patrick, One Direction, Nolan Gould, Amanda Beard and Jake Short. (on display at National Geographic).
Photo credit: Mark Thiessen / National Geographic

10/22/12

Holiday Fun at Bobby McKeys

National Harbor features lots of fun, and while it's not in Prince William County, I believe it's got our closest dueling Piano Bar!! Check out their fun Kids Days coming up for the Holidays, including one with Santa. 


10/21/12

Off the Wagon

A few of you have emailed me to ask how my Max Muscle plan is going.

Sigh.

So the last two weeks I have lost all the progress I made.  I hurt my back and haven't been running (or doing anything) and I've had sick kids/husband/self, and then I had visiting family.  Totally off the wagon.  However, Monday is a new day- and almost everyone is better.  It's frustrating for me because 1) I have to admit that I'm not doing well and 2) Because I hate letting myself backslide.  It's great to have someone emailing me with a gentle nudge that I missed a check-in (Corry from Max Muscle) and it's great to have people reminding me they're watching....sooo....tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be better.  I feel better and more energized when I'm doing it right, so I just have to keep going.


Pinterest Challenge Party

As I shared on Facebook, last night I hosted a Pinterest Challenge Party.  The rules were very simple.  We'd meet up on the chosen night, and everyone would bring either a new Pinterest recipe or a new Pinterest craft prepared for everyone to make.  The theme was fall including Halloween/Thanksgiving/Leaves and Pumpkins.

Now I actually enjoy party planning, but if you don't, you'd love a Pinterest Challenge Party because I barely did anything! I provided the venue, and some minor decor, but everyone brought everything else, and then left with it, too! Cleanup was only about an hour!

To get ready, I did make a few quick and easy things:


 These are Mason Jar Sippy Cups (Pinterest Straws optional) and goody bags for everyone to tote home their creations and recipe cards.
 And this is just a board for everyone to "Pin" up what they made from Pinterest so we know who to blame when we're having our 4th helping of White Pizza Dip or Pumpkin Pie Dip....or Frito Salad....or apple crisp.  So really everything was good.  Then came the crafting.  PwcGrandma always likes to be an over-achiever, so she prepped fence post pumpkins.  Everyone's turned out different, but they all came out super cute!!  I love how each one has a unique personality. If your neighbors ever replace their fence, you should snag their posts to do this craft!
 My "girlfriend in law" Lauren (she's been dating my brother forever) is a huge candle fan and brought her Mia Bella Candles for everyone to smell, along with bringing a cute votive craft that was SO simple! We used clear votives and mod podge to create designs with fresh leaves.  The one on the far left is just the leaves, the two closer to the right have torn tissue paper, too.

 The very fabulous Keisha Herbin Smith came with a Stampin Up card project that made everyone want to run out and buy a big shot to cut and emboss their paper with.  Luckily, Christmas is coming.  :)  If you're feeling a little craft envy reading this post, you can click on the link attached to Keisha's name and head over to her blog for details on her stamp camp for this month, which is on Tuesday- $15 covers all of your supplies and this month she's making scrapbook pages! Super cute!

Keisha also brought a crafty friend to the party, who I instantly recognized from Recollections.  Sigh.  I miss Recollections so much!! Tessa brought these adorable turkeys, which I need to make more of so that I can use them as place cards for Thanksgiving Dinner!!

Please ignore the sick child in the background and focus on the Turkey.  So Cute!!  I hope that everyone had as much fun as I did- this was the strangest party I've ever thrown because everyone was so QUIET!! They were either busy eating or busy crafting! The party was supposed to run from 6-10, but almost everyone was late because they were pulling something out of the oven, so I'd say that 7-10 works just fine for the number of crafts we did, although the pumpkin fence posts do require drying time, and so did the votives.

Have you ever had a Pinterest Party? What's your favorite new pin? And, most importantly, are you following PwcMoms on Pinterest? 

10/18/12

Review: Great Country Farms

So, listen.  I tell you guys pretty much everything when it comes to fun stuff to do with your kids.  I'm going to tell you about Great Country Farms because I told them I would and they gave me giveaway tickets.

But I don't want to, because I want it to be all mine.

I have never left a pumpkin patch/farm feeling peaceful and relaxed. In fact, I usually leave mumbling to myself "one...two...three...one...two..three" from hours of compulsively counting my children because I'm sure they're going to get lost in the throngs of people.  When we went to Great Country Farms this week, I didn't have that feeling at all.  Peaceful, open, and very "farm" (as opposed to being very "attraction") we went on a Tuesday and were among a handful of people.  That morning there'd been a few schools and groups that came through, but by lunchtime when we arrived, most of them were leaving and we had the run of the farm with just a few other families. 
 It's really hard for me to tell you about their hayride without comparing it to the hayride we go on every year...so I'm not going to try.  There's no hay on this hayride, and there's benches to sit on! Benches! No hay fever and no legs falling asleep!  This is strictly a hayride, though, around the farm to the field, so don't expect a show, although the landscape is gorgeous!
 The hayride ends at the pumpkin patch, which includes lots of different varieties from the traditional orange jack-o-lantern to the decorative white and green varieties. The pumpkins are already cut off the vine (I actually think they just scatter them around the corn field) and are sold by the pound.
 There are also tons of animals around the farm.  Cups of feed are $2 and we fed pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, peacocks, horses, cows, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, goats, and probably some other things I'm forgetting.  You can also do "catch and release fishing" in their pond.  Bring a rod. Putt Putt Golf is available for $1 per ball, which is refunded when you bring your ball back.
 Awww, they're being cute :) This is the entrance to pedal go-karts, which are really fun, but hard for smaller legs to propel.  I liked that everything was interactive and kid-powered.
 This is a giant pillow.  You bounce and run all over it until someone gets tired and/or runs into someone else.  It's tremendously fun, and I think that my kids did it for a full hour.
 Isn't this fantastically beautiful? These stairs lead up to a pipe slide down a hill.  The whole farm is very picturesque.
This is a giant play area full of corn kernels.  Your kids will come out covered in cornstarch, but very happy.  We spent several hours on the farm and enjoyed some hot cider on our way out.  They also sell cold cider, local sodas, and ice cream in their store.  

In addition to everything mentioned here, there are tons and tons of play structures, a cow train ($2) and the farm also hosts a CSA, or community supported agriculture program. We really enjoyed this farm, and I would definitely go again. It's a bit of a drive, about an hour and a half from Woodbridge, but you could easily spend an entire day there.  While the farm is open for fall and features pumpkins and a corn maze, they're also open year round and have fun events for each season. Admission is $10 per child and $12 per adult.  There's a restaurant that's open on weekends, or ample picnic table space for those who want to pack.  This is definitely a "highly recommend" in my book- even if it's not in Prince William County!
____________________________________________________________
Want to enjoy your own idyllic day at Great Country Farms? Enter by leaving a comment on this post! Don't forget to include your email address so I can get in touch with you! This contest closes on Monday, October 22, 2012. Good luck! 
______________________________________________________
PS- Great County Farms provided our family with comp tickets to come and review their farm.  All opinions are my own, and we really did have a fantastic time.  Just ask my husband who slept in an adirondack chair all afternoon. 

10/17/12

Prince William Recycles Day 2012

Families are invited to a special celebration to highlight the County’s recycling efforts and to learn more about ways to recycle at home, school and work. Join us on Saturday, October 20, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Prince William County Landfill at 14811 Dumfries Road (Route 234) in Independent Hill.
This year’s festival focuses on going green by managing our use of natural resources. Information will focus on the benefits of recycling and waste reduction. Highlights of the celebration include:
  • Games, children’s activities, face painting and prizes
  • Landfill tours, informational displays and equipment displays
  • Paper shredding (bring up to four boxes)
  • Door prizes
  • Free hot dogs and drinks
  • Compost bins available for $20 while supplies last
For more information about Prince William County Recycles Day, please contact the Solid Waste Division of the Department of Public Works, 5 County Complex Court, Prince William, VA 22192, 703-792-4670. You can also visit the Web site at www.pwcgov.org/trashandrecyclingfor more details.

Air and Scare 2012


Trick-or-Treaters, Creepy Bugs and Spooky Science Invade the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum hosts its annual “Air & Scare” Family Day, from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. Visitors will enjoy safe, indoor trick-or-treating and spooky activities for all ages at this free event.
Designed with the whole family in mind, aerospace will come alive with fun activities, all with a Halloween twist. Participants will enjoy face painting, spooky crafts, trick-or-truth stations, science experiments and treat giveaways. The Tot Zone will feature story time and a dress-up corner. Free classic cartoons will be shown in the Airbus IMAX Theater. There will be hands-on activities for teens and tweens, including packing a parachute. Everyone’s favorite Star Wars and Ghostbusters characters will be on-hand for photo opportunities. This year’s newest editions to “Air & Scare” will include a performance of “Buzzy the Frog’s Treasure Box Trick” by the Magical Puppet Theater and a display of spiders and other creepy bugs by the Department of Entomology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
Attendees are encouraged to come in their favorite space or flight-themed costume. Admission is free, but parking is $15. “Air & Scare” is made possible by Mars Snackfood US LLC. For more information and a full list of activities, visit airandspace.si.edu/airandscare.
The National Air and Space Museum is on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Regular daily hours for both facilities are from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25).