Homemade Christmas Gak Recipe (Scented With Thieves Oil)

Homemade Christmas Gak

Christmas will soon be here but until then, there is a lot of time to fill!  Kids who are out for the holidays plus parents who have a lot to do to get ready for the big day means that we have to pull a few tricks out of our hats.  Here is a fabulous DIY for something the kids love and can spend hours creating with!  Homemade Christmas gak is perfect for preschoolers (who aren't tempted to eat stuff) all the way through adults who love to play with squishy gak.  And, it can be scented to smell like Christmas with thieves oil or cinnamon spice.  

Ingredients:

  • two 4 oz bottles of Elmer's school glue
  • one tsp Borax
  • food coloring (we used green and red, but the red only turned out pink so I abandoned it)
  • warm water
  • 3-4 drops of Thieves oil (I use Eden's Garden) or a few dashes of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Pour both bottles of glue into a bowl.
  2. Fill each empty bottle with warm water, shake them up to get the rest of the glue off, and then pour into the bowl with glue.
  3. Add food coloring.  (It took a LOT of green food coloring to get the color in my picture, and like I said the red was just pink forever, so I gave up on that.)
  4. Fill a cup with 1/2 cup of warm water.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of Borax to the warm water (not the glue mix yet) and mix well until it is dissolved. 
  6. Pour the Borax/water mixture to the bowl of glue/water mixture and stir with a wooden spoon.  Then ditch the wooden spoon and mix with your hands.  Keep at it until it is all mixed well and it is all the same color.
  7. Let the kids have at it!  Bring out cookie cutters, pizza cutters, rollers, anything to make it more fun!
  8. Store in a jar when done.

Notes:  *The thieves oil might make it harder to mix well, but keep at it and it will turn out fine.  *Remind kids to not put the Gak in their mouths and to wash their hands after playing with it.  *If the kids get it on their clothes like mine did, (because doesn't everyone love to SIT on their Gak? Ugh!) just immediately pick off any that you can and rub with warm water and then wash.  It came out well and didn't stain, but with the food coloring and oil, it made me a little nervous.

Homemade Christmas Gak is a great way to pass the time during snow days and would make a great, inexpensive gift or stocking stuffer!

12 Festive Family Beverages – Yummy Non-Alcoholic Drinks For Christmas!

This non-alcoholic drinks post was brought to you by Foodie.  All opinions are mine.12 Festive Family Beverages

 

Check out 12 Festive Family Beverages

by Gena at Foodie.com

The holiday season is a time for delicious food and family time.  My guys all love the delicious drinks of the season, from hot chocolate to cranberry drinks.  I have made a Foodie collection of 12 tasty drinks to satisfy and intrigue all of your family members this season.  They're all non-alcoholic so even the littles can enjoy them (but it would be easy to add alcohol if that's your wish!)  I have collected these recipes because they're all a bit different, but yet festive and traditional.  Some are served warm, some cold, but all are full of the flavors of the season.  Enjoy!

Save Money by Making Mini Layered Chocolates for Christmas Gifts!

This mini layered chocolates shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

Mini Layered Chocolates #TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias #ad

Every Christmas, I like to give homemade gifts to neighbors, teachers, and friends.  I do not like to give the traditional gifts like fruit cake and dipped pretzels, although they are delicious.  I just don't want to risk giving something that they have already received.  I personally love bite sized mini foods, so I thought about making these yummy mini layered chocolates for gifts this year.  I really had a blast making them, as you can individualize each piece and make them all different.  Plus, it is a great way to save money when you need to buy gifts for a lot of people and homemade gifts are always enjoyed!

I was able to pick up all the ingredients that I needed at Walmart on a quick shopping trip.  Everything that I needed was in the baking aisle or on the special holiday endcap.

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The ingredients I needed for the chocolate candy were Baker's semi-sweet and German's baking chocolate, Baker's angel flake sweetened coconut, Kraft caramel bits, pretzel sticks, sugar, and I already had the silicon baking mold with the gingerbread men at home.
#TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

I wanted to make the coconut more of a "butter" so I put it in the food processor for about five minutes until it had a smoother consistency.  

#TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

Then, I followed the directions on the Baker's baking chocolate for melting it in the microwave.  I melted 1 1/2 bars (not squares, but entire bars) of semi-sweet baking chocolate and stirred, then added 1/3 cup of the coconut that I had pureed in the food processor, along with 1/4 cup of sugar and mixed well.  This mix was brownie-ish and oh so yummy!  I spooned about 1/2 – 1 tsp of the mix in each mold and pressed it down.  To harden it a bit, I popped it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Mini Layered Chocolates

After that, I melted some Baker's German's sweet chocolate bar and also the caramel bits and just played around with making different layers in the gingerbread boy molds.  I even made some that were just sweet chocolate and caramel, which were definitely the smoothest mini layered chocolates and the Captain's favorites.

#TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

I love the variety of the little gingerbread men layered chocolates.  The Captain has a tree nut allergy, or else I would have put some nuts in there, too.  I did make a few with pretzel sticks and those were my absolute favorites.

It was very simple to pop about 5-6 mini layered chocolates in a small Mason jar for a gift!

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Ingredients and Supplies needed:

  • Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate, 2 bars
  • Baker's German's sweet baking chocolate, 1 bar
  • Baker's angel flake sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pretzels, nuts, cranberries, and any other add-ins you would like! (optional)
  • silicone molds of choice
  • small mason jars and/or treat boxes for packaging gifts

Directions:

  1. Pour a half of a bag of Baker's angel flake sweetened coconut into the food processor and run for 5-10 minutes, stopping and stirring every minute or so, until a smoother texture is achieved.
  2. Melt 1 1/2 whole bars of Baker's semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl according to package directions.  (Check and stir every 30 seconds until melted.)
  3. Mix coconut "butter" and melted chocolate in a bowl, along with 1/4 cup of sugar until well combined.
  4. When cooled, press 1/2 – 1 tsp of mixture into bottom of silicon molds.
  5. Place molds in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to harden and set. 
  6. Then, add in a layer of crushed pretzels, nuts, cranberries, etc to various molds for variety.
  7. Melt Baker's German's chocolate bar in the microwave, checking and stirring every 30 seconds.
  8. Pour chocolate into various molds.
  9. Melt Kraft caramel bits (watch closely!) and pour in various molds, as well.
  10. If you want to make a layer of German's sweet chocolate on top of the caramel, make sure to refrigerate for 10-20 minutes to firm up before adding in the last layer.
  11. When all molds are filled, refrigerate for an additional 30 minutes and then pop them out and into your mason jars or treat boxes.
  12. Deliver to your recipients and watch their smiles erupt!

Note:  You probably need to advice your recipients to keep the chocolates cool so they won't melt.  You shouldn't need to keep them in the fridge, but that may not be a bad idea.  Also, make sure to note any allergies (dairy, coconut, nuts, etc).

 

Mini Layered Chocolates #ad #TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

What is your go to holiday treat that you enjoy making for gifts?  

If you need more inspiration, visit the Cooking Up Good website. It has recipes, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, coupons and more! What's not to love? If you're looking for a new dinner idea or a chance to win some awesome prizes, be sure to check it out!

Mini layered chocolates

Creating Christmas Traditions: Family Game Night with Northpole

This Christmas traditions shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #NorthpoleFun #CollectiveBias

#northpolefun I love the Christmas season as much as the next person, but I also find myself really struggling for creativity during this time of the year.  I want to create fun memories and traditions for the boys, but admittedly need a lot of help.  After the cold, winter-like temperatures last week, we all needed a way to release the energy and just have fun.  So, we had an early Christmas family game night!  The boys definitely take after thier daddy in that they love playing games and being silly, so that was my inspiration.

I picked up a few Northpole games and activities, snacks and ingredients for  cranberry soda (see recipe below) at Walmart (toward the front of our store in the Christmas toys and gifts area) and surprised the boys by loading up and heading to church where Daddy works and we have more space to run and play.  

Northpole toys at Walmart

Everyone's favorite activity was the Peppermint Ring Fling game.  One person wore a cute pointy Christmas hat while another person tossed soft rings and tried to land them on the point of the hat.  Daddy was especially good at this game, but the boys learned that it takes two to make it work.
family game nightChristmas games

We also played Rooftop Drop, where you toss three beanbags that look like gifts into a cardboard "chimney."  D was good at this game!Northpolebeanbag

I turned both games into a fun relay and put the Rooftop Drop game at one end and the Peppermint Ring Toss game at the other.  The boys had to run (aka burn energy) back and forth to get all of the rings and beanbags where they belonged.  I also incorporated a fun game with the Magic Snowball that lights up when you toss it!

When they needed a rest, we had snacks and opened up the adventure map that came with Christmas goggles.  The map came alive with the 3d goggles!  The Captain loved the adventure tasks on the side and putting the stickers where they belonged.  
IMG_0109 3d glasses Northpole
Then, I read "Once Upon a Northpole Christmas" (that came with a super awesome Find me Santa! snowflake that flashes so Santa can find you on Christmas Eve!  We will be saving that for later!)  The pictures are just beautiful and the story is a good one.  The boys really loved listening to it!

#Northpolefun

#Northpolefun

Here is a sweet commercial about the Find Me Santa! snowflake:

What truly made our new Christmas tradition of family game night was this "Snow Now!"  You add water and it turns into this fluffy white "snow" that is fun to play in and decorate with.  It obviously isn't real snow, so it took a little effort to clean it up, but the boys have been wishing for snow for so long that it was so awesome to see the look on their face when they saw it!

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The special Christmas items from Northpole made our family game night so much fun, plus it was so easy for me.  The best news is that there was a whole aisle of products to choose from, so I may head back and buy some more products for Family Game Night Part 2!

The boys favorite snack/beverage item was this cranberry soda, so I wanted to share the recipe!  It's easy to make and oh so good!

homemade cranberry soda

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups washed cranberries
  • 1 cup whole sugar
  • sparkling water or soda water 

Directions:

  1. Mix water, cranberries, and sugar in a small pot.
  2. Cook for about 6 minutes on medium-high heat, until berries pop.
  3. Mash berries with a spoon or potato masher.
  4. Turn off heat and let syrup cool for a few minutes.
  5. Pour cooled mxture through a mesh strainer.
  6. Save the cranberry pulp for homemade cranberry sauce or dessert topping.
  7. Store cranberry syrup in a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate.  Syrup keeps for a few weeks in fridge.
  8. To make cranberry soda, add 4 TBSP cranberry syrup to a glass.  Pour about 6 oz of sparklng water or soda, stir, and enjoy!

**Makes about 1 1/2 cups of syrup**

What is your are some of your favorite family Christmas traditions?

Celebrate the Season of Advent with “God Came Near” DVD set with Max Lucado {giveaway, too!}

This post about the DVD set "God Came Near" by Max Lucado, was brought to you by Family Christian.  All opinions are mine.  

God Came Near

Christmas has taken on a new meaning for us since having kids.  There is a desire to commercialize the holiday and shower our kids with gifts, but I think there is a deeper desire to teach our kids why our family celebrate Christmas, as well.  And really, we all need as much help as we can get in teaching our kids about God, Jesus, and the Bible.  That is precisely why I wanted to watch this "God Came Near" DVD set.  Max Lucado is a smart man who knows the Bible well.  He is a pastor and author and he does a remarkable job with this DVD set.

The boys and I sat down to watch the first DVD together.  Since the boys are 6 and 3, I wasn't sure if any of it would sink in.  It IS approved for all ages, but this set is really geared for older kids and adults.  They did enjoy the setting in England's gorgeous Blockley Church.  They loved the video of the reenactments, but they did sort of zone out while Lucado spoke.  After all, they are little!  I found it fascinating though and really enjoyed it.  This series would make a fantastic study this holiday season for a small group or Bible class.

I personally really enjoyed learning new things in a setting that helped me travel back in time to what it might really be like when Jesus was born.  Max Lucado does a great job telling us all about the Advent season.  He tells a story through Simeon's eyes. What it must have been like to wait for the Messiah!  He also explores Saint Nicholas, popular Christmas traditions, stories of Joseph and Mary, and also about the hectic holiday season we have made for ourselves.

Max Lucado "God Came Near" Advent DVD

Lucado encourages us to realize that God came near to the people of the Earth as a baby born to a carpenter and his soon-to-be wife.  There was no fanfare, Jesus came without fanfare or parties, and God came near for us and continues to come near to us if we allow Him!  How inspiring and wonderful is that thought??

God Came Near DVD set

While this is the season for celebrating Jesus' birth, Lucado encourages us to imagine ourselves as the wise men who were anxiously awaiting Jesus' birth and went out seeking him through many trials.  We are to seek Jesus daily and long to be near Him.

I know that everyone will be uplifted and encouraged to make the season about Jesus this year.  It is an uplifting DVD set and might be just what you or someone you know needs in the midst of the hectic holiday season!

Purchase "God Came Near" for this season at Family Christian.

Family Christian is generously giving away a $25 appreciation certificate to one lucky Life With Captain Fussybuckets reader. Enter to win in the Rafflecopter below!  Good luck! 

$25 Family Christian appreciation certificate

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thanksgiving Doorbusters (Black Friday Sale)

Make Holiday Entertaining a Breeze with Appliances from Best Buy

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

holiday entertaining

The weather is turning cooler which means one thing for our family…the holiday season is on the way!  It seems like October begins everything…starting with Halloween, Fall Festivals, the Captain’s birthday, Baby Brother’s birthday, Thanksgiving, D’s birthday, Christmas, and ends with New Year’s Eve.  I am excited for this season, but it means a lot of cooking.  I really love holiday cooking, but there have been times when I have tried to do too much with appliances that were not the best or most efficient.  Have you ever tried to fix a Thanksgiving meal with a tiny oven?  Not fun!  You have to have some major organization and planning skills to get that accomplished on time.

Holidays are a hectic time because everyone is running around, trying to buy the perfect gifts, all while still going to work, school, and trying to maintain a calm environment in the home.  Add in a few holiday bake sales, parties, and get togethers, you really need appliances that will get the job done the first time.  No one has time for a batch of burnt cookies!  I have learned the tricks of my little oven, but I definitely wouldn’t and couldn’t depend on it for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

My recommendation is that if you are in need of a new oven, head to Best Buy and see what you need and buy it now.  That way, you will have a great appliance for this busy season, you will feel less stressed out, and you can pay it off now, before the Christmas bills start rolling in.

Best Buy #holidayprep #adThe Frigidaire FGIF3061NF plus induction allows you to boil water in less than two minutes and spills don’t burn on, so…..your clean up time is shortened!  (This is where I really struggle…..I hate cleaning my stove top!)  The Frigidaire range also includes a convection oven that circulates the air in the oven for quicker baking time.

Best Buy #holidayprep #ad

And something that I can love and appreciate is the double ovens that allow you to cook two different items at the same time at different temperatures like the Whirlpool WGG555S0BS.  It still fits within the space of a standard range.  Spend more time doing what you love this holiday season instead of slaving over a hot stove or oven and waiting on your food to cook.  Get the job done quickly so you can wrap all of those gifts early, go shopping, and actually enjoy your time with your family this holiday season!

Find these and other great appliances as the Best Buy #HolidayPrep shop!  Check out deals like save 25% off major appliances, 18 month financing or 5% back in rewards plus free delivery.

What new appliance are you wishing for this holiday season?

Enjoy Natural, Organic Candy this Easter! {giveaway, too!}

This organic candy post was brought to you by YumEarth.  All opinions are mine.

yumearth organic candy

I always have issues with the holidays.  Candy and treats are the center of holidays for kids, and the majority of the candy they get is full of weird, man-made ingredients.  This Easter, the boys will be getting YumEarth Organics candy and fruit snacks in their baskets!  The Captain's favorite YumEarth candy are the gummy bears, while D prefers gummy worms.  Daddy is a fan of sour candy, so I would have to say his favorite are the sour beans.  

YumEarth candies and fruit snacks are always made with high quality, all natural ingredients.  This chart from the YumEarth website sums up the high quality of their awesomely delicious lollipops, drops, gummy bears, gummy worms, fruit snacks, and sour beans!

YumEarth Organics

Pick up some natural Easter treats for your little ones at Walgreens, Amazon, or the YumEarth website!  Check out other retailers that sell YumEarth, too.

Enter to win an assortment of YumEarth candy in the Rafflecopter form below and then hop out to the store to pick up some better-for-you candy to enjoy this Easter!

 

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Delicious Strawberry Recipes for Valentine’s Day

All pictures in this post have been used with permission and may not be reproduced.

strawberry recipes

Strawberries are one of our family's favorite fruits.  Strawberries are the fruit of Valentine's Day.  Last year at our favorite grocery store, there was a huge area set up for workers to solely make chocolate dipped strawberries for Valentine's Day.  They're pretty expensive, though, so last year I made Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries and Daddy and I loved them.  The Captain and D just wanted to eat the strawberries.  So, I was looking for great strawberry recipes for Valentine's Day this year…that all of us would enjoy.  Take a look at this long list of great strawberry recipes from some of my favorite bloggers!

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30 Days of Thankful Tree -Thanksgiving Craft for Kids

My brilliant and creative cousin, who is a nanny for two precious girls, shared this awesome Thanksgiving craft on Facebook, and I had to share it with you (with her permission, of course!)  I have been looking for something to do with the boys, that incorporates the beauty of fall and being thankful to God for our blessings!  

thanksgiving craft

Directions:

  1. Use brown paper or white paper painted or colored brown, crumple it up, and make the trunk and branches of the tree.  
  2. Staple or pin the tree to the wall.
  3. Fringe cut some green or white paper, colored green, and attach it to the wall for your "grass."
  4. Use fall leaf colored paper to trace and cut out handprints.
  5. Explain to your child what being thankful really means and how we all have so much to be thankful for.
  6. Each day in November, ask your child what he or she is thankful for and write it on a handprint, then attach it as a "leaf" for the tree.

I LOVE this idea and I'm positive my kids would love it, as well!  Being thankful and appreciative of what we have is a major lesson for kids and adults, too!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Do you think your child(ren) would enjoy making a 30 Days of Thankful Tree?

Grand Old Flag!

The Captain has been singing "Keep your eye on the grand old flag!!!" for a week or two now and loves this flag his Grampy gave him!

Happy Fourth of July!

fourth of july