Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Favorite Shops: Zooble

Jessica's darling shop is based in Vermont. She sells colorful, fanciful storybook toys.

There are fairy castles, woodland animals, gnomes and gnome homes, cozy woodland cottages, play mats, and even a Rapunzel's Tower playset.

The toys are made from mostly wood and felt. She also sells a few darling crocheted dolls.

I'm having trouble picking just one favorite to show you, but I suppose I'll have to settle on this charming woodland animals and camper playset. This might be just soft and squishable enough to tuck into my purse and use as a restaurant toy to distract a young niece or nephew.

She also carries some pocket size playsets that might work well for restaurants too.

Beyond the Brick: The Lego Documentary

I don't think my nephews could have held still long enough in the theater to enjoy Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary, but I'm tempted to rent it for some quiet evening after a long day of vigorous play in the back yard. I think once they'd settled into a comfy chair with hot cocoa or root beer floats, they'd enjoy the documentary.


Beyond the Brick Trailer, at

Beyond the Brick at IMDB

Lego Brickumentary Offers an Inside Look at the Number One Toy Company (CBS News)

A LEGO Brickumentary, at Rotten Tomatoes

A LEGO Brickumentary, Official Facebook Page

Schoolbus Cookies for Back to School Treats

These decorated school bus sugar cookies are so darling, I'm tempted to get a dozen to gift to all the little people in my area who are starting school next week. Just one cookie apiece! Surely Moms wouldn't mind! These are from the TS Cookies shop in Wisconsin, via Etsy.

Here's a cute set of school bus cookies that show the front of the bus. They're made by May Tillie Baking Co in Tennessee.

Here's a cute school bus cookie jar you could keep on your counter, stocked with fresh baked cookies, if your nieces and nephews or neighborhood kids drop by your house often enough. You can also pick this cookie jar up on eBay.

Here's another cute school bus cookie jar. I think I prefer this one, it looks more retro. It's also sold on eBay.

If you're more talented than me, you could try your hand at decorating cookies you make with this school bus cookie cutter.

Friday, August 28, 2015

New Cookies from Krusteaz to Sneak Into School Backpacks

My nephews and I are big fans of Krusteaz baking mixes. (No, Krusteaz didn't send me any boxes or ask me to write about them. We're just big cookie eaters around here!) I was delighted to see the new box of Oatmeal Scotchies. I baked them up right away, in two batches luckily, since I overcooked the first batch. (I turned the too-hard cookies into biscotti!)

I slightly undercooked the second batch and let it sort of finish cooking on the cookie sheet after I took it out of the oven. Those were too gooey to eat for about an hour, but then firmed up nicely. I liked the combo of butterscotch (my favorite) and "healthy tasting" oatmeal.

Here's the official page over at Krusteaz.

You can find them at Target, at Haagen grocery stores, and maybe Fred Meyer, as well as on Amazon (though they only sell them in sets of 3 boxes! Shoot!).

I'll bake a fresh batch for my cousin to slip into her six year old's lunch box for his first week back to school next week!

They'll Lose Their Little Minds Over New Crush Flavored Gelatin

I don't make Jell-o or gelatin for myself, as it's not vegetarian. I'll make it for my nephews on rare occasions when they visit. (Don't worry, I won't put celery in it like my mom did in the 1970s).

Recently I saw soda-flavored gelatin in the Jell-O aisle. Crush-flavored, to be exact. I knew my nephews would be overjoyed to sample these, so I picked up a small box of each.

Grape Crush Gelatin 4-Pack

Grape would be great for making dark colored skulls for Halloween.

Here's a skull-shaped jello mold you could use.

Orange Crush Gelatin 4-Pack

I'd use this pumpkin Jell-O mold with the Orange Crush gelatin.

Strawberry Crush Gelatin 12-Pack

If the Strawberry Crush gelatin comes out as red as pictured, there are all sorts of nefarious Halloween-related uses you could apply it to!

Find Orange Crush Jell-O, Strawberry Crush Jell-O, and Grape Crush Jell-O on your local grocery store shelves or via Amazon.

Cool Jewels Mold for Fun and Sparkly Ice Cubes

Recently I picked up this Fred & Friends "Cool Jewels" ice cube molds.

I was excited to make pretty, fun ice cubes for my nephews who were visiting. I initially tested it with cranberry juice (something they wouldn't drink) but had disastrous results. The sugary juice made the ice cubes sticky and they melted all weird and gross in the glass of 7-Up I put them in.

So instead, I tried some of my Wilton gel food coloring. I stirred just a toothpick full into a bit of water in my squeeze bottle.

I shook the squeeze bottle up carefully so the gel was mixed up nicely. It looked brown at the time but I knew it would turn into a nice burgundy when the ice froze and set.

I used the squeeze bottle to carefully fill the molds as full as I could. I then gently transferred them into my freezer, where I set them on top of a frozen pizza box so they'd be stable. I forgot to knock the mold a bit to get air bubbles out - oops.

Here are the jewel ice cubes about an hour later. (Sorry the picture isn't great!) They're not sticky, but they definitely melt fast and leave color behind. (My fingers definitely got stained!)

For best effect, I make several batches the day before I expect nieces or nephews to arrive. I store them in a big bowl in my extra freezer. Then I dish them up in front of the children so they can see the pretty jewels plopping into their glasses of water or Sprite or some sort of clear drink that will best show off the colors.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bubble Soccer

Though I can't actually afford to do it, I'm getting such a kick out of imagining my nieces and nephews playing bubble soccer in my back yard with a gaggle of neighbor kids.

You get a set of six bubble soccer suits for around $1000 and shipping. The set comes with a storage bag and, I really don't want to know why, zipper oil. Hrm!

I wondered what a game of bubble soccer actually looks like, so I snooped around on YouTube and found this funny video of Jimmy Fallon playing bubble soccer against Colin Farrell and Chris Pratt!

Also, here's a bubble soccer webpage that helps you find a place to rent the soccer suits.