Oct 30

Crazy Color Cookies

by Hannah Holt »


Have you seen the Halloween cookie dough with pumpkins in the middle? It’s in the refrigerated dough section of most grocery stores.

Well, my kids have been begging me to buy some, but I like making cookie dough. Why would I pay someone else for that joy?

I thought it would be fun to try making a batch of themed cookies. After a few failed attempts, I realized the answer was simple. Roll out the cookie dough, cut out pieces with a cookie cutter, and replace them with the same shape of a different color. Easy peasy.

As they bake, the cookie dough edges fuse together, making one gorgeous cookie.

Here’s the process step by step.

1) First, I made a batch of Better Home and Garden’s sugar cookie dough. After mixing in the last ingredient, we divided the dough into small bowls and stirred in food coloring.

2) We wrapped the colored dough in separate plastic wrap balls and chilled it for 30 minutes. (This makes the dough easier to handle.) Then we rolled the dough on a lightly flowered cutting board.

3) First I used a circle shaped cookie cutter to make large circle cookies. Next I cut a smaller shape into the middle of each circle. Finally I replaced the missing piece with dough of a different color(s). Like this…

I found it helps if you move the cookies onto a baking sheet with the help of a spatula.

3) Bake as usual (375 degrees F for 8 minutes), and enjoy!

My kids and I had a lot of fun with the colored cookie dough. Here are a few other options:

  • Roll two colors together and make spiral cookies.

  • Mash a few colors together to make marbled dough.

  • Lay different colors over the top the dough to make character cookies.

Mmm. Take one from me. Please!

Oct 27

Black and White Paper Dolls (and PiBoIdMo 2012)

by Hannah Holt »


  • I received a request for black-and-white copies of the paper dolls. This should make classroom copies easier.

Click each name for a pdf copy of the Scientist Paper Dolls, Firefighter Paper Dolls, Builder Paper Dolls. In case you missed it, here are the full color versions of these dolls.

  • Tara Lazar is hosting PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) in November. It’s a great way to jump-start inspiration and meet other kid-lit writers. Come join the fun!

I can’t believe November starts this Thursday. I swear time gets faster every year. Didn’t Einstein write a paper about that?

Happy Halloween!

Oct 25

Garage Playland

by Hannah Holt »


I live in Oregon. A light rain shower in October can last through July. With winter approaching, I wanted a go-crazy room for the kids. We have a three bedroom house and four children. Extra rooms are in short supply, so we converted part of our garage into an indoor playland. The kids love it. For about the same price as a Children’s Museum membership, I have my own museum. Actually, it’s better than a museum because I don’t have to buckle and unbuckle four car seats to get there. No clickety-click-click-click, only to find out someone left their shoes at home.

Here’s how we did it:

1. Flooring from Rubber Flooring, Inc. With free shipping, their prices can’t be beat. Also the flooring was easy to install. My four-year-old put part of it together.

2. I wanted the toddlers separated from other areas of the garage, so we corralled them with North States plastic play yard fencing. I found mine on craigslist, but you can find the original here. We secured the fencing into place with the help of few 2x4s and screws. (We didn’t make a gate, but my four year-old can climb over the fencing… and the toddlers are stuck until I get them. Bwahahaha!)

3. Then I filled the play space with items I already had on hand. I gave our FisherPrice play structure a good scrubbing and moved it inside (also originally a craigslist find). We selected some of the children’s toys to keep in the garage, and we painted colorful pictures to hang on the walls.

4. Finally we hung berry netting between our car and the play place. Trains occasionally take flight at our house. We didn’t want anything “accidentally” colliding with the car.

The rains have just begun, and it’s already been a life saver!


Oct 19

Baked Apple Jack-o-lanterns

by Hannah Holt »


Last week I took the kids apple picking.

For an outing with my gaggle in tow, we brought back a suprisingly good haul. The large box of apples sat on my counter for a couple of days, before I realized I’m not up to canning this year. So I’ve been feeding the kids apple slices, and making apple sauce, and cooking apple pie, and serving apple anything… So long as I don’t have to go into the garage and dig out my canning pot.

Well naturally we ate baked apples for dessert last night. However, since our love/obsession with jack-o’-lanterns continues, I carved a face into each apple before baking.

Here’s the finished result.

It was a big hit.

Here’s the recipe.

What You’ll Need:

  • baking apples (we used Northern Spy, but Jonagold or Golden Delicious would also be tasty!)
  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • cinamon
  • water (for the pan)

Step 1) Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Step 2) Using a spoon, scoop out the core of the apples. This is almost exactly like jack-o’-lantern carving, except leave as much of the flesh of the apple as possible.

Step 3) You will be left with a slightly hollow apple. Using a paring knife, carve a face in the skin of the apple. (You don’t need to carve to the center of the apples, just remove pieces of skin as shown above.)

Step 4) Give the center of each apple three things: a sprinkling of brown sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pat of butter.

Step 5) Place the apples in a shallow baking dish, with about a 1/2 inch of water on the bottom.

Step 6) Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until apples are soft but not mushy. Our apples were small. Large apples might take as long as 50 minutes to bake.

Step 7) Serve warm and if desired with a side car of vanilla ice cream.

Other options: I know a lot of people like to stuff baked apples with chopped nuts and raisins.

As my six-year-old said, “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”

If you’re looking for healthy Halloween snacking, here are a few options from my archives:


  Cucumber Martians                 Monster Hands

Spooky chips (baked)         Scarecrow Spaghetti

Oct 16

Five No Carve Jack-o-lanterns

by Hannah Holt »


Sharp knives and preschoolers don’t exactly mix, but my four-year-old loves jack-o’-lanterns. We’ll carve a pumpkin or three this year of course, but I’m not going to let him wield the knife… yet.

In lieu, I wanted a few more hands-on pumpkin opportunities for him. Here’s what we did instead.

1) Painted Jack

Supplies needed: Paints (we used acrylics) and brushes

2) Masquerade Jack

Supplies needed: A paper plate, paints, sequins, feathers, tape or glue (I did the cutting for him)

3) Crafty Jack

Supplies needed: Wiggly eyes, a pom-pom, a button, tape or glue

4) Modelling Clay Jack

We both had fun with this one.

Supplies needed: Modelling clay (It will stick to the pumpkin.)

5) Chalkboard Jack

Supplies needed: Chalkboard spray paint, chalk

My son had fun with all of these, but I asked him to pick a favorite. He chose the modelling clay activity (and that was the easiest to do). So there you have it. Easiest is best. Happy pumpkin season!