Summer Fun: Hikes and a Trail Mix Bar

A summer hike is one of my favorite ways to spend time with the kids, get some fresh air, and enjoy some exercise. If you’re not a hiker, don’t be intimidated. All you really need is a good pair of shoes, a trail, and some delicious trail mix. I came across this idea for a Trail Mix Bar and had to share it with you. What a fun way to let everyone customize their own mix and get ready for a few hours of fun! While you’re at it, why not invite a bunch of friends and organize a moveable party? You could either provide the ingredients, or invite guests to bring an item to share. Then let everyone scoop a bit of everything into their own bag before hitting the trail.

If you’re not sure where to hike, check out Day Hikes Finder, which suggests a variety of different day hikes across the nation. Or, if time or distance doesn’t allow a drive to the mountains, try an urban hike. Walk to the library, a park, or a fountain. Just get out and have fun! And save some trail mix for me!

HINT: My Homemade Granola recipe would be perfect for a Trail Mix Bar!

How To: Make a Personalized Pencil Case

MF Pencil Case
Here’s a fun activity for the kids that will get them excited for the upcoming school year: personalized pencil cases! You only need a few simple supplies, a quiet summer afternoon, and a reluctant back-to-schooler to get started.

Personalized Pencil Cases

Pencil case
newspaper or magazine
colored paper
scissors
Modge Podge
sponge brush

Directions
Cut out strips of newspaper or magazine to cover the top of your pencil case. Cut out block letters from colored paper (or cut out large, block letters from your newspaper or magazine). Lay out your design and trim as needed to fit.

Paint a thin layer of Modge Podge over the surface of the pencil case. Lay each strip down and paint a thin layer of Modge Podge on top of it before adding the next strip of paper. Once the surface is covered, add your block letters in the same manner, painting Modge Podge on top. Once completed, allow your pencil case to thoroughly dry before handling.

Stuff with pencils (or cookies).

TIP: No need to stick to print, have kids cut out their favorite pictures from magazines or use printed photos from their summer vacation to create a collage.

Recipe: Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

MF Homemade Ice Cream
The remedy for a hot summer day (or night) is cool, creamy ice cream. No need to wait around for the ice cream truck, this is a fun and delicious recipe to help you cool down a hot summer day. It’s part gourmet, homemade treat and part fun activity. Plus, it’s completely customizable for each person. And the best part? It’s ready in 10 minutes.

Wait. Homemade ice cream in 10 minutes? Are those angels singing?

Gather the kids and the ingredients and make some today.

Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

Supplies
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
1 quart-size plastic food storage bag
Rock salt
Ice

Ingredients

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 heaping tablespoons sugar

Directions
Fill the gallon-size bag 3/4 full of ice cubes and sprinkle a handful (about 1/4 cup) rock salt over the ice. In the quart-size bag, add cream, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Seal the bag, removing excess air, and place inside the larger bag and seal it as well. Shake the bags vigorously (probably outside) for 5-10 minutes, or until the ice cream in the inner bag gets thick and hard. Remove and dry the inner bag to keep the saltwater out of your ice cream. Discard the larger bag. Serve immediately in a bowl or right out of the bag.

For Chocolate Ice Cream: Add 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup and reduce the vanilla to 1/4 teaspoon.

For Strawberry Ice Cream: Add 3-4 tablespoons sweetened, pureéd strawberries.

For Mint Ice Cream: Replace vanilla with 1/4 teaspoon mint extract and add 3 drops of green food coloring.

Recipe: The Perfect Lemonade Stand

Lemonade Stand For generations, kids have been turning to lemonade stands as a rescue from summer boredom and a way to earn a little spending cash. (And moms love lemonade stands because it means a few hours of peace and quiet in the house.)

You already know the basics. You’ve got your lemonade, cups, and hand-made posters ready to go, but here are a few more helpful tips to make your next lemonade stand outstanding!

  • Cleanliness is key: A good soap-and-water scrub of hands and faces is top priority for the kids. Nobody wants smudgy finger prints on their cup!
  • Location, location, location: Look for a spot near a semi-busy road, preferably near a stop sign, where the stand can be seen well in advance. This is good for safety reasons and also gives customers some time to check the change in their pockets. If the kids need adult supervision, bring a chair and a book to read, but keep a little distance to let them feel grownup.
  • The price is right: Lemonade is inexpensive to make, so you don’t have to charge much to turn a profit. I recommend 25-50 cents per cup. Most people can scramble up that much change, plus it keeps the money part simple for the cashier. (Funny side note: I approached a lemonade stand recently and was shocked to see the kids were charging $1.50 per cup. Whoa! I didn’t have enough cash with me, so I avoided turning down the street!)
  • Ice, ice, baby: Nobody wants a cup of warm lemonade, no matter how cute your kids are. Make your lemonade extra concentrated, then supplement it with lots of ice. The flavor will balance almost immediately, and your cold lemonade will keep your customers happy and refreshed.
  • Change is good: Use a large jar to keep the money in. Empty the coins from your wallet into the jar to give the kids a head start on earnings and a way to make change for customers.
  • Customer service: Let the lemonade stand be a chance to practice good manners and good business. Remind the kids to say thank you (by name when possible) and be accommodating if a customer doesn’t have exact or enough change.
  • Keep it clean: Have a trash can or garbage bag nearby for used cups and napkins.
  • Extra, extra: For older kids, think about offering some extras at the stand, such as homemade cookies or sweetened berries to add into the lemonade for an extra charge, of course.
  • Give back: Before they begin, talk to the kids about donating some of their earnings to a good cause, such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand, an organization that raises money for childhood cancer research. It can add a level of excitement and meaning to the afternoon. You can learn more about donating here. (And remember, if you decide to donate some proceeds, be sure to include that on your posters to inspire generous tips!)
  • This calls for an encore: After a successful afternoon, do yourself a favor by cleaning your equipment and then keeping it stored together for another hot afternoon.

Any other lemonade stand tips to share? Leave it in a comment!

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