Cake Decorating

With TV shows such as Cake Boss, the Ultimate Cake Challenge, and Cupcake Wars, the fad of cake decorating has taken off. 

In 4-H, though, cake decorating has been around for a long time.  

Decorating cakes is a great way to explore your creative mind, and have some great bonding time with friends and other 4-Hers. 

Here are some of the great cakes that we saw this year at the Cake Decorating Revue!

IMG_3022 IMG_3023 IMG_3028 IMG_3029 IMG_3030 IMG_3031 IMG_3032 IMG_3033 IMG_3034 IMG_3035 IMG_3036 IMG_3040 IMG_3041 IMG_3046 IMG_3047 IMG_3048 IMG_3049 IMG_3050 IMG_3053 IMG_3054 IMG_3057 IMG_3058 IMG_3059 IMG_3060 IMG_3067 IMG_3068 IMG_3069 IMG_3071 IMG_3076 IMG_3079

Hope this sparks some great ideas!

Knifty Knitting Hats

This is a great activity for a group of youth to do for a community service projects.  Hospitals will often times accept hats made for babies to send home with newborns to help keep their head warm.


These are something that I often do with the youth at the Juvenile Detention Center Shelter Home.  They are pretty easy to make and can go pretty quickly.  You can change up the style by adding a pom at the top or a brim at the bottom.  You could even make a longer one and have a modern style slouch hat for a baby.

All that is required is to follow the directions provided by the Knifty Knitting Looms.  These can be bought at any craft store.

Here are some of the ones that I just donated today!

IMG_2775 IMG_2776 IMG_2777 IMG_2778 IMG_2781

Let me see some pictures of your hats!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Crocheting Project

I stumbled across this awhile ago when I was looking for something to make for my new nephew.  When my sister was visiting for Christmas, I quickly threw together a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hat for my nephew.  He was recently baptized, so I thought I would make him this

This was actually quite a simple project to make.  There aren’t any difficult stitches or anything. The hardest part is keeping track of what row you’re on.

Send me pictures of yours! Here are some pictures of mine!

389283_3213734598976_331652500_n 469005_3213785280243_1543649199_o 964126_3213784720229_917613274_o CAM00003


An Easy Community Service Project

If you’re looking for a great way to teach Cloverbuds about community service as well as give them a simple craft project to do at a Cloverbud meeting.

Fleece Tie blankets and scarves are useful for many occasions.  A 4-H afterschool program made two blankets and a bunch of scarves to be donated to the local warming shelter for use when the weather gets cold again.  Although the fleece blankets cannot be used at the shelter, they can be given away to help keep out the cold for those who are not staying at the shelter.

Fleece blankets can also be donated to food pantries and hospitals to be given to newborns and for patients to take home with them.

As with any project it is a good idea to check out rules and regulations before donating them to any organization.

Here are some pictures of the ones made recently.

IMG_2297 IMG_2299 IMG_2300 IMG_2302 IMG_2304 IMG_2305 IMG_2308 IMG_2309 IMG_2310 IMG_2314 IMG_2315 IMG_2316 IMG_2317 IMG_2318 IMG_2319

Send me pictures of yours!


Community Engagement Workshop

This past weekend, the Trapp River North Stars held a community workshop.

This included a presentation by the AmeriCorps VISTA in the 4-H office, and a visit from one of the local police dogs.

The first part of workshop started with a Post-it note activity.  There were two categories. How? and Why?  The 4-Hers then had to write down ideas of how you do community service and why you do community service and put each note in the proper place.  This is what they came up with.

IMG_2248 IMG_2249

This gave me an idea of what they already knew, and let me tell you, they knew a lot.  I was really impress by one response in the Why? section.

“It humbles you to see other people’s situations and appreciate what you have.”

That right there tells me that she understands what community service is about.

I made a few Wordles of what they gave me.  This is how they turned out.

After that we did the Putting together the 4-H Puzzle activity.  It did take them awhile to figure out what was wrong with their puzzle. I saw a few people try to use all their pieces anyway, even though they did not fit.  I think that worked well, the only thing I would have changed would have been my lead in for it.  Since it was the first time I had run that activity, I think it went pretty well.

The last thing we did was do a human knot.  This is something that is very old, and sometimes over done.  In a setting where only a few people have done the challenge, it works great to get across the message of needing to work together.  Here are some pictures of what they looked like.

IMG_2257 IMG_2256 IMG_2255 IMG_2254 IMG_2253 IMG_2252 IMG_2251 IMG_2250 IMG_2247 IMG_2246 IMG_2244 IMG_2243 IMG_2271 IMG_2242 IMG_2269 IMG_2267 IMG_2262 IMG_2263 IMG_2260 IMG_2259

Over all, I think it was a great learning experience for the youth as well as for the presenter. I am so glad I had this opportunity, and hope to have more in the future.


Community Engagement – Puzzle Piece

Here is something that came out of an engaging and sustaining youth leadership conference last fall.  I think its a great tool to use with older youth as well as adults.

The directions for Putting Together the 4-H Puzzle are here.

Let me know how this works for you!


4-H Friendship Bracelet

This is something that the summer interns often do with the summer clubs as an introduction to 4-H.

Each bead on this bracelet represents a quality that 4-H teaches and strives for.

IMG_2111 IMG_2112

You can find the instructions and explanations for each bead here.

This would be a great activity for new 4-H members and Cloverbuds who are just learning the ropes about what it means to be a 4-H member.

Marathon County 4-H on YouTube

Marathon County 4-H is now on YouTube!

We’ve already posted one video, and hope to have another up soon in the next week or so.

The one we have up right now is an activity the camp counselors did during their training.

The idea of the YouTube channel is to show what Marathon County 4-H is up to.  In addition, it will be there to be used as a resource for others looking for project or activity ideas.

You can watch our video here!


Hmong Heritage Month

April is Hmong Heritage Month.

According to the 2010 Census:
      –  5.3% of the population in Marathon County is Asian.
–  2.3% of the population in Wisconsin is Asian.

In Wausau this past weekend there was a cultural fair at one of the local high schools.

4-H joined in the festivities.  It was quite a bit of fun.

Here are some pictures of our booth with WNEP.

IMG_1968 IMG_1969 IMG_1970 IMG_1972 IMG_1973 IMG_1976 IMG_1977 IMG_1978 IMG_1979 IMG_1980 IMG_1981 IMG_1985 IMG_1998 IMG_1995 IMG_2001 IMG_2007 IMG_2008

Check to see if there are any events in your area! It was fun!

Dutch Letters

We have friends who live in Iowa, and we visit them quite often.  During one of these visits we went to the Pella Tulip Festival.  If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it. It is an adorable little town, with great food, beautiful flowers, and fun activities.

When I say great food, I’m specifically thinking about Jaarsma Bakery.  They have some very delicious items for sale.  One of my favorite items is a Dutch Letter.

I don’t like almonds, but I love these.  They are a light flaky pastry filled with an almond paste based filling.  So delicious.


Well our friends from Iowa visited us a few weeks ago and brought some of them with them.  I was then feeling pretty ambitious, and decided to make my own! I found many recipes that said they were based off the Jaarsma recipe.  I chose the one that looked the most reliable.  Though, they were all pretty much the same.  The only thing I would do differently is, I would use an egg wash on these.  The recipe doesn’t say to, but another one did, and I think that would have helped keep them in one piece.

Dutch Letters

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cold butter (1 pound)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 8 – ounce can almond paste
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar


  1. For dough, in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut cold butter into 1/2-inch-thick slices (not cubes). Add butter slices to flour mixture; toss until slices are coated and separated.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together egg and ice water. Add all at once to flour mixture. Using a spoon, quickly mix (butter will remain in large pieces and flour will not be completely moistened).
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured pastry cloth. Knead the dough 10 times by pressing and pushing dough together to form a rough-looking ball, lifting pastry cloth if necessary to press the dough together. Shape the dough into a rectangle (dough still will have some dry-looking areas). Make corners as square as possible. Slightly flatten dough. Working on a well-floured pastry cloth, roll dough into a 15×10-inch rectangle. Fold 2 short sides to meet in center; bring top edge down to meet bottom edge to form 4 layers each measuring (rectangle will now measure 7-1/2×5 inches).
  4. Repeat the rolling and folding process once more. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Repeat rolling and folding process 2 more times. Chill dough for 20 minutes before using.
  5. For filling, in a small bowl, stir together egg white, almond paste, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Set aside.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut dough crosswise into 4 equal portions. Wrap 3 portions in plastic wrap and chill. On a well-floured surface, roll 1 portion into a 12-1/2×10-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle crosswise into five 10×2-1/2-inch strips.
  7. Shape a slightly rounded tablespoon of the filling into a 9-inch-long rope and place it down the center of one strip. Roll up the strip lengthwise. Brush edge and ends with water; pinch to seal. Place, seam side down, on an ungreased baking sheet, shaping strip into a letter (traditionally the letter “S”). Brush with water and sprinkle with additional granulated sugar. Repeat with remaining dough strips and filling. Repeat with remaining dough portions and filling.
  8. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet. Cool on wire racks.


  •  For best results, use an almond paste made without syrup or liquid glucose.

Here are the ones I made!

Dutch Letters Dutch Letters 2 Dutch Letters 1


As you can see, they are broken.  That’s because these are actually the ones I mailed to Houghton.  They didn’t travel well.  I’m trying to find ways to prevent that.  I think maybe mixing the butter in a little more will help, and the egg wash should help give it a slight shell that should work.

I did an S, but you could do any letter you want.

These are quite tasty!