Best Brownie Fudge

My son recently went to a friend’s house to celebrate each other’s birthdays. We brought along some brownies and to make them extra special added frosting. The result was the most delicious, fudgy, chocolatey, candy like brownies in the world. Less than a week later we just had to make them again!

Children can help mix the brownies and decorate with sprinkles. The frosting is a grown-up job as it gets very hot and if spilled could cause serious burns.

It is a pretty simple recipe, using box brownie mix and a quick stovetop frosting. I so suggest having a big glass of cold milk ready. It is the perfect pairing for this Brownie Fudge delight.

Try these yourself and please comment below!

Brownie Fudge

  • 1 Box Brownie Mix
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 6 tablespoons milk, cream or half and half
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Decorative Sprinkles, optional

Prepare Brownie Mix according to package instructions, adding 1/2 – 1 cup of chocolate chips. Bake according to the package.

As soon as the brownies are out of the oven prepare the frosting.

Stir together sugar, milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Once at a rolling boil cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat immediately.

Add chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir gently until chocolate is completely melted and frosting is smooth.

Pour over warm brownies. Decorate with sprinkles. Allow to cool and them enjoy!

Upcycled Halloween Crafts for Children

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Welcome to Backyard Catapult! I am excited to be bringing our first published project to you and your family. 

With Halloween around the corner, we find bats, monsters and pumpkins on the mind and in the décor.  Today I am sharing a few of our recent upcycled craft projects for Spooky Season!

Child’s hand reaching for art supplies.

As homeschoolers, and simply parents of littles, crafts are a big part of our lives. Children are natural creators and artists, with an imagination that is limitless.  We keep a large supply of random objects that would otherwise be discarded.  Everything from paper rolls, bits of string, empty containers, the carrying handles of juice two packs to extra Allen wrenches and faux flowers.  These land in our scrounge art boxes, alongside the standard craft supplies in the art closet.

Upcycling is fun, and an environmentally friendly way to express oneself.  Let the little ones make these their own.  Process is far more valuable that product for children.

  1. Oatmeal Container Monsters
Oatmeal Container Halloween Monsters by Ethan (6) and Gavin (3)


Round Oatmeal or Similar Container


Construction Paper



Paint pallette, old cupcake pan or bowls to hold paint

Paint brushes, cotton swabs or other applicators




Drop cloth or Table cover

Scrounge Art Supplies

Make sure all the oatmeal is removed from the container.  Turn over and tap to remove excess dust.  We experimented and found that the acrylic paint was not covering the graphics on the container well enough so we chose to cover with green construction paper first.  Cut the paper to the correct size and glue to the container.  You may need more that one piece of paper depending on the size of the container.  Next, either paint the construction paper with green paint (we use this acrylic paint) or start making your face.  My kids preferred the painted look so we took the extra step of covering the paper with paint. Add the face and yarn for hair.  Display!

  • Clothespin Bats
Clothespin Bat by Ethan (6)





Crayons, Markers or Paint, optional

Googly eye, optional

Fold a piece of paper in half and draw one half of a bat along the fold, or use this template: Clothespin Bat Template.  Cut out and use as a guide for your bats.  If old enough have the children make their own templates for bats, pumpkins, any sort of Halloween shape.  Draw around the templates and cut out the bats.  Decorate and add eyes, if you are using them.  Glue the bats to the clothespins with the feet at the end that clips on.  We did them the other way around…learn from our mistake.  Once dry hang around the house.

  • Berry Box Pumpkins
Berry Box Pumpkin


2 pint size cardboard berry boxes per pumpkin

Paint, markers, construction paper or color tissue paper


Popsicle Stick, optional

This is a craft we did a couple years ago and may be making more this year.  Take two cardboard pint containers and glue together making a solid box.  Paint, color or glue pieces of construction paper or color tissue paper to the box.  Our boys enjoyed this immensely, but my vision of solid orange pumpkins did not pan out…and that is ok!  Craft projects should be more about the experience for children.  It is their vision that matters, not ours.  They were very happy with and proud of their pumpkins with a handful of torn orange paper pieces glued on.  You can add a stalk with some rolled up paper, or a popsicle stick stuck into a slit at the top. 

Please leave comments below.  I hope you enjoy these activities as much as our family did.   Happy Halloween!

Nature’s Toy Store

Today we visited Nature’s Toy Store and brought home some helicopters.

An Introduction

There have always been activities for families to do together. Some have been purely based on survival, such as hunting for food, building of shelter and protection against threats. Others have been about simple delights from cooking together to a fun day at the playground.

Regardless of how or why the activity was done, the connections made between family members during these projects have been unbreakable. From a parent showing their baking secrets to the next generation to two siblings coming closer together over a rousing game of tag, familial bonds are made through incalculable amounts of everyday fun. It is impossible to list all the activities that can be done between family members, but it is shockingly easy and satisfying to create amazing, educational, and joyful projects to add to said list. That is what this blog is all about.

We are Jason and Melissa Steiner, owners and main contributors of this blog and its parent company Hand in Hand Design Shop. Backyard Catapult started off with a simple idea: to one day build a catapult in our yard. I know, not a rip-roaring adventure of a tale, but my wife and I enjoy a good tension machine as much as the next person!

To elaborate, we are both builders and crafters.  Even before we married each of us enjoyed a trip to the hardware store and the sweet smell of sawdust. Carpentry, electrical, home repair and renovation, holiday crafting and working on vehicles were our bread and butter. On the small-scale side each of us also had a hand at the art table…with yours truly even aspiring to get an art degree in college (don’t ask).

My wife was well known for making her own Halloween costumes under a torrent of sewing machines and beautiful fabrics. From computer art placed in school art shows to making bird feeders out of recycled water bottles our hands were never idle.

Our jobs have even included the creative and imaginative. We both worked in live theatre as technicians and stage managers building sets, painting, lighting, and organizing a variety of entertainment. We also worked for Walt Disney World in the character department helping the famous friends set up iconic shows and meet and greets. We met at the parks (I was her boss which is the one time I can say that).  After months of small talk and an eight hour long first date, we suddenly were together comparing who had a bigger power tool collection.  

After our three children were born, we decided that they should share in the joy and creativity of making things, even something as absurd as a backyard catapult!  You see, our boys are homeschooled.  We are strong believers that everyday life can be a fantastic teacher.

Each time we do a project our kids look at us with curious and processing eyes.  They are learning, formulating and remembering. The boys learn through play and projects, which include arts and crafts, walks around town with a pair of binoculars and watching the simplest movements of hammer swings and sawing wood.

This blog is all about how they connect and learn from us and what you can do to help your families learn as well. We will be showcasing a wide range of activities, building projects, recipes and just daily growth that a family experience together.

We will provide the how-to instructions on making the projects and activities your own. The connections to be made, the joys of accomplishment, the questions and laughs that come from the kids unfiltered mouths are priceless.   

Family is a broad term, be it traditional or original, and doing even the most mundane thing with them can be both a learning experience and a wonderful fun filled time. So, get the family together for an outside walk, a kitchen table coloring session or a full-length construction project complete with hardhats and carriage bolts. Whichever project or activity you choose, your family will grow, learn and make a lifetime of unforgettable memories.