Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Glitter and Glass and Cricut - OH MY!

Both the Boy and the Girl ride the bus to and from school each day.  Yesterday, they brought home little treat bags that were filled with snacks, candy and a special pencil, given to them by their bus driver.  She's a fantsatic bus driver, and it can't be easy.  She's always on time, happy to see the kids, and she always smiles and waves.  Honestly, I don't know how she does it!  I'd be pulling my hair out, between the traffic and the noise from the back seats.  But, she shows up every day, she knows the kids at each stop, and she looks after them - always.

I wanted to do something special for her, so I figured I'd try the glitter glass ornaments that I'd seen plastered all over the crafty blogs for the past few years.  So, here's my contribution to the plethora of ideas: 

I used glass ornaments that I'd found at last season's clearance sale at Michael's.  The ornaments are about 3" wide, and flattened.  I used polyurethane gloss finish (craft paint) inside the bulb, then put in about a half of a small tube of poly glitter.  I put my finger over the opening, and shook it around, then added a bit more to cover some bare spots. 

I cut the bus from Stretch Your Imagination at 1.3" on my Imagine.  I cut it out of Wall Pops vinyl, which happened to be exactly the right color.  Easy peasy!!

I have a small covered box that I'll put it into wrapped up in some tissue paper to give it to her. 

I bet the kids will want to make some for their teachers as well.  Maybe an apple on each one?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's for Dinner?

My daughter is a very picky eater.  If you remember the movie, "When Harry Met Sally" and the scene where Meg Ryan is ordering her salad, but everything is done just so, and things are "on the side" - well, that's my daughter.  Everything must be done just the way she wants it, and she WON'T eat vegetables.  Except for broccoli and corn, which is another story.

So, mealtimes at our house are accompanied by grumbling and whining.  Usually.  Except for days like yesterday.  I made one of the girl's favorites - curried chicken and rice.  Yum.  With peas.  (ha - I had to get a veggie in there somehow)

I've been making a variation of this dish for years, since I lived across the street from a very sweet woman who introduced me to the power of curry.  I like to use sweet curry powder from Penzey's, because it's good and fresh, with a bit of a citrusy bite.  Not hot, and the kids love it.

How to:
Make a pot of rice (1 1/2 cups rice, 1/2 tsp butter or olive oil, 3 cups water.  Bring to a boil, turn on low, cover and cook for 20 minutes - don't open the pot until it's done)

Cut up 3 chicken breasts (small package, about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs) into cubes.
Add 2 tbsp butter (real butter) into a pan (I use a wok-style pan) , turn on medium heat and melt butter.
Add 1/2 tsp cumin
Add 2 tsp (plus a little, depending upon how much chicken you have) Sweet Curry powder.
Let the spices cook in the butter for a minute or two to bring out the flavor.
Add the chicken cubes.  Cook, stirring occasionally until all pieces are done through, aobut 5-10 minutes.
Add 1-2 tsp soy sauce to a half cup of water.  Stir 2 tsp cornstarch into this.  Pour into pan, stirring to keep the sauce from becoming lumpy.
Serve over the rice.
With peas.  (ha)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Boy's Birthday Bash

Dinosaurs and cake and Lego's, OH MY!!!  My little boy is growing up fast.  He has never had a birthday party, can you believe that?  Well, I decided to remedy that situation, and we asked him what kind of a birthday party he wanted.  His answer:  dinosaurs.  Okey dokey. 

I have a Cricut and 60-some cartridges for it.  Each cartridge has about 700 images on it.  Do you think that I'd have a few dinosaurs to choose from for his invitations?  I had 4, actually.  None of which struck his fancy, but they would have to do.

We put a party hat on them so they'd be festive:

The dino image is from Paper Doll Dress Up, the phrase is from Zooballoo (always a favorite!) and the party hat is from Paper Pups.  I used the Icicle border punch from Martha Stewart (I think - it's her style of punch, white with folding wings) to make the grass from brown paper.

I made cupcake wrappers for his cupcake "cake."  First, the I made cupcakes using a mix (oh, for shame!)  Then I made homemade buttercream frosting and piped the frosting onto the cupcakes using a star tip. 

I cut the cupcake wrappers using Design Studio.  I had read that the cupcake wrappers should be cut at about 8" using the Fit to Length feature key.  I actually tried them first using the keypad in my Expression, without Design Studio.  I needed the wrapper cut to 9" in order for it to fit over the wrapper.   I set my size to 9" length in Design Studio, and adjusted the images to fit two wrappers onto one sheet of cardstock.  When I cut the images, they were MUCH smaller than what I'd previously cut using just the cartridge.  Oops.  I resized the DS images to cut at the same size.  I think they ended up at 10 1/2" to fit a standard cupcake wrapper.  I like the Cupcake Wrapper cartridge, I just need to remember to make sure I do plenty of test cuts before I cut out a dozen of them at the wrong size!!!

I have to remember to take BETTER photos.  Ha.  Anyway, we cut out each of the 4 dino's on PPDU and made picks for the cupcakes with them.  Voila!!  The kids loved the cupcakes and fought over who got the pteradactyl.  Have to remember that - make extra pteradactyls for the kids and send it in their Thank You cards. 

Now, I can get on with the Christmas cards and holiday decorating!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cinnamon Salt Dough ROCKS!!!

Oh, I love the Fall. I really do! The coolness of the mornings, the sunshine at midday, the greenery giving way to hues of orange and red. Just love it!

All of this lovely cool weather had me craving some warm decorations to go with it.  Ta Da!! 

I've always wanted to make Cinnamon Ornaments, but the only recipe I'd ever seen used applesauce to bind the cinnamon, or maybe a bit of glue and applesauce. Here in the South, applesauce just attracts ants and bugs.  So, I never actually made the ornaments, although I did discover I had purchased 4 containers of cinnamon !!

When I found the recipe from Colleen at her blog, And Baby Makes Five, I knew I had to give it a try.  I figured the worst thing that could happen is that the ornaments would turn out horribly, they'd fall apart, and the children / table / floor would be covered in gooey dough and cinnamon.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out!!  The kids had fun and didn't fight for a whole 15 minutes!!  Sure, there was a mess on the table and floor.  My son lost interest quickly in creating actual ornaments, but he had fun playing with the dough and creating space creatures which attacked the table.  He also discovered that the dough doesn't taste as good as it smells.  My daughter made some really fun little pumpkins, and even made a Jack O'Lantern Wreath and a Pirate Pumpkin.  ha.

The best part is the SMELL. Honestly. It still smells so goooooood in here!

Here's the original post from Colleen:  http://andbabymakesfive-colleen.blogspot.com/2010/09/cinnamon-salt-dough-gingers-tutorial.html

I altered her recipe just a bit:

2 C flour
3/4 C cinnamon
1 C salt
1 1/2 C lukewarm water

I think I ended up adding just a tablespoon or two of extra flour to keep the dough from being too sticky.  I used my Kitchenaid with the dough hook to mix it all up.

Use cinnamon on the table and your hands instead of flour when you roll it out.  Pinch off a ball, cover it in cinnamon, then roll it or press it flat with your hands.  I had a 7 oz jar of cinnamon (Dollar Store!) and there was still about a half cup of cinnamon in the jar after using it for the recipe and for dusting the dough.  Guess we'll be making more of these, since I still have 3 full containers of cinnamon.
It's probably a good idea to use this shortly after making it.  We put ours in the fridge, wrapped in plastic.  When we took it out, moisture condensed on the surface of the dough, so we had to use extra cinnamon to keep it from being so sticky.

The ornaments that were thinner (about 1/4" or so) came out the best.  The thicker ornaments puffed up when they baked and were hollow inside.  Still a neat look.

We made about 2 dozen pumpkin ornaments, some "bones" and some witch hats.

Put the ornies on parchment or foil to bake.  Ours did stick a little bit, but the foil peeled off easily enough once they were cooled.

Colleen covered hers in wax or said to use poly spray.  I haven't covered ours in anything, we like the cinnamon smell.  If they disintegrate after the holiday, that's fine.  Christmas is right around the corner, we'll just make some more!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Getting There.....

Life moves slowly sometimes.  Sometimes it moves toooooo fast!  I'm still plugging away at getting everything in my craft room back in order.  The dining room is almost craft-free, except for a few small baskets of embroidery supplies.  Oh, and 3 grocery bags of VINTAGE FABRIC.  More on that later.

The kids are back in school.  In a way I'm quite sad that they've gotten to be old enough to go to school full-time, it's like they don't need me anymore.  But, in a way I'm OVERJOYED.  Seriously!!  It's so nice to sit and have a cup of coffee without breaking up a battle or to be able to shower without having one (or both) children yelling for me because they can't find something. 

I've been spending part of my child-free days cleaning and organizing; and the other part I've either been shopping (alone!) or helping out at school, or just being ALONE.  I got my hair cut.  I had lunch with friends.  I had lunch with my husband - without having to cut up food for someone else.  I went bike riding.  I went into the craft store without having someone whiiiiiiine that they were bored or whiiiiiiiiine that they wanted soooooooomethiiiiiiiiiiiiing.  You get the picture, right?  I feel like I'm becoming myself again.  Feels nice!

The downside of this self-indulgent pleasure is that at 3:15, I never know what kind of kids will be stepping off the bus.  My son is generally good-natured and easy to please.  He's quite happy having a glass of chocolate milk and a snack while he plays with his marble maze.  Most days.  My daughter, who is older, just doesn't transition well.  She steps off the bus in a fair to moderately snitty mood, then it proceeds to worsen while she sits down to do homework. 

The meltdown begins when she can't find any snacks that she wants to eat.  Believe me, I've bought plenty of variety, it's just that there's no way to tell what she'll WANT from one day to the next.  She invariably wants what we don't have.  If I were a nice Mommy, I'd just buy a case of Reese's cups and call it a day.  BUT, with my luck, she'd eat 1 of them, then want something else the next day, that we don't have!

Her class eats a very late lunch - their lunchtime is at 1:15.  So, the teacher has a snack time scheduled at 10:30 or so.  The kids only get about 10 minutes for snack, however, which is just enough time to eat something quickly and move on.  My daughter doesn't do ANYTHING quickly.  She ends up bringing the remainder of her snack outside at recess, around 11:30.  So, by lunchtime, she's not hungry.  She snacks again, picking at her lunch.  Then she comes home 2 hours later, and is hungry again.  No wonder the kid is having a hard time.  Not sure what to do about it, but I think she should be eating a better lunch rather than snacking all day.  I really wish she wasn't so picky about food. 

She sits down to work on her homework, and the moaning begins.  Literally.  She MOANS.  I allowed her to work on her homework in her room a few times, and then I discovered she wasn't doing it.  She was playing instead.  So - she has to sit downstairs and do her papers either on the dining room table or in the sitting area.  I even bought her a little lap desk.  She still MOANS about the amount of homework she has.  In all honesty, I don't think a 4th grader should have an hour or more of work to do once they get home.  She's been in school for 7 hours already.  She leaves at 7:30 am and gets home at 3:15 - 3:30.   Why can't they do the work they need to during those 7 hours??  But, that's the way it is.  So, she has an hour or so of homework to do.  I suspect the reason she's moaning is for my attention.  Sometimes she gets it, but not in a very pleasant way. 

The other issue is that the homework is BORING.  It's either a repeat of things she's already mastered (busywork) or it's writing sentences and spelling words over and over.  BUSYWORK.  Part of me wishes I had the patience to homeschool her.  It would be great to spend time with her studying subjects of interest to her in ways that she can engage in.  Instead, we're stuck writing basic spelling words OVER and OVER.  Ugh.  I don't blame her for not wanting to do the work, but it still needs to be done. 

The result of all this drama is that by 5pm, I'm exhausted from trying to head off the inevitable meltdown and crying jags.  I'm frustrated and angry, and I still have dinner to make.  And, she's just as finicky about what she wants to eat for dinner as she is for what she wants to eat for snack.  There's no pleasing The Princess, and at this point, I refuse to cater to her.  We have whatever is on the menu already, and she can either eat it or go without.  

I think next week I might try having her spend some "down" time before she starts her homework.    I don't know if it will be better to have a bit of a reprieve from schoolwork, or to just move on and get it over with.  We'll see.

Fondue tonight!  I found a beautiful little electric fondue pot from the 70's at the 50% off sale our local thrift store was having yesterday.  It was marked $4, so with the sale price, it was only $2 bucks!  SCORE!!  I also found 2 pewter goblets that will become pretty pincushion bases.  It was a good day.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend the morning at the flea market (with hubby and kids in tow).  They found the kettle corn guy and the fruit stands.  I found a basket full of fabric scraps from the 1930's.  The basket was priced at $25 on the tag.  When I got closer, I read the fine print, "or $30 with contents."  Hmm.  I asked the seller if she'd be willing to part with just the fabric.  She told me I could take all of the fabric for $5.  BONUS!!!!!  I ended up with 3 grocery bags full of pieces.  I thought they might be reproduction prints, but they're definitely not.  In total, over 50 different prints, about a fat quarter's worth or more of each.  Yay!  Now, my task is to make them smell better.  They spent the past 60+ years in a home with people who cooked and smoked around them, so they're quite fragrant.  I bought some Dryel, so we'll try that fix first.  I also found a beautiful apron and a little girl's dress from the 20's or 30's.  They washed up well, and the dress fits my Suntan baby quite nicely. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Seriously, I meant to keep up but....

Life is amazing at how much stuff gets in the way of what we intend to do with our days.  I had really meant to keep up with this blog.  I really did.  But, I ended up documenting the progress we were making on another project at this blog:  http://www.frankenshasta.blogspot.com/

So, back to business.  I'm currently culling and cleaning out my craft room, which became a repository for all things "crafty" or anything that needed to go into the garage but couldn't get sawdust all over it.  My sewing / craft room is a room that the previous homeowners made in the corner of the garage for a "hang-out room" for their teenaged kids.  It's 9' by 14', and has a corner cut off one of the short ends to allow a car to be parked in the garage if needed.  There's a window, and hubby and I put countertops around the walls for crafting space.  We reused the cabinets from our kitchen when we remodeled, hanging them over the countertops.  It's a great space, even though it's quite small. 

Hubby uses the rest of the garage as a workshop for everything from woodworking to car repair, though we haven't parked a vehicle in it since we've owned the house.  When we started the renovation on our vintage Shasta camper, we put EVERYTHING that needed protection from dust into my craft space.  Ugh.  Over the months, I grabbed out what I needed, and other things got put into their place.  What a MESS.  I even moved my sewing machine, ironing board and iron into the dining area of our home so that I could sew curtains and cushions for the camper.   

Now that we're done the major renovation on the camper, it's time to put things back and get my craft room in order.  And - get the dining room back in order as well!!  Things didn't get into the bad shape that they're in overnight, so I expect it to take awhile to get cleaned up and put right.  (kinda like the economy, but don't get me started.)

I'm a packrat by nature, and I've fought a battle with the clutterbug my entire life.  I have quite a collection of various craft supplies, for various crafts, and I'm still on the lookout for more.  Organizing them is my task for the next few days.  I'll take any supplies that I can part with to a reuse center that caters to teachers and artisans.  My worry is that I might bring home more than I donate.  Ha.

I'll post before and after pictures when it's done.  I had already begun cleaning when I took some photos for the "before" picture.  I'd removed a big box of countertop laminate, an 82" long piece of foam and my spinning wheels.  Just so I could get INTO the room.  hahahah 

If you don't hear from me soon, send coffee and chocolate.  hahaha.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Long Time, No hear!

Happy New Year!  As part of my resolutions this year, I want to keep up with this blog.  What's new in my world?  Well, the Girl is now 9 years old and in 3rd grade.  She's a Brownie this year, and I have offered  to co-lead her troop.  We are now selling cookies, and things will be hectic but fun!

The Boy has turned 5, and started preschool at the same preschool that the Girl attended.  They are a wonderful bunch of teachers and they adore him.  He's working on social skills and following directions; two things he will need for Kindergarten next year.  It's almost time to register him for school here in NC.

I have begun sewing again.  The Girl got an Our Generation 18" doll like the American Girl doll for Christmas.  And a sewing machine, courtesy of her loving mother.  I hope to instill a love of sewing; she already loves fabrics and has a great eye for color.  Anyway, as a part of teaching her to sew, I found lots of free online patterns for AG dolls.  I've been sewing up a storm, tearing apart old clothes and hunting for little trims to work into the designs.  Lots of Fun!!