October 7, 2015
by sarah

Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand has been around for a little while. It is that sand you can buy that sticks together, but isn’t sticky. You can make castles and forms that don’t dry out. I thought it was over rated. Why not play in the old fashioned sand box or go to the beach. Until my little one started loving it at school. It is pretty cool to play with sand indoors with less mess.

Instead of shelling out $15 for a package I thought why not make some of our own. There are several recipes out there. I thought I would start with this one using corn starch.

It was super fun! The big kids liked the experiment of mixing it together. The little ones liked playing with it.

I first sifted some sand from our sand box. It still wasn’t as smooth as the store bought stuff. I think there was about 5 plus pounds. k sand 1

Added 2 cups corn starch. k sand 2

Then water – about 2 cups –  I think too much. Then we added a bit more sand.

k sand 3P.S. I know our email subscribers get confused between Sarah and Jenny’s posts. (This is Sarah by the way). I realized today that our hands are similar and in many of our pictures. This does not help the confusion. We’ll talk about accessorizing to help differentiate.

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October 4, 2015
by sarah

Bright paper flowers

We have had such a beautiful summer and early fall. The sun has been shinning and still warm enough for shorts. Until this week when the rain and clouds took over for a couple days. We pretended it was sunny inside when we made theses bright paper flowers. We used water colors and do-a-dot art markers to paint the plates. The do-a-dot made the brighter flowers. Staws were used as stems.

Here  and  here are other fun paper flowers that we have made before. image

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October 1, 2015
by jenny

ReFabulous! Paperback Wallet

Every year that I can remember when fall rolls around I get grand inspiration of making the majority of Christmas presents we give. Sometimes it comes to fruition, but generally only a few get made.

One thing that always stumps me is what to make for personal gifts for the men in my life. While looking around the internet I came across the idea for ReFabulous! tutorial on Paperback Wallets. This looked like a great and simple idea that could be personalized and made quickly, and then filled with cash or gift cards for nieces and nephews, or even my son’s friends birthday presents.


I have been loosely keeping and eye out and window shopping on Ebay for old advertising, greeting cards or vintage comic books that would be fun to use and resonate with the intended recipient. And then this week, the Used Bookstore was giving away some books for free. While not entirely relevant for my crew, the I grabbed a book to try out the project. I don’t have any rivet style snaps around at the moment, so used magnetic snaps.


I followed the ReFabulous tutorial, with the exception of gluing down the book, and using the back cover for the inside of the wallet. It actually a rather cool little simple project. I think metal snaps are probably too thick, and I might want to play with the dimensions – maybe making the inner pockets a little deeper (making the template 1 1/2 inches longer), making it more of a traditional wallet interior (so bills could slide in flat across) or something.


But all in all, these wallets seem sturdy and function! [I have a bunch of smallish pieces of clear vinyl to choose from, I intended to use a lighter 8 gauge, but ended up using with a medium weight 16 gauge, which feels great and gave a great sturdy weigh. I covered both sides of the wallet with tissue paper and increased my stitch length with a denim needle and it sewed through very easily.]DSC_0022

I’m holding on to this idea and excited to try more when I come across some inspiring graphics!


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September 29, 2015
by jenny


I have a lavender plant (shrub?) in my front yard. I love it.

All summer the lavender plant was one of my very favorite things. The moments that I would walk outside to check on the dog, grab the mail, or walk to the car, my eyes were always drawn to it. It’s one of the first things I see when I pull in the driveway, so a great welcome home. Sometimes all of the branches stand up straight together, must most of the time it is a little ruffled and sloppy. When it rains, the plant is smashed almost flat to the ground. I truly love the purple and green, the tiny flowers and the textured branches, but the shaggy look, brings me to an open field. Space. Sun. Away from suburbia. Like the end of a big relaxing deep breathe.


I tried a few times this summer to take pictures of the lavender, to capture it’s character and beauty, and maybe make it my desktop when it’s covered in snow. I never came close. Not only do my photography skills lack, but it’s location in between the front walk and the driveway always left asphalt, wires or some other man made distraction in the field of view.


And then, as if I didn’t love this lavender plant enough, last month the plant became a bee motel. With so many flowers, bees are always very happy and busy around the plant (recall Sarah and I have a passion for bees). But especially as the days get shorter and evenings a little cooler, bees can be caught at dusk too far away from their home to fly home for the evening and hunker down on plants until the sun warms them up again in the morning. Many bees had a sleepover in August in our front yard. I for sure spent some time taking a close up look.


And now, lavender continues to give. My nine year old and I have been experimenting with aromatherapy (my oldest has taken to referring to her sister as “the alchemist” at times). After a couple months of experimenting, she has locked in on lavender (known for inspiring relaxation) as her personal cure all. Anything that can calm a girl’s nerves we will celebrate!

Hooray lavender! You make me happy!  DSC_0007

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September 25, 2015
by sarah

Raspberry breakfast bars

I often feel like my kids haven’t had enough for breakfast. I try to offer different things to see if something will click. Here is my latest offer.

image image


Almond Jam Bars (adapted from Sept. 2015 Realsimple)


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur flour)
  • 1 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 8 tablespoon butter (next time I will try with coconut oil)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Line 8×8 inch baking pan with 2 crisscrosses piece of parchment, leaving an over hange on all sides.
  3. In the food processor pulse the oats, flour, and 1 cup almonds until finely ground. Add the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to combine.
  4. Press all but 1/2 cup of mixture into prepared pan.
  5. Spread jam over pressed mixture.
  6. Coarsely chop the remaining almonds. Scatter the chopped almonds and 1/2 cup remaining mixture on the top.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes
  8. Let cool and cut into bars.
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September 23, 2015
by sarah

Happening right outside my door…

This year the surprise veggie is butternut squash. Again a seed from the compost grew into a vine that took over the bean/pea bed. Last year we had a pumpkin. squash2 squash1

Frogs are often underfoot on the way to the veggie garden. frog

The beavers are back across the street. It has been fun to watch the results of their hard work. beaver1 beaver2



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September 18, 2015
by jenny

Fabric Stash Project: Cardiac Patient Pillow

Here’s another easy project you can plan on if you are a scout leader, family or other group looking for a community service project.

My mom asked my kids and I to sew a Cardiac Patient Pillow for my aunt undergoing open heart surgery in a couple weeks (feel free to send out some quick recovery wishes into the universe for her.)

I’m still not entirely sure if these are the right shape, size, or stuffed-ness, but they are a quick project that require only very basic sewing skills, and few materials, that could be made and donated easily!

We use the ideas in this link for the Cardiac “Huggy” Pillow!


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September 17, 2015
by jenny

Rubber Band Motor Model Planes

My son didn’t have a great year of school last year. At one of the parent-teacher conferences, his teacher suggested we didn’t do enough “enrichment” with him at home. His teacher later suggested to my son that he should be building models at home.


Neither my son, nor I knew exactly what this meant. My son decided to set to work calling his Lego creations “models” of this or that, and I started researching online. It seemed like most models  I  think of when I think of kids building models, are not age and dexterity appropriate for a 6 year old. But alas, I ended up buying two rubber band model airplanes, thinking it might be fun for the whole family.

During the last week of summer vacation, I covered the dining room table in flattened cardboard boxes and we set to work on one of the models.


It took the whole week. I did the vast majority of the work, as, yes, the work required much patience, fine motor skills, and tedium. But everyone helped a little. My 9 year old got the most entertainment out of the experience. She was not remotely interested in the model, but thoroughly enjoyed X-acto knife sets left out for chopping, carving and whittling whatever scraps she found or materials she brought into the room, she had lots of fun cutting up one of the sticky rubber wall climbing spiders.


My 11 year old proved that these projects are really for her age range and above. She could sit the longest actually able to decode the directions, cut the pieces accurately and glue them into place. My husband was a good sport and helped out too. My son had no interest other than wanting to paint it once it was finished (which we decided not to do after we saw it fly!)


By the time the plane was finished, none of us had much interest. None of us are that interested in planes in general. When we tried to fly it, it was just like a really good paper airplane. A boat may have been a more interesting model project for us.


I watched a couple YouTube videos of similar planes flying and tried to fly it again yesterday, but the rubber band snapped and busted the plane apart in a few places!

So it was not a resounding success, but in the end was pretty fun to put together. We also thought it would be fun to fly into a fire the next time we built one.

IMG_4812 Building the model did feel like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I think these models would be awesome for someone who can’t move around much or are waiting (I wonder if the glue is safe for hospital rooms or waiting rooms). You do still need to be able to concentrate, hold still, see tiny things and move/reach stuff, so has to the the right not moving around situation. You do need a bit of space to spread out and leave things out for a while. It also might be great for a family vacation to leave out and everyone add a little at a time, and then see it fly at the end. A 7 year old neighbor came over the other day and saw the plane and said he’d love to see it fly because he’d read about a similar plane in a Berenstain Bears book, so maybe my son and I just needed to read the right books at home before starting this project.


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September 15, 2015
by jenny

Fabric Scrap Project: Fleece Dog Toy

I have seen knotted fleece dog toys in pet stores and people’s floors and thought, “I could make that.” So when last weekend we got a new dog nephew, my daughter and I tried.

It was easy, and should be easy for you if you ever went to summer camp or were an eight year old girl.


When I looked through the first tutorial that I clicked on, I realized that these toys are just strips of fleece woven in a boondoggle/fleece/lanyard pattern. If I’d realized that quicker, I think the fleece portion of my fabric stash would have been gone already, but as it turns out there wasn’t all that much to choose from when DD and I were looking for strips. I have also seen these made from rope.


We made one and a half together in the afternoon, and I finished the second after dinner. It was more difficult to get different types/thickness/textures of fleece to look smooth, but not really all that hard. Still, I’d recommend the same sort of fleece. Like with the plastic cord lanyards, once you get the rhythm, pattern and order of weaving and pulling down, it goes together quickly, easily and without much thought.

Fleece can be a cheap material, and these go together with no sewing at all in less than hour, making up a bunch of these would be a really great service project for a scout troop, religious ed class, family or other group or club to bring to an animal shelter.

These toys have been tested and approved by our focus group of one!


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