September 22, 2016
by jenny
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Mixed Media Scupley Project

Like Sarah’s crew, and I’d figure the majority of people, searching for and finding treasures is a big part of my kids’ and my enjoyment of the beach. Sarah has a preference for certain types of rocks, but our favorite collections seem to vary. And like Sarah, we are always looking for ways to use the treasures when we get home.

Last year our focus was small snail shells. We must have have a couple hundred. We have some lake and some ocean snail shells, all under an inch in length. The shapes are cool, but color wise, they aren’t all that pretty. Last summer my girls were very into lemonade and rainbow loom bracelet stands, but in our neighborhood, it’s the same traffic. We thought they could paint the shells and sell them. We also collected many itty bitty snail shells and we have itty bitty jars we thought could be filled with shells to make decorations. But the idea I was most excited about was using Sculpey clay and using the shells to create snails or hermit crabs.

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And a year and half later, my middle (a hermit crab owner), was inspired and made that vision a reality. They came out as I envisioned over a year ago on a beach as my kids stuffed my pockets with sandy shells and I was thinking “what in the world will we do with all of these?” Except, they are maybe even better. We baked them to harden the clay according to the Sculpey directions without problem. img_6818

If you need a project to use up some summer souvenirs, something like this might be fun!

 

 

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September 16, 2016
by sarah
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Now we are painting acorns.

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As the seasons are changing we have moved on from collecting beach rocks to collecting acorns. My little one is very particular about “perfect” intact acorns. As you can imagine there are piles all over the yard and house. When I saw this post for Happy Acorn Necklaces I thought we had to try it. Maybe be able to use the acorn.

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We decided not to make faces and painted on letters instead. She has painted the tops and bottoms, we let them dry, and then I paint the letter requested on them. We have made them for her teachers, friends, and family.

Hints:

  • I was surprised by how hard the tops of acorns are. I was worried that I would crack them while drilling. No way they were hard to drill.
  • The old ice cube tray was helpful in sorting the tops and bottoms that fit.img_3206 img_3201
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September 12, 2016
by sarah
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Sign of a Good Summer!!

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Years ago before I had girls I told my self I would never have my children wear saggy bathing suits with no elastic. Now I have decided saggy suits with faded color, pills, and little elastic left is the sign of a GOOD SUMMER!!

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September 7, 2016
by jenny
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Potholder Loom!

A couple weeks ago I took the kids on a last minute last trip of the summer to visit my parents. In the weekly newspaper I saw an ad for  10″ potholder looms from Harrisville Designs at a book/gift store. I coincidentally was cleaning out some craft stuff and had gotten out our smaller plastic loom the week before and tried to get the kids to use it, so was very interested in the bigger loom.

We happened to go to the store. As it turns out, my mother had seen a woman demonstrating these larger looms a few weeks before and was also intrigued. We both had the smaller looms as kids. We both enjoyed seeing the beautiful designs and functional quality of the finished products from the demonstration left for sale. We both were a little dismayed at the price, however my mom took the plunge as an early birthday present for both of us. We both got our own new toy looms.

And they are pretty awesome.

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People think I’m far more Pinterest and Martha Stewart crafty than I am, but I have little interest in decorations, fashion or decor. I like to make stuff, but don’t like to waste stuff. I like my crafts to challenge me and let me be creative but to be functional, and typically something that might make a nice gift. These potholders fit the bill. They take a little work, but are easy to make and with the bigger loom and the high quality loops they create a very functional end product as a pot holder or trivet. The loops come in a ton of colors. My kids (ages 8, 10 and 12) can easily make them on their own. You can make one in one sitting, or put it down and easily see where you left off.

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It’s some good stuff. A great early birthday present and not something I might have spent the money on for myself (or maybe would have bought under the guise of buying it for my kids, but really getting it for myself). My kids, who had no interest in the small loom the week before were also very interested in trying their hand at the big loom. My favorite part is figuring out patterns and replicating the patterns seen in the potholders for sale at the store. My mom really likes the potholders themselves and reliving her childhood!

Thanks, Ma!

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In other news, is anyone in the market for a potholder?

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September 4, 2016
by jenny
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Cheese Fondue

I have a huge cheese fan in my house, so when she came across a fondue recipe in the American Girl The Awesomest, Randomest Book Ever, some time last year she was intrigued.

We have used the recipe from the book for dinner a handful of time since then. It’s pretty good! We’ve found it a great way for the kids to prep dinner, eat some vegetables, use up some leftovers and have fun at dinner. The first couple times we made a big deal about it, adding to the grocery list and prepping, but the past few times, this has been a meal we make when it’s dinner time, the kids are hungry and we don’t have a dinner plan. The kids can prep the dippers, or cook the cheese, you only need a little bit of everything on hand, you can get creative using leftovers, and it’s quick.

For dippers, we have tried and like chicken, shrimp, sausage (we keep talking about hot dogs, but never break them out), tofu (pan fried extra firm so it stays on the skewer), broccoli, cauliflower (okay, only I’m the only one in the house who likes the cauliflower), baby carrots, apple, snap peas, bread and potatoes (particularly in the form of tator tots). We tried ravioli for the first time which went over very well!

We have one non-cheese lover in the house, so we’ve also started making a couple olive oil dipping options (the easy favorite is olive oil with black pepper, Parmesan and herbs). And, of course, the conversation always goes into “can we make chocolate fondue for dessert?”

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American Girl Inspired Cheese Fondue
(Adapted from The Awesomest, Randomest Book Ever )

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 tbs flour
  • 1 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dry ground mustard
  • dash of garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan and melt over low heat stirring often until melted and combined thoroughly (it can burn quickly in our stainless steel pans)!
  2. Dip and Enjoy!
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August 27, 2016
by jenny
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More Summer Bucket Crafts – Tie Die and Periscope

While Sarah is certainly the Queen of Tie Dye in our town, my kids and I and enjoy a good tie dye session once in a while too. In the spring, I had found a set of blue, yellow and red dye, leftover from previous dying, but we’d taken the soda ash out of the kit. Later, I found some plain white t-shirts in my sewing stash, that I think we’d originally planned to decorate for a Taylor Swift concert (there was glow in the dark puffy paint rolled up in them). This added “Tie Dye” to our summer bucket list.

 

My oldest has been away for a few days, and in washing her sheets, I noticed how beat up her pillow cases are, so I decided to try to tie dye them to see if I could give them new life before moving on. I also wanted to attempt a heart tie dye, and my daughter wanted to try the polka dot technique from the tie dye kit instructions.

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My middle daughter also wanted to make a periscope this summer. At Joann Fabrics we bought 5 mirrors for $0.99, some soda ash and a bottle of purple dye to add to our arsenal.

The tie dyes came out great, though one of my hearts wasn’t quite as heart shaped as expected, it still looks good (way better than a yellowing pillow case!), and is about what I expected for a first attempt. The polka dot tie dye looks much less like lesions that I expected, and my middle daughter’s stripe shirt was the best we’ve done. My son had made the classic swirl and we were giving him a lot of grief for not doing it more neatly, and then had to eat our words and apologize when we saw how nicely it came out!IMG_6550

The periscope was very easy. The mirrors were cheap, and then we use used cardboard and duct tape. It was much more fun to turn the mirrors (and one outlet hole) around and see backwards!

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August 25, 2016
by jenny
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Stress Balls

This summer has been CRAZY here! And for a lot of people we know. A lot of curve balls thrown into the mix. We haven’t had the opportunity to really tackle any of our summer bucket list (thankfully we didn’t write it down this year) and school is starting soon.

One of the things my daughter had really hoped to do this summer was make stress balls. A few kids in her class had come back from the guidance counselor in the spring with some stress balls that they had made, and she’s wanted to try it since. My kids have made a multiple attempts since then (a quick easy version is putting flour in a ziploc sandwich bag, shoving that into a balloon and tying a knot in the balloon), but we never really got truly satisfactory versions.

This week, we set our sights on working on this, and have achieved good results. It definitely takes some practice, patience and sharp scissors to get something to work out nice.

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We haven’t tried a huge amount of fillers, but now that we have a good technique down think we’ll mix it up a little more. Our favorite tutorials and end product was this one using flour and balloons (and sharp scissors recommended!):

 

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August 20, 2016
by sarah
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“The Secret Zoo”

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My son likes to read. It is always hard to supply him with books. He is particular. “Big Nate” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” are his crutches to fall back on.  I’m always looking for good suggestions for books. Series are even better, if he likes it there are more of the same.

We recently found “The Secret Zoo” by Bryan Chick. It is about the fun adventure of four kids finding a secret zoo. He is hooked. And there are 5 in the series.

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August 16, 2016
by sarah
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More rocks!

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Here is our latest rock project. Tick tac toe!! The rocks are small beach rocks and the slate has a longer story. A church near my parents house got rid of their slate roof about 20 years ago. My mom noticed walking the dog in the woods behind it that they still had a huge pile of slate shingles. With the permission of the church she has been taking them and mostly using the large pieces to serve cheese and crackers on. The small pieces have been tossed until they became the perfect game board.

We have found that nail polish works great! It comes with a build in brush for easy clean up. It is very durable and glossy. Alex toys have particularly good nail pens.

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August 15, 2016
by sarah
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Another Whole Chicken recipe = BBQ

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I have posted about whole chicken roasting recipes here before. I recently tried to BBQ a whole chicken on a beer can. It was a great success!

You need a smallish chicken, small enough to stand it up and still close the lid. You basically get a hot fire going (I used charcoal) in a circle around the edge of the BBQ. I put a 1/2 can of beer on a tray and placed the chicken over the can. Then transported it to the grill and placed the can/ chicken in the center. Put the lid on and let cook for about 45 min.,  then checked the temperature every couple minutes until it was done.

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