Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet and Salty


It's true. Call the presses. I'm trying to eat more healthy. And that is the reason for my posts today. So, instead of treating myself at the end of a long day with ice cream or cookies, I've been treating myself with strawberries. We are blessed to live near some farms, so there's a guy with a small stand (okay the back of his truck) that sells flats of freshly picked strawberries.

I love eating them just yummy. But lots of strawberries means...lots of strawberry baskets. I feel bad throwing these things away...I'm sure I can do something useful with them. So much to my hubbie's chagrin, I saved a few. I found some mini binder clips (and if you're looking for a post solely about binder clips, click here) and decided to attach all the strawberry baskets together. I then found a few different ways I could use them.
You can use it as an organizer for craft time with the kids!

We made a game. They had three tries and they tried to get the most points. This version helped with their adding of fractions.
Other Games:
-Put letters on the papers at the bottom and when your ball lands on a letter, you have to say a word that starts with that letter, but no repeats.
-If you have a deck of cards, you can give each person a different suit and you can try throwing your cards in the baskets to see who gets the most points.
-If you lead the kids music at church, a song can be under each of the papers and the kids can try to throw a bean bag in there.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Because of previously stated attempt at eating healthier, I discovered that you can make your own potato chips in the microwave. You probably already knew this...but I didn't and I love potato chips so I love this.

With a mandolin slicer, thinly slice the potato.
Kinda' like so
Then with the olive oil cooking spray, lightly coat the potato slices and the microwaveable plate. Place slices on plate.
Microwave for 3 minutes first, check on them. They should be like this, lightly brown. I cooked these for a total of 6 minutes. Make sure you use hot pads to take that plate out of the microwave.
Then lightly sprinkle on your favorite flavor. I love this salt. It's so tasty! I think you can see the phone number on the bottle if you want to order. The shop is owned by a friend of a friend who is so nice. They have so many yummy spices there and the prices are so reasonable. It's better to call than go online because she gives you a ton of cooking ideas.
I like to put mine on a cookie rack to cool and crisp. Plus, I'm using the plate to make the rest of my chips.
There you have it! The Sweet and Salty of my healthier eating.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life - Trying to have a Ball

My deepest apologies to Debbie who seems to have been the only one posting lately.  I'm not going to try to get any sympathy from you, but (here's where I actually do try) I've had my hands full the last few weeks.

First, I had strep throat and my family caught something else almost as bad. Then I had a week long business trip in freezing Chicago (ok...I admit, it wasn't that cold, but So. Cal Girl was NOT comfortable). Then a quick family vacay to Disneyland which brought on bronchitis.  Again, the bronchitis itself wasn't that was the almost peeing or peeing my pants every time I coughed. Let's just say there was a lot of coughing and a lot of laundry to do. So between all that, work, church, family and 4 prescriptions for anti-biotics...I'm feeling a lot better and can focus on a craft or two.

I'm not mentally prepared to make Easter projects, so I decided to make something for the baby shower I get to go to on Saturday. So I whipped up a diaper cake and decided that I wanted to top it with homemade fabric balls. All kids and babies like balls! So, here's what I made:

This is a perfect project for using all those left over fabric scraps. I looked for a pattern and I found a site that taught me how to make my own pattern as well as the cute easter bunny out of this same ball pattern.  Here is the link. Post pictures of your creation on our Facebook page if you make it. I think it's so cute but like I said, I'm not mentally ready for Easter stuff yet. So I created my own pattern. Here is the pic or you can click on this link to download the pdf version with instructions.

I cut a version of my pattern out of some thicker plastic like a thick sheet protector or something. Then I cut out 6 pieces from my fabric. The ball above was two pieces of three fabrics or you can do three pieces of two fabrics. Make sure you iron your pieces. I know...I know...I hate ironing. But it makes sewing your pieces together so much easier.

Decide how you want your patterns to go and then sew 3 pieces together, side by side. (Remember right sides facing for sewing.) Then with rights sides facing, sew the two sides of the ball together leaving a space to stuff the ball.Turn it right side out and stuff the ball. I like to put a jingle bell in there...just to make some noise. Then hand stitch the opening.

Here is one ball not stuffed with a section left open and the other one done.
I'm not a very good hand-sewer...but this is my "closing of the hole."
Here it is again.
My kids are loving playing with these. And they are so anxious to make their own. I told them it was like build-a-bear and they can put their own treasures inside their ball.

Here are the balls on top of the diaper cake. You can also see cute baby socks my friend Stacy decorated with crocheted on buttons. Maybe I'll convince her to be a guest blogger soon. more idea I had with this ball. I have to teach the kids music on Sunday at church, so I'm going to cut out 10 "pins" actually circles and I'm going to write songs on the back or ways to sing the song (ie whisper, hum, only girls, etc.) and I'm going to let them go bowling. They have to roll this ball and whichever "pin" it lands on will determine their singing fate. It should be fun!

Now that I'm healthy and there's less stress at work, maybe I'll take some time to have a ball, too!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Switch

I am the mother of 4 young children who are still in the "bedtime routine" mode.

As is typical with most young ones, the dark is not their friend.

But, their parents LOVE the dark.

My husband came up with a solution that I think puts him in the genius category: A Dimmer Switch

Full disclosure: I thought he was weird when he first suggested putting a dimmer switch on the hallway light. Dimmers were for setting the mood, whether it was eating dinner at the dining room table or watching a movie in the family room. But he did it anyway, and I love it!

When the kids are first put to bed, we turn on the hallway light all the way on.

BUT...once they fall asleep, we dim the hallway light down. There's just enough light that if they wake up, they can find their way to the bathroom (or our room). But it's dark enough that the hallway light doesn't bother the adults that aren't scared of the dark.

Is that a "Bright Idea" or a "Dim Idea"?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kiss Me...I'm Irish!


I am.

My Grandpa was born in the green country before he came to this Great Land.

I won't really make you kiss me. I'll save that for the Mister and the Munchkins.

But I've always been proud of my Irish heritage.

So one might think that I would be thrilled when the 3rd grader came home last week with a "family assignment": Build a Leprechaun Trap. I was a little overwhelmed at the thought. But then we came up with this.

Yes, it doesn't look like a trap. There's more to the story:

As part of her assignment, she is supposed to write an essay about her trap and what she will do if she catches a leprechaun. She then will have to present the trap and give a speech to her class.

So I asked her what her plans were if Luck was on her side and she caught a little fella:

One might think the obvious - have them lead you to their gold. But not my little girl. The genes apparently run deep. Her plans with her little friend is to play dress up. She wants to dress him up. Did someone say "shopping"?

So we built the Leprechaun Inn, Where Lucky Little People Stay...Forever.

Her plans are to get him through the door, get him to make himself comfortable at the Inn, then put a rock in front of the door to trap him. Then she can lift the roof off and start her play date. Here are a few pictures of how our trap turned out:

For the materials, we bought the cardboard house at Michaels. It was under $3. Meg painted it green while I used Mod Podge and glitter for the roof. I placed where we wanted the house and then drew out a pathway. I used glitter for the path. After it dried, I used hot glue to glue the house and pots to the cardboard. For the grass, we took Easter Basket grass and I cut it up in small pieces. Meg used the Mod Podge and painted the bottom of the box then sprinkled the grass on. For the sign, we bought the pot and coins at the Party store. We bought the pre-made rainbow at Michaels and wrote on it with a Sharpie.

It came together pretty quickly.

Now wish us Luck on the essay and speech...oh and on catching the little fella...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

PLARN Part 1

Okay...small confession...I kinda' like watching the show Hoarders. Well, let me re-phrase that. It's not the I truly enjoy grossing myself out to the point of gagging, but I can't take my eyes off the T.V. and I can't stop watching the next episode on Netflix.

I've analyzed myself because this fact kinda' disturbs me and I think I watch it so that I can feel good that my NOT-ALWAYS-SPOTLESS home, or more appropriately ALMOST-NEVER-SPOTLESS home has crumbs on the floor and the couch pillows aren't arranged, and there are remnants of kids games throughout the house...but at least I can see the floor and I don't have to sleep in my bathtub because there's food rotting in my bed.

I'm amazed that people live like that and I feel sad for them. It also makes me think as I step over the unfolded blanket on the floor, "If I don't pick that up now, I'm one step closer to the T.V. show" and I pick it up. I mean, I do have some Hoarder tendencies...I like to buy things on sale, even if I don't really need them, and I don't like to throw things away because I might need them someday (especially craft supplies). I'm not as bad as I was when I was younger. My mother and grandmother were...ehem...are very frugal and wasting was and is a sin. So we saved a lot of things and (like I exposed in an earlier post) cut the mold off of cheese and ate the good part.

Mom has gotten a lot better about throwing things away, but one thing she has an over abundance of is plastic grocery bags. Seriously, those things are like bunnies. They multiply so quickly. My mom has this holder that you shove plastic grocery bags in and it is FULL. I once emptied it and I'm not kidding that there were nearly 100 bags in there or more.  So when I saw a purse made from plastic grocery bags at a fair, I had to know how to reuse these things that way.

Introducing PLARN. Plastic bag yarn.  This is part one because this is just showing you how to make the plarn and part two will be a cute bag I'll crochet from it.  I'll show you a preview:
The whole purse will be cute!

Be warned, PLARN takes more time to make than you think...but it's kind of a fun thing for the kids to do and it can make them feel like they are helping the planet.

First, fold the bag in half and then in half again as shown below:
Then, cut the bottom (you can recycle) and the handles (you can recycle) and cut the rest into 1 inch strips.
Then unfold the plastic bag strips and keep them in a loop.  Then, loop the circle strip under the other loop and through and pull...i know, confusing...just look at the pictures below:
Keep doing that till all your loops are connected. Because I had different colored bags, I did three brown loops then three white loops. Those brown plastic bags were REALLY thin and kept breaking. You can either tie them back together or just throw them away in the recycle bin.
Then wind up your plarn into a ball ready to crochet. For my purse I will need about 60 bags.  This section below was about 10 bags.

Stay tuned for my finished purse (about 2 weeks because I'm leaving for a business trip to Chicago and will be gone for a while!!)