Friday, December 9, 2011

Dalek Advent Calendar

I wanted to get this posted before I forget, which seems to be happening more and more frequently lately. This is our new Advent Calendar for the year (and hopefully many years.) It isn't quite finished. This is how finished it was when December 1 rolled around, and will be good enough until after Christmas. It is missing a bit of white felt up top.
What I did was cut out a silhouette of a dalek in black felt, then with fusible web, I cut out grey, and blue parts, I could only find one shade of grey I liked, so I painted some of the grey for a bit more depth. Then I fused them onto the black background leaving black around it (like a coloring book sort of) The Dalek Bumps are blue felt fused onto black felt with black numbers on the blue. Then I glued the bottom and side edges to make pockets. In these pockets we put a piece of paper with our activity for the day on.

I'm really happy with how it turned out and the kids are thrilled, even hubby was quite impressed.
I will try to get a better quality pic when it's all finished, but I figured this camera phone pic was better than nothing right!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Homemade Halloween Costumes

The one dependable post every year. Our Halloween costumes were a bit more subdued this year, but still lots of fun. The kids helped a lot more and I didn't freak over perfection as much.

Halloween costumes 2011
Here are the Homemade 2011 Costumes

Gordon Freeman
My youngest was Gordon Freeman from Half Life. The base was underarmor style black thermal underwear. The vest type thing was Grey fun foam painted, and glued. Old shin guards that were painted and put on with black elastic. The "gravity gun" was made with an Ice Tea gallon and a two liter soda bottle. We used gift wrap cellophane on the inside of the 2 liter and some battery LED Christmas lights. Then duct tape and electrical tape. My husband and my son did ALL the work on this one!

Unicorn Costume
My middle son was a sparkly unicorn. We used thermal undies and the white base. We made the hooves out of fabric covered tag board that I put some snaps on so they could be taken on and off. I also stapled some elastic on the bottom of the feet hooves so they wouldn't spin on him. (They even made a clomping sound when he walked which was an unexpected bonus!) The horn is made out of Crayola model magic and glitter paint, attached with clear flat elastic. It broke the first night he wore it, but we put a big blob of hot glue under it, and let it dry and it worked great. We used a feather boa for his main and tail. (There is an inside story to his costume, and it was wonderful!)

Mary Poppins Jo
My niece was Mary Poppins. I designed and made her skirt (black fleece) and her jacket (blue and black fleece with black frogs for fasteners). I also crocheted her hat. The umbrella my mom made by cutting the head off of a parrot beanie baby (it was in rough shape on the bottom, so it was ok,) and attaching it to the umbrella handle. My mom found a lovely Victorian style shirt and we used red ribbon for the tie. My niece's carpet bag is actually my sister's carry-on that she got when she graduated. It meant a lot to all of us that my niece was able to carry a small part of her mom with her while celebrating Halloween.

So that's it. Another year done. Clean up is taking quite a bit though. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Activities

Well, summer has most definitely begun for us. We've already had our big camping week (since we couldn't find another week available all summer.) The big spawn got to bring some buddies along, as sort of an 8th grade graduation celebration.
camping levi caleb justin on aquaglide
Now summer school has begun with babysitting classes and my big spawn attending driver's ed classes (gulp!)
We always try to have some sort of family project through the summer too. Kind of a "keep your mind working" class of sorts. It's really hard to think of great activities for teen/pre-teen boys to do that they'll enjoy during summer and learn something. Well, some years are far more productive than other years, but I have a good feeling about this year. We're having a cooking class/cookbook writing class. The boys are really taking the lead on this which I think is awesome! They've come up with a bunch of recipes that we enjoy as a family and that are requested frequently. Then they are making the recipes, testing them, measuring carefully, writing out the recipe, typing it up, photographing the finished product and when summer is over we'll publish it as a cookbook.

We did our first submission today. Magic 7 layer bars. I honestly don't know where this recipe originated, we've made it forever and I know tons of others who do too. I would venture to guess it was on the back of some packaging. Anyway, here's what they wrote so far. They will be adding family anecdotes and such to it too later
cookbook magic bars
Magic 7 layer bars
4oz. of butter (that's a stick)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 oz. of chocolate chips
6 oz of butter scotch chips
1 1/3 cups coconut
1 can of sweet and condensed milk
1 cup chopped pecans (optional, but Mom says we should to give it an ounce of nutrition)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt butter in a 9X13" pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbles over butter, mix well, pat it in to the pan with fork. Do this really hard so you get a nice crust. Top crumble crust with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and nuts. Then sprinkle coconut on top. Drizzle the sweet and condensed milk over the whole thing. Bake 25-30 min until browned a little on edges. Cool then cut into squares. Prep time: 5-10 min. Cook time 25-30 min.

I just copy and pasted what they typed. I'm not sure if I should leave in typos and spelling errors, or have them fix it. They're cute, but it is supposed to be teaching them something.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No Soliciting Sign

No soliciting sign
I made this sign up after having already had visits. It's that time of year, and I hope this will encourage them to pass us by.
This isn't the original wording I wanted, but this is what we ended up doing. I don't have a vinyl cutter (yet) and so I had painted it.

The original wording I wanted was;

No Soliciting

(unless it's for cookies!)



(not even with cookies!)

But the boys didn't think most people would know what proselytizing is and the cookie parts would have had to be tiny and I just wasn't up for that.
Now I have to some how mount it by the front door. Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stuffed Bread Loaf- Picnic Food

Summer is FINALLY here in Wisconsin. Not only does this mean we get to enjoy the outdoors so much more, it also means crazy late nights with baseball and soccer. Hey, I'm not complaining! I adore this weather and time of the year. The only problem is the food. I learned recently that I am pork intolerant. This sucks, but I have to just get used to it and move on. And make adjustments.
What food do they have at the local ballpark? Hotdogs (nearly all are pork or part pork,) brats (pork) and pizza (pepperoni and sausage... both pork.) Though we would indulge in these items occasionally (the nutrition just isn't there,) I really can no longer do that. Did I mention there is absolutely no fast food in my town? Oh, I didn't. Well, there isn't, so that isn't a quick option anyway. So now we must bring something. Which really is ok, the nutrition will be much better, but I will need to be creative and think ahead. So what to make?
stuffed bread
Here is the first travel supper of the season. Stuffed bread! It baked up wonderfully! Was super easy to make, and tasted good. I will make again, but I think I'll bump up the seasoning a bit more.

I started with Smitten Kitchen's bread without a timetable recipe
I stuck pretty close to the actual recipe she gave.
Then when she makes the baguette. I just filled in some yummy fillings before rolling.
This version was sauteed kale, carrots, mushrooms, onion, leek, garlic, broccoli, & red pepper. I sauteed it in a bit of butter and a splash of chicken broth. I seasoned it with thyme, marjoram, parsley, salt and lots of pepper.
stuffed bread pre roll
Then I covered it in Gruyere cheese and rolled it up. I brushed it with water and snipped some spots on top.

stuffed bread pre bake
I baked it on parchment paper. It came out golden. I let it sit a bit before I cut into it.
stuffed bread loaf
My husband and boys liked it alot. They all said it would have been better with bacon (again, I can't eat pork.) Really you could use any filling you wanted. Next time will probably be more of a pizza style or taco style one. This will travel really well though, and will definitely make it into our travel/picnic food rotation.

Do you have any great tried and true picnic recipes? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Working On

Portal Turret Sneak Peak by ezri_b
Portal Turret Sneak Peak, a photo by ezri_b on Flickr.

Here is a sneak peek at what I'm working on for my husband.
Like many households, Portal 2 has become huge in our house. Even though I do not play, I have seen my fair share.
It was meant to be a surprise for my husband, but my nosey youngest boy found it and showed him before I could stop him. So cat's out of the bag, and now he gives lots of input!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hope Chests for Today?

My husband has been traveling a lot for work. I don't tend to sleep well when he travels. So I'll find myself up at 2 or 3 in the morning. I can't do much cleaning as I'm afraid I'll wake the boys. (Ok, that's not entirely true, there is plenty of cleaning I could do without worry that I'd wake them. I honestly think my body is exhausted, but my mind won't let me sleep.) So I tend to think. Anyone who knows me well, knows that this can be extremely dangerous!

My latest topic... Hope Chests.

I didn't have a hope chest, I didn't really know anyone who did. I don't know if it's just the area I grew up in or if it's my age (born in 1978.) I did of course know of them. They were something that women did way back when... and they were where young ladies and their families would place items for the lady's future home. Ok, there may be way more to it than that, but this was my knowledge of them.

I don't have girls, I have oodles of nieces, but in my home are boys. I remember what it was like when my husband and I first started off. We didn't have a big wedding with showers and gifts. We actually didn't get any wedding gifts. We already had our eldest son and my husband just graduated from college. It was hard! I still don't always think we've "caught up" with the people who were given many items as gifts. So when my children were born, I said that when they turned 13 I wanted to give them gifts for their future homes (or when the go off to college or whatever.) A little kick start so it wouldn't be quite so rough for them. Well, my eldest is now 14 and I can honestly say I didn't start that yet. It's not for the lack of wanting, it's I didn't have any idea what to get him. Sheets... what size will he have in the future? Dishes.... will he like the colors/pattern I pick out then? Basic utensils/cooking supplies.... maybe, but where to start? Small appliances.... they always come out with better and cheaper. I was too overwhelmed, so it was just given up on.

Now, I'm thinking again about it. Maybe I went about it wrong. I make things. I teach my boys to make things, at least basic skills. I teach my boys to cook and to sew and to clean (ok, not great by example, but I try.) I want my boys to be partners to their future spouse and to be able to care for themselves until they find the right person. I don't want them to jump into a relationship for a "mommy substitute" so someone can cook and clean for them (you all know what I'm talking about!) I want them to take pride in their home even if it's a dorm room. Maybe homey touches will help them.

I know a Hope Chest isn't traditional for boys. I don't care! Roles aren't the same as they were back in the 1800's or even the 1900's. So what now?

All this ranting and raving is fine, except, I'm not sure I'm any closer at deciding what to give/make my children for their futures.What about touches of the childhood memories for their future children, do those go in there too? Do I enlist my child's help or surprise them when they're older?

I really want to get a nice list together and get started on this. I am hoping to not only do this for my boys but for my sister's girls too. I know their fathers won't and I feel it is something I can do for them since their mom is no longer here to do it for them.

So what goes into a Hope Chest??

I did do a fair amount of Googling with very little results. 2 pages I found that had some inspiration are A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Miss Abigail's Hope Chest, please if you have any ideas I'd love to hear them.