Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

To do: paint coffee filters...

 Before Valentines Day I had the kids spend some time painting hearts that I cut from coffee filters.  I pulled out their watercolor sets, filled up little glasses with water and off they went.  Coffee filters are nice and absorbent and when hung in a window after drying the hearts are reminiscent of stained glass.  Elijah was very slow and methodical in his painting while Evelyn was quick and done in about 10 minutes. Next time I plan on using cone coffee filters, cutting them down both sides to look like a butterfly of sorts when laid flat.  I think the kiddies will enjoy painting those as well.
 While Elijah and Evelyn painted, Rubia was in her highchair playing.  Here is one of the shots I got...
Her smile turns me to mush every time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

To do: play with clay...

 Elijah received a bucket of clay and a wonderful apron from his Papa and Nana for his birthday.  Nana made the apron for him to use for crafts, painting, and projects that he loves so very much.
 He is now obsessed with playing with the clay everyday. 
Yesterday, he and Evelyn sculpted and formed that clay for over 2 hours!
 I don't think they have ever played with something for that long a stretch before.
Towers were built, bears made from pieces pressed together, and various whosits and whatsits and I-know-not-whats were created.

I love to see their little fingers at work and to see their tongues sticking out in complete concentration.
And here's a little glimpse of a project I am working on. 
We keep busy these days, what are you working on?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Elijah turns 4...the cake and favors.

 Elijah requested a Clone Trooper Helmet for a cake.  David undertook the challenge of constructing it...I baked all the cakes and whipped up two batches of butter cream and David did the rest.  He spent hours...and while he will tell you that there were lots of things that he wasn't happy with, it turned out amazing in my book.  Elijah is a fan of Star Wars and he was absolutely thrilled with the end result.
 It tasted pretty good too...although I am 100% not a fan of fondant.  I just peeled it off my slice and ate the rest.
I wanted to send a fun bag of favors home with the kids, but, I didn't want to fill it with cheap plastic toys or junk.  I didn't decide what I wanted to do until a few days before the party, but, fortunately I had everything on hand that I needed once I figured it out...
 I whipped up a quadruple batch of homemade play dough.  Again, being inspired by the snow, I left it the natural white color and I added glitter and peppermint essential oil.  My didit  smell nice.  I was inspired by this post over at the Artful Parent. I thought the glitter and essential oil ideas to be brilliant.  Then I formed 8 snowmen out of the dough and placed them into mason jars...another nice way to package things and not use plastic.
 I also whipped up chocolate covered pretzels for the children to take home as well, but these I rolled in colorful sprinkles for a whimsical touch.  Then I placed them in cellophane bags closed with twine.
Then I packed everything up in paper bags big enough to hold all of their treasures: the painted cookies, snow globes, play dough, pretzels, and even packets of hot cocoa.
I enjoyed putting together this little party for my boy.  He loved it and is already plotting next year...we'll see, birthdays growing up were always just a small family affair except for one or two birthdays where we had a party for friends.  I want to celebrate my children's birthdays certainly, but, I don't think I'll be doing a party every year. Although, I had must admit, I had a great deal of fun doing all this.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Elijah turns 4...the snacks.

For Elijah's party I put out an array of his favorite things to eat:
Peanut M&Ms
Goldfish Crackers
Chips and Uncle Dan's Ranch Dip
Mini Meatball sandwiches.
For weeks before he would make suggestions for this list of goodies.  If I made something for dinner or lunch that he particularly liked he would say, "make this for my birthday Mama!" Some were practical, some were not like grilled cheese sandwiches or pancakes.  I distilled his wish list into something tasty and practical as much as possible.
To go with the nice winter weather outside, I served hot cocoa and marshmallows with chocolate covered pretzel sticks for stirring.  I had whipped cream in the fridge, but I forgot to put it out...sad.  Oh well, I will find a use for it.  Then I had pop for those that might not want cocoa.
Guests grazed in between activities, which is how I like it.
As a side note: I made the chocolate covered pretzel sticks myself.  This is so simple and easy...melt the chocolate in the microwave, 30 second increments at 50% power until melted and then dip in the pretzels.  I used a spoon to spread the chocolate over and remove any excess.  Then placed to harden on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  I also made a gussied up version of these for the kids to take home...but, more on that next post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Elijah turned 4...the crafts.

The party has now come and gone.  It was a nice day, simple, nothing too elaborate which is comepletly my style.  It was no theme party which is also my style.  I don't do themes.  I don't want to be a product placement ad for some children's charater or TV show, partly because I think kids need to use their imaginations and own creativity more and I feel like I should be getting paid to be a billboard instead of the other way around.  Anyway, I digress...the party had a lot of winter elements, but, mostly what I hope was just fun.  It was all about Elijah and his little friends.
I don't think I have ever failed to mention how much my son loves projects, crafts, art, and activities.  So I knew that those things needed to be included into any party I planned for him this year.  I put together two crafts for the kids to do...Recycled Snow Globes and Painted Sugar Cookies.  The snow globes were a Christmas idea from Martha Stewart, that I thought would work well here.  I saved up my glass jars for weeks and then a few days before the party I spray painted the lids a lovely red and then attached the little animals (a bag of 12 for $1 from Target) and plastic greenery using waterproof glue. The kids helped add the water, glitter and glycerin to the jars and then I glued them shut. 
 We also painted round unbaked, frozen sugar cookies that I had prepared a few days before.  I just made up a nice buttery sugar cookie dough, then I cut out enough circles for each child to have two to paint and then froze them so that they would be nice and hard for painting.  The paint is merely food coloring thinned with a little water and then the kids used q-tips to paint whatever they wanted on the cookies.  After they were done painting, I baked the cookies, allowed them to cool and then I packaged them up to go home in their goodie bags.  I think the hardest part about this was trying to remember which two cookies went with each child.

I didn't get any good shots of the finished snow globes.  For all the prep I did, it's amazing how much running around is still required, things do not happen effortlessly...at least in my world.  :)  So I didn't get all the pictures I had intended...oh well.  More to come on the rest of Elijah's big day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sleeping is always a good choice...

We've been doing a lot of this...
Because outside it looks like this...
Those are rabbit tracks through the snow.  I never see the critters making their way, just the aftermath.  I wish I could get a peek...I don't know how they make it with it being so cold and all.  I did catch a whole flock of Robins in our trees one morning a few days ago.  I had never seen that before...usually I get my first glimpse of Robins in late March or April and then only a handful at a time. 
I went back after the kids ate breakfast to look at them again and they were gone.  I have heard that Robins show up when it's just about time for Spring.  Maybe they made a mistake and decided to move on to a better situation...or maybe I was just paying better attention this year to see their migration.  Whatever the case it was interesting to see 50 or 60 Robins fluttering about.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Feeding the Birds...

 With such cold temperatures as of late, I don't like to forget our feathered friends.  We did this last year of sorts, so it was time to do it again.  My brother had sent me a box of pine cones from Oregon just for this purpose...so I was excited to use them this year.
 I laid out two pine cones each that I had tied with string for hanging (it's easier to do it pre-peanut butter), plates of a high quality nut, sunflower seed, Millet, corn bird mix, and cups of almond butter and a plastic knife.  I almost opened a new jar of peanut butter, but I remembered a jar of just expired almond butter in the fridge.  Now, I don't know for sure if birds go for almonds, I took a chance here, so we'll see if anyone eats it.
They smeared on the almond butter and rolled the pine cones into the seed mix.  It was goopy and messy, which is always fun.

Then we headed out into the snow to hang them on our pine trees.  I haven't seen anyone eating them yet, but, the weather here has been brutal and not much is out and about, including us.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This Year's Valentines...

We have made and sent our Valentines for 2011.  The Kiddy Kats had fun working on them this year.  Anything that involves paint is always a hit.  I once again was trying to use what I had on hand, so I found red and taupe acrylic paint in my paint tub.  The red was perfect as is and I thought the taupe would be a nice contrast, but I also wanted a pink of some sort, so I mixed the red and taupe until I had a nice rosy color.
 I cut out a slew of white paper hearts and using a folded piece of masking tape I stuck them to two box lids (one lid for each child)...I didn't want the hearts to move while painting, but I wanted to be able to remove them from the lid in the end, hence the masking tape.
 Next, I rolled up sleeves, put Elijah and Evelyn in aprons, handed them each a plastic spoon and a large marble.  Elijah had painted with marbles before, but Evelyn had not.  So I gave her a quick tutorial on how to put her marble into the paint, use her spoon to roll it around to get it covered, to place it into her box lid and then to shake the lid to roll it around to paint.

Elijah also used his marble as a paint brush of sorts too.  I let them go until they were happy with how their hearts looked.  Then we left them overnight to get nice and dry.

I then removed the hearts from the box lids and using a glue stick I stuck the hearts to squares of pink and red construction paper that I had cut out using scallop edged scissors.  I then wrote a little message using a fine tipped Sharpie and wrote the kiddie's names.
Here is the finished project.  We gave the valentines and heart crayons to cupid to deliver.  So now they are on their way to little ones to enjoy.
I am busy here getting ready for Elijah's 4th Birthday and party this weekend.  I am excited about the activities, crafts, cake, and snacks that we will be doing.  A post to come on that next week...back to it I go!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Butterfly Sandwiches...

The other day I had the kids decorate their sandwiches.  We love peanut butter and jelly in this house, but I decided to mix things up a bit.  I cut the bread into triangles and then smeared each piece with peanut butter.  In hind sight smearing then cutting would have gone faster, but, I don't always think of the most efficient way of doing things at the get go...just ask my husband.  Anyway, then I made the traingles look like a butterfly on the plate.  Next I placed all kinds of yummy things into a muffin tin and let the kids put whatever they wanted onto their sandwiches...they loved it.  Raisens, dried fruit, kiwi, oranges, Kashi cereal, peanuts, etc.  Evelyn was most partial to the kiwi fruit as you can see in the above picture, while Elijah was more concerned with placing things just right before digging in.  I don't think I had to remind them once to eat...so mixing it up from time to time works for us...and it was fun!
Tomorrow is the Super Bowl...we are ginormous Steelers fans...Go Steelers!!!  Let's go get trophy number 7!!!