Thursday, January 30, 2014

Homemade Playdough

I had made Nolan a batch of playdough the week before his party, and had the brilliant idea that I'd make more as the goodie bags, too.  It costs nothing, kids love it, and it's not something to clutter up the house or add sugar to the system.  That's a win in my books.

So I planned to make four batches, do each one a different color, then divide them so each child got some of each.  Trouble was I had a little helper, was a little distracted, read one of the amounts wrong... and ended up making four double batches.  It worked out being a nice amount, so a good little mistake.

Here are some shots of the process, and the recipe is at the end, if you want it.

It helps to have a little helper.

My original recipe from Mom...

...with a note added by my first playdough lover.

Stir it up.

Make sure you taste it!

Clean up time!

The finished product!

This recipe is the one in the cookbook my mom made for me when I moved out, with all the familiar recipes that she made when we were growing up.  After my own recipe binder, it's still the one I use the most often.

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp oil
(1 tsp alum - optional)
a few drops of food colouring

Mix it all up, add more flour if it's too stick.  Store in the fridge.

Monday, January 27, 2014

And then he was two...

January has felt nice and slow.  After the fullness of the months leading up to Christmas, and then lots of family time and traveling, January has been fairly relaxed for me.  I haven't put too much effort into my shop, just slowly making a few things here and there.  Madeline is back at school, basketball, and soccer, and right now is in exams, so keeping her running is enough of a job!  We did have a birthday last weekend, but even that was pretty low key - I didn't even make a cake!  We had a few little families over for a playdate-party; opened a few presents and had some ice cream cake from DQ.  Nolan opened and enjoyed some of his gifts; we opened the ones from his friends first, and when he ran out of enthusiasm, we just put the ones from us away for the next day, which was his actual birthday anyway.  I did make some playdough for the little ones that came though.  I'll post that recipe and pictures soon.

Some highlights of the boy being two:
  • hearing him sing happy birthday to himself - the whole song!
  • when we went to Dairy Queen to pick out a cake, he climbed up into a booth, ready to eat it NOW!
  • learning to make a 'pop' sound with his finger in his mouth - I tried to help him with my finger, but when I told him to tighten up his lips, he tightened up his teeth... OUCH!
  • a trip to the doctor for a check up: he didn't want to climb on the scale to get weighed, but as soon as the nurse went to get a sucker to bribe him, he got on to 'practice'
  • He's 30 lbs and over 3 feet - that means he'll be tall when he grows up - over 6 feet.  I've heard for boys double their height at 2, and for girls, double their height at 18 months to find out their end height.
  • That's 95th percentile height and 85th percentile weight
  • He loves shoveling - we've had some good weather this week and he's agile in the snow and handles the shovel like a pro.
  • He can talk really well and make himself understood.
  • He is getting good at knowing his colours, and his letters are even starting to come along, thanks in part to his favourite show, Super Why!
'Calling' Granny from a phone at M's soccer game.

After swimming with Riley.

Playdough!  He loves to eat it, too.  Mmm - salty.

At the family center - rock a bye baby!

At DQ wanting to eat the cake.

Party day!

And the rest of the fam...

This 'LeapTop' is a new favourite.

A shot I love sent from a friend.

Gramma & Grampa came on his birthday.

He got himself in Daddy's boots.

In action - from the pile back on to the deck.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mass Production Card Making - a Tutorial

I rarely buy cards.  Partly it's because I'm too frugal to spend the money, and partly because I have the supplies on hand to make my own.  Add to that the fact that I like making cards and giving cards I made myself, and I've got a win-win.

It's a win except when I need a whole bunch, now, and I have none made.  They do seem to get sent as soon as I can make them and I rarely have a good stock on hand.  I often fall on 'mass-production' to solve the problem, but thankfully, I quite like the ones I make in bulk. I thought I'd take pictures of this last bunch and share with you my marvelous mass production technique.  Feel free to copy away!

The only tools you really need are a cutter and some sort of adhesive - I always use plain old Scotch double-sided tape.  Start with a handful of cardstock and the secret ingredient - a 6x6 pad of scrapbook paper.  You can use any patterned paper, but a set (small or large, doesn't matter) does so much of the matching work for you.  (I have bought some of these little pads online, and some I have found at Winners at a good price.)

 Pick out a bunch of papers that you like and match them up.  You'll be using about one third on top and two thirds on the bottom.

Then trim your cardstock into half, so it's 8.5 x 5.5.  Either 65lb or 110lb works fine - I like the heavier one for a crisper feel.

Fold them over, and you'll have cards that fit 'invitation' sized envelopes.  Buy a box at Staples or wherever and you'll be set for a few mass-production sessions.

If you'd like, round the corners.  Totally optional; they look fine left square, too.

Trim your papers down to slightly smaller than your card size.  I finally nailed it down to 4 x 3 3/4" for the bottom piece and 4 x 1 3/4" for the top so I could give you sizes, but feel free to wing it, too, if that's more your style.

Round your corner pieces to match, if necessary.

Tape the pieces on the card front.

You can see my uneven gaps - I'm not too worried about that because of the magic next step...

Take one of your cardstock sheets, cut off a piece 4 1/4 " wide, then trim into roughly half inch strips.  These ones are slightly less.

Using your adhesive, nail that strip down edge to edge over the join of your papers.  Voila!  Your stash is ready to go!

The finishing touch, when you know what you are going to use it for, is to write on the strip - Happy Birthday, With Sympathy, Just a Note, Happy Anniversary, Congratulations... they are good for whatever occasion comes up.

This is the super basic model - it does the job, and very nicely, too! - but you can step it up a notch in a number of ways.

  • If you don't like your handwriting, or want to make them fancier, print your sentiment on the computer, then cut it out and attach.  Or if you have stamps, use those, trim and attach.  
  • Add a flower or other embellishment two thirds of the way along the strip, instead of, or along with, your words.
  • Add a strip of ribbon (maybe with a bow?) instead of the paper strip, and do your writing inside the card.
  • Use an inkpad to ink the edges of your paper strip to make it pop.
  • Use a brad in a coordinating color through the end of the strip before you tape it down - maybe a fun heart one?
Hope you found this helpful, and I'd love to see a picture if you make some, or one in my mailbox, maybe??

Friday, January 10, 2014

January, Summer, and Fall

After a long slow few months on here, today I've got about four different things I want to show & tell...  Ha ha - is that what this blog is? A glorified version of kindergarden's show and tell?

Today I have a few scrapbook pages that I made, and then next week you can watch for December's suggested reads, a card tutorial and maybe a look at the bow I made for M.

I've had these pictures ready for a long time, but somehow never got around to them at the retreat.  It's just a 'get it all on there' layout, but I'm okay with that.  I figured since his second birthday is next week (!?!), I'd better get this one done now.

These two I'm quite happy with, especially this first summer side.  I had printed off a bunch of shots of things I wanted to remember but didn't necessarily need a whole page of, and I had just enough of them, (and all the right orientation!) to use the Project Life design F page protector.  I had picked up the Project Life Wellington Mini Kit and used that for all the backgrounds, adding just a few details here and there.  I love the way it turned out.

I had printed off a bunch of singles from the fall, too, and they fit well into the backside.  Mostly bigger shots, but where there was space I used the Project Life Seasons Mini Kit.  I fit this into the album right between the summer and fall layouts.

Once again, I am contemplating doing more Project Life style pages, but will likely go monthly or even seasonal like this, and then do lots(?) of regular pages, too.  I'll decide as I go, sticking to my 'happy with what I get done' and 'no guilt over what I don't' laid back approach.  It's supposed to be fun, right?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

One LIttle Word / Verse / Prayer

We just drove home today from the last of the Christmas family gatherings, so I haven't really even began to consider the new year and what it might hold and what I hope for it.  In the back of my mind, though, there has been the hope that this year might be less stressful.

I checked out a few blogs on that long ride home today, and browsed Pinterest yesterday, so I did come across the seasonal glut of reflection questions / goal setting ideas / One Little Word / #Verse2014...and I think I've already got what I want to focus on this year.

About six weeks ago I wrote about choosing big prayers to pray for each of my family members.  I didn't share what each one was at the time, but the one I was praying for Nolan was that he would have a cheerful heart, based on Proverbs 17:22 that says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."  Maybe it was the stage he was at, or maybe just bad habits that needed nipping in the bud, but he was easily upset, and I was praying that a cheerful heart would make him more open to trying new things, enable him to go sleep on his own better, and be less resistant about obeying. 

That prayer, more than the others, has stuck with me, and I've found myself praying it for all four of us.  So while relationships are still important to me ('relationship' was my word for last year), this year I really want to focus on my family, and that each of us would have a cheerful heart.  We each have different struggles, but that is one medicine that I think will be a cure-all.  And I can't change them; I can only change myself.  So if I focus on remembering to have a cheerful heart myself, I am hoping it will be an inspiration to them as well.  Especially if I start to print it on the walls or some other visible reminder for myself!

Thank you for reading.  I wish you a blessed and cheerful 2014, and if you have any tips on how you keep choosing to be cheerful in your life, I'd love to hear them.

(You can read about the other words that I've chosen here.)