Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Football Stadium Birthday Cake

My older son turned 8!  This is unbelievable to me, that he could already be eight.  Eight.  I remember being eight.  I was in third grade, and I no longer felt little at all. 

I always make the kids a fairly complicated cake of their choosing.  This year he asked for a Pokémon card.  I stalled, redirected, stalled some more.  This was for two reasons.  First, do you know how complicated a Pokémon card is????  Second, I am SO bored with Pokémon.  I am sick of looking at Pokémon cards, playing Pokémon, listening to 15 minute lectures on the merits of various Pokémon, etc.  So I made a counter proposal of a football stadium cake, and he agreed!  Thank goodness!

This cake was actually very simple.  I made a chocolate sheet cake and frosted it green.  Then I baked a lemon pound cake recipe in two loaf pans.  I cut the loaves in half and placed the cut side down.  I shaved a thin slice off the top to make them angle down towards the field.  Then I iced them in white lemon buttercream frosting, which I also used to pipe in the lines on the field.  The tops of the pound cakes are covered with multicolored sprinkles to look like crowds of people.

The goal posts were the only part I couldn't figure out.  I put out a desperate call for ideas on Facebook, and a friend suggested bendy straws, which worked pretty well.  One post is clearly crooked in this picture, but it looked pretty good up until this point. 

So, compared to cakes from previous years, this was simple!  Only two cakes and only two colors of frosting.  And Joseph was happy.

On a side note, I love the way this picture turned out.  This is what happens when I turn my expensive camera to automatic (candlelight mode), rather than trying to be a better photographer than I really am. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I have discovered a new love...

And it's peg dolls.

(You're surprised, right?  You were probably expecting me to say chocolate.  Or salted caramels.  Or chevrons.  Those are all true, too.)

The great part about peg dolls is that they really open up imaginative play.
Sarah, who is four, will play for an hour with her peg dolls, doing all the dialogue for all the dolls in a little unintelligible sing-song voice that she uses just while playing. 
(This totally gratifies the Waldorf-loving mommy in me.)
Can you see what she is playing with? 
It's a set of 12 little girls in two straight lines!  Oh, how we love Madeline in our house!
Actually, Miss Clavel is my favorite.
Peg dolls are basically a blank canvas.  I bought a bag of girl shapes and a bag of boy shapes from an Etsy seller, and then I just used acrylic paints to decorate them.  I finished them by rubbing them with beeswax. 
You can be really creative and make up your own designs.
Or you can be like me, and copy the things you like on Pinterest. 
(I might sometimes only do the easy parts or simplify hugely.  For instance, the ties on the Madeline girls are just red blobs in my version, unlike the originals I was emulating.  Turns out Sarah doesn't care.)
What?  You don't follow Pinterest boards of peg dolls? 
You should!  They are cute!
Check out this one by my friend Crys.
It's kind of addicting.  I just made a couple more sets last week to swap with a friend.  I forgot to take pictures, but I made pirates this time.  I love them. 
The possibilities are endless.  I was thinking of making a set of Monsters, Inc. ones next.  Or maybe some minions.  I do love minions...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Shrinkydink Teacher Gift!

The end of the school year is next week for us in this area. Although three of my kids are homeschooled, one is in public school in kindergarten this year. His teacher has been wonderful, and she is retiring at the end of this school year. Everyone is contributing to a group gift, but I wanted something a little more personal for her. 

So, I broke out the shrinky dink plastic, and copied the school mascot to make a necklace for her.
Now, if you have been following this blog at all, you would know that I cannot draw like that on my own!  Luckily, my son had a school t-shirt with the mascot (a tiger, or maybe a leopard??, named Jaz) on the back.  I dropped the t-shirt onto a copier, and reduced the image size to 2" x 3".  Then I traced the image onto the shrinky dink plastic and followed the directions on the package to shrink it. 
Am I the only one who is completely fascinated by watching shrinky dinks do their magical shrinking?  It amazes me when they curl up and then flatten out again, all in seconds. 
I rummaged around in my bins of junk until I found some beads and some waxed cord to string it on.  And then I hit the jackpot and found some necklace closures, too.  You never know what you will find when you search through my bins of goodies. 
Then I decided it was just tons of fun and I wanted to keep playing with shrinky dinks, so I made a keychain, too.
I know that this is just the type of gift that the teacher will love, as she is always sentimental, and even more so as retirement approaches.  I hope that this will help her keep her school days in her mind and heart, even as she goes on to new exciting adventures.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Springtime evening walk

Tonight I had just the littles home with me, so we went for a walk on the canal.
She started out strong...

but she fell behind quickly...

and gave up before we reached the next yard...

And then she cried.

But it is dandelion season, so she perked up again.

Oh, those faces!  How I love those faces!

You know it is spring when the lilacs are in bloom!

The graffiti under the bridge asked a good question, but the answer is obvious.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Nature Journaling in the Snow

I don't know about you, but here we are starting to get a little sick of the cold weather!

The calendar says it is spring, but it feels like winter.

Joseph was so cold that he pulled his hood up and his hat down, and I could only see his nose and mouth!

He was having fun breaking through the ice on the puddles.  It was probably a third of an inch thick on this sunny day in late March.
Since it was at least partially sunny, we took our nature journals out for a walk, looking for signs of spring.  First, he found some deer footprints in the snow.

We found some berries -- not a sign of spring.  Leftovers from Fall.

We found a clump of moss with some new green growth on it.

We found a daffodil poking up through the snow.  That is definitely a sign of spring!

But then we were freezing and had to head for home.

I got a few smiles out of my boy on the walk home. 

All in all, a successful nature walk on a snowy spring day.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Face paint makes every day special!

My brave and bold tiger!

This week is my spring break. 

So I have been home all week spending time with the kids.

She said, "Surprise me!"

We didn't have anything special planned.

No vacation, no special occasions.

He was very specific about the stars and the size and the color and the placement.  Whatever. 

But I did have an unused package of face paint hidden away. 

And, of course, lots of inspiration on Pinterest.

A happy teddy bear!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Girls In Black

I don't know what it is about black and pink, but I love it!  I love to dress my preschooler in black.  And my nine year old daughter looks great in it, too.  Here are some new creations I made for them.

This pattern is the Mamu Sabrina.  I like the pattern.  It has tons of options.  BUT the instructions are incomprehensible (due to translation problems, I think).  I find this is true of all Mamu patterns.  So you have to be able to sew the entire garment with no instructions.  You even have to be able to figure out which pattern pieces to use all on your own, too.

Best picture ever of Hannah!

This pattern is from Ottobre, issue 4/2012.  I love the placket on here.  I think it ends up very professional looking. Again, the instructions are not great, and it helps if you already know how to do this!

It happens to perfectly match a pair of pants she already owns!  Win!

Yep, that's right -- the stripes are matched up in the lined hood.  You're impressed, right?  :P  It doesn't always work out that way, somehow!

Right now, they still think it is fun that they match (even if they are different styles with the same fabric).  I know it won't last much longer, so I am taking advantage of it!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another Castle Cake!

My kids are in a rut!  Hannah wanted a castle cake for her birthday again this year.  Noah says he wants Lightning McQueen again this year for his birthday.  I think I am doomed to make the same cakes again and again. 

The castle cake was pretty easy.  I made a few layers in different sizes, decorated the whole thing with dots of buttercream frosting for stones, and then made marshmallow crenellations with sour patch soldiers behind.  The flags made of lollipop sticks with fruit by the foot flags.  And the windows are the tops of the lollipops.  The towers are just a combination of 3 ice cream cones stuck together with frosting and covered in sprinkles.  And the drawbridge is a cookie.   

Every kid who ended up at our impromptu birthday party (8 guests plus my 4!) wanted a tower to eat.  They were very popular.   

And here's one picture of Hannah with her favorite gift -- a camera of her very own!  What a lucky girl!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Learning Letters on a Light Table

Today during our preschool time, Sarah and I played on the light table.

I squirted some orange paint in a gallon size ziploc bag, which I then sealed again with a line of duct tape.
Sarah used her finger to draw letters in the paint.  Then you squish it around to "erase" and try again.

We were working on the letter M today. 

We've tried this before as a fun, tactile way to learn letters.  Today was even more fun on the light table because the letters you draw seem to glow. 

I'm so blessed to have such a little cutie to play with. 

Then I left and went to work -- and I have to tell you, teaching college was not nearly as fun as teaching preschool today. 
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