Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Making Shadows & Prints

A few weeks ago I was watching a TV show with the kids. . .a science one where they were talking about the power of the sun. The sun can make pictures, it said. E saw this "science experiment" on the show, so we had to give it a try.
We took a few leaves from around the yard, a few rocks because our first try at the experiment blew away on us, and some cheap construction paper (the cheaper the better because it fades faster and better!) E arranged his leaves on the paper, we put rock on each of them (ones that didn't go over the edge of the leaves so that the shadows would look like the leaves we were trying to "print" on the paper), and then took off to the grocery store. A few hours later, this is what we saw:
So, there is your quick activity to test our how powerful the sun is--and how artistic the sun can be as well!

And here is a picture that Princess A wanted me to take. . .because she was to impatient to do the experiment with us! And this flower was pink. . .and pink and purple are princess colours, of course!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Apple-Blackberry Dessert

'Tis the season for Barbecues. . .LOVE that!
So to the most recent one we went to, I brought dessert. My hubby loves Apple Crisp, my daughter loves anything sweet, and my son. . .he's not a huge sugar fan. Weird, huh?
I tried this recipe--Apple-Blackberry Dessert--for the first time. I knew my company was pretty forgiving if it didn't go well. ;)
The recipe came from here

Apple Blackberry Crisp

3 Mutsu apples. peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes ~I just used an assortment of apples, and that worked just fine as well.
1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries (or raspberries or strawberries) (250 ml)
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar (125 ml - 175 ml)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (30 ml)
Grated zest of 1 orange ~This was a nice touch--had never done that before.

1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (125 ml)
1/4 cup flour (60 ml)
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks (75 ml)
1/3 cup brown sugar (75 ml)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (2 ml)
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (1 ml)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup almonds, chopped (60 ml) ~I didn't add any of these. . .not huge nut fans in the house, but it didn't take away from the topping, in my humble opinion.
Butter, for baking dish


1.In a large bowl combine all filling ingredients and toss to blend.

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.Put the oats, flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Work mixture together with fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Add almonds and blend well.
3.Butter an 8 by 8 inch baking dish with butter. Pour apple filling into dish and mound topping over filling, covering it completely. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly and golden.

Here is the pre-cooked delight. . .
And my son wasn't so big on blackberries--just in case he didn't like them. So I made a regular Apple Crisp as well.
Mmm. . .in the oven. . .

And no picture of it on a plate. . .it was all gone before I even thought about it!
So. . .I think that means it went over pretty good! Little whipped cream or a little ice cream (the french vanilla kind, of course. . . mmm). . .it was delish!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Kitchen+ Update

It's been a while since I've posted anything about our kitchen. . .so here goes!

This was probably taken in April. . .the cabinets are roughly in and the counter tops were just installed.
A very simple white Shaker style with Giallo Ornamental granite counter tops. What a process! Hubby and I went together to a bunch of stores, then I went during the week with my trusty camera and took pictures of EVERYTHING I liked. I talked to a few people at different stores, many of them were very helpful. We called people who had done renos themselves to check out for details we were missing. . . and searched the Internet like crazy!
(notice all the tools still in the corner?)
We still need some of the upper trim, below the cabinet trim and some edge finishing.

Then it was picking out tile. . . again. . .here was me, buying samples of everything and then returning them the next day only to purchase more samples! We finally decided on one we liked and that matched our counters, cupboards and floors pretty good.
(oops, sideways picture!)
Finally it is all installed. . .probably a month and a half after we finally picked it out. You can also see in this picture (maybe) the wall colour. Hubby went on some painting binges and had some help from a friend as well. Very appreciative of that!

Here is our office nook (the bump-out). . .I finally found some bulletin boards and white boards for our message center that I was happy with. After all the searching I did, it turned out to Wal-mart I settled on!
 So. . .a run down. . .
The island. . .
 The kitchen corner (see my sink~the domsjo!!!!). . .
 Kitchen corner, part 2. . .
 Here is our dining corner. . .just to show the trim style hubby changed it to.
(still thinking about painting the one wall--office nook one-- a darker brown. . .)
 Front window with no valences. . .

And of course, there is still lots of work to be done. We just hung some more pictures, etc this evening, but every day is one step closer to having it closer to being done. We still have furniture strategically placed to keep our little mover our of danger! Gotta love renovations at this age! (Although we always seem to do it. . .)

 This was just a fun memory for us. When putting some of the IKEA cabinets together, E wanted to help. Of course, there are no directions, just very poor photos (although I would think about becoming an installer if my teaching career ever crumbles!). So E started "reading" the directions. This one apparently tell us that "the bird is sad when it is getting broken." Note to IKEA: Your people look like birds, according to this K kid!
There you have it. . .our work in progress continues. . .

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Bug Party

I am so-o-o behind for posts. . .a big while back, my son had a birthday. And for the first time ever, we had a "friends" birthday party for him. I've resisted it for this long, but now that he is in school and is surrounded by all of his friends, it was about time!

E didn't want to have any cake. His excuse was "no one wants to eat cake or cupcakes at parties anyway. They just want the party food." I guess that is a birthday in the eyes of this particular kid. My daughter would live off of cake and cupcakes!!! So we compromised and had party food AND decorated cookies in place of the cake. The kiddos loved it! (And it took up a good bunch of time--and not so much prep for me!)

The "craft" I had planned was taken from these sites (Site 1 & Site 2). I used them as ideas and made my own patterns and ideas for these pencil toppers.
I think they are pretty cute. No one made the caterpillar or butterfly. (The one with wings is a dragonfly)
We took a walk in a nearby creek to look for bugs (and run around and skip rocks and look for hiding spots and have races and on and on and on!), played hiding games with plastic critters, and just played. (That is really all the boys want to do anyway!) Another great idea I found was a beehive pinata. (My hint or change for this idea would be to use a white paper bag or lunch sac as the pouch holding the candy and treats. . .and to make a few of them! Good decorations and good fun!)

Other ideas I thought of was making thumbprint pictures of bugs or origami bugs that hopped on their own. I was vetoed. My hubby said boys just want to play. That is all they want to do. So, the party came. The party went. Guess what? My hubby was right. Even the eating wasn't the biggest hit. All they wanted to do was play! (I guess that is when I have to kick the teacher-side of me out, and just let them play! Hee-hee!)

Here are the treats we made for the family party.(I don't claim to be a cake or cookie decorator by any means, as you can well see!) Our little barbecue party got rained out, so we went to a local restaurant instead. Again. . .this turned out to be his "cake." None of the kids were disappointed!

And here is my birthday boy--relaxing after making some cookies with me--before his birthday. (Can you believe that all the photos of him on his b-day didn't turn out! Oh well. . .there is always next year!)

Monday, June 13, 2011


Monday. . .and a menu plan!

Monday- Salmon Strudels for the adults; basic grilled cheese and ham for the kids. It's game day--need food to eat in front of the TV, right?
Tuesday (CP)-BBQ Chicken, buns, cut veggies
Wednesday- Another game day? Probably teriyaki chicken wings (or just use the Epicure teriyaki mix/spice, throw it all in the CP for a few hours and call it good!), french fries, and something super healthy to balance it all out! :)
Thursday- Sandwiches and salad
Friday- Left-overs or pizza (BBQ chicken sounds good to me right now. . .)
Saturday's Snack- baked onion rings (see note below)
Sunday- Pancakes and Bacon (will try to add blueberries or blackberries. . .see if "change" is okay! Or else I'll jsust save the fruit for the topping.)

Snack. . .the baked onion rings. . .here is my little hint. . .I added one more step to the recipe given. After cutting up my onions, I soak them in water or milk, tn do the flour, then the egg wash, then the crumb mixture. I find the batter sticks a little better. One of the notes suggested putting the finished product in the fridge before baking to help it stick. Who knows. I'm an instant gratification person when it comes to these since they take too long to make! While it doesn't quite compare to the tower of rings from Red Robin or the greasy little bag at A&W's, it's a good after noon snack paired with a little barbecue-mayo mixture.
(photo from here)

For more MP, visit

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2nd Best

Back in my first year of college, I did some babysitting to make a few extra bucks. (Being a college kid, you get a little desperate for weekend spending $ every now and then! And I loved kids, so it was easy money! Not a lot  it, just easy!)

There was this one place I was at once--I didn't even know the people--but the dad was a pastor at one of the many local churches and the mom was a nurse (I think!). They had great kids, older ones who pretty much took care of themselves and just had me around for the entertainment value. I remember walking into the kitchen and seeing this huge bouquet of flowers. I went over, and being very nosy, read the card. It said, "After Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation, you are the best thing that happened to me. I love you. From, ~"

Don't get me wrong--I FULLY agree with what the husband said to his wife. But it was the first time I had ever seen it or heard it phrased that way. My college-romance notion of real love had just plummeted into. . .reality? Wasn't I supposed to be the centre of my boyfriend's world? Wasn't it me who he thought of non-stop? Isn't that what the world around me had taught me about "true love?" Isn't that what the shows and the books and the magazines and the media had brainwashed me into thinking?

It was a great reality check for me at the time, and stuck--as I am now retelling the story as a humble tidbit of truth that I learned. And then out of the blue. . .it happened again!
My daughter and I were having a conversation after an "ouchie" had left her helplessly in my loving arms. And she was just about completely better, so I uttered the words, "I love you so much, honey." And out came her reply: "I love you too, but I love God way better. I love God the best and you are just second." My first reaction was, Okay, you could have stopped at the end of the first sentence. I got it then. You don't have to rub it in! Maybe we have to work on tact! And then that picture of the card in the midst of all those flower came to mind. The words were as clear as if they had just been written, as if I had just walked in that stranger's kitchen and read them. 

And then the warm fuzzies came. I sent up a quick prayer--thanking God that He was living so vividly in her. And also thanking God that we, as parents, and anyone else who has had influence into that short life of hers, had done something right in order for her to say that so quickly and easily.

"I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus." -1 Cor. 1:4 (NIV)

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times. . ." -Rom 1:8-10a (NIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13"34-35 (NIV)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Washer Necklaces

Here is a small craft I got to do with my GEMS group a few months back. I tried it again with my sisters a while back (and yes, girls, thanks for making fun of me because I wanted to have "craft-time"!)

If you search google, you'll find lots of etsy  shops that sell this type of necklace/jewelry. You'll also find many tutorials that show how to make these using liquid glass.

Some I looked at are here and here.

This is the {easy} way. . .the way you could make them with a group like. . .grade 3-7 girls! (Or adults, if you want "craft-time").
What you need: large washers, scrapbooking paper with small-ish or colourful prints, pencil and scissors (or the appropriate size of craft punches to fit your washer), glue (we used glue stick, but I had to re-attach and then I used white glue), versa-mark stamp pad, embossing powder, and embossing heating tool, cording or ribbon
First we started by choosing a paper. This isn't as easy as it looks, because you only get the print that appears on the washer. . .
Then we traced the washer shape onto the backside of the paper.
Then cut it out carefully and smoothly.
(And never mind the details in the back of the photo! LOL! Next time I should pay attention to what gets into my photos!)
We glued our newly cut out shape onto the smooth, rounded side of the washer. The straight edge, or rough side of the washer is the back. You could cut out a circle for each side if you like. . .I know this works if you are doing the liquid glass way. It will take you a little longer and forces you to be more careful about it. . . I went the easy way and just did one side.

Once the circle is well glued on, trim excess around the inside or outside, or press it in with your pinkie to glue it towards the back side a bit more.
Then have the embossing powder in a place where it can be dipped. We just used the lid of a yogurt container and sprinkled an area big enough for the washer with it. Next you will rub the good side of your washer/paper on the versa-mark stamping pad. Place this same area in the embossing powder, making sure it is thoroughly covered.

The next step is using the heating gun to "melt" the embossing powder. This will act to seal it. If you are doing this with kids, an adult should probably take care of doing this as it gets kinda hot. You want to be careful because if there is any embossing powder on the sides or the back, it can stick to your skin or drying area. Not good to do. So, be careful!

So, the problem with the ones I made with my sisters was that my embossing powder was ultra glittery, rather than strictly iridescent. I guess it wasn't the same kind I had used making it with my GEMS! Oops! The ones below are pretty "sparkly." Not quite what I had in mind.
The last step is to add the cording or ribbon. Loop it around the washer and tie a knot on the other end. (My sister tied the "knot" so that it was adjustable (trying a loop on each end so the cording can be slipped through the knots)--she could then wear it long or short, depending on her clothing neckline. Smart idea.)
At the Leader's Year-End meeting, the Craft Coordinator for our particular GEMS group gave each leader a necklace. Here's mine. See how it is just shiny--not glitter-mania?
I love this one! Love it!
As a teacher, I have a typical or traditional Mother's Day craft that I do. But if I ever need a new idea, this  might be a good one to keep on hand!
Happy crafting!