Thursday, June 30, 2011

Water Balloon Toss

Water balloons are the PERFECT Summertime activity!  All kids love them.  This simple sling-shot makes them even more fun-for kids and adults!  It's REALLY simple to make, too!
-An old pair of jeans (men's probably works best since they are a little wider)
-Surgical Tubing--about 15' of 1/2" diameter (purchase at medical supply stores or in some pharmacies.)
   **if you can find thicker tubing (about 1"), you only need half that amount because it doesn't need to be doubled up.

1--Take your jeans and cut about a 11" section off between the knee and the waist (you don't want the pocket).  Keep the side seams in tact, just cutting straight above the knee and then again 11" up from there.
2--Sew about an inch seam along the jean side seams.  This is where you will feed the tubing.
3--Feed your surgical tubing through those sides you just sewed.  Go around twice so the tubing is doubled up.  Tie your two ends together in a tight knot.
 Now, Have FUN!
You just need 3 people to operate the sling-shot.  One on each side to stretch the tubing out, and one to place the water balloon in the jean sling, pull back, aim, and fire.
It's a BLAST, and a great activity for friends, neighbors, and family!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Cake

The ANGRY BIRD CAKE:  Now, I must admit, the inspiration came from here. And, that dad is nicer and more fun than me.  I was not about to let a bunch of 5 years shooting the cake pieces with a sling-shot.  Sorry.  I think all the kids at the party still liked the cake.

So here is my tutorial:

Homemade Marshmallows:  I used the recipe found here.  I had never made them before, and they were SO, SO, SO sticky.  But they worked perfectly for what I had in mind.  I wanted some of them to have the dirt-look, so I for those I added a little cocoa to the powdered sugar mixture that you roll in after cutting them.  Oh, and they tasted pretty good, too! **Also, I don't have a stand-mixer.  I was a little worried about my hand mixer engine going bad, but it worked okay.
Nutty Bars: Pretty self-explanatory.  I did use a few long skewers to place them down into the cake.
Tower Base & Triangles: I baked a cake (according to the cake mix), but baked them in 2 loaf pans.  After they were baked and cooled for 10 minutes, I took them out of the pans.  When they were completely cooled, I cut one in half.  Then I cut the other half into 2 triangles.  I wrapped the individual pieces in plastic wrap and stuck them in the freezer over night.  Then I took them out just as I was ready to decorate the cake.
I made a simple butter cream frosting and colored it green for the grass base.  Then I used a chocolate frosting to cover the cake.  Nothing fancy.  I would suggest making the cake balls first however before doing the cake.
Cake Balls: I used this tutorial.  I just used a cake mix.  They were pretty easy to make the balls.  The decorating took a little more time.  I made them the night before, and kept them in the fridge.
Rolling the cake balls: For the red birds and green pigs I used candy melts and for the black birds I used chocolate chips.  The candy melts worked the best.  I used a skewer to dip them, and then just placed them on wax paper to dry before adding the face.  When I added the little face pieces, I used a skewer, dipped it in the melted candy and used it as a "glue" to adhere all the pieces.
The eyes: I used white chocolate chips.  I did cut off the pointed edges.
The beaks: These were those little yellow mints that look like chocolate chips.  I cut them into triangular-ish shapes.
Eyebrows: I took a single Tootsie Roll and rolled it out thin.  Then I cut little strips and folded them into a "V."
Feathers on Top: Simply cut little pieces of licorice rope.  You do need to hold them in place for a second while the chocolate dries so they will stay standing upright.
Pig Snout & Ears: I just used the green mints.  I cut them in half for the ears.

Okay, it looks like a lot, but it really wasn't bad.  Actually I had a lot of fun making it.  I think I was more excited for the party then Cole was.
Yum, Yum!

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Your Birthday, You deserve a T-Shirt!

My son was SO excited when I told him I would make him a birthday shirt.  I had seen this great idea from  MADE, and have been waiting for a great way to use it.

Sorry, I didn't take pictures along the way, but it was pretty simple.  Here is what I did:

First get a t-shirt.  I found mine at Hobby Lobby.  They are $3--but this week, they are half off.  It doesn't get much better than that!  The birthday boy wanted a muscle-shirt, so we had to alter it a bit, but that was easy.  Simply cut the sleeve right along the sleeve seam (leaving the actual seam attached to the shirt).  Then fold the seam in, and sew it down.  And, you will probably be better than me and sew it with a matching thread color.  I didn't have orange, so I used white.  I know, kind of lame.

Now, for the big "5".  Print out the number/letter/shape of what you want on the shirt.  Take some jersey knit fabric-- I used a kids turtle neck shirt I bought on clearance for $1. Trace your pattern onto the fabric, and cut out--use 2 layers of the material.

Pin really well onto your shirt.  Sew around the edges to keep it in place.  Then you can start hand-stitching.  I used an embroidery loom to keep it tight and embroidery floss for the stitching (3-ply).  Start stitching.  This is really easy, but I must admit it took kind of a while.  So take it to swim lessons, or the park, or grab a video from redbox.

I love how it turned out--and the birthday boy loves it too.  I think that is the best part!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Take a Crack at It--DIY Pinata

When my oldest turned 1, my husband decided that we needed to start a tradition of having pinatas at the birthday party.  The best part was that my husband made it himself.  And I have like the tradition--Dad makes the pinata.  However, the last few have been more of a joint effort because he is much busier than he was 5 years ago.  So, here's a look back at a few of our pinatas (not all are great, but all were FUN!)

Here is a tutorial because ANYONE can make a pinata--and it's great to save $20!
All you need is a little paper mache, a balloon, newpaper strips, paint or other decorating supplies.  Let's get started:

To make your paper mache, I fill a medium size saucepan halfway with water.  Bring to boil.  In a separate container (I use my salad dressing pampered chef thing), mix a cup of water with 3 to 4 HEAPING big spoonfuls of flour.  Add to boiling water while whisking.  Bring back to a boil.  The mixture should be thick--kind of like gravy, only a little thicker.  Once this is done, you can put it in your fridge or freezer to cool it down a little faster.

While paper mache is cooling, blow up your balloon to desired size.  Then tear newspaper into strips about 1 1/2" wide.  Once your paper mache is cool enough to handle, spread some of it on to your balloon.  Don't be afraid to get a little dirty--USE YOUR HANDS! Then start adding your newspaper strips.  Rub more paper mache over the paper.  Coat the whole balloon with one layer.  Let dry (Colorado is much nicer than Washington to dry it quickly!) 

Once dry, add another layer.  Repeat this process about 4 times.  I usually keep the paper mache in the fridge in between layers.  Your balloon should start feeling pretty hard.

After about 4 layers, you can cut a small hole in the top and pop your balloon.  Then you can insert your candy through the hole.  Once you have everything in, cover the hole with more newspaper and paper mache.  Also, at this point, you will want to tie some string around the pinata so you will have something to hang it with.  We usually add at least 2 more layers to the whole pinata.

Now this is where the fun starts.  Start painting or covering with crepe paper--whatever you want.  I just use regular craft paint.  You can also use tempera paints, but make sure they aren't the washable kind (they don't really coat the newpaper.)
That's it.  Not too hard.  It does take a few days, but it is fun to see the transformation from balloon to pinata!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Angry Birds Birthday Party!!!

My son turned 5 last week, so Saturday we threw him a big ANGRY BIRDS party.  He (and my husband)   LOVES the game.  The party was so much fun, I thought I would share some pictures.  Later this week, I will do tutorials for the DIY pinata, the water balloon launch, the cake, and the 5 shirt.  I hope this gives you some great ideas so you can have your own Angry Bird party!



THE SHIRT (and the Birthday Boy):

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day Fudge

When I was dating my husband, he told me he didn't really like chocolate.  Then I made fudge once, and I think he ate about the whole pan.  I guess what he meant was that he only likes GOOD chocolate.  Luckily for him, this fudge recipe is DELICIOUS!

So I usually make fudge at least twice a year--at Christmas, and for Father's Day.  Here is the recipe if you are interested in whipping some up for your husband or father this Father's Day (or if you just want it for yourself!)

4 1/2 c. sugar
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
20 large marshmallows (10 mini marshmallows = 1 large)

Place those ingredients in a large and heavy pan (I use my good roasting pan).   Cook to a boil, stirring constantly until it reaches 238 degrees F on candy thermometer.**  Cook on medium heat and be careful that it doesn't boil over, because that is messy.

Once at 238 degrees, take off heat.  Add:
2 c. (or 12 oz) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 sticks margarine
vanilla (about a tsp or 2)

Mix with electric mixer until it starts to thicken up.  This takes anywhere from about 5-15 minutes.  You know it is thick enough because when you lift up your beaters, it doesn't drip down and it looks a lot thicker.  Once it is thickened, pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  It will set up more as it cools.  You can also keep it in your fridge to keep it nice and firm.

**When I lived in Washington at sea level, I cooked it to about 250 degrees in order for it to set up enough.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Gift for a Friend

My neighbor and really good friend had a birthday this week.  I have been looking and thinking about what I could make her.  She has her house decorated with an "Americana" theme, so with the 4th of July coming up, I have seen lots of crafts and ideas that would fit in her home.

But when I saw this idea, I knew it was the one.  The only problem--I finished it and kind of wanted to keep it.  haha.  It was fun and easy to make, and I think she was really happy about it.  Happy Birthday Miss T!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Father's Day Questionnaire

**UPDATE**  There is now a link at the bottom for a 2012 PDF copy if you prefer!
I found this cute Father's Day questionnaire, but the link didn't work for me.  So I decided to make my own.  It was funny to see how my kids (ages 5 and 3) answered.  Take a look:

Now, if you want to have a copy, here is a blank one:
So, now just click on the above picture, and save it to your computer.  I think Dad's are going to love it!
***OR, click HERE to go to a PDF version***(Remember, it might take a minute to load)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Easy (& Cheap) Beadboard Frames

I finally got around to finishing these frames to hang from my Old Window.  They were really easy and turned out just how I had envisioned them.

Interested in making your own?  Here is a quick tutorial:

Cut your beadboard into squares.  I used 6" squares.
Paint them your desired color.  I did need to use a few coats of paint.  Let dry.
Sand them down a bit and stain over them.
Cut some foam board into squares to mount your pictures.  My squares were 4".
Trim your pictures to the same size as your foam boards.

Now, here you have several options.  You could glue or Mod Podge your pictures to the foam boards, and then glue the foam squares to the beadboard.  However, I didn't want the pictures to be permanent because I knew in a few months I would want to change up the pictures.  So here is how I solved the problem:

Take the following supplies:

I punched a hole with my hole punch in each corner of the pictures.
Then, I placed the pictures over the foam squares and with a pencil marked the hole spot onto the foam.
Then I used my sharp pointed tool (a big needle would also work) to poke a hole through the foam board.
Center the foam square on the beadboard and mark the holes onto the beadboard.  Then using a drill gun, drill a small hole through the beadboard.
Take your hemp (it needs to be pretty thin to fit through the holes) and tie a knot in one end.  I actually tied two knots to thicken it up a little.  Then cut the hemp a few inches and thread through the holes.  (I used a big needle to pull the hemp through).
You will need 4 knotted hemp pieces per picture.
Once I had the hemp threaded through, I simply taped them down on the back side.  Now if I want to change the picture, I just simply pull out the knot and insert a new picture.
Lastly, add some ribbon or twill tape to the back and you are done!
Hopefully that all made sense.
Pretty easy, and pretty cheap considering I just used supplies I had on stock.  Don't you love those kind of projects!