Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rewarding Behavior

I have found a new use for my Mason jars that helps me have a happy time with my kiddos:
half pint Mason jar with fruit roll up pieces

I take a half pint mason jar for each child and announce there will be an ‘reward time’ later in the day; and I am sure to make good on the time promised. I reward the children who do kind acts for one another all on their own with out being asked to, by placing a reward in their jar. I strongly discourage them behaving badly toward each other or for down right meanness. Every now and then when it seems appropriate, I remind everyone of the reward time coming up to encourage good behavior. 

In the same way, I remove a treat from the jar of the child who earned that deduction, making sure they see me add or subtract a treat and explain why. They seem to better understand the visual of the adding or taking away of a reward better than mere lip service. I cut fruit roll ups into 4 or 5 pieces and one piece is a reward. Of course M&M’s could be the reward, coins, or what ever you wanted to use that would motivate your child. My little ones are doing better, and sometimes after an act of kindness they look up at me and smile, making sure I noticed. I let them know I did, with a treat reward and a word of praise.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fabulous Food Links

I wanted to share these three links with you because I think they are exceptional. I was just blown away at the creativity with this Halloween treat! In a Mason jar no less! Chocolate Spider Web {Cake in a Jar} from i am baker. There are some wonderful goodies there!
I would never take the time to make this, but it is wonderful!  No, not going to give you a photo of this one, it's so creative you need to go to the site yourself and see it!
The last recipes here I do make and love! I have added some notes of what I do when making these recipes that are not in the original. You of course, can make them anyway you like. But please do try them!

Here is Pioneer Woman’s version of Zuppa Toscana and you will not be able to stop eating it, its fabulous and easy. These days food needs to be easy and fast or I don’t make it. Here is how I made the Pioneer Woman’s soup recipe; I cooked the potatoes in the chicken broth, and used cream instead of half and half. I put the onions in with the sausage when it was about half cooked. I wish I would have put the kale in with the potatoes while they were cooking because the kale seemed to need to be cooked a little longer, but it was just fine the way it was. I will next time and see how that works. But really you must try this recipe, it is amazingly delicious! And it was just as good the next day. We made a meal of just this soup.
This photo is not of the recipe below

This last recipe you simply can’t believe it is so good. If I had not seen this demonstrated and a bystander taste it and like it, I would have never wanted to make it. But I did make it and now I love to give samples to people and then watch their faces as they look at me in amazement when I tell them what it is made out of. It is a brownie/cake made from Nutella and black beans! So it’s delicious and healthy! It was created by The Cooking Cardiologist for his new cook book which I will be purchasing.
In this recipe I used a pint size Mason jar on the blender, added half the beans and two eggs, pureed it, poured that into a bowl and repeated for remaining beans and eggs. The beans were too dry to blend without the added moisture of the eggs. I mixed the sugar (I used 3tbs) and the baking powder together, added it to the mix in the bowl. I didn't add the liqueur or whipped topping.Then I added the ½ c of Nutella and whisked it together and baked. I couldn’t wait to try it and it wasn’t completely cool when I did. I didn't have it ‘frosted’ yet, and it did have a bean taste. After it completely cooled and I frosted it with the Nutella, I couldn’t tell it was made from beans AT ALL! It was still moist the next day too. Love it soooo much! Here's the link for the recipe Nutella Flourless Chocolate Torte.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

How We Make a Scare Crow

I try to do most things the easiest way possible and I think that scarecrows are a pretty easy thing to make. The first time I made one I used real straw; it looked great but it was really heavy and soaked up the water when it rained. It also was super messy and though the kids loved playing in the straw they left straw debris every where and itched where it got on their skin. Now we make our scarecrows from plastic shopping bags and wow does it work great. Of course you could use poly fill for stuffing, but the bags are free, and they can be recycled when you are done with your scarecrow. If you use plastic shopping bags for stuffing, start saving them now and ask friends to save for you also, it takes a LOT of bags! We make our scarecrows sized to a child’s clothing size 8-10, size yours any way you like, and I order adhesive faces from Oriental Trading, $7 for a dozen face applications. Let me show you how we make one.
The first scare crow head I made I simply stuffed a plastic shopping bag, wrapped it with an old white t shirt pinning in the back and tucking the excess at the throat into the shirt. We used permanent markers for the face. Now I sew heads* for everyone to use out of muslin. You could also paint a milk jug or even buy a Styrofoam head to use. (Hobby Lobby has them for about $5 ) You can use any fabric or burlap square placed over a stuffed bag and tied at the bottom, hot glue or sew on a face made from felt or anything you can think up.
·         Clothing and head
·         Inner structure,  6 feet of ½ inch pvc pipe and a T connector
·         Stuffing
·         Duct tape, large safety pins
·         Twine or rope or raffia, or even rubber bands (oriental trading faces comes with little bits of raffia)
·         Stand for your scare crow

    The first thing you will need is an inner structure to hold your scarecrow up. We like to use pvc pipe, it cuts easy and is inexpensive. There are four pieces of ½ inch pvc pipe, the head pipe and the arms are about 7 inches and the body is four foot long. Its easy to cut, if you find its too long after you are finished making it, you can easily remove a few inches. The pieces for the arms stop at the shoulder; you could make them long enough that it stops at the elbows or at the wrist. These four pieces are put together with a T connector. You can use glue here but we don’t so the structure can be taken apart if desired to store and use again.

Stuff and attach the head for your scarecrow onto the pipe wrapping it tightly using duct tape; use wire if you are using a milk jug through the handle and down to the arms. In my photo you will see my beloved blue tape. Don't use that kind unless your scarecrow will be inside. I simply could not find the duct tape for this tutorial!
Next, put on the shirt you have chosen, button and stuff it; how tightly you want it stuffed is up to you. Wrap and tie the ends of the arms closed, you can use  twine, rope, or raffia. (We like to use safety pins at the shirt neck and into the head material to help keep the head on)

Insert the pvc pipe into one leg of your pants or overalls, tie leg openings closed and stuff with the plastic bags. Pin or sew the shirt to the pants to keep them from falling down. On my scarecrow in the pic above, I used a large shirt, stuffed it and tied the ends. Then the overalls went on without stuffing them. Hmmm....his legs look a little short.

That is suppose to be hair just under the hat. I think we have it upside down :) 
Now comes the fun part, the accessorizing! Put the face on the scare crow making sure you put the face low enough that the hat doesn’t cover it.  Add a hat, bandanna, scarves, gloves, shoes, belt……. the sky is the limit!  We used safety pins to hold the hat on, and tied a bandanna around the neck.
We use a piece of 3/8 inch rebar 18 to 24 inches long (available at home improvement stores cut to length) and hammer it into the ground half way. The pvc pipe slips onto the rebar and holds the scarecrow up right. The scarecrow can lean against a wall or fence too.

That was easy! Isn’t he cute?

*I make the head by cutting two pieces of fabric 14 inches in diameter (by drawing around a plate) with the neck section about eight inches wide and eight inches long. I take three tucks in each piece; one at the top, and one just above where the ears would be. The two pieces are sewn together with the bottom open, and turned inside out. This gives the head a three dimensional look.

*Join me in June 2012 for my new link up party, Wow Us Wednesdays.*

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Even

I was addicted (yes I really mean that) to Dr. Pepper for many years. Yes I admit it; and it had to be a fountain drink too. Well after many tries I kicked that habit a couple of years ago and now I can enjoy one on occasion without becoming addicted all over again. Yes, I’m very proud of myself.

Well this morning I decided I could use a Dr. Pepper, so I pulled into a near by fast food drive through. I was not familiar with the sizing of that particular fast food chain’s drinks. I wanted a 32 oz drink, so when it was my turn, I pulled up to the intercom and politely asked the very young sounding feminine voice if she could tell me how many ounces where in the medium drink they offered? After a hesitation the voice said “Excuse me?” I again repeated my question. Another hesitation. The voice came back, “I’m sorry I don’t understand what you are asking.”
I rephrased my question, “I want to know how big, how many ounces are in your drinks. How many ounces, what size, is your medium drink?” Silence…..then slowly and carefully “It’s a me di um size drink.” “I know it’s a medium size drink, but not everyone sells the same size medium cup, I only wanted to know the ounces” I shot back! Silence again, and out of frustration on my part I said, “Just give me a medium Dr. Pepper.” She told me the price and I started fishing around in my purse for the correct change.  At my turn at the window she sweetly handed me my medium size Dr. Pepper (a 32oz one) as I handed her my money. Then she said, “Oh! just a minute” she reached into the cash register and handed me some change. “Senior citizen discount” she glowed with kindness as she looked me straight in the eyes. I smiled back through clenched teeth a moment while I decided if I would accept her ‘discount’. I don’t consider myself a senior yet.
She never broke eye contact with me, I decide to let it go and drove off. There are many ways to get even with someone, she sure got even with me didn’t she?

I linked at Grandma's Breifs GRAND Social.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Family Harvest Day Progress Update

We are at about two weeks until Family Harvest Day and I still have a lot to do. I simply have not had enough time to post everything I wanted to here. Life happens and it has been ‘happening’ around here intensely and without a break; I have not gotten as much done as I should have by now. In my last post on Harvest Day, I wrote that we had set the date and sent out notifications to all. I reminded everyone to save those plastic shopping bags we all have so many of to stuff the scarecrows with. In a day or so I will be sending out another reminder by email and by text message along with the location that has now been chosen. I will remind them to start looking for a scarecrow outfit too, and asking for rsvp's.

Our location will be a grass area located in a gated community. We will not have kitchen facilities but will have access to a near by home if we need a kitchen. I am now choosing a menu, and because of all that’s going on in my life right now I will probably be asking every family to provide a fall inspired dish to share; we will provide the main course. I am thinking of making a couple of pork loin roasts or pork shoulders, a fall dish, in my crock pots. I am looking for a good sale and will put them in the freezer until needed.

I have received the fall craft kits ordered from Oriental Trading and also the adhesive pre-cut foam scarecrow faces they sell called ' Scarecrow Pumpkin Decorating craft kit', item #IN-48/5403; $7 for a dozen. These works very nicely for the scarecrows we will be making. A grandchild and I have decorated and filled the take home bags for the kids with goodies and the fall craft kits.
Last year we had a total of 22 people attending our Family Harvest Day and made six Scarecrows. I served chicken salad, with home made Irish Soda bread, roasted carrots and sweet potatoes, green beans, Shoo Fly Pie, and apple crisp baked in a half pint mason jar. We played pin the nose on the scarecrow, and had a pumpkin tossing contest. We provided all materials for the scarecrows except the wardrobe and plastic bags to stuff them with, games and some craft kits.
My cost for food was about    $43.00
Food service, all disposable    $17.00 with some items left over
Scarecrow supplies & games   $55.00 and a few decorations
Total cost                          $115.00 or about $5.23 per person. A lot of money on one hand, but not much at all with the value of the fun day had by all, a good meal, and with a Scarecrow and some things to take home. Since I am now buying dishes and flatware I can reuse yearly, that expense will be eliminated. If all share in bringing food, it is less still. I like that idea with 40 to 50 people expected in attendance this year!

Right now I am putting together the games we will have, and I'm looking at our location to see what we will need for tables, how it should all be set up, etc. I will have to cut on down on the amount of my decorations since this is a public area and all will have to go up quickly and come down quickly. I hope to have a Scarecrow Tutorial posted by the end of this week for you.

Happy Fall!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quick Sewing Project for Kids

I have been so busy that I can’t seem to keep up with all my projects. I had a Saturday with nothing on my schedule and I planned to go into my work room/studio and finally finish some of the projects that had deadlines approaching. My phone rang and a request came from my oldest grand daughter, who is five, to spend some time with me. We haven’t seen each other much since she started school. I love spending time with her, so I said yes and then started thinking of a way to keep her busy, but with me, while I worked on my projects. She loves to sew and wanted to make a stuffed  princess doll.
Keep in mind that you don’t need a sewing machine for this project; it can all be done by hand.  This is very similar to a project I posted called Sewing Lessons at Gramma's. You can read how I use hoops and make dots for stitches to help my beginning stitchers at Second Sewing Lesson.
First, on my computer, I googled images for Disney princesses coloring pages and she picked out her favorite one, Rapunzel. I saved the image to My Pictures in my computer by right clicking my mouse, then printed the image as an 8x10 picture. (you may not have to do this if you can print a full size image from the site where the image is posted) There are many things you could use, it doesn't have to be a princess. How about a train? Or dinosaur? Or bug?
I taped the picture to the work surface in my studio and placed a piece of white broadcloth fabric cut slightly larger than the sheet of paper over it. I taped the fabric down well on all sides. The outline of the image should be easily seen through the thin fabric.
My grand daughter traced the outline of the image onto the fabric with a pencil. Then she took crayons and colored it in. Yes, my sewing room is a mess; I'm sorry! I didn't have time to clean up for the pictures; it’s how I work when I am over busy. It’s ok, I know what’s going on and where everything is. First things first; I clean up when I have time. 
When that was finished, I flipped the Disney princess image over and taped it on a window and traced the outline on the back side of the paper. This will become the back side of the princess doll.

Then it was taped down again and another piece of fabric taped over it. She traced the out line and colored it in keeping in mind that this is her back so there will not be a face but hair over her head. Since it's Rapunzel here, the entire back is hair.
After the coloring was completed, I placed one piece of the fabric at a time on the ironing board with paper under it and paper on top. (using paper keeps the crayon from melting onto the ironing board or iron) I ironed the colored pieces one at a time on a high setting slowly moving my iron over the paper covered fabric. I continued until the crayons were no longer coming off on the paper using clean paper as needed. The ironing does not have to be done but this sets it, keeping it from washing out if the doll is ever laundered. (Some times the crayon will rub off onto other things when the doll is played with! Coloring lightly helps with that)

Now place the two pieces of fabric together with the images lined up, right sides out (colored sides), in an embroidery hoop. With a disappearing ink pen  I placed dots where she should make her stitches on both sides of the fabric. We used embroidery floss, 2 strands, and she sewed around the outline leaving the bottom open. When she finished, I took it out of the hoop and stitched with a zigzag stitch around it to be sure it would hold. Then I cut away the excess fabric around the doll but left the extra at the bottom opening. She then stuffed it using the eraser end of a pencil to push it into the small areas. I stitched it closed with the zigzag stitch, then cut away the extra fabric at the bottom.

I used permanent markers to go over the pencil line for the face.

Anne is very proud of her doll, has made another one of Cinderella, and hopes to make one of each Disney princess. She is planning to take both dolls to Disneyland next week to show to Rapunzel in person.

*Join me for my link up party, Wow Us Wednesdays.*

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kitchen Tips

I receive some good tips in my email from time to time; here are a few. I have no idea who the original idea came from. I'm sure some are new, and others very old. I just wanted to share them with you.

  • To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.
  • If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato and it will absorb the excess salt for an instant 'fix-me-up.'
  • If you have a problem opening jars, try using latex dish washing gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.
  • When using a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.
  • To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave beside a cup of water and microwave for a few seconds. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster. (I use this tip all the time, works great!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Corn Flake Balls

Cornflake Balls photo courtesy of Claudia

A follower, Claudia Mitchell, sent me this recipe and I decided to post it here. I have a peanut allergy so I didn't try it myself, but I enjoyed reading the recipe and thought you would too.

Cornflake Balls

6 cups corn flakes, any brand
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
In a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil the sugar and syrup stirring constantly. This will burn easily, be careful. As soon as it starts a rolling boil take off fire, add peanut butter and stir together.

Measure out cornflakes in big bowl, pour peanut butter mixture on top and stir, it will wear your arm out stirring and you will at first think you don't have enough goop, but just keep at it. When the flakes are evenly coated, use a teaspoon and put butter or cooking spray on it.  Also spray a big sheet of wax paper or butter it, measure a heaping spoonful and form a ball with your fingers . Let cool.  I found this recipe  in  the "Old Union Cumberland Presbyterian Cook  Book"  (the church is located in Magazine,  Arkansas)

Thanks Claudia!

*Join me in June 2012 for my new link up party, Wow Us Wednesdays.*

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I'm Sorry About That!

Dear readers,

Yesterday I had my oldest granddaughter ( 5 yrs old) over for some one on one time. She wanted me to find her some coloring pages online to print out, so I started looking for some for her with her on my lap. We found a page she wanted and it had an ad for a free game that looked fun. She asked if she could play it so I said sure, and had to down load some stuff first. I didn’t take time to read the fine print.

We played the game together and it was a lot of fun! I was looking forward to having her over again so we could play it another time. Then today I started looking for a post I wrote a while back so I could email the link to someone. I started noticing lots of underlined words in all my post and I couldn’t remember having done that. When I put my cursor over the underlined word an ad popped up!
Well guess what, in the fine print I didn’t read I must have giving permission to that company to put their ads on my blog!!! I was furious to say the least! And I told them so, and then deleted the gaming program from my computer. O.K., blood pressure is coming down some now; all seems to be back to normal on my blog.

So if you visited my blog from February 20, 2012 in the morning until February 21 in the evening and you noticed those annoying ads, I am so sorry! I hope I never make that mistake again! Please be forewarned, downloading anything you do not fully understand can be bad news.

Let me just focus on this beautiful vintage picture (at the top) I found over at The Graphics Fairy. Isn’t it just wonderful? How can you not help but feel happy inside when you look at that? Thanks Graphics Fairy!

Great Finds I Want to Try Myself

Some times when I read all the great blogs out there, I find such amazing talent and wonderful projects. I wish I could try them all and repost here for you but there is just not enough time. Still, I would like to share them with you because they are really wonderful pieces.

Beautiful tissue paper tie die here at Things to Make and Do; lots more crafty things to do with the kids

Interesting weaving idea intended as a patch; I want to try this as a craft project with the kiddos.  See it here at Karen Barbe.

Repurposing T shirts into kids clothing, really great! T Shirts , and a good way to stretch a dollar.

Chicken wire basket from a lamp shade? Wonderful! At Make It Do you will see how easy it is!

A paper tree center piece here that is fabulous!

A galvanized tub great planter for annual plants (I have a tub full of periwinkles right now:)

This Tin Can caddy great for plants crafts etc    . I knew I would have a use for those gallon size cans I've been saving!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.