Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Homemade Seed Kit

The boys helped me glue some of this together. It took some time, about an hour. We included about 15 kinds of seeds, and gave this to my In-Laws who garden.

What you need:

construction paper, glue, deco tape (you can use regular), small box (we used the bottom of a pop tart box), seeds

Wrap the box with brown paper. We added 2 dividers that looked like soil, made them higher than the outside of the box. We added sprouts, flowers, and signs. It went into 3 sections: flowers, herbs, and fruits and veggies.
For each envelope, we added pictures. Fold paper strips in half, but leaving a lip for the envelope to close. Then fold about a half inch on the ends, invert the sides and glue. Add seeds once glue dries, tape envelope closed. Voila!
I figured I'd add this. I'm not sure whodunit, but I guess they couldn't figure out how to unwrap the cheese and just gave up.

Christmas Reading List

We hope everybody had a Merry Christmas! The boys had a great Christmas. I would like to thank Toys For Tots for their generosity. The twins received a large bag of games and cars that they loved. Santa brought them puzzles, clothes, dinosaurs, all sorts of goodies. They also got a new bike that my husband got from his work, it's a little bit big for them. We'll have to get some training wheels and helmets. They also received a Smart Cycle amongst many other things from Grandma, and a toy box from other Grandma. They made out like bandits! Dad received clothes and cigars. Mom received clothes, a griddle, a lumbar massager and some jewelry. We also got our car! My mother-in-law and her boyfriend got us a used car a while back, but had to make some repairs to it before they could bring it from out of state. They ended up putting in a whole new motor. We're extremely thankful. Money is pretty tight this year, but we're very glad to have what we have.

Here's what we've been reading over Christmas.
The Large and Growly Bear (my favorite as a kid!)
*you can actually find these on youtube
 Mickey's Christmas Carol (also available on youtube)

We also read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Twelve Days of Christmas. I'm still reading The Girl who Played with Fire, but almost done. I'll be reading The Fall by week's end.
We also watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Mickey's Christmas Carol, The Grinch and Frosty the Snowman. Mom and Dad watched Christmas Vacation and Bad Santa, but we missed A Christmas Story this year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

We wish you a Steelers Christmas

We like football teams that win. Doesn't hurt that we live in a drinking town with a football problem. That's right, we bleed black and gold. We love our Steelers. So it's only fitting that we would dedicate the jolliest of all Christmas decorations to our favorite team.

Go Steelers!

Handmade Hair Pin

Total project time: 5 minutes or less
 Cut out 3 round pieces of felt. Cut edges into them. Sew on a button
 Sew tightly onto a bobby pin so that it won't slide over the end
Presto! I got a lot of compliments :)

Brain boosting

 With no parental help, they made this out of puzzle blocks. Awesome!
We've been working on #11-20 (specifically 14 & 15)
I made these with construction paper & markers.

We also gave them some empty boxes and newspaper, and had them wrap them like presents. I didn't get pictures, but it was funny. They wanted Dad to open them & were so excited. They can't wait until Christmas.

Baked apples

I bought 2 bags of red delicious apples (a little less than 2 dozen)
 Sliced them up with the juice of 1 lemon (to keep from browning)
 Toss in some sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, caramel to taste
 Bake at 350F until soft.
If you keep it covered, they get saucy, but really soft. If you bake uncovered, they tend to dry out and you have to keep stirring. Bake for about an hour either way.

Sneak Peak: Christmas Presents

If you're expecting gifts from us, I'd close this browser tab right about now if I were you. If you're looking for a cute homemade Christmas gift to make for others, keep reading!

I found a really simple homemade cocoa recipe a while back. I wish I could give credit, but it's been so long since I saved this. I'm sorry.

Hot Chocolate Mix (20 gifts)
3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1½ cups cocoa powder (Dutch-processed preferred, but regular okay)
1½ cups white chocolate chips (or chopped white chocolate)
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl. Working in two batches, pulse the ingredients in a food processor until the chocolate is finely ground. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
2. To make hot cocoa, put 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk. Top with whipped cream or miniature marshmallows.

* I got about 15 out of this recipe. I split the mix into 5 cups (3- 1/3 servings)
I found some really cute mismatched Christmas mugs at a thrift store, printed off some free Japanese stationary for instructions, and bought cute Christmas marshmallows.

Next up... tea time!
I mixed up 8 different kinds of Tazo tea bags for this gift. I cut felt strips, felt tea tags, felt stars, and green yarn.
I tied one felt strip into a double knot over another felt strip. I then glued the (green in this photo) strip behind the packs.
I glued the stars onto the tags and attached strings. Then tied them to the top felt strip.
So it looks like that!
Here's all of them together.
Place in a mug, and instant gift!

Christmas at the Library

Here's more of our library books that we've been reading!

Goodnight Moon - we have to read it daily & now the boys can read it by themselves!
Lucy's Christmas

I finished reading The Strain (in 4 days thanks to jury duty) and begun The Girl Who Played With Fire. Also still studying chemistry.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This is a continuation of the Halloween wreaths post I did.

I had yarn wrapped a second wreath orange, and it was sitting around for a while. I kind of forgot about it. I decided to finish it, but a little differently.

I knew I wanted owls & mushrooms, but I wanted to do it in a no-sew way. I found Tacky Glue for pretty cheap. But I knew just glue wouldn't hold up the design, especially if I didn't sew everything in.
I cut out felt pieces and glued them together with the tacky glue. I had a Starbucks cup cozy sitting near by and decided to reuse it. Since it's corrugated cardboard, it's fairly sturdy. I glued it to the back of the felt for support.
Voila! New wreath. It took about an hour to yarn wrap a hay stuffed wreath ring. About another 30 minutes to cut out felt pieces, glue them together, and add the supports.
It's currently hanging on my front door, since I don't have any Christmas stuff up yet. I know, I know, later this week... lol

Library trip & Christmas movies

We've been tallying in the hours at the library, as of late. Here's the gems we've picked up on our last trip.

 Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins
Alphabeep - This brought them right out of a tantrum
Blue's Big Parade
 Monster Hunt
The Noisy Book
Old Black Witch- $36 on Amazon! free @ library!

Mom's still been studying chemistry & is half way through The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Lately, I've been more into Christmas than I have been in past years. I think since the kids are getting at the age where they have a good idea of what's going on. They get excited for things & have longer term memories. We've been watching Mickey's Christmas Carol, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Polar Express. I have yet to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (shame on me for not doing so yet), A Christmas Story & It's a Wonderful Life. Here's some links to videos on youtube... I'd embed them, but I was thinking about loading times.
Pluto's Christmas Tree (originally aired w/Mickey's Christmas Carol)
Donald's Snow Fight (originally aired w/Mickey's Christmas Carol)
There's a ton of old Disney cartoons on youtube! I could spend DAYS....

Finger Paint Family Trees

Each member of our family (Mom, Dad & the twins) each made a tree using finger paints. We plan to frame this as a keepsake. Each tree branch is our hand print, the leaves are our finger prints.

We used half of a sheet of Crayola floor mat paper. It's excellent for big paint jobs. Afterwards, the twins and I went crazy with some more paint.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Potty Training Boot Camp

Sorry for the lack of posts as of late. We've been in potty training boot camp.

I took the subtle approach since June, with no luck. I don't think they were ready. The boys are currently 3 years, 2 months. We'd mention the potty to them, and get a big, fat "NO!" right back. We read all of the potty books. We tried the no-diaper approach before, with no success. I just don't think they were ready then. So I tried it again. We stripped off the diapers, put on their Spider-Man and Yo Gabba Gabba under-roos, and put the potties in the middle of the living room. I had luck in the past giving them a full cup of water and putting on an hour long Sesame Street. They were happy to sit still, and the pee would just happen. TV works, so that's where the potties stay for now. We had some random successes in the first day, and a few accidents. They don't like wet underwear. There were some cases of them having accidents upstairs, where they couldn't get down stairs quickly enough.

Today makes day 6. I've stayed true to the underwear approach, no diapers unless we go out or during nap time/bed time. Today, there were no accidents. There was even a point tonight when they ran downstairs after I put them in bed, dropped their night time pull-up, and went potty. Success!

There was also some bribing in there. K had the potty down from almost day one, but L is just really stubborn. His brother's success wasn't any kind of motivation. No amount of hugs, applause, cheers, would inspire him to use the potty. But a piece of candy corn does. Kids love candy corn. I give them 1 piece every time they empty their bladder. L doesn't like K eating candy corn when he can't have any. L was using the potty all day today. I'll be able to wean off that pretty quick with them, give them a piece every other time. By week's end, it should be 100% successful. I'm not sure how long it takes to get them used to public bathrooms, so I'll use the pull-up approach still.

Hope this helps anyone currently potty training!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Trip to the library! + Mom's reading list

We've been spending some time at the library lately. I often forget about it, which is terrible. We're big readers! So here's some of the latest titles we've checked out.

 Big Book of Stories includes
Clifford the Big Red Dog
Clifford's Puppy Days
Clifford's Good Deeds
Clifford Gets a Job
 Goodnight Moon
Instant favorite, has to be a Christmas gift now
we're going to have to end up buying this one too

Some of you have been asking, Mom's been reading...
Just amazing. I saw all of the Swedish movies. Can't wait for the movie next month, or book 2.
Inspired by true events + the story of Beowulf. One of my favorite authors.
If you saw the movie, it's written almost poetically. It's heartbreaking.

And I've been reading this chemistry book. Yes, chemistry. I'm a huge science nerd, but chem is my kryptonite. If I could nail it, I could apply it to anything, and become a mad scientist! mwahaha so here's to round four of learning chemistry.