Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Make a Rice Krispie Treat Chessboard

Rice Krispie treats are my husbands dessert of choice, so we've had several very special Rice Krispie treats!  For his 28th birthday I decided to combine his two loves, Rice Krispies and chess. 

It's very easy to make, and it just takes a combination of regular Rice Krispies and Cocoa Krispies.  I made two batches of each. One batch got cut into squares to make the board, and the other got molded into the chess pieces. I got a huge piece of cardboard that I covered in aluminum foil (back in those days I didn't get fancier than that with the setup =)  Then I laid out the squares and set up the game.  Molding the pieces wasn't too hard, but you have to be pretty quick.  Put plenty of butter on your hands and prepare to get sticky.  I just eyeballed the shapes.  It turned out very tasty!  And they actually played a game, and ate the pieces they took.  At least the first several. =)

Eric's SURPRISE Birthday!

A few years ago for my husband’s birthday, I organized a birthday kidnapping.  Several of our wonderful willing friends broke into our apartment while he was sleeping, and swept him off to a day filled with all his favorite activities!  Check out the special birthday crown he’s wearing =)  They tossed some confetti on him and bundled him out in his comforter.  I made sure to send him real clothes to wear later! 

Then we all caravanned to Marilyn and Andrew’s place for breakfast.  They made some wonderful egg things and we had hot chocolate.  Eric got a chance to shower and wash the snow out of his hair.  I had packed him a suitcase, but since I didn’t want him to be able to guess what the plan for the day was, I packed everything.  I packed t-shirts, sweaters, a hat, his swimsuit, a tie, his jock strap….  literally some of everything =)  After the shower he first came out in his swimsuit, a tie, and his birthday hat =) 

Then we had a rousing game of Epic Duels!  (A board game we love!)  We had to play Epic Duels on his birthday, it’s getting to be a tradition! Then Eric got to go to a comic book store.
Meanwhile, the rest of us were back at the apartment decorating like nuts!   I bought a BIG roll of green streamers, green and silver stars and silver swirly things that we strung up everywhere.  Oh, and of course balloons.  Everyone asked if Eric liked green, and I said sure, he likes Green Lantern and Kermit the Frog… but really I chose green because it didn’t clash with my Christmas decorations =)  We also started taking pictures of everyone in Eric’s silly hats for his surprise birthday present.  His birthday present from me, besides the party, was a scrapbook of all his favorite pictures.  The ones he likes best are the crazy ones =)  I’ll try to put up pictures of his scrapbook pages later so you can all see the crazy pictures everyone took =)
After decorating and buying out the comic book store, we met Ann and John for lunch at a Pho restaurant. 
After Pho, Eric got to play online games with a bunch of his friends!  After Dota, they went rock climbing and then came back to our apartment where we surprised him with a Rice Krispie Chessboard!  The black squares are made with Cocoa Krispies!  It was so fun, and he and Jack actually played.  Eric didn’t win, at least partially because he actually ate all the pieces he took =) 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Recommendations: Sandra Boynton!

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love Boynton books!  They are fun for kids and funny for adults too, and I can read them over and over without getting tired of them!!!  Our all time favorites are, of course, Barnyard Dance (see Serenity's Barnyard Dance Birthday Party) and Pajama Time.  She's got some new and great ones out though!  My amazon associates links seem to be broken, but here's a list of some from our last library outing and the newest one we bought:

Happy Hippo, Angry Duck:  I dare you to try and say Happy Hippo and Angry Duck without giggling, I haven't managed it yet.  I love that this book talks about moods and emotions, as I have a three year old now that has all of them =)  It's a great opportunity to talk about them, and as always, the book itself is adorable.

Little Pookie: She's got a whole series on Little Pookie, and the new one is so cute!  Serenity had me read it at least twenty times, and we only had it for two weeks from the library.  She can read them herself too, so she had it for a bed book too, and I could listen to her read it over the monitor.  Such fun! 

Robot Graphing

I LOVE the preschool printables from Homeschool Creations.  They have so many fantastic ideas there!  Serenity really enjoys robots these days thanks to the Backyardigans, so I thought she’d like the Robot Preschool Pack.  She did!  There’s lots of prewriting practice, shape matching, and a fractions game, but my favorite was Robot Graphing!  Basically, you roll a dice and mark the graph for each robot that comes up, and see which color gets to ten first! 

We jazzed the game up a little by using our Do-A-Dot markers to mark our graph.  Then we could match the color to the robot.  =)  So much fun for my color-loving baby!  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Water Bottle Collages: Gift for Babies from Sibling!

Another idea from Teach Preschool, these water bottle collages were such fun!  When Serenity was about five months old one of her favorite toys was a Sprite bottle.  My Mom told us that next to boxes that’s the best toy for a baby. =)  So I thought that this was a great present that Serenity could make for Donovan!  She was thrilled to make something for her brother, and he actually plays with it!  He’s only three and a half months, so he’s just now grasping at his toys, but he grabs for this one whenever he sees it!  I just provided the dry bottle and strips of paper, and Serenity figured out how to get them in the bottle. Some are folded, some are straight.  It’s a nice, colorful mix!

Playing with Droppers

With the new baby, I am all about games and activities that we can finish during naptime... or that I can trust Serenity won't make too big a mess of if I have to run get him!  He's a mellow baby for the most point but no sense taking chances =) 

Serenity loves playing with the medicine dropper!  It's a fantastic fine motor skill activity, and with the food coloring it's great for practicing our color mixing as well.  Quick, easy setup and lots of fun!  (She named the water dropper Woody, and the ice tray Buzz.  She also gets a little more t.v. these days =) 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Classroom Art Project for Auction

My baby is in school!  Preschool, and just two days a week, but still.  She loves it, and I’m thrilled about that!  And I get to volunteer with her class, so more fun for me too!  Our school has an auction every year to raise money, and each class makes an art project to sell there.  I spent many happy hours on google over this project! =) 

If you are setting up for your own auction project, here are the ideas I liked best from my hunt around google.  You can also check out my pinterest board to see pictures that I found inspiring!

1.)Handprint Quilt
2.) Artwork Quilt (Have the kids color squares.  It usually works best to give them a theme, like draw self portraits.  I decided our kids were a little too young at this part of the year for this to work out well.  Maybe next year!)
3.) Thumbprint Picture (make the thumbprints look like balloons lifting up a drawing of the school.) 
4.) Take photos of the kids in the shape of letters and frame them to spell out words like Dream, Laugh, etc. (Again, I had worries that my three year old wouldn’t lie still long enough to form letters, much less getting several three year olds to cooperate.  Maybe for kindergarden =)
5.) Paint reusable grocery sacks. (This is one I’d actually use!)
6.) Handprints on cute furniture, like a bookshelf.  I liked the idea of doing one of the book slings as well.
7.) Create a poster combining the kids art.  My sister in law did this Andy Warhol style picture that combined all the kids pictures in different colors.  So pretty!
8.) Decoupage traced hands onto a canvas.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fancy Basketball Hoop

 Ok, I am definitely in a blogging slump these days!  Or rather, I am a procrastination fiend =)  I have about ten projects on the table and as soon as I finish anything hopefully blogging will be fun again!  Here is one quick project that my husband has been busily playtesting for me…The Fancy Basketball Hoop!

Eric loves to play “ball” in the house, using one of those little plastic balls you find for a dollar or two at Target or Walmart.  Usually he just bounces it off the wall at an appropriate height… so I decided to make him a real hoop.  The thing is though, I wanted it to look pretty too!  So I took an embroidery hoop, attached it to a pretty white wood frame using L brackets, and tied aqua and red ribbons all around it!  The first version was not sturdy enough, the screws cracked the embroidery hoop and it was soon sagging.  The second version added the L brackets, and some ribbons tied up to the sides to help hold up the hoop.  I guess the original version was just banking on him hitting nothing but net all the time, but that’s just not how the game works. 

I did take out the glass so if it falls hopefully no one gets damaged.  And it is nailed into one stud. 

We’ll see if the embroidery hoop is sturdy enough for the long run, otherwise I might have to look into some plastic hoop thing… like rubber irrigation tubing or something.  It seems to be doing better with the L brackets though, so we’ll leave it for the time being!  I think this would be super cute in a playroom or nursery too! 

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed it I’d love new followers =)  Link is on the right!  And comments make my day!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rainbow Party Overview!

For my daughter's third birthday, we had a Rainbow Party!  She has completely adorable color issues, in that she wants everything to match beautifully.  She is so my daughter.  And so, for her birthday, we had a whole rainbow for her (including pink because all things should).  We also celebrated her love of Diego and Dora by having Rainbow Animal Rescue!  And all sorts of other Rainbow festivities.  This post is to collect everything about this party into one place so it's easy to find!  It'll be a long post, so enjoy!

Rainbow Party: Decor

Party Decor
Besides enjoying colors, another of Serenity's favorite things is to play in tents, whether real or ones made from blankets.  So I decided to build a huge rainbow tent for her in the backyard.  This will give us some shade, a definite bonus with the hundred degree weather we’ve had lately!  I considered building the tent out of pvc pipe, but then I found this great carport thing on Amazon for just 100 dollars for a 10 by 20 tent with a cover!  I couldn't have bought fabric for the cover for that, so I went with it!  My great friend Jack picked up a bunch of satin fabric for me and I basically made curtains to hang on all the poles to create this rainbow tent!  I LOVE how it turned out, and the shade was so worth it.  I don't know how long the tent will hold up, but we plan to use it all summer in our backyard as well so we'll get even more use out of it. 
I covered the grass with canvas carpets that Serenity helped me paint, and I sewed rainbow pillows.  We had a nice picnic lunch prepared by my sister to enjoy in our fabulous tent! 

With the help of my Dad we turned the slide into a rainbow.  It fits the theme and made for a cute photo op! To read how we did that, check out this post!


Rainbow Party: Games and Activities

Serenity’s favorite show of the year was probably Dora and Diego, so I thought I’d include a little game of Animal Rescuer.  I bought a few dozen inexpensive stuffed creatures from Oriental Trading company, which we scattered around the yard.  I hid the green and orange animals in really challenging spots and told the older kids that they were just allowed to find those, which made the game exciting for everyone.  With the help of some binoculars the kids could hunt for the animals, and if they wanted take them home to the rainbow tent.  I thought Serenity would probably want the animals to go to sleep on the pillows that match their color, she loves to put her animals down for naps.

I also collected a lot of backyard games that were rainbow colored that we already owned, including kick croquet, mini Frisbee golf, a parachute with colorful beach balls, and a ball pit with rainbow colored balls.  I also bought rainbow streamers for the kids to run around and dance with.  We ended up having a rainbow parade at the end with all the kids dancing around with the streamers. Such fun!

Fishing is a tradition on birthdays in Eric’s family, and we have done it at all Serenity’s parties.  My dad built us a little wooden dock, we put prizes out on a blue tarp for a pond, and we use a fishing pole we made out of bamboo.  The kids absolutely love this game, and get so excited for the prizes we get at the dollar store! 

 Serenity's Photobooth Birthday Present =)
At this age I don't really feel a need to buy presents for Serenity, she gets plenty from her grandparents and other family, and we go all out with the party fun, so I like to make her things for her gift.  This year, I decided I want to make her a photo book with pics of all her family and friends in it!  I thought it would be most fun if we had a crazy rainbow photobooth at her birthday to get fun pictures of everyone.  It went so well!  I think people had fun playing with the props, and I got a lot of cute pics!  I had rainbow hats, a feather boa, a chalkboard that my Dad made for messages, and a rainbow picture frame that I painted.

She loves looking at the pictures already, I just have to get them together!  I also plan to photoshop pictures of people who weren't able to attend the party into the photobooth.  I'll post pics of that when I figure it out!

The photobooth itself was made just like this tutorial for the puppet theater, except with larger pvc and a bigger scale. 

Rainbow Party: Food

My sister very kindly offered to make all the food, since she knew I’d have trouble managing it with my newborn baby boy in tow.  Plus she’s an amazing chef!  She made lots of rainbow food, including a rainbow fruit pizza!  I found these little insulated lunch bags at the dollar store that were perfect to hold picnic lunches for all the kids!  We stuck with simple sandwiches, rainbow goldfish, and fruit for the kids lunches.  Oh, and rainbow colored Gatorade to drink.  Adults got a choice of Marinated Italian Veggie sandwiches, Chicken Salad or Turkey Wraps.  Then we of course had rainbow fruit and veggie trays, and colorful chips and salsa.  The desserts were lemon and strawberry cupcakes with bright rainbow icing, and a rainbow fruit pizza!  Desserts are our favorite part of birthdays, and these were particularly tasty.  =)

I found these insulated lunch sacks at the dollar store in bright rainbow colors!  Just perfect for our rainbow picnic!  I dressed them up with labels with the kids names.  More fun to come soon!

Rainbow Party: Favors

The favors might have gotten slightly out of hand this year.  I’d already started collecting rainbow things, like Skittles, the rainbow dancing streamers, and jump ropes, when I came across a tutorial for a build your own tent kit.  Well, that was absolutely perfect with the rainbow tent I built for the party, and I knew Serenity would love to keep building rainbow tents at home!  So I made one for each family.  The kits include three large pieces of muslin that I dyed into rainbow colors and sewed loops to each corner.  That makes them easier to hook together!  I got clamps, clothespins, rope, suction cups and flashlights from the dollar store to complete each kit!  I hope all the kids have a blast building their tents!  Some of them even sent me pictures!  To see the tent kits in use, check out this post.    

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oklahoma Art

I made some more art for Serenity’s wall!  She is addicted to maps right now, thanks to Stack the States and Stack the Countries.  So I thought she’d like a little Oklahoma on her wall.  I saw this on etsy, and decided to brave using my Silhouette to make it myself.

I used some vinyl, and found a gif file of Oklahoma that I cleaned up in Photoshop.  After some intensive googling, turns out Silhouette has an auto trace tool, which traced right around the outline of Oklahoma.

Then I just cut it out and applied it to my canvas, and brushed some purple paint all over it.  The line isn’t perfect, but it turned out cute!  I put a little heart in the northeast corner for Tulsa… maybe a little too close to the edge but it works.  

Here it is in Serenity's room!  To see more of her purple room, go here! To see details on the wall vase, go here.