Archive for the ‘party ideas’ Category

Summer Lunch

June 25, 2008

I had lunch today with two sweet nieces and an awesome sister-in-law. If you are looking for a simple and delicious menu, give this one a try!

We ate outside and each place had a tissue paper flower party favor filled with chocolates. I used these instructions, but used toilet paper rolls cut in half (what I had on hand at 10:00 pm) instead of the clear acetate containers. These were simple to make and inexpensive.

We ate salad with mandarin oranges and candied almonds along side a tomato pie.

Tomato Pie

4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
10 fresh large basil leaves chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s light)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
salt and pepper
1 9″ pre-baked deep dish pie shell

Lightly sprinkle tomatoes with salt and place in a colander to drain for at least 15 minutes. I prepared all of the ingredients early in the morning and then assembled just before baking. This gave the tomatoes plenty of time to drain to keep the crust from being soggy.

Combine grated cheeses, mayonnaise and sour cream.

Mix tomatoes, basil and onions and spread in the bottom of the pre-baked piecrust. Spread cheese mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Let set 15-20 minutes before serving. This is also good served at room temperature.

Mandarin Salad Dressing (from my friend Jenny)

Mix the following in a container that can be shaken:

1/4 olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt (I use Kosher)
a dash of Tabasco pepper sauce
1 T chopped fresh parsley

I think it is best to make this dressing ahead of time to allow the flavors to come together and fully get the sugar dissolved. Shake well before dressing the lettuce. This makes enough dressing for about 4-5 nice size salads (about 6 to 7 large handfuls of lettuce)

Candied Almonds

In a dry skillet place 3 T sugar and heat over medium heat. As soon as you see any of the sugar melting add in 1/2 cup slivered almonds. The sugar will turn to syrup and coat the almonds. As soon as you see the slightest color change on the almonds– remove from heat. The almonds will continue cooking and it is very easy to burn them. Sometimes when I make these I get more of a crystallized looking coating. It doesn’t matter—is is all good!

Toss mixed greens with dressing, a regular sized can of drained mandarin oranges and the candied almonds. Serve immediately after dressing the salad.

For dessert, Miniature Cherry Cheesecakes

I used this pan, but I think these could be easily made in mini muffin tins.

Cherry Cheesecakes

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese (I used light)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup ground pecans
1/3 of a stick butter melted
3 T sugar
1 can cherry pie filling

Spray pan with nonstick spray. Blend cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla. Set aside. Mix ground nuts with butter and 3 tablespoons sugar. Divide the nut mixture between 12 cups. Press in bottom and up sides. Fill cups evenly with cream cheese mixture. Bake about 14 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool on rack about 20 minutes and then remove from pan. Place cherries on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. These freeze beautifully without the cherries on top. Makes 12 miniature cheesecakes.

Enjoy!

Oh and for drinks, try a little lemon-AID!

Here is a printable version of the recipes

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Bunny Napkin Ring

March 21, 2008

Here’s a little something for the children’s table at Easter —- a bunny napkin ring.

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Download bunny-napkin-ring.pdf

Print on colored card-stock then cut out. Roll end toward back of bunny head.

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Staple where claws on bunny should be

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I wrapped silverware in an orange napkin then fastened with a green pipe cleaner and slipped the “carrot” into the bunny.  If you have a hard time with the bunny standing up, a cotton ball glued to the back would provide stability and be a cute addition.

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You will find a matching Bunny Egg holder here.

Bit O’Green

March 17, 2008

Here is a little green treat for St Paddy’s Day!

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Green Candied Popcorn

4 quarts popped corn
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, does make mixture slightly more creamy)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
green food coloring (I used about 1/8 teaspoon Wilton paste color in Kelly Green)

In heavy saucepan on medium heat melt butter then add sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar and salt. Increase temperature to medium high and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture boils, add in food coloring and stop stirring. Boil for 5 minutes (Do not stir). Mixture should be about 250-260 degrees. Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla and baking soda. Working quickly and while mixture is foamy, pour mixture over popped corn and gently stir to coat popcorn. Place popcorn into a large roaster or rimmed baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray) and bake at 200° F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Sweet Deal

January 19, 2008

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Last year I wrote about making miniature heart cheesecakes. My pan is non-stick, made by Chicago Metallic and purchased from Williams Sonoma. I have found one that looks the same (I am not sure about the non-stick, but the bottoms come out so I don’t think removing the cheesecake would be a problem either way) at Amazon. I think this is a good deal at $13.49 —I paid more!

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Traditions

December 20, 2007

Since our oldest son was a toddler we have had friends come over IN THEIR PAJAMAS to read Christmas stories. Our oldest son is now 15 and this has become one of our most loved holiday traditions.

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There are no fancy clothes or fancy food and kids are definitely invited. At first the guests (especially the adults) might be shy about wearing their pajamas—but we insist. We sit around reading Christmas stories, drinking hot chocolate, sometimes we do a craft(decorating gingerbread houses and making gift tags are a favorite), and we eat a few simple snacks. It is such a special way to spend a cozy and relaxing evening with friends. We enjoy listening to our friends favorite Christmas books and as some of the children have gotten older they enjoy reading the stories also. I can’t say enough about how special the evening is for us. It is a moment in this busy time of year to slow down and remember what the Season is about!

When we moved to Germany I met my dear friend Wendy who was also having these parties. Her sister Tara has written some wonderful invitations. I “borrow” these poems and then make a theme around the invite. This is one of my favorite, The Polar Express.

We would like for you to join us for

a Christmas tale

We’ll gather for a story about a

little sleigh bell

We’ll be in our pajamas so that’s

how you should dress

All aboard headed north on the

Polar Express

Your time and date

Please bring your favorite Christmas

story to read!

Invitations can be made by layering holiday papers and adding a jingle bell at the top

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The best thing is we can always elaborate on the theme and change it up. Next time I use this I want to make jingle bell wreaths. Family Fun has cute jingle bell bracelets to make. The possibilities are endless. Party favors would be cute sent home in a bag clipped with this jingle bell clip.

So warm up some hot chocolate and invite some friends over and relax and enjoy some special family time. A sweet little 4 year old said it was the best party she had ever been to. Now that is a pretty good endorsement when you have been to a “princess” party before!

Breakfast with Santa

December 16, 2007

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For six years now we have hosted “Breakfast with Santa” for our son’s basketball team. 

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I try to make it look special from candles on the table to hanging stars from the chandelier.

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I hot glued three candy canes together to make an easel to hold each of the boys names for place-cards.  We drink hot coca out of Santa mugs and I let these rowdy boys use the fine china for such a special occasion!

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We eat pancakes, bacon and sausage ——and a few snowman doughnuts. Mini powder sugar doughnuts with a candy corn nose and candy eyes (from the cake decorating store).

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Usually we make a craft but this year I couldn’t resist playing “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” with these fifth grade boys.  Santa graciously agreed!

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Santa takes a photo with each boy

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Hands out a small gift to each boy

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In the past Santa has read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  This year Santa was so fabulous he said the entire poem from memory.  He also reminded the boys how lucky they were, to be good, listen to their moms (thank you Santa) and remember those who don’t have as much. 

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I’m thankful these boys still go along and just lose themselves in the magic of the morning!

Halloween Party Games

October 28, 2007

Here are some of my favorite party games for Halloween.

Blow the Ghost

Make a ghost by covering a cotton ball with a tissue and tied with a piece of thread around it’s neck. Tape a one inch piece of straw to the top of the ghost’s head. Make two of these so you have two teams playing against each other in a relay. Thread a very long string through the straw. Attach each end of the string to a chair. Pull the chairs apart until the string is tight. Divide class into two teams. Each team member will get on their knees and with a 3 inch piece of straw blow the ghost to the other side. Next team member will blow the ghost back until all members have had a turn.

Witch’s Stew

You will need at least one cut out shape for each member on each team and two plastic cauldrons. I used our school die-cut machine and made spiders, black cats, owls and frogs. Divide the class into two teams. Each member needs a 3 inch piece of straw. Give each team a pile of shapes (ingredients for the stew). One at a time a team member, using a 3 inch piece of straw, will suck up a shape, keeping it on the straw, walk quickly to the other side of the room and drop the shape in a black cauldron. Once the shape is in the cauldron the next team member can go. First team to have all members take a turn wins.

Sweeping witches

Each team needs a witch’s hat, a broom, and a large sheet of newspaper crumpled in a ball. Space three or so chairs apart in a line for each team. Each member will have to sweep the crumpled ball of newspaper in and out through the chairs while wearing their witch’s hat. They go down and back and then give the hat and broom to next person until all members have gone.

The best party filler when you have played all of the games, eaten the food, finished the craft and YIKES you STILL have 10 minutes left. Play human tic tac toe. Set out nine chairs. Divide the class (easiest if you do boys against girls). They play tic tac toe by each taking a turn sitting in a chair until they have three girls or boys in a row. If they are older don’t allow them to tell each other where to sit.

Anticipation

October 24, 2007

This Saturday is the Halloween party that I look forward to all year long.  I love Halloween, the costumes, the decorations, the tricks and treats! However,  my friend Missy loves it more.  In fact this holiday is somewhat her speciality!  Each year she hosts an amazing party.  Each detail is painstakingly planned and beautifully executed.  It is truly a fabulous evening.  I thought I would show you some  of her handmade party decorations.  I hope you will find them as inspiring as I do. 

She decorates a table especially for the kids.  I can only imagine that the kids must  feel like they have stepped into paradise.

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A wonderfully decorated cone brimming with goodies dangled from each chair

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A darling paper mache  cat favor box sat at each place

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The adults sat down to dinner at this spooky but beautiful table wrapped in gauze

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Our favors were held in this unbelievable mummy topped box

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We dined underneath her chandelier that she had filled with black twigs, ghosts and then wrapped in gauze

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She sends an invitation that sets the tone of the party and gets everyone excited. This paper clay tombstone was found standing at our door inviting us to the party.

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 I love to sit at dinner in this stunning environment with good friends and enjoy their company and the fun of the season. Each year I look forward to the unique favors and decorations she has made.   Missy is so talented and creative and so generously bestows her gifts on her friends.  So if you can’t tell, I can’t wait for Saturday night!

Shrimp Boil

August 27, 2007

A shrimp boil is one of my favorite parties —–no dirty dishes. This is also a completely portable party. My favorite spot is on the beach. When we have a large crowd, we borrow an extra turkey fryer or two. The following recipe uses 1 large 34 quart turkey fryer with a strainer basket that goes almost to the top of the pot. One pot serves about 10-12 people.

First cover your entire table with freezer paper, shiny side up. Let the cooking begin!

Printable Shopping List and Instructions

Fill turkey fryer about 2/3 full of water. Bring to a boil and add 2 pkgs of Zatarain’s spice mix, 1/4 – 1/2 bottle Zatarain’s Shrimp and Crab oil, 1 cup of salt and garlic. Boil for 15 minutes

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Add potatoes, boil for 7-8 minutes

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Corn goes in next for 5 minutes (if corn is frozen you might need to turn up the heat for a minute to get your water boiling again)

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Add kielbasa, cook for 8 minutes

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Add onions, and squeeze lemon juice into pot and then toss the lemons into the water, boil 3- 4 minutes (oops picture is wrong – add the garlic at the beginning!)

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Add shrimp and cook 5 minutes or just until shrimp turns pink.

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Turn off the heat, immediately pull basket from the water and let drain.

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Pour contents of basket onto your freezer paper covered table

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Serve with sliced baguette sprinkled down the table and bottles of squeeze butter, cocktail sauce and spicy mustard. Remember NO knives, forks, spoons or plates allowed! This is all finger food and condiments are squeezed directly onto the table! When finished just roll up the paper and give everyone a finger wipe!

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Put on some Zydeco (zi-dee-coe) music and have a great time!

What could be s’more fun?

August 10, 2007

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Today is National S’more Day so it is time to get those fire pits and camp fires burning. My boys and their friend were thrilled to celebrate a day early so I could take a photo.

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Well lets just say we really didn’t need a fire. Our marshmallows and chocolate were having no problem melting in the hot Kansas weather. I know, it is just WRONG to build a fire when it is still 90 degrees at 9:00 P.M.

If you want to keep cool inside try these s’more candies. They were really quick and simple. The recipe can be found here. Next time I would just use chocolate chips.  I halved the recipe and it made 18.

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Look at these awesome s’more cupcakes from Sew Darn Cute.

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Feeling like you should eat more fruit?

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TRACEY’S CARAMEL APPLE S’MORE

1 marshmallow

2 chewy caramels

2 green apple slices, about 1/2-inch thick

Skewer the marshmallow followed by the two caramels on the same roasting stick. Roast until golden. Slide concoction onto one of the apple slices, top with remaining slice.

“S’mores, Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion” by Lisa Adams

Still want s’more fun? Try Hershey’s S’mores for more recipes, activities, crafts, and fun facts.

Happy S’More Day!

Happy Fourth of July

July 4, 2007

Setting our breakfast tables

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Let’s do lunch

May 10, 2007

My friends and I got together to make sack lunches for our children’s teachers today. We decided how many lunches and what each of us would bring ahead of time. We then gathered in the morning to assemble them. Each lunch goes into this bag.

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Take a colored lunch sack and place a napkin folded in half over the top edge of the sack. Place two hole punches in the top center and then feed 18 inches of ribbon through the holes. Tie on a fork and then add any embellishment. I used a little flower that had an existing sticky dot on the back. Make sure it is easy for them to retrieve their fork. Fill the sack with a yummy lunch and stick the plate in the top. Our lunch included a chicken salad sandwich, pasta salad, fruit and double chocolate chip cookies.

From my nest to yours

April 4, 2007

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This is my last minute solution for simple Easter table decorations. I purchase mini grapevine wreaths, bundled in a 6 pack, from the craft store. They are really inexpensive and can be found even cheaper this week at Hobby Lobby—-50% off! (I used the same wreaths for the chalkboard eggs.)

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Fill the center of each wreath with Easter grass and then a few foil wrapped chocolate eggs. I place one nest in the center of each guest’s plate.

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Bon Appetit!

Please eat your vegetables!

March 27, 2007

My friend, Shelly, made cute carrots like these years ago and I have never forgotten them. Such a simple treat. The bag is a disposable cake decorating bag. Not all brands of these bags are created equal so make sure you are buying clear ones. Fill the bag with cheese curls, puffs or balls and then tie with green ribbon.

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I am off for a few days with my husband. See you next week!

Chalkboard Easter Eggs

March 23, 2007

I was totally inspired to see Martha make her own chalkboard paint. This could be the start to limitless crafts. I already loved chalkboard paint, but to have colors—wow. I think these chalkboard painted eggs would be unique place-cards for Easter dinner or just fun for kids to decorate over and over again with chalk. I used wooden eggs but you could also use blown-out real ones. They might be fragile when decorating, so I would probably fill them with plaster to make them more sturdy.

You will need:

Eggs, Acrylic or Latex Paint, Primer, Non-Sanded White Grout, 220-150 Sandpaper, Foam Paint Brushes and something to mix the paint in.

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I first gave my eggs a coat of primer

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I then mixed 1/4 cup of acrylic paint with 1 1/2 teaspoons of non-sanded grout. Mix well. Paint two generous coats of paint, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next. Once the two layers are dry, LIGHTLY sand the entire egg. Wipe away dust with a damp cloth. I repeated this process until I had 6 coats of paint.

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Once the egg was completely dry I was able to draw on the egg with chalk. Most colors rubbed away easily, however a few needed a damp cloth to be removed. Plain black store bought chalkboard paint would also make for dramatic eggs.

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I used a miniature grapevine wreath (sold in a bundle at the craft store) and a little bit of wooden green grass to display the eggs.

Egg Shaped Sidewalk Chalk

March 12, 2007

Just in time for Spring—-egg shaped chalk. 

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These were so easy to make.  You will need:

  • Plaster of Paris
  • Tempera Paint
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • plastic Easter eggs
  • disposable cups
  • disposable spoons or wooden craft sticks
  • egg carton

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Take petroleum jelly and liberally coat the insides of the eggs and then place in the egg carton.  Mix 1/2 cup Plaster of Paris with 1/4 cup water and stir well.  Mix in enough liquid tempera paint to get your desired color.  We added about a teaspoon or so.  You can also use powdered tempera paint (start with about 1 tablespoon and go from there). We mixed up a blue batch, poured it into the eggs then immediatley mixed up a pink batch.

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Pour mixture into egg halves.  This amount makes about 1 1/2 eggs.  We used the 1/2 to make  two colored eggs. DO NOT pour extra plaster down your sink drain –I tell you this is a no no. Throw it in the trash!

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Allow this mixture to set about 5 minutes—just until thick enough to put the egg halves together.  Once together, hold tightly and carefully  give egg a good shake and a firm tap on a hard surface  to allow plaster to form to the egg and the halves to come together.

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Allow eggs to harden overnight.  We couldn’t wait (patience issues) and rushed ours  allowing only about 3 hours (this is overnight in child time isn’t it?) to dry.  To remove them from the plastic an adult must use a knife to work the halves apart. I would like to make a few of these to put back into plastic eggs once first removed and dry to hide on our egg hunt.  I think gray ones would make cute favors for a dinosaur party.

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Chalk On!!

Blarney Treasure Stones

March 6, 2007

Tradition says if you kiss the Blarney Stone you will be given the gift of gab. You will be able to talk eloquently and convincingly. I don’t think these girls need any help with the gift of gab, but we still thought we would make these Blarney Stones. A treasure can be found in the middle of each stone.

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Mix up:

  • 1 cup used coffee grounds (or used dry espresso grounds–what we had)  If they are too wet I am sure it would change the color of the mixture
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sand
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • (I think it would be very easy to tint this mixture with tempera paint—they might be dull colors when dry)

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Mix together dry ingredients and then slowly add enough of the water to make a stiff dough—you might not need all off the water, so add slowly.

Knead the mixture on a floured surface until fairly smooth.

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Break the dough into desired sizes. We divided it into 4 equal pieces.  Hide your trinkets (super balls, small plastic toys, etc.) or money in the center of each ball of dough.

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Bake at 150F degrees for 2 hours (I turned them over half way through)  and then air dry 2-3 days (or longer).  If you make smaller rocks I would dry one hour in the oven and then air dry 2 days or more.  The size of rock and the amount of humidity in your home will affect the drying time.  They will look and feel like rocks when dry.

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I had hoped to paint them with green and white paint for fun and wait to open them on St Patrick’s Day, but nobody was willing to wait to crack them open with a hammer— let alone wait for paint to dry. 

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I think we might make some egg shaped ones for Easter.  These would make great favors for a Dinosaur birthday party!

Happy Birthday Dear Dr. Seuss!

March 2, 2007

We dined on green eggs and bacon (oops all out of ham) for breakfast.

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You can find some simple instructions to make your own hat here.

Oh the places you will go…..

March 2, 2007

making oobleck to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday today.

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This stuff is amazing. My boys (okay and me too) were totally taken with this goo. Oobleck defies Newton’s third law of motion–for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you quickly smack oobleck with your hand it immediately turns into a solid, instead of splashing or moving. If you slowly move oobleck it reacts like a liquid. Needless to say our oobleck took a lot of fist smacking! Our kitchen was filled with lots of “Wow,” “Cool,” wide eyes of amazement and much laughter!”

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To make your own mix 2 cups of cornstarch and 1 cup water in a bowl. If you want to color your oobleck like we did, add a few drops of food coloring to the water before adding to the cornstarch. It took some effort to mix the water and cornstarch. Try it out (hit it with your fist and pour it off a spoon to see if it works) before you give into the urge to add more water to make it easier to mix. When the kids weren’t playing with it I covered it with plastic wrap.

Too Cool! Really, you must give it a try!

Beadies

February 26, 2007

My boys used to be addicted to this beading craft. Their backpacks were adorned with lizards, frogs, Pokemon and more. Every zipper pull and clip, bore a beadie. We haven’t visited this craft for years. When I mentioned blogging about beadies I thought I would be greeted with groans but to my amazement they each enthusiastically started beading.

First you will need a pattern. There are thousands out there. We like Making Friends, Margo’s Beadie Critter Collection, Evelyn’s Beadie Page and Jason’s Beadie Page. The pattern you choose will tell you the amount and color of pony beads you will need and the length of cord. Most patterns will call for satin cord. We find that plastic lacing cord is much easier to work with. The stiffness of the cord makes it easy to thread the beads—no need for a needle. We choose clear cord instead of colored because it works for every project.

First you will divide your cord in half and attach a lanyard clip with a half hitch knot .

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Beads are threaded on one side of the cord in color order according to your pattern

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The other side of the cord is threaded back through all of the beads. You continue through the pattern in this fashion.

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We made this leprechaun and leprechaun hat

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and looking forward to Easter this bunny and chick.

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If you have used the plastic lacing cord and have trouble getting your beadie to lay flat when finished, you can take it and drop it in boiling water for about one minute. Remove from the water and place on a towel. Press your beadie with another towel, adjusting and flattening. Use caution– it will be hot when it first comes out of the water (especially the metal clip).

Happy beading!