WC 8

Make Your Own Watercolors

I am fairly cheap. I think that can be a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that, for the most part, we live by a budget and don’t do anything crazy. The curse is that I have a hard time buying things that I know are going to get broken quickly or discarded or used unwisely. Like watercolors. Even though they are not terribly expensive, I still find myself cringing when they just become little colorful ponds for the kids to play in instead of being used for art tools.

Then I saw this idea from Jill @ Meet the Dubiens, which she found from Martha Stewart – how to make your own watercolors. Joy! I had everything on hand, and thought I should give it a go.

Ingredients

Baking Soda

Corn Starch

Vinegar

Corn Syrup

Food Coloring (Drops or Gel)

Containers

That is IT my friends. I found packs of 10 small containers at the dollar store when I was getting stuff for the light sabers – and they (obviously) cost $1.00 for the package. If you are looking for them, I found them by the mugs/ceramic plates/etc., NOT by the other reusable storage containers. You may try checking both places in your store – I’m not sure whether organization is consistent from store to store.

For one container size, you will need:

2 T. baking soda

1 T. vinegar

1 T. corn starch

1/4 tsp. corn syrup

My containers were 2.3 fl. oz. and were filled just under halfway with this recipe size, just to give you a gauge. I ended up making 8x the recipe, which gave me these measurements:

1 c. baking soda

1/2 c. vinegar

1/2 c. corn starch

2 tsp. corn syrup

Step 1: Mix the baking soda and vinegar in a LARGE bowl. Yes, as soon as my kids saw these ingredients together they knew it meant one thing – VOLCANO! So, plan your bowl size accordingly, even if doing a “single container” batch.

Step 2: Once your fizzing has stopped, add in your corn starch and corn syrup and mix well. This will give you some seriously cool stuff – Jill termed it as “Gak” or “Ooblek” consistency. All I know is that when I stirred it, it went from solid to liquid, and if I had some drip overboard that I could pick it up and it would be solid until I dropped it back into the container with its friends. Super cool.

Step 3: Separate into individual containers and add your food coloring. Jill used gel coloring; Martha used normal drops; I tried both. I think the normal drops ended up producing a better finished product as far as usability goes, but you have more color control with the gel. You may want to try both if you have them on hand and see what works best for you. Use a fair amount of color to get brighter results. The kids were great at stirring here.

Step 4: DRY OVERNIGHT. There will be a liquid left on the top when you go check on them in the morning. I just poked at the “solid” below to make sure it was firm, and then dumped the top liquid off. I figure if the bottom is solid, the liquid on the top will not do much to help things out.

I was excited to see if these would actually work – and they DID! I painted a rainbow like Jill’s daughter so I could see the colors in action:

One tip – make sure you add enough water when you are painting. We occasionally would end up with small paint pieces on the brush that would not brush color onto the paper well (see the yellow and green in the rainbow) – if you dip the brush slightly in water, it works like a charm. Just make sure you add water.

Here is a masterpiece from my 5-year old:

Pretty awesome! His colors were the ones that I used food coloring with – again, they tended to work a bit better, so he preferred them.

Since my boys did well with them and had fun, I decided to finally let my 2-year old use watercolors. She was very excited. And went straight for the pink.

She had a blast, and I didn’t feel like I had to stand over her and make sure she was using the paint “appropriately” – she could just have fun! I know how to make more (good thing too, huh). :)

And, for those of you who are curious, I washed out my son’s old watercolor container and decided to see how many wells a single container recipe would fill. Turns out, it filled an even 24 wells (the whole tray filled three times).  So you are essentially getting three 8-pack watercolor containers worth of paint for $.10 (yes, I priced it out). And you can make them from supplies at home. You could probably even do a little bit of food coloring in each well if you wanted to deal with a very small quantity and keep the “bought watercolor” look. Thanks Jill & Martha! :)

P 6

Pizza on Fridays (& a GREAT crust)

We started a tradition several months ago where on every Friday night, we eat pizza and do something fun as a family. The fun thing can be watching a movie, playing games, pulling out our original 16-bit Nintendo and having a Zelda-fest, camping in the backyard – whatever. The pizza thing is HUGE with our kids, and they have come to expect it.

Sometimes waiting for the pizza is hard. :)

We have a family motto that says: “We work hard and are honest.” My seven-year old modified it to: “We work hard, are honest and eat pizza on Fridays.” Yep, that pretty much sums up our family ideals. :)

As part of having pizza every week, we typically will make the pizza. Occasionally we’ll have a pizza we’ve bought from somewhere, but I found a crust recipe from allrecipes.com that makes it hard to want to buy a pizza, unless the day has been too crazy to want to add something else to it. It is VERY easy, and the dough is really elastic and smooth and delicious. It’s everything you could hope for in a crust. We even have kiddo helpers sometimes.

Ingredients

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F – this means it’s more like warm-hot water)

1 T. sugar

1 packet yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)

3 T. oil (original recipe says olive, but I usually just use canola or vegetable oil)

1 tsp. salt

1-2 tsp. italian seasoning (opt.)

2 1/2 c. flour

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine warm water, sugar and yeast in large bowl. Mix.

Step 2: Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix. (See? I told you it is easy.)

Step 3: Knead. I use my handy-dandy kneading attachment to my hand mixer for this one. Once it is kneaded, it will have a FABULOUS texture.

Step 4: Rest the dough for 10 minutes. Then roll it out and place on a greased cookie sheet – or pizza pan.

Step 5: Top & bake for 15-20 minutes. Make sure if you use “wet” ingredients that you bake for closer to the 20 minutes or the crust will be cooked, but the middle will not be cooked through entirely. We have yet to burn the crust, but we have undercooked the middle when we’ve been impatient.

Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. And, yes, I use cheddar cheese. It just tastes better (in my opinion).

Pizza! Hooray!

This is easy to do, and fun. What are some of your family traditions? Any fun types of pizza we should try?

Enjoy! :)

SP 3

Finding Inexpensive Spices

Until recently, one of the biggest deterrents to me in trying new recipes was the spice list. It’s great to try new things with new spices, but I have a VERY hard time paying $3 or $5 or $7 just for one jar of spices that I have never used before and don’t know if I’ll ever use again. And if there was more than one new spice – forget it! That was until I found the lovely bulk spices section of our local Sprouts store (this links you to the locations). I loved Sprouts anyway because of their great produce deals, but now I love them even more. I am guessing that if you checked around to other farmers market/whole foods stores in your area, they may have a similar bulk spices section. It is AWESOME.

If we can find a bulk spices section here, I’m guessing you should be able to find them almost anywhere. When you get to your bulk spices section, do NOT be alarmed by the prices. For example, cinnamon sticks here run $24/lb., but one large cinnamon stick only weighs .01 lbs. This means that it costs a whole $.24. Ha!

From left to right in this picture: my cinnamon stick that cost $.24 (a bottle of small cinnamon sticks runs around $5 here); dried cilantro – it didn’t even weigh in on the scale so they gave it to me for free (even though I kept trying to get them to weigh some other spice so I could pay them SOMETHING); and my whole allspice – which also cost me around $.25. Fifty cents for three spices in the quantities that I needed is WAAAAAAY better than spending $10 for too much of those same spices.

I also will go there to refill some of my more expensive spices when they run out. When I was trying to clean my cookie sheet, I ran out of Cream of Tartar. Remembering that they carry it at Sprouts, I decided to get a baggie of it to refill my empty container.

To refill the jar to the point that I got it (I slightly underestimated) cost me $1.00. To refill it completely would have been about $1.33. To buy a new jar would have been $2.88.

Wahoo!

It is worth checking around to see if any of your local stores have a bulk spices section – both to expand your cooking horizons without breaking the bank, but also to refill your current spices on the cheap. I still will buy whatever $.50 generic spices that are available (onion flakes, cinnamon, etc.), but for the spices that don’t have a cheaper option, this is a great alternative to paying full price.

CCC

THE Best Chocolate Chip Cookies – Hands Down.

These lovelies are THE best chocolate chip cookies. Ever. Really. Whenever I make them, people ask for the recipe. And I laugh – because it is just slightly modified from the recipe on the Nestle chocolate chip bag. But the slight modification is what makes them perfect. I believe this was a tip passed on to my mom by a friend many moons ago (which is amazing, since my mom is still only 27….), and it is how we grew up enjoying chocolate chip cookies.

Ingredients

2 1/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt (my mom updated this – she uses 1/2 tsp. – we’ll have to try that next time)

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. brown sugar (packed)

1 c. SHORTENING <—-THIS is the change, my friends.

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

Chocolate chips (the recipe calls for one 12 oz. package, but I usually use less – personal preference)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Step 2: Cream SHORTENING, sugars and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Please, oh please – do NOT use butter or margarine. Use the shortening. It is magical. I promise. And, actually, all of my favorite cookie recipes have shortening instead of butter or margarine. Just sayin’. They will be fluffy and wonderful.

Step 3: Gradually beat in flour mixture, and then stir in your chocolate chips.

Step 4: Bake for 9-11 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Step 5: ENJOY!! :)

These are SO good – don’t they look perfect? Again, we gave some of these away too. Good for calorie counting, but sad for tummies that need yummy chocolate chip cookies. Not want, NEED. I may now need to make me some more of these. :)

MT 1

Media Tickets

We are still debating as to whether or not we are actually going to use this, BUT I love the idea so I thought I would share it anyway.

I had seen this idea for technology tickets from Laurel @ Ducks in a Row, and thought it might be a good way for there to be more of a balance between my kids learning how to use media appropriately and understanding a bit more about the value of time, (hopefully) without my being either too strict with media or allowing it to turn into a too-frequent babysitter.

I modified it a bit, however, just based on my biases against certain forms of media. A ticket allows for one 30-minute TV show, or for 15 minutes of DS or computer games. The tickets can be combined for movies (ex. Tangled = 3 tickets since it is 100 minutes long). OR, the kids can save up tickets and at the end of the week whatever they have left can be changed in for $.50 each. This is a Kat idea. I would like to incentivize my kids NOT to use the tickets so that way they can make a choice of priorities that goes beyond “Do I use 2 tickets for DS or 1 ticket for Word World?” and leads to “Would I rather have the instant gratification now of watching a movie, or wait until the end of the week and end up $1.50 richer?” We’ll see how that goes. Here is the version I created:

You can make your own cards, or if you are interested in printing off cards like mine, here is a link to a powerpoint document to download – I printed mine 9 per page: MT 9 per page

After I printed the cards off, I cut them and had them laminated at Mardel (this links you to their locations). If you have one nearby and don’t know about their amazing lamanation prices – it is $.25/ft. of laminating. Steal of a deal.

Here is the finished, laminated product:

Like I said, we are still debating as to whether we will use these or not. I’ll keep you posted on what we end up doing, and our system for doing it (Does each kid use a card to watch Wild Kratts, or does one of the kids pay for all three? If each has to pay individually, what do we do if one child runs out – banish them to another room? If only one pays, how do we make sure that our oldest doesn’t always convince the younger ones to pay so he can earn money at the end of the week? etc.). It seems like it has a lot of good potential – we’ll just have to use trial and error to see what works if we decide to use it. We also don’t want to incentivize them to bring more media into their lives now since they are pretty balanced kids who don’t have a ton of that going on right now. It’s a balance.

Do you do something similar to this? How does it work for you?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...