The Piano Guys

The Piano Guys

If you haven’t heard these guys – I promise that listening to them will make your weekend. If you have heard them play, go and enjoy them again. They are so, so good.

John Schmidt (piano) and Steven Sharp Nelson (cello) have teamed up to create The Piano Guys. They take popular songs and put an amazing classical twist on them, or will take classical songs and put an amazing modern twist on them.

I am a little bit obsessed with them right now. To the point that I have had to limit my “Piano Guys” intake. But I still wanted to share their awesomeness with all of you.

 

These are a few of our family’s favorites:

A Thousand Years (Christina Perri) – this is their newest one and is beautiful

 

Peponi (from Coldplay’s “Paradise”) – my 2-year old says this one is her “favite” (favorite) – mine too.

 

Happy Together (we have watched this probably 20 times – it still hasn’t gotten old):

 

Bourne Vivaldi – they are on a TRAIN for part of it

 

You can go to their You Tube channel and watch/listen to all of their videos by clicking here.

John and Steve, thank you so much! Your music is incredible.

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! :)

LS 7

Foam Light Sabers

Our family has some fun traditions for birthdays, and one of them is for us to get the birthday child a mylar balloon to tie on his/her chair to announce their birthday. A couple of weeks ago my middle child turned five. And he was having some friends over to play for his birthday. And I didn’t have a balloon for him yet. Oops! So an hour before his play date, I ran to the dollar store near us to see what they had on hand. They were OUT of helium, so no balloons. But they assured me a store across town had them in stock. That wouldn’t work since we were under a time crunch, so I went into panic mode. What could I do that would be cool enough for him to not worry about the balloon? Then I saw some foam noodles in a bin. And then I remembered this party idea that I had seen.

I found the needed supplies (they had them all there!), ran home, and my husband and I pulled them together just as friends were coming over.

Here’s what you need:

Foam Water Noodles, Black Electrical Tape, Silver (Gray) Duct Tape, Clear Tape, Knife

Step 1: Take your foam water noodle, and cut it in half. I found a serrated knife to work well for this.

Step 2: Find which side is straighter, and wrap two strips of duct tape next to each other. This will make part of the “handle”.

Step 3: Wrap a strip of black electrical tape over the seam between the strips of duct tape, and then wrap another strip at the end of the duct tape. This will give the handle more of a finished look.

Here’s what your two light sabers should look like now:

Step 4: Draw a dot for the button on the handle, then cut a piece of clear tape to “seal” the button on. We just drew the buttons on for the kids at the play date, and by the end the buttons had all worn off. I redrew the buttons on the extra light sabers we made after the play date and covered the button part with tape. It only takes a little square to seal it off.

You’re done! These are a great way for little kids to be able to play without really being able to do much to hurt each other. The kids at the play date took the light sabers out on the tramp and went to town – it was a lot of fun to watch them. We ended up making enough to have one for each kid to take home, one for each of our kids, and then four extra for when friends come over to play on another day.

The fact that you can find all of the supplies at the dollar store made this a really inexpensive project too – each noodle made two light sabers ($.50 each), and then we still had tape left over after making 14 light sabers.

Enjoy!

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