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! :)

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?

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!

DSC_0011

Conference Candy

A tradition that our family has is to have “Conference Candy”. Twice a year, the worldwide leaders of our Church hold a 2-day televised conference called General Conference. It is 8 hours of instruction (four 2-hour segments) for all of the members, and then an extra 2 hours for the men. We have tried to find ways to keep our kids “tuned in” to what is being said – and eight hours is a long time, awesome as the lessons are.

Our biggest success has been using candy, or other treats (pretzels, nuts, popcorn) to help keep their interest level up. This is a good alternative to “Conference Bingo” – our kids are too young to keep interest in that for very long, and tend to just eat the candy. We just had four of the hours today, and my seven- and five-year old were both paying attention for most of the time. My two-year old even got into it for some of the time.

How does it work?

Step 1. Choose your “key words” and label your bags/cups/whatever. Six words seems to be a good number – it is enough that there is at least one of them being said on a fairly frequent basis, but not too many to keep track of and to lose interest.

The kids helped to pick some of these too (like “therefore”). For example, our first six words were: therefore, baptism, prophet, church, family and temple. Our second round words were: faith, prayer, prophet, therefore, gospel and quote (again, “quote” was chosen by my seven-year old).

Step 2: Fill ’em up with candy/nuts/pretzels/etc. Pretty self-explanatory.

Step 3: Listen for the words, and enjoy! We kept the bags on the fireplace, and I would go get the candy whenever someone called a word out that was said. If you were in the room, you got the candy. My older two were engaged for probably 95% of the time, which was huge. And, actually, Elder Quentin L. Cook had a talk FULL of key words, which prompted my oldest to say, “Apostles are AWESOME! They want us to eat candy!” As long as we are getting a positive memory and learning something, works for me.

Words we might try next time: sacrifice, hope, love, testimony, blessings, service, covenants, commandments. I decided intentionally not to do Savior, Jesus or God just because I don’t feel comfortable with my kids screaming their names at the top of their lungs to get candy. That is my personal feeling. Also, the words in the songs count for us, but not the ones in the prayers. Again, I don’t want my kids shouting out words in the middle of a prayer.

Enjoy!! :)

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