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?

Tamale Pie

This recipe is a goodie. My mother-in-law passed this one along a few weeks ago, and we have enjoyed it. It is easy, and tasty. Just make sure to start making it early enough to allow for the baking time.

Ingredients:

3/4 c. corn meal

1 1/2 c. milk

1 egg, beaten

1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained (or chicken)

1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 T. dried onion (minced or flakes)

1 T. seasoning salt

1 lb. can chopped tomatoes (14 oz. is what I could find)

1 can corn, drained

1 small can sliced olives

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix corn meal, milk and egg in a bowl.

Step 2: Mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Yum. 

Step 3: Dump the corn meal mixture into the other ingredients and mix. Then pour in greased 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish (or other smaller baking dish) and bake for 1 hr. 15 min.

Step 4: Sprinkle some cheese over the top, and melt in the oven (about 5 minutes).

There you go! Very easy, and delicious with some sour cream. Enjoy!

 

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!

Homemade Wrinkle Releaser

I don’t like to iron. I sold my ironing board on Craigslist three or four years ago when I bought a steamer because I never used the ironing board. I bought a steamer because I used to work at a clothing department, was able to master using one without burning myself, and found it to be an easy and pretty fast way to get wrinkles out of a wide variety of fabrics without worrying about ruining them. Whenever I do laundry I fold what needs to be put in drawers, hang what needs to be hung up, and then move on with my day, telling myself that I will steam the clothes later. And then I forget. And then I do more laundry, and put off the steaming, and do more laundry, and put off the steaming – and everything eventually backs up.

As I was looking at the line of laundry to steam in my closet, I remembered seeing this awesome tip, and thought it would be worth a try. It is a recipe for homemade wrinkle releaser.

Here’s how you make it:

1 tsp. fabric softener and 1 cup water – mix it together in a spray bottle, and you are good to go!

Super easy. I actually doubled it because my water bottle was pretty large and I didn’t want to have to make it again too soon if it worked. And notice how shiny my Pyrex is? It still makes me smile. Back to the spray…

Take your finished product……

…….and find something wrinkly. Like this shirt:

You can see why this was in the steaming line. HAHA. Oh dear. Before you spray, check the label of your fabric softener to see if there are fabrics that you shouldn’t use it with (or check the label of your clothes). I just am paranoid about little stain drops on my clothes. I haven’t had any problems with it leaving stains at all, but I just thought I’d pass that on. When you’re sure your shirt is good to go, just give a good spray wherever there are wrinkles.

I still need to adjust my spray bottle, apparently, but you get the idea. After it is sprayed, you can either give it a good shake, or pull on the fabric a bit to start getting some of the wrinkles out. Then you hang it up and wait for it to dry. This is where you need to plan a little time in, unless you’re good with wearing something that is a bit damp. Or quite damp, like my lovely spray bottle got this shirt.

Here is the finished product:

Wow! That is definitely an improvement. It is ready to wear. Not perfect, but much better than before. I would say that the steamer really wouldn’t get it much better than this, and this is quick and easy. Spray. That’s it. Here is a close-up of a spot that still had some minor wrinkles:

I can live with that. I’ll probably still pull the steamer out for times that it really matters to have clothes that look nice and wrinkle-free, but honestly if you sit down or fold your arms wrong, you take a nice wrinkle-free outfit and give it some wrinkle love anyway. This is a good alternative when you don’t feel like taking the time to steam or iron, and have a long line of clothes ahead of you.

Happy spraying!

The BEST Bakers

My five-year old will NOT eat potatoes. Except for french fries. But no mashed potatoes, no bakers, no breakfast potatoes, no potatoes in soup, no nothing. Until we found these bakers.  They. Are. Awesome! He is actually excited to have them, and will eat them skin and all.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2: Wash your bakers, and poke them all over with a knife. This allows the steam to escape from the bakers while they are in the oven.

Step 3: Put oil and kosher salt into small bowls. Take a small amount of oil (enough to lightly coat the potato), and rub it on the potato skin. Then take some kosher salt and rub it over the newly-oiled potato skin. This will be a little messy. We have tried both olive oil and vegetable oil, and have found we like vegetable oil best. Canola oil would be great too, I’m sure. Don’t worry about over-salting at this point – you can always brush salt off at the end – but you don’t need a ton of oil. You could use less than a teaspoon per potato and it would be enough. This helps keep your fat down to keep the oil down.

Here is what they will look like before you put them in the oven:

Step 4: Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and put on the bottom rack of your oven (this will keep the oven clean while the bakers are cooking). Place the potatoes on the top rack in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. If you have more than four bakers, you may need to increase the time by up to 15 minutes. When they are no longer firm, they are done.

Step 5: Take out the potatoes (using tongs or oven mitts), and carefully brush off the extra salt – the bakers are hot! You just want to leave enough salt on to have tasty bakers, but not to make you sick. :)

Step 6: Cut open and marvel at the fluffy yumminess inside.

For the bit of extra time this takes, it is totally worth it. The skin is slightly crispy and delicious, the inside is perfectly cooked, and even potato-haters will be happy with it. Enjoy!

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