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! :)

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!

Hard-Boiled Eggs – Baked vs. MY way

Tonight we are going to dye our Easter eggs, which means that we need more hard-boiled eggs in our house. I already posted on an easy, no-frills way to make perfect hard-boiled eggs earlier this week, but saw an idea on Pinterest from The Burlap Bag that looked easy too – baking them. Since I needed to make a lot of eggs, I thought this would be the perfect time to test the two out together and see which one I liked better.

For the oven method: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put the eggs into the compartments of a muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes.

As I was filling the remaining compartments up with water, I decided to fill one of the compartments with an egg in it with water as well to see if it changed the outcome.

Meanwhile: I boiled the water for my method. After it came to boiling, I put the eggs in. Since I knew for sure that my way would work, I did more of the eggs that way.

Worked again – not a single broken egg.

I started boiling the water when I put the other eggs in the oven. I finished with the stove-top eggs nine minutes before the oven ones were done. So, my way was faster, but the oven way is definitely easier: preheat, cook, forget about them until the timer is done.

Round 1 (cooking): My way – 4 points (faster, but more steps); Oven way – 5 points (slower, but one-step)

After cooking the eggs, I let them sit in a cold water bath. I’d check on the water every bit to make sure the water hadn’t warmed up. If it had, I just dumped out the warm water and filled it up again with cold water. When moving the eggs from the muffin tin to the water, tongs is the easiest way to go.

After they sat in the water, it was time to judge the appearance of the eggs. On the outside, they all looked the same. No spotting, just like normal eggs.

Then I peeled each of them to see how easy they were to peel, and judge how well they had cooked.

Yikes! The oven eggs were a little tougher to peel (some of the egg came off with the shell), and had some internal brown spotting. The oven way with the water inside actually browned more (but less concentrated), and some of the egg still came off with the shell. The other egg peeled fine, and looked normal.

Appearance: My way – 5 points (all looked normal); Oven way – 3 points (outside looked normal, inside had a couple of brown spots and some bits of egg peeled off as well as the shell)

Now came time to judge the internal appearance, texture and taste of the eggs. Here’s how they sliced up:

All three of the eggs had a similar, very nice texture. They were easy to slice through, and all well-cooked. The oven eggs both had a little grayish ring around the outside of their yolks, but it wasn’t bad. The stove egg had no ring.

Internal Appearance/Texture: My way – 5 points (perfect); Oven way – 4.5 points (slight docking for grayish ring)

As far as the taste was concerned, they all tasted pretty good. The oven-baked eggs seemed to have a more “eggy” taste to them (even in the whites), where the stove-top egg did not have that taste. If it hadn’t been for the contrast of the stove egg, I probably would not have thought much of it.

Taste Rating: My way – 5 points; Oven way – 4.5 points (slight docking for taste)

Overall Score: My way – 19 points; Oven way – 17 points

Depending on what you’re going for, either of these would be fine. If you need an egg to dye and don’t mind the brown spotting on the inside of the egg, the oven way is a bit easier and the finished egg still has a great texture, is fairly easy to peel, and tastes good. My way is an all-around good way to do the egg, takes slightly more work in the prep (carefully dropping the eggs in the water), but still gets done faster, and has a great texture, taste and appearance.

Happy Egging!

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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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