Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick-Or-Treating at the Mall

How about some gratuitous photos of my kids, with late Autumn sunlight glinting off their hair?


(And have I mentioned that I never even considered that I could have blue-eyed, blonde-haired children?  Yeah.)

Turns out that the Saturday before Halloween, all the shops at the mall hand out candy.  It was a total zoo, and the kids loved it!

My two Belles.  Mimi intended to be Rapunzel, but she has misplaced her entire costume.  Whoops!

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Here's my gorgeous girl.
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CoCo was our Space Alien Bug Robot.  I think.  (His dad picked it out last year, before the baby was even born!  The body suit part of it is round as a beetle, and would never fit inside a baby carrier.  It's awfully sweet, though :)
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Ernie needed a little emotional support to get through the crowds.
Emotional support from Dad :)

(Mimi had a tight grip on my non-camera hand, too!)

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Friday, October 28, 2011

The Fall Event (and Marshmallow Popcorn Treats Recipe)

These seasonal "events" are a HUGE deal for Ernie.  Huge.  We started a year ago, hosting other kids once a season to celebrate all that season has to offer, make a huge mess, (and do everything I thought Ernie might be missing by not attending school class parties.)  Oddly, the majority of my friends have switched to home schooling the past year or two, so we get a really great mix of ages.  This time we had 13 kids, ranging from Wonder Boy up to a 3rd grader.

I think this event was our best yet, and I'll tell you why.
  1. We had it in the afternoon, instead of the morning.  No over due naps, and no rushing!
  2. The girls helped decorate.  (The pipe cleaners.  They're "crazy candy canes" and Ernie was having a blast making them up in bulk and finding places to put them.)

3.  Marshmallow Popcorn treats.  Yes, it's your favorite rice crispy treats, but made with popcorn.  And yes, it's amazing.  (Plus, I always have popcorn on hand- cereal, not so much.)  I think some of the toddlers spent the bulk of the party just noshing on these.  I subbed shortening for the butter to make them dairy-free, and added a splash of vanilla.   Thanks Wonder Daddy for snapping this picture! (Recipe is at the end of this post.)

marshmallow popcorn balls

4.  We chose 2 of our favorite-of-the-moment crafts and had them set up on the table.  We had paper sacks to decorate, for kids to put their candy in after Halloween, and we had supplies for q-tip skeletons.

craft supplies, set up on the table

5.  The moms, for the most part, sat in my sunny school room and watched Wonder Boy-- and whichever toddlers were there at the moment -- play.


6.  The moms were able to sit and gab, BECAUSE I set everything up and then turned the kids loose.  The kindergarten boy who loves to build things?  He lugged enormous rocks from the woods, and dead branches, and built a tee-pee on the lawn.  The toddlers who just want to orbit around Mom?  They played with baby toys and ate snacks.  The kids who never get hungry?  Had a hey-dey in the playroom downstairs.  (Seriously, I think they dumped out every single box of toys...and then their moms "helped" them put EVERYTHING away before they left.  Best thing ever!)  


playing with eggs

Ernie made what she called "homemade bracelets" for everyone before they came- they were pipecleaners, twisted at the ends to make a loop.  I thought she was pretty thoughtful to do that, and we turned the girls loose on our beads-n-beans sensory bucket, to fill up their bracelets with beads.

Making bracelets

This party was so relaxed, and so easy to get ready for.  Everyone did exactly what they wanted to do, without me cajoling kids to line up for a game, or leave the toys to come have snack.  (WHY has that been the normal for every party before this??  No more!)  More importantly, everyone had a great time, the kids were all fantastic, and I can't wait to do our Winter Event.  I feel so lucky to have friends close by we can gather with, who are such good friends for my kids!

Marshmallow Popcorn Treats

Makes two 9x13 pans- can be halved

Pop one cup of popcorn.

In a large pot over medium low heat, melt 3/4 cup shortening.  (You can certainly use butter here- I made these dairy free on purpose.)  Add 1 large bag of mini marshmallows, about 10 cups, and melt them, stirring occasionally.  You want to keep the heat low, so the sugar doesn't cook too much and make your treats crispy!  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn, and mix quickly before it cools off too much.  I did this in another large pot, or you could do it in batches in a big bowl.  This is a LOT of popcorn!  The easiest way is to grease your hands and just dig in and mix it around- wait just a minute or two for the sugar to cool enough to handle.

Press lightly into two well-greased 9x13 pans and let cool.  Turn onto a cutting board and cut into squares.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shopping Sites You Need to Know About

Even if you never click on these links (and you SHOULD) I need a list like this in my life.  These are all places that I've ordered from, or intend to order from, with prices that make me giggle.  In a good way.

PaperMart.  My mom ordered ribbon from this site for my wedding, and I'm still working through the leftover spools.  $3.72 for 100 yards of 7/8" satin ribbon?  Yes please.  Plus spools of tulle for tutus, packaging supplies, janitorial supplies, food boxing and wrapping, tins, jars, jewelry boxes, fabric trim, papers, and really...just go look around. If it's paper, plastic, or cloth and is meant to package something up?  They have it, and cheap.   (Somebody come save me, I can't stop browsing.  They have those neat reusable nylon shopping bags that fold into their own little containment pouches, 12 for $27.  Surely someone wants to split a pack of those with me??)

eShakti.  I haven't ordered from them, but I intend to.  Custom-tailored clothes for incredible prices.  Dresses are around $70, which includes tailoring for bust and height.  Add $7.50, and you can change necklines, add sleeves, change the hem length to above or below the knee, or anything else applicable to that garment.  They carry cardigans, dresses, jackets, skirts, scarves, pants, but only for women.  (Ooh, just noticed in google right now that a lot of folks have been doing reviews, and have $20 off coupon codes on their review posts.  Sweet!  Pair that with the overstock section, you could find a dress for about $15!  Probably couldn't be customized, though.)  Also, register today and you can save $20 off your first order.  Do it!

Halo Heaven.  Picture everything you need to make a little girl into a fairy.  Wings, tutus, huge flowers, wands, plus silly plastic shoes, necklaces, capes, picture it all wholesale prices.  There are dollar-store type swords and pirate gear, little cloth shoes for much stuff.  I recently perused the overstock/discontinued section and ordered wings, tutus, flowers, and wands for four little girls.  My total was $20.  GO.

(No, none of these folks know me at all, and they have no idea that I'm giving them props.  I just really like passing on info.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bird Nest Pendant Tutorial

Three gold eggs in a nest

I love making these, and they have a different meaning for everyone.  Two pearls in a little nest make a sweet wedding gift.  One great big pearl in a nest reminds a young woman of her inherent worth.  A handful of little stone beads are a mother's children...or just her favorite colors!  I love that every person who makes these wraps them a little different- every nest is totally unique.

bird nest pendant

Start with your supplies: wire cutters, 20 guage copper wire, beads, and needlenose pliers.  If you have round-tip pliers, those will come in handy too.  (If you make jewelry, you'll know what these are.  If you don't, don't sweat it:  you can totally make these with things from the toolbox.)

bird nest pendant

If you want a petite nest, cut three feet of wire.  (I get my wire at Michael's, in the jewelry section.)  If you want a chunkier nest, cut 6 feet.  (This nest today is about 3 feet, with 6 mm beads.)  Those are my two favorite lengths- try it out, and see what you like.  I will tell you that learning this project with three feet of wire will be easier than having six feet of wire whipping around.  Thread your beads onto one end of the wire, and leave a 2 inch tail behind them.

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Now, to make the center of the nest, twist the beaded section into a loop and twirl the ends together to hold it steady.  Hold the beaded loop in one hand, and the wire in the other, and just turn one side like a key.

bird nest pendant

Now take the long tail, and start wrapping it around the outside of the beads to make a wreathe.  Go around about three times.

bird nest pendant

Now take the end of the long piece, and come up from the bottom to "sew" all those wire loops together.  Sew it twice, to anchor.

bird nest pendant

Now, it's up to you! Go around the outside some more, make it as tight or as loose as you like.  If it starts to feel like it's going to spring apart, anchor it again by sewing from the bottom.

bird nest pendant

If you want "nest" underneath the beads, be sure to wrap the wire underneath and across a few times.  I literally just wrap it by crossing underneath, then crossing on the top side at the edge, and anchoring it when it starts to feel loose.

bird nest pendant

When you get to the end of your wire, start "sewing" all the way around the edge of the nest to make sure things are sturdy.  When you can't wrap any more, curve the end of your wire with the needlenose (or round tip) pliers, and just tuck it into the back side of the nest so it won't poke anyone.

bird nest pendant

That 2 inch tail you left at the beginning is still sticking out the top, so let's finish that.

bird nest pendant

With your needlenose pliers, bend a 90 degree bend in the wire about half a pinky-width up from the nest.  Now you're going to use your pliers as a guide to make a small double loop, starting at that bend.  Bring the tail down to the bottom of the second loop, and wrap it around the wire between the loop and the nest.  Crimp it tight with the pliers (or a crimping tool) to make sure it won't poke anyone.

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You've made a nest pendant!

(These are also available in the shop.)

Monday, October 24, 2011


Wonder Daddy took today off work, just because he COULD.

Ernie has been studying animal habitats, and just learned about water habitats (and animal adaptations) on Friday.

Perfect!!  We spent our morning at the aquarium.

We found a mirror.
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We found bubble windows.

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We found FISH.
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(Somewhere, I have a photo of me and the girls on this bench...but Mimi was in a moby wrap.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Saturday

My baby is sleeping, my girls are off on a date with their dad, and I'm catching up on blogging.  Because I WANT to :)  I might just go get a cup of hot cocoa and call it dinner!

After being up at 11, 2, 3, 4, 5:30, and 6:00 with kids, they gave me a gift!  The girls normally watch cartoons quietly in the morning, as soon as the clock says 7:00.  Wonder Boy slept from 6:30 till 9:00...phew.  It felt nice to get a bit of uninterrupted sleep!  I got the baby out of his crib, started a big pot of oatmeal going, and did all the morning things that babies need.  Wonder Daddy slept till 9:30, and joined us for breakfast.  If anyone deserves that much sleep, it's him!

We had a little music time later on.

making music

making music

making music

making music

I made sandwiches for the girls for lunch, and a smoothie for me.  (Apple+banana+oatmeal+carrot.  I'm addicted to smoothies.)

Daddy rocked Wonder Boy to sleep while I read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle to the girls, and I quickly printed off what I needed, changed into a dress, and drove over to the temple for an hour or so to get some work done.

I got back and remembered that today was the carnival at my piano students' house- she and her family live down the street, and she was pretty excited about her little pet project.  They had a bouncy house, and she set up games and a pinata for everyone.  Admission was 25 cents, and everyone left with an armload of candy.  The girls looooved it!  A mom was painting faces, too.  (Perhaps this has nothing to do with it, but this family home schools their two oldest kids, and I love them.  Their daughter is SO amazing with little kids, is completely respectful of me, asks great questions when she doesn't understand something, organized this entire carnival by show stopper of a kid.)

showing off their face paintings from the neighborhood carnival

showing off their face paintings from the neighborhood carnival


While the kids and I were gone, Wonder Daddy ran out to do some errands.  He came back in time to grab the girls and head out for their little date.

The two littlest kids and I will be missing church again tomorrow.  Grr.  I keep thinking we're over all of our colds, and then someone is up coughing all night (Mimi) or is entirely coated in...boogers.  (Wonder Boy.)  I just can't send that kind of greatness to the Nursery class, you know?  So, we'll go and run the choir rehearsal, go to the Sacrament Meeting, and then I think Wonder Daddy and Ernie will stay for classes, and I'll take the littles home with me.  I'm sad!!  All those Fall germs floating around, we end up being sick one week, attending the next, catching ANOTHER cold, and being sick the next week!

He has a cold

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Teaching a Class

I survived today.

I didn't tell you what I was DOING today, because then you might have come, and I spent most of the week having little panic attacks that tonight was going to epically fail.

First, Aunt LoLo made this quilt for my friend's new baby.

baby quilt

Then, when I asked her what she wanted in return, she said a Nest Necklace.

So I googled it, and made this for her with stuff I found at home.

bird nest pendant

This pendant really, really frightens me.  (And, she won't let me replace it with something a little less....frightening.)

After posting that picture on my facebook wall, I got a lot of great feedback.  Which led to this, and the revival of the shop.


Tonight was my final payment on the baby quilt: I taught at her annual Freaky Friday craft night, at church.  40 ladies, 8 tables, 6 glue guns, and lots of spray paint, mod podge, wood, felt, soup, cupcakes,  Sure, I was only one of 10 projects available, but I had expected to have time to sit and maybe do some of my own projects.  Up until a week ago, there were only 4 ladies signed up for my class.  Then, it jumped to 10 gals, making 18 necklaces! Those ladies kept me hopping for three hours, and I had to leave my supplies behind for them to finish when it was time for me to leave!

This morning, picking up supplies at Micheal's, I saw a big poster on the door: they're looking for craft teachers!  I'm kind of tempted to apply- the pay is good, it would be nice to get out of the house some more, and the baby is old enough to eat food now, he can be with his dad for a few hours.  (I'm not talking about getting a job- I would go, once, and teach a project.)  But after trying to teach those women tonight, I don't know if I'm the right gal for the job.  Maybe it's because I was trying to teach them all individually, but more ladies would come half way through my explanations, so I never had time to cut a piece of wire for myself and SHOW them what to do.  My explanations didn't do much for anybody- the very beginning of a pendant, you need to string your beads onto the wire and leave a 2 inch tail.  You fold the beads in a loop so the beads are in a tight circle, then you just twist it the tail and the wire together a few times so the loop stays shut.  Not one lady tonight understood what I was trying to say, which really dents my confidence as a teacher!

In the end, everyone made wonderful necklaces, and found out (quickly) whether wire wrapped jewelry is something they want to pursue...or not.  (One woman left the table with her project saying, "I know I need to stick to BUYING my jewelry!)  Oh, and that reminds me- I never wrote up the tutorial I promised Ticia!  Look for that later.

(Is anyone else an introvert?  Please, go read this.  I hope to not need to speak to anyone until Sunday!)

(Aunt LoLo?  Thanks for asking me to teach tonight- you have a great group of ladies, and you did an AMAZING job planning and pulling off this huge event!  I hope you sleep until noon tomorrow, you deserve it!)

(Oh, and Aunt LoLo?  I'm still sad that I didn't walk out the door with a dozen of your cupcakes under my arm.  They were THAT good.  And, between you and me, I normally....don't like cupcakes that much.)