Jul 30, 2011

Project: Road Trip-Pop-O-Matic I Spy

Today's Project: Road Trip comes from an idea I saw a long time ago, forgot about, and then thanks to the world of pinterest, found again. Bet you guys didn't know I like that site, huh???

Ohdeedoh is a delightfully addicting site. This idea came from over there and you can find the original post HERE.

My Little Men love bubble wrap...what kid doesn't! That is why I knew this would be a perfect idea for our long car trip. I just knew I had to make my own version of this travel game. I call mine Pop-O-Matic I Spy.

There are two hard parts of making this game. ONE-thinking up that many things to spy. Two-drawing said things tiny enough to fit behind each bubble and also lining it up. Oohhh I had such a brain cramp trying to come up with enough things to spy. Then actually drawing them...eh-hem...the horse/dog/coyote creature I drew which Oldest was quick to point out did not look like the intended horse it was supposed to be.

After drawing one sheet, I decided I was going to copy it so that each boy could have their own. I also made a much easier Alphabet I Spy.

Once you have your picture sheets, all you need is a sheet of large bubble wrap cut to fit your picture sheet. Attach the bubble wrap with double stick tape.

Then start the fun. They will pop away any time they see any picture on their sheet. Super fun!

Since I am so nice and I now know how much time making one of these sheets takes, I am making the ones I made available to you to download. I only ask one thing...

...NO COMMENTS snidely referring to the ineptitude of my drawing...especially directed at my horse/dog/coyote creation...i mean he has feelings too...


Jul 28, 2011

Project: Road Trip-Homemade Snacks

I decided to morph Recipe Thursdays with Project: Road Trip this week. 

One of the best things to aid in a successful road trip is FOOD...okay so one of the best things to aid in the success of anything (well, except maybe a diet) is food...

Since food/snacks/treats/bribes are so important in maintaining peace in the vehicle, I wanted to prepare a couple of fun snacks.

So today for Project: Road Trip...

I am sharing this recipe for Homemade Cheez-Its. Making homemade crackers is kind of a cool thing to do. I felt all accomplished. The Little Men loved the idea of homemade crackers too.

Homemade Cheez-Its
In Katrina's Kitchen

8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening (or add another T of butter if you don't like using shortening)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
2 Tablespoons ice water
coarse salt for sprinkling

Combine cheese, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment. Mixture will be crumbly.

Slowly add the flour, then add the ice water.

Pat the dough into 2 disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When the dough has been refrigerated long enough, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll each disc to 1/8". Then cut using a pizza roller. Cut them in columns and rows, making tons of small squares. In the middle of each square, poke a hole using a toothpick. Transfer onto a cookie sheet.

Repeat with other disc of dough.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and browning around the edges.

Move crackers to a cooling rack.

Once cool, pack in an air tight container until ready to serve.

I wonder how long it will take my boys to inhale these???

Jul 27, 2011

Project: Road Trip-Word Searches

Still on the road, in the middle of the country, in the middle of our cross-country move. Hopefully as you are reading this my Little Men have spent some quiet time diving into these word searches.

Both of the older two really like word searches. Oldest really does well at them. Middle is just learning his letters and what some words look like.

I really wanted to make them their own word searches...and in true brainless fashion at first I thought I was going to have to come up with them on my own. Then something clicked reminding me that there is this grand thing called the internet, and most likely there was some kind of online tool that would put them together for me. 

You better believe it, there was. 

I went between using two sites. 

The first one I used was from a site called SuperKids. The instructions are pretty clear and the unique feature they had was that you could click to make it easy, making sure none of the words were backwards. In this format I did the 16x16 for Oldest and a 10x10 for Middle.

The next site, which I ended up using more, was Discovery Education. I thought that this site dispersed the words better. HOWEVER, they did not give me the option to not have the words go backwards. I did 15x15 for Oldest and 10x10 for Middle.

Now, I need my puzzles a certain size to go with my Travel Game Folios. So instead of printing them right off the site, which you can do...I did some reformatting in Word. Reformatting it allowed me to make the puzzles bigger. PLUS, it allowed me to bold the first letter of each word for Middle (this is a great trick to help them find the word if they know their letters but still are learning to read).

Making your own word searches are fun. It gives you the creative license to play to your kids' interests. After this trip I plan to make some for learning purposes and for church.
If you have any questions, you can leave them in the comments OR email me. It might be a couple of days until I can get back to you, but I PROMISE, I will.

Jul 26, 2011

Project: Road Trip-Travel Folio Games

Okay, so right now we should be somewhere in the middle of our journey. Who knows were we will be at this point. Who knows how much sanity the parents will have left. Who knows how much exactly how much fun the Little Men are having. BUT hopefully we have filled all the bored moments with some fun activities.

Today in Project Road Trip I am sharing these Travel Game Folios. I got this idea from stitch/craft and immediately put it on my to do list. I changed it up just a bit. When I finished them, my boys were already super excited to be able to use them.

They are easy to carry. Easy to use. I used her idea of putting plastic in to make the games reusable. I printed off games and I printed off writing practice sheets.

I am going to run through how I made these just in case you have a trip coming up.

I used school folders for the base of my folios. It is a great time to find fun ones since back to school sales are going on. I found these at Target...where else!

I decided how wide I wanted my folios and drew up a pattern with rounded corners. The straight edge matches up with the fold in your folder. Tracing with a pencil will leave an indent that you can follow with you scissors when you cut it out.

They will look like this:

I also cute a small strip for each folder out of the scraps...that will be for the pen holder.

For the clear sleeve I used a page protector.

I cut the sleeve in half and then cut it to fit the inside of the open folder. Then I sewed it on either edge and then in the middle. The openings are on the sides.

After the plastic in in place, sew on the velcro on the same edges you sewed the plastic in place.

Next you attach the pen holder. Fold the small strip in a "w" type shape.

Now here is where you live you learn...my first time through I attached the pen holder on the outside. Temporarily attached the small piece to the outside front with scotch tape. Then I sewed in place. Talk about a PAIN, and it didn't look that pretty.

So here is attempt 1:

Then I decided to sew the strip into the fold at one of the sides. This was a lot easier to sew in place AND the stitches on the printed side do not show as much as they did on the white inside. You don't even have to add a pen holder.

I googled and printed of pen and paper travel games and writing paper. I found the ones I like, cut them to size and slipped them into the plastic sleeves. Add a dry erase marker or a washable marker, cut a piece of felt for an eraser and you are set.

Hopefully hours of FUN.

Here are some of the links I used for the games.

number tracing worksheets HERE
tracing paper HERE
connect the dot HERE
hangman and tic-tac-toe HERE

Food Contributor: Strawberry Julius

Today I am over at Somewhat Simple for my Monthly Recipe post. This is a delightfully yummy and refreshing drink. Perfect for any Summer day. Okay perfect for any day.

So head on over.

Jul 25, 2011

Project: Road Trip-Happy Camper Vouchers

On the Road again, I can't wait to get OFF the road again...

I am pretty sure that is how the song was supposed to go, I'm just sayin'.

In light of our current cross-country move, and for the fact that I will be without a computer during said cross-country move, I decided to do another Project Series this week.

The theme this week is Project: Road Trip.

I am going to be sharing little projects that I have done in preparation for our oh-so-long journey across the United States. Since I am most worried about my sanity the comfort of my Little Men, the projects I am sharing are geared towards traveling with children.

Today I am sharing with you Happy Camper Vouchers. I read many different ideas of rewarding kids during a long trip, vouchers were by far my most favorite idea.

I decided to call mine "Happy Camper" vouchers. I designed them using all the free tools from picnik. Here are some of the vouchers I made.

I printed every voucher twice, since I am using this mostly for the older two. Once they were printed out, I cut them out. I put them in two different large mailing envelopes...one for each Little Man.

During the trip they will get to pull out a voucher when they have had prolonged good behavior, or if they do something really out of the ordinary, or show kindness to each other. Depending on what the voucher says, they will get to do one of many things. Either get a new toy, a book, cash, a treat at the gas station, to pick the movie, gum...you get the idea.

Prior to the trip, my boys were really excited about these. They knew some of the things they might get and others were a surprise.

I am excited for them to earn these on our big trip.

I even made a blank one for you guys. Just download it to your computer. Then you can go into picnik and insert your own rewards.

Good luck on any trip you might have before Summer is done.

Happy Trails to you, until we meet again...

Okay so I will be back tomorrow with another Project: Road Trip post.

Jul 24, 2011

In a Nutshell: In this Home

As I write this, I am still cozy in our home. Movers haven't come yet and
I can still fool myself into forgetting that in 2 1/2 days will be driving away 
from this our first home. 

Days later as you read this, I will have already shed many emotional tears in saying good bye.
I will have for the last time slept in this home. I will for the last time usher my family
out it's door. I will for the last time lock the door. I will for the last time
sit in the driveway. We will for the last time drive away
from this our first home.

In this Home:

we be became grown-ups with a mortgage
painted, painted, painted 
went from crib to bed
went from bed to bed and crib
went from bed and crib to beds and crib
bought our first lawnmower
used that lawnmower over and over and over
family came to visit
friends came to visit
5 Christmases 
we had parties for birthdays
we had parties for holidays
we had parties just because
we had illness
we had injury
we had health
we had happiness
we started our first garden
there were tears of joy
there were tears of sadness
there were tears of anger
we experienced home repairs
we experienced home remodeling
hubby bought his first arsenal of tools
Oldest started school
Middle  broke his arm
Littlest ruled the roost
I started blogging
Little Men had their first play dates
friends were made
laughter was found
joy was had
a family grew

Thank you first home. I know at times I complained about you. As we get ready to
leave you behind for the next phase in our lives however, I realize what a truly special
place you have been to us. I will miss your rooms and the memories made in each
one. I will miss the blood, sweat, and tears we put into you making you are home.

I will miss you. We will miss you.

Jul 22, 2011

Don't Forget to Keep in Touch

One of the hardest things about moving is leaving behind all of your friends. My friends, our family friends, my children's friends...it stinks. I get a mini panic attack at the thought of leaving them.

We have amazing friends and I really, really want to stay in contact with them. We all hope that, right?

In my desire to keep in contact, I had this idea to leave our friends with our new address and a fun reminder to keep in contact.

I really wanted to play on the "an elephant never forgets" thing. So I bought some peanuts, cellophane snack bags, and white card stock.

Next I attempted to make my own elephant graphic...so didn't work. Then I found this sweet elephant graphic from a link to a baby shower on Tip Junkie. You can find the original downloadable images from Alpa Mom here.

Once I found the elephant graphic I added in the phrase I wanted in coordinating colors. I also printed our new address, email address, and the blog address on the other side. I put some peanuts into the bags, folded over the top and then stapled the cards in place.

This project was an easy labor of love. When they were all done, I put them all in a basket. I took that basket to a little get together our friends threw for us to say good-bye. As I hugged and said "thank you" and "good-bye", I gave them these and made ever single person promise to keep in contact.

Jul 21, 2011

Soft Pretzel Bites

I love soft pretzels. Always have, always will. My kids love soft pretzels...even He-Who-Shall-Not-Eat-Anything. I have made soft pretzels once before...it went ehh, so-so.

I ran across this recipe in my pinterest-ing. This last Sunday I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to make some. This recipe was easy to follow. As time consuming as homemade pretzels normally are (which is normal to longish).

They were delightfully chewy, buttery, salty, and warm right out of the oven. We just kept popping them in our mouths. One, two, five, ten....um and so on. They boys had them for lunch. Then for an after church snack. Then the next day for breakfast (yep, they are good the next day too).

Just looking at these pictures makes me want to whip out another batch. Sigh. Kitchen being packed up...so no go on that. I will longingly wait until Idaho.

But, hey good news...you can make some as soon as you want.

Soft Pretzel Bites
from In Katrina's Kitchen

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 pkg)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups flour

2 cups water
2 Tablespoons baking soda
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
coarse Kosher salt

In the bowl of a mixer, fitted with dough hook, dissolve yeast, brown sugar and salt in the warm water. Mix in flour until the dough has come together enough to turn out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. (If you don't have a mixer, you can do all this by hand with a sturdy spoon and then kneading an extra 2-3 minutes) Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise for 1 hour.

After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 pieces. Let the dough rest for five minutes. Roll each piece into a 2 foot rope. Cut each rope into small pieces.

In a large saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water and the baking soda to a simmer over med heat. In batches, place pretzel pieces in the water. Let them cook in the water for about 20 seconds. Take out and lay them on a greased cooking sheet. Repeat until all the pieces are done. Let them rise for another 15 minutes.

Brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with salt. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

ENJOY! I mean I know I always say this, but seriously...if you love soft pretzels...you will L.O.V.E. these.

Jul 19, 2011

Change O' Clothes Bag Tutorial

Yesterday I was over at Lemon Tree Creations showing you have to make the Diaper Carryall for the Anti-Diaper Bag. Today I am showing you how to make this practical, yet adorable, little change o' clothes bag.

First before we get started, let me explain quickly what I mean by an anti-diaper bag...I have never been a huge diaper bag carrier. I prefer to have a really large purse and throw everything it it. This probably evolved because when I had my oldest oh-so-long ago the cute diaper bag purse really wasn't in existence. SO I just used my favorite purses. By the time they created this cute diaper bag, I had already gotten used to using my purses so I stuck with it.

A problem does arise from using one's purse. That cute purse of mine is like a black hole. Not just a regular black hole, but the kind that eats exactly what you need the most and when you need it the fastest...in other words a diaper, some wipes or a change of baby clothes.

So that is where this little idea was born. I am kind of miffed that I didn't think it up when I actually needed these helpful items. Oh well, my genius can help the masses now.

Okay, so on to it.

Here is what you need for the Change O' Clothes Bag
2 coordinating fabrics, each measuring 20"x8" (or if in my case the inside was made of two pieces measuring 8" by 10.5".)
wide decorative ribbon, cut into 2- 8" pieces, and 2- 20" pieces

If you are using two pieces for the inside sew them together first with 1/2" seam allowance just at one short end.

Next, take your outside fabric, find the center which will be the bottom of the bag. Measure about 3-4" from the center line on either side. Pin the ribbon to the right side of the fabric in both places.

 Take the inside and outside of your bag, place them right sides together. Pin in place.

Sew on the outside edges, 1/2" seam allowance. This will make a tube like shape. Press seams down.

Turn bag right side out. Press.

Fold the bag in half, using the center line you used to place the ribbon. Fold with the outside fabric facing itself and the inside fabric facing the outside. You will match the sides you already sewed together at the top. Pin the sides.

Start at the bottom of the bag (the folded edge) and sew the sides together using 1/2" seam allowance. Make sure to stop sewing about an inch and a half from the top. This is where you will put in your ties.

Trim off any excess you may have.

Turn bag right side out.

Sew a casing around the top about an inch from the top. Now you have a place to thread your ties through.

To make the ties, take your longer ribbon strips and iron them in half lengthwise.

Then sew each ribbon along the open ends. This will create two long skinnier ties.

You will thread one in at a time using a safety pin as a guide. Start on the left side, work the ribbon through the front of the bag and then continue to weave through the back. Both ends of the first ribbon will be on the same side. Knot the ends. Next repeat going from the right, around the front through the back and both ends of that ribbon will be on the right side. Knot.

This is how each side should look.

The finished top.

Now you have a little bag for an extra change of clothes for your tiniest one. A perfect companion to both your lovely purse and the Diaper Carryall from yesterday.

Say good bye to the black hole inside your purse!


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