Thursday, February 23, 2012

RWOP: Play Dodo

Seeking supporting data for my Mother of the Year nomination form? Look no further! Presenting this week's Real Women of Pinterest offering ... homemade playdough!

I was totally kidding about MOTY as making your own playdough turns out to be no biggie. It's cheap, easy, and less messy than you might think. A Pinterest pin led me to this site devoted to playdough recipes, including a Kool-Aid one. I chose the Kool-Aid one because it looked easy and I thought it would smell good.
Excitement mounts as I stage the ingredients. First, combine a cup of flour, a half cup of salt, and a packet of Kool-Aid in a medium or large bowl.

Since the kids were "helping" me, I gave them each a bowl staged with the flour and salt. I tried to make them feel involved by letting each choose a Kool-aid packet/playdough color. I asked them to stir what was in their bowl without getting the ingredients on the table.
My daughter Sweet P was unable to follow my directions. Note: this project is not ideal for the stubborn and under two years-old set.

After the dry stuff is combined, add three tablespoons of corn oil (original recipe I saw called for corn oil, but others I found just said "oil." I used corn oil) and a cup of boiling water. I had the kids stand back while I did the pouring of boiling water (had two saucepans going, with one cup of water in each) and the initial stirring. Once it cooled a bit, I let the kids help stir and then kneaded it a bit myself (was still a little warmish, but I am tough).
Here is Sweet P, thinking she is stirring a batch of playdough that is already finished! Though it was not much fun to have her "helping," she was pretty darn happy to be involved!

Scrape together some plastic containers or baggies for storing the playdough and let cool.

We actually had two playdough making sessions over the long weekend because the first time around I only had enough salt for two batches.

Play playdough.
Little Bit and I had some bonus "alone time" the other day and sat down and played together. (Take a peek at the disorganized pantry in the background. That's a top priority Pinterest project -- stay tuned).
This robot was a team effort. NTB. If you closely examine the wax paper "play mat," you might note a little greasiness. One of my batches of playdough did seem a little oily. The recipe called for one cup of flour but noted in parentheses that you can do up to two cups. That's a lot more recipe flexibility than I am comfortable with so I stuck with the one cup. Likely a teeny bit more flour would have cut down the oil factor. I guess we could have floured our hands before playing to add to the festive spirit of it all.
Here's an up close look at the playdough made from one packet of fruit punch and one packet of grape Kool-Aid. I'm not up on all the latest Kool-Aid flavors these days, but I will warn you that the blue packet makes red fruit punch not blue. I didn't see any green packets. The lemonade was not vibrant at all but might have been if we had used two packets (hard to say, really, as that was the batch attempted from Sweet P's remains and not quite enough salt). The photo above makes the playdough look dry, but it's really pretty easy to mold.
Here are some more of our colors. I read that you can add food coloring to enhance the hues of your homemade playdough, but I didn't bother. I didn't want the kids' hands to get stained or anything (did not happen with the Kool-Aid).

I don't know about the shelf-life of Kool-Aid playdough, but rest assured Bub already has plans. He (semi-obsessively) collects marbles and thinks that when we are done playing with the playdough, we can combine colors, roll them into marble-sized balls, and let them harden. Why not?

If Pinterest has inspired you to try something new lately, I'd love to hear about it. Share in the comments. Bloggers, link up your posts below. Friendly readers, send me your pics -- mep AT nottobrag DOT net.

Just keep pinning. Just keep pinning. Just keep pinning.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

RWOP: Pins to the Left, Pins to the Right

Crack open a fresh Diet Coke, ladies and gents. I've got lots of Real Women of Pinterest-ing to share this week.

First, some quickies ...
The popular pin about using a cupcake liner as a drip shield for popsicles proved ingenious. Little Bit easily consumes four popsicles a week. It's his favorite afternoon snack. Year round. Typically, he requests that I swaddle his popsicle stick with a paper towel. The swaddle never stays put, and my checking of Facebook and Pinterest is often interrupted for re-swaddling duty. But looky now -- the cupcake liner does the trick and looks cute to boot. Less waste as well. If only I could find the pin about not wearing one's lunch on one's shirt (pink for Valentine's Day, of course).
The semi-popular pin from a few months back that suggested using large dollar store chip clips as playing card holders = at least one thumb down. Bub and I tested out our chip clip card holders during a game of Sight Word Go Fish with our customized sight word playing cards. I was able to maneuver my cards within the grasp of the chip clip, but finesse was required. When Bub opened his chip clip to add, subtract, or shift a card ... all the cards fell out. Every single time. Maybe when he gets a little older or more dextrous.

In the photo below, Bub is thinking, "Wow. My mom is amazing. Not only did she obtain these dollar store chip clips, but look how easily she organizes and maneuvers her cards. When I grow up, I want to be just like her."
I have my dear friend E... to thank for the idea (one of her first pins) of using toothpicks and marshmallows for construction. Read all about her toothpick architects here. My boys enjoyed eating and building for about fifteen minutes, maybe twelve. I'll take it.
Is that Diet Coke still cold? I'm just getting warmed up. I had every intention of trying that pin where you photograph your child holding his/her hand out and then print the photos and attach a sucker to that hand. My sister LAP apparently nailed it with those, but since she hasn't sent me the proof we'll just have to take her word for it.

Little Bit and Sweet P had store-bought Valentines with a little photo (printed on full-sheet labels) stuck on the back.
Bub's Valentine is self-explanatory, despite the crappy photography. Note to self: start such projects before 6 p.m. on February 13th so that you can take decent photos in natural light instead of overly yellow ones because you don't know how to use your camera.

Printed Bub's photo on sticker paper and attached to pieces of cardstock (four cards per page).
Also photographed his "your friend" and cut it out and affixed it. He then signed his own name on each card. I thought they were cute!
[Side note: I saw a blog post and also several tweets with some snide comments and eye rolling about homemade valentines. I just want to go on record as saying that some people (like myself and my Bub) enjoy doing that kind of stuff. Really.]

Last and BEST of this week's Real Women of Pinterest post, I have a seasonal project from my friend Sue. We lived next door to each other freshman year of college and stayed up late each night, eating pizza nachos and talking about all the craft projects we hoped to accomplish over the weekend while the other girls were out drinking.

A Chicagoland native, Sue spent years in Texas and now lives in New Orleans, where she recently finished taking the Louisiana bar exam. She's ready to join the Mardi Gras festivities now that the exam is over. I've included her explanation (italicized) and some photos of her awesome final product.

Well, here it is. My first (and likely only) completed Pinterest project. OK, not really completed if you look at my front door, as I need two wreaths. But, the second one will have to wait until after we attend our next parade on Friday. I used an absurd amount of beads on this. Glad I can restock for free, and have little helpers to grab up everything I need.
I started at this site.
But of course, every craft store in the New Orleans area is out of that wire wreath ring (I was told many times that they are on a boat from China.). So white styrofoam had to do. You can see the white peek through a little (shows up more in photo than in daylight), but I have low standards when it comes to seasonal crafty things, so I just rolled with it. I still wrapped the foam ring with floral wire, which I only needed to get started. Once I attached one strand for that bottom layer (the green/purple), I could lock the next strand to the previous. That worked better than I thought. The top layer is three strands (gold, purple, green) braided, with one strand attached to the next, for what seemed like eternity. Used a little hot glue for a few places that looked insecure, added the little masks and draped the beads over top. I'm happy with how it turned out, but too bad its a little late (Mardi Gras is less than a week away, and most people have had their doors/mailboxes decorated since mid-January). At least I'm ready for next year!
Thanks for inspiring me to become a Real Woman on Pinterest!

Thank YOU for sharing and for reminding us all of a key to keeping it real and enjoying Pinterest-ing: just roll with it. Also, how about we pause to admire how completely gorgeous Sue's front door is. Even without the Mardi Gras wreath, I'd pin that door.

If you've been inspired by Pinterest, link up your posts below or send me pics of your Pinterest creation -- mep AT nottobrag DOT net.

Also, please pause to admire this button that my friend Christina made for this RWOP endeavor.
Visit this post of hers if you want the code to get your own RWOP button.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

RWOP: So-so Diggity

When I started this blog almost five years ago, I didn't foresee a future where I'd post photos of my children's dinner. But here we are. Me, you, and some corn dog muffins, inspired by this Pinterest pin about mini corn dog muffins.

I've discovered that my operating procedure for Pinterest projects is as follows: look at the photo, glance once at the original post, give it a whirl.

So for the mini corn dog muffins, I thought, "I have two boxes of corn muffin mix and some hot dogs, let's go." I photographed the whole process, but since my final product was iffy, I'm not going to tease/insult you with a detailed play-by-play.

I followed the directions on the box, sliced my hot dogs in paranoid no-choke slivers, and let the kids stick them in the middle of the muffin cups.
Here they are fresh out of the oven. Although the appearance is a bit uneven, I think the slivers were a good call. I don't know that I would have felt comfortable having one large, circular, brownish/pinkish disc in the middle of each rounded muffin.
If I had more than glanced at the original pin, I would have noted the need to spray the muffin tins. I think it would have taken A LOT of spray, but the results might have been better than trying to peel the bitty cupcake liners off the crumbly corn muffins. With a little practice, I developed some finesse in unwrapping them, but still, greased tins would have been better. [PLEASE, please, please, I'm begging you, please notice the fruit that is also on the plate.]
Though it wasn't pretty, the oldest and the youngest ate about three each. The guy featured above polished off six.

Honestly? I'd try it again. The kids seemed excited about the project even though the final product was crumbly. Next time, I'd spray the tins and try to figure out how to incorporate more protein.

Any Pinteresting in your neck of the woods? Send photos to mep AT nottobrag DOT net or link up blog posts below.

Until next week, march on, Real Women of Pinterest. Maybe the week to come will be the one where I find about twenty extra hours somewhere.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RWOP: Above Earth's Lamination

About a year and a half ago, in the middle of the night, I was up nursing my daughter and making the rounds on my ipod touch -- Facebook, Twitter, People app ... and apparently a little online shopping. While half asleep, I purchased a Scotch Thermal Laminator. It was a gold box special on Amazon and cost less than twenty bucks. By the time it arrived two days later, I had practically forgotten about it. I hid it in the closet my oldest called "Santa's Church" (???) and didn't reunite with this lamination station until we moved to our new digs.

You may be thinking, "MEP, it's a laminating machine. I can't believe you didn't rip that bad boy open as soon as it arrived. How odd."

A bit odd indeed, especially considering that the dream of ready access to lamination was one of the reasons why, from my girlhood on, I wanted to be a teacher. I have grade school memories of teachers entering the classroom with those huge glimmering sheets of lamination covering extra special student work, name tags for desks, or all the cool stuff for the bulletin boards. I was the kind of responsible, eager girl who might be asked (or was not too proud to beg) and entrusted to cut the individual items from the lamination. I could do it very carefully, sliding the scissors like a pro and leaving a perfect little border of lamination, all the while thinking, "I can't believe Mrs. Strouse does not want to do this HERSELF?!" Cutting out the laminated items seemed the height of pleasure and power.

The sad truth is that though I realized my girlhood career dreams, I never had ready access to lamination as a high school teacher. In fact, before the first day of my first year, I made a very special poster that was crying out for lamination. I took it to Kinkos and it was laminated in a super sturdy plastic. Twas beautiful but cost something like thirty dollars which almost made MEP of 1997 throw up a little bit.

Anyhoo ... I think I ignored the sleepshopping lamination machine because I knew that it required special lamination pouches and would not be generating immense glimmering sheets of goodness to slice.

But then I saw those pouches at Target, realized they came in a variety of sizes, and started thinking about how I could use them. And now, I proudly present ... business card-sized laminated tags for those cloth bins that one can also buy at Target.

With some cardstock, sticker paper, computer/printer, ribbon from my stash, a single hole punch, and the Scotch thermal laminator, I made a bunch of labels for the basement bins. For example ...

Yes, you read that correctly: "defense" (it was that or "weapons" and we actually need two of those as we are heavy on lightsabers and plastic armor).

I also made some labels for the bins in the playroom ...

Excuse the crappy phone photography but those labels say "little creatures" and "special powers." I have since realized we need a label that reads "toy cell phones." Sad but true.
Folks, I'm just getting started. Think adorable luggage tags. Think laundry room organization. Think bookmarks. Think something that could be written upon with dry erase markers. Think newspaper clippings if my children are ever in the newspaper. Think inspirational quotations (found on Pinterest, of course).

Here it is: Scotch Thermal Laminator. Thirty bucks or less. I even spotted them at Walgreens.

Lest you think this post is a paid (or unpaid) promotion for Scotch instead of my weekly Real Women of Pinterest offering, I'm also sharing the latest project for the kids' changing seasonal frames. These fingerprint hearts (for Valentine's Day) are perhaps not as awesome as the fall fingerprint trees or even the handprint Christmas trees, but when we were finished with them, Little Bit said with his sweetest smile, "That was really fun, Mama." So there.

If you are a Pinterest-ing blogger, please link up any of your Pinterest-inspired posts below. Anyone else who wants to share their Pinterest products, please send stories and pics to mep AT nottobrag DOT net.

I'd also welcome lamination narratives (I know I'm not the only freak out there) and ideas.

SPECIAL GIVEAWAY for the first person who can correctly name the title of the song I am riffing upon in this post's title: a one-of-a-kind laminated NTB bookmark!

Okay, check the links below for more Pinterest-ing!

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