Thursday, January 26, 2012

Magic Wands

My Son(s) have one of those "Wizardology" books that has fun open the envelope and take out the secret things on each page.  One part says how to make a wand, cut a stick and carve it etc.  My son mentioned it allllll weekend.  Now I don't know if you have been around here lately but we are short on substantial sized sticks and I'm not so sure I trust Age8 with a carving knife yet.    But I saw a super fun other idea for making wands just the last week and So I promised him we could do those.   I found the instructions on Instructables and they were very simple to make.  I should have gone back to look instead of going from memory but they still turned out alright. 
First you take a sheet of regular ol' paper and roll it from corner to corner, or at least in that direction in a manner that makes one end fatter then the other, placing a piece of double stick tape diagonally on the paper about 2/3 of the way to the end.  I did this part because my son thought it was hard to get the paper to go the right way and tight enough.  (not super tight)

Then you are supposed to put elmer's glue on the remaining part and finish rolling up.  This is the part I missed, I put another small piece of tape on the end instead and I think that worked well too but the glue probably would have been better and made it slightly sturdier.

Cut off each end so they are even then make a dot of hot glue in each end to seal and add to the shape/illusion.  Use the Hot glue to decorate the stick as you want.  It was hard to keep an even flow coming out for me so some spots are more bump-line-bump-line-etc.  We then painted a base color and let dry, then painted accents.  By this time Age11 was home from space camp and so mine  became hers and she finished painting the brown one while Age8 painted the silver.  When they were done I sprayed them both with a finish spray so the regular paint wouldn't rub off on their hands.  Fyi, the silver was spray paint and the brown  and gold were acrylic.

If we do this again I would change the following for me.  Insert another rolled up paper that is tighter on the inside to help it be sturdier.  Really it was pretty sturdy except at the smaller end where there wasn't any glue to reinforce it.  Also I would do the Elmer's glue at the end instead of another strip of tape but the benefit was we didn't have to let any glue dry before we went to the next step.  It was good to have the helper so that he could hold the wands upright while the hot glue ends were cooling.  I did roll up a wad of paper towel in each end just to catch the glue so to speak so it didn't drip all down the tube and was a good base for the hot glue.

I don't think Age8 put his down for 5 days and would have slept with it had he not know it would crush.  They spent the day casting spells and whatnot.  After a few days the silver one got slightly crushed on the end from too much touching/poking stuff instead of just pointing. But you don't notice right off. Plus that way if a kid gets a little rambunctious the wand will crumple before anyone gets hurt.  And when it truly dies then I know it's easily replaceable if he isn't over that already.

Coincidentally I noticed while posting that Age15 is in the background watching Merlin. (probably only because it says Merlin did I notice what show it was) Quite the wizardly day at our house.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crochet Head Band

Here is one headband I made recently (if about 3 months can be considered recently) for my daughter.  It could be an ear warmer or whatever name they all go by as well.  These can be pretty simple to do if you understand a little crochet.

For this pattern I modified one I saw on the web somewhere. It had more specifics that I don't do because I'm lazy like that I guess. I did 2 rows of single chain, 3 (or 4 if you want it wider) rows or 3 double chain each shells, and 2 more rows of single chains to finish it off. Start with a chain to the length you want in number divisible by 3 (for the shells) and add one to do the first turn. I think the baby one I did was about 60 so this must have been about 69+1?Connect each row to the last with slip stitch so it doesn't spiral up.
Ya, I'm not so good with writing patterns. The flower pattern is from here.  One of these days, I'm going to make that hat.

Here is the original pattern that I didn't follow exactly. here

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sugar Cookie Fruit Tart Bars

...for want of a better name.
I have been making versions of this for years. I use the same basics but sometimes I cover a whole round cookie sheet at once making a Fruit Pizza, sometimes individual ones like these.   For these, this time, I used a Sugar Cookie Bar recipe to try something a bit different, although I usually use more of a regular cut-out cookie dough recipe.  These turned out great and I may stick with this recipe but make them not so high next time.

You can use whatever fruit you like. I think kiwi is requisite at our house and berries are always welcome. Bananas, mandarins, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, apples, etc....... Melons are not among my favorite toppings for this however.  Remember if you use fruits that brown easily like bananas to toss them with some lemon juice to curb the browning.  

Sugar Cookie Bars

1 cup butter; room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract flavoring
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & almond and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan).  I find it easiest to make little patties and piece them all together.  It seems like not much but it will rise to the rim of the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.  I also cook it at a lower temp for longer often to give the middle time to catch up before the edges get to browned.

Cream Cheese Topping

2 8oz packages of Cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Beat all ingredients together until smooth.  You may add more sugar if desired, I like the less sweet mixture against the sweetness of the cookie bottom and tart/sweet of the fruit.

Because of the cream cheese and fruit you do not want to assemble this too far in advance, it will keep in the refrigerator for a day however and depending on the type of fruit and how juicy it is etc.

Spread Cream cheese mixture on top of baked cookie sheet.  If you are cutting pieces ahead of time, do this now and then place fruit.  If you would rather do the fruit pizza route then place fruit on as desired and then cut slices.    This makes about 48 squares as baked in a sheet pan, and of course how you slice it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gingerbread house 2011

Here is our traditional yearly gingerbread house.  As usual the kids did most of the decorating and I figured out the assembly.  It was almost 20"x20"x20".  The largest we ever made.  It was supposed to be Santa's workshop with attached barn (age 15's idea).  I didn't get very good pictures of the whole thing after it was all done. 

These two little ones were some I made for some ladies in the neighborhood and the snowman was a do ahead for age 8's birthday cake while I had the royal frosting out, he wanted a snowman on it.  Front and back views.

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