Monday, April 21, 2014

Week in Review: April 14-20

Last week...
...I had a spa day at Lazuli Blue! The parentals gifted me with a certificate (months ago) that I finally redeemed. I enjoyed an infrared sauna, a Swedish massage (I was certain there would be bruises afterwards), & a hydrafacial. A LOVELY way to spend an afternoon. I don't get those kinds of experiences very often, so it was an absolute treat. It was hard to say goodbye to the fuzzy robe  & slippers.

...the fam & I (except daddy, 'cause he had to work *sad face*) attended Zoey's first school strings performance. She was so excited! Without any pressure from me, I really hope she decides to continue on with the cello. I can totally picture attending her high school orchestra concerts. And I'm bonding on the musical level with that girl of mine as much as I can. But our 2-man band, Chuke finds it hard to practice very often: (What? You wanna play outside? What? You wanna chill out & play games? What? You wanna invite friends over? What? You've got homework to do?)

...Zoey & I decided to do some container gardening during her monthly date. I spent some of my birthday money on dirt. Haha! But sad news: our cucumbers aren't looking so hot. I think they are diseased. Great. I can do lots of creative things, but I have never been one to grow things. We are planting carrot & tomato seeds this week. I'll prolly kill those too. Just give it time. I really, really, really, want this to be successful for Zoey. She loves plants & flowers & outdoor things like that. In fact, she currently loves weeding. She just recently told me that if she could have any wish, she would wish to have a yard filled with weeds, just so she could pick them all. Seriously, we'll be passing by a random field or yard, & she'll see weeds, & it just KILLS her inside that she can't go pull them. Yesterday the Mr. took the girls to the park. While he & Pazely were tossing a ball, Zoey was sitting near a patch of weeds, weeding to her hearts content. 

...the girls & I contributed some artwork for a local park project. A friend's son is hoping to have a sign put up at McMurray Park in Richland, using artwork from locals, which will be turned into tiles. The project has yet to be approved, but I'm certain it will get a bunch of "Yay's"! Sitting under a gazebo in a park with the girls, & coloring with pencils, was a super fun way to spend an hour on a Saturday morning.

...I finally finished making 52 mini buntings for donating to the BirthMom Buds Retreat. I think this is my 4th year donating items to their annual retreat, as part of the goodie bags the ladies will take home. (Last year I made vintage button rings for all of them!) Have fun in Charlotte, North Carolina, ladies!!

...the girls & I decided to mix things up for Easter's annual egg decorating scene this year. I found THIS idea on Pinterest which makes tie-dyed eggs using shaving cream & food coloring. Ours turned out rather light, so next time I think we should go crazy with the food color. We ended up applying rub-on tattoos to decorate the eggs as well. And then our refrigerator died. So we had to bring our things down the street to grandmother's house for safe & cool keeping.
We kept things simple this year for Easter, because we had to. I kind of felt bad about not being to get the girls new dresses & shoes & tights. (Thank you, Jesus for hand-me-downs!) We made do. And there weren't the big baskets filled with lots of  fun prizes & treats. Just tiny things that I found around the house. That fit in an egg carton. For reals. But the girls had fun & we made memories just the same.

...I made scones/griddle cakes. I'll share the recipe later this week. They were so yummy, & cooked right up on my griddle! I need to restock mother's lemon curd though. Can't get enough of that stuff on the cranberry griddle cakes!

...I had the largest group of kids for 4th grade STAR Club last week: 13! (It's normally a maximum of 8, but I made an exception this week.) For the first time there were trouble-makers in the mix too. Which makes everybody act more obnoxious than usual. (Boo. Hiss.) I secretly wished that several of them had chosen to attend the bunny craft in the next classroom over. 
I hear all sorts of topics of conversation with those kids every week. First, the kids were quoting lines from a new movie out in theaters. (I am very surprised at the movies that parents of 10 year olds let their kids go to! GAH.) And then someone mentioned the word "puberty". I think they thought it was a bad word. (I'm one to talk. I'm married + 39 + have 2 kids, & the word "sex" still makes me feel uncomfortable. haha! I blushed when I typed that.) But I explained (in 7 seconds) that puberty is simply your body changing as you get older. General. Basic. No weirdness. Yet they still made grossed out/that's disgusting faces. Then, one girl asked me, "How are babies made?" I replied: "This isn't that kind of crafting class, honey." (Are there even those types of crafting classes?)

Have a happy Monday!

For a photo play-by-play, click HERE.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week in Review: April 7-13

Last week was birthday! My mom picked me up in the morning & surprised me with breakfast out with my sister & grandmother, & eventually my dad. In the evening a bunch of us went to Fujiyama for dinner--you know, that place where they cook the food in front of you on the Hibachi grill tables. I'd never been to one before. Though our chef didn't do a lot of crazy tricks (& kept dropping things), it was fun anyway. I don't know if he was sad or drunk or shy, but he didn't wow us like the other chefs around us. The food was REALLY delicious! The Mr. & I shared the steak & shrimp. We finished the night off with some cupcakes (of course!) & a game of Farkel. 

Last week I also...
...prepared a make-yer-own pizza night for dinner.
...made 4 dozen waffles. (I was in the kitchen until almost noon.)
...made Cheerio birdfeeders with the 4th graders for STAR Club.
...baked up some turkey pot pies. (First time making pot pies. A complete success!)
...led worship at a church while the Mr. preached. 
...sipped chai with my mother.
...continued to have little surprises given to me each day by my mother to celebrate my birthday month. (One was given by my dad: he sharpened all my knives!!)
...listened to Zoey & her friend Zoey play the cello & violin together, in preparation for their school concert tomorrow evening. Here's a GIF I made of them. (The "sound" is one of the songs I recorded while they played.)
...started walking the munchkins to school more, now that the weather is getting nice.
...enjoyed some park-time with the fam. We watched a giant paddlewheel boat launch.
...started gathering supplies for impromptu picnics that might pop up. Have you read THIS article by Jerusalem Greer? It's what inspired me to purchase THESE melamine dishes that look like cheapie disposable white plates & bowls. *Squee!*
...donated a trio of my vintage handmade button rings to the Choose Joy Auction on Instagram. The auction supports a family seeking to adopt. Check it out on Instagram April 16-17 with the hashtag #choosejoyauction2014 There will be loads of other handmade goodies up for bid as well!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week in Review: March 31-April 6

Last week was all about spring break. And, though I was a tiny bit sad that we couldn't go on a fun trip...say, to the coast or something...we relished in the lovely days at home. The days were quiet & simple & extremely lazy. We slept in when we could, hit the park almost every day, had bbq's aplenty, & even lit the firepit for the first time this season, cooking dinner over the flames. Oh, while we're on the subject of firepits & roasting things & such: I need THIS sweatshirt. Campfire smell is my fave. I will not shower or wash my hair after a night by the fire. It's just too good a scent to waste. My family thinks I'm nuts. And sometimes smelly.


On the very first day of spring break, the girls got to take part in the tea + brekkie that my grandmother, mother, sister & I plan once-a-month. I made an egg casserole & also threw together some delicious yogurt parfaits in cute little jelly jars. (The 'Mom on Time Out' blog suggests having some already made in the fridge for kids to grab as a quick breakfast in the morning. Fab idea!)


When April rolls around, I always joke about having a birthday MONTH, instead of just a birthDAY. (One day is not enough, right?) 
But, really, I'm not joking. 
My sweet mother is making this concept a reality for me this month. Every day she has been doing sweet things for me, or gifting me with little presents. It has been fun getting surprises! My girls are even starting to ask, "Has Mimi come by yet?" They are just as anxious as I am to see what the next treat will be. Click HERE to see the lovely prizes I've gotten so far. 
I am super spoiled. 


The fam & I got away for an afternoon lunch date to Between the Buns. My Julie friend has been telling me about this place. Crazy gourmet hotdogs. Zoey & I had the MacDaddy Dawg: an all-beef hotdog, wrapped in bacon, & slopped with homemade mac-n-cheese + more bacon on top. DE. LISH. US. Holy moly was it good! Pazely munched on the Waddi Dog: a polish sausage, wrapped in bacon, then smothered with peanut butter & bacon bits, with syrup for dipping on the side. I don't know what Scott had. He ate it so fast. And then he mumbled something about wanting to eat "all the hotdogs".
The staff are super friendly. You can even create your own gourmet hotdog from the toppings + dogs listed. It's just a fun experience & I'm so glad we made a visit. If you're in town, they're on Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick, WA. One of my favorite things is the store hours listed on their door: (They end in "ish".) Check out their facebook page HERE.


Pazely & I had her date day last week. I surprised the munchkin with a new sketchbook. (It makes my heart happy that a 60-page spiral-bound pad of blank paper can satisfy her in such an intense way.) And then we packed our drawing supplies + hot drinks + triple double Oreos (oh my gosh, they're like the Big Mac of the Oreo world) & headed to a swing bench by the river where we proceeded to sketch & people watch. Taking a couple hours every month to do something special with each of our girls is the best decision the Mr. & I ever made.


I'll be donating THIS trio of handmade vintage button rings to the Choose Joy Auction, which is happening from April 16-17 on Instagram. Check out the hashtag: #choosejoyauction2014. There are lots of other lovely handmade items going up for bid as well, all to support a Choose Joy attendee in building their family. 


•With all the spring happy hues popping up, I am desperate to go on a photo color walk. I gotta make that happen this week. 
•I am currently obsessesd with learning "Zombie" by The Cranberries on my ukulele.
•I read a couple fairy tales, from the Brothers Grimm, aloud to the girls. Is it bad that they giggled during the gruesome parts?
•Chubby squirrels are the cutest ever.
•My new favorite tea is the STASH brand Jasmine Blossom. Although, Earl & I will forever be pals.
•P.S. Today is my birthday. *GIANT GRIN*

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Banana Boats

This treat was a new one to me at Camp Wooten just recently. It was so yummy, I had to share!
I know you can make these over the campfire or even on the grill, but we baked these in an oven set at 350 degrees F.
These are so simple to make! The kids will enjoy helping out too.

The ingredients we used at camp were:
mini marshmallows
mini chocolate chips
Reese's Peanut Butter sauce
BUT, I have no idea where to get that heavenly peanut butter sauce. Like, it was a big ol' tub of magic awesomeness. So, I opted for the Reese's peanut butter chips instead. 

First, slice the top & bottom off of your bananas.
Then, slice it lengthwise, through most of the banana, but not slicing through the peel on the other side.
At camp we placed our bananas inside paper food trays, but at home I just crumpled up some foil to hold the banana in place.

Line your banana boats on a cookie sheet.
Next, cram them full of mini marshmallows & mini chocolate chips. (And the peanut butter chips.) We even purposefully let some fall all around the sides too.

Lastly, drizzle with peanut butter. (If you have it. If not, no biggie.)

Bake until the toppings get all ooey gooey & the skin of the banana is black. It took about 15 minutes. But just keep peeking at it until you notice it's done.
The banana gets all soft & delicious. Just use a spoon to scoop-&-eat!

There are tons of toppings you could add or substitute: drizzle with caramel, sprinkle with butterscotch or white chocolate chips, toss on some nuts. You get the idea.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Week in Review: March 24-30 (CAMP WOOTEN!)

Last week was all about Camp Wooten. And all the pictures (except one) in the photo collage are from Camp Wooten. The feetsies pictured by the river is after camp. My poor, poor, aching feet. They needed that bit of rest right there.

Camp was a complete & absolute BLAST!!! What was I so nervous for? I really was nervous. But I found out that all the moms I was working in the kitchen with were nervous too: "What if I get stuck with a bunch of lame ladies?", etc. Before I go on & on about how amazing it was, I must say this: That was one of the hardest weeks I've ever had in my life. For reals. I think it rates in the top 10 for sure of the most difficult things I have ever done. No joke ma-goats.

But it was worth it.

Not only because I was able to contribute to the 5th graders experience during their Outdoor Education Week (oh my gosh: all the teachers were AMAZING with the kids), but because I also made new friends & had laughs aplenty! Isn't that what camp is for? Oh my golly, did I laugh. I love my new mommy friends/kitchen buddies. We bonded like none other. 

We rose when it was still dark out &, after working all day, we headed back to our cabins in a different dark part of the day. And, boy, did we work our booties off. I honestly think no one works harder at camp than the cooks. We had to clean at the end of the day too. So, not only was I scrambling 270 eggs, helping to assemble 900 pieces of bacon, & assisting in the making of over 200 grilled cheese sandwiches {for instance}, I was also wiping down urinals. Yummy.

The days seriously never ended. We'd prep for breakfast, cook breakfast, serve breakfast, clean up after breakfast, then prep for lunch, cook lunch, serve lunch, clean up after lunch, then prep for afternoon snack, make afternoon snack, serve afternoon snack, clean up after afternoon snack, then prep for dinner, cook dinner, serve dinner, clean up after dinner, spend at least 2 hours cleaning the mess hall & bathrooms, clean ourselves up, get to bed at {at least} 10:30, & get up at 5:30 to do it all again. 
All. Week. Long.
For 150 people.
It was beyond exhausting. My feet hurt something fierce. My back was not especially happy either. The days did blur together & it felt like we'd been there much longer than we actually were. Once, when referencing something that happened that same morning, we were like, "Wait. That was this morning? Are you sure that wasn't yesterdy?" Long, never-ending days... (My bed was my favorite thing to see every night. Oh, & did you see how cute my corner of the cabin was? I dolled it up all creative-like.)
There were a few moments to escape & peek at our children attending their classes or having fun during their recreation periods. Every night around campfire were songs & skits & silliness too. It rained a few days. It hailed once. I never had to wear the long underwear or wool socks I brought though. (Woohoo!)

Our kitchen crew each came up with nicknames of sorts for each other. And they all might hate me for this, but here goes...
Elizabeth... laughs a lot & is {apparently} really good with knives: She actually sliced one of the chef's fingers. This specific chef is lovingly called Mr. Manners by the kids at camp. So, we called Elizabeth "Killer". She's really nice, though. Really.
Melissa... hates lots of things. Like Jello & cartoons & bananas & anything cherry flavored & parks & Cheerios & when people walk through her beautiful snow. "I HATE that..." just stuck with her. 
NaDell... was totally teacher's pet, only in the kitchen instead of a classroom. Chef's pet, if you will. This is nothing that the kitchen crew hasn't already discussed with NaDell, so it's not like I'm talking behind her back. We all tried to compete & be like NaDell, but we never achieved her lofty status. The chef's loved her. And she really took charge. Like, all the time. So she became "Boss Jr.". 
Angie... is quiet as a mouse. And sweet. And soft. And all things petite. Even her feet are tiny & cute. We wanted to call her "Mouse", but Elizabeth didn't like that. And, who are we to mess with a lady who just knifed Mr. Manners? So, Elizabeth named her "Sweetie Bell". We didn't argue.
Michelle...was kind of like the mom of our group. We saw her take charge with the kids & set them straight several times. She's definitely the brains of the bunch too. The kitchen crew played "Are you Smarter than a Camp Wooten 5th grader?" Like, in front of all the 5th graders & staff. Let's just say...we were all humiliated. Except for Michelle. She is lovingly referred to as "Mama Bear".
And then there's me. For whatever reason, everyone had trouble coming up with my nickname. I really didn't think I was that difficult to get a reading on. I became "Tender Heart" (like the Care Bear). Elizabeth said I had a tender ora about me. It didn't make sense to me, it's not the nickname I would have chosen, & I seriously wanted to sway their thoughts on this. But again, when knife lady speaks, you listen.
We all snuck over to the Rec Hall & made ourselves pinback buttons with our new nicknames on them.
(Crafty time at camp! YAY!)
Later at camp, we had to say goodbye to Killer & Boss Jr. as they had only volunteered for the first part of the week. (Saddest day ever.) Three newbies joined the kitchen crew to finish out the rest of the week.
I should mention Jeff, Jon & Debbie, the chefs that really did most of the work all week. They are old pros at this, with many years of volunteering at Camp Wooten. They ordered the food, planned the menus, organized the whole thing. And they were so great to work with! And I'm pretty sure I can say that we were part help/part entertainment for those three all week.

The highlight for me at camp was just being with my new friends, laughing & laughing. (Neighboring cabins weren't so keen on our laughter & late-night giggling. One of the Camp Directors politely asked us to quiet down. Oops.) None of us "moms" knew each other before camp. We all agreed it's a shame that it took this long to get so closely acquainted. Elizabeth said the school should send kindergartners to Camp Wooten. (So we'd get to meet each other sooner.) But then she decided that 7 kindergartners in a camp cabin is like 90 cats.
Ain't nobody got time for that. So, nevermind. 
Better a late friendship than no friendship at all, I suppose.

I brought all sorts of things to do in case I was stuck with a bunch of ladies that were no fun. I didn't even read or knit once while at camp. That's how much I love them. I later found out that they all, too, brought things to do for the same reason. haha!
No interent or wifi for the week was a breeze. I was too busy to care about all that. Didn't miss it once. Didn't yearn to make a status Facebook update. Didn't pine for Instagram. Didn't pout without Vine or Twitter. I lived to tell about it. 
I am a survivor. 

I even got mail at camp! My sweet mom sent me mail. As did the Mr. + Pazely. Happy mail at camp? Best ever. Zoey got oodles of mail too. Thanks to those who mailed stuff to her! Zoey said the highlight at camp for her was the fishing. And she thinks if I wasn't there that she might have been homesick. (It was awful fun getting to hug & kiss on her every morning & evening, & see her smiles, & watch her interact with friends.)

Camp Randomness...
•Next time I need to remember to bring some chapstick. (Who knew long hours in the kitchen causes lip chaffing?) 
•Did I just say "Next time..."??? Well, Pazely will be in 5th grade next year. She might get upset if mom doesn't do the same for her. I wonder if I can talk the Mr. into taking my place...
•I realized that to cook for a large group of people you need to use large things.
•Laughing helps your feet hurt less.
•The food at camp is DELICIOUS. (No one goes hungry.) 
•The hot cocoa at camp is amazing. (I've got the secret. And I might tell.)
•I didn't get eaten by a wild animal, but I did step in deer poo. 
•Zoey showered at camp more than I did. (And she only showered twice.)
•I learned that cream of tartar helps make fluffy scrambled eggs. (1 tsp per 1 dozen eggs)
•After peeling & chopping garlic for dinner one evening, I learned this tip: Scrub your hands with coarse salt. (I did. And it took the smell completely away!)
•I already miss Eva, the industrial dishwasher.
•A chipmunk stole a cookie from the kitchen one afternoon. (I saw him do it. Cutest tiny thief EVER.)
•I shooed away a tick, crawling on my face. (EEP!)
I got to ring the dinner bell one day. Sounds silly, but it was something I was particularly looking forward to. (Hey, it's the little things, people.)
Melissa & I got a lesson in human salad spinning. Take a peek at my GIF of chef Jon, HERE. (I only lost a few lettuce leaves when it was my turn.)
•Slicing with the meat cutter = buff right arm.
•Melissa also hates milkshakes & smoothies.

I am so happy to be home. It took me 3 full days to recover. It didn't help that I was starting to get sickly the last 2 days there. Sore throat + stuffy face cruds. Blah. When we returned home, I heard all about Pazely's week with the Mr. 
Pazely declared it "The Best Week Ever!!!". (WHAT?! haha!) I feel super loved & needed right now.

I made many happy camp memories, gained new friends & now I have another adventure under my belt.
 That's a good week, I'd say.

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.
Click HERE for all the Camp Wooten photos.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Week in Review: March 17-23

Last week I...

...made yarn-wrapped vases with the 4th graders at STAR Club. So much fun! Yet, I'm really glad to be rid of all those cans cluttering my kitchen counter.

...celebrated my mom's birthday early. I made 2 tarts for the occasion. The berry tart was DELICIOUS. Recipe: HERE. I have made it once before & I must share again what I discovered: do NOT spend $12 on a jar of crystallized ginger. Just don't. I got the same amount of ginger as sold in that $12 jar as I did in the bulk spices section---& it only cost me 48cents!! No joke. Bulk spices rock.
The chocolate tart I made had the same base as the berry tart. It was the first time I made chocolate ganache. (SO GOOD. So good.) But next time I would omit the ginger (from the cream cheese base) in the chocolate one. I didn't like the clash of flavors. Recipe for the chocolate ganache: HERE.
Also for mother's birthday I brought over a giant whiteboard. We had her sit in a chair in front of the board, & then we all wrote sweet words about who she is or what she means to us. She got to turn around & read it when we were all done.
And then Chuke performed a new song. (That'd be Zoey + me on our cello + ukulele.)
We ate ribs & bbq'd chicken & brisket & cornbread & coleslaw & baked beans &... it was so yummy! together with some old friends from MOPS. (Mothers of PreSchoolers). It's been many years since I've been to MOPS. In fact, some of our preschoolers back then are in 5th grade now. It's so good to laugh & visit. I welcome any opportunity to do that.

...went to a steak dinner & revival service at church with grandmother & family. 


...helped introduce my dad to the game of Farkel. Our family is currently addicted. I carry dice around in my purse wherever I go.

...ate the biggest burrito on the planet for dinner on Sunday night. Another addiction: the taco truck 3 minutes down the road.

...saw THIS & laughed & laughed & laughed.

...saw THIS & was completely inspired. 

...spent most of the week prepping for Camp Wooten. I'll be going as a cook on the 5th grade Outdoor Education Camp Wooten trip. We leave today (Monday) & return Friday. I have to report to duty every morning at 6 AM in the kitchen. And it'll be a lot of work! I'm hoping to have plenty of opportunities to snap photos & even escape to visit Zoey & see what she is up to every so often. I'm hoping to make friends with the other cooks & I'm hoping my body doesn't fall apart during the trip. You know, with my bum foot, my back problems & my IBS. (Too much info?) Sorry. It's just reals, folks. 
Anyway, I won't have any access to the internet all week. Yikes! But that's as it should be. What with nature & camping & all. I actually look forward to the forced "unplugged" factor. I hope to have an awesome experience & be accepting of whatever adventures come my way. 
At the staff meeting I heard one of the leaders say, "Bring things from home that make you comfortable." So I packed a vintage quilt, homemade bunting, a cat rug, Earl Grey tea + hand warmers.
I will post all about camp after I return home, next weekend. 
See you then!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

DIY: Yarn-wrapped vase

Yes, there are lots of yarn-wrapped vases out there in DIY world. But this tutorial includes a few tips & tricks that will help you complete the job in a jiffy. You can use these to hold flowers, desk accessories, knitting needles (oooh! I just thought of that one), or whatevs.

a tin can
some yarn (the multicolored yarns create really fun stripes)
pen or pencil
tacky glue
carpet tape

Ok, first off: carpet tape??? I know. I learned about this awesome trick on a TV show I was watching one morning. The Chew, to be exact. One of the hosts, Clinton Kelly (Love him! You might remember him as one-half of the reality show "What Not to Wear"), was making yarn-wrapped vases (What?! I was going to make some too!) & then he pulled out some carpet tape. A week earlier, I was seriously trying to figure out the best, least messy way to make these with my 4th grade STAR Club crew. Glue is so messy, but it seemed my only option. Until Clinton arrived on the scene. This tape is amazing. It's double-sided & SUPER sticky & strong. 
Brilliant. Genius. Fabness to the maximus. The end.
Seriously, this stuff makes the project so easy. I bought a heavy duty cloth roll measuring 1.41" x 42' for $7.50 at Ace Hardware. I have made about 13 vases so far & have lots still left!

Back to the DIY-ing...
I found that I liked the vase best when a strip of the can was showing on the top & the bottom. On most cans there is a natural "lip", as you can see in the photo above. 

Make the first loop around your can with the tape. As you overlap, you can see through the tape to the spot where you began. (See the arrow in the photo below.)

Mark that spot with a pen or pencil.

Cut the tape at the spot you marked.

 First row: done. It doesn't matter if there's a tiny gap between the tape. It'll get covered with yarn real quick here. (And, sure, you could measure the can & cut the appropriate sized strips. But sometimes I like to do things the lazy, er, I mean...the hard way.)

Continue along the can, adding tape right next to the last piece you attached. On some veggie cans, the tape comes out perfecto. But this large can ends up with some overlap on the last piece. And that's just not gonna work. (See arrow above.)

So here's what I did. Before adding the last strip of tape, remove the paper backing from the previous strip. 

Now, line the last strip up, right above the bottom "lip". You'll be overlapping the strip above, but that's ok. That's what you want to do.

Once you've finished, then peel off the paper backing from the last strip. Half of the can is now super sticky exposed tape.

Which is perfect, because it's time for some yarn wrapping!
My little trick here is to NOT lay your yarn in a straight line. Angle it down a bit & then start wrapping from the bottom up. (Or from the top down, depending on which end you started at.)

Now, when you continue wrapping the yarn, you'll catch the end & give it a nice, secure hold. No slipping. No unraveling. No little fuzzy flapping piece of wool to worry about.
As I wrapped my yarn, I slightly pushed the yarn up & together as I went along---to prevent seeing through the yarn to the tape.
As needed, peel off the next strip of tape & continue working.

The can is halfway done in this photo! Yay! I don't have a photo of the finished product though, because after I crafted with the kids at STAR Club, I gave the vase to one of the teachers.

Here is the same style of yarn, but in a different color. This yarn is also heavy in weight & thickness, which makes the project go more quickly. (Something to keep in mind.)

The kids really got into making these. They used several different colors of yarn, changing their own hues along the way.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Week in Review: March 10-16

So many good things have happened in the last couple weeks. I can't believe I didn't post last week's Picture Collage! First off, I took a trip with my parents to Seattle for my dad's post-op visit at the Veterans Hospital. It was a happy day. Extreme anxiousness has wrapped itself around my family since Christmas Eve, when dad made the announcement he had cancer. (For the 2nd time, I might add.) That guy walked out of that hospital two weeks ago with the happiest of hearts. The news that he was cancer free was a celebratory occasion! We immediately hit the social networks to declare the positively negative results. My dad was so cute, asking, "Who else can I call? Who else can I text?" He really wanted to shout it to the world. We all did.


The Mr. & I celebrated our 15th anniversary on March 6th. A few days later he surprised me by arranging to have the girls spend the night with my parents while he & I took a one hour drive east to Walla Walla for an overnight stay at The Marcus Whitman Hotel. Chocolate covered strawberries + champagne awaited me in the hotel room. (Oo la la!) The Mr's plan was to park the car in the lot & not drive anywhere. Which is easy to do, since the sweet, small downtown area is so close. We walked to eat lunch & dinner, & visited a few shops. I ate so many yummy things: I highly suggest the BLT + cream of asparagus soup at Olive, the potato & Gorgonzola pizza at Sweet Basil, any cupcake at Frosted, the house-roasted cashews with Ancho Chili spice at Public House 124, & the pink peppercorn chocolate bar at Bright's Candies shop. The customer service at The Marcus Whitman is first-rate as well. It was just so fantastic to spend alone-time with the Mr. Although, we did miss our kids a wee bit. Our little hearts were a tiny bit sad without them. So, we bought them lots of little goodies to make up for the aching. Marbles & wind up toys & candy & musical instruments. Oh, & the extra shampoo & shower cap from the hotel bathroom. 


If you dare, check out MY first YouTube video, where I play the ukulele (& sing!) during what I call a "Late-Night Uke Session". I'm having so much fun with the ukulele. It took a lot for me to publicly publish a video. Which might seem silly since I've spent years & years in front of various church congregations leading worship. Music means a lot to me, it's a big part of who I am &, though my voice is nothing fancy, I love singing.


For Zoey's date day this month, she & I baked together. She has been dying to do some more creative kitchen stuff, so we found a recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies. OH. MY. We followed the recipe exact---& the handmade pie dough is amazing. My mom says it's the best pie crust she has had in a very long time. Dad & grandmother loved it too! (I baked another batch of hand pies the next day, using store-bought pie dough. Not even worth it. This was a victory for me, in case you forgot about the pie dough competition my mom & I had a couple months ago: she baked a pie using store-bought dough, & I baked a pie using grandmother's pie crust recipe....& my mother won!) The pies were so delicious & fun to make. I can't wait to try other fillings. Though the pie-baking was oodles of loveliness, the memory-making was the best.


I am beginning to see sunny days & am loving the slightly warmer weather. I never realized, until now, just how much the weather affects my mood, my days, my whole being. Wow, this sunshine makes me feel alive. And today (March 20th) is the official First Day of Spring. So....happy spring!! The windows have been open a lot more, the blinds flapping in the breeze.


Next week Zoey & I leave for Camp Wooten! Though I was not chosen as a cabin counselor, I did get in as a cook. I'll be reporting for duty every morning at 6am, & it sounds like long days. I anticipate the whole achy leg/my feet are beyond sore/I want my mommy scenario. But I accept the challenge & look forward to this whole new adventure. The 5th graders at Zoey's school take this trip every year for Outdoor Education. It sounds like she'll have a blast! I may even get to tag along on a couple classes---& hopefully snap some photos of her in action. I'll be absent from the internet/wifi/etc all week! I'm busy now, packing & purchasing all those last minute things. 


Here are some other things I've been up to...

•I made "Emma's Shepherd's Pie With No Gross Vegetables", the girls' favorite version.
•I ate delicious chocolates from the Ukraine & Russia.
•I had a couple jam sessions with the houseband, Chuke. (Zoey + me on the cello + uke.)
•I enjoyed a quiet moment with the Mr., by the river on a bench swing, in the sunshine.
•I received some more eggs from a neighbor with chickens.
•The fam hit the park to partake in the lovely sunshine.
•I melted beads & made St. Patrick's Day crafts with my STAR Club 4th graders.
•I discovered a new favorite recipe, which the fam & I wrapped in lettuce leaves, with fried rice on the side: Asian Ground Beef.
•I baked oatmeal + chocolate chip bars. I'm so addicted to oatmeal these days.
•I smiled during this video by Pentatonix. I love them! (And I LOVE the movie "Frozen".)

And that. Is all. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

DIY: Melted Bead St. Patty's Day Shamrock Brooch

I found out how to melt beads via THIS PINThe 36th Avenue blog shows how to make the most adorable flower accessories. I immediately fired up the oven & made several. I turned one flower into a necklace, & the girls snatched up the others. 

And then I went nuts & decided a giant mustache should be made. Makes total sense, right?

Yesterday, I had to come up with a craft for my weekly 4th grade STAR Club crew. Something St. Patty's Day themed seemed appropriate. So I used my melty bead skillz & made these shamrocks.

To melt the beads (which are Pony Beads, by the way), follow the instructions on The 36th Avenue blog. You basically shape your beads onto parchment paper, on a cookie sheet, & melt them in an oven set at 350°F. Open some windows too, because it gets stinky!

For the shamrocks, line your beads as I have done in the picture. I used regular sized beads for the leaves & mini pony beads for the stems. Some of the shamrocks turned out lumpy & weird, but I found out that the process is pretty forgiving. You can put the beads back in the oven to melt them a bit more. OR, if the shamrock melts together too much, pull the cookie sheet out of the oven & use the back of a knife to slide through the leaves & create definition. (See the arrow in the picture.) That was the last shamrock I made & it was the best one. (Isn't that how it always goes?) You'll either get a shamrock or a broccoli shape. Broccoli is cool too though.
It took about 5 minutes to melt these shamrocks---give or take, depending on your oven, of course.

So, with that done, here is the tutorial on how to make the brooch...
(Click each picture for a larger view.)

Green glitter glue
Clear tacky glue
Green crepe paper
2" circle punch
Gold glitter
Green puffy paint
Hot glue gun
Green cardstock
Crafty foam (this will not show, so the color doesn't matter)
One brooch back bar pin
Melted bead shamrock

When I crafted these brooches with my 4th graders I gathered a bunch of different green supplies & let them go crazy: buttons, glitter, puffy paint, yarn, felt, etc. You can make these more sturdy by replacing the crepe paper with fabric, & the paper with felt. You get the idea.

Have fun!