Thursday, May 30, 2013

Week in Review: May 20-26

Last week... 
...I made THIS amazing asparagus + gruyere tart as a side dish with dinner. A few days later I made THIS most amazingly rich & delicious chocolate + salted caramel tart with the leftover phyllo dough.

...I began sparring with the Mr. I'm rocking the pink boxing gloves.

...I packed & packed. All my crafty supplies are boxed up. All except the knitting. (We move in 2 1/2 weeks!)

...I used up some leftover sparklers from last Independence Day. Pazely & I decided to celebrate the beginning of summer break.

...I ate a tiny slice of cake. (Zoey & I couldn't pass up the adorable burger-n-fry cake!)

...I taught the girls how to burn leaves with a magnifying glass. Is that bad? I loved doing that as a kid. Precautions were reinforced of course. Because there was that fire that one time...

...the Mr. introduced the girls to the Star Wars movies. They watched all 6. Ewoks are my fave.

...the girls & I hid in the basement closet when we heard tornado sirens. We have been enjoying very stormy weather all throughout the week. Back to back to back to back lightning & thunder for days.

...I rode a horse carousel.

...Zoey & I made talking cans.

...I crafted! Now that the girls are out of school, I am enjoying a lot more creative time with them. Sadly, it won't last long due to the whole moving thing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DIY: Talking Cans

One of my favorite things is to remember the fun from my childhood & then share that with my own kids. Do you remember making a telephone with cans? I sure do. It was actually Zoey's idea to make these & we had so much fun!

The how-to is so simple:
Hammer some holes in 2 cans. (Use large nails or a screwdriver to make the holes.)
Thread some string or yarn through the holes. (We used a large knitting sewing needle to help with that step.)
Tie a knot. (Or 3.)
Pull taut & talk.

Of course you could paint the cans or decorate them with stickers & such. 
But we kept it simple.

We experimented with different lengths & ended up with a string that reached about 28 feet long.
This simple toy has kept my girls entertained for hours.
And no roaming fees? Bonus.

DIY: Mini Memory Matching Game

As I'm packing up boxes, getting ready for the upcoming move (in 3 weeks!), it's giving me a chance to downsize/purge/donate/trash a lot of things. I'd like to think that in these last 3 1/2 years, through 3 moves, the amount of things & stuff I own has decreased significantly.

Anyway, in all my shuffling about through cupboards & shelves & drawers, I came across 3 Scrabble games. Three! I once used the tiles for crafty ring making in the past.
I was able to piece together 2 complete games--one for donation & one to keep. With the leftover tiles I decided to make an easy Matching Game. Perfect for travel. More specifically, perfect for airplane rides or long 3+ hour layovers in the Denver airport. Which will be the story of Zoey, Pazely & I in a few weeks.
This is one of the girls & my favorite games to play!

To make your own, you'll need:
•scrabble tiles (The more tiles you have, the more challenging the game. I ended up with 23 pair of tiles.)
•scissors (or paper cutter)
•Mod Podge
•small paint brush
•scrapbook paper (Find as many different styles/patterns of scrapbook papers as you have pairs of tiles.)

First you'll want to cut your papers. I cut the paper rectangles small enough so that they fit just inside the tile, without any extra stuff hanging off the edges. In fact, I measured & cut out one piece of paper & then used that paper as a template to cut the rest. 

Apply Mod Podge to the back of the paper. 
Place the paper piece onto the letter side of the tile & press firmly in place, being sure to get the edges secure.

Once that is dry, apply one or two more coats of Mod Podge.

When THAT is dry, play away!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ant Tracking

It is a gloomy, overcast day outside—perfect for ant tracking!
I can't remember where, but I read about ant tracking some time ago & thought it'd be a fun thing for the girls to do this summer. We grabbed several different colors of acrylic paint, some tweezers, tiny paint brushes, & a magnifying glass. 
We sprinkled bread crumbs near the anthills. Once we spied an ant trying to carry his meal away, we found it easiest to pick up the food with the tweezers & paint the ant this way. A magnifying glass will help to see better. If one person holds the tweezers while the second person paints + holds the magnifying glass, it works great. Zoey helped me film this 6-second Vine showing how we painted the ants. In fact, I ended up using a teeny tiny pine needle instead of a paint brush, which worked great!

On some ants we just painted the bums, on other ants we dotted the bum + the head. Once you've painted several ants, grab your magnifying glass & start observing! Just be careful not to burn the little guys---which is why a gloomy day works best.

The girls marked the anthills with sidewalk chalk. This is "my zone" & that is "your zone". 
I could hear Pazely squeal: "Hey Zoey! My ant just went to your ants house!"
And then I could hear Zoey say, "Well, it's still my ant. It's not your ant."
*oh brother*

This is actually a real true thing that researchers do. 
Watch THIS cool video to check it out. 
It's really quite neat!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Week in Review: May 13-19

That photo in the center of the picture mosaic is proof to my mom that I have actually started packing. We're moving back to Washington & I am so excited to be near family again! It's been a crazy 3 1/2 year adventure here in good ole Nebraska, full of amazing adventure. I'm gonna miss my Susan friend to infinity. 

And, although I HAVE started packing, it doesn't seem real. I'm not sure when it'll hit me.

The Mr., along with & our housemate Brandon, will be leaving on June 16th, driving the moving truck & vehicles. The girls & I get to fly out the next day, where we'll be greeted in Spokane by Tia & drive a couple hours home. I finally get to hang out with my mom, dad, grandmother, sister, brother, nieces, & nephew–but won't have the agony & heartache of a "goodbye". 

(My Etsy shop is closed during the craziness of the move.)
Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.

Friday, May 17, 2013

DIY: Fashion Sunglasses

Though not technically summer yet, it is the first day of summer break in our household. The girls finished school yesterday...& the fun has begun! 

This super easy project requires only a few items. First, acquire a pair of inexpensive sunglasses. The 2 pair used in this tutorial came from Walmart. But try thrift stores too. 

You will also need some fancy embellishments to attach to your glasses. You can use buttons (if necessary, simply remove shanks with pliers), flat-backed charms or medallions (the giant bows came from, or vintage jewelry (a lonely earring with a missing mate, perhaps?).


And, lastly, you'll need E6000 glue. (I recently started purchasing the tiny tubes sold in a 3-pack. The big tubes always dry up on me & I waste so much product.) Grab some E6000 & glue your charms, buttons, doodads, or jewels in place. Let it dry overnight. Then rock this summer with your stylin' shades!




Sunday, May 12, 2013

DIY: Recyled Vases with Knitted Wraps

All those lovely spring cut flowers I received for Mother's Day needed a happy home.
So I created these super cute vases. They're made from recycled cans that once contained things like Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Macaroni & Cheese, Bush's baked beans & SpaghettiO's.

Simply take an empty can, wash it out & peel off the label.
Next, knit up a rectangle piece that fits the size of your can.
Don't be intimidated by knitting!

The first thing you'll need to do is tie a slipknot onto your knitting needle to get started, & then cast on your stitches. The number of stitches you cast on will determine how tall or wide your project is. I cast on about 13 stitches for the small cans & I can't remember how many for the bigger can. (In fact, for the big can, I made the knitted piece too tall. Simple fix: I rolled it down after it was all stitched together.)
Clicke HERE for an easy-to-follow video from Stitch 'N Bitch that will show you how to tie a slip knot, cast on stitches, & knit.

Just keep knitting until you have a piece long enough that will wrap around the can. I stretched my knitted pieces quite a bit around the cans so that they'd stay firmly in place without slipping.

Unfortunately I haven't found anything from Stitch 'N Bitch on YouTube that shows how to end your knitted projects, or what is called "binding off" or "casting off". (That first video was so great for beginners to follow along! I was hoping they had more.)

But HERE is a video from the Howcast channel on YouTube that shows how to cast off. (The Howcast channel also has tons of videos showing specific steps for knitting.)

When you're ready to wrap the knitted piece around your can, use a large sewing needle to stitch the two ends together. You're basically just making a tube-top for the can.
 And that's it!

Here's a Vine I made, showing how the wrap is attached...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Week in Review: April 29-May5

I had a super busy week last week. 
I accompanied Zoey's 4th grade class on two different field trips. The kids toured a hydroplant & learned about ground water & surface water & water conservation. It involved a lot of walking & hiking & Zoey had  such an amazing time walking around the hills. I never knew how much she loved that sort of thing. Probably because mommy tries to avoid it at all costs. The highlight of this particular field trip? On the 2 hour round-trip drive, I taught my bus seat buddy to knit! She even went out the next day & bought her own yarn & needles. All the other 4th grade girls were so jealous. *hee! hee!*
The 4th graders also got to have the best tour of Buffalo Bill State Historical Park, & the nearby Prairie Village, learning about prairie life. It was another fantastic {full} afternoon!

I baked cupcakes for Pazely's fake birthday. (With a summer birthday, she gets to share her birthday during the regular school year with her classmates.) I copied Zoey's treats last year: cupcakes in a clear plastic cup, wrapped in clear cellophane bags & tied off with a cute matching spoon & napkin.

I took the girls to a mini carnival one evening. And then the next day we took daddy & Brandon, & ate corndogs & funnel cake. Zoey rode The Zipper with her daddy & screamed the whole time. Her appetite was lost for most of the rest of the afternoon & evening. Poor thing. The horribly ironic thing is that the two of them were the only ones on the ride, so the operators of the ride let them go a little extra longer than normal. She also won a goldfish, which made up for the queasy feelings in her tummy. 

I played records on my new record player! Woohoo! New toy for Nikki!

I watched snowflakes up close as they fell. 

I celebrated 200 followers on Vine. (Find me on Vine: Nikki Mans)

My week ended in a really peaceful & anointed church service, pulled pork in the crockpot for lunch & then an afternoon stay by the river on a perfectly sunny & mildly breezy Sunday + the best soft serve cones on the planet at Cody Park. The girls built sand creations & went canoeing. I played with my cameras & squealed as my feet hit the cold water.

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.