Halloween: DIY Spell Books

DIY SPELL BOOKS – HARRY POTTER 

DIY Spell Books for Harry Potter Costume

DIY Spell Books for Harry Potter Costume

Halloween is maybe the only holiday that can pull me out of my making-stuff-and-writing-about it hiatus. Work, kids, life, blahdy blah blah = time deficit. Time deficit = making things deficit. But then just like that, one little Pinterest success with these spell books, and I’m feeling a need to share. These were an easy-ish, inexpensive project made with my kids to go with their Ron & Hermione – Harry Potter costumes this year. I love how they turned out and will be making more for our Halloween party.

Want to make them yourself? You should! I won’t get too far into the details, simply follow the link to see a step by step, but here are a couple of tips I learned along the way:

  • Old encyclopedias from thrift stores are awesome for this project. The bumps on the spine and the gold detail on the outside covers all add some charm, even when painted over. The inside pages are full of maps, animals, and other encyclopedia style stuff that make it more intriguing.
  • Use gold adhesive lettering from the craft store. When you decoupage over it with the Mod Podge, it still shows through so you don’t need to later paint it to get the metallic look. My kids decides to be very literal and name them “Spell Book” but think of all the possibilities. “Potions & Poisons,” “Hogwarts: History of Spells,” “Deadly Hexes” etc.
  • Have your kids design their own book. They loved coming up with the colors, lettering, and creatures to glue on the front. My daughter added her initials down the spine to make it her own.
  • Next up: I’m going to print out these Harry Potter Spells and glue them onto some of the book’s pages throughout.

Some pics of the process… enjoy!

Hot glue some plastic creature on. Add some letters.

Hot glue some plastic creature on. Add some letters.

Mod Podge Magic

Mod Podge Magic

DIY Spell Books for Harry Potter Costume

DIY Spell Books for Harry Potter Costume

Mermaid Party Pt. 1 – Octopus Balloon Animal Dance Party

Balloon Octopi

Balloon Octopi


What’s easier: 1) Blowing up a balloon or 2) making it into an octopus? I’ll give you a hint… one is impossible and one is pictured.

I am sure you’ve all seen a clown or street performer in your life whip out one of those balloon-animal-balloons, give it a little tug, and then inflate it in mere seconds using only the mouth as a tool. Easy, right? No. No it’s not.

If you’ve every tried this, you’re with me right now. If you’ve never tried it you’re probably thinking what my husband thought as he watched me turn red with effort and then fail repeatedly. He didn’t need to verbalize, his face told the story “Umm, what’s wrong with you?”

I just handed him the balloon.

The next day I was back at the store to buy the hand pump which I kinda feel should have a sign or something on it letting rookies like me know it’s not optional. I even asked the girl at the party store if she’s ever tried to blow one of these things up. She just laughed.

Ok, moving on. Once you have the pump and some balloons, it literally takes less than 2 mins to make a really cool looking octopus. Even less to make a sword. And I am sure that’s only the beginning. Google “easy balloon animals” and take your pick. Now that I have the pump, it’s a fun thing to have on hand when kids are around. I took the leftover balloons and the pump to the family Christmas… instant party. Even gramps was making creations.

Birthday Mermaid and her Octopus sidekick.

Birthday Mermaid and her Octopus sidekick.


Octopus Balloon Animal Dance Party
Oh right, so I didn’t just start down this balloon making path randomly. My daughter’s birthday party was a mermaid party. We rented a park rec center and the entire thing was such an overload of crafty DIY projects that I just can’t write about it all at once. But one of the cheapest, easiest and biggest hits of the party was the Octopus Balloon Dance Party.

We blew up (with our actual mouths) a bunch of standard round balloons in shades of blues like the ocean and spread them about the floor. Then I made about eight of these large octopus balloon animals. We played the soundtrack from The Little Mermaid and the kids danced and pummeled each other with the octopus balloons. The balloons stood up remarkably well and the kids had a blast.

SUPPLIES FOR 1 OCTOPUS:
– 1 Balloon hand pump
– 1 12″ balloon for the body. I chose polka dots and tie dye.
– 2 5″ white balloons for the eyes
– 4 long balloons for legs
– Black Sharpie

There are lots of online tutorials if you google “octopus balloon animals.” I used this one: http://youtu.be/EFNqU2DPFkg

Trust me, don’t let this guys expert inflation skills fool you. Spend the 5 bucks for the frickin’ pump.

Octopus Balloon Animal

Octopus Balloon Animal

Eyelashes courtesy of my daughter.

Eyelashes courtesy of my daughter.

Balloon Octopi

Balloon Octopi

Reindeer Food

Right now my house looks like a Michael’s craft store exploded all over it. It’s the bits and pieces that remain after a weekend of DIY mermaid birthday party compulsion and my poor burnt-out self cannot lift a finger to fix it right now. I also can’t write about it yet, it’s too fresh (and too much).

So how does that get us to reindeer food? And what even is reindeer food? Well, it’s pretty much just oats in a bag. With sprinkles…

My son’s school does this thing called The Gingerbread Shop where families bring in little things they’ve made and the school sets up a little “store” and each student gets to bring a couple dollars to shop. They buy the little crafts for 50 cents a piece. It’s sweet, my son came home last year with a little gift for each of us.

AND THIS STUFF IS ALL DUE TOMORROW. So yeah, oats in a bag. With sprinkles.

But as last minute and quick as this little project is, the kids (or at least my kids) like feeding the reindeers on Christmas Eve as much as they like leaving cookies for santa. So I figure the kids at school might like it to.

Reindeer Food

Reindeer Food


REINDEER FOOD
All you do is pour a bunch of oats in a bowl. Both whole oats and the steel cut work great. Have the kids dump in a bunch of Christmas sprinkles and even a little glitter (sure, Santa’s reindeers can eat glitter), and mix it all up. Then put it in a bag, tie it up, and put a label on it.

My husband questioned why I would add additional work with the label. But that’s the key part. That’s what turns oats in a bag magically into “Reindeer Food.”

Breakfast of Champions: Sprinkles, Glitter, Oats

Breakfast of Champions: Sprinkles, Glitter, Oats

Restaurant Challenge: El Caballo Wraps

El Caballo Wraps

El Caballo Wraps


I’ve seen this place many times but never thought to try it because A) the entire point of this restaurant challenge is to break our taqueria pattern and B) I was biased. Sorry, but it has the word “Wraps” in its name. It just reminds me of those chains that wrap things like rice, broccoli, and teriyaki chicken in a sun-dried tomato tortilla. See, now, that’s a wrap. But I was wrong. That’s not what this place has. This place has burritos and other delicious Mexican foods.

To be fair we didn’t pick this out of the bucket. The kids and I went with some friends a few weeks back at their recommendation. BUT we couldn’t count it towards the restaurant challenge until we went as a family. So tonight we returned and it was good for a second time, and we’ll most definitely be back. In fact, I think this might be my favorite Mexican food on the island.

Tortilla Soup & Papusa goodness

Tortilla Soup & Papusa goodness


For me, it was all about the Chicken Tortilla Soup. On this cold night a few weeks before Christmas, this perfect bowl of soup paired with a pork papusa and a plastic bottle full of their amazing smokey hot sauce made for happiness. A few weeks back I tried a carnitas taco and some nachos. Both very tasty.

Here’s what the others thought…

Hoodie and Burrito... Just like his Dad in college.

Hoodie and Burrito… Just like his Dad in college.


Jack: Thumbs up for a bean and rice El Nino (kids) burrito, guacamole, chips. Learning experience: He thought he’d like black beans but tried them and has decided pinto is always the way to go. Agreed.

Elise: Bean (pinto) and Cheese El Nino Burrito and side of rice. She ate it all but said she didn’t like it. Standard mixed bag reaction. Remember Thanksgiving?

Mike: Burrito Al Pastor which he thought was just ok. I took a bite and liked it.

Bottom Line: We’ll return. Super friendly owner and staff, great food, DELISH Chicken Tortilla Soup.

El Caballo Wraps
1108 Lincoln Ave
(between Bay St & St Charles St)

It's cold out!

It’s cold out!


No pictures!

No pictures!

THANKSGIVING COOKING: KID COOKS RULE

Our Thanksgiving cook-off was a major success. So much so that we unanimously voted it the 1st annual Family Thanksgiving Cook-off (we need a better name). The food was great, the kids really helped with every dish, and nobody got hurt except me who managed about five minor burns while trafficking pies in and out of the oven. It’s probably a good thing that I never rounded up that brulee torch.

Elise was proud of herself for: chopping, whipping, stirring, sautéing, rolling, and peeling herself through 2 pies, sourdough-sausage stuffing, and green beans with bacon.

Jack came in strong with brining and roasting the turkey, peeling and sautéing glazed carrots, putting together a caesar salad and making whipped cream for the pies.

Of course there were needed breaks along the way… a game of kitchen wall-ball, a trip to the park, some make-believe dress up princess thing, a wrestling match… But they always came back to it. They didn’t want to miss having a hand in each dish. It was pretty cool.

As for a winner, well, in the end it was a tie until Jack made a good point that his sister pretty much voted against every one of her own dishes (pie and bacon aside). Let’s just say she had way more fun making the food than eating it.

The Feast!

The Feast!

Chopping, a pairing knife works well for little hands.

Chopping, a pairing knife works well for little hands.

Sauteing veggies for stuffing

Sauteing veggies for stuffing

Cooking.  Everyone's into it!

Cooking. Everyone’s into it!

Can never be too dressed up.

Can never be too dressed up.

Kitchen Wall Ball Break.

Kitchen Wall Ball Break.

Apple and Pumpkin Pies

Apple and Pumpkin Pies

Whipping Cream

Whipping Cream

The Final Voting

The Final Voting

Thanksgiving: Paper Mache Turkey

Paper Mache Turkey

Paper Mache Turkey


We wanted to make a turkey centerpiece for our Holiday Cook Off. Now, see, I have issues. A project like this originates simply enough. Like “oh, let’s just cut out some hand-turkeys, color them and call it a day.” But then this weird part of me takes over. It starts with a “Hmm, how can I make it round? Paper mache and a balloon?” then it moves to “Oh, those tie dye leaves my neighbor made are pretty, that could work for the feathers” and then, well… then it’s on. Soon the kitchen is covered in glue and food coloring and there’s just no turning back.

This is what Fumbleweeds is about, winging it all the way through. So I’m going to level with you. The following instructions will likely make no sense. I am not entirely sure what I did to get this thing together.

All in all, it was an ok project that needs some fine-tuning. The kids had fun with the feathers, painting, and about 2 mins of the paper mache. It’s a multi-day endeavor with all the drying of things. And it’s messy. Paper Mache is very messy.

I like this twist though… we decided to write all of the things we’re thankful for on the turkey body over the next few days. Kinda like a Thanksgiving turkey cast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Supplies

Supplies


Paper Mache Turkey
Supplies:
– Fall colored cardstock
– Unbleached cone coffee filters
– Food Coloring
– Glue
– Shredded newspaper
– a balloon
– Sharpie
– Scissors
– masking tape
– brown paint

Paper Mache Turkey Body

Paper Mache Turkey Body


Turkey Body:
-Mix 3/4th Glue to 1/4 water in a pan
-Blow up a balloon
-dip strips of newspaper into glue mixture, pull each piece through fingers to get rid of extra glue, place onto the balloon
-Repeat this until the balloon is fully covered with at least 3 layers of paper/glue
-Tie string or dental floss around the tied part of the balloon and hang somewhere overnight. Put a towel or bowl under it for the dripping glue.
– Wipe up all the messy glue all over your kitchen before it dries and becomes a big pain in the butt (lesson learned)
– Once dry, paint the turkey body brown

Painting the body

Painting the body

Food Coloring Tie Dye Feathers

Food Coloring Tie Dye Feathers


Feathers:
– Draw a feather on the coffee filter (see pic of supplies)
– Cut out feathers
– Put a little water in a shallow pan
– hold each feather over the pan and drip food coloring on it
– Then dip the feather into the water to “spread” the food coloring around
– Lay out flat to dry overnight

Food Coloring Fun

Food Coloring Fun

Turkey Head

Turkey Head


Turkey Head & Base
– Draw and cut out a turkey head from dark brown card stock
– Cut out a yellow beak and tape or glue dot onto the face
– draw eyes with a sharpie

– Cut out a red waddle and glue it to the neck

Back of the turkey

Back of the turkey


Assembly:
– Don’t cut off the knot of the balloon in the paper mache turkey body until the end. It gives structure so it doesn’t cave in
– Take a piece of card stock (I used yellow, brown would have been better) and cut into a semi-circle and mold around the largest part of the turkey body and tape. I used packing tape but I think masking tape would have been better and easer to cover over with paint at the end. Speaking of, paint over this taped up rear end with brown paint.
– Glue the “feathers” in a fan design onto the front covering all of the cardstock
– Cut off the tip of the balloon and either glue the turkey head over the hole OR, using strips of brown paper, attach it around the body of the turkey (see pic).
– Make a base by taking a long strip of card stock, make it into a circle and tape it together to make a stand

Our Turkey Guy

Our Turkey Guy

Turkey Love

Turkey Love

Thanksgiving Cooking: Kids + Knives + Fire. This will end well.

Who out there watched Masterchef Junior? Seriously, if you didn’t you should. And if you did, you are probably thinking what underachievers your own kids are at this point. I kid, I kid… but these were some pretty amazing 9-13 year old kids wielding some serious cooking skills and restaurant quality dishes.

This is the first “show” we watched as a family. Meaning, not an on-demand age appropriate cartoon that the kids zone out on as we quickly move around the house getting tasks done. No, I mean a show we actually sat down together to watch, stayed glued to throughout, and discussed together. It was the most interactive TV that exists.

I say this because it’s left a lasting, ACTIONABLE impression on my kids. My son, a traditionally “focused” eater, has started asking to try new things. Things like roe at sushi and stuff with herbs on it. Trust me, this is BIG. And both kids have been popping into the kitchen more, asking to help. I think it really empowered them to see kids near their own age doing stuff we typically associate with adults (and kicking butt at it.)

So this Thanksgiving, inspired by the show, the kids decided they want to make our own cooking contest.

Thanksgiving Cooking Contest 2013
We’ve split into two teams, secret recipes are in the works. We will make a full traditional turkey dinner with an abnormal pie-to-people ratio. Kids will chop, sauté, brine, and roast. There might even be a blow torch in the mix.

Team 1: Mike & Jack
Team 2: Kristin & Ellie

Stay tuned…

Let the games begin!

Let the games begin!