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

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

Halloween Pt. 2: Window Silhouettes

Somehow I’ve overcommitted myself again to none other than, well… myself. Seriously, what is my problem? This is a habit. I worked all day, commuted home and then proceeded to make this list that I started at 6:30PM tonight:

List of unnecessaries

List of Unnecessaries

And now it’s 11:30, I’ve already crossed off “blog” so I guess I should finish it. And most everything else got done in some rushed, half-assed way. Except, as you can see, homework. That didn’t get done at all. Way to fumble on the important stuff!

Not much good came out of tonight so I’m blogging about last night. But before that, I do have a tip for parents who need a super quick idea for a preschool Halloween party potluck:

Halloween Cheese Plate
– Pre-sliced Cheese
– Halloween Cookie Cutters
– Crackers

Cut Halloween shapes out of the slices of cheese with the cookie cutters. Layer on a Halloween tray with some crackers. done. Oh, save the scraps for homemade mac ‘n cheese.

Yeah, so by “cheese plate” on my list I sadly didn’t mean a nice display of a goat, cow, and sheep’s milk medley with figs and pear compote. No, I meant Cheddar pumpkins and Monterey Jack Ghosts. Classy. Anyhow, this isn’t about tonight’s subpar performance, this is about last night…

Halloween Window Silhouettes

Our Halloween House

Our Halloween House

Every year I get really into making silhouette cutouts for the windows. On our dinky little craftsman we have two front windows that beg for something Halloween-y. And so I buy some black poster board paper, bust out my clear packing tape and scissors, and get to work.

A simple Google search for Halloween Silhouettes generates a ton of ideas and usually gets me inspired. I then decide what I want to do, draw it out with pencil on the poster board, and start cutting. Scissors work well for most of the cutting, in fact you can do it all this way, but an X-Acto knife for the cutouts and fine details does give a cleaner look. Once complete, I tape them up with the clearest packing tape I can find. This way the tape on the window doesn’t show as much.

I don’t think the photography does these justice, they look much better lit up in person. I love this project because it’s totally free-form, it’s paper art which I love, and it can be as simple as a few bats and gravestones, or as complicated as entire spooky scenes.

Halloween 2013:

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween 2008
My favorite…

Halloween 2008

Halloween 2008

Supplies:

Simple supplies

Simple supplies

Halloween: Pt 1

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat


Remember Halloween when you were a kid? How good was Halloween. Throwing together some funky diy costume, grabbing a pillowcase for your candy haul, running around with the neighborhood crew until well after dark… adult-free. Then coming home, dumping out your candy piles, trading with your brother while your mom checked for rumored razors. Good times. I loved it. LOVED it.

I was feeling nostalgic about it today while at our school’s Fall Halloween Carnival. I mean, while we live mere miles from a major metropolis, Halloween is still much the same all these years later. Old-school style carnivals, pumpkin patches, trick or treating, candy… it’s still going strong.

Halloween is also obviously a really perfect holiday for making stuff. This week I’ll try to post some of our favorites, starting with stuff we’ve made in the past.

Mummy Cake
Ok, this isn’t from the past, this is from today. My daughter and I made it for the carnival cake walk. We totally cut corners because she’s four and I work full time. So I got a box of Red Velvet (mwahaha, blood) Cake mix, a jar of vanilla frosting, and was all set to bust out some mummy wraps with a piping bag when I stumbled upon a mummy cupcake kit at Target. White sour gummy strips! Like striking gold.

MMM, delicious mummies.

MMM, delicious mummies.

All we did was cut a top of a cardboard box and wrap it in foil for the tray. We then baked the cake in a 7″ Corningware dish so that it would be tall. Then frosted it with the white frosting, leaving the eye area bare. My daughter plopped some sugar eyes on, and we wrapped it like a mummy with those gummy strips. So easy.

Candy Eyes

Candy Eyes


frosted, ready to wrap.

frosted, ready to wrap.

Crafts of Halloween Past
A few other Halloween things from years past…

Mummy Dogs
These are so easy and kinda rad so I make them every year. Use full hotdogs, or cut them in half, or get lil smokies, they all work. I’ve wrapped them in strips of Trader Joe’s pizza dough and I’ve tried breadstick or other pre-made doughs. I like the look of the pizza dough best but I recommend brushing them with some melted butter before baking. So pick your dough, cut it in strips, wrap the dogs, bake at 375-ish until the dough looks done. Dot mustard or ketchup for eyes.

MMM, more mummies

MMM, more mummies

Alien Cupcakes
These were from the Hello Cupcakes book. They were hard. Don’t start them at 10PM.
http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com/2009/10/21/more-halloween-cupcakes.aspx

MMM, delicious aliens.

MMM, delicious aliens.

Dalmation (Cow?) Costume
White onsie, black fabric paint… all planned around a cute hat she already had. She was a cute little Cowmation.

Puppy? Cow?

Puppy? Cow?

Tomato & Bread Salad

Summer. You’re not over yet, and yet you are kinda over. School starts tomorrow, homework too, and I even saw Christmas decor in the aisles of Costco. Which is a kinda WTF early, but, well… you’ll be missed summer.

But before you totally bail on us, I thought it would be nice to hang with you a bit. Enjoy the fruits of your bounty, even if I didn’t actual grow them myself. See, we never quite made it around to the tomatoes this year. Of our micro-garden undertaking, we ended up with a handful of peas and green beans and a crap-load of plums. Though a pesky possum pretty much gnawed through most of the plums leaving sticky, smashed remnants all over our yard.

mini-bounty

mini-bounty

Our Peas, all six of them

Our peas, all six of them


But I digress.

So tomatoes… we were backup babysitters for our neighbor’s chickens and in addition to some fresh eggs, we also got to help ourselves to some lovely ripe tomatoes. Additionally, I had pilfered a left over loaf of bread from a work event that was too stale to eat but perfect for croutons.

BINGO: Tomato & Bread Salad!

I am not really sure how you make a traditional bread salad. I didn’t even really want to know. I just wanted to make it up as I went and see how it all came out.

(Didn't end up using the olives)

(Didn’t end up using the olives)


Tomato & Bread Salad
– Loaf of day (or so) old bread
– Lots of Olive Oil
– Three finely diced cloves of garlic
– Course Sea Salt
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
– Five or so large tomatoes
– Olives (optional, in fact I didn’t even end up using them)

How To:
– Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
– Slice the bread into large cubes.
– Whisk together garlic and 1/4 cup Olive Oil
– Toss together the olive oil/garlic mix and the croutons with your hands in a large bowl.
– Generously sprinkle salt, parmesan
– Toss and add Olive Oil until all cubes have a light coat
– Bake for 8ish mins, then toss them and sprinkle more parmesan and back for another 8-10 mins. They should be a golden brown.
– Remove from oven and put in a bowl, save the little crumb pieces to sprinkle on the top at the end
– Slice the tomatoes into large chunks and, in a separate bowl, toss with a little olive oil and salt
– Then toss it all together with the bread, sprinkle the crumbs on top, and let it sit for awhile before serving

Croutons

Croutons


It turned out ok. Maybe a little dry. I wonder if I should have put something like a vinaigrette over it and really let it soak. Or maybe it just needed to sit longer in the tomatoes. My goal was for it to be moist but with some crunchiness. All in all though, it was a super easy summer dish that could morph with varied ingredients like fresh mozzarella, basil, various salad dressings, olives, etc.

And not bad for a leftover loaf of bread and some tomatoes from the garden.

Tomato Bread Salad

Tomato Bread Salad

Easy Watermelon Cooler

Refreshing

Refreshing


I was cutting up a watermelon tonight and was left with a pool of juicy looking pulp sitting in the rind. Rather than pick it up and drink it down, a light bulb popped. Watermelon cooler.

I grabbed a spoon and started scraping. Of course you could do this with chunks of watermelon but I got kinda excited that I found a use for something I would have just tossed in the compost. Then I gathered a lemon, a bit of white wine (I used a table white but Prosecco would be good too) and some ice. Easy breezy like summer. What resulted was a refreshing, crisp drink with a hint of natural sweetness cut a bit by the lemon.

Ingredients:
– Dry White Wine or Prosecco (I used a table white that was 80% Sauvignon Blanc/20% Chardonnay)
– Watermelon leftovers
– Ice
– Lemon

Watermelon Leftovers

Watermelon Leftovers


To Make:
– Take the spoon and scrape down the rind, making as much pulpy juice as possible.
– Fill a glass with ice.
– Fill the glass half way with watermelon juice and pulp.
– Then fill with wine.
– Cut some lemons, squeeze one small piece into the drink and stir. Then drop a couple slices of lemon on top.

Find a porch, kick back, and sip.

Ouch Sun, That Hurt! Weird Sunburn Remedies.

Awhile back I watched a video on the internet with a doctor talking about common household remedies for sunburns. I can’t find it now but I could swear they said that applying tea or vinegar within the first eight hours after your skin gets sunburnt not only soothes the immediate pain, but also stops and even reverses some of the sun damage that nasty burn inflicted on your skin. Could it be true?

This stuck in my head when I found myself, after a day in the sun, looking like a crispy critter. What the heck, might as well give it a shot. So I soaked a paper towel in white vinegar and applied it all over my sunburn. The next day, I swear there was a noticeable difference between the area I easily reached and applied more vinegar to (shoulders), and the area in the middle of my back (still a deeper red).

Shortly after I noticed that my mother-in law carries around a small water bottle with a half water/half vinegar solution to apply after being in the sun… at the suggestion of her dermatologist. I think we’re on to something here!

I’ve since applied vinegar many times to pieces and parts of my family’s skin that have seen too much sun and it always seems to help. At the very least it doesn’t hurt. So, as you head out to enjoy some July 4th fun in the sun, remember your SPF! But should you still find yourself a little pink around the edges, grab for the vinegar asap. Or one of these other household items…

(NOTE: I am no doctor, nor is the internet from which I gleaned this info, this is all just anecdotal)

VINEGAR:
Apparently there is acetic acid in vinegar. Acid?! on a Sunburn?! Yeah, seems like it helps relieve pain and restore the pH balance to your skin which promotes healing. I go straight-up-hard-core pure white vinegar but you can also mix half vinegar/half water, soak a washcloth or paper towel, and hold on your skin for awhile. Or dab all over the sunburn and repeat a few times. Seems Apple Cider and white vinegar are the best types of vinegar to use.

Tea
Sitting out on the deck eating some lunch, soaking up the sun and OOPS sunburn! Order an iced tea, soak a napkin, hold it on the burn, move into the shade and lunch on. Tea has healing properties. The internet seems to think black tea works best.

Yogurt
Turn your crispy skin tandoori-style with a little yogurt slathered on. I’ve never done this but people out there online say it’s the best way to heal a sunburn. But there’s evidence to support lots of “best ways” so I say grab what’s handy, slather it on, it’s better than nothing.

On that note, some other items said to help:
– Cold Water
– Milk
– Cucumbers
– Oatmeal
– Coconut Oil

Enjoy your 4th of July, use sunscreen, and keep that vinegar handy.