Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tulips Wonder

Good News! The craft room is ready! I can't quite say finished, because I don't have furniture and hooks and things yet, but the walls are painted, the floor is in, and I've started working on the space. I'll post pictures in another week or so. In the meantime...

Now that my craft room is done, I was digging through some boxes-sorting through my crafting supplies. I found this fun little spring card that I thought was appropriate. It's a fun two-step card.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tiny Treats

These adorable treats below are miniature and edible cakes we made. We got the idea from the American Girl publishing book, Tiny Treats. Step by step tutorial below...

First, take two sandwich cookies (think Oreo) and put a layer of whipped frosting between them.

Second, frost all the way around the cookie.

Third, add any extra embellishments (more frosting, sprinkles, etc.)

Fourth, let them sit overnight (or for several hours at least). The moisture from the frosting makes the cookies soft.

Fifth, bite into and enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Woodworking Part II

Last spring when my daughter and I first got into making things for her 18" dolls, I was looking for storage solutions for her doll clothes and other items. I saw several handmade cabinets, and I decided to ask my dad if he would like to take on a new woodworking project. He said yes. He sent me pictures of what he was working on. You can see his inspiration photo in the lower right-hand corner of the photo below.

Another angle.

The finished, but unpainted version...

Going back and painting doors and drawers.

When we took our family vacation, my dad and I worked many mornings on a second armoire for my niece. We didn't finish it, but we got pretty far (a little further than the second picture). In it he helped me work on my skills with the scroll saw and taught me how to safely use a table saw.

I haven't had a chance to put any of my skills into use yet, but I'm hoping once my little craft room is done, I will be able to move things out of the garage and create a space there I can work as well.

This is a picture of the completed armoire he made for my daughter. Here it is with her 18" Target Our Generation doll inside. It gets daily use now!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Craft Room Update

My walls are painted and the floor is going in!  I chose an engineered bamboo floor.  It's engineered because it is going on a basement floor.  I chose bamboo because it is a sustainable hardwood.  I also really love the color!

More pictures when it is finished!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Craft Room Progress

I've been looking through my pictures, but they are a little disorganized since my video camera that also takes photos was date stamping everything in the wrong month and year. In any case, here is a picture of the upcoming craft room. This is the earliest picture I can find. To the right is a bank of closets. Sadly only one of them will be a craft closet--the rest will be devoted to kids clothing and other storage.

All those boxes? Crafting supplies I've not been able to get at for some time now. The mattress the baby will use was also in there. This room is pre-insulation.

Below you can see the insulation is up and we're ready to pass electrical and duct work inspections.

Now the drywall is up and they've begun to mud and tape.

Another view of the closets.

Looking into the craft room from the outside. We opted for double french doors to provide as much natural light in this room as possible. Sadly I've only got the one small window and it sits next to the steps from the sliding glass door upstairs--so we can't make it bigger without affecting the patio.

We started priming the walls in the basement. My sweet daughter tried painting the wall below. I had paint swatches up (which fell down) and she was painting all around them.

That's her Dora knee pad we picked up at Home Depot. She wanted to get into the garden with me. We found it helps knees when doing low cut-in painting.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Common Sense and Common Courtesy Rules

After I got the kids off to school last week I began picking up around the house. It seemed to me that there has been a general lack of common sense lately in our home. In response I typed up the following:

Common Sense/Common Courtesy Rules

1. Put away the milk when you are done pouring cereal. No one likes sour milk.

2. If you spill cereal while pouring it, pick/sweep it up. No one likes stepping on cereal.

3. If you use the last square of toilet paper, take off the empty roll and replace it with a new one .

4. If the bathroom is running low on new toilet paper rolls, stock the bathroom. The toilet paper is kept in the bottom of the linen closet.

5. Put the cap on the toothpaste and put it away when you are done with it.

6. Wipe up any toothpaste you've gotten on the counter.

7. You have a hamper--use it. There are no excuses for dropping your clothes two feet from the hamper.

8. If you take off your shoes the moment you walk in the door and put them in the shoe box, you'll always know where your shoes are. You will avoid the morning panic of wondering what you'll wear on your feet at school.

9. Shoes (and socks) never belong on the counter or table. These are surfaces where we prepare and/or eat foods. Do you really want to introduce germs to the place where your food is?

10. If I ask you to put away washrags and towels, that does not mean they belong in your bedroom. They belong in the bathroom cabinet and drawer.

11. When you are done using one item, put it away before you get out a new one.

12. The barstools belong at the kitchen bar. They do not belong in your room, the laundry room, or any closet.

13. If you are rushed for time in eating breakfast, please do not pour yourself cereal in the biggest bowl you can find. Use the smallest bowl and refill it if you finish what you've poured. The amount of cereal we waste is staggering.

14. When you get up in the morning or come home from school, it would be appreciated if you would check the dishwasher and if it is clean, unload your part. It will help the house to run more smoothly.

15. Flush the toilet and wash your hands. This was part of your potty training. I know you can do it.

16. Please do not be shocked/angry/flabbergasted that each day when you come home from school we have a short break/snack then we work on homework, practice your musical instrument and do chores and/or scout work. This is the same routine we've been doing for years.

17. Please remember that your dad and I are your biggest advocates. We love you more than anyone--save the Savior and our Heavenly Father. We are not your enemies. We are not out to ruin your life. We are here to teach you what you need to know to be a successful adult and contributing member of society. Your choices will affect any consequences you earn. Sometimes they will be good and sometimes they will be bad--it all depends upon you and the choices you make. It is up to you. We love you.

I don't know if this will make a difference to the kids or not. As I've mentioned, some of them have extra challenges. I'll still be posting it though, and when I get my office done and my vinyl machine back up and running I plan on putting this in large letters on the wall.

I should add I posted this on facebook and my uncle tells me that I should just let the milk sour, eat and leave crumbs in their beds and basically turn the tables on them. I may eventually have to try that, but for now we'll work on friendly reminders.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Woodworking pt. 1

So just before we took our family vacation this summer, I was totally inspired by Ana White's farmhouse bed for 18" dolls. My dear husband just wasn't interested in making it, but after seeing the directions and having helped put my fair share of Pinewood Derby cars as well as checking out blogs like Sawdust and Paper Scraps, I thought, "Why couldn't I learn to do this?"

So family vacation time comes--I have to say, my dad has got great woodworking skills. Growing up we had a cupboard he had made for us where we stored all of our pretend food. He also made a high chair and the stable that housed our Nativity set. Many years ago he made this stable--one for each of my sisters and I--which was a slightly larger replica of the one my family grew up with.

The second nativity (on the right) was a gift from my in-laws. They got it in South Africa.

Then last year we were presented with

He modeled it after the advent calendar in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. He found a website that served as a jumping off point, and then made his own templates. Each tiny window has tiny hinges and it was all lovingly put together by my parents. (My mom did the bulk of the painting). I don't have great pictures of all of the detail, but it's there.

A widows walk cleverly made from paperclips, the architectural elements just under the roofline, and the tiny icicles they attached are just a few of them.

He began working on the first one for my mom after he finally retired. It turned out wonderfully, and then he set to work making one for each of my sisters and I.

I have to say, I'm so proud of my dad! He was also one of my inspirations. I asked him if he would be willing to teach me some basic woodworking skills when we saw them for our family vacation. He said he would! Part 2 to soon follow.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Surprise! We're going to Disney World.

You know those Disney advertisements where the parents surprise the kids that they are going on a trip? I confess, I choke up when I watch them.

I grew up being raised on Disney. We lived in California for a time as did my grandparents, so I can't even count the number of times I've been to Disneyland. My sisters and I would play the Disney princesses. (I was Snow White and the others were Cinderella and Aurora--yep dating myself a little here). I had an old 33 record that had all the songs from Cinderella. I had another 33 that told the story of Snow White in addition to the music.

In short we are/were Disneyphiles.

For many years I've heard great stories about parents surprising their children with a trip to Disney--then Disney began showing the linked ad from above. I wanted to do this for my kids.

Two problems--1) Disney can be really expensive--especially for a family of my size. 2) Those great videos and stories where they tell the kids they are leaving for the airport right now? Yeah, that doesn't work so well with kids on the Autism spectrum. My boys need sign posts and time to adjust to ideas.

So a compromise. I did a lot of research over several months and when I heard Disney had brought back the free dining plan again I jumped on it. I made all of our reservations and I was bursting with the secret.

As I said, my children need time to adjust to ideas. My husband and I talked about it and decided that we would tell the kids a couple of months before the actual vacation so they would also have a chance to earn and save money for souvenirs.

On my son's birthday I set things in motion by having a letter delivered to him by "owl" (or so the server at the pizza parlor said) which set all of the kids off on an adventure. When we got home from the pizza parlor, (and no, I didn't have them make a Mickey shaped pizza though I sort of wish I had), they had to go around the house collecting objects and filling tasks--most of them related to Disney or Harry Potter (my kids are HUGE fans). I even made wands out of chocolate dipped pretzel sticks (the long ones), but I was remiss in getting any pictures.

The end reward was supposed to be cookies--literally found in the cupboard under the stairs--though I had been making them in secret and the royal icing hadn't dried completely, so they ended up being found inside the second fridge. I found my inspiration here. She is much more talented than I am.

It was my first attempt at edible royal icing and I discovered three things. 1) It's probably better to start with smaller amounts of icing and make more rather than trying to find creative ways to use up white, black and red icing. 2) Getting the right consistency for both outlining and filling in is trickier than it looks on paper. 3) Gel food dyes--especially black--can leave a nasty stain on your tongue and teeth. Brush immediately after eating.

Below are some of our attempts of baking more cookies and using more icing.

We took our vacation this last fall (another reason I didn't post) and we had a great time. I had to skip a few rides given my current project (baby on board), but being pregnant made me change my focus-it was okay if we were slower paced and if we didn't get to the opening gates 1/2 hour before the parks opened. We enjoyed ourselves and each others company and it made the difference.

As a side note--I recommend families with ASD children look into disability passes for theme parks. Most parks have them, but I would not have known about them were it not for a good friend whose child is also autistic.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Simplified Water/ Pirate Themed Boys Party

Flashback to 2010: (ie I'm finally getting around to posting this..)  ;)

One of my boys decided he wanted a pirate themed birthday party.  I found a variety of pirate goodies at the dollar store, party store and Wal-mart.  There are eye-patches, gold coins (chocolate and plastic), a mini telescope/kaleidoscope, pirate earrings, compasses and treasure maps.  One was pre-printed and the other one is parchment looking paper I had burned around the edges which they drew their own maps on.  If you decide to try this, do it outside over concrete, and use something like tongs to hold the paper.

Note:  I later discovered tearing the paper and inking the edges in brown works much better.  

What's a pirate party without some water?  We obtained use of a funhouse type water slide.  This provided the bulk of the entertainment.

To display their goodie bags, I made use of a pirates chest that had once served as a Harry and David gift basket.  We had gotten it from my husband's work.  It was too cute to throw away and I've used it many, many times for parties.

I got the net at the dollar store.

Isn't it a great treasure chest?  The party plates are ones we picked up with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme.  Pirates is one of my favorite rides at Disney by the way.

My son and I decided on cupcakes for his treat.  We made these together with blue swirly frosting and Swedish fish to go along with our pirate/water theme.  This was before the age of Pinterest, so I didn't make or even buy cute pirate cupcake wrappers.  I love the cupcakes though because I made them with my son.  And isn't that what the best part of parties are--making memories?

Tee hee hee:  Someone is photo bombing my picture of the cupcake tower.

Enjoy your simplified pirate party!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Project

I realize I haven't posted in many, many months. That would be because I've been busy working on my latest project--one that should be complete sometime in May.

Yep! Expecting! (Not twins, I just had to take two tests to be sure).

I spent many, many weeks feeling absolutely sicker than a dog. Then I started to feel better and it was time to try and catch up on family stuff and life in general. Then the kids got sick. Three rounds of strep throat this year. Not fun. (I'm honestly wondering if one of the munchkins is a carrier for strep.)

They also broke my laptop screen. One of the more rambunctious ones decided it was a great idea to shut my laptop while I was typing. My ring and knuckles did some serious damage to my screen. It was a while before I had a working laptop again.

I'm still playing catch up, (and part of that has been trying to get services for my children who are on the Autism spectrum), but the holidays are over, the decorations are put away (last week-finally), and I'm hoping I can begin posting again on a more regular basis.

One other piece of good news. We had planned on finishing the basement when we bought this house and have been saving accordingly. This new baby provides the impetus to get it done, and hopefully we'll be able to finish in the next month or two. The best part? One of the rooms we're finishing is a craft room for me! I can't tell you how excited I am. I haven't had a craft room in ages and ages! (I have just been hiding in nooks and cranny's wherever I can).

Look for posts regarding basement progress in the near future!