Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beaded Bowls, Moldy Gourds and Oatmeal Cookies

I went shopping at Job Lot today-my favorite discount store. Most of the stuff is dirt cheap and I found this for only $2.00 so I picked up two of them. Since my Lyme disease has now entered the chronic phase, I've been looking for easy projects to do with the kids. Larry has been on vacation since Christmas so we've had lots of time to do the fun stuff. These were lots of fun for the kids. But now that I know how to make them I won't need to buy the kits anymore. The kits came with 2 pie pans and packets of plastic seed beads and one pack of pony beads. The kids sprinkled the colors that they like in the bottom of the pan into whatever pattern they liked. Patrick did a blue starfish above. Morgan did a stained glass look. And the finished result are these beautiful bowls. Here's how we did it.
  1. Cover the bottom of an aluminum pie plate with the plastic bugle beads.
  2. Heat in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Cool for 15 minutes. Turn over a round ceramic bowl or metal mixing bowl that is loosely covered with foil.
  4. When cool, take the plastic flat discs and turn them onto the foil covered bowls. Foil can be shaped to give bowl some fluted edges if desired.
  5. Replace in 375 degree oven for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Use for trinkets and such.
A few helpful hints...make sure you have enough beads to cover the entire bottom of the pie plate otherwise you will have some spaces in your bowl...which is still beautiful.

Morgan and her best friend from next door made Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Larry today. Right before this was taken there were four kids piled on this chair. That's Larry hiding behind the girls. Guess who's hand is in the Cookie Jar? Don't they look yummy?

This past summer I grew bottle neck gourds. They take up a lot of space and do best on fencing. Each plant only grows about 2-3 gourds so patience is the key. This big fat one was so heavy that I have no idea how it even stayed on the vine. The gourds must be left on the vine until it is completely brown and dry. Most people just let them dry in their garden but I tried that last year and the mice and chipmunks ate them.

These gourds are drying in my laundry room. I had a gourd crop of about 15 gourds this year, some big and some small. There are many methods to drying gourds. One way is to poke holes in the bottom but I have found that the liquid that drains out makes a mess and stinks. And yes, that is mold growing on the gourds and it's harmless. The gourds take 5 or 6 months to dry so this isn't a project that can be hurried. The mold makes these beautiful intricate patterns on the gourds and sands off easily when the gourd is dry.

This is a gourd with beautiful mold patterning (kinda matches my countertop). I just started sanding it and sometimes even use a little shoe polish to enhance the coloring and patterning. When it's completely smooth and the dark black spots are gone, it will get polyurethaned and made into a Shakere'.

Shakere's are those beautiful African beaded gourds used as musical instruments.

You can read about them here.

My hope is that they will look like this when done.Gorgeous.

I don't paint my shakere's and much prefer the natural look with wood beads. The site above paints the gourds and uses plastic beads. Some of the other gourds that are not as strong will be carved into bird houses and bowls.

I thought I would post this really cool picture of my chicken coop and barn lit up at night. There is a crescent moon out tonight, the sky is clear and beautiful.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Baking Artisan Bread

This afternoon I was finally able to try the recipe from the Mother Earth News Magazine. It had a whole section on bread baking and the recipe (supposedly) made enough dough to last a week. The idea being that at dinner time, you would always have fresh baked bread. The recipe was easy to follow but I went thru half of my flour canister. I bought these canisters at Target and just love them. They are very old fashioned looking and remind me of my Grandmother's canisters when I was a girl. I have two antique scoops in them that were my Mother's and Grandmother's. The big canister holds about seven pounds of flour and we buy the 25 pound bag at BJ's. The sugar canister holds 5 pounds of sugar. This is the recipe in Mother Earth News. It was a four page spread and I think tomorrow I'll try their recipe for whole wheat sandwich bread. I made a double recipe today. Each recipe makes about 3 loaves of Artisan Bread. The steam from the water pan makes the outside crispy and crunchy and the inside tender and moist. My Kitchen Aid mixer that I absolutely could not live without.

The dough rising.

Three delicious loaves resting on a bed of cornmeal and ready to go into the oven.

Fresh out of the oven. The whole house smelled like fresh baked bread and primer (my husband was busy priming our bedroom).
Three hot and steamy loaves. We ate two for dinner with our pasta tonight. Delicious!

And Uncle Kevin sent some artist paper and watercolors for the kids for Christmas. He had directions included. This is Tae painting a bug, heart, cross, bleeding circle thingy.
  1. Use only 5 colors.
  2. Paint nothing that you know of.
  3. Fill the entire paper with color.
  4. Return painting to Uncle Kevin.

I think he is actually looking for artistic material for the album cover of his new CD.

And here's mine. Tae wanted me to paint with him. Morgan said it looked like a fish or a squid or an alien. Uncle Kevin might want to rethink this.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Power Balls and Cricut Cutters

Today we pulled out a kit that the kids got for Christmas. Ahem-ok it was a kit from last year. We cleaned out our craft cabinet today and found them. But we already did make a few of these over the summer we just forgot about them. The kit is from Rose Art and makes these really cool rainbow balls. Of course they look nothing like the spectactular rainbow colored ones on the package but the kids had fun regardless.The kit makes quite a few balls and comes with lots of packages for creating. The big ball takes 4 packets and the little ball takes only one.
Tae with the colors he chose for the big ball. Morgan showing the mold. The molds look like little grenades. Morgan and Tae filling the mold with neon yellow. Then the whole thing gets dunked in a cup of water for one minute. I'm not sure what this stuff is made out of but it looks like silica gel. Oooohhh-aaaaahhhh. A freshly out of the mold ball. Reminds me of the Earth. We made five balls today. The colors were so Neon that the light kept bouncing off them and I couldn't get a good picture.And if you look at the far left ball...the one that looks like the Earth you will notice it's a little flat on the top. Well hey, the Earth was flat at one time wasn't it?

Oooohhh and here is my new toy that I got for Christmas from my incredible husband. It's for all of the scrapbooking I do and it's called the Cricut Cutter by Provo Craft. I have been wanting one for a while and since we don't go out much, I have to find things at home to keep me busy. Can I just say I love this machine. (Provo Craft people-please feel free to send me any of your cartridges for a test drive or any of your products for that matter. LOVE THEM!) This really has to be one of the easiest machines to use. The sensor in it can even tell where the last cut was so that you don't waste any paper when you do your next cut. Need to use up those scrap papers...no problem. Just type in the size of paper you have and Cricut automatically configures how the request will fit best on the paper. How cool is that. I'm going to be doing a scrapbooking class with our homeschool group mom's soon. The only drawback to the Cricut is that the cartridges for different fonts are very expensive so I'll be using this one included cartridge for a while. But my birthday is in August if anyone would like to contribute to my habit.

So what does my Cricut do besides having the cute little Cricket logo on the right? It cuts letters and shapes for my scrapbooking. In the past I have used tons of stickers for titles and such but always had trouble finding the right size or color. Well no more. I can make letter from 1- 5 inches tall, flowers, shadow letters and a whole host of other things.
This is the little screen where you type in what you want it to cut. I was practicing with the "I Love Cricut!" See the very cool keypad that comes with each cartridge. Here it is cutting the "I Love Cricut" letters.

Some random letters, it's your day and the shape of the sun that I just cut out.

And a thank you to my sweet husband who always thinks of me and tries his very best, every single day to make me happy.
And the I Love Cricut letters. Yes, I know the "U" in Cricut got cut off. I was practicing on scrap paper and cut the paper a bit too short. Still learning. Oh and look how nice the grubby little fingerprints on the table photographed.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Overnight French Toast and Sock Monkeys

Merry Christmas!
What a whirlwind few days. On Christmas Eve we had to be at church at 2:30 so that the kids could rehearse for the Christmas Pageant. Tae and Morgan were both Angels and sang "Angels We Have Heard On High." Tae even managed to not light saber the baby Jesus this year. They both did great. I was in charge of the angels and we had a few costume mishaps. Their wings were made out of cardboard and about 3 minutes before the kids were supposed to sing, all of the angel wings were splitting apart. I managed to find three sets of wings from last year and quickly replaced them. Nuts-two more broke. I reached around to the Kiosk and grabbed sticky name tags that we use for the visitors at our church. A couple of quick tears and I had some great tape. No one even noticed the small red stripes going down the back of the wings. Whew! Crisis averted. We headed home to a big crock pot of soup and some bread that I had made earlier in the day. This is Tae looking ever so thrilled to be in the pageant. I'm not really sure why Baby Jesus is wrapped in a pink blanket. Morgan does not like dresses but knows that I get one holiday a year where she does not have a choice but to wear a dress. She wouldn't have chosen a dress to wear but at least put this on without complaint this year. Our friend Kate gave us this dress and it had a matching coat. Of course I had to run out to buy her new dress shoes. Geeez-I wish these kids feet would stop growing. Isn't she gorgeous in Red? And here's me with Morgan, Tae and Patrick. Morgan has a need lately to look goofy in pictures and Patrick refused to take off his coat. Tae was screaming "You're squishing my head". And the three kids posing nicely because they have to and it's Christmas. The kids grandfather, who we call Poppy, came yesterday and is staying until Friday. He was so pleased to see the kids do the pageant but it was hard for him without Larry's mom. One of our Christmas traditions is always to read "The Night Before Christmas." Poppy is reading an article and Patrick is now 12 and bailed on the story. Sniff. But look how cute our dog Stewie is. Oh and hey, I guess I should have gotten Larry some new slippers for Christmas. Nice worn out soles and holes in the bottom. Don't you just love the honesty of pictures? Morgan and Larry had a nice debate over whether it was "Donner" or "Donder" in the story TNBC.
Larry gave the kids their baths (well not Patrick who's twelve) and I headed back to church for the 9pm Candlelight service. I was doing a reading this year that was just lovely. I didn't leave church until 10:30 and raced home. I did not have one Christmas present wrapped. UGH. Larry helped me wrap and we both dropped into bed by midnight. I have a really good husband. He even cooked the overnight French toast- another tradition that we have every year. His sister Eileen gave us the recipe and it is now a family favorite. Everything gets put together the night before, the French Toast soaks overnight and gets cooked in the morning. It makes a delicious caramelly sauce on the bottom and when you flip it over it drips down the sides and YUMM! There are no calories in this breakfast I'm sure of that.
Ahh yes, and the Sock Monkeys? Well here they are. My brand new slippers that my daughter picked out for me. You remember sock monkeys, we all had them. Those are my feet above. Hmmm-I'm very glad my legs looked shaved. They are very comfortable slippers and I'm a total knockout in these slippers and my pink fuzzy robe with the zipper up the front. My husband just loves this outfit. NOT!
Larry also got me a Cricut scrapbooking cutter. Love it!!!! I really didn't expect it and when I asked him why he got it for me he said, "Because I like to make you happy." That is a good man. I'll post more on the Cricut cutter later. And for the past years, ever since Tae could speak (and that was the second he got off the plane from Korea) he has been asking for a Guitar. Well, he was beyond giddy this year when he opened it up. Just look at that face.
Uncle Kevin and his girls came for dinner today. Kevin is an awesome musician and has just finished his first CD. He was happy to tune both Tae and Morgan's guitar (they both got one) and give them a few quick lessons. Tae played and serenaded us all day. Notice the fabulous stickers he put on the guitar. A purple heart with wings....and a skull and crossbones.Strummin' along.
And even though the holidays have been hard on Dad, we all managed to laugh. It was so good having him visit. The kids were so happy to spend time with him and it was a nice reminder of how important family is. Now if you look over my Father in law's right shoulder you will see our backdoor sliders.......full of kids handprints and dog snot. Guess I missed that when I was cleaning but geee-look how nicely it photographs. Don't you just love the honesty of pictures?

Uncle Kevin played the kids guitar for everyone and sang some songs. That's me in the pink shirt, Poppy's having a nap to the far left. I think one of the songs was called Shiny Silver Cup and another Hairy Dog. Kevin let me listen to some of the music on his CD. Larry had a hard time understanding the lyrics so Kevin will send those to him.
And of course here is Morgan playing her guitar. Notice the sparkle emanating from the guitar. We got her the one with the silver flame because after all....she is a rock star!
Merry Christmas Everyone!