Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Break Screen Time Coupons

On a "normal" day, about 3 seconds after we get home from school, my 2 boys are asking to play video games.  We have a variety of games on various devices and some are educational.  But Spring Break is coming up and I don't want them to spend the entire week sitting around staring at a screen.

So I came up with a screen time coupon plan.  Apparently, many other moms have similar issues because I googled "screen time coupons" and got a lot of results.  I printed the coupons from this post on A Thrifty Mom. 

I made a sign with the Screen Time Rules:
1.  You must earn a coupon for screen time before watching TV, playing Wii, using the iPad, or using the laptop.  (In other words, quit asking every 5 seconds if you can play video games!!)
2.  You must use a timer to monitor your screen time.  (I placed one by the TV and one by the computer because I'm pretty sure my boys completely lose track of time once they start playing.)
3.  Watching TV before bed with Daddy is "free" - no coupon required.  (They've been watching TV while eating their bedtime snack every night since they were born, so I decided not to mess with that.)
4.  There will be a limit of 2 hours of screen time per day regardless of how many coupons you've earned.  (My oldest is the type to save up the coupons and use them all at once.)
5.  Watching someone else watch TV or play games COUNTS as screen time.  (Mommy's on to you!)
6.  Extra screen time can be awarded by Mom or Dad for good behavior.  Screen time coupons can be taken away for bad behavior.

Then I set up some ways for them to earn the screen time which I also posted on the sign.  They'll get 20 minutes of screen time every day just for doing their normal, expected chores (put your laundry in the hamper, dirty dishes in the sink, pick up your toys, that sort of thing.)  They can earn 10 minutes of screen time for every 30 minutes spent playing outside, reading a book, or writing a story or letter.  They can also earn screen time by doing extra chores or helping out in some way.  These situations will have to be evaluated on an individual basis. 

I have a feeling that this will result in more work for me because I'll have to police the situation carefully, but I think it will be worth it.  Hopefully they'll realize just how much time they spend in front of a screen.  And hopefully they'll have a reason to come up with something else to do that doesn't involve a screen.  AND maybe I'll even get some help tackling the closet-clean-out project I have planned!

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Birthday Cake Pops

Gather supplies: chocolate cake mix, chocolate frosting, almond bark, sprinkles, sliced almonds

Bake cake and let it cool.

Let your kids loose smashing up the cake and mixing most of the can of frosting in it.  Then shape the mixture into balls.

Lick the deliciousness off your hands.

Put the cake balls in the freezer for about 15 minutes while you clean all the chocolate off the floor.  Melt the almond bark. 

Dip the stick in the melted almond bark and then insert it in the cake ball.  Dip the cake ball into the almond bark to coat completely.  Decorate with sprinkles and sliced almonds.

Enjoy your "bird" cake pops!

I thought of all these bird-themed ideas for my own birthday party.  In addition to bird cake pops, I was going to make spaghetti "nests" with meatballs "bird eggs" for dinner.  I was going to decorate with bird nests, bird cages, bird houses, eggs, twigs, etc.  But in the end I decided that it would be more relaxing to order Chinese take-out and let the kids have fun with the cake pops.  It might not be a perfectly styled bird-theme party, but we enjoyed ourselves!  And then we had family game night and the kids beat the parents.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lucky Leprechaun Dinner

The kids were elated with our dinner tonight: a fruit rainbow with a pot of gold (homemade chicken nuggets) at the end!

For dessert we had rainbow Jello.  I had seen on Pinterest that if you layer blue, yellow, and red Jello, it should make a rainbow because there will appear to be orange and green between the layers.  I couldn't get a good picture, but I would say it sort of worked. 

There appeared to be a green layer between the blue and yellow. But I didn't really see an orange layer between the yellow and red. Maybe it's due to the fact that I used sugar free Jello for the red and yellow and regular blue Jello? Or possibly, it has to do with how long the Jello sets before adding the next layer. Doesn't matter. The kids thought the Jello was fabulous. Especially when I added a whip cream "cloud" to the top.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I had so much fun making these cookies because I got to make all those colors of frosting!  Yes, there were a lot of little bowls and icing tips to wash afterward, but the happy little rainbows were worth it.

My son Aaron enjoys using all the crayons in his box, too.  Here's a cute drawing he brought home from school Friday.

And here's a felt shamrock pin I made last year.  Instead of outlining the shapes with beads, I wish I had filled them in entirely.  Guess that means I get to make another one.

Stay tuned for our St. Patrick's day dinner featuring more rainbows!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Today's Project: Felt Bird Brooch

I made this pin out of felt, ribbon, embroidery floss, and seed beads today.

For a cardstock pattern, I cut out the bird, the wing, and the circle shapes from my Cricut Art Philosphy cartridge.  Then I taped the cardstock shapes to the felt and cut them out.  (Cut two of the circles.)  I sewed a 1-inch bar pin to one of the circles, and set the other circle aside.

Next, I sewed the wing onto the bird while attaching the seed beads.  This part took a while, and you could just sew on a plain felt wing, but I'm partial to beads.  I also sewed on a single bead for the eye.

I cut 2 lengths of ribbon, made them into loops, and secured them to the circle that I had set aside earlier.  Then I lined up my felt bird so that the ribbons would become his tail, and sewed the bird to the circle.

Finally, I blanket-stitched the two circles together and my brooch was complete!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Western Cookies

I'm getting together with some friends tonight to work on our scrapbooks.  The theme for the evening is "western" so I decided to make some cookies to go with the theme.  Yee-haw!

Usually I just make a bunch of one design of cookie, but I wanted to try making a variety of designs that fit the theme.  The only western-ish cookie cutters I owned were the cactus and the star.  I had to draw the horseshoe and the boot onto circle and scalloped square cookies.

When making a variety of designs, it helps to limit your colors. This saves on cleanup later and helps the cookies look coordinated when displayed together.  You also have to have a plan so you know about how much icing to make in each color.

Here are the steps I went through to make these:
1. Black outline icing with #3 tip: Outline stars, cactus, and circles. Draw horseshoe and boot outline.     2.  Grey & black flood icing in squeeze bottles: Flood stars.  Flood horseshoes and, while grey icing is still wet, add drops of black flood icing.      3. White outline icing with #1 tip: Outline scalloped squares.     4.  White flood icing in squeeze bottle: Flood scalloped squares and circles.     5. Green and black flood icing in squeeze bottles: Flood cactus.  While green icing is still wet, add drops of black flood icing.     6.  Red flood icing in squeeze bottle:  Flood boots.      7.  Dry overnight.     8.  Black outline icing with #1 tip:  Add SHERIFF letters and details on boots.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Plants vs. Zombies Cookies

Have you ever played Pop Cap Games' Plants vs. Zombies?  It's highly addictive and my boys absolutely love it.

Last year, Spencer asked me to make him Plants vs. Zombies cookies to take to school and I accepted that challenge!

I used a circle cookie cutter to make the Zombie faces.

Step 1: Outline the head, eyes, and mouth with black icing (decorating bag and #3 tip).
Step 2: Flood the eyes with white icing (squeeze bottle).
Step 3: Flood the mouth with black icing (squeeze bottle).  Do 3 or 4 at a time and, while the icing is still wet, drop in some white icing (squeeze bottle) for the teeth.
Step 4: Flood the face with green icing (squeeze bottle).  Do 3 or 4 at a time and, while the icing is still wet, draw the nostrils, eyebrow and cheek line with the black icing (squeeze bottle).
Step 5: Drop some black icing on the eyes for the eyeballs once the white has dried.

Eat them before they eat your brains!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Happy Place

I baked cookies today.  I love to bake cookies.  See that smile on my face?

Things that make me happy in this photo: my Albion shirt, my Michigan map apron, my red Kitchenaid mixer, a can of Diet Coke, my owl candle holder, sunshine outside the window, and COOKIE DOUGH!

 My best friend LOVES cookie dough almost as much as I do.  And I like to wipe my floury hands on my apron and show the world what a messy baker I am.

My work here is done.  And my kitchen smells amazing.

Stay tuned and I'll show you the finished decorated cookies in a few days!

Friday, March 2, 2012

{Pinterest Success} Braided Headband from a T-Shirt

Have you heard of Pinterest?  It's a wonderful website that helps you visually organize all of the web pages you want to bookmark onto a virtual pin board.  It has a social component as you can follow friends' "boards" and see their "pins".  There's also a search function if you're looking for something specific.

Most people I know on Pinterest have collected pages and pages of inspiration but have not yet had a chance to actually do anything with the inspiration.  Well.  Today I actually did a project I found on Pinterest and I liked how it turned out!
Here is the pin that caught my eye today.

Today was one of those days when I just didn't seem to have the time to wash my hair in the morning.  It's getting quite long and I really wanted a headband to keep it out of my face.  But, the majority of my headbands don't actually work.  Does anyone else have a collection of useless headbands?

I thought about how my favorite headbands are the fabric ones with a little bit of stretch, like a favorite t-shirt.  And the light bulb went off!  I hopped on Pinterest and searched "headband t-shirt" and several options popped up. I chose to follow the tutorial from the Make It & Love It blog that several people had pinned.

Luckily, I just happen to have several old t-shirts that are too short for my tastes.  I chose to use the red one with the white stripes.
Collection of too-small t-shirts to repurpose
I didn't take any pictures of the process because I was busy watching Downtown Abbey on Netflix while I happily braided my headband.  But here is the finished product!
My new headband that used to be a t-shirt!
The tutorial was well written and easy to follow.  I enjoyed learning the 5-strand braiding technique and will probably make more of these.  My only complaint is that the headband turned out a bit bulky at the base of my head where it was all joined together.  But that probably has more to do with my clumsy sewing technique than the tutorial itself.

So what have you made from Pinterest lately?