Thursday, May 29

Heidi's Treasure Cake

Happy birthday to Heidi... a month ago! Two weeks after the fact, we had a "Pirates & Princesses" birthday party, for which I made a cake. And two weeks after THAT fact, I'm finally posting it here. : )

Initially, I'd thought about making a castle cake. But then figured a treasure chest might be easier, plus that seemed to fit better with both princesses AND pirates. Baked the batter in a loaf pan... and for once, the domed surface I always get on my cakes was a GOOD thing. (Well, actually I did doctor the shape up a little using some pieces from a second loaf pan of cake I baked.) Rather than making and then coloring frosting to be brown, I was smart and efficient for a change and just used store-bough chocolate frosting. The "gold" lock and stripes are not made of peanut butter (more than one person asked me that) but rather of regular white frosting colored with yellow, red, a bit of green, and who knows what other colors. Oh, and the jewelry is not edible. But the sand is! Also known as brown sugar. It's a trick I thought I'd learned from my mother, Cake Decorator Extraordinaire, but she was up here for the party and firmly maintained she'd never heard of doing that. Oh well, I learned it from somewhere else then...

And here's a side view. Since the main text says nothing about birthdays or five years, I figured I'd put a little "H5B" on the sides, in keeping with how Heidi likes to write birthday card messages. (For example, Happy Birthday Lucy is simply HBL.)

Tuesday, May 13

Kids' Coat Rack Shelf Thing

Ken's finally home again, arrived late Thursday night. Then, Saturday, we had a "pirates & princesses" birthday party for Heidi, but since I haven't downloaded those pictures yet, I'm posting another past project, staying with the rain theme from last week: a shelf I made, with hooks for the girls coats and umbrellas. This is no woodworking masterpiece or home dec showcase piece, but that's kinda why it makes me so happy. It's not "perfect" but it's "good enough." I made it without endless planning and researching, just during an afternoon after decluttering our entry and realizing we really needed a spot the girls could reach to hang their coats. And best of all, I only used stuff I already had around the house:
  • piece of wood from the odds-n-ends pile in the garage; not really wide enough to be a "shelf" but good enough
  • some fabric from my free stash to cover the stains, etc on the wood; not really what I would've picked if purchasing but good enough
  • some L-brackets bought for a project about 10 years ago which was never even started; not super sturdy but good enough (esp. considering the dinky width of the shelf)
  • leftover hooks from the coat rack/cubby thing hanging higher and to the left of this little one (it's hard to see in the mini-picture of it here, but the 6 hooks along the front had seemed too busy to me, especially since there were already 8 along the back, so I only attached 2 when I assembled it. And surprise, surprise, 2 years later I was able to find the other 4 I hadn't attached!); more than good enough, they're great!
What I'd really love to do is make a coat rack/cubby thing that matches the one we already have except with 3 cubbies ('cause we ain't having a 4th kid!). I salivate just thinking of the measuring and sawing and routing, oh the routing, that would be required. But by the time I actually get that done, the girls will all be tall enough to reach the IKEA one we already have or maybe even off in homes of their own by then! So the dinky, thrown-together shelf it is! : )

Tuesday, May 6

Slicker Suzie

This is Day 9 (of 11 total) of Ken being out of town. I have put almost all thoughts of "making stuff" out of my head, concentrating instead on surviving a week-and-a-half of solo parenting and making sure my kids are clothed, fed, and generally happy (including my one-year-old with chickenpox. Yes, chickenpox. Which she got from me. So it's really my own fault, but that's a whole different post...)

Anyway... I'd still like to post something on this blog. So, in honor of the rainstorm that's going on outside and the simplifying and decluttering that's going on inside (mostly after the girls are in bed!), allow me to introduce you to Slicker Suzie.

What does she have to do with rain? Well, hopefully, that's obvious. I'd thought about making her an umbrella, but with the hat and the coat already, I figured the girl was adequately protected!

And what does she have to do with decluttering? Well, a while back, I was sorting through the linen closet. I found a clothes peg. Made me think of the blog post I'd seen recently (and have no idea of the address anymore, wish I did) where a mom and daughter made cute little clothes peg dolls to give as birthday gifts. Hmm, I should tuck this away somewhere so I can make a little doll... Sort, sort, sort some more. I found two plastic gloves. Not a "pair" of plastic gloves, since that would mean a right and a left. Nope, my two were both lefties, with no righties to be found anywhere. (Which is really quite fitting: In dancing, some people are said to have two left feet. In the same vein, when it comes to housekeeping, I've got two left hands. So it figures that I'd have two left-handed gloves, right?)

Old Karin would have said Gee, I'll just put these right back in the closet. I'm sure I'll find a match someday. And in the meantime, if I pull really hard, I bet I can fit my right hand into one of these. New Karin however said Ooh, I bet gloves are not that expensive at Target, if I decide I even want a new pair. These are getting tossed! Hooray for New Karin. Keep it up!

But New Karin is not yet fully developed and could not toss the gloves without thinking there must be something that they were still good for. Saw the clothes peg. Thought "rain slicker." So when the closet was done, I rewarded myself with a bit of scissors and glue time. With two young helpers at my side, I decided I better scrounge up another peg so they could make a doll too. Wish I had a photo of that one!

Oh, and why Suzie? (Other than the alliteration with slicker?) Because when I was a little girl, I knew exactly what my first daughter's name would be: Suzie. And my second daughter's name? Susanna. Oh yes. Suzie and Susanna. Clearly, I didn't understand much about nicknames at the time...

Friday, May 2

Homemade Playdough

Last week, I came across yet another recipe for homemade playdough and figured it's time to try it. So we assembled our ingredients...
flour, oil, water, salt, cream of tartar, and optional food coloring

started measuring and cooking, from atop our "Learning Tower" pulled up to the counter...

and stirred and stirred. Looked kinda gross and goopy at one point...

but we kept stirring (near the end, "we" turned into "I" because it was way too thick for the girls to stir!), let it cool, and it was ready for play! Well, after we colored half of it pink and the other half purple of course...

One week later and it's still nice and pliable. Seems a little softer than the commercial stuff, but Heidi is in a phase where all she makes is snakes anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter. It's perfect for making snakes of all shapes and sizes...
Heidi (pre-hair-cut) and her "snake forest"

So need an idea for a rainy day? Try this out - it was a lot easier than I thought. (I bet there are recipes out there that don't use cream of tartar if you don't happen to have any. There are also no-cook ones, but I've read that they produce a grainier dough.) One thing I will point out: this uses a whole cup of salt. What's that phrase about rubbing salt in wounds? A couple days ago, Heidi had a little torn hangnail on her finger and cried a little when she first started playing with the stuff. I assume the salt was hurting her cut. Just something to think about if you're going to try this...

Homemade Playdough
2 c. flour
1 c. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 Tbsp. oil
2 c. water
1 tsp. food coloring

Mix ingredients in saucepan over medium heat while stirring constantly. It's done when it starts to leave sides of pan. (It didn't really do this, at least not like I was expecting it to, like bread dough for example. So I just pulled it off when it seemed done. Maybe it wasn't long enough. But it was getting really hard to stir.) Remove from saucepan. Knead for a few minutes when cool enough to touch. Store in covered container.


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