Sunday, September 09, 2018

Gussying up a 2-inch binder

Well it's back to school time again.  Time for those long school supply lists and new clothes, and backpacks, and science calculators... you get the drift.  Anyway, now that I'm the proud owner of some teens and tweens, we have added 2-inch binders added to our lists of things we need. The required 2-inch binders the school requested are plain, boring, and usually only available in two colors (black or white), as opposed to the 1 1/2 in binders, which come in every pretty and/ or sparkly pattern in the known universe. Why the larger binders don't get the same fancy treatment? We may never know.  The girls had the thought last year that we really needed to gussy up our binders by personalizing them. We ended up having so much fun doing it again this year, I thought we'd post about it.  

School Binders - all gussied up and personalized
All you will need for this project is a plain, plastic sleeve binder (of any size), and then scrapbook paper, magazines, old calendars, print outs from the computer, stickers, anything your heart desires. This doesn't have to be just for school kids.  I ended up using this same technique on some plain 3-ring binders for my work as well and they are so pretty to look at now!

I let the girls first pick a "theme" for the binder. We used scrapbook paper in pretty colors to use as a background.  My middle loves leopards, so her was pretty easy to start with. 

She LOOOOOVES leopards.
We ended up using some computer print-outs we had left over from her leopard party, and that strip in the middle binding area is a leopard paper sack lunch bag (we had used them as favor bags at the party). We had an extra one of lying around that we trimmed up and it was put to good use.

Leopards on the inside too! She can put school papers behind the leopard print out, and fun drawings she did in front of it.
Don't forget the inside sleeves!  More leopards and to top it off, we found a leopard pencil holder pouch, which finished off the look.  The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!

a few different pages of scrapbook paper in coordinating colors

The other two girls originally just picked pretty scrapbook paper in coordinating colors the first year.

My youngest wanted shades of pink on the inside (but of course), with sparkling folders and a pink pencil pouch to tie everything together.

These folders are a fun way to add some pizzazz and fun into your work or school day.

This year we got a little more fancy!  We still used the scrapbook paper as a background, but added pictures according to the new themes they picked this year.  For my youngest, she loves all things having to do with husky dogs.  Check our her folder this year:

Husky dogs make adorable binder covers
We used an old calendar.  Okay not even an old one, it was THIS YEAR's calendar, and we used all the months up to August.  We also used the tiny thumbnails on the back of the calendar and used the tiny pictures as both the seam down the middle of the binder, and the pockets on the inside. To help keep the smaller pics from sliding around, we taped them to some scrapbook paper to keep them in place under the plastic sleeve.
The scrapbook paper keeps the little pictures in place
Not to mention the scrapbook paper makes it so much easier to slide the smaller pictures down into sleeve area, which can be a tight fit.  It looks adorable now.

And my oldest had immersed herself in all things K-pop (Korean pop music) culture, k-drama, etc. and wanted groups like BTS, NCT, Red Velvet, and Stray kids all over her binder.

I'm sure if your kids are in the BTS "army" right now they are probably gasping all the air out of the room.
Meanwhile, her binder edge she thought some of the band logos would fit nicely down the side.

She was so excited to find these vertical logos for the groups
Even my somewhat boring work folders received a make over too and they are quite enjoyable to look at now throughout the work week. It's a win win for all.  

Such a nice thing to look at during the work day!
 So all and all we had a great time, we used recycled materials or things we had on hand to personalize and gussy up the folders for school.  If they change their mind or want to add to the folder throughout the year it totally up to them and easily adjustable! Happy creating to you and yours!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Easy Ham Egg and Cheese Cups

When life gives you an extra dozen eggs, you make... lemonade?  Well, close, you make something for dinner with eggs of course.  Something new, but quick and easy (preferably), and so you suddenly remember one of those cooking videos that fly by on Facebook every once in a while and you think yes, I am going to TRY that tonight! This recipe couldn't be any easier, with three main ingredients and some seasonings to taste. Make them for breakfast before school!  Make them for dinner! I give you: Ham, Egg, and Cheese cups.

Ham, cheese and egg cups, a quick easy breakfast or a super fast dinner!

You will need (brace yourself here)
Shredded cheese
Muffin pan (greased with cooking spray)
Salt/Pepper/Seasoned salt
Parsley (optional) 

Muffin tin pan, greased
Place slices of ham (we had thin sliced lunch meat) in the bottom of a greased muffin tray. I only did one slice this first time out, Next time I will use bigger pieces or maybe 2 pieces of ham

The girls thought these looked like flowers.  Next time I'll add two pieces to make a slightly larger holder for the egg
Sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese in the bottom of the ham cups.

Then crack one egg in each muffin space

The eggs filled the muffin cup all the way to the top, luckily they stayed in place

Season with salt, pepper or seasoning salt

I wasn't sure if these would be well liked, so we just made a few to try out the first time
Bake for 12-15 minutes.

That's it!

(Note the video stated 15 minutes, which left us with almost solid yokes, while reading the printed recipe said 12-15 minutes).  Next time I will back off the time a few minutes to get a slightly runnier center.  

Baked ham egg and cheese cups

Add a sprinkle of parsley to make it loo fancy... and there you have it. 

Pop these babies out of the muffin tin and plate up with some biscuits and fruit.

Pretty and delicious! Not to mention low carb and keto friendly too if you eat them alone.

I was surprised even my child that is not that crazy about eggs ate this and asked for a second one! 

The ham baked up nicely into a thin, crispy "shell" around the edge, and it tasted very much like prosciutto.

15 minutes was a little too long for our liking but the flavors were great. Next time 12 or 13 minutes I'm thinking.
This was so easy the kids want to make it by themselves next time, so that's a big win win for us.  Besides being great for breakfast or a quick dinner, these would also be great if you are cooking for a crowd.  Just pop in several muffin trays and you could be cooking a dozen breakfasts at once!  Enjoy!

Monday, July 02, 2018

How to Make Fluffy Slime

I could have also easily titled this blog post "How to make your 10-year-old super happy on her summer break".  I don't know if you have any small fry underfoot this summer, but my youngest has been asking me non stop to make "slime".  Ah, slime. It sounds so appetizing, no? Not just any slime though mind you, she wanted to make the most super dee-duper fluffiest slime in the known universe! If your kids watch any YouTube videos at all, they will have most likely come across at least one form of a "slime" recipe or another, if not millions of them.

Slime - Fluffy squishy fun for all!
It's pretty, it's colorful, it feels fun and funky -  and sometimes makes fart noises...what's not to love? Plus when you whip some up, it feels a bit like a science experiment. Luckily my 10-year old had done some "extensive" online  research before presenting me with the ultimate slime recipe (in her opinion) that was decidedly the fluffiest on the internet.  We found our recipe here on YouTube and thanks to Gillian for the great how to video.

Slime can be made with some things that you can find around your house, and then some things you might have to pick up at the store.  These are the things we used for our first time recipe: 

The ingredients for super fluffy slime

Elmer's glue (1/2 cup)
Shaving cream (1/2 cup)
Corn starch (1 tablespoon)
Food Coloring (few drops)
Hand lotion (few squirts)
Hand soap (original called for foaming hand soap we didn't have -  two squirts)

*Also it's good to note we used all glass containers so we could sanitize them properly after (as opposed to plastic that might absorb the soap residues)   

First thing you want to do is get 1 cup of water in a glass measuring cup and add 1 teaspoon of Borax.  Stir with a metal spoon until dissolved and set aside.

Next you want to get 1/2 cup of glue.  I didn't want to use our measuring cups we cook with, so we measured out in this glass mini bowl what a 1/2 cup would be first, so we knew where to pour to make a 1/2 cup.

We started blogging on the 2nd batch of slime, hence the already used bowls

Next you want to add a 1/2 cup of shaving cream.

shaving cream expands all fluffy-like and this was our second batch where we were making a bit more
After that, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.

I was okay using our measuring spoons because cornstarch is normally in the food category
 Mix together those three ingredients until blended well

We used a metal spoon while mixing in the glass bowl
Now you want to add a few squirts of hand lotion. We were told on the YouTube video this would make the slime "stretchy"

Just two squirts of hand lotion

The next part of the recipe called for a few squirts of foaming hand soap, which we didn't have, so we just put in a couple squirts of regular hand soap, which made it smell very nice.

We had soft soap on hand
Mix together until smooth

RESIST the attempt to believe this is whipped cream.  Do not lick the spoon.  Do not lick the spoon!
Now you can add whatever food coloring you want.

The first time she did pink, the 2nd batch of slime she picked blue.

And blend until the color starts to come out.

Now here's the most "science-y" part of the experiment.  You want to slowly add the borax/water mixture 1 tablespoon at a time into the bowl.

And as soon as your start to stir, the things in the bowl start to come together a bit.

Then you add a little more borax water... and a ball starts to form

Add a little more and it starts pulling away from the bowl and onto itself. At this point you can pick it up and start working it a bit like bread dough

We added a little more of the borax liquid and she was stretching and forming it into a ball.

A few more drops of the liquid and it started to get really shiny and come together pretty good!

Wow an official ball of fluffy slime!!
Success!  One of the fun things to do with slime is to poke your fingers in it like you are making some focaccia bread and it makes this marvelous "sucking" sound when you pull your fingers out of it.

Blue fluffy focaccia slime.
We had made a pink batch before we started blogging, and that one got the finger treatment as well!

It also looks fun as a perfect rounded ball, it can take on many shapes!

Also, when you tear it apart, there are supposed to be many fluffy bubbles in the middle.

Light and fluffy!!
Ooo and the most fun thing about fluffy slime is the way it can stretch "a million miles" according to most 10-year-olds.

Stretchy, fluffy, just like taffy
I mean, come on now, look how happy and proud she is that she made her own fluffy slime!!

Then, she wanted to know what would happen if she mixed a little of the pink and blue together, would it make purple??

Adding two colors together, at first they stayed in stripes, eventually they blended.
She wanted a brighter purple, so we added some food coloring right to the small ball and she worked it in until the color got a bit darker

Pink, purple, and blue fluffy slime!
We were also told to store these in an air tight container or a Ziploc plastic bag where you squish all the air out of it and store it in the fridge to make it last longer.  

It's also a good idea to wash your hands before and after playing with the slime and definitely keep it off the ground or anywhere it could attract hair, dirt, or crumbs (see where my hate of all things play doh related in one of my first ever blog rants.. here) to keep it at it's fluffy, slimy best!  

All and all this was a fun little craft and she loved every second of it.  It has been two days since we created "the slime" and she is still playing with the stuff.  Hooray for easy fun summer activities that keep the girls busy and hold their attention.  Yay!


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Fairy Gardens

Well the super wet rainy season for this La Nina year has finally ended, and the sun is out!  Many Washingtonians wander outside, start squinting at that giant golden orb in the sky, and their thoughts immediately turn to planting flowers and gathering veggie starts for the gardens!  I have always had in the back of my mind that when the girls were old enough, we would do fairy gardens.

I'm in love with all things tiny!!
Fairy gardens are surprisingly not cheap!  You can buy cute adorable houses and tiny fairy accessories, but they add up quick, especially when you multiply them by three. We actually gathered some of our supplies over a year before we started, hit clearance sales, used coupons, and stashed away a nice little assembly of all things little fairies might need to make their spaces adorably cute. You can also make your own houses out of sticks, natural materials, buttons, thimbles, anything your imagination can come up with.

First you have to decide what what kind of theme you want for your garden.  You could do the seaside, camping, tea party... the options are endless.  We opted for three little enchanted gardens with houses, rivers, bridges, flowers, and even had enough items left over to do a little camping garden. So stinking cute!

The other thing you have to decide is what kind of container your fairies are going to live in.  Pinterest has a great assortment of fabulous ideas you can use as a spring board for your own imagination. Big flower pots, bird baths, wheelbarrows, even broken flower pots.  The other thing you have to decide is space.  Where are your fairies going to live?  Front porch?  Front yard?  Our little neighborhood is pretty tame crime wise, but I still didn't want any of our little fairies or homes or miniature items to wander off (mostly because our house is next to the school bus stop), so we choose to place them in the back yard. 

We started with three containers, large, medium, and small.  To make it less heavy we filled the bottom half of the container with Styrofoam and then covered the rest in dirt.

Styrofoam makes the containers light and easy to move if needed.
I had this idea to place a similar, smaller container on top of the biggest container.  That way two fairy gardens could take up a small amount of space and at the same time be more visually appealing.  I had a third medium sized container in front, giving it a stair step look, where you could see all the fairy lands at the same time. 

I got these "aged" bronze looking pots (though they are plastic) at home depot.  They looked expensive though!

Once we got the dirt in place, and we had purchased the flowers (we tried to buy small flowers that would make it look "to scale"), it's a good idea to place the items around your pot (plants still in their original pots) to make sure all the plants and fairy accessories will fit.

This was so fun! We did quite a bit of rearranging to see which flowers should go with each fairyland.
So my oldest wanted the top floor (penthouse, it's the best).  She opted for a cute little flower house, swing set, a mini white picket fence, and a wheelbarrow full of tiny flowers.  She also wanted to do a rock path from the house to the edge of the fence (which we add later).

This turned out so charming.  The picket fence was flexible and bent around the edge nicely.
My middle two wanted to "share" the bottom pot.  We found a little house that said "Believe" on the door and planted flowers all around.  We used little decorative marbles to make a "river" through the property and placed a flowery bridge over the "water". 

We happened to find these super cute sister fairies holding a little kitty and a flowering bench to sit on.

They thought these two fairies were them with our cat Henry.  Perfect!
The middle level was deemed the picnic, play ground, tea and cookies area for the fairy neighborhood.  We found a little metal table that was black, and decided to spray paint it sparkly purple. Better!

The little gazebo, birdbath, flower lamp post and tiny hedgehog make things extra sweet
Later we got really creative and placed the tiniest tea services you've ever seen (we coated that with some sealer clear spray paint to help with weathering), complete with goodies. We also thought the seesaw and stepping stones were too bland, so we added some color and more sealant.

Yay... color is good!
We also found some super tiny, mini terracotta pots and superglued tiny flowers (found at Hobby Lobby) into bouquets and then glued the bouquets into the pots. 

We did a few pots, and even a wheel barrow of tiny plastic mini flowers
Now will all the little fairy gardens in a row up against our steps, you can see all the pops of color and the stacked pots let you see more of the fairy action all at once.

Fairy Gardens are the best thing ever!
Vivian also went back and added the stone path from the front door of her flower house.

We bought the small stones at a craft store in the vase section
We were having so much fun with these gardens (and we had a few items left over, like a 2nd bridge, that we decided we wanted to do a camping themed fairy garden.

I'm so in love with this little fairy campsite!
A few more tiny plants, a blue marble "river" with canoe, a camp fire, and in case you didn't notice, three enchanted river mermaids that happen look like each of my daughters.

Just so sweet!
Not to be out done, they found two fairies to represent my husband and I.  Of course I'm reading a book, and we were thrilled to find there was a boy fairy to be daddy.  Since I knew my hubby would never just lay in the dirt on his stomach, I used my crochet skills to whip up a tiny picnic blanket for us to hang out on. 

It was night time when I finally had a chance to make the blanket, but I couldn't wait to see it.
Speaking of the fireplace.  My youngest and I made it together.  We gathered sticks, twigs, and small rocks from our own yard.  We hot glued them to a mason jar lid one at a time.  We also cut or broke tiny twigs in the "logs" for the fire.

This was a fun project with my youngest.  Every campsite needs a fire!
Here's the full campsite with fire pit, picnic blanket (doesn't the hubby fairy look more content?), leaf tent, and tiny apples for snacking!

I really want to shrink down and go camping here.

I know you must be thinking to yourself... How could one make this little camp site any better?  Well, I'll tell you.  How about a tea light "flame" candle that makes it look like a real camp fire at night?!

That's right!  We went all out!
Here's the whole charming little scene by campfire light...

Cant you just hear the crickets?

The little flicker of the battery operated teat light made it look like a real flickering camp fire.

As the summer went on the flowers started to fill out

I love how they started draping over the sides of the pots
The pink flowers on the 2nd tier started covering the gazebo and made it look like the roof was made of flowers.

How can you not love your own flower-roofed gazebo?
We even found some tiny white beads lying around and decided to make little marshmallow roasting sticks for the campfire area. 

All in all we had so much fun making fairy gardens. I am not ashamed to admit that I had just as much, if not MORE fun than my girls working on this project.

So grab the closest kid (or willing participant) near you and go make one of these this spring. They are fun to plan, fun to implement, and exciting to see the changes through the season as the flowers bloom!

Happy Planting!

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