Monday, May 27, 2013

World's Best Paper Airplane - Tutorial

When we have a holiday weekend like this and the girls have some extra time off of school, we like to plan fun activities to help keep them busy.  I had saved this Pinterest pin into my "Kids/science/learning" category a while back, and I am now so glad I did.  We had a blast making (and flying) these super glider airplanes.  When you see something claiming to be "The World's BEST Paper Airplane" you really want to test that theory out and see if they will live up to the hype.

Our Patriotic Paper Airplane:  Cue "Highway to the Danger Zone" music here....
This idea and tutorial came from Christine over at her "I Dig Pinterest" blog.  A step by step tutorial and link to her post will be at the end of this blog entry.  At first we tried the design with plain, blank white 8.5 x 11 inch printer paper.  The first toss had our plane gliding (no joke 25 feet).  What?  Maybe this WAS the world's best paper airplane!

This thing just took off!  We were so impressed.
All three girls got really excited and wanted to color some paper to make "designs" on their plane.  This however turned out not to work... the coloring or weight of the crayons actually made our planes take an immediate nose dive.  No Bueno.

All that beautiful hard at work coloring for nothing.  Boo.
So then we thought of Plan "B".  It was hubby's idea actually but what if we printed off some cute swirl designs on the computer.  That way the airplane would have some color, but no extra weight would really be added.  (Genius I tell you, and that's why I keep him around).  Each girl got to pick her own color and we found a JPEG online (we googled swirls and tried to find large picture files - over 800x800 each).

This ended up working perfectly!  Pink swirls make a pink swirl plane.
Techie tip:  Once you find an image, right mouse click and save it to your downloads folder on your PC.  Once saved, double click on the image and open it up.  Right mouse click and hit print, which will open photo printing wizard.  Hit "next" a few times at the window prompt.  When you get to "layout selection" make sure "full page fax print" is selected and you will see a print preview with your image stretched across the whole page.  Then hit next and it will print out on most of your 8.5x11 printer paper.

Purple swirls made a groovy purple airplane
Now with our newly folded and decorated planes, we headed out to the parking lot to see if they would fly...

On your mark... get set... FLY!!
Those worked great!! They really do float and fly for a very long time.  Here a quick tutorial I did if you're dying to make one of these right now!

First, get a blank (or design printed) piece of 8.5x11 paper and fold in half the long way.

Next, open up your paper and fold the top two corners into the center line to form triangles.


Next you want to fold the entire triangle you made down to make a new triangle.

Next, take the outer corner point of the triangle, and fold it into the center line at an angle.

Do the same thing with the other side. (I flipped it over so you could see they matched)

Next you want to take the little triangle tip that is sticking out of the bottom and fold that up to "seal" in the other folds.

Here's another angle of that

Now you want to fold the whole airplane in half, making sure all the folds go on the outside of the plane.

All that is left is to fold the wings down.  You want the top edge to fold down and line up with the bottom of the plane.

Fold down the other wing the exact same way

The "nose of the plane will have a flat tip.  Here is a shot of the plane from the under side.

After that all you have to do is straighten out your wings and your are ready to throw!

I quickly took these pics for this entire blog post with my cell phone, so I apologize for the lighting/quality . If you want another clear picture tutorial check out Christine's blog where I got the inspiration.  Have fun flying these things.  My girls did not want to stop throwing them.  Great for distance contests at family gatherings, picnics, BBQ's, or even a fun way to spend a rainy day inside.  Enjoy flying the friendly skies.  This really might be the world's best paper airplane design!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Diamond Candles - Review

Well this year for Mother's Day, I received a bit of a surprise.  Mr. D gave me something I had never heard of before called "Diamond Candles".  What girl doesn't love candles... moreover, what girl doesn't love diamonds?

My "diamond candles" candle in the scent of carnival candy
Sure, on the surface it looks like a regular scented candle.  However, the "diamond" part of the title really comes into play when you realize what else this candle can do.   Because hidden inside every candle is a ring!  The ring can be anything from a piece of costume jewelry worth $10, up to a real piece of jewelry worth $100, $1000, or even $5000!  Say WHAT?!  I'm telling you this marketing strategy is GENIUS.  You are telling me there is jewelery hidden in the middle of this candle? Even costume jewelry can be cute. What woman is not going to want to burn that thing down as fast as possible to see what they have won.  It's like a CRACKER JACK BOX for women!  Well without further adieu, let's light this puppy up!  I decided to document my candle/ring unveiling for you.

the lighting of the wick
Now the waiting begins....

burn baby burn...
It's like waiting for water to boil I tell you.  Better yet, it's like waiting outside Mervyns in the dark begging it to "open open open". I was going to do a funny pictorial of me waiting for this candle to burn down.  Me in curlers... waiting.  Me making dinner... gazing at the candle.  Me washing dishes, staring at the candle.  By the way, this candle DOES have a very nice smell.  It is made of all-natural soy and burns pretty cleanly.  Okay, NOW we are getting somewhere.  After one evening, followed by a full day of burning the candle, we are getting much closer to the hidden jewelry!

hooray!  Finally.  Do I spot something gold and sparkly bobbing in the wax??
See that little gold disc 1/3 of the way down on the side of the jar?  Your ring is behind that.  I was mildly relieved that they were not sadists by burying it all the way at the bottom, because that would just be cruel.  I have heard many people (with less patience than I) will take a butter knife and dig that thing out of there the second they get the candle lit.

Ooo shiny thing alert!
I was pretty proud of myself for waiting until the ring started almost floating in the hot wax.  My girls had wanted to see this part so bad, but alas, it was very late by the time the ring actually appeared, and they were already in bed.  Be sure to blow out your candle, as we almost went digging with the flame still lit in our excitement.  Okay so Mr. D helped me fish this thing out with a letter opener.  It was pretty hot, so we had to let it cool down a bit... but LOOK, it's wrapped in gold foil like a piece of CANDY!

It is ring-shaped.  This is a good sign...
Now for the dramatic unfolding...  It's like that Christmas morning feeling.

Can you feel the excitement?

One more turn to go...

Wow, there really IS a ring in there.

Finally you get to the ring.  It's safely stored inside a little plastic bag.  The bag is a little slickery from the wax, but with a little trial and error you can get it out of there.  As you can see, (drum roll please....)

I got an Irish Claddagh ring with a light pink stone.

My, that was thrilling!
So my ring, you could tell right away was a $10 ring.  It was very pretty, a size 6, and actually had some heft to it.  I guess the rings can range from sizes 6-8 typically.  The anticipation and excitement of finding out what the ring would look like, or even what it might be worth, was pretty fun.  I guess if you have a ring with a 14k on the inside of it, it will be worth $100+ and they suggest you get it appraised at that point.

So there you have it.  This ring ended up being too small for one of my fingers and too big for the other one, so my eldest child, upon waking the next morning, immediately wanted to claim this ring as "hers".  I can see where someone would want to immediately order another candle (they have many scents to choose from) and try their luck again on a new ring. They have a facebook page and a pinterest page where you can look and see pictures of other people's finds.  All in all it was a fun experience.  A little disappointing the ring was not my style or size, but the waiting and wondering would make it a fun gift for any woman in your life. If you go in just expecting the costume jewelry it can be great fun.  These are priced about the same as a Yankee candle, and after the ring excitement dies off, you of course, still have a nice big candle to burn and enjoy.

By the way, I was not reimbursed or asked to do this review for compensation.  I simply received this as a gift for Mother's Day and wanted to blog an honest review about it.  :)  Have any of you tried this candle?  What did you get?  Anyone going to try this candle?  Let me know how it turns out.  :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day Prayer

Here's a funny little pre-mother's day story for you:

It's the night before Mother's day and all through the house...

Just kidding.  But seriously, my girls are sitting no less than four feet behind me right now coloring feverishly my Mother's Day pictures and are begging me not to look.  They will then run with their finished masterpieces into their rooms to hide them until tomorrow morning.  I've been instructed NOT to get up too early tomorrow, that they have surprises for me.  I'm intrigued.

My thoughtful and philosophical middle child comes up to me in her jammies and her freshly brushed teeth right before bed and says, "Mama, will you pray for me? Sure honey.  She is often asking me to pray.  Pray that she will have happy dreams.  Pray for people we know that are sick.  She's a very sensitive soul that is always concerned for the welfare of other people.  She also is my deep thinker.  My observer.  My "asker of many questions".  Nothing is more precious (or sometimes entertaining) than the things she comes up with to talk to God about.

So I ask her sweetly... what would you like to pray about honey?

She says quite plainly... Will you pray that I forget this day forever?

Me:  What? (stunned)

Her: Will you pray that I never remember this day for as long as I live?

Me: (blinking and staring blankly, pausing)... what was wrong with today?

Her:  It was HORRIBLE.

Me: WHY was it horrible?  (I was thinking back over the day, she got to sleep in, then we went to my husband's family's mother's day BBQ/potluck where there was tons of food.  Her Grandpa had brought some extra large tricycles to ride, there were cookies, juice, and pop there. When we got home she got to play with a neighbor girl and her sisters, we had easy tuna sandwiches for dinner (her favorite) and she rode our spring horse in the shady back yard while her dad and older sister played a game. We spotted our first hummingbirds zooming around my "birthday tree" that is just coming into bloom with bright pink flowers. Then we all came inside, had homemade strawberry ice cream cones and watched a kid's show and got ready for bed).  In my mind, that sounds like a pretty good day.  But she is very serious.

Her:  Will you pray I never remember this day again.

Me: She is so dramatic and sullen.  Glancing over at my husband who is now in the doorway trying to stifle a giggle from sneaking out of the corner of his mouth.  

Me:  So I ask again... What made today horrible?

Her:  It was hot.  It was boring.  There was nothing to do.

Me: Remember all the fun we had today?

Her:  (now remembering) Oh okay, we had SOME fun... but I didn't like today... mostly because I didn't get to snuggle very much with YOU.

Me:  With me?

Her: Yes.  Please pray I only remember the days I get to snuggle with you.

Me: Wow.  Come on up here honey.  And we snuggled. 

We snuggled a lot. 

Then I secretly prayed that I would never forget this day...

Happy Mother's Day


Monday, May 06, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Sombrero Cookies

Well Cinco de Mayo was yesterday of course, but as fate would have it, my youngest daughter's preschool is doing a few weeks of studying other countries and cultures, and on Tuesday they are "flying" to Mexico .  We are in charge of snack and so I went searching for something we could bring.  I came across the cutest sombrero hat cookies that I knew we would have a blast making them.

Ole'!  Some very festive sombrero cookies.
I got the idea from Kelli over at the Random thoughts of a supermom blog and added a few minor adjustments of my own.  First, gather the things you will need:

Flat round cookies
Container of frosting
Nonpareils or sprinkles
gumdrops (I choose the larger ones)

This one is so easy the kids can help make these!
So in the original post they used store bought sugar cookies.  Since the preschoolers are "visiting" Mexico I thought it would be better to use cookies from Mexico. You can find this box of Serenatas in the Mexican food aisle of the grocery store (we found these at Walmart).  They are large, flat, and very tasty!  The first thing you want to do is scoop some frosting into a zip lock bag  (We are going to create a make-shift piping bag).

You can also use a regular piping bag.
Once you get a bunch of frosting down in the bag.  Squeeze the top together and cut off a small tip in one corner of the bag.

Next pipe a circle of frosting around the edge of the cookie.  It doesn't have to be perfect.

This will get covered with sprinkles

Next, quickly turn the cookie upside down into a shallow plate of spinkles

It feels wrong to dump the cookie in like this at first

Tap it around a bit and make sure the sprinkles are sticking to the line of frosting.  Next pipe a blob of frosting in the center of the cookie.

Gently place a large gumdrop in the center of the blob, pushing down gently so a ring of frosting forms around it.  In the original instructions, they used a very tiny gumdrop, and I thought the proportions looked better with the bigger gumdrop for that "authentic" sombrero look.  By the way, it was hard to find gumdrops in May (are they an Easter thing or something?) But the best place I ending up finding them was in the Winco bulk items section.  They had both the small and large sizes.

Goody goody gumdrops!
Sprinkle a few extra nonpareils  around so they stick to the white ring at the base of the gumdrop.

We chose the gumdrops in the three shades of the Mexican flag: Red, White, and Green

Anyone else feel like playing the Chiapanecas song now? (The Mexican hand-clapping song)
Anyway, we just loved how they turned out and can't wait to bring them tomorrow to preschool.  We are thinking of serving them with some Mexican hot chocolate (hot chocolate with cinnamon in it for the small fry) along with some Spanish translations of simple words, and I think it will be a big hit!  

By the way, even though Cinco de Mayo is now over, these would make a cute and fun craft for the kids after school, or a clever dessert for any upcoming fiesta or taco feed you might have this summer.  Ole'!!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Growing Zucchini in Small Spaces

Alright.  It's happened again.  I've found mind-blowing gardening tips and tricks over at Pinterest.  A few years back for my birthday, my hubby made me a small raised rock garden in our little back yard.  The next year, he added a second one along our fence line.  We have loved experimenting and trying to grow things in our "small but mighty" garden.  We love pretending we are farmers, or better yet, the Ingalls.  One thing that grows for us really well... I'm talking maybe a bit too well, is zucchini.

Some of the bounty from our mini garden - we grow our zucchini BIG around here.
The only trouble with a thriving zucchini plant in a small garden -  is space!  The giant leaves spread out and take up a very large area of our tiny garden, making it a little harder to grow other kinds of veggies. Here's a shot of our garden last August.  You can see the zucchini plants in the middle right behind the girls in the pool (between the corn and strawberries).  It really takes OVER.

The girls love tending our little garden.

So the other night I was perusing Pinterest when I stopped dead in my tracks.  Here was a revolutionary way to grow zucchini (and other summer squashes) in a smaller space.  In a 2x2 space!  What?  I was so excited.  Check it out.

Picture by Jeff from the blog "Our Engineered Garden"

By simply using an inverted (aka upside-down) tomato cage, you can train your zucchini leaves to grow straight up!  This leaves the bottom of the plant (where the zucchini's grow) open and makes it easy to see the fruit growing.  I can't tell you how many times we've pulled back a giant Jurassic sized zucchini leaf and found a gargantuan baseball bat sized tuber!

This was our first giant surprise zucchini the first year of our garden.  We were SHOCKED.
This idea of growing vertical zucchini comes from Jeff over at the blog "Our Engineered Garden" (I had a link here, but the blog is no longer available).  He has amazing gardening techniques I have not even finished reading all of his tips.  The two pictures of the zucchinis in tomato cages posted are from his blog because we are trying this asap and don't have our own pictured results yet. But if it works, it will revolutionize our little garden space!

Picture by Jeff at "Our Engineered Garden"
This is going to be a great experiment.  Apparently, you have to "train" the leaves daily to get them to grow the way you want them.  We put our zucchini start in the ground yesterday and the upside-down tomato cage is in place.  Have any of you done this before? Are any of you going to jump on the experimental band wagon and try this with me? By the way I forgot to mention it also works with a few other varieties of summer squash.  I will dutifully report back to you on our progress throughout the summer.  Oh and if you need a recipe to use all of this bountiful zucchini in, try our delectable baked zucchini fries recipe.  Happy Gardening! 

UPDATE 2014!:  We tried this little technique last year and it worked perfectly.  The leaves grew up and it was so much easier to see the zucchini along the bottom, before they became giant bat-sized monstrosities.  We have already set up our upside-down tomato cages for this years' plants.   Hooray for an experiment that really worked great!

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