Summer Fun

My drive home from work is usually decompress time for me. I think about anything other than work, which is my only rule. I could just sing along with my current playlist, currently the Home soundtrack, or think about what life would be like as a butterfly. It’s quite the varied list! Today, in typical Cleveland fashion, started out sunny and humid, turning suddenly to a torrential downpour. All I could think about was playing in the rain……
I walked in the door and told my family that was the plan. Chiara put on one of her dress-up dresses, informing me that it was her ‘rain dress’. We then grabbed our umbrellas and went outside to splash in puddles. It was so much fun!

Puddle splashing attire

Puddle splashing attire

Tony and I were spinning our umbrellas to fling water at the kids, they were running around beneath their umbrellas, Chiara with her cute cherry blossom and pandas and Arthur with Bumblebee, that’s a transformer for those who don’t know!
Zuko even came out to play for a bit, just running circles around us and shaking water off in every direction.

Zuko loved playing in the rain

Zuko loved playing in the rain

Now that the kids are our of school for the summer, I want to try to take more time to do different things with them. I’ve started a list of things to keep us entertained this summer, which I may or may not make into a fun poster, like my friend Jenna did with her fun fall list, but I’ve got some fun things so far! I’ll try to channel some creativity over the next day or so and come up with something visually appealing!
What about you? Do you have any fun family things you do once school is out?

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Minion Goggles

Originally, I did have a pin for this one. However, my friend Jenna and I completely altered this to suit our own needs so there is no longer an original reference to this craft!

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My friend Jenna asked if I would help her make minion goggles for her daughter’s dance recital. They are dressing as minions for their number and for whatever reason, they didn’t buy the goggles with the costumes. We kicked around several ideas before settling on this one.
We started off with canning lids as the lenses. We tried hot gluing them together, but it didn’t adhere very well to the metal lid.

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I ended up taking a piece of the elastic she had purchased for the bands and used my über basic sewing skills to attach the two lenses, for the double eyed minions anyway.
Figure out the length you need to go around your head, or your child’s head, and give yourself maybe an extra inch to sew.

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Attach the elastic to your lenses, like so.

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We enlisted Tony to draw the eyes, going googly, as he’s the least likely to screw them up.
We also tested a few different methods of attaching the eyes in the lens before settling on a caulking like method.

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Using the insert to the lid to hold the eye in place, I used my hot glue gun to lay a layer of glue around the edge and held it tightly together for a few seconds while it set.
The girls are using the goggles as headbands, that’s why we have eyes in ours.

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This is a pretty weird look, yes?

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Here is a sample of our googly eyed goggles.
Like I said, I will be adding a picture of the girls in costume with the goggles and hopefully they don’t look as weird as we do!
Happy crafting all!

Flowery Teacher Gifts

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Please ignore the slight wilting of the flowers. They did perk back up after a good watering and some sunlight!
This is one of many great teacher gifts that I found on this nifty little site. They had some really cute ideas, so I know I’ll be back!
All you need is two flower pots, some paint, dirt and flowers.

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Start by coloring the bottom of the pot with chalkboard paint. It did take two coats to have really good coverage, but if I can do this, so can you!

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Second step is to paint the rim yellow. After the yellow is dry, add little hash marks like a ruler. Tony insisted on using his tape measure for this step. I couldn’t argue since they are his paints…..
After everything is dry, pot your flower or plant of choice. Then use standard chalk to write your message. The original pinner had “Thank you for helping me grow”, but I couldn’t quite manage that. It’s tough to draw on a round flower pot with chalk!
We made these for two of the best preschool teachers in the world. We were blessed enough to have them for a total of five years between the two kids. We will sure miss them when Chiara moves to kindergarten next year!
Happy end of the school year everyone!

Maple Butter Blondie

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I feel obligated to point out that I am not one of those people who take stunning shots of food! You might have noticed! Maybe it’s just that the food I make, while delicious, was never meant to be photographed…… This is Tony’s all time favorite dessert from Applebee’s, so I knew I’d have to try this recipe!
This delicious recipe came from Get Off Your Butt and Bake.
To make your brownie batter you need:
•1/2 tsp baking powder
•1/8 tsp baking soda
•1/8 tsp salt
•1 cup flour (she said sifted, which I didn’t do)

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Combine these for ingredients first.

•1/3 cup butter, melted
•1 cup packed brown sugar
•1 egg
•1 tbsp vanilla. extract

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•1/2 cup white chocolate chips
•1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Once your butter is completely melted, stir in your brown sugar until it’s well combined. Add your egg and vanilla extract, stir again. Add your flour mixture slowly. Once it is a super thick batter, add your white chocolate chips.

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There was not a lot of batter once it was all said and done, hardly enough to layer the bottom of my 9×9 baking dish.

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The batter tasted good, so onward we go!
Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.

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*A tip from my mistake* The center may seem a little squishy, but do not continue baking or your brownie will be very tough to chew!

On to the sauce part!
•3/4 cup maple syrup (she said to use real maple syrup, but I used the Great Value stuff and it was delicious)
•1/2 cup butter
•3/4 cup brown sugar
•1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Great the maple syrup and add your butter. One butter is melted, add in the brown sugar and stir until it’s all dissolved. Add the walnuts last.

Put your brownie on a plate, scoop some ice cream, drizzle the sauce over the top and enjoy!
As stated, my brownies were a little tough to chew. Round two with this batch led me to crumbling up my brownie, adding a few scoops of ice cream and then sauce.

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It was delicious as well!

Bake on my friends, name on!

Clothes Pin Caterpillars

My dear friend Jenna recently made some clothespin caterpillars with her kids. Check out her crafty-ness!

Salamon's Salamanders

The kids and I went to the dollar store last weekend because I was in the mood to craft. We picked up some puff balls, paper plate animals (which we will make soon) and some sun catchers to paint. This weekend was my step mom’s birthday so the kids and I made her caterpillars to put on her plants.

You will need:

A glue gun
Pipe cleaners
Sequins
Puff balls
Scissors
Clothes Pins
Sharpie

Our supplies Our supplies

I had the kids each make two and pick their puffs. Five fits well. I lined them up in front of the clothes pin and then I put a single layer of glue down.

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Puff balls in place. Waiting for the kids to pick out the eyes and antennas Puff balls in place. Waiting for the kids to pick out the eyes and antennas

Then the kids picked out their eyes and antennas.

all lined up! all lined up!

Finished product! This is fairly simple. The kids were a bit disappointed that…

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Penguin Shores at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

I want to start this post by saying how much I love the zoo. We go many times over the course of the year, so we get the annual pass, and I love that it is exciting every time we go. There are animals that may be lazy during one visit and romping around the next. I’ve gotten some amazing pictures over the last few years. They do a lot of different events at our zoo here in Cleveland. They have ones that run all summer, like the dinosaurs at the zoo, which was by far one of the best events ever for the family. They also have single night events, like Boo at the Zoo, which was a little lame, and adult only events, like Twilight at the Zoo, which was amazing! They have other events too, but we haven’t managed to do them all yet.

They have a special exhibit for the summer of 2015, called Penguin Shores, which feature six African Penguins on temporary exhibit. I was very excited to go see it, which we finally managed to see during my daughter’s preschool field trip. The work that went into the exhibit is amazing. They have signs all over the zoo, giving fun facts about different types of penguins around the world. When you get to the exhibit area, they have wooden cutouts of the penguins, backgrounds showing you their natural environment. They set up a beautiful surround.

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These are two of the signs features around the zoo with fun facts about the penguins.

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This is the beautiful entrance to the Penguin Shores.

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More of the cute signage. I wish they had made the actual exhibit look like this.

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Instead, the penguin were in a small exhibit, behind glass. The setup makes it impossible to linger and watch them for a while, like I enjoy doing for different animals. The surface area of this window we’re permitted to look through is only slightly bigger than the portrait window in my living room. It doesn’t really give people a chance to enjoy what has been billed as a major attraction this summer.

Worth going to see, but go in with low expectations so as not to be disappointed. Nice attempt Cleveland Zoo, but poor follow-thru!

Crayon Rainstorm

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I’ve done a melted crayon craft before for my blog, but this was different enough to warrant it’s own blog, don’t you agree? The original pin was an etsy listing that is no longer available. I try to take interesting designs, or things on etsy and try to figure out how it’s done. I will be the first to say that the original picture looked much prettier than mine.

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See what I mean? I have my theories on how they did this now, you know, after I finished mine, but maybe I’ll test that theory on another blog.

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I started by finding a silhouette that I liked on the interent and printing it on plain paper. Sizing it to the size I needed it pixelated it a little bit, but I was going to trace it on cardstock anyway.

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I did figure out where on the canvas I wanted my silhouette and layered packing tape over that area, hoping to prevent crayon wax from covering it.

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I dug into our bag of crayons for the broken and worn out crayons. The ones the kids don’t use because they are too small. I peeled the labels, broke some of them into smaller pieces, and used my hot glue gun to attach them to my canvas. Hot glue may not have been the ideal choice, or I used too much. But the heat partially melted the crayons, you know, in that second before it solidifies again? Also when the last of the crayon melted away, some of the glue remained. I didn’t want to peel it off as it would leave a white spot in my “rain”.
Then it’s time to dig out your hairdryer. High heat, low speed if you can. Too much speed, or blowing power, and the crayon will fly off the canvas. When it did, I placed the crayon back on with no glue and used a lower setting on the blow dryer.

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IMPORTANT TIP: Protect your work surface! Last time I did this I used an old bedsheet, but a paper bag or trash bag works just as well. If you do get crayon of a surface, providing it’s not carpet, it’ll scrape right off, but save yourself the cleanup.

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When I was done melting my crayons, i peeled off my tape, and as you can see, some wax bled under it.

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My solution was to use some white cardstock as my clean background. If you do this, shape the top around the top of your umbrella and straight down from the edges.
Attach your silhouette to your canvas, I used hot glue again, and you’re done!
It occurred to me while I was doing this that a deeper meaning of this could be that you can survive the storms of life together, but that’s just me being all mushy!
Happy crafting you guys!