Painting Cookies!

They look good enough to eat...all in one sitting!

They look good enough to eat…all in one sitting!

Today Laurel and I made cut-out cookies.  I wanted to make up for making cookie-looking non-cookie ornaments the other day.  Because I’m all about fairness.  And baked goods.

The fates smiled upon our house today, and Laurel was on her best, most adorable behavior.  So after we put Ellie on the school bus we broke out the cookie dough we made yesterday.  Laurel picked out which cookie cutters to use, and helped to cut the dough.  The only fuss she made was when I wouldn’t let her roll the dough out herself.  (That’s a quick way for it to end up on the floor!)  She told me how many of each shape to make, and we had a great time.  Then it was off to the table to decorate them!

If you have ever made cut-out cookies with a young child, you have seen the way they apply sprinkles.  Usually it involves 1/2 an inch of colored sugar on top of each cookie, non of which actually melts, and it just gets everywhere.  So I wanted some kind of (less messy) alternative to sprinkles.  Enter…..Cookie Paint!

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Paint + Cookies = One happy Lil’ Bear!

I remembered seeing a post somewhere at some point about making cookie paint out of egg yolk and food coloring, so I decided we’d give that a shot.  And it worked great!  Laurel loves to paint more than anything in the world, so it was a natural fit.  I decided on a limited pallet of colors, and only made red, green, and blue.  The blue didn’t really want to come out blue because our egg yolks were very yellow.  So it was sort of greenish, but I didn’t really care that much.  If you want a truer blue, I’d try using the egg whites.  I’m not sure how that will turn out, though. It might make them extra crispy.  You’ll need to add a bit of water to the yolk/food color mixture as well, to thin it out a bit.  And you don’t need much of it.  I probably could have split the yolks up and used only half a yolk per color, instead of a whole one.  In any case, I love how they turned out.  The paint got really shiny and pretty.  We will definitely do this again!

Truly Scrumptious

Truly Scrumptious

Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour (I used King Arthur’s Multipurpose Flour)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

– Cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Mix in the dry ingredients.
– Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge for at least an hour.
– Preheat the oven to 350 F.
– Roll a chunk of the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Remember to flour your rolling pin (or wine bottle or other rolling implement).
– Break out your favorite cookie cutters and have at it.  Remember to dip the cutters in flour if they start to stick.
– Put the cookies on a cookie sheet.  Use parchment paper if your heart desires it.  I don’t bother.
– Take the left over dough and squish it up with another chunk of the unused dough.  Repeat the rolling/cutting steps until your cookie sheets are full.
– PUT THE REST OF THE DOUGH BACK IN THE FRIDGE.  Otherwise, while you decorate the first batch, your dough will get too soft and sticky and you’ll never get it rolled out.  Trust me.
– Decorate your first batch of cookies however you want.
– Pop those cookies in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
– Cool on wire racks.
– Once you have a free cookies sheet, get the rest of the dough out of the fridge and start rolling/cutting.  You get the point.
– Devour.

 

Cookie Paint

1 egg yolk per color
1/4 teaspoon water per color
a few drops of food coloring

In small bowls, containers, or ramekins mix up a yolk, the water, and some food coloring.
Make sure you use CLEAN paintbrushes.  Not the ones your kids were using the other day that you just sort of half-assed rinsed out.  Either use new brushes or give the ones you have a proper cleaning with dish soap and hot water.  Use a different brush for each color; don’t try to rinse between colors. It will water down the paint too much.Again, if you use yolks that are a dark yellow, you may have problems with some of the colors.  I had to add a lot of red to make the paint red, not orange.  You can try the egg whites, but I haven’t tested that theory yet.
Paint the cookies!

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Elfing Around

The Elf on the Shelf.  You’ve seen them in the stores, on Facebook, and all over Pinterest.  They are everywhere, and they are watching you.  Well, not you exactly, but they are watching your kids, taking mental notes on their behavior so they can report back to the big guy at the North Pole.  Because that’s what they do, in case you haven’t been sucked into EotS culture yet.  They are basically creepy little tattletales, sent to your house to spy on your kids for Santa Claus.  Every night they fly back to the North Pole to hang out with other elves and give their reports to Saint Nick, then they fly back to your house before morning.  Some elves just hang out on the same shelf every day.  Some hide, so the kids can find them.  Some get into all sort of mischief.  The only rule is that the kids can’t touch their elves, or they lose their magic and can’t fly to and from the North Pole.

So creepy its cute.

So creepy its cute.

Meet Fjord, our Elf on the Shelf.  He falls into the mischievous catagory.  He gets up to all sorts of hijinks.  The girls love him, and I have to admit I take great joy in coming up with stuff for him to do.  I can’t wait until they are old enough to really understand the no-touching rule, so I’ll have more options on where to put him.  But I think I do pretty well for having to keep him out of reach.

If you are looking for some ideas for what to do with your EotS, here is what Fjord did last year, when the girls were two.

Checking out the star lights on the ceiling fan, and adding one of his own.

Checking out the star lights on the ceiling fan, and adding one of his own.

Fjord decorated the Christmas tree in the girls' room with mini paper ornaments.

Fjord decorated the Christmas tree in the girls’ room with mini paper ornaments.

Just hanging out!

Just hanging out!

Gone fishing

Gone fishing

Baking cookies

Baking cookies

Fjord turned our refrigerator into a snowman!

Fjord turned our refrigerator into a snowman!

Chillin' in the freezer because he was homesick.

Chillin’ in the freezer because he was homesick.

Playing dreidel on the first day of Hanukkah

Playing dreidel on the first day of Hanukkah

Even elves need a spa day every now and then

Even elves need a spa day every now and then

Pretending to be a reindeer

Pretending to be a reindeer

Uh-oh!  Someone touched Fjord and now he's sick.

Uh-oh! Someone touched Fjord and now he’s sick.

He made it snow!

He made it snow!

Wrapping presents for all his friends

Wrapping presents for all his friends

Zip-lining across the dining room!

Zip-lining across the dining room!

Fjord feels pretty, oh so pretty!

Fjord feels pretty, oh so pretty!

Little bugger got into my sewing box

Little bugger got into my sewing box

He wanted to go with us to the Christmas party

He wanted to go with us to the Christmas party

Even little elves know the reason for the season!

Even little elves know the reason for the season!

There you go.  Consider yourself inspired. Now go buy an elf and have at it.  Start making memories while terrifying your children into good behavior.  You can even buy snugly elves for the kids to play with, if they just can’t keep their hands off of you EotS.  And changes of clothing, if you are so inclined.  But don’t buy the movie.  Seriously.  We paid $15 for “An Elf Story,” thinking it was a real movie.  It’s not.  It is a 30 minute made for TV special.  That’s right.  $15 for 30 minutes.  Waste. Of. Money.  Not to mention that it is complete drivel.  Spend the $15 on something else.  Or just mail it to me.  At least I won’t insult your intelligence for half and hour.  Unless you want me to.  Your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking Up Some Fun

Oh so salty

Oh so salty

Today I decided to make salt dough ornaments with the girls, because that would be a fun, easy project which would result in lovely Christmas gifts for their grandparents and great grandparents.  Just think of the nice family bonding we can do; sitting around the table, listening to Christmas music, painting our ornaments!  It will be heartwarming and memory building!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I start off the project by mixing 2 cups of gluten free flour with 1 cup of salt, then slowly adding 1 cup of warm water a little at a time.  That makes the dough a little too sticky, so I add a bit more flour.  Perfect.  So far, so good.  This is when I remember that we had to get rid of our rolling pin when we de-glutened the kitchen back in July.  I remember that a friend had posted about using a wine bottle in place of a rolling pin once, but we don’t drink, so that wouldn’t help.  Oh, wait!  Chev brought home an empty wine bottle from work a while back, because she wanted to try that thing where you turn a bottle into a glass.  (Yeah, that’s never going to happen, but I don’t like to smash her dreams.)  So I dig out the wine bottle and we are in business.  I flour the counter and roll out the first ball of dough.

This is when all hell breaks loose.

Ellie sees the dough and thinks “COOKIES,” and freaks out when I won’t let her eat any.  Laurel, the little sneak, takes advantage of my distraction to steal a bit of the dough.  Amazingly it doesn’t taste very good.  Which she lets us know in no uncertain terms.  Much to our entertainment.  Ellie, however, is not convinced, so we let her taste a bit as well.  You would think the dough made of fire for the way she spits it out and runs screaming from the room.

Once the tasting of the terrible dough is finished, the fighting over who gets to pick out the next cookie cutter commences.  “I want Frosty!”  Ellie tries to grab the reindeer.  “No! No Rudolph!  Frosty!”  Ellie tries to grab the Santa.  “I WANT FROSTY THE SNOWMAN RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!”

I finally manage to get all of the ornaments cut out and put on trays.  Laurel excitedly runs over to the table, asking for her sprinkle sugars.  I explaine that the ornaments don’t get sprinkles, they get painted, which only excites her more.  There is nothing Laurel loves more than painting.  Then I dropp the bomb.  The ornaments have to bake for two hours.  That’s right, folks, I have the pleasure of explaining to two three year olds that they have to wait TWO HOURS until they can decorate the ornaments.  And of course, being the sweet and level headed angels they are, they accept that fact and go off to play patiently for two hours.

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

I wish.  No, instead I have a double tantrum on my hands.  Laurel throws herself down on the floor, sobbing that I am a mean momma.  Ellie starts throwing everything she can get her hands on.  In a desperate act to distract them I put in Polar Express for the umpteenth time.  Mission accomplished.  Thank God.

Fast forward to the one hour baking mark:  Oh shit!  I forgot to put the holes in the ornaments, for the strings to go through!  The good news is that you can, in fact, still stick a straw through the ornaments at the one hour mark.  The bad news is that you are going to burn you fingers doing it.  The worse news is that your toddlers are going to think that the ornaments are finished because you have taken them out of the oven, and then throw yet another tantrum when you tell them that they still have another hour to bake.  But, the holes are in the ornaments, so the crisis has been averted.

Finally, the oven beeps and I can put the ornaments on the cooling rack while I get the paints ready.  Now, you can paint them with kid paint, but I’ve seen the comparison pictures, and acrylic looks WAY better.  So I break out my good paint and put little blobs on paper plates for everyone to use as pallets.  I only have black, white, and the primary colors, however, so I have to mix the secondary colors.  Holy shit.  You would think that I was murdering puppies from the way Laurel freaked out about me mixing the colors on her paper plate.  “NO MOMMA!  DAT’S MY PAINT!”  For the love of God, kid, do you want green?  Yes?  Then shut it and let me work my color-mixing magic.

I divvy up the ornaments, set out all of our supplies, and we start to paint.  I put Chev in charge of helping Ellie, which basically means that it is her job to make sure that Ellie doesn’t eat the paint since I’m not sure if it’s non-toxic.  And to keep her from painting herself (a task which Chev failed at miserably) while trying to get at least a couple ornaments painted before she loses interest.  Laurel is fairly self sufficient and really just needs supervision to make sure that she doesn’t start painting herself or the table.  I get to paint some of the nicer ornaments.  Everything is finally going well.  Well, for me and Laurel it is.  Chev is fairly OCD about things, so helping Ellie is somewhat akin to water boarding for her.  Which is why I make her do it.  Its good for her to deal with messiness and chaos.  But all in all, this is the point where everything calms down and it starts to feel like a Hallmark commercial.  I can even feel the cockles of my heart warming up.

Everything is so serious when you are three

Everything is so serious when you are three

Alas, all too soon Ellie is done.  Oh so done.  Done enough to dump the dirty dish of water that she and Chev have been rinsing brushes in all over the floor and herself.  On the plus side, it helped to rinse some of the paint off of her stomach and legs (because painting is a diaper-only event in our house.)  After Chev cleans her up and sends her on her way, things settle down again.  Chev is happy because she gets to paint a few ornaments.  Laurel is banging them out like a champ, even if she is a bit pissed that I won’t let her paint them all black.  (Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like black ornaments for your tree.)  I finish up my ornaments and start cleaning up.

Masterpieces, every one of them.

Masterpieces, every one of them.

I notice that Ellie is being very quiet.  Where is she?  Oh no, she’s in the kitchen.  With the ornaments.  Please don’t let her be breaking them!

And you know what?  She wasn’t breaking the ornaments.

She was hugging Santa

She was hugging Santa

And I actually felt my heart grow three sizes.  ❤ ❤ ❤

 

Its Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Black Friday.

The day that millions of people go into battle mode so they can bag the best deals on everything from big screen TVs to fondu pots to whatever the crazy super popular toy is this year that their kids will break ten minutes after getting.  People have strategies, back up plans, coupons.  They have memorized the sales fliers and recruited their friends and families to join them in their crusade for cheap stuff.  It is consumerism in all its insane glory.

Oh, how I hate it.

Katniss has nothing on your great aunt Betty

Katniss has nothing on your great aunt Betty

The only time I have ever gone shopping on Black Friday was three years ago and it was completely by accident.  The girls were about four months old, and Ellie had had heart surgery a few weeks before, to fix a heart defect that she was born with.  Then she caught pneumonia.  So she was in the cardiac intensive care unit of the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital for five weeks.  We spent the girls’ first Thanksgiving at the Ronald McDonald House.  A (very rich) family down there pays to have a caterer come in for the major holidays.  It was really nice….except that Ellie was still in the hospital.  Laurel tasted her first solid food in the form of a lick of mashed potatoes, which she did not like.  After dinner, we went back to the hospital to sit by Ellie’s bedside, like we had been for three weeks straight at that point.  Not the most festive first Thanksgiving, but we were just happy to all be together.

Laurel's idea of how to eat turkey

Laurel’s idea of how to eat turkey

Ellie couldn't wear her bib, but she liked the colors

Ellie couldn’t wear her bib, but she liked the colors

If you’ve ever spent a long time with someone in the hospital, you will know that time stops having any meaning.  Every day is like the one before.  So, the day after Thanksgiving was just that; another day in the endless march of days until we could take our little girl home.  It was also the day I ripped the only pair of jeans that fit my post-partum body.  So I decided to drive back home to Allentown and pick some stuff up, pet the dog (who has still never forgiven us for abandoning her for over a month), buy a couple new pairs of jeans from Lane Bryant, and hit Target up for some more diapers.

Everything was going really well; there was practically no traffic on the turnpike, Piper was SO happy to see me, even the cats were excited enough to glare at me reproachfully from the cat tree.  Then I drove to Target.  My first thought was, “Wow.  They must be having a sale or something,” when I saw the packed parking lot.  Then it hit me…..yesterday was Thanksgiving….which makes today…..BLACK FRIDAY!  Oh My God.  I need to shop on Black Friday.  Shit.

I won’t lie.  It was terrible.  I was tripping over people left and right in the baby section, just trying to grab a box of diapers.  Then I had to wait in line forever; the only person with one item among throngs of people with one, two, or even three shopping carts full of stuff.  A nice lady took pity on me and let me go ahead of her.  I almost cried in gratitude.

Then I drove to the mall, because remember I needed to buy jeans.  I didn’t have a choice.  I literally had no pants that fit me.  Dear Lord.  Never again.  If I ever find myself in a similar situation I will just wear pajama pants.  I don’t care how fat and/or sloppy I look.  I will never go shopping on Black Friday again.  Ever.

So what do we do the day after Thanksgiving?  (Other than sleep off our turkey comas.)

We decorate for Christmas, of course!  Down come the paper turkeys and painted pumpkins, down come the pilgrim hats and native American head dresses, down come the Halloween decorations we thought we put away but apparently we didn’t.  And from the attic, down comes the Christmas tree, the ornaments, the stockings, the three thousand creepy-ass nutcrackers that Chev collects, and the nativity.  On goes the Christmas music, and the decorating party commences.

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Please ignore the fact that my dog is biting her ass.

The past few years our tree was kind of lame, but the girls are older now, so we have brought out some of our nicer ornaments.  All in all decorating went really well.  Laurel was sticking things on the tree like a pro.  Ellie, as predicted, couldn’t figure out how to do it and got really frustrated and pissed off and soothed herself by kicking the plastic Christmas balls around.  But that was bound to happen anyway.  At least there were no tantrums or injuries involved.

Giving Ellie a lift

Giving Ellie a lift

Giving Laurel a lift

Giving Laurel a lift

So that’s what we do on the day after Thanksgiving….we gather around as a family and ring in the holiday season with songs, lights, and the occasional impromptu dance break.  While other people are fighting over the last video game system, we fight over who gets to hang the last ornament on the tree.  While stores are making money, we are making memories.

And I love it.

Our little elves

Our little elves

I’m a Crafty Lady

So there is something you may not know about me.  I’m crafty.  And I don’t just mean that I’m clever and sneaky (which I am); I like to make crafty things.  Mostly I make clothing for the girls, but I recently got a sewing machine and I’ve been branching out to other things as well.  This is why I’ve been seriously slacking on my blog.  So as an apology for neglecting all of you, here are some pictures of the things I’ve been making along with the links to the tutorials I used.

Floor cushions for kids to sit on!

Floor cushions for kids to sit on!

I made a couple of floor cushions for my niece and nephew for Christmas.  And for the record, I made these before I had the sewing machine.  That’s right…I sewed these bad boys by hand.  Which is insane.  But I like doing it.  Especially while I watch Dr. Who.  Want to try your hand at these?  Check out the tutorial over on Living With Punks.   http://www.livingwithpunks.com/2010/05/tutorial-land-of-nod-inspired-floor.html

Whooo doesn't love owls?

This blanket is dino-mite!
This blanket is dino-mite!

I’ve also started making weighted blankets.  What is a weighted blanket, you ask?  It is a blanket that has a grid of pockets filled with little plastic bead things (Poly pellets).  Some kids have a hard time settling down to sleep, and the extra weight can help sooth them.  Like a big hug you can sleep in.  These were made for a couple of my friends after one of them was talking about the cost of weighted blankets online.  There is a joke that if you want to charge more for something, slap the words “baby” or “wedding” on it.  Unfortunately, that hold true for anything made for special needs kids, too.  Companies that make things for special needs people know that there is little competition, so they can charge a lot more for their product than what it is really worth, and people will pay for it because they have to.  It is a terrible truth that special needs families are wrung dry on a regular basis, paying for the specialized items they need.  So I made these for a reasonable amount of money, not the 200-400% mark-ups I found when I searched for them online.  I used the tutorial at Compound LIving.  http://www.compoundliving.com/2013/01/diy-weighted-blanket.html

Ta-Da!  I'm a cutie!

Ta-Da! I’m a cutie!

Not nearly as thrilled with her shirt.

Not nearly as thrilled with her shirt.

Thanksgiving tunics for the girls.  They are going to be gobbling turkey in style thanks to some very pretty fabric scraps and this tutorial from Once Upon a Sewing Machine.  http://onceuponasewingmachine.com/diy-toddler-peasant-dress/

Ready for Santa!

Ready for Santa!

Like a little angel

Like a little angel

Prettiest present ever!

Prettiest present ever!

And of course, what follows Thanksgiving?  Christmas of course!  Here are the girls in the dresses I made them.  The first two are based partially on the peasant dress pattern, but I changed the bottoms so they were more fitted.  I don’t have tutorials for the rest of the dresses because I just made them up.  I saw pictures of dresses I liked and just did my own thing.  That’s the cool thing about sewing.  You can just MAKE stuff!  Right out of you head!  Like magic.  Sewing magic.

Aurora

Aurora

Rapunzel

Rapunzel

These dresses were made for a gift exchange.  I wanted something she could play in, but that looked like her favorite princesses.  Laurel very much enjoyed modeling these.  Again, no tutorials because I just made them up.  Maybe I should make tutorials.  In my spare time.  ha ha ha

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Laurel and Ellie have been turned into dolls!

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Yarn hair sucks

Ok, I have to admit that I am ridiculously proud of these dolls.  I never thought I’d be able to make something like this.  But thanks to the super easy tutorial at Make It & Love It, I have made three so far and am planning on two more (a Princess Peach from Mario Bros. for my niece and a Batman for my nephew).  I love love love these.  http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2013/02/girl-boy-fabric-dolls-pattern-pieces-included.html

What does the fox say?

What does the fox say?

A fox scarf.  Because it’s freaking awesome.  I want to make a million more of these.  Different animals, different colors.  And I will.  Oh yes, I will….. after Christmas.  The tutorial calls for minky fabric for the bottom of the scarf, but I didn’t use that.  I just used more flannel.  Why?  Because minky is the devil.  Ask anyone who sews.  The. Devil.  Should you wish to make a little friend to wrap around your neck, check out the tutorial at Prudent Baby.  http://prudentbaby.com/2012/12/baby-kid/diy-fox-scarf-with-free-pattern/

Cutting takes a LOT of concentration

Cutting takes a LOT of concentration

Gobble gobble

Gobble gobble

This caption is so corny

This caption is so corny

And, of course, I’ve been crafting with the kidos.  Mostly with Laurel, since Ellie does crafts at preschool in the morning, but Ellie got in on the action with the bead corn.  Laurel really liked making the turkeys, even if she does think they are chickens.  We also made native American head dresses out of construction paper feathers, but they were destroyed during our impromptu drum circle/pow wow.  Our pilgrim hats were an epic fail, cut we all enjoyed getting glue everywhere.  Ok, they enjoyed it.  I enjoyed sticking paper to their arms and listening to them shriek with glee.

What kind of crafts do you like to do?  Do you craft with the kids?  Do you have a favorite pattern or tutorial you’d like to share with the class?  Leave a comment and let me know what you’ve been up to!

Sister love in the flesh and in the fluff

Sister love in the flesh and in the fluff