Friday, January 30, 2009

Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Today, at school, they are having a party to celebrate the December and January birthdays.  Whatever treat they give them, Magoo can't have it.  So yesterday, I decided to make a cake.  My main goal was to NOT go to the grocery store because the roads were so darn icy.  So I found a recipe I had cut out but not yet made and tried it.  

This recipe was from the back of a Tapioca Flour box, so it called for a ton of tapioca flour.  It also called for two sticks of shortening.  Fortunately, I had these things.  What I didn't have was an angel food cake pan.  I only bake in ceramic (not from China), Pyrex or stainless steel.  I got rid of my aluminum angel food cake pan awhile ago.  I thought I could fudge it with one of my ceramics and a glass bottle in the middle.  I put water in the glass, too, because I thought I read somewhere that you should do that.  Although I can't think of where I would have read such a thing?!

So now I had a make-shift angel food pan.

I follow the directions.  The batter seemed a little thick - but OK.  It was a new recipe.  I baked it for 35 minutes.

The top was nice and golden, but the toothpick came out gooey.  Seven more minutes.

Gooey.

Five more minutes.  Gooey.

Five more minutes.  Gooey.  But this time I decided to remove the bottle in the middle and check it out.  Oh yeah - major gooey.

I think I baked it twelve minutes after that.  Then I took the picture (above.)  Pretty, huh?  You just want to smack that photo right on the cover of Good Housekeeping - don't ya!

After it cooled, it took some doing to get it out.  But at this point all I needed was one piece of cake to send to school - it didn't have to look pretty.  I pried it out in pieces and cut all the overbaked stuff away.  (It wasn't really burnt - but it was kind of leathery.)  In the end it was acceptable.  Edible.  OK.

I served it to Magoo after dinner to see if he would eat it.  He said it was good.  It wasn't good.  But it was good enough.

So, I sent it in.  Happy Birthday!

Mike had a couple slices.  I think because we have so little sugar in our diet - the sweetness of it is nice.  The texture is too spongy.  But it's alright.  If you have regular diets - you would not be reaching for a second slice of this cake.  You wouldn't even finish your first.  But it's not going to be made again.  

Why was it so darn bad?  Part of it was the pan.  It didn't bake right in my half-assed pan but I also think it wasn't the best recipe.  

50% my fault.  50% theirs.

But it was kinda funny.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Avacado Clay Earrings

I bought this really cool book called, How To Make Polymer Clay Beads by Linda Peterson.  It was exactly what I was looking for.   I particularly like the beads that look like stone.  I don't have a lot of the tools she uses, but my goal is to make do with what I have as often as I can.  So when I wanted to make a bead with some texture, instead of buying a stamp for the purpose, I looked around my house.
 

When Mike and I were in Cozumel - eons ago - we bought this Mayan calender.  We thought it was carved out of something cool - but actually it's plastic.  Still - it had some great textures on it so I pressed a blob of avacado green polymer clay into it.  (Spray the mold with water first for easy release.)

This is how it came out.  Pretty cool.

Then I cut it into two rectangles and speared them with my little bead speary things to make the holes.  They're at the bottom of the photo (below) - ready to go in the oven.

I also made some small round beads and some larger ones that I rolled along the Mayan calender.  The white blobs are molds I made from the calender so I don't always have to use it.  Plus - if I want to make beads with texture on all sides, you need at least 2 molds to press the clay against.  

I baked them and let them cool.  Then I painted them with white acrylic paint and let that dry.

In the background are some very cool beads and jewelry that Mike's great aunt Eunice donated to my crafty cause.  (Thanks Eunice!  I love them!!!)

Then I sanded the white paint off of the upper parts of the bead so it's settled into the crevices and coated it with a glossy finish.  I tore apart a rather ornate single earring I had in my craft box and repurposed the silver bead tips on my new pair.  Voila' - earrings.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Toothless Magoo


Last night, while Magoo was in his bath and I was at the computer, I heard him call to me, "Mom!"

I didn't think there was danger, but there was urgency in his voice, so I hurried.  When I opened the door he said, "My tooth came out!" And he held the tiniest little tooth in his hand.  His first fallen tooth.

Of course, I was so excited I had to rush right out and get my camera!

Here it is.  Don't you just love that macro lens!

I love that teeth are wiggly for awhile before they come out.  That gave me time to stitch up a good tooth fairy pillow.  I had one as a child, but I can't remember what it looked like.  But here is Magoo putting his tooth - wrapped in plastic wrap - in the main pocket of his.


When he woke up this morning - at 6:50 on a snow day, thanks! - he came into my room with the pillow.  "The tooth fairy didn't come," he said.  I'm thinking, Crud, did the dollar fall out? But no, it was a misunderstanding.  He thought the Tooth Fairy was going to bring him a big tooth to pop back into his mouth.  When he understood, he was quite happy with the money.

Now I get to enjoy his gap toothed smile and marvel at how big he is!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pond Skating

I don't think it's uncommon for a parent to hope to share their fondest memories of their own childhood with their son or daughter.  Especially if the child is the same gender.  Since I have a son, I don't really long to play Barbies with him.  But my husband had a good day Saturday when he got to play ice hockey on a pond with his son for the very first time.

Here's Michael lacing up Magoo's skates.  

Now I should say this - it was FREAKIN' cold.  The sun was out - it was lovely.  But there was a bitter breeze and one needed to keep moving in order not to freeze their bippie off.  And my poor husband's hands got so cold lacing up Magoo's skates that we had to trade off.  (Point one for a rink.)

I'd assumed that all the neighborhood kids would have been out to shovel off the pond at some point.  I've heard my husband's ice hockey stories many-a-time, and I thought bright and early Saturday mornings twenty or so boys would have been out here skating and clearing the ice.  No, no.  We had to do it.  So to the children of the neighborhood I say in a snotty voice, "You're Welcome!"
(Point two for a rink.)

Magoo doesn't really skate enough to be good at it.  It's forbidden to skate on the ponds in town and the rink up here costs money - so he had a difficult time.  Well, in reality, he did really well. But this is a kid who's used to being physically coordinated so he felt as though he was doing poorly.  He took comfort in "skating" on the un-shoveled ice.  That inch or two of show gave him more stability.


I hadn't been on ice for awhile myself.  It took me a few minutes to get my ice legs back and I'm not that good to begin with - but I can go backwards.  And I can turn.  So I had some fun too.

Eventually Magoo took his skates off and played ice hockey with his Dad in his boots.  We probably should have started this way - let him get used to the ice a bit before going whole hog on skates.  But he had a great time shooting the puck while I dazzled only myself with my awesome, graceful turns.

The benefits of the rink are these: one can lace their skates up in a warm room, one can retire to warm room when they are too cold, one does not have to shovel the ice.

The benefits of the pond are this: it's free, one doesn't have to worry about a bunch of other people who can't skate, and it's prettier.

My toes were numb by the end, but we all had a great time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Clay Beads

While I was flipping through bead books at Barnes and Noble, I came across a chapter on making beads out of polymer clay and a rubber stamp.  I have a rubber stamp that I use a lot.  It has kanji writing on it and I have no idea what it says, but I love the look of it.  So I thought I'd try to make some beads.
 

I did a circle pendant a little bigger than a quarter, and that turned out well so I thought I'd attempt some earrings.  Here are two ovals - each about two Tic Tacs high.  Remember Good-n-Plenties?  Kinda like those.  

Then I lightly inked up the stamp with some black and carefully pressed the clay in.  Two things - one, you don't want to mush the clay.  The ink will smear and that won't be pretty at all.  Just press it in gently.  Two, I speared each bead first, so I could handle the metal spear and not touch the clay after it was lifted.

When I was happy with the beads - I baked them for 15 minutes in a 275 degree oven.  Then I speared them into my big hunk of white Sculpey to cool.
 
When they were cool to the touch - I coated them in a Sculpey Glaze.  This will protect them and give them a nice sheen.  I was careful not to paint over the spears because I want those to come out.

Yesterday I made my necklace with the round pendant.  I put a white bead on the bottom and a small silver one on the top and looped it around a black cord.


I'm pretty pleased with it.  I think it looks kinda like a stone.  I haven't made the earrings yet. I'm still debating a few design choices.  I'll post them when they are done.

In other news - I have lost a library book somewhere in this house and I'm going CRAZY trying to find it.  All the logical places have been searched several times and now I'm left with completely crazy places like Magoo's room or the trunk of my car.  I think this is the first library book I have ever lost and I'm quite perturbed!!!

 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OBAMA!

Yesterday I volunteered at the school library for a bit.  It was fun to see all the kids excited about the new president and I think all the TV's were on so the students could watch Mr. Obama being sworn in.  (I was at home eating lunch by that time.)  I just thought it was great how aware all the kids were - including Magoo.

He brought this home from school yesterday.

I never knew Obama looked so good in pink!  And hey, now that he's President he gets to move into the Black House.

But if you want to celebrate the new president in your own way, head over to Obamicon and make your own poster.

Have fun!  Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mispoken

Mike and I were flipping channels, watching the news coverage of the Inauguration and we stopped on the BBC.  A very cute young woman broadcaster with a lovely pixie haircut was speaking.  
I said, "Oh, I love her haircut."
Just then Magoo walked into the room and said, "I love her nuts.  Oops.  Sorry.  I mean her crotch.  I love her crotch."


Baking Yeast Free Breadsticks with Magoo

Sunday evening, I asked Magoo if he wanted to help me make dinner.  He said YES!  And was an excellent helper stirring the pasta.  He took great pride in his work and the following morning asked if he could help me make breakfast.  Ever since then he has been very interested in helping me prepare meals.  (This is a very good thing because with all his food issues, this is one boy who's going to need to be able to cook for himself.)

Last night I planned on making my cauliflower soup for dinner so I thought some breadsticks would go nicely with that.  Magoo was very happy to help me bake.

Here he is rolling out the dough - and I have to say, he did an excellent job.


Look at those little hands at work!

Here he is sprinkling the sticks with oregano.

They turned out great and Magoo was very proud of himself.  He even helped me with the soup a bit.  He stirred the onion in the pot and learned an important lesson about onion fumes.  And he broke the cauliflower up but wouldn't try it in its raw form.  (Which I always loved, even as a child, and still do.) However, he did eat the soup.  I wouldn't say it's his favorite thing ever - but he ate it without complaint.

But he really liked the breadsticks!

YEAST FREE, GLUTEN FREE BREAD

3 cups GF flour mix
2 1/2 tsp Xantham Gum
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened rice milk OR soy milk OR water
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.
Mix liquids in another and add to dry ingredients.  Mix.
I, then, put the dough out on a lightly floured (GF) wooden board and knead it a bit.

FOR BREADSTICKS - separate into 8 balls.  Roll into sticks.  Brush on some melted vegan butter and sprinkle with oregano.  Bake 15-20 minutes.

FOR LOAF - Form dough into a ball or oval and place on baking sheet.  Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and oregano.  Cut and X over the top.  Bake 40 minutes.

Enjoy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dangerous Gliding

This morning, while helping Magoo get dressed, he wanted to wear a particular sweater with a zipper up the front - but he DID NOT want it zipped.  He DID NOT want it zipped because then he could open it up and pretend he had wings.

When my husband saw this, he said, "I have a video to show you."  And he pulled up this video.  You don't have to watch it all, but check it out for a minute and you'll get the idea.

Of course, Magoo LOVED it.  He was so excited.  As soon as it was over he said, "Dad, let's do dangerous gliding!"

So he went to the couch and this is what he did...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Images of Play

Many people who know me also know that my cat drives me crazy.  I complain about her often, as does my husband.  I think the reason I whine so much about Java kitty is that I am often surprised at how much my cat gets under my skin.  You see, I'm a life-long cat lover.  We have had cats for a long, long time.  My first cat, Norris, was the best cat ever.  Hands down.  I love cats!  I do.  But Java - well, Java is a piece of work.

But for those out there that think that all I do is scold her, I present photographic evidence of me playing with me cat.

So I'm not a 100% heartless shrew when it comes to my pet. Just 99%.

But onto more play...

My friend, Jessica, came over with her two kids yesterday.  Her youngest is a wee little guy, only - hmmm - 6-7 months old.  Magoo just LOVED making him laugh. 


He even got to hold the baby - although I don't think either one of the was super comfortable with that.  

When Jessica and the kids left, Magoo said, "He's going to miss me."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 The Year of the Bead

Last year I was all about the tote bag.  I made tote bags galore.  I even learned to embroider so I could enhance my tote bags.  Almost everyone I knew got a tote bag - unless I thought you wouldn't enjoy one.  (Sara, I'm talking about you.  You never struck me as a tote bag kind of gal.  But if you want one, you should let me know.)

THIS year, I wanted to make some jewelry.

It always seemed to me that beaded jewelry - for the most part - wouldn't be that difficult to make.  You just had to find good beads and put nice colors together.  Of course, you could get really complicated stuff - but that's not really my taste.  I like simpler things.  So I'm giving it a go.


I got a g-cert to Jo-Ann's so I started there.  I entered the magical world of beads and threw anything I liked into my basket.  I'm sure I ended up with about $100 worth of stuff, but I only had $20 on my g-cert, so I started putting things back.

I won't lie - it was a little overwhelming.  And I wasn't that prepared.  I didn't know what basic supplies I would really need.  My beading book, Bead Simple, hadn't yet arrived.

But I got these blue ceramic beads - which I LOVED and some other things that I thought would work with it.

And here's my first pair of earrings in 2009 ...  

(I'm also loving on the macro lense in my new camera.  It let's me take super close-ups.  I could have never got this shot with my older Canon.)

It's simple - but I love it.  And here's my ear, modeling it.

Now I'm on a mission to go through all my old jewelry and take things apart - reuse beads from single earrings that have lost their mate.  Unstring beads that I don't wear.  Make use of what I've already got.  

And if you've got a birthday coming up - I hope you like jewelry.
 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baby V-plosion

There are twenty million people I know having babies these days.  So I needed to make a shload of baby gifts.  I saw this tutorial for freezer paper stencils a while ago and bookmarked it.
    
I think my favorite is the bird.  I'm in LOVE with this bird.  I think I'm going to have to get myself a nice buttery yellow T and make me a bird shirt.


It too a little time.  There are a few steps.  But it wasn't difficult.  And they all came out well. I'm super pleased. 

I also made a few balls for my friend who just adopted a little daughter.
 

I'm a big fan of the fabric balls.  They're so soft you can just chuck 'em right at someone face and not hurt them.  You can't go wrong with a pair of big soft balls!  :) (snicker, snicker)

So now I just have to wrap everything up and ship it out.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Boots! New Boots!


One of the things I wanted for Christmas was new boots.  I wasn't looking for study snow shoveling boots.  I have a pair of those.  I was more in the market for something functional, yet stylish, that I could wear out shopping or to pick Magoo up from school.

I had seen a lot of women in these pull up woolen pairs that look sorta like their Scandinavian or something.  Sometimes they had a faux fur top.  I liked 'em.  

But when I went to Marshall's with my Xmas gift card (thanks, Michael) I couldn't find a pair I liked in my size.  Oh, I found pairs I liked - in size 6, size 12, size 5.  No 8 1/2 or 9's.  Boo.  I worried that the season was over and my new boots would have to wait.

Yesterday I was in the neighborhood and I had my gift card on me - so I figured I'd pop in quickly and snoop around the boots.  There were a few new pairs but nothing for me.  Until - on the last shelf - hidden among a bunch of black high heel boots - I found one of these.  AH AH AH!

I looked at the bottom - 8 1/2!!!

I looked around for it's mate - and I found it!!!!!!!!

And guess what?  They felt great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I bought them.
They might not be quite as function as I had originally wanted.  But I like 'em.  And I have $10 left on the gift card to boot!

These boots were made for walkin'!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Magoo's Birthday Bash


Because Magoo's birthday is right on the rump of Christmas, we usually wait a week or two to have his family party.  Here's Magoo posing for his birthday crown shot.  This is the crown I made him last year and there are five beads on it because he was turning five, of course.  I didn't really think he'd care about that so I just whipped the thing out.  But later he did request that a sixth bead be added so I pulled out the bead box and made that correction.  

One of his gifts was a membership in the Lego Brickmaster club.  Every two months Magoo will get a Lego magazine and a kit in the mail.  He got the first one yesterday and here he is with his Aunt Pam checking it out.  He loved that magazine!
 
After some of his buddies came, it was time for cake.  I made a pineapple-coconut cake (just like the muffins but I baked it for 35 minutes in an 8X8" pan.)  We also had coconut ice-cream and I made an ice cream pie especially for my brother-in-law, Tom, who couldn't come due to weather.  (Don't worry Tom, it was enjoyed for you.) 

On the dining room wall I hung photos of Magoo from age 1 to 6 - to see how he has grown.

After we all got good and sugared up, we decided to break out the karaoke machine!  David started thing off with Bye, Bye Love, and Magoo was his dancing boy.  

Then all the boys had to get involved.  Magoo did an improvised version of Smashmouth's All-Star.

Here's a short clip.  By the time I whipped out the video camera, Magoo was nearly done and exhibited much less energy then he had at the beginning of the song.  That's right - this is LOW energy.



We had such a fun time.  Magoo appreciated all the gifts and having so many people he loved all together.  Thanks to all who came and shared this day with us.  And thanks to all those who couldn't join us, but sent their love.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Cloth Book of Colors

My dear friend Staci gave birth to a little son on December 13th.  At that time, I was mostly finished with the cloth book I was making for him.  But the holidays took over and it got put aside.

Earlier this week I made myself a list of all the things I should be working on and this was at the top of it.  Finish the baby book.  Yesterday, I did.




I used felt for the main bodies of the color subject.  At first I was using fabric and ironing over the edges - PAIN IN THE BUTT!  So then I switched over to felt.  Much easier.  Then I embroidered the rest.

Here's the yellow sun.

I got the white fabric from a table cloth I bought at a yard sale and had the yellow cover fabric on hand.  I have SO MUCH fabric in the basement that I really shouldn't have to go to the fabric store for eons - but that doesn't mean that I won't.  Still, I'm trying very hard to use what I already have.  And I had everything I needed for this project at home.


I sewed a piece of felt into each page for a little bulk.  The thing could actually make a nice little pillow!  I will ship it off this week and hopefully the baby will grow to like it.  Maybe his big sister will enjoy it in the meantime.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Homemade Card Game

Magoo got some different cards games this Christmas.  One was Bakugan.  And basically, what you do is lay out some metal cards on the floor and roll this marble/robots over them and the metal in the cards triggers a magnetic reaction in the marbles and they pop open.  Then you have to do math.  For the most part, Magoo just likes to throw the marbles and have them pop open.

He also got some Yugi-O-something-or-other cards and there are no fun marble/robots there.  Just math.  It is a wee bit complicated and neither the hubby or I really know how to play so I suggested to Magoo that we make our own game cards and he went for it.


Basically, it's like War.  Each player gets a stack of cards that fight each other.  Whoever has the highest power number wins the other card.  I figured it would help Magoo with higher/lower numbers.

Here are some of Magoo's designs:
CAMGHOST - shoots lasers from his eyes.
Mr. CLEARY - he doesn't get fog in his eyes so he always sees clearly.  He's not too powerful.
GHOST MONSTER - he shoots diamonds.  Ouch - but - yea!

Here's a batch, one from each of us:

Mr. BITEY from Magoo: can shoot goo stuff, purple stuff and fire stuff.  Oddly enough, he
                   doesn't seem to have teeth.
FAT CAT from Mike:  has a high annoying power and will eat anything in front of it
ZEROX from me: can copy himself to outnumber his enemy, then reabsorb the clones

Magoo's are the best - of course.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bowling Night and the End of the Car Fiasco

Saturday night, our neighbors invited Magoo and I to join them for bowling.  (Hubby was invited to, but he had a cold and used the time to rest.)  I'm always up for some bowling with friends, so I said, "Heck yeah!"

I'm a stinky bowler.  Let's just get that right out in the open.  I blow.  But I have fun.  And at least I can roll the ball.  Magoo is a chucker.  He chucks the ball.  I think every single time he went up, I said, "Try to roll it, honey.  Okay?  Roll it."  

I think he rolled it once.

See his posture above?  He's up off the ground.  Now imagine a dotted white line arching from his hand to the ball.  That was the path of it.  BLAMO!  But no employee of the bowling alley ever approached us, so I just tried to coach him as best I could and cringed at the impact - again and again.

Here Magoo is with our neighbor, J.  Magoo loves J.  J is awesome.

And here he is with me.  I'm wearing Mike's bowling shirt.  The husband suggested I wear it as a way of branding myself.  "Back off, guys.  I'm taken!"  Because that's where I go to pick up my boyfriends on the side - I hit the Hartford Bowl-a-rama.  Studs galore!

It was a very fun evening.  My neighbors all won.  But seriously, these people bring their own bowling shoes.  They're practiced.  Magoo even beat my by one pin!!!  

Now, onto the car.

One of my friends sent me an email reminding me that I never followed up on the car.  I got the car back on the Saturday morning pre-Christmas.  (This was after dropping it off Tuesday morning.  That was a bad week to be without wheels.  My excellent friend, Sara, lent me hers for a morning though.  Thanks again. )  Anyway - the major problem had been the distributor.  So they put a new one of those in.  They also replaced the spark plugs and some filters and tuned the whole baby up.  It came to eight hundred some dollars.  Yowza!  Still, it drives great now and I don't have a heart attack every time I get close to an intersection.

Guess we're not going to Disney World this year, Magoo!  Sorry!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sophisticated Reading



During our little Solstice party last month, the parents started discussing the books they were reading to their kids.  I was a little surprised to hear all the chapter book titles floating around since we basically stuck to picture books and comic books with Magoo.  But we had been reading a thicker, wordier version of The Nutcracker for the holidays and he seemed to be doing well with that - so I got a purchased of the titles mentioned.

We started Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nim, but after a little while, Magoo seemed to lose interest.  Then we tried My Father's Dragon, which seemed to be a better fit.  It's less wordy and there are some illustrations in the book.  We just ordered The Phantom Tollbooth, but that's a biggie too, so we might wait a bit on that one.

Still, I noticed that Magoo was scanning through the words and pointing out and reading the ones he knew.  "To" was a popular one.  

Mrs. Flammia, his Kindergarten teacher, always sends home a list of words that the children can read, like "on", "the", "to" etc.  So I though it might be nice to make Magoo a little book with some of the words he knows and that might inspire him to read more.

I'd been meaning to do it for at least a month, but yesterday - finally - I found the time and motivation.  I sat down by Magoo, who was playing with his Lego's, and asked, "I'm going to write a book for you.  Should it be about a pirate or a dragon?  What would you like?"
"Chess," he said.  Chess?  I didn't really think "Bishop takes the Rook", would be good kid-lit so I tried again.  "How about an animal, honey."  "Let's make a book about Homer Simpson!" he said.  He was very excited about that idea.  Moreso than I.  I was hoping to draw fun dragons, not have to copy images of Homer.  But, it was a book for him after all.  So I agreed.

Now that I was getting on with it, Magoo wanted to make suggestions.  So the book I planned to write for him, became a book we wrote together.  Which was great.  I just don't know that I worked in as many site words as I originally planned.  Anyway, please allow me to present: 


Homer walks down the street.
Homer sees a chess set.
The statue makes his move.
"You lose, statue!  In your face!" Homer says.
The statue gives Homer a prize.
It is a golden doughnut.
Homer is happy.
The End.


Homer playing chess with a statue is all Magoo.  He also came up with the idea of the trophy giving him a prize, although I suggested the golden doughnut.  You can see the last page of the book in the top photo with Magoo.  

I drew the illustrations then scanned them into the computer and colored them and added text.  It's just a little eight pager.  We'll go through it until he can read the words, then I plan to make him another one.  If I'm lucky - the next one might be about a Pokemon!