Wednesday, November 30, 2011


A few weeks ago now, my boys were treated to a cupcake each at a local cafe. They were very excited but really struggled to make a choice from all the colorful concoctions before them. Once they made up their minds they ate their sandwiches and then dug into the cupcakes.

Neither of them could finish the cupcakes though because they found them too sweet, especially the icing. This is what comes of not eating sugar around here on a normal basis.

However, Jayden was really taken by the whole cupcake thing and wanted to know if we could make cupcakes around the house that would taste even better. I told him I was certain we could.

I decided to hunt down a cupcake book, and I'm telling you it wasn't easy!  Most cupcake books were made based on how you decorated the finished product and that was completely useless for us as most of that involved a lot of sugary candies we can't eat.

I was eventually torn between two choices and had it narrowed down when I caught reviews that weren't of the greatest. That's the problem with reviews, if only the dissatisfied customers leave a review then you're not so certain about making the purchase! In the end I decided against both and then stumbled across The Sweet Little Book Of Cupcake. It's seriously tiny!

It turns out the book is full of recipes from a little bakery in Boston. The recipes do use sugar, but are easily adaptable to our non-sugary choices. The toppings on the cupcake aren't based on candy decorations but different icings, another thing we can easily alter. And the selection inside are quite tasty sounding. I'm quite intrigued by the Chocolate Pomegranate while Jayden is much more eager to try the Molasses Gingerbread cupcakes. I think his choice has something to do with the gingerbread cupcake pan he bought me for my birthday, but that's okay.

The book is broken down by seasonal cupcakes {think fruity for summer, chocolatey and warm for winter, etc.} and then you go to the back of the book to find the actual recipes which are mixed and matched throughout the book with the icing & filling recipes. Jayden all ready knows about the little book, but I'm planning to get him a few goodies to make the recipes with for Christmas. I'm just glad he wasn't freaked by the pink color of the book!

Monday, November 28, 2011

FIAR Ornament Exchange: 2011

For the past several years my boys have enjoyed participating in a homeschool ornament swap. It's one based on the curriculum we use to use, which is based on books we still love pulling off the shelf to read.

Some years we make one ornament and some years we make two. It depends on time and if the boys are each up to making their own. Their first year they each made an ornament because when I signed them up they both had different opinions on what to make. In subsequent years they've teamed up a little bit better and agreed.

Last year I half volunteered & was half given the duty of organizing the big swap. So this year while putting the lists together I was one person short for keeping the lists even & decided to let the boys be on separate lists again.

I wasn't sure how this would work out because last year we had an amazing ornament planned. It can be tricky to pick just the right one because we need one that's flat and can go through the mail inside a Christmas card or else we pay a fortune in shipping! But, we also want it to represent a book we love. Last year's amazing ornament fell flat. We just could not get the drill bit I needed to help the kids. I tried substituting and it just didn't work as it should have. We made a very late and last minute change and the boys made wooden soldiers {which were anything but flat!} from the Revolutionary War based on the book Paul Revere's Ride.

At the beginning of the year we decided if we couldn't find the drill bit we'd make a different ornament, we even had a basic idea! The only downer was we couldn't quite figure out exactly how to carry it through. So when I asked the boys about changing their minds and coming up with their own thing there was some slight hesitation. I reminded them of all the wonderful books we'd read and of course Jayden was very keen to do something with Peter Rabbit which must be one of his most very favourite books in all the world.

We made a few prototypes until we found something that made everyone say, "Oh how cute!" and then we went with it. It was pretty simple with just cutting, pasting, and laminating. I like for the boys to do the majority of the work themselves so keeping it simple is a big thing too. Jayden was able to do all the pasting {despite his glue fear} & all the laminating. I helped him with the cutting. He helped punch holes and I tied the knots in the string & he trimmed them. I did the extra flowers because they were horribly fiddly but just made it look nice. We made 12 in the end. One to keep, one for his US grandparents, & 10 for homeschoolers. He's very excited to see what they send him, & he's really hoping that anyone who gets a Peter really loves Peter as much as he does. He's slightly worried because we gave 10 of the peter lettuces yellow middles and then we ran out of that paper! I subbed it for blue and we kept one blue and are passing the other to his grandparents. Funny thing is, in the end we loved the blue better then the yellow.

Morgan's was a wee bit trickier. He really wanted to stick with one of the two original ideas, and I agreed that they were fantastic and perhaps we could finalize them for next year and/or the year after. But for now he really needed to get going because his ornaments were due out on Saturday and he hadn't even begun them. He was thrown because he loves each and every one of the books we've read. I tried encouraging him with books he'd loved more then others. I reread many of them with him and we oohed and ahhed over all of them, but I think it only added to his confusion.

Then I reminded him of a common thread in all the books and how they each took place somewhere in the world and we'd traced their location on the map. He's a big map guy! We decided to go with paper globes. We tried a few prototypes of this ornament too, surely we aren't the only ones? It's actually made from 7 circles that we glued together to make the 3D effect. We put a ribbon down the middle {can you read it? It says, 'Are we there yet?'} and attached a few beads for color. There's another 12 of these too. One for us, one for his US grandparents, and 10 for the other homeschoolers. Such a fun Christmas tradition, we might all be sad when we feel too grown up for it!

Arm River 2011

Earlier this month we had our annual camping trip in the middle of no where exactly where we like it! Our family always heads out a day earlier then everyone else which has it's ups and downs. This year we were a little leery at being the first family to arrive because there'd been some reported issues at the camp where we stay.

The previous group had spotted a small snake making an escape from the bathrooms & complained of rat problems. Forestry Tasmania had sent someone out to deal with the problem, but apparently the rat was proving a tricky little blighter to deal with.

We however, had absolutely no issues spotting it the minute our gang pulled up. There it was haphazardly ambling around by the drain. Our dog jumped out of the car and went after it. We knew the rat was most likely poisoned because Forestry had warned us about it, thus preventing us from allowing the dog to deal with the pesky critter.

We decided to throw a bin over it, only because I refused to release my largest bowl to do the job. We then had to add the piece of wood up against the bin because half it's tail was still sticking out and we knew a certain little boy would freak if he saw it. Despite popular belief amongst Forestry I did not smack the rat with a bin and put us all out of our misery. No, I stood atop a picnic table and shouted to Mr S to, "Hurry up and slam that bin down on top of the rat so it can't wander off on us! Don't worry I'm sure he won't bite you he's half dead anyway. No, I will not come down and help you it's creeping me out being this far away!" Moral support and all that ya know..

If a picture is worth a thousand words this one might be worth two. The boys uncle explained to them how to make rude noises with their legs, armpits, & hands. The boys practiced daily to be ready for this years family camp trip so that as soon as their unsuspecting uncle curled up to go to sleep they could make these unseemly noises. And I was laughing so hard while shinning a light on them to snap a picture this is what I got!

It gets funnier.. {I resorted to auto flash} Morgan was demonstrating for me the difference between realism and fakeness depending upon which part of your body you blow on. Apparently the fattier part of your thigh gives the most realistic sounds. Seriously, they had this down to a science.. Mr S attempted to try this but nearly fell out of his bunk.

The following evening we passed word around camp amongst cousins that as soon as Nana turned out the light in the bunk house and said her goodnights we'd all start snoring. Only, my darling sons decided that once the snoring fest ended and laughter died down they'd add a few gassy sounds to the mix. Their female cousins were not to be outdone and joined suit as well as an uncle. It was all fun and games until our dog actually made a very rude stench in our room and I bellowed, "Oh my goodness that was a real one, open the window before I suffocate!" My boys then squealed, "MOM!! You're suppose to FAKE it!" Yeah, there were more twitters and squeals from the other bunk rooms until I loudly stated it was the dog. Who, out of total embarrassment, fled from our room into the cousin's room.. That only lasted about a second when they all squealed that he was quite stinky too..

Don't let that cute and innocent face fool you! That dog caused the entire bunk house to wretch.. had to be chased down to relinquish a wallaby leg he found.. bled all over the floor when a leech dropped off of him.. and then came home and slept for two straight days to make up for all the running he did.

There was heaps of bocce ball playing with wild new, "we're standing in the bush let's be crazy" kinda rules. We had to throw balls with eyes closed, while standing on one foot, while hanging upside down, before the jack was thrown, while the jack was being thrown, with our feet.. I'm pretty sure if it was imaginable we tried it. And that doesn't even account for the most hideously uneven, hole infested, rock festered ground we were playing on. It put a whole new meaning to the game.

There was a lot of Nerf Gun action too. No one was safe because everyone was a target at some point. Rumour has it we lost over 100 darts, but gained a frizbee. I'm not sure that really evens it out any, but you had to be as careful about getting hit with Frisbees as you did with nerf bullets.

And then there was the annual treasure hunt, which this year consisted of far too many clues! Our favorite was the one that led everyone down to the arm of the river only for them to realize the clue was actually attached to the arm of my shirt. The treasure was a rubbermaid box full of lollies, sparklers, and glow sticks a well deserved prize after over an hour of clue finding!

Last year's stump was thought to be holding another clue this year, but they were a little off course. It only took them another ten minutes or so to find the correct stump. Probably funnier to those of us who had all ready counted and surveyed all the stumps in the area.

Yep, that's me pretending to hold a tree up. Bad joke, I know.. We had our annual hike and got just past the halfway mark when it started to rain us which was just moments before it started to thunder. Did I mention Jayden is petrified of thunder still? I'm talking deer in the headlights kinda scared. He tottered on between two uncles for another 4 claps of thunder before breaking down and screaming loud enough to scare the bejeepers out of them. It was not the best hike ever, but I'm pretty sure it's going down as most memorable. The trail was horribly muddy. It was ankle deep at one point, I've got the socks to prove that one. Not to mention completely washed out in some parts with ankle deep mud to boot! My brother-in-law was helping Jayden down when Jayden slid, followed by his Uncle. Seeing their folly I decided to crab walk down the hill to avoid sinking my rump in the mud, but when my hand got stuck I slid down anyway and was dubbed Mud Monster for the remainder of our camp trip.. possibly because I had no more clean pants to put on. 

Of course no trip is complete without a bonfire {Mr S has those pictures on his camera} and getting something stuck on the roof. We made it until thirty minutes before we were about to leave. Last year's recycled ladder was still hanging around, all though considerably more water logged and rotted.

However, it was this contraption they went with to rescue the frisbee. It took a lot more moral support then it did objects to reach their chosen destination, probably not one of the most memorable rescues, but certainly going down as one of the more ingenious ideas. Way to go Jai!

There was also the awarding of the annual banana trophy, a cheap and hideous trophy someone's bound to be stuck with for a year. I'm not sure if it's an honor or not to get stuck with the thing, but it sure does bring about a lot of laughter. All in all, another great year in the middle of no where which is bound to be somewhere. We're really looking forward to next year!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

He is coming..

The boys have been excitedly counting down to Advent. They really adore using our homemade Jesse Tree, a tradition I'm so glad we decided to pursue. Two of our buttons popped off and need sewing back on, but that will only take a moment. In the mean time it's al ready hung on the wall and waiting for tomorrow's devotion.

The same annual heated discussion was had as we hung it up, "I want to be the one to put the star on!" It has nothing to do with it being the last ornament, but everything to do with it being on the white button. Someone always gives up a turn at hanging an ornament just so they up their odds of being the one to deal with the star. It really makes me laugh because it does stay reasonably civil.

Me, I'm more interested in knowing exactly when the year slipped away. I'm pretty certain yesterday was July and the day before that was January. I always find myself wondering this when Thanksgiving rounds the corner. It's not that I don't enjoy the end of the year holidays, I do, I'm just always surprised they arrived so quickly!

The end of the year didn't entirely sneak up on me, I had the foresight {this year} to order Bartholomew's Passage well enough in advanced. There's much excitement at reading this story. We've read Jotham's Journey two years in a row. Last year we also read The Christmas Mystery & the boys adored it, they are hoping to check it out of the library again this year and reread it.

After reading a review about Christmas Carols For a Kid's Heart we snatched this book up to add to our Christmas collection. The boys know a few Christmas songs, but I thought this would be an amazingly fun way to learn more and the stories behind them. I'm looking forward to it's arrival, because unfortunately I ordered it a wee bit later then I should have.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Mom, Dad, & Everyone Else,

While most of the world will wonder why I'd be wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving a day late, I know you're celebrating a day late and won't mind. We always celebrate a "day late" around here which is the one time of year I feel behind compared to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere. Weird, huh?

We survived finding a turkey this year, and I promise it's no comparison to any Tom Turkey we've ever had to clear two shelves in the fridge for and require help carrying in from the car. I'm beginning to think those US turkeys might have been on steroids, but then again I'm pretty sure the wild turkeys in your back yard were bigger then the one I found this year. While it's lack of size caused much teasing and chiding from me, the turkey got the last laugh when it took all of three hours to roast it start to finish.

I've gone yet another year without viewing a parade of football on Thanksgiving, but the end result is always the same as your charming son-in-law always reminds me. Santa is the last float in the parade, and the home teams generally lose in the football. All though I confess to actually suggesting we turn on the television and look for a Thanksgiving Special this year. Yeah, that brought on a lot of laughter!

You can rest assured that we managed the corn pudding, the cranberry sauce {I managed with dried cranberries again}, & Buddy's Fruit Salad {all though i was a rebel and used cherries & knew she'd be jealous that I found seedless grapes at this time of year.. it made me laugh}. Of course I would have totally freaked most of you out when I served raisin bread stuffing, but I promise it was really good. I skipped the mashed potatoes, I know completely unThanksgiving "ish" of me especially since I subbed it with coleslaw that I didn't even make someone else did!  And the rolls, I'm sorry there were no rolls! And, as long as we're discussing food I just realized that the beans I steamed are still sitting in the microwave where they were cooked!

You'll all be happy to know we wrapped our evening up with a Christmas movie, not that any were showing on the tv, but that didn't stop us. We pulled one out of our stash and popped it on. No, you guys can stop squirming I promise it wasn't It's A Wonderful Life, but I must say it's been a while since I've viewed that one. In fact, I don't think the boys ever have.. It might be best not to mention this to Charlie because he might beg the movie shop to take their copy and hide it.

We hope you all have an amazing and lovely Thanksgiving. Hand out an extra round of hugs and kisses for Uncle D and tell him we miss him heaps and pray for him often and that we hope he has a great time being back home for a while. Then when you're done sit on him until he gives you a postal address we can send him a package to. If that yeilds no results I suggest you grab Miss B and hold her for ransom until he fesses up, but don't tell him it was my idea!

Don't stuff yourselves too much on the main course, you are having desert right? You really must try cranberry ice cream it was a huge success here! It was weird, I didn't even make apple pie, or pumpkin, but I did make cranberry ice cream. Perhaps not the most normal, but it sure was tasty!

Lots of Love,

All of us

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Welcomed Finish

I missed an awful lot of sleep and sweated a whole lot in hopes of meeting my goals for Nano this year. There were quite a few days when I just didn't think I'd make. November has been an incredibly busy month for us between moves, visitors, school, and life in general.

Last night I was holding pretty steady in the 48,000+ area, when Mr S leaned over and asked me if I was sleep typing. I was. I can easily type with my eyes closed or while watching someone or something else, so apparently dosing off didn't make too much of a difference all though I had a lot of .... 's happening.

I am delighted to have met the goal and put the story I'm working on on the back burner for now!  It's kept me extremely busy, but I'm so going to enjoy sleeping at rising at normal hours again. This may have been the hardest year I've had yet!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Funny Story

On Wednesday we were enroute to a relatives home for dinner after hanging out at the beach in the rain waiting for Mr S and his brother to finish at work.

We're cruising down the highway when my car conked out. Literally. It clunked and I saw several lights pop on and had just enough time to get to the shoulder before a few large trucks flew by. Mr S & his brother got out and finished pushing us out of harms way.

It was a long night as we waited for roadside assistance, then a taxi to haul three-quarters of us back home. Then a tow truck to haul the rest of us and Old Blue back to the house. My poor bil had been trying to order the kids pizza but apparently the website didn't recognise our address as "real" and he failed quite miserably at the whole thing. It was a bad day to break down because I was in dire need of a grocery store trip.

So along comes ten o clock at night and the pizza man finally shows up. We indulged while watching a Mr Bean cartoon and we washed it all down with chocolate cream pie. That pie was a story in and of itself, and the short version is that I stole another bil's chocolate pie at our family camp out because I told him that Australian pie crust is woefully pitiful compare to American. In order to prove my point I'd made a homemade chocolate cream pie to take along on our adventure.

Wondering what a huge watermelon has to do with this story? I'm getting there.. The following morning I was racing around packing lunches & trying to find something for dinner when I remembered our local grocery stores all have home delivery now. That morning I placed an order for all the things that had been on my shopping list with our local Woolies. Our order was set to arrive the following morning between 730 and 1030.

It arrived just before 9 am and while unpacking it and making sure all my items were accounted for I pulled out my bananas. They've recently dropped dramatically in price and I ordered some. Only, my first clue I'd miscalculated weights was when I pulled out two large fingers of bananas. No biggie, it's been months since we've had bananas on hand daily, and it showed because by the time Mr S got home from work there were three, yes three bananas left.

Then I unpacked the watermelon. I stood there and laughed. Watermelon is not generally sold whole in our area, that was hard to get use to at first. In the states you buy a whole watermelon and take it home and cut it as desired. Here you buy chunks of melon and pay by the kilo. While it seems odd, it's actually assuring you get a decent bit of melon! Anyway, I looked at the list thinking, "Wow, I didn't think a melon was only 3 kilos." Yeah, apparently I hadn't said 3 kilos, I'd said 5. Good thing we like melon!!

It gets funnier.. I wanted some jalepeno peppers, the masses are screaming for mexican and I needed one for the recipe I intended to make. Only, I have no idea how much one little pepper weighs. I do know that I generally pay between 20 and 40 some odd cents for them. So, I told them I wanted a quarter kilo because I wasn't thinking mathematically and didn't think to write an eighth of a kilo. I have a bag full of jalepenos out there! I kid you not & that bag smelled hot too.  Lesson learned!

I have to confess though, shopping online with Woolies was pretty painless. They did forget two items I ordered but I just rang the number on my order sheet {the driver left me with another copy} and they quickly refunded the money for those two items. The prices vary for delivery depending on how much you order, and the more you order the cheaper it is! Perfect when you've got no car.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Government Branches

As part of our Revolutionary War review wrap up we read the book How The U.S. Government Works. Government, regardless of the country, can be a tough topic for kids to fully understand. The U.S. Government is no different & while this book did a reasonable job at breaking it down for them there were still some confused looks across the table when we tried to recap things.

I decided a notebooking pages clearly in order, because sometimes writing it all down on a paper can really help them realize just how much they know. I actually found one that broke the three branches down very mildly for kids and it's available over at Treehouse Kids. It's not free, but the meagre .99 they asked for it was very reasonable and saved me a bit of time.

The page gave the boys the opportunity to write down very simple responses for each branch. We did consider making a poster that expanded upon which people are included in each branch, but considering both boys were fighting colds, I had a birthday cake to make, & camp packing to do we've left it for now.

I will give the book credit that it gave very clear posters/pictures inside of it to help the kids understand who was who within each branch. However, eyes glazed over when terms like Department of... were used. So I broke it down a bit more and said things like, "Police men, Teachers, Garbage Men, etc." All in all, not a bad little book for explaining how they are all meant to work together.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Library Kit

This afternoon was incredibly warm and the guys were all busy with.. guy stuff.. So, I decided to work on another "kit" I had planned for Morgan for Christmas.

It's been our tradition for a while to get the boys at least one book for Christmas. Last year Morgan got three books in one from the Humphrey Hamster series.

Morgan also loves playing library. He's been doing that since he was quite little, but as he gets older the game gets a bit more extravagant. Last time he played, he set up shop in the middle of the doorway to our guest room/library and no one was allowed in or out without a library card and book in hand. Jayden was a willing sport and played the game with him for hours as they took turns being librarian.

I spotted a few kits online, including some you could purchase. I wasn't really interested in purchasing something so simple that had consumables in it knowing that they could easily be used up and money wouldn't have been well spent. There are also quite a few out there that are printable, but most of them are meant for ladies and are a tad grown up and florally. So I came up with my own idea. First I grabbed another empty case we had laying around. Morgan use to receive a science experiment kit each Christmas and/or birthday and now that some of them are completely used up I've got extra cases that I've been saving for these crafts.

First I made some library cards up. This wasn't necessary because there are heaps out there to print even for kids! A simple google search will probably bring them up, that's how I found them. Anyway, I went the route of quickly making some. I had intentions of putting writing on the back too, but opted to keep things more simple. I originally even had each card with a different number on each card, but during my various editing process with lots of cutting and pasting that didn't make it to the final cut.

Next, I printed out heaps of bookplates. Again, these were scavenged off the next over time. I'd actually intended to make this for Morgan last year, but never got to it so I had some things saved up for the project. There are heaps here but I adore the Pigeon one by Mo Willems. Then again we are pretty big Pigeon fans. There's a few made by Mike Inkpen in there and then some cute random ones. Each time I tried to pick out a favorite I'd find another too ooh & ahh over. I might just have to print some more out for myself. I think Morgan will love putting these in his own books, and while they aren't sticker and require glue if you have a Xyron Sticker Maker you can turn them into stickers.

I also whipped up more library pockets. I made doubles of most paper by simply folding the paper in half, tracing the pattern, and then cutting out two at a time. There's no adhesive on the back of these either, again glue or the Xyron, just depends on if we have sticker paper in the house or not for the sticker maker. I really don't mind him putting these in his own books, and wouldn't mind them being in mine. In fact, somewhere I have a bookplate that is a library check-out card and each time a friend borrows the book they sign it and then say if they liked it or not on that card! I think that's a really cute idea too, but just not what I had in mind for my boy. Instead, I have some library cards that I purchased years ago in America for a scrapbooking project that I pulled out for him. Again, you can find printables online, but since I had some premade I just stuffed them in the box.

This little book is known as a book of lists. It was a freebie I found online and adorably cute and small and just the right size! I stuck it in the box so he can note down when a book is "due" or who checked out what if he wants. I was originally going to purchase one of those fun little date stamps {the ones you turn to make whatever date you want}, but decided this would be a cheaper {free} idea! I may still pick up a stamp down the line, but for now I like that this whole kit went together for absolutely nothing because I had everything laying around the house.

There was a bit of headroom left in the box and caused the items to spill a bit, so I found a mini pen with gobs of different colors and tucked that in as well as this chubby orange notebook. It worked to keep everything in place when the box was closed and tipped and turned!

Then I whipped up a couple of labels while the intended receiver of this gift decided to sit down right next to the printer to learn how to play a game! I set his brother on duty of catching the paper before Morgan saw it. I glued both labels over the original science experiment labels and then tucked the whole kit away to the top shelf of my closet. I know it seems a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but I have quite a few homemade things for the boys and needed a good sized jump start. Best part, this kit cost us nothing to make because we had everything we needed around the house! I love that, and I love that he'll love this kit. I just hope he lets me play library and doesn't make me pay for a library card!

Here are a few links to some of the things I've mentioned in this post:
Book Of Lists {there's a video there if you are unfamiliar with putting this type of book together}
Free Library Cards
Free Bookplates Galore*
Free Library pockets & Check out Cards
Free Printable Kit For Kids from
Girly/Ladies Library Kit {I might make this for me & a friend or two..}

*Be sure to use the buttons on the top left hand side to find even more bookplates in varying sizes. I'm not sure that all my bookplates came from there, but a good percentage of them did. 

Sugar-Free PB Cups

If you can excuse the blurry photo you'll see a peanut butter cup. Mr S was sick this weekend with a cold & sleeping in. The boys and I were sitting around the table debating what to do when I remembered there was chocolate in the pantry and I'd just restocked on the only decent tasting peanut butter that doesn't have sugar in it in our area. I jumped up and said, "Let's make candy."

The boys were far more interested in playing lego and had no idea what I was talking about so I set about the task myself.

Last week I'd picked up a bar of sugar-free chocolate from the local health food store. It did have artificial sugar in it vs a natural sugar. Normally we avoid these things, but on occasion we succumb. This particular bar {sorry no photo} was Swiss chocolate and I was in shock that it was sugar-free. Thus it landed in my basket.

Anyway, all I did was break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it in the microwave. This took a bit of time and a lot of stirring. Probably for the best because despite the call of lego I had the boys empty the dishwasher before running off for the day. I also melted peanut butter, about a tablespoons worth. I just put it in a bowl and heated it in the microwave until it was very runny.  Then I poured a thin layer of chocolate in the bottom of a mini muffin pan, topped it with a generous scoop of the peanut butter, & topped it with more chocolate.

I put it in the fridge to harden while I cleaned up the kitchen & exercised. I know, the irony of exercising while candy hardens in the fridge is a bit much, but that's the way things roll around here. After it was hardened I popped them out of the pan and the boys indulged, as you can tell by the above photo!

The boys thought they were awesome, and this is one of their favorite "candies", all though they rarely ever get to have them from the shop. I confess to trying one, and they weren't bad. I'm not sure they tasted exactly as I recall a Reece's tasting, but I can't even remember the last time I ate one so you never know! I'm considering trying it again and adding a few things to the peanut butter, just for fun. We'll see. My idea was to try this recipe on the kids and make a few for them for Christmas.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pen Pal Kit

This year Morgan has picked up a few pen pals this year & I thought it would be fun to throw together a pen pal kit for him for Christmas.

I spotted one over at Eighteen25 that came with it's own printable & it was close to what I was after, but honestly I wanted one for him to store all the bits and pieces for writing letters instead of him mailing a kit out to his pen pals.

Don't get me wrong, it would be really fun to post one to each of his pen pals, but that wasn't my original goal. So I took their idea and turned it into something that would work for me. The only thing I forgot was a "Keep Out" sign on the craft room door. Thus Morgan walked in while I was working on it and I belly flopped on top of the whole project and screamed, "OUT!! OUT NOW!" much to his horror.

When you open the lid this is the inside of the lid. I used my library pocket pattern to trace onto some cute scrapbooking paper I had stored away. Once pocket holds stickers to decorate letters & envelopes, or to simply stick in his letter and send to his pen friend. The other side holds index cards with the addresses of his penpals. And no, he doesn't have a dozen pen pals, I put extra cards in there incase he wants to add a friend or family members address to his stash.

In the bottom of the box we have envelopes. Rather then buy fancy stationary for him I just printed some little images on the corner of a bunch of envelopes. I think I ended up printing out something like 30 all up; six of each kind. I also had some others with the little boy and dog on it that I printed out that had one of those speaking bubbles that says, "A Note From Morgan."

I used a funband to keep them all in a neat pile inside the box. I figured otherwise he'll open it, spill them all over and then cram them in the box causing them to get bent. They'd still be useable, but he'd probably ask me to print out new ones instead. And no, I didn't put the postcode box on there, that's standard around here.

I also dug out a packet of Veggie Tale note cards I picked up ages ago. I think we found them at an op shop, completely unused! I tend to have cards and bits tucked away to send to someone eventually, and this pack was just the perfect size to fit into his little kit.

I threw in two pads of writing paper we picked up at the cheap store. I actually stocked up when I spotted them so he could send some of them to his penfriends, but I figured I'd stick a couple in his box. I might change them out if I find different ones, or simply add them to the box. The idea though, was that this box went together really quickly for nothing. I know he'll love it.

I rounded up a few writing supplies and put them in there too. I did purchase the mini correction tape for him as we were out and he does enjoy using it instead of having to start all over again. So much so that he's been known to glue snippets of paper over mistakes he's made so that he can keep going and "no one will know". What he doesn't know is that the pack came with 3, so I have a few extras hidden away incase he runs out. He'll be happy to see the blue ben with the Jelly Baby on it. I picked up two back when the JDRF was selling them.

And there it is all packed up and ready to go! I'd like to take some blank labels I have and make him some address labels to go with it, and I might see about picking him up a packet of stamps. The problem with stamps is that when you mail your letters internationally it's a bit harder to know how many stamps you'll need. The balls on the right hand side are gumballs. He's not a big gum chewer, but he does enjoy the occasional gum ball, I thought it would be fun to include some! The kit is now hidden away in the top of my closet, and this officially kicks off the beginning of Christmas gift making. I have quite a few more "kits" I am excited to get started on and squirrel away before Christmas.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

ipad Cover

A while back I mentioned that my husband bought me an ipad for all the ebook school manuals and books that we have.  It is not my preferred way to read books, but sure does save heaps on printing out 200+ manuals!

I've used it, as I might have mentioned before, for purchasing manuals that would cost too much to have shipped to me. I also use it for various studies or books that are only sold as ebooks.

One of the items I use on it daily is our Grapevine Bible, I can enlarge the page so that the kids only see the part I want them to be working on.

However, I really wanted a stand for our ipad and a case. Unfortunately some of the cases out there that fit what I was looking for were pretty stinking expensive! I'm always shocked by how much things like that cost after you've paid for the actual item. While searching around I actually found a pattern for an ipad cover that fit what I wanted over on SewSpoiled's Etsy Shop.

I ran a trial sew with the pattern and was a bit disappointed to find that it was too small! The pattern does come in two sizes for the original ipad and the newer ipad, but I used the appropriate size & verified that it was printed properly. Thus my ipad doesn't quite fit into it as it should {see picture above}. I plan to try again cutting the pattern a bit larger and trying again. If you do make the pattern you absolutely do need all the supportive bits called for in the pattern. As in, interfacing, wood, and the other bits. Without it the case doesn't stay propped open on it's own as it should.