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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Paper Japanese Lantern Tutorial

   The fact that I'm writing this tutorial kind of cracks me up. My friend G. is slightly... Shall we say... Craft challenged. I recently posted a picture of the Japanese lantern jack o' lantern that my 3 year old daughter made (with my help) on my Facebook.

 My friend asked for a link with instructions. I didn't have one. I tried to explain how simple this project was, because, I mean, surely everyone knows how to make a Japanese lantern, right? But then, I remembered her own description of her ineptitude with crafts and thought that perhaps... Well, anyway. Here I am, with pictures, to demonstrate this simple, fun, preschool (or any age!), Halloween craft!

1. Okay.  So, first, you're going to need some orange paper.  We just used orange construction paper, but if you're terribly artistic, I suppose you could use scrapbook paper with a pretty pattern on it or something a little fancier.  :-)

2.  Our lantern needs a handle, so before we do anything else, we need to fold up a 1" (roughly) piece of the paper to give us a sort of straight mark to cut this off.

3. Trim off the 1" strip along the short edge along the crease that you made.  Reserve this strip for later use as the handle for your lantern.

4. Let your artist draw their jack o' lantern face onto the remaining large piece of paper.  In this instance, I was in a hurry, so I scrawled a quick one myself.  For young children, you might draw the outline, and let them color it in.  I am usually going for process over product, personally, so if I can convince mine to do it, I make them draw their own, even if they complain that it won't be "perfect."  Another option would be to let them paint it, or to have sponges pre-cut into triangles and let them stamp.  Anything goes.

5. okay, once the face is complete, you want to fold your paper in half, the long way.  (Hot dog fold.)

6. Now we're ready to start cutting.  You're going to make parallel cuts along the folded edge about 1" apart all the way across your jack o' lantern.  
 Be sure not to cut all the way through, but to leave about an inch of uncut paper at the top to hold it all together. 

7. Now that you've cut all the way across, unfold your jack o' lantern.  It should look something like this:

8. Now the assembly begins.  Loop your paper around so that the short edges are over lapping, as seen in the picture below.  You'll want enough overlap so that you can staple (Or tape, or glue, but I think stapling is the most expedient) each end.
 When you staple both ends and turn it around, it should look something like this:

 9. Attach the handle at the top with a staple on either side, so that the face is centered.  That's it!  Your Japanese lantern is complete and can be hung anywhere for a very cute holiday decoration!  :-)

I forgot a step!
10. Take a picture of your munchkin with their creation.   They'll love that they made this simple Halloween craft with minimal help from you, and they'll be excited to hang it somewhere to decorate for the holiday!

Happy Crafting!

Cute Halloween Treats... Finally!

   Where to start. I always thought that I'd be one of those moms who is always making the cute stuff for her kids' class parties. I supposed, before I was a mom, that I would always have homemade cookies waiting when they got home from school, and that I'd make amazing cakes and cupcakes for their birthdays... You know... I'd be that mom.
But, then I actually became a mom. I love being a mom so much that most of my focus is actually on my kids rather than on making cutesy snacks and stuff to make myself feel like a good mom. (I'm not calling out people who make cutesy snacks, here. I love you people. I wish that I had enough time and focus to do both. I don't.) Once my kids were born, I realized that babies, when you parent them full time, take up pretty much all of your time. It was shocking how much of your time you could spend simply feeding a baby. How can 20 out of 24 hours be spent caring for the baby, and the other 4 spent “sleeping?” (sleeping is in quotation marks, because I'm pretty convinced that that's a lie.) Anyway, I thought that, as my kids got older, then I would make the cute things. For awhile, I did make a few cute things. But, I seemed to always have babies. Then, instead of enrolling my kids in school, I decided to homeschool them, which means that our class parties are, well... Few and far between. So... That limits my excuses to make cutesy snacks and such.
But recently, a friend suggested that we turn our October homeschool roller skate playdate into an actual Halloween get together. She said she was bringing stuff to turn the usual humdrum snack table into a spooky Halloween scape, and that she wanted the rest of us to join her, if we would. I was stoked. Which brings me to my opportunity to show off my attempts at fun, Halloween themed, cutesy snacks. In a stroke of luck, I had recently seen a blog elsewhere showing off some very cute Halloween snacks. I put my own spin on them, and here's what I came up with:
These are Nutter Butter cookies, dipped in white chocolate, with mini chocolate chips for eyes.  Nutter Butter ghosts.  Tres cute, no?

Ghost Poop mini marshmallows!  Could you die from the cuteness?  

Mummy juice boxes.  Just wrapped them in crepe paper streamers and stuck googly eyes on them.  How stinking cute, am I right?  

My one regret? My friend saw these cupcakes before I did, and got the chance to make them before I could. Darn.  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In Which my Husband Fails at Home Improvement...

   I love my husband. He has many fine qualities, not the least of which are an unwavering devotion to my own awesomeness that I find to be somewhat endearing. Call me crazy, but I enjoy the boost it gives to my ego. I make him read these blog entries, by the way, so he's well aware of the public defamation suit he could win if he ever decides to seek legal recourse against me. That being said, among the list of his finer qualities, you will not find anywhere a check mark or gold star next to an item praising him for his unwavering devotion to honey do jobs and home repair projects. You just... won't.
The funny thing is, most of the projects that he needs to do are very simple and would only take him a few minutes to complete, but he still puts them off as though he were avoiding a kitten execution or something. Case in point, a few years ago, I decided that I wanted a bookcase headboard for our king size bed. Not one of the ones with the huge shelves on both sides that take up a ton of room, just a simple bookcase headboard because we are both avid readers and it seemed like a practical choice. But, when we went looking for what I wanted, it turns out they don't actually make those, or at least they don't sell them anywhere near here. But I have this issue where if I can't have what I want, then I just don't want anything. So, we went without a headboard for awhile until I received an email from a freecycle group one day offering a king size bookcase headboard. It was intended for a waterbed, but I asked Hunny and he agreed that it could be made to work with minimal carpentry skills. So, I responded to the offer and we picked up the headboard and lumber and supplies to make my bookcase headboard dream come true. I was so excited about this project. We came home with all of the supplies, and carried them in, but it was a Sunday afternoon, and Hunny had to work the next day, so he didn't start on the project that day. No problem. We just sat the stuff in the hall and I waited patiently for my bookcase headboard. I waited... for nine months. When I was finally sick of cleaning around the stack of materials and so aggravated that I was ready to tell him just to throw the stuff out if he wasn't going to actually do anything with the headboard, he got mad and started on the project. 15 to 20 minutes later, I had a headboard. I was happy about the headboard, but completely flabbergasted that I had worked around the headboard, reading lights, and lumber for 9 months for this “big project” that he completed in less than a half an hour. Sigh.
At any rate, these kinds of things have happened here and there throughout our marriage. I don't even get mad about them anymore. It's actually just kind of funny exactly how far he'll go to avoid a project. I've come to determine that, in many cases it's because he's decided that he wants to turn it into this big production, and make it perfect, when I just want it functional. The headboard, for example, he had big plans for that. I just wanted it functional. Regardless, knowing his penchant for avoiding honey do projects like the plague, I've learned to be fairly self sufficient just in self-defense. But, sometimes it will still catch me off guard just how much he hates fixing things.
Which is why, when the flush handle assembly on our toilet broke, I didn't expect to be reaching down into the tank and flushing it by pulling on the chain by hand for a week. But, that's exactly what happened. I even mentioned a couple of times in passing that he should pick up a new handle thingie (technical term, that) on his way home from work. It didn't happen. This is another example of me not really knowing how big of a project we were looking at. I, like I suspect many of you reading this, don't give much thought to the inner workings of the toilet. I do my business, I push the handle, it makes the big whoosh sound, water flows down, and it flushes. Occasionally there's plunging involved, particularly with 3 small children in the house, one of whom has been quoted as saying, “I can clog a toilet with me eyes shut!” (That's actually a factual statement, by the way. No details, but really, it's impressive.) Anyway, finally, last night, we were going out to dinner and then to the store to pick up a few odds and ends, and Hunny demanded that I write a shopping list. So, amongst the other items, I scrawled “toilet handle flusher thingie.” I was hoping against hope that he would get the subtle hint that I was really tired of plunging my hand into the back of the toilet to flush it.
To my surprise, when we traveled to the plumbing aisle of our local Wal-Mart, the flush handles were under $5. In fact, I think we paid a whopping $2.86 for the one Hunny chose to replace the broken one. So much for my theory that he was hesitant to buy an expensive repair part. Well, it must be terribly difficult and or time consuming to put in, was my next theory. When we arrived home after our shopping excursion, I was putting away the few groceries we had picked up, and I sent Eggy to take the flush handle to his daddy so that the toilet repair work could begin. I had an ulterior motive. I had to pee and I did NOT want to put my hand into that tank one more time just to flush the toilet.
10 minutes later, Hunny was lounging on the bed, playing with his smart phone, and the handle assembly was still in it's package, waiting. Sigh. I picked it up and started into the bathroom.
What are you doing?”
Seeing how hard it is to fix a toilet since you haven't moved.”
Calm down. I'll get to it. I just haven't gotten up yet.”
At this point, I have visions of headboards and flat tires in my head. No, thank you, sir. “I have to pee and I don't want to reach into the tank to have to flush it one more time!”
Then don't.”
I heaved a long suffering sigh. He continued peacefully playing with his phone. My bladder gave a squawk. Really. This toilet stuff couldn't be that hard, right? No, it really couldn't. It consisted of screwing off the old handle and throwing it away, taking the nut off of the new handle, putting it through the hold on the tank, and threading the nut onto it. I did have to reach into the tank to attach the chain, but it was a 2 minute repair. Don't think I didn't question exactly why I'm married if I have to change my own flat tire and fix my own toilet within the space of a matter of days. Then I remembered he can still get things off of high shelves and the paycheck comes in handy. Okay. He can stay. ;-)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chivalry is Dead, but I still WIN!!!!!

   Yesterday, I changed a flat tire. If that were all that I had to tell you, it would be a pretty short tale, but there's a back story that deserves some attention. Let me back up and tell you about the events leading to the great tire changing of Thursday morning.
Saturday, nearly a week ago, my sister was visiting and we had plans to go to a local festival. We got up and showered and dressed, preparing for our day of sisterly fun. But, when we went to load ourselves into my van, we noticed that one of my rear tires was flat. Not a huge deal. I'd picked up a nail a month or so before and we'd had it plugged, so I kind of assumed that the plug just didn't hold. But, I was already showered and dressed and I didn't feel like changing a flat. So, for the sake of expediting the trip out to the festival, we decided just to take my sister's vehicle instead.
Hunny was already at the festival, because for some reason that escapes me, people feel he is a responsible and upstanding member of society, and thus he has been entrusted with the youth of the nearest small town as our local Cub Master for Cub Scouts.
Yeah, he looks totally trustworthy.  (Teenage Hunny was NOT a Scout.)

So, he was set up in a booth selling popcorn for fundraising purposes. So, I called and notified him of the flat and went on about my day. Keep in mind that this was Saturday, nearly a week ago, and I changed the flat myself yesterday, Thursday, nearly a week later.
I didn't have any pressing engagements this week, so I didn't really have to be on the road. Not to mention that I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I really didn't want to go anywhere anyway. But, mainly, I had a flat tire, and I just knew that my husband was going to take care of that for me. You know, since he's my husband and all. True, I can change a tire myself. It's also true that I didn't actually ask him to deal with it. But, I presumed that, since he's supposed to love me, and since it is a much simpler job for him, that he would, when he got the chance, change the tire for me. Which brings me to Thursday morning.
The van sat, slightly uneven, on it's 3 good tires and 1 very flat tire in the exact same spot that I had found it in Saturday morning. Hunny had already been at work for a couple of hours and I was drinking a cup of coffee on the couch while the kids did some schoolwork online. I did what I usually do when I take a coffee break. I picked up my laptop and logged into facebook and the program I use to IM with Hunny throughout the day. He had his first appointment with his endocrinologist scheduled for that morning, and although I had wanted to go, I hadn't been able to find sitting for the kids, and I still had a flat tire, so I was planning upon staying home. But, when I log into IM, my conversation with Hunny goes something like this:
Me: “Hi.”
Hunny: “Hi.”
Me: “How's your morning going?”
Hunny: “Blah.”
Me: “Yeah. Here too. Not enough coffee. Too many children. You?”
Hunny: “Pretty much.”
Me: “Ha!”
Hunny: “When are you heading out?”
Me: “Where am I headed out to?”
Hunny: “My endo appt is this morning. Remember?”
Me: “I have a flat tire.”
Hunny: “You also have a spare.”
Me: “I also have a husband who hasn't bothered to change it since SATURDAY! It's not like I'm on the side of the road, here. It's in the driveway, man.”
Hunny: “I haven't had time to fool with it.”
Me: “Have, too.”
Hunny: “When?”
Me: “Anyway, I wasn't able to get a sitter, so flat tire aside, I didn't think that you wanted me to bring 3 small, slightly obnoxious children on your doctor appointment.”
Hunny: “I didn't get the paperwork that they sent me. I wonder how important that is.”
Me: “The paperwork off of the fridge that I filled out for you a month ago?”
Hunny: “Yes.”
Me: “I guess I can see if I can get a last minute sitter and change the tire. Sigh.”
At which point I went out to change the tire. Now, let me just say, I have changed flat tires before. I don't like changing them. But, I can change them, and I have before. I think that everyone should be able to change a flat tire in the event that they need to. However, if it's not an emergency, and he's available to do it for me, I also think that my husband should do it for me, because it would only take him about half the time it takes me. It just makes sense that if you are more developmentally capable of performing a task, then you perform that task, under normal circumstances. For instance, I will probably never ask him to breastfeed. I know that, given proper drugs and stimuli, he could, but I'm obviously more equipped to do that job. Sigh.
But, since he'd backed me into a corner, I went out to change the stupid tire anyway. Except, it turned into an even bigger production than necessary. A part of the jack was stripped. I had to go find a pair of pliers to hold the jack piece so that I could get it apart. Then, the lug nuts were on really tight and I almost couldn't get them off. The tire was apparently put on with an impact wrench, so it was really on there. I had to stand and jump up and down on the handle of the wrench to get every single lug nut loose to get the wheel off. The entire process took me an hour. It would have taken my husband 20 minutes. The whole time, I'm thinking to myself that he's very lucky that I'm not terribly good at being a girl, or I might have cried in frustration and tried to cut someone with a nail file, or whatever it is that real girls have on hand that's weapon-like. All of this, plus an injury to my thumb, just to take him his paperwork. I'd have scanned it in and emailed it to him, but I still haven't learned to use the printer he bought me, and frankly changing the tire seemed like the lesser of the two evils at the time. In retrospect, I might have been a little too hasty in my decision making. However, lest you're thinking that he got off easy, keep in mind that he got the company of three small, slightly obnoxious children for his doctor visit, and I made him take us out to lunch. I also told everyone who would listen, really loudly, about how I ended up changing the tire, and about how he passed out like a total girl when he had his blood drawn. So there you go. Even when I lose, I WIN! ;-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sick Day Schmick Day....

Yesterday, I woke up with a terrible headache. I lounged on the couch with the quilt my grandma made me and tried not to die while the kids played and tried not to incite homicidal rage. They were actually very well behaved and, for the most part, tried to be considerate. Yet, around noon, I still found myself having to utter the following: "Let her out!  You can't lock your sister in the washing machine! That's completely unsafe! What were you thinking!" Which answers the question of why mothers can't ever, ever have sick days. Sigh.  I apologize for my lengthy absence on the blogging front and promise to attempt to do better.  I have no real excuse except...  Well...  I needed a break.