Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fast Craft! Halloween Spider

Move over itsy-bitsy spider…..have I got an arachnid for you!!
I’ve been looking for easy, I mean 4 year old and 18-month-old easy Halloween crafting projects for the kids. Something for those with less-than stellar fine motor skills and less that ten minute attention spans.
So I came up with this speed-crafting spider. Now I'm not saying it actually resembles a spider...but thank goodness children have wild imaginations....
You will need the following materials:
Black construction paper (or other color of your choosing)
4 pipe cleaners per spider
glue stick
scotch tape
That’s it!
Step 1) Kids scrunch paper into a wad. This will be come spiders body. Reinforce with scotch tape.

Step 2) wrap pipe cleaners evenly around body of spider. Twist at bottom so they stay in place. Once you’ve done this four times, you should have 8 legs.

Step 3) glue on googly eyes.

Step 4) attach string and hang.

You’re done!
Really, this could take less than five minutes. Our project was extended by various renditions of “itsy-bitsy spider” and choosing names for our spiders and playing with scotch tape. Why do I bother to even invest in toys when all I have to do is give my kids a roll of scotch tape??

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The L.A. County Fair: The Quest for the Candy Apple

Recently, Mr. P. and I finished reading Charlotte’s Web together. There were many things to take from this book: vegetarianism, how agriculture works, the idea of friendship…but the thing that made the biggest impression on 4-year-old Mr. P. was the mention of the candied apples at the County Fair.
He loves apples. He loves candy. So it makes sense that marrying the two would be cause for excitement.
To follow up, we decided that a trip to the L.A. County Fair was in order.
After a 35-minute drive we arrived. Mr. P. on a mission to eat a candied apple. My sister and I on a mission to try a deep-friend Twinkie. And my Dad on a mission to check out the latest gadgets at the showrooms.
There was silliness going on before we even entered the fair.
The first item on the list of crap….blue and pink cotton candy!!

Then…..a little balloon darts.
We won!!! Auntie held the prize.

Tempting, but.....NO!!!

And we took a tour of the model train track with a beautiful suspension bridge.

For lunch, deep-fried zucchini.

This was the most bizarre discovery at the fair.
Let me start by saying that Mr. P. passed on every ride, including the kiddie rides. Yet, when he saw these claustrophobic, questionably waterproof balls floating on water, he was all in! They put him into the deflated sack, stuck some sort of vacuum mechanism inside and blew it up. Then he was walking on water. A real Bubble Boy!
The following is a montage of SOME of the things that Papa consumed at the fair. I repeat, only some.
And this is where it all sent him....
(we called ourselves the "papa" razzi because we are so very clever.)
Mr. P. was inspired by Papa's hand-dipped ice cream.
We toured the barn animals. I found a teacup piggy so cute I almost wanted to take him home to cuddle with or eat...I couldn't decide.
Mr. P. kept busy leaping across hay bales.

Mr. P. was intrigued by the princess palace filled with all sorts of pink, domestic cleaning apparatuses. I am glad that someone in the family has taken to housework.
And you know a dollar is too much to pay to enter the "L.A. in ice" freezer when the highlight is the all-ice couch.
Finally, a treat that was low in calories!

It was around here that I was reminded (over and over again) about that Candy Apple. And putting forth the argument that perhaps fried zucchini for lunch on top of cotton candy and chocolate covered ice cream apparently was not a strong argument. So, I forked over the $6.00 for an old-fashioned candy apple.
I thought he was happy about it.

Yet, upon presentation, Mr. P. uttered, “What’s that?”
“A candy apple,” I said.
He took a bite.
“Yuck. I don’t like the caramel.”
So, I engaged in a favorite fair pastime: peeling the caramel off of the candied apple (That was SO not in E.B. White's book!!)
So we were left with just a $6 green apple.
Mr. P. passed.
All in all a delightful day at the fair. I left fatigued, fried-out and utterly fat, but happy.

And Mr. P. took an unusual nap on the way home.
Guess we'll have to wait until next year to try that deep fried Twinkie.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What the Frock??

You may be asking yourself.... "What has meremade been doing? Where are the fruits of her labor? Why does she claim that sewing is her hobby when she hasn't had anything to show for it in months?"

May I present to you my fall fashion line-up. I call this collection, "What the Frock?"
I have been working from Heather Ross's book Weekend Sewing for a few months now, determined to sew something wearable. I wish I could say that I only want to wear clothing that I make, but....let's just say my collection is a bit wonky.
Nonetheless, I'm happy to share it with everyone.
Up first, we have a cheery apron that I made for my sister for her birthday (to go along with that cake). This is my favorite piece.
Next, we have a blouse made with cotton lawn from Liberty of London. This piece was a pain-in-the ass and I have to say, it's not the most flattering thing unless you're into that boxy look.
And, the piece de resistance, my first dress. This is made in a light, navy jersey material. There are so many mistakes here; I don't even know where to begin. Seams that are supposed to be hidden are fully exposed. I plan on adding some floral embellishments, a la Anthropologie, to trick the eye into not noticing said mistakes.
But I wore it to craft night last night (which really has turned into wine tasting night, but whatever) and it didn't fall off, which in my book, makes it a success!!!
Stay tuned for my next collection....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sand in the Place Where You Live

We have a new sandbox.

Let me back track.

We have a lovely sandbox out back. There's a kids' treehouse above, which keeps it nice and shady. However, kids aren't the only living creatures that have discovered this desert oasis. The neighborhood cats have decided that it is the world's greatest litter box and I'm just not into my kids make log cabins out of kitty poop.

So, that sandbox is no longer in use.

Which brings us to our current "circus themed" sandbox that is now on the balcony outside our bedroom.

Kudos to Basil for figuring out how to put the thing together. It's nice and shady. And has good storage for toys. The kids love playing in it first thing in the morning and I love lounging on the sleeper next to them, drinking my morning coffee.

So all in all....a big hit....except for the fact that we are all tracking sand in the house. If only those kids would learn how to vacuum already.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Do As I Say, Not As I Do - Cardamom Acorn Squash

The first time I made this recipe was with acorn squash and it was absolutely delicious! Being that I like to experiment, I tried the next batch with round zucchini. It was absolutely disgusting. Recently, I found a beautiful Kabocha squash at the farmer's market. They are my favorite type of squash and I thought I'd try my hand at the Cardamom recipe.

I totally defiled the squash.
Kabocha is the kind of squash that is so full of flavor; you really need to do little to it. Roasting it with a little olive oil would have been plenty.
In any case, although the pictures are of the kabocha squash debacle, the recipe is geared towards Acorn Squash.
So do as I say, not as I do.........
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 tablespoon cardamom
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Heat over to 475 degrees.
Place butter in saucepan under medium heat. Once butter is melted, take off the heat and add the vanilla, cardamom, and maple syrup. Save some of the mixture for the end of the recipe.
Slice the squash into two-inch strips. Place on baking pan. Using a brush, dip into cardamommixture and then brush both sides of squash. Bake for 10 minutes on one side, flip squash and bake for 5 more minutes.
Take squash out of over and drizzle with the rest of the mixture and sprinkle with salt.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake

I have wanted to make a multi-colored cake forever and I finally had the opportunity to do so at my sister's birthday fete.

Enter: the process

I had these fabulous natural food coloring from Whole Foods (you'll recall the mini cupcakes for my mom's birthday)

So, I made white cake, divided the batter in four and put a different color in each bowl of batter.

My fatal flaw was buying only one cake pan for all four cakes, so I had to wait the 45 minutes to bake each cake before transferring it to a cooling rack and then rewashing the pan and going through the whole process three more times. Had I purchased 4 cake pans, I would have been done in under an least with the baking portion.

Once I had all four cakes, I made the icing.....a nice hot pink.

You have to carefully slice the top of each cake to make sure they lie flat on top of one another (I learned that from watching Ace of Cakes once.) Then I began icing each cake and carefully stacking them on top of one another. When the all four layers were stacked and I had iced the top....I RAN OUT OF ICING for the sides of the cake!!!!

My vision went from party to pathetic! I needed a solution fast. Gazing out my kitchen window pondering where I went wrong, an overgrown branch of hot pink bougainvillea breezed by and ding-ding....I had an idea that just might work.

I had Mr. P. bring a sand bucket and gather petals off of the branches. Then, I used them to cover the sides of the entire cake.

The result was pretty exhilarating!

After making a birthday greeting on top, we were ready to go!

And when the birthday girl cut into that first piece, she was greeted with a technicolor cake.

I only panicked slightly when I had a strange memory of bougainvillea being poisonous. Thanks to modern technology and Google at the fingertips of most party-goers with cell phones, we quickly got that one worked out. While the petals were not edible, eating the tainted cake was totally fine.