A little while back I came across the idea of using megablocks to help with phonics skills and fluency. I thought it was a great idea. I’ll try to find the website where I first saw it, and will share it when I do. For now though, here’s our take on it:
Seeing how the girl has outgrown her megablocks and generally is using lego for building, I loved the idea of repurposing her old blocks. So today I pulled out my label maker and her box of blocks and set to work. This should give new life to all her old sets, that haven’t seen the light in several months.
I decided to put both a capitalized and lowercase version of the same word on each block. This way, when we start worrying more about proper capitalization her blocks will still be useful for her. Eventually I’ll be adding a whole lot more words – including many she has requested herself – as well as doubling up some blocks with words like is, was, it, and… as many of them can be used twice in the same super silly, extra long, sentence.
We also decided to use many of her blocks with stickers on them. You know how some sets (like Kai Lan and Diego) have themed stickers that get applied to some blocks? Well, we’ve labeled those too – with Kid kid’s choice of words. It can be nice for early readers to have visual hints when still working towards reading fluency.
So, here are our blocks. I ran out of tape in my label maker, so had to stop a little earlier than I’d have liked. But we still had enough finished to have a bit of fun. Lily-Ann loved my “Dad was stinky” sentence, and I loved that her very first one was “Lily-Ann is cute”. 😉
The challenge for the 25th was “something you made” and for the 26th it’s “colour”. Again hitting two birds with one stone, here’s a photograph that covers both topics:
For my fellow DIYers out there, I know you’ve seen the “play kitchens” made from old TV cabinets. Well, we created kid kid’s art center from a corner TV stand. We pulled out the dvd storage, added storage for her art supplies (they are bamboo kitchen utensil caddies), put up some of her finished art projects, and in a few hours we went from an unused, unwanted, fast-becoming-archaic piece of furniture into a desk/hutch that gets used daily.
Lots of colour, and lots of things we’ve made. 🙂
I had three completely unrelated things to share seeing how I needed to post a photo for challenge days 18, 19, and 20… but then I realized I could very honestly share a project the three of us worked on today and have it fit for all three topics. Yeah, it may be a bit of a cheat – but it’s not a huge one, especially considering I did grab snapshots on both Friday and Saturday, even if I’ve decided to only share a series of images from today. LOL
But first? First I have to share a really quick little story that is super cute and totally warmed my heart. 😀
On Friday I was over at my parents place – watching everyone so Mom could go with Dad to an out of town gig. When Marie, my sister (whom Lily-Ann is named after), got home she came upstairs as usual then asked for my attention. I stopped working on supper and looked over at her: “Yes Marie?”
And with that she held up the index finger on her right hand as if to say just one second. Then she bent WAY down to where little Thor (one of my puppies from the Avenger litter whom is now my Dad’s puppy) was standing, and gave him a little pat. She then stood back up. “Moby.”
My sister, who has never been much of a pet person and who does her best to just ignore the other two dogs in the household, gave me a great big grin and an enthusiastic thumbs up. To which I replied “Awwww…. Marie! I’m so glad you like him. He’s a cute little guy, isn’t he?” She nodded in approval, which made me feel awfully wonderful. 😀
Okay… now onto my challenge photos. 😉
So, I need to share for something I bought, sweet, and someone I love. Well… here are the girl and her Dad working together to put up the last couple of shelves in her room (which he and I started putting up while she was out with my sister Riki earlier today). I think this series of pictures covers all three challenge topics pretty darn well.
This time of year I tend to be on crafting overdrive. Far too many projects and not nearly the time needed to comfortably complete them all. I love it anyway though. 🙂
It used to just be me, crafting all by my lonesome… but now that Kid Kid is five, she’s in it right along with me. It’s awesome to see how well she’s doing to, in so many mediums. Embroidery, sewing, painting, drawing – and that’s just today. We still have planting, baking, decorating, packaging, more painting, more embroidery, more drawing, and a buttload of sewing still to go.
I wish I could share all the projects, but some of the folk who are on the receiving end of our efforts may stop by the blog, so we gotta keep it all under wraps. I gotta say though, as artsy fartsy as we are, all this creative work is absolutely exhausting. It is with great relief that we welcome bedtime tonight.
Another night, another positively exhausting day. At least the basement didn’t flood again (of course, I didn’t do any laundry today either).
Damon and I spent the evening putting together the girl’s new loft bed, while she played at my parents place. Her Tio and Auntie Tabs bought her a new (much smaller) loft which meant we could leave the extra large one we’d built at the old place. It would have been a major headache to get the old one out – especially considering we had to build most of it in the room as it was too big to do any other way. The new one is much smaller and cuter too. And, for now, the loft is full of her boxes that still need unpacking… but it will eventually become Ponyville, home to all the ponies of Equestria.
Now I’m going to bed. LOL
This year, our first in our new home, I figured we should do something different, something special for the holidays. So I decided to put together a thrift store (second hand or previously enjoyed) advent calendar. Thus far, it’s been a really big hit!
We’ve all had those store bought advent calendars with the icky pieces of low quality chocolate behind each window, counting down the days to the holidays. Well, the thrift store advent calendar may count down the days to the holidays, but it’s WAY more fun, and really wasn’t all that expensive either. It may be a little late for you to make one for this year, but I’ll talk you through the process anyway. I have a feeling it may be one other kids would enjoy too.
Step One: Collect the Goodies!
Every kid, or kid at heart, has something little they really enjoy. For Lily-Ann I knew I could find a ton of little My Little Pony and Littlest Petshop items in thrift stores and from my fellow collectors at the MLPTP (an online forum). Used toy cars, and other collectibles would also be great, and for the bigger kids in your life I’m sure there are all sorts of things you could find – think about their favourite things and just go from there.
Step Two: Decide on Packaging!
You’ll also need packaging for your advent calendar. We went cute and inexpensive with these little craft baggies. I actually found them in the baking section at Michael’s, and they were only a few dollars a pack. I bought two packs, one in red and the other in green.
Step Three: Organize your Finds!
Next I poured all the goodies out on my bed and grouped them by theme. In the picture above you can see that a bunch of the LPS items actually made a pretty good “camping” collection. You can see how easy it would be for the girl to pretend that a kitten and a hamster head out for a weekend retreat with everything they might need. Arrange and rearrange everything you’ve purchased until you’ve got 24 (or however long your countdown will be) piles of goodies.
Step Four: Label the Bags!
Labeling the bags is the next step, and while there are lots of cute ways you could do this, I’m about keeping it easy. So if you feel up to it you can use glitter and glue, beads, or stickers, stencils or cut outs, and any number of wonderfully crafty-good items… but I simply grabbed one of the girls markers and wrote right on the bags. As long as you have one bag for every day of your countdown, you are good to go.
Step Five: Fill the Bags!
Deciding what goes in the bag for each day is a fun part. Well, at least I know I enjoyed it… I staggered things so every few days there would be a toy, and it would alternate with a crafting item, or maybe a dress-up item for one of her ponies, or collector’s cards. Of course, you could just dump any old thing in any old bag in any old order, but I had fun with it. LOL
Step Six: Close and Place!
Then all that is left is taping the bags closed and putting them around the tree, leaving them out to be pondered over and opened with relish and the joy of discovery. Enjoy your countdown!!!
I don’t know about you, but I could use another couple of weeks before December. YIKES! How on Earth did it jump from November 10th to November 25th so quickly? Way too many holiday projects are about to become due in no time flat. I had plans to make our own little advent calendar for the girl, but I’m now wondering if I’ll have time to do all the sewing I’d planned to. I may just have to cut some corners and find little pre-made baggies to put each days “treasure” in. LOL Well, either way, I’ll get something put together.
For now I intend to put on some super comfy warm holiday themed PJs, pop on a show, grab a puppy or two, something yummy to snack on, maybe my husband, and cuddle into the bed. The temperature drop today definitely says “holiday’s a’comin”, and rather than pump the furnace into high gear just yet, I’m retreating for the coziness of a very full bed. 😉
We roast pumpkin seeds every year. Along with carving the jack-o-lanterns, it’s part of our rituals on the eve of Samhain (or Halloween, if you prefer). As we were boiling our seeds, a few questions started coming in on FB – where I’d been sharing videos. So I figured a blog post was in order. Which brings us up to date. 😉
Home made, roasted pumpkin seeds are my very favourite Halloween treat. Candies, chips, chocolates may be nice… but nothing beats the yummy crunch of pumpkin seeds done right. And to be honest? I find the process of harvesting the seeds, washing, boiling, drying, and roasting them to be very zen. I just enjoy the whole thing, which only adds to their natural goodness.
Tonight we’ll cover the basics, and by the end you’ll be on your way to developing your own way of seasoning and enjoying home roasted pumpkin seeds.
We were rather grateful that Damon had purchased two great big pumpkins this year, as we discovered our first one was partially rotten inside – which meant we wouldn’t be harvesting anything from it. It still made a good jack-o-lantern, but I wouldn’t have trusted anything to be edible. Thankfully our second pumpkin had such a wealth of seeds that we’ll have as many from one pumpkin as we often get from two!
So, the obvious steps to this process:
- harvest your seeds
- wash your seeds
Now, this next step is the one that seemed to generate all the questions:
- boil your seeds
Yes. I boil my seeds. I didn’t always though, and I had the same problems many people report when doing their own home roasting. The seeds were tough, and inconsistent. I started boiling them six or seven years ago now, and it makes a world of difference. My pumpkin seeds are crispier, lighter, and more flavourful. It’s definitely worth the extra step.
I use a medium sized sauce pan, and add a couple of inches of water. Roughly enough to cover your seeds and allow for an extra inch or inch and a half of water. Bring it to a boil and add your seeds.
This is also when I add my seasonings or spices.
We try something different almost every year. It’s fun to experiment with different spices or seasonings. This year we kept it pretty simple and went with a tablespoon of garlic powder a teaspoon of salt. Seasoning salt works nice, and things like dill pickle popcorn seasonings are even pretty good. Try taco blends too. There are lots of options – I’ve yet to find a dud. LOL
Click the links below to watch the progression of our seeds as they boil:
All told, they boiled for about 25 minutes. You’ll notice the colour change, then keep boiling until most of the liquid is gone (the steam clouded the iPhone lens):
At this point you have two choices. You can pop them directly in the oven (on a buttered, oiled, sprayed cookie sheet or on parchment paper)… or you can dry them first. If I know I’ll have time to babysit them I’ll often pop them in the oven. Kid kid has a hard time having the patience needed to dry them out any other way. So at 350 degrees it will be between an hour and an hour and a half – and do watch them carefully because cooking time varies.
We didn’t get started on the process until the evening (we usually start on them in the afternoon), so it means I get to do them up the leisurely way – which I prefer. I spread them out on a sheet to dry, and then put the girl to bed. Which is where we are now:
Tomorrow morning, when they’re nice and dry, I’ll pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes. The house already smells yummy from having them boil, but tomorrow will smell even better as they roast. I’ll pull them out to cool for a wee bit, and we’ll have my favourite treat. Some we’ll bag up in a ziplock to keep in my bag as a treat for when we’re out and about and happen to feel snacky. But most of them will get eaten before they have a chance to be bagged… though… I will stash away a small handful or two, just for me. LOL
So that’s it! That’s how you make the very best homemade roasted pumpkin seeds – from scratch. Follow the steps I’ve outlined here, and they’ll be perfect, every time!
Joyous Samhain and Happy Halloween!
Seems I start blog posts like that more and more often. It’s true though. Halloween is exhausting normally, with all the parties, sewing, crafting, pumpkins, treats, etc. But add in caring for puppies and trying to get ready for the big move? Yeah. I’m exhausted – and being sick all weekend didn’t help. And yes, I just plowed on through… too much stuff to do, too many events to take it. It’s Halloween, remember? 😉
Yesterday we gave the pups a new bed. Their first “big dog” bed. It’s still in the nursery, but we took out the Nature’s Miracle litter box that serves as a newborn bed (and containment), and brought in the doughnut bed. It’s all cute, and pink, and silky soft. And the boys love having free reign of the entire nursery now. Mom likes having a nice comfy spot too. So it’s a win all around.
Today I spent the afternoon working on the girl’s Halloween costume. Yes, yes, yes… I know she was Merida… but that was her Halloween PARTY costume. On Halloween itself she’ll be dressing up as Fairy Berry – her My Little Pony persona. For those who don’t live in Saskatchewan, YES. One costume for indoor parties, and a different one for trick or treating is necessary. It’s darn cold out there at night with the snow. Soooo…. LOL I found these cute little iron on strawberry patches, which ended up saving me some time. Instead of having to create both the Fairy Berry plant AND the strawberries that grow on it, I only had to create the plant and just iron on the berries. MUCH easier. Then it was just a matter of creating wings, sewing them on, upcycling a wig into a tail, and BOOM. Fairy Berry costume. Well… I bought her some pony ears too. Can’t very well be a MLP without the ears. So tomorrow it’s pumpkin carving in the morning, ballet in the evening, one more sleep, and it’s the big day. YAY!
Oh! And tonight was the Avenue Community Center’s first Family Mixer… the Creepy Queer Halloween Family Fun Night. We had a great time. Got to see lots of familiar faces as well as many new ones too. And the kid had a blast playing with the many children all close to her own age. It really was wonderful. I’m looking forward to many get togethers in the future.
For Denyse’s annual Halloween party we decided on a Disney Pixar Brave theme. However, with our being in the middle of moving house I knew I wouldn’t have time to sew three costumes this year. So we hit the great “interweb” to hunt down whatever we could find – to help lighten the crafting load.
After a couple of days it became apparent that we weren’t going to be able to find anything movie accurate – which was a bit of a drag, but that also gave us a bit of freedom as well. So instead of being Merida, Queen Elinor, and King Fergus we are Merida-inspired, Queen Elinor-inspired, and King Fergus-inspired. LMAO That also meant I could buy a red tartan to make Damon’s costume at half the price a more authentic blue/green tartan would have been… and when you’re buying four meters of something, that adds up pretty quickly. Yay for thriftiness!
With Lily-Ann’s naturally curly red hair, she’s a total natural as Merida. And she was only too proud to tell anyone who’d listen how she doesn’t need a prince to find her happily ever after. Now, because kid kid’s curls are all really pretty soft spirals, I had to do some twisties in her hair overnight. We left the bottom as is, but twisted up six bunches of varying thicknesses up on top. I just twisted each section until it formed tight little twisty piles and then secured each with two bobby pins. It gave her the fly-aways, and crazy tight spirals that Merida sports.
The toughest part of my costume was finding a wig. Seriously, if you need a long brown wig for Halloween you are S.O.L. I ended up settling for what you see here. It was the best I could find – even after hitting two Halloween specialty stores and a costume shop in addition to several general stores. Apparently they figure no-one wants brown hair for Halloween.
I have to admit, with ordering our dresses online I was expecting to have to make alterations once they arrived… but I didn’t have to sew even one stitch on either. Considering I’m a whopping five foot nothing?!?!? I was amazed. If I need a period dress again, I’ll definitely be heading to HolyClothing.com a second time. The girl’s dress was less of a shocker, but still… for straight out of the package, it fit pretty darn well. 🙂
So, that’s us this year. We didn’t go on a photo safari… it was just too darn chilly out. So these were taken in my parent’s back yard. Thanks Auntie Risa!
And here’s one more, just a snapshot I grabbed of Lily-Ann at the party, being cute with a stuffed snake:
Oh, and yes… the little stuffed blackbear is from the Disney store. You can flip it inside out and it looks like one of the triplets (we call him Hamish) but the girl wanted him to stay a bear for our pictures. 🙂 My mom gave him to Lily-Ann on her birthday.