Monthly Archives: August 2012

Solar s’mores…


Why make a solar oven you ask? Let me tell you my logic behind our afternoon craft. We just needed something to do this afternoon. Yup, that’s it, the kids were bored. For those of you who don’t know us, my husband and I are both teachers, so we have been home with the kids for two months now…we are looking for stuff to do! (Mom, skip the next sentence…) Yesterday I taught the kids how to burn leaves and paper with a magnifying glass. They loved it! The kids wanted to know if they could try burning a marshmallow, so that’s how the idea of the solar oven came up. (ok mom, you can read now) so, we dug up a cardboard box, black tape, tinfoil, and a box cutter.

I cut a hole in the top of the box. In retrospect, it might have been better to cut the hole out of the side, because it was wider, but we cut our window in the top.

Then we made a window out of Saran wrap and taped it down with the black tape.

Next we lined the inside with tinfoil. I used the glue stick to stick it down around the edges.

Then i figured adding a black stripe on the bottom would help attract the sunlight…maybe I should actually google how to do this…

At this point I realized we didn’t have any graham crackers, but it was too late to turn back, so i dug out some arrow root cookies

The kids added a few marshmallows and chocolate chips to each cookie

Then we found the sunniest spot in the yard. I put a black cloth around it to try to attract some more heat


While we were waiting, we had a tea party…

Then after about 35 minutes, we opened up the oven (by this time, it was three o’clock. I think this might have worked better if we had tried at at twelve o’clock.)

The chocolate melted pretty well, but the marshmallows just didn’t heat up enough to be gooey. But, I didn’t hear any complaints…


Since we already went to the trouble of making the solar oven, I might try again on another hot sunny day, this time at noon… Maybe we could try grilled cheese sandwiches!

Encyclopedia daisies


So, in my continued quest to find a use for all of my old encyclopedias, I have just about finished my reycyled flower arrangements for the tables in the library…
Today’s project is how to make encyclopedia daisies.
You need the following materials:
2 sheets of recycled paper
Masking tape (coloured masking tape is the best)
A stick such as a BBQ skewer

The first thing I did was cut the paper. For the center of the flower I cut a narrow strip, and folded it in half so it was about an inch or 2cm wide. Then I notched the opposite side to the fold with a whole bunch of cuts…like this…

Then, to make the petals I cut a strip a little wider, and folded it in half, so it was about 2-3 inches wide. Into the second strip, I also made cuts, but I rounded the edge of one side to make it look like the petals on a daisy. See the picture below of the two parts.

I cut both petals on the folds to make two separate strips.

Then, I used a piece of masking tape to begin rolling the center of the daisy onto the stem, or BBQ skewer…

I rolled both pieces of the center in the same way, then I wrapped the petals


At this point, I like to wrap the stem too, to secure everything in place. Once again, I am just using the same black masking tape… I wish I had green masking tape right now!

The final step is what I call “fluffing”. Basically, you just very gently bend the petals out. For this flower, I very gently use the blade of the scissors, the same way as you would curl ribbon… But you have to be very careful not to rip the petals. Be careful. This gives the daisy a more realistic look, I think. But, your fingernail works too…
Here what the daisy looks like finished…



I’ll post again with the vases I decoupaged, and then the full arrangements….

How to cut out letters


As a child, student, and teacher, I couldn’t even begin to count the thousands of times I have had to cut out letters for title pages, art projects, or bulletin boards. I always use the same strategy for cutting out letters, I do it this way because I would never have the time or patience to draw out every letter first, I just cut…
The first and most important trick is to start by cutting a bunch of rectangles all the size as letters you want. This will ensure all of your letters are a uniform width and height. For rounded letters like O’s or G’s, you round the corners of the rectangle, like in the following picture.

Here is a sketch I did showing the positive and negative space of the capital letters of the alphabet. When cutting, you are basically trying to cut out the shaded areas, or negative space. This part isn’t the most difficult, but the trick is to make all letters even and make each line of the letter the same width.

For basic letters like, E, N, or P, here are a few examples to look at…they are the easier ones, because you just have to cut out chunks from the edges.

Here are a few of the rounded letters…a little more difficult because you have to cut the oval shape first,


The most challenging part to cutting letters is the holes in the center you have to cut out, like O, P, or A. Depending on the finished product, you can cut out the holes in three ways. You could poke your scissors through to make a hole, then cut around.
Or, you could fold the letter in half…try to do this carefully without making too much of a crease in the paper…
Or,you could cut right through the letter. This is definitely the easiest way, but can also show in the finished letters. Do a test letter before you cut all of your letters to make sure you won’t be disappointed. I used this method for the letters I was cutting out today because I knew I was going to laminate them, and it wouldn’t show…
I used the letters I cut out here to make some signs for the library. I actually cut out the letters from sticky notes so I didn’t even have to glue them down because I was laminating them. (I brought this project to the cottage with the intent of cutting the letters out while sitting in a lawn chair by the lake, so i thought the sticky notes would stop my letters from blowing away…turns out it was a little too windy for it, but it did save a lot of time gluing!) I stuck the letters on to some brightly coloured paper, and recycled pages of text from my old encyclopedias…(project number two for the encyclopedias…more to come…)

Then, I thought I wanted the letters to stand out a little more, so I outlined them, then added a little scribble shading around each letter…

Then I laminated each page…

Here are my finished signs, laminated, and ready to go!





I want S’more Banana S’mores!


Next time I go camping, I am bringing a dozen bananas cause these were sooo good, they might even be better than s’mores…..
On a sheet of tinfoil, slice a banana in half, but don’t cut through the skin. Then, stuff it with marshmallows and chocolate chips…

And wrap it in tinfoil. Then, find a nice spot in the coals of the fire…and leave it there for a few minutes… (btw, on the other side of the fire you might be able to see apples toasting stuffed with brown sugar and oats…I’m trying that one next!)

This is what it looked like when it came out of the fire:

So, I cut it into slices and then we ate it with a fork. It was delicious! Not to mention much easier and neater to eat than s’mores!



Packing for camping


We have just returned from our yearly camping trip, this year, we just went for one night, i dont know, but i think i am getting softer as i age…it is a lot of work packing and unpacking! After camping for numerous years, I think I have finally found the most efficient, and easiest way to pack for a camping trip…plastic drawers! The first couple times we went camping, I would make a list, then run around the house and try to remember where I put everything.
A couple years ago I bought a couple of plastic storage drawers. They were sitting empty when I was packing, so I started tossing everything in. So The best part is that when we unpack, i leave the drawers filled. I take out only the things that we will need during the year. The rest stays in the drawers, and is ready to go for next year…
Here are a couple pictures…





This may help you…Here is a copy of the list I go by… I use this list every year, and add to it as I think of things, or when I realize we have forgotten something…

Camping equipment to bring
Tent, Poles, Pegs,
Camping BBQ,
Extra propane,
Butane stove,
Extra butane,
Fire starters,
Lighter and/or matches,
glow sticks,
Bungee cords,
Air pump,
beach umbrella,
Tablecloth and clips,
Cutting board,
Aluminum foil,
Oven mitts,
Paper towel,
Sandwich bags,
Garbage bags,
Toilet paper,
Dish towel,
J Cloth,
Dish soap,
Plastic bin for washing dishes,
Lysol wipes,
Wet wipes,
Marshmallow skewers,
Can opener, Bottle opener, corkscrew,

Sleeping bags or blankets and sheets,
Air mattresses,
Air pump,
Extra blanket,
Camping Chairs,

Cooking utensils, tongs, spoon, spatula,
Sharp knives,
Skewers for marshmallows,

Cutlery -knives, forks, spoons,
water bottles,
Large pot,
Frying pan,
Paper Plates,

Instant Coffee,

First aid kit -nail clippers, assorted band aids, tweezers, polysporin, pin, Tylenol, gauze, after bite, after sun, calamine lotion, Benadryl, visine,

Stuff for the kids to do including…
Nature books
Sports equipment
Minnow nets

I hope this helps anyone who might be planning a camping trip…btw, anyone know of any good hotels or b&b’s around sandbanks provincial park? Lol.
Check back for a great campfire recipe we tried….yummy…

Quick and easy rainbow cupcakes


We had my daughter Samantha’s 8th birthday party for her friends last month where we made a birthday cake according to her specifications… Here is the finished drawing, and her sketch…


So on her actual birthday, we had our families over for a swim and BBQ. Because I spent so much time on her first cake, I wanted something quick and easy for this party. I found a version of this on pinterest (where else) so I made a few small changes…
I started by baking a normal batch of vanilla cupcakes, and iced them with blue icing…

Then at the grocery store, I found a package of rainbow candy and a pack of mini marshmallows…

Then, we decorated the cupcakes with the rainbow candy and three marshmallows on each side..



Not my best work for sure, but they were definitely quick and easy!



This recipe attracted me right away because my kids love eating nutella! I was a little curious about what ingredients are actually in a bottle of nutella…is it healthy or isn’t it? Turns out, it’s a little bit of both!
You need the following ingredients…
2 cups of hazelnuts

1cup chocolate chips.

2 tbsp oil.

3tbsp icing sugar.

2 tbsp cocoa powder.

1/2 tsp vanilla.

1/2 tsp salt.

Here are what the packages of hazelnuts look like…

Start by roasting the hazelnuts in an oven at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.

Then, while the hazelnuts are still warm, put them into a towel or cloth…

And rub them inside the towel to remove the skin…cool trick eh?

Once you have removed as much of the skin as you can, put the hazelnuts into the food processor for a few minutes.

The next step is to melt the chocolate.

Then, add the melted chocolate to the hazelnuts, along with all of the other ingredients, and blend at the highest setting.

At this point, I wasn’t happy with the consistency. It was very gritty. You can even see it in the photo. So I poured it into the blender, and blended it for a few minutes.

The result was much better, as you can see here…

Overall, I was very pleased with the taste! I really like the fact that I know every ingredient. It is also amazing on homemade waffles! I recently bought a waffle maker, so we have been eating quite a bit of waffles lately…here is the recipe I have been using, except I have been trying to substitute whole wheat flower…


I will definitely make the nutella spread again, especially because I bought the hazelnuts at Costco, so I have enough left over to make another 10 jars! I also found another delicious sounding recipe to make nutella wraps using egg roll wraps, and bananas… Mmmmmmm…


Reusable “water balloons”


After the kids had their swimming lesson today, we stopped off at the dollar store and picked up a few sponges…to make some sponge balls for some water fun. You would use these the same way as water balloons. Great for a water fight on a hot day! All you need is a couple sponges, a pair of scissors and a couple elastic bands.

We started by using the scissors to cut the sponge in half…

I did this for two sponges. This part would be a little tough for the kids to do, because it takes a little bit of strength to cut through the sponge, so I did this step…

Then in each of the four halves, we cut four or five slits into the center, but not quite touching in the middle…

We did this for all four pieces of sponge…

Then, all you have to do is tie an elastic band around the center of all four layers. The kids needed a hand with this part. It was a little tricky to wrap the elastic around a few times.

It took us about half an hour to make five…Now for the fun part!

You could use a bucket of water to dip them into, to have a sponge toss, or water fight…Or bring them right into the pool if you have one!


The kids had a great time making them and tossing them around this afternoon! It was a good craft for a hot day.

Encyclopedia flowers….


John took the kids out for the afternoon, so i have had a couple peaceful hours to myself. I got a lot of work done for september, cleaned the house a little, and thought i would try out an idea i had for september…I have a full set of Popular mechanic encyclopedias at home, from the 1960’s, and i also have about three different sets of outdated encyclopedias in the library too. I have just felt too wasteful to throw any of them out, so I have been collecting ideas for recycled paper crafts.

My first project is going to be to try to make some paper flowers. To make these flowers you will need some recycled paper. Newspaper would probably work great. You also need some BBQ skewers, and some masking tape (I used black masking tape)

I started by ripping out a sheet from the encyclopedia, close to the binding.

Then i trimmed the ripped edge so it was neat…

Then, I folded one sheet into thirds lengthwise…

Then I cut into one side of the paper, being careful not to cut all of the way through. I bought these fancy scissors ages ago, and I now finally have a use for them, although normal scissors would work fine here too…

I found some black tape, but masking tape, or florists tape would also work fine too. I taped across the side of the strip that I had not cut, leaving an overhang of tape like this…

Then, I wrapped the tape around a BBQ skewer as tightly as possible…

Like this..

Then. I wrapped the base of the flower and the stem in another layer of the tape to make it look finished…

And that is basically it.

This vase shows five…I wonder how many I need to decorate 8 tables in the library…. I think I might try making some roses too.

Rocking’ it!


Ok, so i have just finished working this week…and i am a little worried about starting school again in september…i have been exhausted! Between working and having johns family staying with us, i haven’t been as productive as usual lately…and the things that I have done, I haven’t had the time to write about. We have three weeks of holidays left, so I am going to have to step it up a bit!
This morning, we needed an activity to keep us busy when it was rainy, so we picked some interesting rocks from the garden, dug up some sharpies…

I started my first rock with a circle in the center…

Then we talked about line and different the kinds of lines you could draw like zig zag, bumpy, or squiggly.

Then I kept adding lines around it…

And adding…


Here is it finished…

Here is an easy design. Draw a series of wavy lines, making sure that the design has a wide and narrow part, and the lines are not parallel…

Then, fill in the wider areas with curved lines…

Continue the same way filling up the whole rock…

I have read on pinterest that you can make sharpie permanent on dishes by baking it in the oven, so we baked the rocks at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes…I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks if the designs wash off.
Here is our finished products…

The kids loved the doodling, we decided we are going to experiment more with lines. If you search zentangle on line there are amazing instructions for some cool doodles!
Here is a photo I found on line using a white marker…