Monthly Archives: September 2012

Forty-five second cake!! For real!


I have seen various versions of this on pinterest, the ones I have seen use cake mix, and I have heard mixed reviews. Apparently, they aren’t that good. But, a friend of mine at work told me about this recipe, and she said it was really good, so I wrote down the recipe, and thought I would try it out. Hey, what have I got to lose, a whole minute?
The recipe is simple…
1 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of cocoa
2 tbsp of hot water
2 tbsp of flour
2 tbsp of sugar (I have been using 1 1/2)

I melt or soften the butter by mixing it with really hot water

Then, mix in the flour, cocoa, and sugar.

Then, mix it all together… We added a few chocolate chips too…

And cook it in the microwave for 45 seconds.

Let it cool, and enjoy!

It is delicious! It is moist, rich tasting, and is a little denser than normal cake. I would like to try some variations, like trying some sugar substitute instead of white sugar. Hey, what about trying to add some homemade marshmallows?? Yummy.



I have always wanted to make marshmallows, so last night we had about an hour to kill before bedtime, and i found this recipe, so i thought why not? I think I will try first with plain, vanilla flavored, but if it works, I want to try some different flavours…
To make marshmallows, you need sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, vanilla, and water.

Start by coating a square pan with oil and sprinkle with icing sugar. Be very generous with both, because it will prevent it from sticking to the bottom. The more you use here, the better!

Add 1/3 cup of water to a large bowl, add 3 packages of gelatin, stir and let sit. I was surprised, that after only a couple minutes, this turned into a solid brick, but just mix it around with a fork to break it into little pieces.

In a pot, mix before heating the following ingredients: 1cup sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, 1/3 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Once you have mixed them together, put it on the stove on medium heat.

You are supposed to let this boil for a few minutes, and use a candy thermometer to measure when it reaches 240 degrees, or the jelly stage.


Once it has reached the right temperature, slowly pour it into the bowl with the gelatin, using a beater or electric mixer.

You have to beat this for a while to get that marshmallow texture, if you have “help”, now is a good time to have a helper because you have to beat it for 5-8 minutes.

I could tell it was ready when it started getting so thick, it was getting caught up in the mixer…

Once it is too difficult to mix, pour it into your greased pan with the icing sugar. Btw, it is really difficult to work with, it sticks to everything!

Licking the bowl is not as easy as it sounds…it stringy and thick and elastic, but delicious! This kept the kids busy for a while! notice how Samantha’s hand is attached to the bowl? Well, it somehow ended up all over her shoulders too…and on her face, but remarkably somehow missed her hair! We do try to celebrate the positives…..

Leave it in the fridge overnight, In the morning, it was still quite sticky and elastic!
It was a little tough to get out of the pan, but it looked like the right marshmallow consistency…

I used a pair of kitchen scissors to cut it into strips…

Then into marshmallow sized cubes. I also made sure to coat each side with icing sugar, to prevent them from sticking together. Here is what they looked like done.

I was really happy with the result. We had to make some hot chocolate to try them out. I am thinking this would make a great gift…some hot chocolate powder, with a chocolate coated spoon, some home made marshmallows, and maybe even a few cookies….mmmmm…..


Home made (not so super) super balls


John and I have both been volunteering for the past couple of years doing activities with the kids. Somehow this year, I have agreed to take over samantha’s Brownie unit. I didn’t realize how much work it would be, and we haven’t even had our first meeting yet! But one of the badges we are working on this year is the science and technology badge where we have to do an experiment and observe the results. I pinned this idea on pinterest ages ago. Today, we tried it out….

This recipe is to make your own super, or bouncy balls.
You need borax, white glue, corn starch and water.

Start by mixing together 2 tbsp warm water, 1 tsp borax, food colouring in a container or bowl.

In a separate bowl, add 1tbsp white glue. Then, add 1/2 tsp of the coloured borax mixture and 1tbsp of cornstarch. Do not mix. Let it sit for about 15 to 20 seconds.

Then stir… (this part is really cool, it begins to turn solid almost instantly!)

When it’s too hard to mix, pick it up and kneed.

Then roll it in the palm of your hands to form a ball.
We found that it was a really cool experiment to try. The kids loved watching it turn from a liquid to a solid -great chemical reaction! But… It was more like play dough than a bouncy ball (although Dylan did try to bounce it on the floor a couple times)
So, we looked online to try to find another recipe…we found this one, with the same ingredients, but different procedure…
In one cup/bowl, mix 3 tbsp cornstarch, 4 tbsp water, in another other cup mix 1 tbsp white glue and food colouring.

Mix the two together…

And…we got the same result, a cool chemical reaction, but once again, nothing super about the balls it made! Here are our finished balls…


But here is what the photo looked like on pinterest….not quite the same!

But, look what Sam made with a couple batches of different colours…a monster!

I would definitely do this experiment again to teach chemical reactions, but not to make super balls.
***note -we did this a couple days ago and the balls have dried out a little, but they still don’t bounce that well.

Making People puppets


Dylan came home on Friday with more homework (god, I miss summer) anyways, his homework this weekend was to make a puppet of the person he wrote his speech about, the basketball player, Yao Ming. Now tell, me how would you go about doing this???
We decided that it would be easiest to use a picture, and print it out onto fabric, then iron it on…
So, step number one was to find a picture of Yao Ming standing up straight, with his arms to his side. Well, let me tell you that finding a picture of 7 foot 5 inch basketball player from head to toe standing up straight is almost impossible! So, we ended up using three different pictures, and cut and pasted them together on an app called, “pic collage” on my iPad.

We made his head a little bigger to make it look a little animated. Then I thought, since we are going one puppet, we might as well make three. So I took photos of the kids and made their heads a little bigger on the “pic collage” app.


Apparently, according to Pinterest, the easiest way to get photos onto fabric is to use a photo transfer paper you can buy at Walmart, or michaels. You have to buy this special transfer or iron on paper and then print out your pictures onto the paper using an inkjet printer. Apparently a lazer printer or photocopier will not work because they get too hot and will melt inside the printer.

After the figures were printed onto the transfer paper, We cut out all three puppets, as close to the outline as we could..

Then, we placed the picture side down on a piece of plain white cotton fabric, and ironed for about 30-45 seconds…

We did Dylan’s first, and learned that you should wait until it has totally cooled before you try to peel the paper off. If you try to peel it off before it has cooled, you will peel part of the transfer off too, and it will look blotchy, so wait until it has cooled!

So, here was the tough part…I was planning on sewing around Yao and leaving the legs open at the bottom enough to fit Dylan’s hand in. But, I realized that the arms are pointed downwards. So, we had to adjust our design and cut the puppet so that the opening would be at the top. If I was going to try to make another puppet like this, i would angle the arms up next time.
But because we had already gotten this far, we decided to work with what we had. We measured to see if an opening at the head would work…


The next step was to sew around the perimeter. I actually found a plain white knitted cotton that had a bit of stretch to use on the back. I thought this would make it easier to get the puppet on and off. I put the right sides of the fabric together before sewing. Dylan and Sam decided that they just wanted themselves stuffed, so we didn’t have to worry about an opening for theirs. (I did leave a couple inches open at the side to use to turn it back right side out, and to stuff it) After sewing around the perimeter, I made little snips towards all of the seams. This helps make a smoother curve when you turn it right side out.


Then we turned them right side out, and then the kids had to stuff themselves…

Then, I hand stitched the openings closed. Here are the children finished…


And here is Yao, ready for the big show…





Encyclopedia jewelry


Whew, the first couple of weeks of school are almost done! I know those of you who are not teachers don’t feel sorry for us having two months off…but the first couple of weeks are tough! The first weekend after school ended, we had a baseball tournament, soccer finals, johns ultimate tournament, and a cancer walk. This week, i have been home the last couple nights after nine because i have been in training for brownies… So needless to say, i haven’t had the time or motivation to do anything crafty, let alone write about them.
But, i am a couple projects behind, so i will tell you about another of my encyclopedia art projects that I made before school started…A few days ago, i posted a paper craft where I made beads out of recycled encyclopedias. Now, they need to be made into something! So, I am making them into a pair of earrings and a necklace.
This is what you need to make the earrings…
A pair of earring findings (they sometimes call them fish hooks or shepherd’s hooks)
Two head pins (they are wires with a stopper on one end that look like straight pins)
Beads, paper and glass
Bead caps (which are fancy ends for beads)
A pair of needle nosed pliers

Thread the beads on the eye pin. I put a bead cap, then the bead, then another bead cap.

Then, cut off the head pin about 1cm away from where the beads end.

Then, use the pliers to bend the wire into a loop.

I used the extra wire that i cut off, to add another black bead. I bent a loop with the pliers, then threaded the bead on, and bent another loop.


Then, I attached the black bead to my paper bead by opening the loop, and I connected the other loop to the earring finding. Here are the finished earrings…

Here is how you make the necklace to match…
You need the following materials to make a necklace…
Two crimps (crimps are tiny beads that you can squeeze shut with a pair of pliers)
A clasp
Tigers tail wire (tigers tail is a very strong wire coated in plastic used for jewellery)

To make a necklace, start by deciding on your design. I like to use a bead board to lay it out first, you can also use a piece of fabric, which works well to stop the beads from rolling all over the place.

Cut the tigers tail wire to a bit longer than you want your necklace to be. Then thread the tigers tail wire through a crimp, then the clasp, then back through the crimp. Use a pair of pliers to squeeze the crimp closed to hold the clasp in place.

Then, thread on all of the beads, add another crimp, thread it through the clasp and back through the crimp again, and pull tight. I like to thread the rest of the wire back through a few of the beads rather than cut the wire off.

Then, squeeze the crimp shut, and you are done!

Check out the finished product…



Encyclopedia Flower vases


I am really excited about finally finishing all of my encyclopedia flowers. I made over thirty five flowers, in three different styles, just wait until you see what they look like! But the thing I was missing is a container for them. I didn’t think it would be right to put them in a plain glass vase, so I won’t to the dollar store and found some cool glasses, that were 2 for $1.50… Perfect. All they need now is a little recycled flair! I have just started using Mod Podge, and it is expensive, but a lot of fun!

Materials needed
Old encyclopedias, or recycled books or paper
Vases, or glasses

I decided to make these vases black and white, so i ripped out a few pages that were black and white, then i ripped the paper into smaller pieces, or strips. You can also cut the paper if you want, but i like the ripped look better. To stick the paper to the glass, start by painting the glass with Mod Podge, then stick the paper on top, and paint another layer of the Mod Podge on top to seal it.


I was lucky enough once again to get some help…

We continued until the vases were completely covered. I finished the top and bottom with a cut edge to make it look neater.


Then I decided they looked a little plain, so I cut out some black text boxes, and red hearts, and added two to each vase…


I added a little bit of dry floral foam to each vase, and added my flowers. To finish it off, I covered the floral foam with some shredded paper. They are now ready for display in the library!




Encyclopedia beads


I used to make these paper beads as a kid, so i thought i would try them out again as another project for my encyclopedias.
To make the beads, you need mod podge glue or white glue, paper, and a bbq skewer, and scissors or a knife.

First cut the paper into strips. I decided to cut the all of the strips out of black and white text. But, cutting them out of coloured paper and text is really pretty too. I used a ruler and exacto knife, but cutting with a pair of scissors is fine too, just try to keep your lines straight. You might even want to draw where you are going to cut with a ruler.

I also decided to cut them an even width. If you taper the width of the paper you will get a bead that looks more like the bead on the left side, which looks nice if you are using coloured paper. If you cut the strips straight, they will look more like the bead on the right. I am going to try making the straight cut beads.

Here is my daughter trying out making some beads…

You can use a paintbrush to spread the glue, but i prefer to dip my finger in the glue instead of using a brush because I can control the glue better. I also don’t mind getting sticky and glue all over my hands. (funny, my daughter doesn’t seem to mind either!)
Anyways, spread the glue on the entire length of the paper strip (don’t forget to glue on the wrong side of the paper), but leave the last centimeter with no glue because you don’t want it sticking to the skewer that you will be rolling it around. Then, start by wrapping the unglued end of the strip around the skewer

And continue rolling until the whole paper is wrapped. I like to stop just before the end and add a touch more glue to hold the end so it doesn’t unroll.

Then slide it off the skewer, and start again…

At this point they are cute, but wait until you see them as part of a necklace and earrings!