Monthly Archives: April 2013

Getting keyed up

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It’s been a while since I have had a chance to spend time working on my piano… But I have been trying to put in a little time on it when the kids are watching tv, or after they are in bed. For those who didn’t read my previous piano post, to make a long story short, I got the piano for free, I just had to pay to have it moved. But, it needed some work. I have really been meaning to clean out the basement and it’s amazing how you can justify projects like restoring a piano, when you don’t feel like doing a real job like organizing the basement! The piano keys need to be rainbow…that’s more important, than any kind of housework, right??

I had to start by picking off all of the old keys. I used an exacto knife, a kitchen knife, and a scraper. Some of the keys just popped off, others had to be chipped off and broke into tiny pieces.

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I lightly sanded the keys with sandpaper to remove any slivers, or uneven parts.
When I first got the piano, I had bought a set of replacement keys, because I was planning on repairing the chipped keys. (That was before I thought about making them rainbow, of course) So I was able to use those as the patterns or templates. I decided to use a fimo type clay that you bake in the oven as the material for the keys.

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Last summer, I bought a pasta maker at a garage sale, intending to learn how to make pasta, but I have never used it, so I thought I would try it on the clay…it worked amazing!

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So I rolled out all of the colours, then I used a plastic stamp to press in a swirly design for texture. I added the stamp to cover up some of the fingerprints or marks, because I thought it would be really hard to keep each key perfectly smooth. I thought the swirls would cover up any imperfections (well, that was my plan anyways…)

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I used a sharp knife to cut out each key, using my replacement keys as templates.

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Then, I laid them out on the piano, and trimmed the top and bottom.

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Once I had all of the keys trimmed to the right size, I moved them to cookie sheets and baked them in the oven at about 310 degrees for half an hour.

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Then I brought them outside to seal them with a coat of clear satin varnish spray paint.

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As I was playing around with the keys, I noticed that the sides and fronts of the keys were unfinished, so I took a chance and used a black wood stain to coat the tops and sides of each key. After the stain dried, I used a nail file to sand between the keys if they were sticky.

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Then, one at a time, I carefully glued each key down with a silicone glue. I was probably the most careful for this step because if the keys were not lined up properly, it would effect the way the piano plays. So I did need to get out the exacto knife a few times to trim a sliver off the sides of the keys.

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But check it out!!!! I am really happy with the results and the kids love it…the cool part is that now they can learn songs and notes using colours. All we have to do is colour in the music with the key colours!

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Zebra cake!!

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This post has been so popular the past few days, I thought I would bring it back!

ARTZCOOL'S BLOG!

As I previously posted, Sam has been very specific in her birthday cake requests.
This is the sketch she gave me…

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So, she wanted the bottom layer to be zebra skin to match her room.
I treated myself to some new cake pans yesterday, so I baked the cakes last night. I mixed all the fondant colours yesterday too, so I am all set to go. Except the fact that I forgot to buy vanilla icing, and just don’t have enough time to make it from scratch, so I used chocolate icing instead. let’s hope it doesn’t show through the white fondant!

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Then I started with the white fondant…

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Rolled it flat, so that it was big enough to cover the cake…

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Btw, notice that I rolled the fondant on a sheet of waxed paper…very important! If you don’t use waxed paper, your fondant has a good chance of being…

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How to get to sleep question book

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My kids are almost 14 months apart, so throughout the years we have tried just about everything to get them to sleep. They have both never been great sleepers, so whatever we needed to do to get them to sleep, we did!
When they were babies, and contained in their cribs, that was difficult to deal with, but as they got older, the issues changed. Both my kids are worriers, like me, so frequently they wouldn’t be able to sleep because they were worrying about something. So, we needed a bedtime distraction… Something else to think about! So we started our, “What Do We Think About Before we go to Sleep Question Book” We thought of questions that don’t have right or wrong answers, and would list as many ideas as possible. The parent in me loved the idea because it distracted them, and help get them to sleep, and the teacher in me likes that it promotes critical thinking, and problem solving skills….

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After we finish our reading or story before bed, we would think of a question, and brainstorm a few ideas together, then while they were laying in bed by themselves with the lights off, they could think of more ideas and write them in the book later. We haven’t written in the book for a while, and Sam picked it up and wanted to write in it last night. We were reading through some of our responses, laughing at some of our ideas, our spelling mistakes and the pictures we drew!
Here are a couple pages…
What can you do with a banana?

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What new things would you like to learn?

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What can you do with a piece of string?

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What would we do if we had no grocery stores?

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What can you do to be nice to someone?

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This is one of my favourite answers…What things come in pairs? Sam wrote “bum ceces” (bum cheeks)

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We have had a lot of fun with the book. Every time we find it, we read our ideas, add a few new ones, and think of new questions. We started it in 2009, when thee kids were 4 and 5.
Anyone have any good questions for us?

Never have your pens stolen again!

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I have seen various versions of this in schools, classrooms, and offices, so I finally decided to try it myself. At work, in the library, it is such a public space that I can’t keep pens or pencils for long…they disappear! So I figure that my pens will be harder to walk off with when they look like flowers, or does that make them more tempting to steal….?
To make your beautiful pen flowers you need:
Some floral tape, some silk flowers, a glue gun, pliers, and a few pens (I used the Bic style of pen because I thought if the ink ran out, you could just pull out the center part with the ink, and replace it with ink from another pen)

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I started by using a pair of pliers to pull out the stopper at the end of the pen.

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Then, I pulled the heads off of the flowers, which left enough of the stem to stick in the end of the pen. I used as much hot glue as I could squeeze in to glue the flower heads on.

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After the glue had cooled, I started to wrap the pens with the floral tape…

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I learned a few things about floral tape… the first thing I learned was that is doesn’t become sticky unless you stretch it, like an elastic…and the second thing I learned was that it stays sticky. If you take a close look at the pen on the left side (below), you can see it has a grip. If you can get your hands on pens with a grip like this, I would recommend using them because the floral tape does make the pen a little sticky.

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After wrapping a few, I decided that they would look better with a leaf, so I pulled a few leaves off the stems.

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Then, I trimmed the leaves so that the had more of a stem…

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The I glued the leaf to the pen with my glue gun…

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And, wrapped the pen with some more floral tape…

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I ended up making a bunch…they were quick and easy and I figured they would make a great end of the school year present for teachers, office gift…etc. I think what I need to do is make a vase or stand to hold them…As usual, I’ll keep you posted!

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Yummy healthy oat treats

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My sister in-law made these at Easter, and the kids loved them! They are super easy, healthy, and most importantly delicious!

I actually followed the recipe pretty closely. I only substituted a couple ingredients. Here is the original link for the recipe:
gimmesomeoven.com

The ingredients I used are as follows:
1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ (I used a little of both)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional…wait, no I would call them mandatory in our house)
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp. hemp hearts
1 tsp. vanilla extract

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Mix everything together…

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Then, roll them into balls, and put into the fridge for about an hour. I thought that they tasted the bast after a day!
I accidentally deleted the one photo I took of the finished balls before they were all eaten, so I hope it is ok with gimmesoomeoven.com that I use their photo for now, until the next time I make them!

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I wish I could send these to school with the kids, but the schools are all peanut-free now. Next time I make them I am going to try and use a soya butter I bought that is peanut free…it doesn’t taste too great on it’s own, but I bet it would be good in this recipe!

Turn your iPhone or ipad into a microscope for less than $6.00

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I have heard that these microscopes are available online, but I was so excited to find them on amazon for $4.99 each… That’s right, a microscope for five dollars!

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I don’t have the store name or link to where I bought it, the receipt is on my desk at school. Email me or post a comment if you want to know where to get them and I will dig it up.
Anyways…the microscope is actually supposed to be used as a currency detector, but when they re attached to your ipad, or iphone, they work well as a microscope!
I bought them to use at school, but the thing is we have already bought cases. The idea I saw online was to crazy glue these to the case. But, I want to be able to remove them, and it has to be something that is easy for the kids to do. So, my friend at work suggested Velcro.
So, to make a removable solution to hold the microscope to the ipad, you need sticky backed Velcro, a case to stick it on, a pair of scissors, and your mini microscope.

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I started by cutting holes in the center of both parts of the Velcro.

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Then, I attached the soft side to the ipad case to fit around the hole for the camera lens… Be sure the Velcro is slightly bigger than the hole so it doesn’t block the camera at all.

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For the microscope, I cut the hole in the center, then I cut V’s all around the outside so it could fold over the camera. The Velcro is very sticky, so make sure when you peel it off, you are ready to stick it.

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So now the microscope can attach, and be removed easily. The other option of course is to super glue it to the case. But, if you were doing this to your phone, Velcro is a non-permanent option.

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I have no idea how many times this actually magnifies, but here are some of the pictures I took. When you first stick it on, your screen will look something like this. You will have to play around with the focus a little…

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But when you zoom in using your ipad/phone, you can get even closer….

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Here is what john’s hand looks like magnified

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Here is my desk..

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And our clothes..

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Like I said, I am not sure if this actually magnifies sixty times, but it definitely magnified enough times to be interesting and make stuff look cool!

Two Ingredient Cake -Try #2

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A couple of weeks ago, I tried a two ingredient cake using pumpkin pie filling and chocolate cake. It turned out pretty well, but I thought I wanted to give it another try, after all, why use pumpkin filling when I could use blueberry…duh!

So I dug out a box of angel food cake mix and a can of blueberry pie filling…

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Then, I dumped them both into a bowl together…

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I mixed it with a beater for about two minutes.
Then, poured it into a 9 x 12 cake pan. I preheated the oven at 350 degrees, it took over 45 minutes to cook, but this is what it looked like when it came out of the oven!

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Notice I said, that was what it looked like when it came out of the oven…..well, after about two minutes, the cake fell and didn’t look quite as pretty! But, it still tasted great! I think maybe next time I will try vanilla cake mix instead of angel food cake. But, it really was good…
While I am on the subject, I have to tell you about a website I came across called, Pintrosity. It shows photos of projects found on Pinterest that haven’t worked out… I have tried a few things that haven’t worked out, which I never really publicize, but from now on I am going to write about them and post them on this website, it is hilarious! I wish I had taken a photo of the cake after it fell…

Pintrosity website

Here are a couple pics from the website…

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Anyways, the two ingredient cake is delicious! Even if it was only a centimetre thick in the middle.

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