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Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to Make Your Own Pixie Stix - Ode to John

I finally made it out of the bed after day four of being taken out by the flu...again.  No, I didn't get a flu shot.  Never have, probably still never will.  Actually, now that I think about it...maybe that would have helped...Hmmm
Anyway, finally made it out of bed only to realize it was April 30th already.  While April is full of new life, fun and excitement, I dread the last day of the month.  It is the anniversary of my brother's death.  John has been gone for 7 years now.  I so can't believe it has been that long.  He was a nut.  He was crazy.  He was a totally rebellious teenager and a huge softie all in one.  He was my strongest link to childhood.  Probably because I am always running full throttle, I cannot remember hardly anything about when we were kids.  When we got together as young adults John was always throwing out stories of when we were kids and the trouble we he got us in.  He brought it all back for me.

Every year this day sneaks up on me and every year I search for something I can do to celebrate John instead of the alternative, just having a cry-fest.    I decided a few weeks ago to give his favorite drink a try...kind of.  He loved coffee with pixie stix :0P  I don't do coffee, but pixie stix I am a fan of, or at least I was years ago.  
I went in search of pixie stix today and found not a one!  I stopped at several stores along the path to the fabric store (my chosen drink to drown my suffering heart :0) and had no luck.  Finally I decided I would make my own,
  SOooooO, I will now show you...

The first part is making the straw.  Take any random bag of straws, crack it open, and go ahead and cut off the bendy parts.  I do need to mention I got the idea from a very smart woman over at About.com.  I didn't actually use the recipe they gave.  More on that later...
Take the straw and 
Step 1-melt the end
Step 2- clamp it shut.  You only need to hold it a second or two to get it to seal.
Step 3- Let go and do it all over again.  
The same process is used to seal the other end when the tubes are all filled.
*note*I had my kids helping me seal the straws.  I found that if we had the straw already in the needle nose pliers, then melted the straw, we could just pull the straw back and clamp it shut.  It was much easier than their unsteady hands trying to grab the straw before they could clamp it.  


Worked like a charm!  Eli was shocked.  "They look just like the ones at the store!"  I am sure he imagines two guys in the factory, one with a lighter, one with a needle nose, sealing each and every tube before shipment :0)

Last year Madison had a Sweet Shop birthday party.  I read all over the Internet about how to make your own pucker powder.  I found special recipes and sent Scott to Sprouts in search of citric acid.  None of that was necessary.  Buying the pucker powder online is sooo not necessary!  Just use powdered drink mix!  You can buy this HUGE thing of mix for $7 at Costco or Walmart, less than a small pack of the other stuff online.  It tastes good too :0)  Go ahead, lick your finger and give it a try :0)
Want to do sand art?  Just get a couple kinds of Kool-aid with the sugar already mixed in and have at it!
OK.  Soapbox over.


I had the kids hold 5-6 straws and pour.  3 were filled to the top with the first pour.  Another go and the rest were filled.  Everyone had to try it :0)
*Note to self* Can I just say, this picture is awesome!  You need to click on it to see what I mean, but you can see the grains of sugar just cascading off of Madison's hand.  I am still such a newborn to photography so it is probably just fascinating to me, that cameras can take these kinds of pictures, but WOW!  All the camera, I take no claim ;0)

Yep!  That smile is a sign of 2yr old success!

Eli likes to put his heart and soul into everything he does.

Dad, the engineer, even got in on things.  He "engineered" these funnels after he saw the mess on the table.  Man are we lucky he wasn't here for the Science in the Kitchen :0)

Wow!  Who knew that making Pixie Stix could be so fun!?!

Now, on to the Ode to John :0)
Pour and stir.  We used hot chocolate instead of coffee.  Yep!  That's right!  Hot Chocolate with lemonade powder! 
 John, I hope you are watching what your Nieces and Nephew are doing for you (yes, I tried it too-not an easy thing to do with a weak, recovering stomach :0)
Emmalee's didn't quite make it to the cup.

Madison...Instant NO GO!  Emmalee drank and drank.  Oh, that's right!  She had all her pucker first, then the hot chocolate!  The sugar set in all at once.

Eli, my weird "PB and Mustard Sandwich Eater" liked it.  He decided to add another straw.  That was where things went south.  As you can see, he recommends people everywhere considering adding lemonade to their hot chocolate stick with only one homemade Pixie Stix serving!!!

As for my weird brother John, I miss you, even though you broke all my china dolls and hid your gooey hands while you told Mom I was the one that ate all the chocolate chips on cookie day.
I am so sad you have missed out on so much life.

I feel terrible showing you this, but My medicine... 
Found some fabulous fabric!  
Nothing like a little shopping and a little sewing to lift a poor girls spirits.
Circle skirt here we come :0) 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tennis Anyone?

I am finally feeling better after a terrible bout of the stomach flu.  I tell you what, I have had my share of flu-s this winter and I am through!  I never get sick, ever!  But this year has put me through the wringer.
Anyway, around every corner I turn there are stacks of work staring me down.  Tonight I was finally able to make the miniature tennis balls to complete these miniature clips ordered by one of my customers.  

She ordered these cute little tennis rackets off of eBay.
I like them, but they are kinda plain all by themselves.  Originally I was thinking of using yellow pompoms as the balls, but my brilliant mother suggested while visiting last week that I make them out of clay.

So I did!
I rolled 35 balls of clay.  While they were baking I painted a dowel black, and cut it on my scroll saw into the tiny discs needed for the tennis ball packaging.  
I made the containers from the thick plastic that stickers come on.  I cut it into 1.25" strips, ran a bead of hot glue along the short side, plopped on a disc, three balls, and another disk.  Then I rolled up the balls in the plastic and secured it with hot glue.  Finally, I made little 1/2" labels to complete the project.

Did I mention that they are TINY!?!

I am getting my umph together to take on the clippies full speed again so be ready for the photo storm :0)
It will be here shortly!

Cookie Balla CupCakes

I was cruising along the Internet the other day looking for something random when I came across the cutest blog and a post for Cookie Dough CupCakes.  Since we are notorious around here for freezing cookie dough and eating a "Cookie Balla" as a cool treat, this kind of cupcake was right up our alley.  I can't find the file where I bookmarked the blog, but you can find the recipe at AllRecipies.com.

I thought this would be a fun project for the 2 yr olds.  I decided I would let them have their fun.  Many times while letting them "do it myself!!!" I had to remind myself that the mess was totally clean-able.  What was kinda funny was when I filled up the cup the first time for Chase.  He picked it up and brought it to his mouth. The little rascal was going to drink a full cup of cupcake batter!!!  I yelled out "No!" before I realized it.  The poor little guy's lip began to quiver and his eyes filled up with tears.  I felt terrible.  I showed him what he was supposed to do with the cup, and things got better from there.  I realized while posting this that the pictures are all of Chase.  Emmalee lost interest and went to go play with toys so Chase is the star of the show today.

So basically the gist is to make cupcakes the way you normally do, then add a frozen ball of cookie dough like so... 
The one big thing I read was you must make sure the cookie dough is FROZEN!!!  
At least two hours frozen!
Number two big thing is DON'T OVERCOOK!  Cook your cupcakes at 350 for 20 minutes.  If you over cook, the cookie dough will cook and not be dough, get it?

Poke those puppies down in there.  

When we were done filling the cupcakes, I let Chasey lick the cup.  Finally!  The boy deserved it after the scare I gave him :0) 
p.s. don't tell his mom I let him lick the cup

Happy Camper!

So the batter bakes up around the "balla" and you have a yummy surprise when you hit bottom.

I didn't think they needed frosting, but Madison did.  We happened to have a jar of chocolate chip chocolate frosting hanging around the back of the fridge.  It went well with our chocolate chip cookie dough inside.

Other lovely combinations are chocolate cake and peanut butter cookie dough, Butter Pecan cake and snickerdoodle cookie dough, white cake mix and orange cookie dough (orange like the fruit, not the color :0)
Yummm!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sweet Treats for Prom

I spent the day with my friend Christina.  She was put in charge of dessert for her son's prom dinner.  Originally she had requested help making flower cake pops.  After the 3 page email I sent full of links to cupcake bouquets and the cake pops below, she had a slight change of plans.  You can see the cupcake bouquet she liked at the flickriver site for Mossy's Masterpiece cake/cupcake designs.  It is the 5th picture down.  We didn't end up much like it, but I am totally happy with the finished product.  The kids are eating outside in someone's backyard so we went a little "garden" with the bouquet to make it a fun centerpiece for the table.  

Christina really liked the cupcake pics in the picture, but unfortunately, they are not available at any local craft stores around here.   I decided we had to have them so I made my own.
It was really simple.  I cut (out of 1/8" wood) small circles about the size of a cupcake bottom, drilled holes wide enough for my BBQ skewers, and inserted the skewer pointy side up.  I poked the skewer through so that about 1 1/2" poked out the top to spear the cupcakes.  The hole was pretty tight, but I piped a bead of hot glue around the skewer right were it meets the bottom of the circle as an added "shelf of safety". 
I have used the whole cup system in the past as shown here, but it is kind of hard to get the cupcakes out if you plan on serving them right then. 
These picks let you arrange the cupcakes like actual flowers in a bouquet, plus they make the cupcakes easy to grab.  I will tell you, since we used shiny aluminum cupcake wrappers, and since the bouquet had to be transported, I blobbed some hot glued on the top side of the circle before stabbing the cupcakes.  The skewer would probably have been enough, but I wanted to be extra sure they would not come off in transit. 


For our bouquet, I started with a wooden box made to fit a block of green floral foam.  I painted the box green for a background color, then painted the cupcake pics and box white.  Once dry, I sanded the edges of the box and hot glued the floral foam to the bottom of the box.  Two sheets of pink tissue paper were thrown in as a filler, then, one at a time, each cupcake was added to the bouquet.  I used clippers to cut each skewer to the desired height.  Then I blopped the hot glue to the pic top, stabbed the bottom of the cupcake with the skewer point, and inserted the cupcake flower where I wanted it in the bouquet.  

You would probably be interested to know only about 3 stayed in their original places.
I kept taking cupcakes out from over here and moving them over there over and over again until I got the look I wanted.  For a final touch I added the dainty pink flowers and a couple more pieces of pink tissue. 
How sweet is that!!!  I wish I had something else to make a cupcake bouquet for. 
These icing colors are just perfect for Spring :0)


Here are the cake pops we made.  The site with the photo we really loved was from the Wisconsin State Journal.  I really shouldn't say we.  Christina can take full credit here.  I simply mixed up a chocolate color or showed her the next step.  She took over and made these babies all by herself!
Surprisingly, all the work and mess didn't deter her!  She spent the whole time thinking up occasions to make more cake pops :0)
It is addictive I tell you!

How cute is this couple!?!
What a fun treat for the cute kids going to the prom tonight!
Thanks for today Christina!  It was a total blast :0)

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Tiki Time!!!


I had all I could take of the terrible paint job in the hall bath so I repainted it myself.  I found some fun towels and washcloths at Target one day.  That lead me to the purchase of my first store-bought shower curtain, That purchase lead me to a surfer theme for our bathroom.  The only natural progression from there was a Tiki Hut over the sink :0)

 It was love at first thought when the Tiki Hut crossed my mind.  However, I was concerned with letting enough light around the room...and my husband mumbled something about fire hazard, blah blah blah :0)  
That is when I came up with the shelf idea.  I could let the light shine and not have the grassy stuff so close to the hot bathroom lights.  
I made a very basic frame out of 1x2" boards.  It was 16" tall, then as long as the opening in the room.  I screwed the boards together and started on the palm roofing.

Originally, I was going to use raffia as the roof.  I was trying to figure out how many packages I would need to buy to make it all the way across the frame and exactly how much that would cost when the next idea struck.  Why not use REAL palm leaves!!!  Ahoy!  I bet that was what people really used to make tiki huts!!!

I managed to acquire 8 palm leaves and took them home for the project.    
I cut the long branches off with my scroll saw.  I wrapped tape around the bottom 18-20 " of each palm branch (the grassy looking part) and cut the portion off, setting aside for later.  Then I cut 16" portions from the top of each branch, right where the leaves start to form.  I used this part of the palm as the first layer of my tiki roof.  I spread them out across the frame and nailed them in place.  The palm branches are very fibrous and thick.  They have a very grassy smell to them too.  It was kind of fun to play around with the stuff.  I imagined myself stranded on a desert isle with nothing better to do than build a hut to rest under when I was tired of working on my tan :0)  I managed to hold on to that daydream fairly well in spite of the cries from my 2yr old wanting snacks, drinks, and "more Wonderpets!"

The bottom palm portions were tied individually with jute.  Next I spread them out across the first layer to fill in any gaps.  I used more jute to weave in and out between the bunches, securing them to the frame as I went.  
This was were I let my mind drift to coconut oil smelling sun screen and virgin pina coladas.  

The problem with taking pictures of the bathroom is that no matter where you stand, you really can't avoid getting yourself in the shot :0)  

Here is what it looks like from underneath.  You can see the roof is plenty far away from the lights for the fire-hazard thing and to let light up to the ceiling.  
I found some paper lantern patio lights at Hobby Lobby (on sale this week-Yay!)  They really were the finishing touch I was looking for.  I secured them to the frame with thumb tacks.

The funny thing about this picture was that I was so happy not to be in the picture in any of the mirrors, I didn't even notice the grass right in front of my camera.  Anyway, we love, Love, LOVE the new look in the bathroom!  The kids are just crazy about how fun and exciting it is in there.  

Here is what it looked like before...


And here is the new and improved...

The funny thing about this shelf is that it started out white.  I went cowboy with the bathroom many years ago and painted the shelf black, then red and distressed it so the black would show through.  Now that we are going surfer/beach, I think the white on the red in a white-washed look is awesome and fits right in!

Now, way in the back of my murky brain lies a filing cabinet labeled Hall Bath.  These are just a few ideas I pulled out of there.  Over the next couple weeks I will hopefully find time to make a few more, and in the end, come up with a finished room.  
That would be crazy, don't you think?  I don't believe I have ever really had a "finished room" but I am sure willing to try!!!
This project was linked up HERE:
Keeping It Simple

The DIY Show OffMaking




Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special