March 30, 2023

Chewy {this moment}

I'm linking up to Soule Mama's "this moment" today. Happy weekend friends!

{this moment}=A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

March 29, 2023

Screen Printed Robot T-Shirts

I mentioned yesterday that I screen printed t-shirts as favors for Soren's birthday party.  I love working with fibers, from raw wool to yarn to fabric, so of course I really enjoyed this craft.
I've printed and painted on clothing in the past, both freehand and with stencils (freezer paper is a great way to make a stencil), but since I was printing a dozen or so shirts, I had to find a method that allowed me to produce multiple prints.
I gathered my supplies, most of which I had on hand from past projects and from teaching.  You can find everything you need at my favorite supply shop, Dharma Trading Company, including a DIY screen printing kit.

I chose to do the screen filling method rather than the photo emulsion technique, just for sake of time.  But Ashley at Lil Blue Boo has a wonderful tutorial on how to use the photo emulsion technique.

Here's what I used:
Wooden frame screen| Screen filler | fabric inks | squeegee
cardboard | plastic spoon | t-shirts

First I set up the screen.  I printed out a robot image (also taken and modified from Lil Blue Boo. It saved me time in creating my own sketch), then lightly traced it onto the screen with a pencil.
Then I masked out any areas I didn't want to print with Screen Filler.  It basically clogs the holes of the screen fabric so that ink can't seep through, other than in the areas you want it to.  I painted the brown Screen Filler liquid on with a paintbrush.
(Ignore the green tape. At the time I thought it would be a bright idea for not having to paint the entire screen, however the tape just kept peeling off).  Allow to dry thoroughly (about an hour or so, to be safe).
Next I set up a work area outside.  It was more convenient for me, since I could just pin the finished shirts on the clothesline.

I stuffed a piece of cardboard inside the shirt (so the ink wouldn't go through the front and onto the back), then I centered my screen on the t-shirt, and added a dollop of ink along the top of the screen.
Next I pulled the ink down with my squeegee, making sure to push the ink into the image and onto the shirt.
I went over this a few more times, pushing the ink into the fabric. Then I slowly peeled the screen off of the shirt and hung it on the clothesline to dry.
Once the ink is dry, follow the instructions on the ink jar for "fixing" the image. In my case I ironed each shirt for one minute on high, but often you can toss the shirts in the dryer to set the ink so it doesn't come off in the wash.
I can make tons more t-shirts (or tote bags or other stuff) and then reuse the screen over and over again by washing it out with a special solvent.  So many possibilities are just teeming in my mind for fun summer tees.

March 28, 2023

Robot Birthday Party

I've spent snippets of evenings and weekends during the last few weeks getting ready for Soren's 4th birthday party, held last Sunday, and in my mind, a successful fete!
While most of our friends and relatives probably think I'm nuts putting so much time and effort into a kids' birthday party, I assure you all that I really really just enjoy creating these kinds of events.  More than one person has said that I should go into business as a party planner, and I've definitely given it some thought.  Maybe once Jude is a little older and I have more time to devote to such employment.
Rather than having our small house destroyed by a stampede of kids, we opted to have our party at a local community space.  This gave the kiddos plenty of room to spread out and run around, and also came with both and art room and a bounce house that we set up in the larger room.
Bouncing and painting certainly occupied the kids for the majority of the time.  Hopefully parents appreciated the opportunity for their children to burn off all that sugar via jumping.

My mother-in-law made this fabulous robot cake and cupcakes for the party.  It turned out so cool, and you can find out how to make it Betty Crocker (it even includes an instructional video).
Though it was a little tricky finding robot-themed items, I managed to pull it off by making some homemade stuff like the banner (which is a little hard to read here, since it kept saggin in the middle).  You can find my tutorial for a similar banner here.
Using decorative paper and cardstock, I made some cutesy signs like "battery cells" for drinks
"Cheese Ball Bearings", "Nuts and Bolts" and "Computer Chips."
I served the snacks in aluminum tins to give it more of a metal robot look. 
I found the treat bags in the dollar section of either Walmart or Target way back during the back-to-school shopping season.  They're actually reusable (the orange ones) and paper lunch bags.
It's great to have a theme way ahead of time so you can scout out supplies months before the event rather than scrambling to find them at the last minute.

I stuffed the goodie bags with some snacks and robot t-shirts that I had screen printed for the kids.
I like that it was something non-junky to include in the bags and that they'd definitely use instead of ending in the trash. You can find my screen printing tutorial for them HERE.

Another fun thing I made was a cardboard robot with a cutout in the head for the kids to pose in. I used boxes, electrical tape, and other stuff we had around the house. Soren enjoyed helping me with this.
I downloaded the Pocketbooth app for the iPhone and had the kids pose, photobooth-style. Fun stuff!
I wanted to take advantage of the art room in the space, as well as my art teacher skills, so for the creative part, I found these cool paint-able ceramic robot banks online (cheap too, under 20 bucks for a dozen) and had the kids paint them. They loved it!
Soren said painting the robot was his favorite part of the party.  That melts my heart.
I bought some special paints for glass and ceramic, which should hold up well on these ceramic banks.
We had the usual birthday fare, pizza, cake and ice cream, and FOUR candles this year.
What a happy happy birthday for my robot boy!
If you'd like to use make your own banner and tags, I used the free Tombots and Homemade Robot fonts. Here are the images I designed for the food tags, which you can right click and save, then mount onto colored paper or cardstock:

March 27, 2023

Somewhat Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes

Sweets and health food normally don't mesh well.  I've had meh cakes stuffed with yogurt, prunes and even spinach that somehow just aren't so tasty despite being better for me than the original.

For Soren's birthday, I wanted to bake some cupcakes for an after-lunch treat, and stumbled upon a recipe that I tore out of some unknown magazine (could have been Prevention).  I must say they were pretty tasty.
Now I didn't say icing was healthy, which kind of negates the healthy part of these cupcakes, but oh well.  I didn't have Neufchatel, like the original calls for, so I made a chocolate buttercream frosting.
The candy bunnies were added per request of the birthday boy.  And sprinkles. Loads of them.  I'd much prefer coconut, but then again it's not my birthday.

Healthier Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 2 dozen cupcakes)
  • 2  1/2 all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tbsp cooled coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 24 cups of 2 standard-sized muffin tins (or spray with oil if not using paper liners).

Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, combine water, yogurt, oil, applesauce, eggs, coffee, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer until combined and smooth.

Slowly add the dry ingredients, and blend until thick and thoroughly combined.

Fill the muffin cups with batter, about 2/3 full.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool before frosting.

Frosting (from the recipe, not what I used)
  • 4 oz Neufchatel (or lowfat cream cheese)
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
My frosting, a buttercream:
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk (more or less, to thin the frosting as needed)
With an electric mixer, cream together the ingredients, then spread on the cupcakes.  If not serving right away, store these cupcakes in the fridge.  Enjoy!

March 26, 2023

Look Who's 4!

My head is still spinning from the fabulous birthday party that we threw for our FOUR year old boy yesterday (more on that to come).  What a long and short four years with our firstborn.
SoJo posing in our homemade robot, photobooth-style
So far four is looking pretty good.  In my experience, the half-years are the toughest (2 1/2 and 3 1/2 were rough), so maybe ask me again in 6 months how things are going.

The Four Year old Soren loves:
  • Playing with friends
  • Setting up little scenes with his trains and toys
  • Putting together puzzles and playing games
  • Writing his name
  • Riding his balance bike
  • Making up funny rhyming games and engaging in word play 
  • Spending time at Gigi and Grandpa's house
  • Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza, mac and cheese, and apples
  • Laughing at potty humor
  • Reading with mom and dad
  • Taking care of baby Jude and making him laugh and smile (he's the BEST big brother)  
  • Making funny faces and being a goofball, especially around other kids
  • Going to preschool, which he really enjoys
  • Caring for animals, big and small, even insects. He's such a sweet and sensitive soul when it comes to animate beings, which very much pleases his parents.
Happy birthday little man. We certainly love who you are becoming!

March 23, 2023

From One to Two

The old adage that going from zero to one child is harder than going from one to two (did I just blow your mind with all that math) has certainly been true for me.
While we've had some rocky periods, having two kids has not been that much more difficult to adjust to.  Some of it is that Jude naps. A lot.  But to balance that out, SoJo rarely naps anymore, unless he's sick or running on a sleep deficit.

I think that as a new parent you're bombarded with so much new new new. New situations like dealing with major diaper blowouts.  New sleep schedules (or lack thereof).  New feelings of inadequacy and what the f&*$ am I doing and why did I think this parenting thing was a good idea.

Not so much with two.  I'm a pro at diapering one-handed, at knowing that a baby is generally going to wake up during the night, especially nights when I'm sick or haven't gotten much sleep.  Oddly, I'm much more relaxed about getting out of bed to tend to Kid B than I was with Kid A.
I'll admit that I have it easy; none of my boys has special needs or health issues, and SoJo has been the best big brother I could have imagined (and frankly, I didn't set the bar too high, which of course entitles me to a mom-of-the-year award right there).
Now don't go thinking that we might be wondering what going from two to three is like.  Unfortunately the Mister has no interest in learning about those mysteries.  He'd much prefer to focus on lighter topics like the nature of suffering and discovering one's true self.
But of course, feel free to comment with your experiences.  Chris enjoys hearing from the K&K Peanut Gallery.
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