Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mad Scientist Birthday Party

Parker turned six last week and we celebrated with a Mad Scientist party and 26 of his closest friends. I know, a big group. Yikes!

To set the stage, I created this fun table you could see when you first came into the house. The table included test tubes filled with mini M&Ms, saftey goggles, magnifying glasses and a spinning disco light.

 My mom made this awesome lab coat for the birthday boy (and a smaller one for his assistant).

 I also made t-shirt using the freezer stencil method I'm obsessed with here. Parker's said Mad Scientist. Mine and the hubs had some inspired by the song - She Blinded Me With Science.  OK. We're dorks, but don't we look festive?

Since we had so many kids, we decided to set-up experiment stations. Each child was given a colored bracelet to determine what team they were to be on. Here's the "Blow Up Your Balloon" station.

There are so many great websites out there with science experiments with kids. I really enjoyed Steve Spangler's and Science Bob. Our three experiements were:

Blow Up Your Balloon. Fill a water bottle 1/3 of the way with vinegar. Use a funnel to add 1 tbs. of baking soda into a balloon. Put the balloon on the top of the bottle and drop the baking soda in. The baking soda reacts with the vinegar to create carbon dioxide, which blows up the balloon. Unlike the pin that's going around on Pinterest says, it does not make helium. The balloons will not float, but they're still pretty fun.

Slime: Mix equal parts of liquid starch (we found it at King Soopers), white glue and water. I also added green food coloring to the water. This was messy and fun. The kids were given an Easter egg to take some home with them. Here's a video link for more on this one.

Quick Sand: This one is also known as oobleck. One box of cornstarch mixed with a cup of water. Slowly add another 1/2 cup for consistency. In the bowl it's a solid and your hand it's a liquid. For more on this one, click here.

I had the supplies to do the experiment three separate times at each station and used dollar store bowls that I could just throw away. This way there was no cleaning and when the group rotated stations, we could just pull out fresh supplies.

We also did the Mentos/Diet Coke fountain, which was a huge hit with everyone. I bought the kit at The Wildlife Experience, but it's also available here.

A test tube pinata finished off the theme - for more on how I made it, check out the blog post here.

Happy birthday little scientist. Love ya, kiddo.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Test Tube Pinata

When Parker said he wanted to do a science birthday party (OK, I may have put the idea in his head, but it's awesome), I started hunting around Pinterest for inspiration.

We always do a pinata. It's kind of become a tradition. This is what we came up with. Awesome right?!?

I found this post by Homemade Mamas, I knew we'd have to make a test tube pinata. In the original post, they used a large balloon to make the shape, but I couldn't find one.

We had to come up with something. My neighbor suggested using a bunch of regular balloons taped together in a tube shape. I of course, had to one-up him and come up with this. A single balloon stuffed into one end of a Coors Light box. I opened the box and turned it inside out, so that the words wouldn't show through the tissue paper (I can't have all the other parents at the party thinking we're a bunch of drunks now, can I?).

I taped the balloon in place and mixed up some paper mache - just flour, water and a little Elmer's glue. My little helpers got nice and messy helping me tear the newspaper into strips and slathering it with our paste.

We kept working until we ended up with this.

It was really wet and we let it dry for a couple days. It was probably ready in 24 hours, but we left it be for good measure.
Next, it was time for decorating. I cut lots of strips of tissue paper (I had three sheets of green on hand and also used about four of white). 

Keep cutting until you have something like this.
Then I started glueing the strips starting with the green end. I used seven (yep seven!) glue sticks. Make sure you overlap each piece as you move around the pinata.
Keep going and keep glueing. When I finished, I decided to use the Homemade Mamas' version as inspiration and added hashmarks and numbers to six, since Parker was turning six.

It was a total hit - literally. How cute is my little niece hitting it?

And Dillon and his little buddy getting playful while waiting for that thing to break? Cute. Right? It was pretty strong and lasted through about 15 kids. So there was some waiting happening.

Stay tuned for an overview of the party. It was pretty amazing.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fourth of July Freezer Paper Stenciled T-Shirts

The boys and I are planning a little neighborhood bike parade next week and decided we needed something to wear. I just adore Cheri at I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar (although she doesn't have the foggiest idea who I am - Oh well). She has two boys (like me) and does the most amazing crafts. Like this "All by Myself Tee" using freezer paper stencils.

Freezer paper stencils seem to be all the rage right now on Pinterest, so I decided to use Cheri's tutorial and let the boys go for it. I had a little trouble finding freezer paper that wasn't in such a giant package. WalMart only carried 150 square foot boxes. We ran into one of Dillon's preschool teachers while we were looking and she suggested asking the butcher for a piece. Good idea, except they don't use it at WalMart. I did find a 75 square foot box at Albertson's. Not quite so big, but I guess will be doing some more stencilling soon. And it was pretty easy.

Here's how we did it.

First, I pulled out my Cricut and let the boys pick a design they liked. Parker chose a bike and Dillon a camper. I cut the paper to the right size and loaded it into the Cricut shiny side down.

Next, iron on the paper to your shirts. I found these at WalMart for $1 on clearance. I bought about 10 of them a few months ago. They are typically about $3.50, still a great deal. The wax coating on the shiny side will make the stencils stick to the shirt, but peal off easily later. Make sure that shiny side is down again.

I surrounded the edges of the stencil with scraps of the freezer paper, so we didn't have any oops problems with the paint. After all, my painters are only four and five.

Put something inside the shirt - some cardboard or something. I used plastic cutting boards, which wasn't the best idea, since I did get a little that bled through. Next time I'll put the cutting boards inside a plastic shopping bag.

The boys just went for it with the red, white and blue fabric paint (we used Tulip Slick paint). I found sponge brushes worked the best, so the paint didn't leak under the stencil. Just have the kiddos use a dabbing method with the brush.

When they're done painting, the shirts will look like this (sorry, I didn't get a pre-paint picture).

When they're dry, let the kids peal off the paper. It was a little tricky and the kids ended up letting me finish (probably because they were busy watching Phineas and Ferb while the paint was drying).
And here's the final product.
I can't wait to see them next Wednesday with the shirts on and bikes decked out for the event.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Old T-Shirts Become New PJs

A neighbor gave me some old Phineas and Ferb shirts a while back. They were well worn, but I knew I wanted to do something with them. But what?

I've been on a PJ kick lately. They are crazy easy to make, but kind of expensive in the store. My kiddos wear clean ones every night, so we need several pair.

The shirts weren't quite wide enough, so I had to use two for the one pair of PJs. I was lucky I had two very similar shirts. You can use one adult shirt or experiment with up to four - one for each panel - Personally, I think it would be pretty cute.

Anyway, I made these while the boys were in the tub tonight. And Parker put them on right after. I even had him stand up in the tub, so I could get the waist measurement.

Here's how they came out.
Cute. Right?

Here's how I made them. You'll need:
  • two t-shirts
  • elastic for waistband
  • thread and pins
  • sewing machine
  • a pair of shorts that currently fit (as a pattern)
There are the shirts I used. Great, but there was some fraying at the collar and sleeve.

First line up the hem on the bottom of the first shirt and smooth it out. Then lay the existing shorts on top. This will be your pattern.
My new ones will be a little shorter, but I was okay with that since the Star Wars ones are really long. Cut around your 'pattern' leaving about 1/4 inch for seams. You'll have something like this...

To make sure both sides are even, I used this piece as the pattern for the other side. Flip it over and cut out.
Your pieces will look like this. See why I flipped over the first side before cutting the second?

Now, you're ready to start sewing. Lay the two front pieces on top of each other, right sides together. And sew together leaving the crotch alone. You'll do that last.
Do that to both front and back. Now, you're ready to sew your two pieces together. Pin the edges together making sure to line up the bottom hem. No hemming! Yay! I hate hemming. Sew together and you should have a tube with the crotch open.
Pin the crotch together and sew.

Time for the waistband. Pin down the waistband to make a channel for your elastic. I used 1/4 elastic because it's what I had on hand and I didn't have a lot of fabric to work with.
Since this is t-shirt fabric, it won't fray. Just a simple fold will do. Sew up your channel leaving about an inch in the back to run the elastic through. Cut the length you need and using a safety pin push it through your channel. Sew the ends together and close up the whole.

Done! He thought he needed to pull up the shirt (a Walmart clearance T for $1. I bought about 10 of them a few months back).
Dillon wanted to get in on the action too. He happened to be wearing a pair I made using this method.
Are they cute? Or what?" target="_blank">" />

Sunday, May 27, 2012

DIY - Sandwich Wraps

In honor of my oldest getting set to start first grade - that's right, first. Where has all the time gone? - I decided to make something useful. He's going to need to bring lunch next year. I'm not sure I'm prepared for that. Anyway, instead of using a million sandwich bags, I decided to make some reusable sandwich wraps.

I saw a craft show a couple years back that featured making your own "fabric" by fusing together grocery bags. The concept is all about ironing plastic between parchment paper to make usable fabric for bags, etc. This gal made it seriously beautiful by using strips and shapes cut from colored bags. I've been dying to try it.

My girlfriend and I were chatting about it and she showed me this one that she bought a while ago. I like how it makes a nice little placemat too.
I borrowed it with plans to copy it. I also searched around Pinterest for some ideas and found this great one from Chica and Jo, but decided to make a few changes. Hers was based on diagonal orientation and I wanted mine horizontal (thinking it might keep the sandwich a little fresher, but I'm not sure that matters).

Here's how mine came out.
Want to make one (or three)? Here's how I did it. First gather a bunch of grocery bags (the Target ones are great because they are made from thick plastic). Good thing I frequent Target on a regular (weekly) basis. Lay out the bags so they're nice and flat. Cut the handles and bottom seam off.
Then cut off the colored part of the bag. You should have a big rectangle. Lay it flat on your parchment paper. I folded it over to make a square and laid another one on top, flipping it over, so you have have a thickness of three bags.
Cover it with another piece of parchment paper and iron it on medium heat (no steam). It will shrink up significantly. Keep fusing it until you have a nice square about 12x12. You can add more bags to the sides if it gets too small. Next, I used my rotary cutter to make it a 12x12 square.
Lay your plastic square on a 14x14 piece of fabric (I found this cool skateboarder fabric on clearance at Walmart for $1/yard).
Fold in the sides until they are even with the edge of the plastic and over once more. Pin in place. This makes a nice edge around your wrap.
Miter the corners by folding the fabric in a diagonal. Like this.
Take your piece to the machine and sew down your edges. Now, it's time to finish it up. Cut a piece of velcro about 2 inches long and sew the scratchy side to the top center of the wrap.
Fold in the sides.
And the bottom to determine the location of the loop side of the velcro. Pin it and sew it down.
You're done.
I made three and even followed a little tip from the Chica and Jo tutorial. I cut out the letters to spell "I love you" from a Walmart bag and fused it in the center. Cute, huh?

Linking to:
Positively Splendid

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We Wear Short Shorts... Um, no.

I had the best visit last weekend with my girl Jessica. It was pretty funny that it only took us about 20 minutes to get back to finishing each other's sentences. Isn't it fun to have a girlfriend like that? She flew all the way out to Denver from Los Angeles to catch-up with me and catch-up on some shopping.

We headed to downtown to hit H&M - I've wanted to go there for years. It turns out I should have done it years ago. Much of the pieces they have are really young and trendy. Not that I can't rock young and trendy, but it doesn't really reflect well on a mom picking-up your kindergartner in a tube top and short shorts.

While I'm on the subject of short shorts (nice seque, huh?), Jess and I shared our rant about pajama shorts being WAY too short. I recently bought a cute little set at for about $7.50. Can't beat that, but when it arrived, the fabric was crazy sheer and the shorts were super short. No amount of Nair was going to make those look good.

(Nair Girls)

Turns out Jess was having the same problem. I'm sure my husband would have liked the Target PJ set, but my kids may have ended up scarred for life. We searched and searched for some cute (and not booty revealing) shorts, but no luck. What's a gal to do? Duh, turn a pair of PJ pants into shorts.

Jess had bought some silly Snoopy pants on sale recently and brought them with her to Denver.


Sunday morning before a last little shopping venture, I decided to cut them off and hem them up for her. While she was wearing them, I made a little cut about an inch and a half longer than her desired length.


After laying them flat to get a straight cut, I chopped those little puppies off. Next, I took them to the iron and pressed in a hem, doubling it over so they wouldn't fray. A couple quick seams and tada! New non-booty revealing pajama shorts. See how much shorter mine were than the Snoopy ones? Yikes! Hello bikini wax.