Making Chocolate Lollipops

yum

Welcome Spring and Hellooooo Rain. This past weekend it poured. All weekend long. So we stayed in and made the best of it by inventing all sorts of rainy day activities like playing with our new chocolate lollipop molds.

Recipe

  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of butterscotch chips. (N isn’t super fond of chocolate, and we hoped that the butterscotch would make the flavor more palatable for her.)
  • Assorted decorations (sprinkles, colored sugar, nuts, dried fruit, etc.)
  • Lollipop mold and sticks. These are very inexpensive, but in their absence, you could make free-form lollipops like these from She Is Dallas by simply dropping a dollop of chocolate right down on waxed paper and then adding a popsicle stick or straw while the chocolate is warm.

Before we began, we made guesses about what might happen to the chips if we heated them up. This was a fine little science lesson in how chocolate turns from a solid into a liquid at a high temperature. After semi-melting the chips in the microwave, we stirred the mixture until it blended smoothly and then dropped/poured it into the molds with a teaspoon. Since I’m working with a preschooler, I didn’t want to bother with tempering the chocolate. Sticks were added and it was ready for decorating!

I handed the whole thing over to N so she could work her two-year old magic on the lollipops.

N adores sprinkles of all sorts, and while I half-expected to witness a grand dumping of the candies, I was surprised by her restraint. Especially on the cooped up rainy day that it was.

The tray found its way into the fridge for what seemed like FOREVER, and then we popped them out.

Yummy!

Well, yummy until you’ve had too much of a good thing. Lucky for me, my child isn’t a huge fan of chocolate and just about gagged after the first big bite. Just so you know the true story here, I tried the lollipops myself, and they really were good.

And this is further reminder that with small children the process far outweighs the product!

The day that we made these, I asked my Facebook Friends what they were creating, and I am inspired by all of the creativity.  See for yourself!

  • A homemade pizza for my family!
  • Cookies!
  • happiness
  • I drew a big road, loads of turns and rotaries Also filled with homes, gas station, supermarket, the works. Taped it to the coffee table, it provided hours of entertainment on this rainy day.
  • playscapes, the beginnings of our spring nature table, and lemon risotto
  • it was a beautiful day, so we hit the zoo, and went walking in a neat part of town for hours! we made box lunches, and made smiles! seeing an old friend and her new baby seem to create good moods!
  • A new appreciation for art for Lili- went to the cantor center and she loved it!
  • My lil one made Holi cards with leaf and petal printing and decoupage. Holi, is a festival of colours, peace and brotherhood – here in India. :)
  • At playschool today it was pouring rain so we made some suncatcher rainbow collages and had story time whilst listening to the rain!

What did you create today?

This post was shared with Kids Get Crafty

Coffee Filter Flowers

flower

We recently started using a Chemex coffee pot (next to Blue Bottle, it makes the BEST coffee ever — anyone else with me?) and we had a stack of old filters collecting dust, waiting to be repurposed into watercolor coffee filter flowers!

I mixed a little water to liquid watercolors, and added droppers. You could also use food coloring and scavenge droppers from old bottles of Baby Tylenol.

The set-up

  • Watercolors
  • Flat-bottom coffee filters
  • Droppers
  • Tray to catch spills
  • Covered table
  • Bowl of Sequins (not necessary, but N insisted on this…you’ll soon see why)
  • Green Pipe Cleaners

Squeeze some watercolor on the filters until you reach desired color combination/saturation level. You may not really care about the aesthetics at all, as the activity of squeezing watery paint is so enjoyable in its own right. If that’s the case, keep on squeezing!

And add some sequins, googly eyes, and fake plastic nails while you’re at it! I love how children are filled with their own novel ideas and believe it’s important to encourage imaginative play at every opportunity.

Over the course of half and hour, we worked side-by-side to color a bunch of coffee filters and let them dry overnight.

The next day, we had fun chopping the filters up into snowflakes, and wearing them as crowns. This was all N’s idea. And she decided her baby sister needed a crown too. You never know where art activities are going to take you!

To make the flowers (and these next steps are all me)…

1. Stack about 5 coffee filters like pancakes. I sandwiched unpainted filters between painted ones to give it more contrast.

2. Accordion-fold the filter stack and secure it with a pipe cleaner

Pull out the filters individually, giving it a all a nice puff.

And proudly display your Spring bouquet.

Find this post on My Delicious Ambiguity, ABC and 123, Play Academy @ Nurturstore, We Play

Dream Catcher

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“If you have bad dreams you have to spit them out of your mouth and into the dream catcher.”

After a recent visit with some friends in their new house, my daughter could not stop talking about a dream catcher that they had. And she wanted one for herself. Of course. She also wanted a lofted bunk bed, but this isn’t a home decor blog, thank goodness!

The great part about this dream catcher moment is that her actual question was, “Can we MAKE a dream catcher?” Um, yes we can. (scramble, scramble…now how exactly does one make one of these?) When I asked her if she knew what dream catchers are for, she replied, “If you have bad dreams you have to spit them out of your mouth and into the dream catcher.” Well, not exactly, but gosh I’m going to miss these early years! If you want to know the real story behind dream catchers, read this.

What we used

  • thin wire
  • flexible piece of branch
  • embroidery thread
  • pom-pom

Twist branch into circular shape and secure it together. Our branch was a little bit short, so we ended up making more of a raindrop shape.

Secure thread with a big knot to the top of the twig and then start wrapping it. I imagined more of a natural color scheme, but my daughter wanted to use red wire and red yarn. Fair enough…it’s her dream catcher after all.

For a good tutorial on how and where to make these knots, read these instructions.

Many dream catchers are embellished with a feather, but N had her heart set on a pom-pom. A shiny pom-pom, actually.

We hung it above her bed with the hope that the pesky dreams might get tangled up in the yarn, while the good dreams could easily pass through the holes. Based on our experiences thus far there might be better ways to handle bad dreams, but it sure is nice to have a little bit of security dangling above us in those fragile moments.

Other ideas

left to right

1) Step-by-step tutorial on making a dream catcher from Hands on Crafts for Kids

2) Dream catchers made from Yogurt Lids from That Artist Woman

3) Make a simple dream catcher from a paper plate from 4 Crazy Kings

4) Whimsical Dream Catcher featured in Cookie Magazine from Nest Pretty Things on Etsy

How do you help your child/ren work through bad dreams?

The Butter Experiment

butter

Last week we made butter!

I have friends who made this fine food back in their grade school/scouting/summer camp days, but I haven’t had this pleasure until now. As such, this was much an experiment for me as it was for my child. And it was SO worth it. This project appealed to me because it hardly cost a thing, it was super easy to make, and I was rivited by the process of making my very own butter. And it appealed to my two-and-a-half year old because she could participate in the kitchen by doing many of her favorite things: pouring, mixing, and of course…eating!

Ingredients

  • Glass jar with tight-fitting lid. I used a clean spaghetti sauce jar
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • That’s it! Really, it’s that easy.


Directions

  • Pour cream into a jar. Fill it about 1/4 of the way to allow room for shaking.
  • Shake continuously until the cream divides into butter and “buttermilk”
  • Scoop out and pat butter into a bowl or molds.
  • Save the sweet butter milk for other recipes. Delish.

For this experiment, we made two batches: one in the glass jar and the other with a hand mixer. I hypothesized that the hand mixer concoction would whip up much quicker, so you can imagine my surprise when it never got past the thick cream phase. Given the nature of butter-making, maybe the blender would have worked better. If you’ve had success making butter with a mixer, please share your tips!

N helped with the hand mixer, gave the jar a few shakes for good measure, and then handed her duties off to me and her G-Ma.

There’s my adorable Mother-in-Law being a sport: baby-carrying in one hand and butter-shaking in the other. She’s clearly a pro. And a bonus…as you can see, my baby was enthralled by the process. It’s never too early to help a child develop critical thinking skills!

After about four minutes of shaking, the cream whipped up into a lovely spreadable consistency. Not quite butter, but still worth a taste. If you look closely, you’ll also notice that N is keeping herself busy cutting up coffee filters and snacking on raisins, while her grown-up friends labor away with butter shaking.

Mmmmmm.

About 10 minutes of shaking later I said out loud, “I don’t get it, is it supposed to look like REAL butter? Are we doing this right?” And within seconds the shaking became much easier and the butter was READY! We added a little bit of salt to taste, and then steamed up some corn to put it to the test. And it was amazing.

How it works

When you shake heavy cream, the drops of fat that are usually suspended in the liquid smack against each other and stick to each other.

When was the last time you made butter, and have you tried any variations on this experiment?

Happily shared with Tot Tuesday, We Play, Play Academy, and ABC and 123, Kids Get Crafty

Felt Dollhouse Dolls

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diy felt dolls

If you had been there, you would have thought I found gold when I discovered an old handmade dollhouse in a second hand shop last year. It had real shingles, an attic, and even some built-ins like a toilet paper dispenser. It’s the little things that make me happy.

After hauling it home, I spent countless evening hours repainting it by flood lamps in the garage. The things we do for our kids, no?

Meanwhile, I was on the hunt for natural wooden dolls, and was faced with pretty severe sticker shock when I finally found them. $10 for a miniature doll?! I finally found an affordable Melissa & Doug Wooden Family Doll Set and some Wooden People that are great for painting or keeping plain (as we have).

But like any  sane person with a Martha Stewart streak, I set off to make some of my own, and you can too!

Materials

Everything can be purchased at JoAnn Fabrics (or similar fabric/craft store)

  • Pipe Cleaner(s)
  • Craft Felt
  • Embroidery Floss and Needle
  • Wooden Bead with pre-painted face. If they don’t have these, you could paint faces on plain beads with acrylic paints or paint pens.
  • Doll hair
  • Hot Glue Gun

Time

  • The most time-consuming part of this was stitching up the clothes, but all-in-all, this was a fairly quick project.

I bent a pipe cleaner (chenille stem) into the shape you see here, and wrapped it with embroidery floss. I then tied off the floss ends so that they don’t come loose.

I made some clothes with craft felt. If you’re a Project Runway fan like I am, this is your time to shine (as I clearly am). The blue felt is about to become a pair of pants.

I inserted the body into the pants, and then stitched the sides up with a blanket stitch. If you’ve never done a blanket stitch before, once your get going it’s really simple. And kind of fun. Here’s my favorite tutorial.

I cut another piece of felt for a shirt, and then stitched the seams shut.

I cut out another shape that would become a hat, glued hair to the head, and then glued the hat on top of that. Finally, the head was glued onto pipe cleaner “neck.”

Cute and bendable. Inexpensive, simple, and rewarding! If you can handle doing this all over again, make a family of dolls to inhabit your mini home.