Monday, August 11, 2014

Recycled Egg Carton Rocket Pods



When I came across a list of 20 indoor ball games, I was excited to try them.  One problem though--no ping pong balls.  So we improvised instead.  I cut egg cartons apart and made "rocket pods" using rubber bands (hair elastics, actually).  Then we used more elastics to make a cardboard tube launcher.

It had been a while since I'd done a crafty project outside the kitchen, and I think I had as much fun (or possibly more) with this toy as anyone!  The rocket pods reminded me of the escape shuttles I had seen recently in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy.  My kids may not be quite ready to see the film yet, but we can still have some space-age fun together!

Materials Used:

  • Egg cartons, made of cardboard or styrofoam
  • Small rubber bands or hair elastics
  • Plastic grocery bags (for filling)
  • Cardboard tubes of different diameters (from paper towel and plastic wrap rolls)
  • 2 brass fasteners
  • Aluminum foil, optional
Directions:
  1. Cut apart egg cartons to form cups.  Stuff two cups with the plastic from half of a grocery bag.  Secure the halves together with two rubber bands.
  2. To make the launcher, poke holes across from each other in one end of each cardboard tube.  Put the brass fasteners in the holes of the larger tube.  Thread a rubber band though each hole in the smaller tube and form a secure loop.  Put the samller tube inside the larger tube and attach rubber band loops to the fasteners.
  3. To decorate the outer tube with silver foil, wrap with foil and secure with three rubber bands.
  4. To launch rocket pods, pull the inner tube back to stretch the rubber bands.  Balance a rocket pod on the other end, aim the launcher, and let go of the inner tube "trigger."


I  like to share ideas here.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lessons from a 6,000-Mile-Long Trip


New discoveries awaited us on our 6,000 mile road trip last month.   Our trip covered the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, and a brief jaunt to Ontario (to sign real estate papers).  We certainly experienced America afresh, since we had become accustomed to the flatter landscape and fewer options where we live in Saskatchewan.

After crossing the border into North Dakota, the kids loved mixing their own soft drinks with the new custom soda machines at restaurants.  Peach Sprite was their top pick.  We also discovered how challenging it can be to find accommodations for a family of six.  The mid-range motels often worked best for us because we could get a suite for less than the cost of two rooms.  Maybe some day we will take on the challenge of camping, but our childhood memories tell us to proceed with caution.

As we made our way across the midwest, we enjoyed seeing some of the World Cup soccer matches.  I was impressed to encounter so many soccer fans in Columbus, Ohio.  Unfortunately it was difficult to find radio broadcasts of this worldwide sports phenomenon when we were in the minivan (which was a lot).  Do Americans really love baseball so much?  I guess I was oblivious.

Takeaway #1: Carry Protein

One practical thing that worked well for us was buying high-quality meat jerky as a protein snack on the road.  It helped us make it beyond the next highway exit when we wanted more options for where to stop and eat.  Being the exotic meat aficionado that he is, my husband bought kangaroo, ostrich, bison, and venison jerkies.  No Slim Jims for us.



Takeaway #2: Think Inside the Box

While searching a big box store for a travel container for baby wipes, I was astonished to find that a zippered case travel wipe pack cost nearly four dollars ($3.77 I believe it was)!  Nope, not gonna do that.  But I needed a container that would find in my purse--without robbing me of so much cash.  It took time to search and ponder what to do, but I settled on a refillable green plastic soap case that cost less than a dollar.  It served us well throughout the trip!



Takeaway #3: State Parks are Worth Exploring

En route to my parents in Oklahoma, we thought it would be fun to stop at one of Missouri's caves.  We avoided the steeper prices at the caves you see advertised on billboards.  Instead, we had a wonderful tour of Fisher's Cave, which was less flashy and more scientific.  Just what we wanted.  As an added bonus, the motel at Meramac State Park offered us a more affordable (spartan) room that slept six.  Getting off the interstate a few miles was definitely worth it for us.

In Oklahoma, we visited a park I remembered enjoying as a girl with my parents, Red Rock Canyon.  Even my two-year-old now has memories of our adventures hiking and swimming there.  I am so glad we went, and thankful that the weather was not too hot to consider spending time outdoors.


Upon Reflection

We were thankful to connect with family and friends we had not been able to visit in three years, and many got to meet our youngest daughter for the first time.  What's more, we celebrated a golden wedding anniversary for my parents-in-law and the wedding of our oldest niece.  It was an important trip, but not a vacation per se.

My husband and I returned to Canada feeling like we needed to get away more often.  Even if it's just to the nearest larger city in our our province.  Refreshment needs to happen.  We got a taste of it at family camp in May, which was helpful.  But we are nearing the end of summer wishing for more.

What do you consider to be the difference between a trip and a vacation for you? 



This post may be linked here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

15 Favorite Summer Picnic Dishes


Got any picnic plans?  We had our long weekend at family camp, but I know that many of you in the States are gearing up for summer and school getting out soon.  Here are three recipes to make when you are ready to enjoy some fresh food outdoors:


Looking for more ideas?  There are 12 more of my favorite picnic dishes featured at Swirls and Spice this week!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

3 Reasons Why Family Camp Was Just What We Needed

 I have good memories of going off to summer camp as a kid.  But my own family hadn't had a chance to go away to a camp until this past weekend.  And I'm so glad we went.  Here are three reasons why.

1.  The Fresh Air and Scenery

Where we live the land is flat and not particularly interesting.  There are no lakes, rivers, or ponds in our community, nor are there many flowers around, even after all the snow melts.  So it was lovely to enjoy the view at the water's edge and see the green hills of the Qu'Appelle Valley on our way there and back.  I spent many hours roaming the grounds with my youngest daughter and skipping rocks at the shoreline of the lake while my other children explored and collected rocks and shells.


2. The Food

I was unsure what to expect from the dining hall.  Memories of camp food from my childhood did not inspire me to expect much.  However, the volunteers at our camp made some fantastic meals and evening snacks for us.  The highlight was fresh donuts.  Move over Tim Horton's. Eunice makes some of the best in the country!






















3.   The Freedom!

The best feature for me and my husband was that our kids were not always with us.  Not only that, I was free from my household responsibilities like preparing meals and doing laundry, while my husband was able to leave his job responsibilities at the office for the whole long weekend.  So we relished the opportunities to listen to Bible teaching twice a day while our children were engaged elsewhere in the children's program.  And there were other moments to sit and talk when our kids were busy playing and running around the campground.  We came back truly refreshed.


What are your summer camp memories?
Do you have a favorite spot you like to go for getaways?






Thursday, April 17, 2014

3 Recipes Featuring Blueberries to Eat, Drink, and Celebrate!




Blueberries might be the secret to my grandfathers' long lives.  And I've had the privilege of picking wild blueberries with one of my grandpas, who is now 97 years old, when I was young.  I think I might have even used a tin pail like in the book Blueberries for Sal.  Or perhaps I used an empty ice cream bucket.  In any case, the fresh berries were marvelous!

Here are three delicious recipes that feature blueberries, to inspire you to indulge in some blue goodness this weekend:

@ Swirls and Spice

@ Roots of Simplicity


@ Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

I share ideas here
This post contains an affiliate link.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Colorful Melted Candy Suncatcher






A burst of color is what we need as we await the beauty of spring that is still yet to come.  And with some Jolly Rancher candies and our oven, we made a lovely suncatcher in the shape of an Easter egg.  It now hangs in the window, catching rays of sunlight through the translucent colors to brighten up the kitchen.  It's easy to make your own suncatcher by melting hard candy.  Here's how.


Supplies needed:

  • hard candy in assorted colors (we used Jolly Rancher candies)
  • baking parchment
  • baking tray
  • metal skewer
  • waxed dental floss or ribbon
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F (140 C).  Line the baking tray with parchment.
  2. Arrange the candies on the parchment in an eye-pleasing roundish shape.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the center is melted flat.
  4. Tilt the warm tray to swirl the colors a bit and to even out the shape.
  5. Allow the disc formed to cool.  Trim the edges with a knife or break off small shards to even out the edges somewhat.
  6. Heat the pointed end of the metal skewer over a stove top burner and puncture a hole near the top of the disc.  Allow the edges of the hole to harden before threading with floss or ribbon.  
  7. Hang up your suncatcher near a window.

I might be sharing this idea here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

8 Ways to Welcome Spring, No Matter the Weather

The calendar says that spring is here.  Winter is reluctant to leave these parts, but we're going to welcome spring with some of these activities anyway.  Here's how you can join us:

1.  Plant some seeds, inside or outside.  A recent post at Simple Bites demonstrates how to start seeds indoors.



2.  Make some colorful springtime snacks.

Ladybugs on a Celery Stick
Vanilla Sprinkle Ice Cream Bites









Deviled Eggs with Greens

3.  Play a spring-inspired game.

Eco-Friendly Flower Game

 Ladybug Games
 4.  Create some watercolor cards to send.
Watercolor Easter Cards

5.  Sing songs or recite poems or rhymes (with actions) that celebrate spring, Easter, and/or Passover.
     
          Some possibilities:


6. Add flowers to your table or home decor.  Gather them fresh from outside or craft them inside.
Tulip Napkin Rings


7. Make a pitcher of fresh lemonade and invite a friend over to enjoy it together.


Cherry Lemonade Mixer

8. Sort through clothes and have a spring fashion show.  In the process, decide ahead of time what to wear to events like Easter or spring concerts.

I'm sharing this post here.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

3 Kid-Friendly Ways to Celebrate the Olympic Games at Home

The winter games are here, and I am eager to watch some Olympic action this weekend!  This is one of the rare times when I wish we had access to T.V. programming.  Since we're an internet-and-DVD-only household, I'm planning to whip up some goodies over the next week and a half and invite myself over to watch some of the events with friends.

In addition to watching, there are some hands-on, feet-on activities that I'd like to do with my kids to celebrate the Olympic games that start this week.  Here are three things I'm planning for us:

1)  Eat some Olympic Rings!





2)  Do some indoor figure skating!



How to Make Carpet Gliding Skates


3)  Make and award some ice medals!



Are you planning to watch the games over the next week?  
If so, what will your family members be doing while you watch?


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Red Heart Pocket Pies with Strawberry Filling


It's not Valentine's Day yet, so I made these pocket pies with strawberry rhubarb filling to celebrate my daughter's second birthday this month. Any red fruit will work as the filling.  I chose strawberries and rhubarb in order to clear out the last of the frozen produce that we gathered late in the summer.  The recipe I used is from the Artful Parent.  I appreciate that she includes instructions for how to make both the red fruit filling and the pastry crust from scratch.  If pressed for time, you could also just buy crust and filling.  Either way, your friends and family members are sure to enjoy a lovely pocket pie, for Valentine's Day, or just because you love them.

You can find the recipe I used for these pocket pies at the Artful Parent.

In case you would like something with chocolate too, I have a recipe for Chocolate Buckwheat Waffles over at Swirls and Spice.

I'm sharing this at Marvelous Mondays.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Cake Stand {Make One Instead}

Have you noticed that most of those lovely photos of cakes in magazines and on Pinterest include a cake stand?  At my other site, Swirls and Spice, I share recipes that I develop and try to make the food look enticing in the photos. But my budget is rather limited, so I don't own a lot of fancy props. I've contemplated buying a cake stand, but it just does not seem worth the money.  So I have done without and endeavored to avoid coveting cake stands and other lovely dishes I see.


Still, there are occasions where a pretty cake stand would come in handy, like the baby shower pictured above.  At the top left of the photo, if you look closely, you can see half of the Boston cream cupcakes I made sitting on a glass stand.  The rest are on a matching glass platter.

Instead of buying a rather expensive one-piece cake stand, I found two bowls and platters at the (Canadian) dollar store that I though would work.  And they did.  I spent less than $5.00 and I now have two convertible "cake stands" that double as bowls and serving plates.  I've used them frequently in the few two months for parties, family meals, and potlucks.  Below are some of the recipe photos that have included my bargain serveware.

at Swirls and Spice

at Swirls and Spice

If you've ever wished for a cake stand but lacked the money or space to have one in your kitchen, be not dismayed.  Simply find a fancy bowl and platter, invert the bowl under the platter, and voila!  You have a convertible cake stand!

 Recipe for Citrus Swirl Lemon Bars {from Swirls & Spice}