Friday, April 27, 2012

Recycling Crayons

We have a ton of crayons around our house!!  Some are broken and some are extras that we get every time we take the kids out to eat.  

In the past I would bag up the good ones and donate them to the school.  But, how many blue, red, yellow and green crayons (the colors we almost always get when eating out) can a school use???

Now that my kiddos are getting a little bigger I have been saving them up to "recycle".  I love the idea of melting the crayons to form new shapes!  My kids also love it so I thought I would share this for anyone who hasn't tried it yet.  

Here is a really easy way to get the paper off the crayons!  

Soak them for a minute in warm water!

The paper practically falls off!

I found this tool once that incorporates all the steps very easily into one picture!  Even down to the baking temp and time!  I refer to it every time we "recycle" our crayons!

Love the idea of using them for cards!!!

I made these Lego crayons for my son.
For these - I sorted the colors so they were solid instead of "rainbow".

Tips I Have Learned: Kids Jigsaw Puzzle

I was excited when my littles ones started showing an interest in jigsaw puzzles!  I love seeing their little brains at work!! I purchased a few of the Melissa & Doug wooden puzzle sets since they seemed sturdy and had fun picture themes.  Just like this pirate scene that is my sons favorite:

But, unlike boxed puzzle sets, there isn't a picture for kiddos to look at while they are trying to figure out a new puzzle....

The only picture is a little one on the under side of the board they are supposed to build the puzzle on!

So I came up with this idea and it has worked great for my kiddos.  I took a picture of the puzzle (example is the first picture in this blog post) and then printed it on a full size sheet of paper.  Now they have something to look at.

Then I store the puzzle pieces and the picture in a bag so they have easy access to build the puzzle again.  Plus we have a picture to remind us of which puzzle is in each bag.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Southern California Vacation: The Queen Mary

My kids (especially my daughter) are really interested in knowing more about the Titanic.  So during this years  trip to Southern California we decided to visit The Queen Mary in Long Beach.  It's not the Titanic but very close and it was perfect timing for my little ones.

Our package (general admission) included a tour through the museum section (has many facts about the Titanic too - free headsets to guide you are an option), freedom to roam the majority of the ship, and the Ghosts & Legends Tour.


Additional Options
We were able to explore the ship inside and out!  We walked the upper decks from the front to the back. We explored the display areas that gave us the history of the ship and an idea of what it was like to travel or work on it.  We looked at the mechanics of the ship to see how it worked, and we spent some time shopping.  Yes, you can shop, eat, get married, go to a convention, stay over night in the ships hotel, or even attend a concert - all on The Queen Mary!  Staying on the ship sounds interesting but it wasn't something that we knew about to plan into our trip.  Maybe another time!

My son fell in love with these on one of the decks!

Of course we had to ask for a picture with the "real captain" of the ship.
I think he was there for the individualized/VIP tours but he didn't mind getting in the picture.
 I mentioned that the basic tour price includes the Ghosts & Legends Tour.  If you get scared easily it might not be for you. It was a lot of fun but we of course reminded my kiddos that we were in "Hollywood" where they do a lot of fake things to entertain people.  One adult left during the tour but my 4 & 6 year olds did great!  But, at the end of the tour the guide shouted, "HURRY - lets get out of here!" and my sons little feet couldn't run fast enough!  Everyone was very impressed with them and my kiddos loved that part of our adventure.

Negative experiences:  

It's a little confusing where to start (how to get to the museum area) and then where to go next.  You have to go to a set of elevators, go up to "?" floor, cross the overhead walkway, go down the stairs, and then you are at the museum.  To get to the rest of the ship you have to go back up the stairs, cross the walkway, get on the elevator, take that to "?" floor, and then cross over into the ship.....  Keep in mind that you are sharing the two small elevators with guest of the hotel and their luggage.   Once we were done with the museum and found our way to the rest of the ship it was easy to figure out the rest.  

The credit card machine was not working when we arrived to buy our tour tickets.  So they opened late and then only accepted cash.

You have to pay for your parking on the way out by using a machine near the entrance of the ship.  We of course forgot to do this until we were pulling out of the parking lot.  We had to park again so one of us could run to a machine to pay and get our voucher to be able to leave the lot.  This seems to actually be a common thing in California.  It's the same process at Redondo Beach parking.  What was really strange to me is there were people checking our vouchers on the way out - why couldn't they just take our money???


In the past I shared with you a "Chunky Guacamole" recipe that I love.  Here is another recipe that is smooth and appealing to many.  


2 avocados
1 package (8 ounces) of cream cheese - I use Philadelphia light cream cheese
1 package guacamole seasoning packet (any kind)

One of the seasoning packets I have used.
Usually found in seasoning or near avocados in your local grocery store.

Discard shell and pit from avocado.  Mix all ingredients together until smooth (having a little bit of chunks is okay).   Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Top may brown so stir ocationally.  Serve with chips.

Feeling Crafty: Aprons

Those that know me well know that I play around with some sewing projects.  I don't have an Etsy store or anything.  Until recently I didn't feel like my sewing skills were as good as those selling on Etsy.  Now that I feel more confident with my sewing, I just don't feel like I could recover my cost and time at a price that was competitive with big chain stores.  So, I just craft for personal reasons that I eventually gift to family and friends.

I also do not blog on the step-by-step details of my crafts.  Simply because I don't have the time.  And, there are many sites that give free patterns and step-by-step details that you could search.  You just need an idea of what you would like to make.

The very first sewing project that I ever wanted to do was an apron.  Partly because of my love to cook but also because I thought it might be easy.  I found this pattern which I tweaked - simply by not adding ribbon to the pattern and changing the pocket to a cotton material to add some design.
Of course, my first project was for my daughter!

I made some of these for summer gifts.

I made this one to go with a baking gift set for a crafty little girl.

A different pattern.  I LOVE this apron but it took a LOT of time to make!
Of course, it is for my little girl.  Now I have gone back to the simple pattern.

Now I have tweaked the original pattern a little more.  The pattern calls for Cotton Duck material.  I actually wanted that at first because it is the same material as another apron I have and love.  But, there aren't many design options in that Cotton Duck material and some of the feedback I received didn't like the thickness of it.  So now I do all cotton.  

Teacher Appreciation Gift

Tips I Have Learned: Keeping Apple Slices From Turning Brown

My kids love the freshness of packaged apples from places like McDonald's.

However, I can't get them to eat an apple from home once it has started to brown!  This is very frustrating considering that we are on the go a lot and I love that they prefer apples over chips.

I tried tossing the apples with fresh lemon/lime juice to keep them fresh (works great with banana's and avocado) but my little ones didn't like the sour taste it left on the apples.  Not even Granny Smiths that are a little tart to start with.  One day I heard this tip:  toss the apple slices with Sprite.....

It's something that I would have never thought of but it works!!!  Fresh apples all the time that are approved by my picky little eaters!

I love using lemons and limes for avocados and a variety of other snacks.  But, the next time a make a fruit pizza - I am going to try Sprite on my bananas....