Made by hands, expressed from the heart.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sick Day

Seriously, I do my best to keep my family's meals healthy, but sometimes I can't help it. My son had a fever last night, and I didn't send him to school. People say that you shouldn't teach your child to relate food to comfort, or offering them sweets when not feeling well. But the poor thing was so sad, and struggled to do his homework without complaining.So then...of course I made him chocolate cake! And to make a kid smile, what is better than adding some visual effect? A lot of ideas I get from Bakerella, a genius in the kitchen. I followed her directions to make her cake pops in ice cream cone. Before anything, I used some ice cream cones and cut the tops with a serrated knife to make a little smaller.
Then I had half of a cake in the freezer ( I baked a cake on the weekend using two 9 inch pans, eating one and freezing the other), left until room temperature, then crumbled with my fingers. Last I put in a blender half of ripe banana and a quarter cup of milk and mixed until creamy (this makes it a tiny healthier than the original recipe, which uses frosting). After pouring this cream in the crumbled cake, I used my fingers to mix everything well, into a dough. This makes firm enough to roll into balls, like clay, big enough to fit on top of the ice cream cones. After placing the balls on top, they went to the freezer. At the end, I melted some Wilton chocolate melts in the microwave, then dipped the cake ball on it. And on top, I placed one M&M for a little color. Hopefully this will bring him good memories from his childhood.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Oscars Party Night

Our friend Dinarte came to watch the Oscars with us, and we wanted also to celebrate his green card. Since he is an actor, and just came back from Hollywood, it would be appropriate to have a little Oscar party on his honor. And he is not just any actor, he is well known in Portugal, finished a movie called Celeste, received an award for best actor in the International Amazon Film Festival in Brazil, directs, and appears in several ads in Portugal. My favorite is this one, and several other movies. So to start with some fun, I painted a star from the walk of fame using a small canvas and acrylic paint. After dried, I wrote his name with a black sharpie, and for some sparkle, glitter glue from the kids box. He loved it.
For super quick snacks I bought ready made phyllo shells, and filled with sauteed onions, mushrooms, hearts of palm and cooked chicken (Short Cuts from Perdue). To make this mixture stay "glued" together, I mixed 1 tbp of cornstarch in cold water, and put it in after everything is cooked. Just cook until it thickens. Then filled the shells and baked by the directions. To stick to the theme, I cut out a small piece of cardboard in the shape of the statue, placed glue on the surface and put golden glitter on top. To stand on top of the shells, I just put a toothpick with tape.
Another appetizer served was toast with hummus and guacamole, with big olives on the side. To decorate, I just cut stars on black foam paper, glued on a skewer and lined the star with silver glitter glue.
For dessert I put different fruit pieces in a skewer, and I was lucky enough to find a star fruit that day. And for extra sweet, a few strawberries dipped in chocolate.
I also wanted to have a red carpet, and found a red plastic tablecloth at the dollar store. Folded it in half so can use for the future, and placed it on the floor. Then we just made some photocopies of the statue, photoshopped his name, cut it out and gave him the award. We were able to take a few fun pictures, and everybody had a good time.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

From Pumpkins to Angry Birds

Every fall we go to Schmitt's farms and bring home a few pumpkins. It is a nice family trip, and a good place to spend the day. They make beautiful decorations, and very good dishes too. But this past year, I had a better idea for those perfectly shaped starting materials. Since I was seeing Angry Birds everywhere, and Halloween was coming, they seemed to fit very well for the occasion. And it is fun for the whole family. After picking pumpkins with the birds in mind, the rest of work wouldn't be so hard.
First step was to spray paint them, using enamel spray paint. Best way to do it was tying a string in the stem and hanging in the garage, them give a little spin and spray it, as it moved in circles.
After all of them are colored and dried, the eyes were made of plastic from a milk gallon. I cut the shape with scissors and made the eyeballs with a sharpie. And for the beaks, I had some orange plastic plates. Then the eyes and the beak were attached to the pumpkin with a nail
. To make the frame of the slingshot, I used a piece of my tree with a Y shape, put 2 pieces of skinny plumbing pipes on each side, and painted the entire thing so it looked like a single piece. Then for the "elastic" shooting piece, I used colored duct tape from the craft store.
So then I placed them on top of stacks of hay (bought with the pumpkins), and arranged them in my front yard, like in the game The kids were very excited and they were a hit for Halloween

Friday, March 16, 2012

School Snacks

I had 1 day that I had off from work, and both kids all day in school. I had about 10 hours and several tasks to complete. So at 6:40 AM I left the house and drove the kids to school, to come back at home and take care of all the dishes and the laundry, that was spreaded all over the place. At 9AM had a dentist appointment, found out there was a cavity and had to come back another day (how can I fit this in my schedule?). From there drove to Home Depot to buy tiles, because my husband is redoing the bathroom. They didn't have them, so I drove to their other store 4 miles away, but stopped in the craft store to see if I got any ideas for special snack for my son's first grade class. I had to send small bags, not heavy for him to carry, semi- homemade and kind of healthy (although super healthy never pleases the audience). But I got no ideas there, so drove to the other Home Depot, found tiles, drove back and stopped at the grocery store. There were bags of big UTZ pretzels on sale (2 for 5), that would be enough for the class of 20, and pretzels sound healthy. But to give a little taste, I thought about dipping them in chocolate, just half of it, so it wouldn't be so bad. I had a bag of Candy Melts from Michaels that was on sale for $1.50. So went home, melted the chocolate in microwave for 2 minutes, dipped half of the pretzels, and put some sugar sprinkles for color. Then refrigerate for about 5 minutes so the chocolate becomes hard. I used sandwich bags (they are cheaper and I bought store brand) and put 3 in each, and tied with ribbon. It took me about 2 hours to complete the task, and I still had time for a quick lunch, workout in the basement, and fold the laundy. All of this before going to a doctor's appointment. I was so proud of myself to be so on point, until I realized that my wallet was missing. So much for over accomplishment. Luckily my wallet was at home. I was almost so proud of myself for doing all of this in one day. And to complete the day, I got a ticket for crossing a red traffic light (I swear it was yellow) on the way to pick up the boys. Well, at least we were all fed and healthy in the end of the day.

Thomas Project.

The good thing about posting your hobby on the net, is that people around you can hire your services. It is a good thing because it validates your work, and because you know someone is reading your blog, and likes your creations. My coworker wanted to send a little centerpiece for her nephew's birthday. It had to be small and easy to transport, and he likes Thomas the train. Working with paper is what I am most comfortable, maybe because growing up it was one of the only way to have a new toy. So all we had around was old newspaper, cardboard and old magazines. And because glue was too expensive, we used leftover rice. My cousins and me met every weekend, and we could build anything from newspaper, cardboard and rice. Of course it wasn't strong enough to last more than a few days, not mentioning it got moldy fast in the brazilian heat.
So now that I have Michaels, glue and beautiful paper, it is a dream to make paper projects. So first I needed a picture of Thomas. That is easy with Internet, but not so if the laptop and the desktop are broken. Thanks to my Nook, I found the picture, drew in paper (I put the paper on top of the Nook to draw), and used the printer to make a bigger copy. So you can see how much easier it is if you have a computer and you can actually print the picture. Next is to make 2 more copies: one for the entire shape in the most predominant color ( in this case blue),and for the different pieces to give a better effect. And for the skinny strips, they were cut with a Fiskars straight cutter. I used adhesive foam sheet, easier than glue. The face was made with a sharpie and those little eyes that move from Michaels. To write the number 3 and the birthday boy's name, I first traced with a pencil, then I "wrote" on top with glue using a toothpick. Then last I poured glitter and let it dry. For last details, some balloons stickers to give a more festive look. And for the stick in the back, I used a large straw with 3 barbecue sticks inside. That was my Sunday fun.