Monday, August 10, 2015

Baking Monday – Black and White Cookies



Look to the cookie!!!

I've never tried a black and white cookie before, and in fact had never even heard of one before Seinfeld. Summer seemed to be a good time to make a batch and give them a try.



You might find these facts about black and white cookies interesting. The observations that were my takeaways are that these are a very soft, cake-like cookie, with a bit of lemon flavoring. This recipe is great, though I should have thinned out the icing more for that nice smooth surface. And even though I used my trusty cookie scoop for these, most turned out a little wonky (these are the best of the bunch).


They are certainly not the prettiest to look at, but they sure are good. Hopefully they will not result in any Seinfeldian symptoms over here!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kindness Chart Printable


I was going through old files and found this chart from 2011. I must have been feeling particularly frustrated with the niceness levels around the house when this was made. (It was also January, we were likely full of winter doldrums, too.) The chart has symbols for kids and mom, each with four sections to be filled in whenever someone is showing great behavior. Rewards can be issued when all four sections are filled in. Included is a list of positive behaviors that will earn a mark on the chart:

• Use kind words
• Be respectful
• Be a good listener
• Be supportive and encouraging (still struggling with that amongst the siblings!)
• Be a helper
• Keep your hands to yourself
• Show appreciation: say please and thank you!

I honestly cannot remember if we actually used it. The act of making the chart alone was probably enough to chill me out of whatever crazy state I was in at the time. It seems like a good one to share!

Download Kindness Chart here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Baking Monday – Monkey Cookies!



Clark spotted this recipe in one of his animal magazines and wanted to make some monkey cookies. They turned out super cute!



Clark is my baking buddy. He's the one most likely to ask to make something and offer to help when I'm in the kitchen. He helped mix the dough and shaped four of the monkeys by himself before declaring he "needed a break."



So I got to finish the rest of them. It was kind of fun sculpting cookies instead of using a cutter for a change. The recipe is pretty good ... it uses a lot of butter, so these ended up with more of a firm shortbread texture than a soft sugar cookie. I used Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting to decorate. Mini peanut butter cups filled in for M&M noses.



Clark also had zero interest in decorating the cookies, but much interest in eating them.



He wanted a photo of one of his cookies and requested: "Don't post it on Facebook, but you can put it on Hotcakes." Done! (Also? That was day two of turtle pajamas. We take our summer vacationing very seriously around here.)



Monkey cookies! Yay!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Printable Wednesday – Emergency Bookmarks!



More bookmarks today! As said before, we can never have too many. One to three children always have books in the car when we're out and around. 75% of the time, we get to our destination and hear "I need a bookmark!" from someone. Occasionally I will throw a bunch of extras in the car, but then forget to refill them. This was an idea I had kicking around for awhile ... bookmarks in a tear-off pad for emergencies!



These were made with the same method as the upcycled notepads. I printed and trimmed three pages of bookmarks on cardstock, for 15 bookmarks total. (Another upcycle ... due to a printing mix-up, I ended up with about 300 extra sheets of blue paper at home recently. Yay for using things up!) The bookmarks were lined up and sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard. The original instructions called for paint sticks, but all ours disappeared during OM season. Clip the stack together with binder clips.



I spread Mod Podge on one long and one short side of the stack. Don't even bother with a brush, I just used a finger to dab then spread a thick layer of glue along the edge. Move the binder clips to make sure they are holding the stack in place securely.



Let dry for about an hour and yay! Bookmarks to go!

I had fun making these up using artwork from other projects and not getting too precious about fonts. Here's the printable to make your own! Personal use only, please.

Download emergency bookmark printable here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Printable Wednesday – Three Bookmarks



We can never have enough bookmarks in our house, so when I'm thinking of things to doodle, bookmarks are the perfect item. It's a small canvas that can be put to practical use!


There's a color version below and a black & white to CIY. Try color pencil, felt tips, sharpies, or watercolor. After coloring, they can be trimmed and mounted on coordinating card stock. If a bookmark turns out really cool or is going to be a gift, I'll take it to be laminated. But most often I'll do a homemade packing tape coating, which works just as well. See below for links to download. Bookmarks are for personal use only, please!


Download color bookmarks here.


Download black & white bookmarks here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

More Photo Booth Props!



I've added to my Photo Booth prop collection! The first batch were for one of Dora's parties and are a bit girly-themed. So before we went on family vacation last year, I made another set for a little more variety. We had a super fun photo session with all the littles ... I was snapping photos for about an hour!



See? The bow works well in the hair or as a neck tie!



They were used again for the second grade class party this week. Super fun!


Would you like them, too? Here you go! Assembly instructions can be found in the original post.

Download bunny ears here
Download bowtie / toothy grin / alien antennae here
Download alien eyes / mask here
Download top hat here

Personal use only, please! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Where I've Been!

I've still been baking, but the weekly recipes and photo shoots were getting to be more of a chore than a pleasure. And while school life always gets busy this time of year, there were a few extra events throwing our schedule off track, such as ...



The honor of traveling to Michigan State University last month for the Odyssey of the Mind World finals! Our middle school team won their regional competition ... then WON states (holy cow, that was so cool) ... which made them eligible to compete against 65 other teams from all over the world. Dora and Theo are both on the team and Mr. Hotcakes is the coach, so we all hopped the bus to MSU! It was an amazing experience, both in what they learned and how much fun they had. I really can't say enough good things about the program, it's incredibly hard work, but also incredibly rewarding.


Clark has had a many ups and downs lately. While he did great on our trip to Michigan (for the most part) the last three weeks of school were incredibly challenging. He also celebrated his First Communion (praise the Lord! I was worried all year about whether he'd go through with it.) and bridged to a Bear scout. He continues to be a big thinker and makes me laugh every day. Always trying to understand what's going on in that little walnut of his. 


(And look! Cookies!)



I've also been working quite a bit (yay). Did you know that my updated work can be found here? The spotgirl.net website is long overdue for a change, that's also on my long list of projects. I've been having a lot of fun working by hand and have been using Instagram and Tumblr to post those works in progress. I don't have any of my own materials that I'm currently marketing and am hoping this playtime helps point me in the direction of what to do next. 

Thanks for tuning in. More soon!