Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I *heart* playdough!

Playdough is a huge hit with my toddler and to be honest, I love the stuff too. I find it's very therapeutic to squish in my hands, very destressing! I make playdough about every two to four weeks and I really can't figure out why people bother buying the stuff when it's SO simple to make!

Here's some of my favourite recipes for homemade playdough:

Basic no-cook Playdough
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 tsp. cream of tartar (you can find this in the bulk section)
4 tsp. oil
2 cups boiling water.

Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add oil and boiling water and mix until combined. Turn over onto counter and knead together, careful though as it may still be hot. You can add more flour if needed.

You can add a few drops of food colouring or even a package or two of unprepared Kool-aid for some colour (the kool-aid also adds a yummy scent). Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to make it smell good or add glitter, sand, etc for texture. My favourite add in for playdough in the winter is to leave it white but add some silver glitter and some mint extract.

For toys, I have in our bucket some rolling pins, small dull knives, a muffin tin, cookie cutters, scissors (although Parker is still a little young for scissors), popsicle sticks, sea shells, twigs, small rocks, etc.

Go ahead, make up a batch today for both you and your little ones. I promise you'll have just as much as they will!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dyeing Play Silks with Kool-aid

Remember that sickly sweet drink we used to have as children, kool-aid? You know, the stuff we'd never in a million years serve to our own children nowadays? Well, turns out there's a use to the stuff! Besides making the yummiest smelling playdough, you can dye protein fabrics and wools with it! I had ordered some 30x30 Habotai Silk Scarves (http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/1741-AA.shtml?lnav=scarves_silk.html) as playsilks for the toddler's Christmas gift. But who wants to play with boring all white scarves? Yeah, me either! But I wanted something less toxic and less expensive than most of the dyes available but still wanted bright vibrant colours. Enter KOOL-AID!

First off, you're probably wondering what play silks are aren't you? Well, they are only one of the world's most open ended toy ever! They're fabulous scarves that encourages use of imagination and creativity. I've seen children use them as a peek-a-boo prop (my toddler's fave right now), a cape, a sling for their dolls, a dress, to build a fort, use a blue one for the ocean or green one for a pasture for farm animals, etc. The possibilities are endless! I really encourage you to go out and make your own playsilks or purchase a set and just sit back and watch your children play.
There are so many tutorials available online on how to dye using kool-aid that I didn't know where to begin. I decided on trying out this one: http://stashjunkiecrochetblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/kool-aid-dying-playsilks-tutorial.html.
Here's some pics showing how we dyed 4 scarves (I plan on making two more: yellow and blue but ran out of mason jars):
This is what the Habotai scarf looked like fresh from the mail. Kinda boring, huh?

While you're getting everything ready, soak all your scarves in a big bowl (I'm using the insert of our crockpot) with warm tap water and a few tablespoons of vinegar. It should sit for about half hour.
In a big mason jar (the tutorial I used suggested using old spaghetti jars even) put in 1.5 cups of hot water with a tablespoon of vinegar. Add in 4 or 5 packages of kool-aid in each jar. I used 4 mason jars so I ended up with 4 different coloured scarves in the end. Make sure it's mixed well.
In a large pot, bring a few inches of water to a simmer. Place one silk scarf in each mason jar and mix well. Place as many jars as you can fit in the pot. The tutorial I used never said how long to let it sit but I'd say about 20 minutes is good, just make sure you come back and stir often to ensure an even distribution of colour.
After about 20 minutes, you'll notice that the coloured water in the jars has began to really fade. In lighter colours (such as the green) it may even take on a milky colour when the dye has been absorbed. When this happens, remove the jars (careful, they're hot) from the pot and empty in the sink. You need to rinse them and here's what surprised me: I was expecting excess dye to run out and thought it was going to take forever to rinse (for those of you who have coloured your hair and spent forever rinsing out the colour, that's what I was thinking). But that's not what it was like at all! It was so easy to rinse, no colour came out at all! Here's a green one finished:
Here's all four of them finished and ready to be hung out to dry (notice how enthusiastic the teenager looks):
What I learned from this:
~ 5 packets of kool-aid probably wasn't needed. I could have gotten away with 3 I'm thinking.
~ The mason jars were great but a little small. Next time I'd use something bigger so the scarf doesn't have to be bunched up. Or maybe more solution even. They all came out slightly mottled (the green and purple especially) but I think it looks great anyways!
~ Kool-aid stains everything. My light coloured countertops have splatters of red and orange all over them from me being sloppy. Oops!
~ And finally, I learned that dyeing is really fun and if I was a knitter I'd definitely try my hand at dyeing some yarn.

Well if that isn't procrastination at it's best!

I really wanted to keep up with this blog. Really. I've just been busy. I'd go to write in a new entry and then the baby would wake up (who's now a toddler, btw) and then I'd try again later but the teenager would need my help or have some teen drama to share with me. Then I returned back to work and in all honesty... I forgot. If you could see me now, you'd see that I'm hanging my head in shame.

But I'm back. For today and hopefully for tomorrow and the following week etc but no promises! :)

Just a quick update on life around here...
I'm pregnant AGAIN and am due in two months! Eeep! The husband and I have been TTC for a while but then I decided to return to work full time (or rather the finances decided for us) so we put that on hold. But less than a week after I returned to work, I found out I was already pregnant! This pregnancy has been nothing short of perfect. I feel amazing, my body didn't try to reject this babe like it did all the other times. I'm absolutely happy, couldn't ask for a better final pregnancy. I do still have worries about life when the babe arrives. Hmmm, he or she will be joining: a high maintenance 20 month old, moody and impossible 13 going on 20 year old and me and the husband who both don't cope well with change or little sleep.

The teenager started highschool this year. Yeah, that's been ummmm... FUN! I still think an 8th grader is too young for highschool. I just hope and pray that handles highschool and the experiences that come along with it better than I did. Is it too late to consider homeschool for her? ;)

The toddler is a typical toddler, busy busy busy! I love it! He's starting to talk, runs around EVERYWHERE and is just in awe with exploring the world around him. It's so fun to be a mom of a toddler!

Not much new with the husband. The business keeps doing better and better which is good although now he's talking about opening up another business. *sigh* I'm hoping that one stays a pipe dream for now.

Anyhoo.. that's our life in a nutshell!