Friday, July 20, 2018

Pennsylvania 2017

Mission accomplished! I finished the last page from our 4-state adventure last October before our upcoming 6-state trip.

Pennsylvania 2017 (affiliate link)

I'd debated splitting this into separate pages for the different parts of Pennsylvania we visited, but ultimately chose to show the diversity of the activities we did in the state in this 2-page spread. I loved looking back at all these photos. We had a fantastic time in Pennsylvania!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Edible Me-on-a-Stick

When I shared my elephant-on-a-stick idea, I mentioned that I had a few other ideas for crafts-on-a- stick. You probably assumed I was thinking of bunnies. That would be a good guess, but my next project was actually a self-portrait, an edible Me-on-a-Stick, if you will.

OK, so it doesn't actually look like me at all. The biggest problem is that the skin tone is totally off, which is really ironic considering the level of effort I put toward making the face accurately match my skin. I found a really handy Candy Melts Color Chart on Wilton's website, but nothing specifically about mixing Candy Melts to make skin colors. So I decided to make my own chart. I chose four colors (Bright White, Peanut Butter, Light Cocoa, and Dark Cocoa) and lined them up (from top to bottom in the photo). Then I melted equal parts of two adjacent colors and put a dollop at the intersection of the two colors I used. Finally, I mixed equal parts of three adjacent colors (for example, Bright White, Peanut Butter, and Light Cocoa) and put the resulting color in the far right column. 

I tested all the blended shades, plus Peanut Butter, on my hand. None was quite right, but obviously some were more wrong than others. 

I tried the closest shade on my inner wrist, based on the fact that someone told me years ago that's where you should test foundation colors. It's sort of close, right? 

Take another look at my finished Me-on-a-Stick before you answer that. 

So it turns out that when you add a little bit of melted candy to your wrist, it looks a lot lighter than when you have a thick layer that has solidified. I added a touch of white to the not-my-skin-tone and made myself a friend. She looks a bit more natural and a bit less like someone who has an unfortunate addiction to tanning. 

Here are the two side-by-side.

So even though the Me-on-a-Stick is not exactly a perfect replica, it's still a lot of fun. I think kids would get a kick out of making their own Me-on-a-Stick. There are so many possibilities of candies you can use for the facial features and the hair. 



Materials (affiliate links):


Put a round pretzel down on a piece of waxed paper. Melt the appropriate color(s) of Candy Melt wafers to get the desired skin tone. Spoon the candy into the pretzel. Add sprinkles to make hair, eyes, nose, and a mouth. Let the candy harden completely. 

Peel the candy off the waxed paper and turn it upside down. Put a dollop of Candy Melts on the back and add the lollipop stick. Let it set completely. 

I learned a few things during the making of Me-on-a-Stick, besides the importance of choosing a lighter-than-you-think skin tone if you're trying to match your skin. First and foremost, I learned the Candy Melts do not set up on skin. I don't know why this surprised me, but I thought one flavor would set up on the back of my hand before I added the next one. Nope. They stayed runny. And speaking of runny, the Peanut Butter Candy Melts are runnier and melt faster than the others. Oh, and they're delicious. This was the first time I'd tried them. They're even more delicious when combined with chocolate and/or vanilla Candy Melts!  

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Torn Paper Footprint Horse

After completing all the fun activities in the Kentucky Little Passports state journal, Trevor and I were inspired to make a horse craft. Look carefully at the face. Can you tell how we got the shape?

It's a footprint! I love doing footprint crafts with Trevor. It's so much fun looking back on his older projects and comparing how tiny his feet were to how big they're getting now. 

We made our horses using the same technique we used to make pandas 5 years ago. (Trevor looks SO little in those photos!) To make your own footprint horse, you need cheap construction paper (the cheaper the better), a q-tip, twine, and glue. 

Use a pen to trace your footprint on brown construction paper, then go over the line you drew with a wet q-tip. If you have really poor quality construction paper, one time will do. If you have better quality construction paper, trace the line a second time. 

Give a gentle tug and the construction paper will separate along the wet line. 

Mine came out easily, but if yours gets stuck somewhere, just re-wet the area. 

Now cut two triangle ears and two oval eyelids from the brown. No need to draw them first - just draw the shape you want with the q-tip, then tear. Make a large oval on the remaining brown construction paper and tear it out. This will be the horse's neck. 

Use the same q-tip technique to make two round eyes from white construction paper. Then use black construction paper to make two pupils and two nostrils. 

Cut lengths of twine about 4" long, then untwist them to make the horse's mane. 

Now assemble the pieces. Glue the neck of the horse to a background paper, then add twine for the mane. Glue the eyes, eyelids, nostrils, and ears to the horse's head, add a forelock of twine between the years, then glue the assembled head onto the neck. 

This is my horse. That's Trevor's at the top of the post. 

Have fun making your own torn paper footprint horse!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Exploring Kentucky Through Little Passports

Our family will be spending five days in Kentucky in August and we can't wait! We'll be splitting our time between Frankfort and Louisville. Each has so many fun things to do that I'm really struggling to narrow down where we'll go. I was happy to see that the Kentucky Little Passports was the next on our list to complete, as each State Journal we've done has given me lots of places to put on our must-visit list. 

The model was of Fort Knox and there was a crossword puzzle about it, too. We won't be going there during our trip. Unfortunately, the Patton Museum at Ft. Knox is currently closed for renovations and obviously they don't let the public tour the Ft. Knox Bullion Depository. I can't imagine what security would be like if they did!

Somewhere we will be going? Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, pictured on the front cover of the State Journal. Trevor solved a logic puzzle to learn the name of the fireworks show that kicks off the Kentucky Derby each year. The next activity, also inspired by racehorses, was making a thaumatrope device that tricks the eye into seeing two separate images as one. 

I had no idea that the red, yellow, and green traffic signals that we see at intersections have their origins in Kentucky. They were invented by Garrett Morgan and operated by a hand crank. After solving a map puzzle, we learned that Morgan also invented a breathing device that was used to save the lives of men trapped underground while building a tunnel!

Thomas Edison displayed nearly 5000 of his recently-invented incandescent light bulbs in Louisville during the Southern Exposition from 1883-1887. With Steve's help, Trevor followed the directions to put together a model of an incandescent light bulb. It's handy when Dad has all the equipment you need for an experiment and the knowledge to help extend the learning. 

It works! That's a mechanical pencil lead burning in there. 

Trevor's light bulb burned brightly for about 10 seconds. Fun fact: My hometown of Livermore, California is home of the world's longest burning light bulb. It's been glowing for 117 years. 

Trevor solved a maze about Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road, completed a story about Abraham Lincoln's childhood home, and read about the famous events in Kentucky history. We learned that Kentucky's state slogan is "United We Stand, Divided We Fall," that the happy birthday song was written by two sisters from Louisville, and that Joe Bowen set the world record for the longest distance traveled on stilts when he walked over 3000 miles from Los Angeles to his hometown of Bowen, Kentucky. 

Not surprisingly, the recipe in the Kentucky State Journal was for fried chicken. Here's Trevor creating the breading for our chicken by measuring the ingredients directly into a paper bag. He'd never seen anything breaded like this!

We had a great time exploring Kentucky through Little Passports. If anything, we're even more excited for our real-life adventures next month in the Bluegrass State! Thanks, Little Passports!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Between the Folds

Our family just watched an amazing documentary about origami called 'Between the Folds.' It came out in 2009, so it's possible some of you have already seen it, but in case any of you have not, I just had to tell you about it. 

"Origami: It's no longer just paper cranes. A determined group of theoretical scientists and fine artists have abandoned conventional careers to forge unlikely new lives as modern paper folders. These intrepid individuals are interpreting the world in paper, creating a wild mix of sensibilities that redefine art, science and creativity."
This fascinating documentary looks at ten people, scientists and artists, who are exploring origami in new ways. The ten are as different as could be and their origami reflects their unique perspectives, interests, and talents. Any one of them is interesting enough for a stand-alone documentary, but together they show the breadth of what paper folding has been, is, and might become. Some of the origami they create is stunningly beautiful. Others are shockingly time-consuming and more precise than you'd expect a human could do. Some are practical, like the scientist who explained the role origami has in figuring out the best way to pack an airbag so that it is compact and unfolds in the most efficient way. Every story was so interesting.

I honestly can't imagine anyone not enjoying this documentary. Even children, particularly those who have tried origami, will like it. The theoretical concepts will go over their heads, but heck, they went over mine too, and I still loved it.

Today is Amazon Prime Day, which makes it the perfect time to order Between the Folds. (These links, and the others in this paragraph are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small commission.) This riveting show is free with a Prime membership. If you're not a Prime member, you can rent or buy Between the Folds quite inexpensively. Or, try a 30-day free trial and see if Prime is right for you.

If you do watch Between the Folds, let me know what you think. And if you have any recommendations for must-see documentaries, I'll happily take them!