Sunday, February 28, 2010

Family Memory Game

A few weeks before last Christmas I decided that I absolutely NEEDED to make Family Memory Games for my kids AND the kids in our extended family.

You know how when you are just going along, minding your own business, and all of a sudden an idea hits you and you HAVE to do it? And there's just no getting around it?
That's what happened. I wish this idea had struck me in July, because then I would have been able to complete the project at a leisurely pace. Instead, I was up all hours of the night figuring out all the little details and printing and cutting and gluing and laminating and cutting some more. But I'm so glad I did it. I absolutely love my finished products.

I customized each family's game so that it matched them.

It's like this:
For Peyton and Ella's Family Memory Game I included pictures of us, all their grandparents, all their aunts and uncles, and all their cousins. I tried to have Peyton and Ella in as many pictures as possible - like a picture of Peyton with his cousin Jack instead of just a picture of Jack. To bring it on home, you know?

But then for cousins Noah and Hayden's Family Memory Game, I had their mom, my sister-in-law, email pictures of her side of the family. So she sent me pictures of Noah and Hayden's grandparents and aunt and uncle from her side. And then I combined those with pictures of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins from our side. Because this game is all about each child's family, not just my side of the family.

And I tried to make sure that each person was equally represented - I didn't want five pictures of Peyton and only one picture of Ella, that sort of thing.

I made 16 pairs of photos for my games. I wasn't thinking about how to make a perfect game square with all the finished laid out cards. So if you want a perfect game square, you will want to make 18 pairs. And the picture below only has 15 pairs because my kids have stolen a couple pictures for their rooms.

Here's what you will need:

18 Sets of double-printed pictures

Pretty scrapbook paper

2 Colors of matching cardstock

Paper cutter
(you can use regular scissors if you want to be a cutting martyr)

Regular scissors

Scalloped-edge scissors

Glue stick

(what? how did that get in there?)

Acrylic box
(mine is 4" x 4" x 2" from Hobby Lobby)

An extra little photo of each family member
(for the game box lid)

4 Glue dots

The Memory Cards:

Cut with Paper Cutter:
Pretty scrapbook paper to 2.5" x 2.5".
One color of cardstock to 2.5" x 2.5".
The other color of cardstock to 2.25" x 2.25".

Drink a glass of wine while you cut your paper. Because you will most likely be cutting for HOURS. (optional)

Glue Stick:
The 2.5" cardstock squares to the back of the scrapbook paper squares. This will make the memory cards sturdier.
The 2.25" cardstock squares onto the 2.5" cardstock squares.

Cut with Scalloped-Edge Scissors:
The photos along the outside edge. You just need to trim enough so that you can see the smaller cardstock underneath when you glue them together.
(I used my iphoto program and printed my pictures to size 2.25" square. If you can't do that, print them as small as possible and cut them into 2.25" squares. As you choose pictures, remember that you'll be cutting them - super big faces won't work - unless you want a memory card with two eyes and part of a nose.)

Glue Stick:
The photos to the small cardstock squares.

Here's the front (large blue cardstock, small green cardstock, picture):

Here's the back (scrapbook paper):

Comparison Shop and Travel:
Find the cheapest laminating service around. I found that the companies that used large laminating machines (at least 3 feet wide) were more inexpensive than the companies that used smaller machines (8.5" x 11" laminated sheets). For all the cards for the multiple families that I had laminated, it cost me about $12. All of these are on a single laminated sheet:

Cut with Regular Scissors:
The laminated memory cards. Laminated corners can be sharp, so I recommend rounding them a little with your scissors.

The Box:

Print from Computer:
Some sort of title. I used "Peyton and Ella's Family Memory Game" for ours.

One color cardstock to fit the inside of the lid.
The scrapbook paper a little smaller than the cardstock.
The second color of cardstock a little smaller than the scrapbook paper.

Cut with Scallop-Edged Scissors:
The title a little smaller than the second color of cardstock.

Glue Stick:
It all together.

Drink a glass of wine because you are almost done! Yay! (optional)

Cut (A 1-inch circle punch works well, but if you don't have one, just use scissors):
The extra little photo of each family member.

Glue Stick:
The photos to the top of your title.

Glue Dot (Notice how I totally made that into a verb? Awesome):
Stick the glue dots in the corners of the inner part of the lid. Stick the title in.

All done! Time to play and have fun!

Happy Crafting!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brownie Pudding

A while ago Peyton and Ella were watching Barefoot Contessa with me. Ina Garten was making Brownie Pudding and when she was done, they both said, "That looks delicious!" My kids are not adventurous eaters, so if they think something new looks delicious, by golly, we're gonna make it. And if I have to sacrifice by eating that much luscious chocolate, well, it's worth it to help my children.

But here's the thing, to mix it all up, you're supposed to use a stand mixer, and I'm a whiny baby.

When I got married 8 years ago, I registered for, and received, a fancy KitchenAid stand mixer. Because I was trying to be all newlywedy homemakery. I can probably count on both hands how many times I've used it. Because it's heavy and I'm too lazy to get it out. When I really need it I resort to acting like a pouty little wimpy girl, "Honey! PLEEEEEASE will you get out the mixer?" And I whine about it until James unearths that 50-pound monstrosity from behind fifteen other kitchen appliances precariously wedged in the cabinet. Another reason I'm a whiny baby about the mixer is because you have to hand wash it. I don't think there are very many things more ridiculous than hand washing.

But again, as I am a good mother, I will sacrifice for chocolate. Kids! Dang it. I mean I will sacrifice for the kids!

Anyway, check this out: This dessert involves a water bath - wowee! Have you ever made a dessert with a water bath? Have you? Because now I'm feeling all high and mighty.

But then, to cancel out my pretend high and mighty living large feeling, I changed Ina Garten's recipe a little. Because I'm cheap and I'm not spending the extra money on real vanilla seeds. I used vanilla extract instead of a real vanilla bean. And I used 5 large eggs instead of her 4 extra large. And I skipped the framboise. And even with all those cheap-seeking changes:

Goodness Gracious Sakes Alive this Brownie Pudding is soooo good.

You may read the ingredients and think, "Well of course it's delicious, it's made with 5 pounds of butter and chocolate and sugar."
Here's my rebuttal: "So what."

Brownie Pudding

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish

5 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

And if your family is a bunch of piggies like we are:


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Conversation With A 4-year-old At 1:22 a.m.

"Hi Mommy."

"Honey, you're supposed to be asleep."

"I know. You know what?"


"Remember when I came out of your tummy?"

"Yes, when you came out of my tummy I was so happy to see you."

"You were so happy that you cried!"

"Yes, I did, and so did Daddy, because we love you so much."

"I do that, too, sometimes. When I see one of my best toys I'm so happy that I cry."

"Yeah, it's kind of like that."

I take toast out of the toaster and butter it. She watches me sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on it. "You know if I have some of that I can brush my teeth again."

"Would you like to share it with me?"

"Yes. What is it?"

"It's cinnamon toast."

"What does it taste like?"

"Toast with cinnamon and sugar. It's sweet."

"Can I have some? And can I watch TV with you for 5 minutes?"

"Yes, but I'm watching a cooking show."

"I LOVE cooking shows!"


We sit down and she tastes her little piece of cinnamon toast. "Mmmmm... I LOVE IT!"

We finish our cinnamon toast. "Ella, we should make another piece, don't you think?"


We wait for our bread to toast. She points at the Oreos in the cabinet. "Every time I have dinner I want one of these."

"They are pretty delicious."

"The dinner might be a big sandwich and I might have to put my mouth up to the ceiling to eat it."

She looks at the clock on the oven. "It's 221, what does that make?"

"It's very late. It's 1:22."

"That means everyone needs to be asleep!"


She checks on Indie in his crate. "He's upside down like this!" She throws herself on the floor, lies on her back, and sticks her tongue out to the side.

"Okay, honey. Our cinnamon toast is ready. Let's go to the couch."

"I'm going to run! Watch my hair in the back!"

She runs to the couch.

"Did it blow?"


"I love you so much, Mommy. I love you forever AND I love you a thousand hundred million dollars. That's how much I love you!"

"I love you so, so much, too, baby."

"Mommy, you know what happens when I jump on the couch? I fall down on my bottom! Like this! Watch!"

We share our second piece of cinnamon toast.

"Mommy, you know it will take all night to go to sleep. I think I will have to sleep on the couch."


"Because I'm eating crumbs so it will make me go to sleep. Mommy, pretend I'm in pretend life."

"What does that mean?"

"It means I'm on TV but I'm on pretend life. Pretend you're watching me on TV right now, okay?"


"Mommy! Take a picture of the cooking show on TV!"

"Okay." (It's Barefoot Contessa.)

"Ella, I think it's time for us to go to bed."

"Mommy, I'm still eating."

"The cinnamon and sugar?"

She licks cinnamon and sugar off her thumb. "Yes. Mommy! All the crumbs are people and they're trying to get away from the thumb tornado. They're trying to get away in their house, but their house is the bread and it's already in my tummy."

We let Indie out of his crate to go outside one last time. When he comes back in he smothers Ella with kisses.

"Ahhh... he's licking me! Because he loves me and he's the best dog ever! He's the only Indie we need!"

"He loves you very much, Ella. It's time for bed, sweetie girl."

"Okay, Mommy. I love you."

"I love you, baby."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saturn Craft Kit for Kids

My new Saturn Kid Kit is out of this world! Get it? I'm hilarious.

This planet Saturn is made using glow-in-the-dark paint. And the rings are made with glue and glitter. Lots of glitter. I apologize in advance. But when it's done - oh man! - it's really kind of awesome.

The words glow-in-the-dark paint had barely escaped my lips when my kids were jumping up and down in guinea pig anticipation.

So we painted and glued and glittered:

Peyton wanted his exactly like mine, so I helped him make rings of glue and glitter.

Ella is more of a free-form sprinkle-glitter-everywhere kind of girl.

And she saw the pink and green glitter up on the shelf and insisted on using those colors, too. For crying out loud. If baby girl wants a pink and green glittered Saturn, she can have it.

It turns out that one of the best parts about having a Saturn-on-a-String is spinning Saturn all around.

Peyton likes to spin Saturn by itself:

Ella likes to be a part of the spinning:

And then we hung their Saturns up on the ceiling and enjoyed their glow-in-the-dark-ness. So neat! And Peyton and Ella are so proud of their little planets!

Look at all the stuff you get in this kit!

Happy Crafting!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sharks and HOT LAVA!

Weekend nights are a free-for-all around here. The kids count down until Friday night because that means they get to sleep together in Peyton's bed. It's kind of a big deal.

So cute, right?

Ella loves sleeping in her big brother's bed so much that sometimes during the week when we go in to check on her we find her bed like this:

And then we go in Peyton's room to find this:

Anyway, back to the weekends. This last Friday James decided to fancy things up a bit. So he took both mattresses and put them on the floor in Peyton's room so the kids could have our lazy version of a camp out. The next night the kids moved both mattresses into the hallway and slept there. And the next day they moved the mattresses into the living room.

You know what I call that? I call that Mommy Free Time.

Because this last week has looked like this outside:

and then this:

and this:

While it is all very beautiful, it is also EXTREMELY cold. So I pretty much will let my kids do anything inside that keeps the screaming at each other to a minimum. That is my main goal. It sounds so much easier than it actually is.

So they moved their mattresses into the living room. And they played on those mattresses for hours.

And I think all of us had some version of this when we were kids:

The beds were islands. Of course. And can you guess what the carpet was? I know you can.
Water and sharks and crocodiles and alligators and sometimes HOT LAVA!
Is it an innate childhood ability? To turn the floor into something magically filled with fun scariness?

And then flirt with that scariness by piling your most precious possessions in the safety zone:

And then torture your most precious possessions with the danger of falling into the shark-infested HOT LAVA:

And you know that Tempur-Pedic bed ad where the guy jumps on the bed and the wine glass on the other side doesn't spill? Ella doesn't have that kind of bed.

Sucks to be you, baby dolls.


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