Monday, June 29, 2015

Marie Antoinette Had a Sad Ending

I've had this theme week on my mind for a while, and I'm really excited about it. I even asked Facebook for suggestions, and I got some good ones! It's Unconventional Princess Week! Our home is so filled with Disney Princesses, that I wanted to expand the girls' concept of princesses, and Day 1 was an awesome success.
We read the life of Marie Antoinette over breakfast. This book had Ellie completely enthralled.

After reading, we built the palace and gardens of Versailles with Legos. We listened to Mozart while we built so we could really get in the mood. Ellie was in charge of planting the flowers; I added a table with a cake on it... fun little details are my thing. The girls had fun playing out the story with their Legos, and we even made a mob of Lego peasants to overthrow the monarchy.
Aerial view of the grounds.

I bought this paper doll book on Amazon as an in-between activity while I prepared the next craft. Ellie and Katie played while our cupcakes (of course we had to have cake today!) baked.

Since Marie Antoinette actually fits their idea of a princess, we did embrace the pretty fashions aspect and decorated paper shoes with beads, feathers, pompoms, and bows.

Then it was makeover time.  I put their hair up, tried to curl Katie's hair a bit, and stuck a bunch of feathers in their Marie Antoinette-style updo. I powdered their faces and put some of my makeup on them. They felt beautiful.
They looked beautiful. Then we made some paper dresses, Mayhem-style.
I did most of Katie's, but she was in charge of design direction... and pose selection. 
Ellie made most of her dress on her own. Original poses too.
And now here are a lot of pictures of them looking really cute and silly in their paper dresses.
Sorry, I couldn't pick just one. Paul got home while we were making them, and he just had to try on Katie's.
After dinner, we decorated the cupcakes we made. The flower sprinkles represented the flowers in the gardens of Versailles, the chocolate coin represented the money Marie Antoinette spent on her lavish life, the pearl sprinkles represented her jewelry, and the Reese's Pieces were just yummy.
Let them eat cake!
We did talk about the guillotine and Marie Antoinette's unfortunate ending... thankfully our day had a happy ending!
Anthony didn't participate much today (he had a rough day), and Princess Week isn't geared toward him very much to begin with, but he sure enjoyed the icing on his cupcake.
Stay tuned for more royal adventures for the rest of the week!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Food/Farm Week

Summertime means camps... Theater camp, VBS, dance camp, gymnastics camp... And of course, my favorite: Camp Mommy, where I plan activities around a particular theme, and we have tons of fun making things and going places, all in the name of not going crazy over the summer. 
Last week's theme was all about food: where it comes from, how it's made, and even fun things to do with it. We started out by reading this book:
The kids liked reading about where bread comes from, starting as wheat from the field, all the way to the bakery and store. Each page spread teaches kids where the different parts of a sandwich and other common lunch items come from. In that spirit, we made our own "Sandwich Shop" with some printable sandwich parts I found on Pinterest. 
The kids loved making each other paper sandwiches. Of course we ate real ones for lunch too. Then for a snack, we talked about different parts of a plant and learned that we eat all the parts of a plant in one way or another. 
They ate everything on the plate. 

The next day we focused more on animals and the foods they give us. First we played farm animal charades
For round one of the game, we acted like the animals. For round 2, we acted out what the animal gives us (milk for cow, bacon for pig etc). We had fun, and the girls did a great job. 
We read The Little Red Hen and made our own butter and bread for dinner. I asked the girls "who will help me bake the bread?" And unlike the animals in the story, they were all too eager to help (and eat!). Homemade bread is my weakness. I don't even follow a recipe anymore; we just wing it with water, yeast, and flour. Easy. Tasty. While our dough rose, we walked around shaking jars of cream until it turned into butter. The girls needed "mommy breaks" where I would take over the shaking for a while... eventually our butter turned out great! And we even saved the buttermilk for pancakes the next morning.
While on the topic of farms, we made our own "Alphabet Farm," using letters to make the different things we might see on a farm (T is for tractor and tree... S for sun, lots of tiny C's for corn). Ellie got pretty creative.
Here's a little collage of some of the fun with food we had during the week... happy sandwiches, snail cinnamon rolls, and snowman pancakes.
Then we went to a real farm to pick berries.
We picked blackberries and blueberries and encountered all sorts of animals.
Anthony LOVED brushing the goats, in particular a white one (pictured below next to Katie) because it was named Olaf (and it was shorter than Anthony).

We had a great time at Blessington Farms wrangling cattle, petting goats, and thinking about turkey dinners.
There was also a big sand pile complete with tractors... little boy heaven.
I turned the fruits of our labor into a yummy blackberry cobbler. I think I ended up eating 95% of it. The kids ate the blueberries straight from the bucket.
One animal we didn't see at the farm was one of or favorites to eat: bacon... I mean, pig! So we made some piggy crafts: muddy painted pigs and egg carton pig noses. Ellie read "Wake Up, Sun" to the little ones... it's an old favorite.
Then we transitioned to talking about something pigs (and people) like to eat: corn. We did a fun little science experiment with corn. We also did a few experiments out of a tasty science kit that one of the girls got for Christmas.
Time for making something else: lollipops with melted Jolly Rancher candies. I made the girls chef hats, and they got to work on their lollipops. They even bagged them so they could set up a lollipop stand to sell them.
Anthony was one of their customers. They sold all of them, even recruited some neighbors to help, and one little boy who bought a lollipop said he had never seen a lollipop stand before... just a lemonade stand, and that he thought it was really cool!
My little entrepreneurs were so happy.

On our last day (sorry the other days just blended together), we painted on bread with milk and food coloring, then toasted our paintings and ate them. 
Ellie and Katie drew foods from different food groups on one of those MyPlate coloring pages. Ellie helped Katie categorize the different kinds of foods.
Then they used some homemade Jell-O Play dough I whipped up for them on these super cute  printed play dough mats.
A lot of the activities we do are during Anthony's nap time, so he misses out on some things (this is when I do more complex things that he would have trouble doing anyway), but I still try to do some of the activities with him, like instead of having him draw food on the plate, I helped him categorize these silly food stickers. And he used do-a-dotters to decorate his "messy pig" (pictured above).
Ellie had her own creative fun with the silly food stickers.
Lastly, we made Kool-aid lip gloss, and I either did a terrible job of measuring, or the recipe needed serious tweaking because the kool-aid made the lip gloss so sour that we had to throw out our first batch and remake it with the tiniest bit of kool-aid (and adding more sugar than I cared to use). 
My little lip gloss addicts were really excited about this project.
The week ended with our make-up for Memorial Day barbecue, which was rainier than actual Memorial Day (d'oh!), but the kids were so excited that they made decorative signs, and we had a good turn out once the sun decided to show up.

It was a fun week... the "lessons" didn't flow very naturally into each other, but I liked the more casual approach because sometimes the kids just want to swim or play with neighbors, and I don't want MY plans to keep them from enjoying their summer. Theater camp just ended, and VBS is coming up, so we will be theme-free for a while. Feel free to use any of these ideas/activities if you want to have some food-related fun with your kiddos!

Friday, June 5, 2015

And at last I see the light...

I found something today. An old SD card that held over 3000 photos. Photos I had thought were lost forever when my old laptop and external hard drive (and Paul's external too) all simultaneously crashed. I thanked God that I had never deleted the photos from that card and promptly copied them onto my MacBook. And that's when I saw it. The thumbnail of the first Rapunzel cake I made. It was for Ellie's 4th birthday. It looked nothing like this.
I laughed and thought about how much I've learned about making cakes... And thought of how much more I can improve my craft. 
Still, each time I make a character, I feel that I'm getting better. From getting the colors right, to finding the perfect mix of fondant and modeling chocolate, figuring out the best support system to keep the character upright, and finally understanding how to manipulate the fondant to make eyes, nose, and all the other facial features... 
I still don't always get it right. I made the head before the body, but when the body was finished, I realized the head was comically large. Back to square one. 
The second head worked great, though if I'm being honest, the chin of the first (larger) head was better. On the plus side, having two heads meant I could experiment with one to figure out the best way to paint the face. 
Have you ever noticed how detailed Rapunzel's dress is? Google image was my friend, and with every picture and angle, I noticed more details.
Then the body stood around for a day or two while I baked the cakes and made small details, like Pascal, whose own four  feet are holding him up, thanks to some drying time on my paint brushes. 
I covered the cakes in fondant... Ta-da!
And then bald Rapunzel got on her pedestal. I couldn't put her hair on her head until this stage because moving her with all that fondant draped around would have been a disaster! (I guess I could have made her hair brown like at the end of the movie, but that is NOT what my client wanted!)
So I worked late into the night to finish her hair, complete with sparkly luster dust. 
A few more details on the cake, and then it was done!
I like the name spelled out in hair. 
After dinner, Katie got to pick out our "wind-down" movie (the girls swam for hours this afternoon!), and she chose Tangled because of the cake. 
Emily invited my girls to her party, so I'm looking forward to seeing her tear into Rapunzel tomorrow. Happy Birthday to Emily!!!