12 Day Book Challenge

I got this idea from Good Books, Good Wine. Here’s the challenge I’ll be starting after Christmas:

  1. What book are you currently reading?
  2. What’s your bedtime reading ritual?
  3. What’s the last book you flung across the room?
  4. Recommend a tear-jerker.
  5. Describe how you shop for books.
  6. How do you choose what book to read next?
  7. Describe one under-appreciated book everyone should read.
  8. What are your deal breakers?
  9. Name the worst book you read last year and the best.
  10. Make 10 book related confessions.
  11. A book you wish you could live in.
  12. What is the next book you’re going to read?

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Christmas Tradition

Ashley, Ed, and I have a Christmas tradition that started accidentally… In 2008, we took our group photo in front of the Christmas tree and some time later (probably when I printed the photo), we realized that we were all wearing Aeropostale hoodies. We decided we had to do this every year.

2008 AeropostaleNow, each year, Ed gets a hoodie for his birthday, so that we can continue the tradition.

AeropostaleThis year, we are adding Carrie to the photo (so we got her a hoodies for her birthday). We are also adding baby Carter… Now, they don’t make Aeropostale hoodies in children sizes, much less baby sizes. So, I had to improvise and make my own. I can’t wait to take this year’s picture!

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2013 Glitter Animal Christmas Ornaments

I saw this on Pinterest and absolutely loved it. I mean, they’re covered in glitter!

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Pen Pal Balloon Letter

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I have recently become pen pals with my Goddaughter in Texas. Since I can’t see her as much as I would like, I thought this would be a good way for us to keep in touch. Plus, it’s good writing and reading practice for her. Her birthday is in October, so this is the letter I sent her. I included an instruction card that includes blowing it up, reading it, and then either tying it off or letting it go to fly around the room.

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Tomatoes from the Garden

Week 03

This week was all about tomatoes. They are ripening in the garden fairly regularly now. I can find at least a few to pick daily–sometimes a lot more than a few. Because I don’t have a ton all at once, I’ve been processing them in small batches.

I canned 5 half-pint jars of salsa. The pot I used for the water bath canner is actually an old-school (as I’m sure you can tell by the awesome brown paisley pattern) broccoli steamer that my Granny gave me. I love that thing. It’s a tall narrow pot which is unusual and therefore has many uses in my opinion. It’s great for boiling artichokes too.

I’ve also roasted quite a few of them in the oven. To prep the tomatoes, I cut them up and remove all the seeds into a fine-mesh strainer over a small mixing bowl. I then place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I put the tomatoes close together and throw in a few cloves of unpeeled garlic (though I do remove the extra papery stuff). Next, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea-salt, coarse pepper, and dried basil.

For cherry tomatoes and small plum tomatoes, I cut them in half and squeeze out the guts. Then place them skin down on the pan. Roast at 300 degrees for 30 minutes and check them. Check every 15 minutes thereafter until done. It took about an hour.

For regular tomatoes, I either cut them in thick slices or in wedges. I roasted them at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and then checked every 15 minutes after that.

I used a spoon to stir the tomato guts in the strainer to get out all the juice. When the tomatoes were done, I added them back to the juice before blending.

Some of the oven roasted ones I’ve frozen whole, others I’ve pureed in the blender to make into a rich sauce and then frozen the sauce in cubes. And, of course, I’ve eaten quite a few fresh ones too as well as made them into fresh salsa for dinner.

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More Indiana Jones Crafts

For each kid, I sewed a satchel to carry their gear in, which includes a compass, a magnifying glass, a glow stick, and a travel diary.

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Homemade Boulders

I built paper mache boulders to hide the Indiana Jones treasure under. I used the tutorial here, to create them. Instead of having the bottom and one side open though, I just have the bottom open, so that I can hide the treasure underneath them. They didn’t turn out as amazing as I had hoped–you can see the strips of newspaper, but they’re still pretty cool. I used grey primer spray paint because it covers well and isn’t shiny. After a few coats, I did a light spray of flat black to give it some depth.

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Patriotic Jello Shots

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
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Red & Blue Jello:

2 cup boiling water

2/3 cup booze (I used vodka)

2 boxes red jello

2 boxes blue jello

Dissolve red jello in 1 cup boiling water. Then add booze. Pour into 9×9 pan and refrigerate until firm. Repeat for blue jello. Cut into 1/2″ cubes.

 

Whip Cream Mixture:

2 cups water

4 packets of unflavored gelatin

1/8 cup vanilla (clear)

1 8oz container of cool whip

1 cup cold booze

ice

Place water in small saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin. Allow to soften for 2 minutes. Heat on low, stirring until dissolved. Add vanilla. Fill measuring cup with 8 oz booze and enough ice to bring the water level to 16 oz. Combine cold water and gelatin mixture and stir until thickened. Whisk in cool whip until combined. Refrigerate until cold but not set. Create mini-parfaits with cool whip mixture and colored jello cubes.

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Indiana Jones-esque Adventure

This year’s God-Kid Adventure is going to be an Indiana Jones style adventure… I created the invitations and printed them on cream-colored resume paper. Because I planned to use a wax seal on them, I wanted nice heavy paper. Instead of including the address (which their parents already know), I used the Latitude and Longitude coordinates. It seems like something Indiana Jones would do. Especially since the treasures he finds aren’t generally at a street address. I downloaded the Adventure font, which is what I used for “Indiana Jen”.

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After printing them, I planned to sign them with “Indiana Jen and Short Round,” except I couldn’t remember how to write a cursive capital I. I hadn’t written one since middle school. Thank goodness for the internet. After googling it, I realized why I don’t use cursive capital Is… they’re ugly and cumbersome.

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trying out the letter I

Once the invitations were ready to go, I cut envelopes from the same paper, using this template. I folded them and glued the sides with double-sided scrapbooking adhesive. I could’ve used a glue stick, but I’m impatient and I didn’t want to wait for it to dry.

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I bought a wax seal supplies from the local dollar store for super cheap. It’s easy to use too! You just put it in your glue gun. I bought a seal from Big Toy Custom Supplies on etsy.com. The price was reasonable and I can use it for other things, since it’s a J.

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They turned out pretty good, I think.

I also put together an “old” locket with a clue to the treasure, that I enclosed in the package.

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For the final packaging, I cut up cereal boxes and taped them together, inside-out, into pouches. I placed the wax-sealed envelope and the locket inside. I then wrapped them in brown kraft paper and taped them. I really, really wanted to tie twine or string around them, but the post office won’t mail them like that, so they are plain.

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9th Day of Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas, we took our Christmas “morning” photo.

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