Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fairy Fail

My neighbor sent me an email with a "magical" project: Fairies in a Jar!

The photo, despite being clearly PhotoShopped, leads you to believe that you can create sheer magic in your own home, just by cutting up a glow stick and shaking it into a jar with glitter.

So I do. Did you know that glow sticks have little glass tubes inside? That's what makes the clicky sound when you break them. So I cut the glow stick, then had to figure out what to do with this thin glass tube of liquid. I ended up breaking it up with some pliers and leaving the pieces inside. And I dumped in some glitter, two kinds.

 Let the magic—uhhm.....

 ...be-glop? The jar glowed....but there was no sparkling effect. You couldn't see the glitter.
Techman walked into the kitchen and was momentarily impressed because he thought I had made a DIY glowstick with household chemicals.

Hey, I have super powers.

I shook the jar around. I looked at it in the dark. Techman said, "You know what that is?"

"That's creamed fairies."

Maybe it needs water, like a snow globe? Bad idea. It killed the glow, and all the glow goo globbed together (say that 10 times fast) and floated on top. It went dark within a couple of minutes.

So, if you want to make a jarful of creamed fairies, give it a shot. Might be great in a friendly haunted house at Halloween!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rainbow Rice *

 While window-shopping a teacher catalog, Starboy spied some "rainbow rice" that he said he wanted for his rice box (indoor tabletop sandbox—highly recommend). I was sure we could make it easily. And not pay shipping.

I started out with our natural food coloring, and noticed that the colors were rich, but not vibrant, as you can see from this first batch of earth tones. Then, I ran out of yellow. So I added powdered turmeric to the yellow and orange, hoping to affect the color. Which it did—but the turmeric also instantly turned my hands yellow. Sensory overload.

And, since I used apple-scented hand gel to set the color, the whole thing smells horrible. Fake-apple-foreign-spice-factory bad. Sensory fail.

Somehow, since the last time I Googled, the techniques on rice-dying have improved. I wish I'd checked this out before I started. It turns out you can set the color (and shorten drying time) with either a tablespoon of plain rubbing alcohol, or white vinegar. So I bagged up the sad, sorry, smelly all-natural rice and started over. (I'm hoping our preschool can use it for something. I think the powdered turmeric precludes it from successful I-spy jars.)

 For take two, I used liquid water color paint and rubbing alcohol. A much greater success! Bright colors! No surprise smells! No tactile aversion strategies! And I also had yellow!

Starboy was champing at the bit to play. I'm not so excited that the colors look like Easter confetti, but whatever. I guess not everything can be brown and green. I like to keep his environment more simple, with solid colors, so he can concentrate, so this is bold new territory. Ha.

* Then shortly after I originally posted this, he informed me that his plastic hamster and plastic mouse did not like the new rice. That he asked for. That I stayed up late making last night.

Too many colors.

"They want plain blue, so they can be in water."

* He happily dug right in, initially, but it didn't engage him like the original rice box did.

It's Muriel Mouse's own little Disneyland. But I guess she gets overstimulated there, like everyone else!

Recipe for colored rice
as gleaned from many mommy sites on the Internet

1-2 cups rice (per color)
1 Tbsp rubbing alcohol / white vinegar
2 good squirts of liquid water color

Mix all ingredients together in a sealed zipper bag or a cheap plastic container that can be stained (you never know). Repeat as needed if  you want more than one color.

Spread wet, colored rice onto a tray that is covered with a paper towel, until dry (I like the $2 Smula tray from Ikea for art projects; we have a stack of them). This may happen quickly, but I let ours dry overnight. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chalk art

After visiting a wonderful chalk festival, Starboy wanted to try his own art at home. 

We were intrigued by chalk you could paint with. We made our own by mixing equal parts cornstarch and water, and adding food coloring.

The artists used a whole range of colors.

Starboy's color range was more limited. 

The color faded quickly and was very light. But the quality of the medium was really interesting to work with.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Journey," by Aaron Becker

 Starboy just received the most wonderful book from our neighbors. It's "Journey," by Aaron Becker. Our neighbor went to school with him and has been eagerly awaiting the release of his book. The cover is inviting, and the hardcover under the dust jacket is beautifully embossed with a symbol of journey from the book.

 Part "Where the Wild Things Are," part "Calvin and Hobbes," and part "Harold and the Purple Crayon," this wonderful story is told through stunning illustrations and one's own imagination. I think even the youngest children can relate to the disappointment that starts the story, and the wonder the girl creates to escape it.

 Becker offers lush worlds for his character to explore that are both intimate and infinite.

He draws details that are fantastic and meticulous—while also vague enough to stimulate your own dreaming.

The story is filled with courage and drama, but ultimately is about connection.

I don't want to give away too much here, but this book is worth an impulse buy right now, and will be a great holiday gift if you're someone who thinks ahead. Starboy made me read it to him twice, immediately, which is the same as saying "Two thumbs up!" for a nearly-four-year-old.

There's a wonderful trailer on Becker's (amazing) website. The NYT Book Review is calling it a "masterpiece," and it's receiving starred reviews from pretty much anyone who sees it.  I completely agree.

What a wonderful surprise!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Shaving cream, be nice and clean....

I tempted Starboy into a bath he didn't want to take with some shaving cream paint. (Thank you, Internet!) It's just shaving cream and food coloring. He also used a paintbrush for a while.

He really went to town with it. More disgusting than that fake-melted-ice-cream water was the perfumed smell of the shaving cream. Jesus. I recommend you find scent-free shaving cream for stuff like this. He went to bed smelling like a 14-year-old.

More shaving cream exploration here and here.


Starboy loves biscuits!

Mommy does, too! These didn't last long!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mice love reading

I've been wanting to make this bag from Sew, Mama, Sew for ages and ages. 

Who doesn't need a library bag?!

Starboy is crazy for these mice. He really wants me to make PJ tops that match his pants...but I don't know how to make buttonholes, and I'm not ready to learn yet. Time. So a lined bag it is. The original pattern didn't have a lining, so I merged the pattern with this great one from Sew Grown (I've made that  bag too and it's awesome). If I were to make another, I think I would do squared sides like that scavenger bag, but extend them all the way up as a strap, to support the weight of the books. We'll see how long this strap lasts with only about 1/4" reinforcement, and lots of bag width to fit a whole stack of books.

Both projects come together really quickly. The library bag can easily be completed in an evening, even with the distraction of really bad television I was able to do the whole thing in a couple of hours. The scavenger bag took a little longer, especially with the hangup of trying to turn a stiff denim strap inside out.

The library card is a photocopy of our library card with his photo and signature added. He loves that his face pops out of the pocket!

As you can see, the bag is a little long since it was designed for, like, a third-grader, so I did this high-class modification with diaper pins. 

This would be a great application for a couple of buttons, and buttonholes....

He loves the bag. We took it straight to the library—which was closed.

The liner fabric is sweet Heather Ross' Nursery Versery Country Mice (Kokka Fabrics/Japan). It really outshines the crap denim from Joann that makes up the rest of the bag. It's flimsy and really affects the profile and shape of the bag—makes it slouchy. Ah, well.

Bags like this are a fun project, and would make a great gift for a little one!

Friday, August 16, 2013

"I'm all mouse!"

I finally got around to making Starboy's new PJs, and a bib to match. "I'm all mouse!" He proclaimed.

The fabric is Heather Ross' Nursery Versery Country Mice (Kokka Fabrics/Japan). I was wondering why it was so lovely to work with — turns out it's not 100% cotton after all, but 85% cotton and 15% linen! YUM.

Starboy won't take them off. I made a matching shirt by cutting out the little mouse with the tomato and applique-ing him on to a cotton t-shirt from Target. The contrasting fabric is just a plain cotton.

The pattern is an Oliver+S PJs pattern, for size 5. The pants have to be rolled up twice, but he should get a lot of wear out of them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Starboy finally wanted to try out some finger paints he received more than a year ago.

He didn't want regular paper. He said, "I want a paper that covers the whole table. All over. I want to be able to paint on the whole table." I said, but, if we do that, we won't be able to keep what you make.

He said, "We don't need to keep it!" in a tone that seemed to add: "Silly!"

We started with several blobs, then Starboy spent a lot of time smearing and spreading.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Story of a fairy garden

This year's fairy garden started out beautifully. I never got around to entering Donni's contest, which we really enjoyed participating in last year, but the design is basically the same, anyway.

Starboy used his heavy construction vehicles to do some of the big work.

We added a bubbling creek this year.

The arbor has done well outside since last year.

The animals still love the pond.

Looks wonderful, right?

Well, that lasted a number of weeks, in late spring. Then we cut down a bunch of bushes, changed the light on the garden, and fried everything. Instantly.

Except for the bacopa that we couldn't keep alive last year, which seems to be thriving, despite intense neglect.

The melon isn't doing so well, either. I actually took care of that one, but he didn't make it.

The tomatoes are coming in. Although a skunk or a mole snagged this yellow tomato before we could enjoy it.

The peacevine tomatoes are delicious, but are sized for mice. Tomatoes sure are a lot of work and water.

So, hopefully next year we'll do better with the fairy garden. Hop over to Donni's site to see the amazing creations made by those with greener thumbs than ours!