Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

Makes about a dozen, medium to large ornaments

Dough Ingredients

    1 cup ground cinnamon
    1 cup applesauce
    1/4 cup white school glue

Preparing the Dough

    Mix ground cinnamon applesauce and glue in a large mixing bowl
    Mix ground cinnamon with applesauce and white glue in a large mixing bowl.
    If the mixture feels too stiff, add a touch of water.
    Knead the clump together and wrap it in some plastic wrap, allowing it to sit for about an hour.

Making the Cookies

    Sprinkle some cinnamon on your prep area and roll the dough out to about 1/2″.
    Use your cookie cutters to create fun shapes in the dough; or
    Make coils of dough and sculpt your own designs such as letters and shapes.
    Be sure to punch a hole in the top of each shape with a straw or pencil.

Drying or Baking the Ornaments

    You can either let them dry naturally over a period of 3 to 5 days, or you can bake them in an oven at 200 degrees for about 2 hours (making sure you flip them halfway through).

This year’s ornaments. Yeah, I know– Martha’s job is totally safe. Hint: if the results of a for-child craft look perfect, it was likely not made by children. But the stars are mine, wink.

This year we added names in the hopes of preventing a repeat of “I don’t know which candy cane is yours” argument.

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

For better or worst, we make these ornaments (or the salt dough version) every year. Handprints. Shapes. It’s fun, it’s easy*.

*Yes, it IS easy. With one child, calm children, or adults.

I realized today that the Making of the Ornament marks a milestone stored in the oldest Small Person’s head: CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE.

So yes, they want to make the ornaments. They love to see the previous year’s ornaments when we decorate the tree.

However, the ACT of ornament-making with twitchy little boys sort of feels like I’m being punk’d by Santa.

On the bright side, tasting the dough isn’t a temptation (to me!) because of the glue. Also, the cinnamon in the oven smelled more festive than dirty dog feet and little boy farts.

Oh, did I neglect to mention that a contest of competing farts was the Funniest.Thing.Ever?

Boys, they pee all over the floor and fart all over your house. And we love them anyway.

Not a Snowball’s Chance

When you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt as temperatures hover in the sixties and it’s the middle of December… snow seems unlikely.

But this is North Carolina and I’m out of milk so it will probably snow tomorrow.

Elliot goes to a co-op preschool and I was in charge of the Winter Party. It was Joel and I– which turned out to be really special for E, since he’s never had the two of us without his brother. Poor Second Born child.

I always planned for the stuff around the party– crafts, games, favors– to be very simple. Why? Because these are 3 and 4 year olds and they have the attention span of hyperactive gnats.

Then I saw a friend’s pictures of felt snowballs. FELT SNOWBALLS! Have you ever heard of such a wonderful thing?

I hadn’t, but of course it exists! Michelle, author at Rust & Sunshine not only made some, she also provides a free pattern so you can do it, too.

*No, really– she did all the work already– I’m not typing out my own version of her instructions, because that would be, 1) a copyright violation, and 2) redundant.

First, I made two snowballs and handed them off to my Small People. If there is a way to cause either body or property damages with felt, it’s gonna be my kids.

After they remained both injury and argument free, I added balled up socks to their stash and started sewing the class snowballs. Party favors, dontcha know? Two balls per kid– because one snowball per kid is lame– for a total of 24 felt snowballs.

The greatest time investment–as it always is with sewing– was in the cutting. The sewing part only took 3-4 minutes per ball.

The 30 minutes of sustained fun had by the hyperactive gnats? Worth it!

Felt Snowball Fight copy

When Pinterest Changed the World

You’ve heard of Pinterest, right? And then, because one cannot have yin without yang; Pinterest, You are Drunk? I have a personal submission for the second link: remember, laughing at other people without also laughing at yourself makes you an asshole.

I am a procrastinator. I make To Do lists only to willfully ignore every item. I seek pressure-filled, adrenaline-rushed situations. Setting soft deadlines for myself is like putting mashed cauliflower on a plate and calling it potatoes: a nice thought, but not fooling anyone.

In a few weeks, each of the Small People start schools in different zip codes. For those keeping notes, ADHD folk (yup, that’s me) generally struggle with multiple transitions. Multiple transitions involving two people that regularly take 20 minutes to walk a mere five feet? Valium anyone?

Sane Other people might be spending these next two weeks soaking in time with the kids, making lunch menus, planning outfits and updating the family calendar.

Or finishing the other important things like emailing Z’s new principal a head’s up that the child is capable of reading Harry Potter level text– but might prefer to speak his made up dragon language on testing day. Or perhaps dropping off his immunization records.

To that end, getting E’s health form filled out.

Or buying that other car, since the insurance company totaled out the Scion.

Instead of doing any of those things, I am sifting through mountains of paper and spray painting stuff.

To thine own self be true, right?

Wistfully reminiscing about that timeI was alone in my home for an entire weekend.

Because pinterest didn’t exist back then–

Make a DIY Upcycled Repurposed Deck Planter Box

Between our fence and the house, where a sad, sagging thing called gate once lived, we now have a giant deck box planter. A rocking, upcycled, no-cost deck box planter. Of course there are flowers in it now!

Ghetto gate was removed when the boys decided on Birthday Extravaganza 2011 being a home party. I then spent the next 6 months screeching “hurry up” as Old Dog #1 looked oh-so-carefully for her special pee-pee place.

The solutions I had come up with were laughably painful. Brick and mortars walls, for example. But there is concrete under there, and I don’t want any part of a jackhammer.

Then pinterest delivered unto me a living hedge.

I’m not going to lie, I adore the stainless steel trough look. As it turns out, they are pretty damn expensive. I tried to convince JB that we could fashion something similar from flashing, or stainless steel sheeting like the kitchen backsplash, but he wasn’t buying it.

Then there was the issue of Small People and scorching hot metal all summer long.

Soooo… since I had already built a wood deck box, back in the old days–Wave hello at gestating Zach!–JB and I decided that we could use the deconstructed gate and panel to make a new box.

Almost all furniture building, starts with a basic shape (in this case a rectangle).

First you need a base.

Then you need uprights and a helper.

And some sides.

And a superhero.

Having an identity crisis.

Leftover stain. I used 3 different kinds and mixed ’em.

But I don’t own staining gloves. What’s up with that? Ah, but I do have plastic bags.

Now I didn’t want to fill this bad boy up with dirt, because that would make it weigh more than a show pony. I also didn’t want to spend the money on containers… but I did have a perfectly sized trashcan.

That said, I didn’t want to fill the trash can up with dirt, either. Oh…gallon milk jugs that JB wanted to recycle.

And the newspaper I’ve been saving.

My mixture.

You’d never know what’s down below!

Now it’s all filled in so you can’t see the containers unless you are right on top of it. Which I can (and will) fix with landscape fabric. Eventually.

A few of the other plants.

I’m going to miss tiki man so much when he finally breaks. But 8 years off of a $5 Big Lots purchase makes me smile.

DIY with your kids: Mudpie Kitchen

Yet another brilliant idea from pinterest. Mud pie kitchen? Yes, please.

Why, mud pie?

1) I’m developing a moderate hatred of sand boxes. Sand on its own irritates enough; sand on a Small Person morphs to something parasitic. Hitching a ride in underwear, hair, socks, shorts pockets (grrr!) until it finds my bed sheets. Then–and only then– sand detaches from the Small Person. I’m like the Princess and the Pea with that stuff.

2) Using only upcycled/repurposed wood, the original project plan cost $5 (sink and cooking supplies from the dollar store). The final version included a $10 splurge for new lumber (1 x 2 Pressure-Treated Pine Strips). Pulling splinters out of the hands of Small People has to qualify as a circle of hell.

3) The purpose of the project made it really easy for to say “yes” when the Small People asked “can we help”.

Here’s how:

Step One (not pictured):
Determine your dimensions, make measurements, and gather supplies.

My table is 48 inches long, 22 inches tall, with a depth of 23 inches. Yes, it’s an odd height/depth– using scraps of wood for a project often requires flexibility.

Step Two: Assemble the frame for the counter
Two kids equals a need for two sinks, so the counter is a rectangle. I used standard 1x2s, repurposed from the now-dismantled fence gate.

Question: You have 2 Small People to drill eight holes, in 4 pieces of wood. If both Small People start getting grabby at their second turn, how long before one Mom gets the fake smile face?

Answer: Quicker than it should.

Patience practice– not just for kids.

Elliot drills his first hole; I’m reminded to use more oomph on chuck-tightening.

Step Three: Add reinforcements at the corners

When involving furniture with children, one should always add reinforcements at the joints.

When involving furniture building with children, one should anticipate it taking about the same amount of time as it took the tree to grow.

I mostly managed to remain cheerful. Watching E manhandle a drill that packs almost as many pounds as he does was sorta awesome. Some additional time spent debating with JB about the intelligence of letting Z use the miter saw.

Check it out– hearing protection, eye protection, my hand on the wood (keeping his hand out of blade range) while he pushes the button? I feel like the only one at real risk is, well, me.

When involving children with furniture building, one should be expectant and tolerant of imperfections. Secretly fix the tetanus risk later, while they dream the sweet dream of real power tools.

Step Four: Measure and cut the slats for the countertop
Like I mentioned, my original plan was to use fence paneling, but I just wasn’t happy with the look and feel of them during the dry fit.

So I sent JB to the hardware store to grab some more 1x2s, and used those instead.

I added a top frame of 1x2s to the base, for stability, and a place to screw the the cross slats (from the bottom). I screwed them in with the “sinks” in place to make sure that each one was snug, but still removable.

I have this thought to eventually replace the plastic bins with real sinks. Which makes me kick myself for not keeping the sinks from the bathroom remodels.

Step Five: Attach the legs

Four pieces of wood, wood glue, and some screws. I totally confess to using netflix and Spiderman as a bargaining tool for doing this part solo. Next time I run across some old wheels/castors, I’ll add those as well.

At 22 inches, I love the height for Elliot (~38 inches). If it were just Zach, I would have gone taller.

The minute the I put the drill down– literally, see the glue still dripping– I had two Small People ready to test the mud pie kitchen for the first time.

Step Six: Stain the Wood

Despite using pressure treated wood, I added stain. One, because of the table’s purpose– mud and water, and two because the stain was sitting right in front of my face from the upcycled deck planter box I’ll show you tomorrow.

Yeah, we dig it, Mom.