Friday, February 13, 2009

Green Craft: Camping Lantern

Maybe its cabin fever or just another whim but the boys have recently taken a strong interest in camping. This, of course, excites their nature-loving outdoorsdad who would-if-he-could live high on a mountaintop in a cabin built of sticks. So, taking the role of the ever-encouraging mom and wife I decided to make the kids a portable "Coleman" lantern for their indoor journeys under tents made of sheets and chairs. The best thing is that it was constructed using materials that I already had on hand along with a very nifty little battery operated votive candle that really flickers. I found mine at the $ store but since LED lights are becoming so popular you can find these votives almost anywhere.

What you need:

Two empty identical plastic jars with lids from peanut butter, mayonaise or any other recyclable
Wax paper (although any white paper will do: freezer paper, parchment, printer, etc.)
Wire or rope for a handle
One battery operated votive candle
Glue stick
Drill or Dremel
Hot glue gun or other strong glue

1. Clean out one of your empty jars and take any sticky lable goo off of the outside with something like Goo Gone. You only need the lid from the second container.

2. Measure and cut three pieces of waxed paper to fit around the inside of the jar with just 1/4" or so of overlap.
3. I used a glue stick to glue the ends of the three papers together before taping them together to form a tube. Place the tube in the jar.

4. Now you need to drill a hole on either side of one of your lids. Try to line them up directly across from each other.
5. Thread the ends of the wire or rope through the two holes. Pinch the ends of the wire or knot the ends of the rope to keep them put.
6. Now drill a larger hole into the bottom of the second lid. You can use an exacto knife to cut off any extra plastic.
7. Line up your votive on the inside of the lid so the switch is centered over the hole. Draw a circle around the votive for reference and then hot glue it down.
8. Now hot glue the handle lid to the bottom (closed) end of the jar and screw the candle lid onto the former top (open) end of the jar.
Tah-Daaaaaaahhhh! Turn it on and watch it flicker and glow! I was happy to see that Cam had a much easier time turning on the switch than I did since his fingers are small enough to fit into the hole. The candle advertised that it would last up to 60 hours. I've got the stopwatch timing. When it "burns out" I will just remove it and replace the battery before regluing it down.

You could get carried away with these and draw little pictures on the inside paper so they look like shadows if you want. I have already commissioned the husband to work on rewiring the votive's circuit for a future project that I have in mind. So many possibilities. I like this lantern plain, though, and think it is remarkably similar looking to the original Coleman.

Now I really can't wait until the sun comes out again...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Golden Birthday And The Pirate Ship

We made it through Cam's fifth birthday and it was a true success! Five gifts were given for his golden birthday I couldn't be happier with how they were received since three of them were crazy ideas that I created in between double diaper duty and baby burpings. I'm working on some some tutorials for these creations for some near future postings.

For now, here is the pirate cake he requested. I found the idea in Family Fun and added a few touches of my own. Do you recognize the water frosting? Yes, I was able to use up Cookie Monster's fur from the previous night's cupcakes. The wee little pirate was one of the gifts I made which I will divulge on later...

The worst part of making the cake was all of the chocolate goodness in my presence and my inability to refrain from taste testing.

The best part was that he asked me who was inside of the cake. He then played with the pirate and friends on top of the cake while dinner was being made.
When he was done, we ate the cake.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Turning Five

Tomorrow is the big day. It is the one that I never thought would happen when I brought my first little bundle home from the hospital. Here is the first batch of celebration that Cam will take to preschool to share tomorrow for his fifth birthday. I cannot take credit for the brilliant idea of stuffing a mini cookie in the face of a Cookie Monster cupcake but I think my version turned out quite nicely considering the volume and energy of the wee ones running around me as I worked.

What you need:

Food coloring or icing color (I used Wilton's Royal Blue)
Cookies such as Mini Chips Ahoy or regular Chips Ahoy cut in half
Brown M&M's (for the pupil)
White disc candy such as Brach's Peppermint Lozenges

1. Cut a slit in one side of the cupcake.

2. Stuff the cookie inside...
Special note: In retrospect, I am looking at the original inspiration for these cupcakes and realize that the designer used a full sized cookie rather than a small cookie. It was probably cut in half and stuffed into the cupcake. This would make the monster's mouth look much wider like he appears on Sesame Street. I'll have to try this again for the next kid...

3.... and frost it with frosting using a medium star tip. I put two blobs of frosting just above the cookie before pressing the eyes on.

Don't worry, we're taking along a bag of pretzels, carrots and a gallon of milk too...
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