Buried Treasure

Buried Treasure Part I

My girls found these craft jewels the other day. I have a whole tub of them.  I had them in the house for a project I did awhile ago.  I kept them around because, well, you just never know when you need craft jewels.  Anyway, they have also been a good “busy activity” when the girls need one.  I can just put the tub of jewels in the middle of the floor and it will entertain them for quite awhile.  Sometimes they sort them, sometimes they put them in toy pots and pans and just stir them around.  Well, this time they wanted to play ‘buried treasure.’ 

Mary looked all over for a treasure box to put them in and asked me to help her.  The best thing I could find was an empty baby wipes box.  It was kind of in the treasure box shape, so we decided to decorate it. 

Eliza snagged the camera and took this photo of me.  Not bad for a 2 year old–I mean my whole head is in the picture!


I love this picture.  It’s called “When You’re Being Creative, You Have To Stick Your Tongue Out.”  (It’s the sign of a true genius)

With a little craft foam, ribbon, and jewels, and only 10 minutes of time, we had a great little treasure box.  (There’s no way I was going to spend oodles of time on this, I mean it was going to get buried for heaven’s sake!)

Here’s the precious loot:  craft jewels, a homemade necklace, and some Chuck-E-Cheese tokens.

 …and here they are burying the treasure!

Aren’t sandboxes a wonderful thing?

I especially love our sandbox, and I’ll tell you why…

Buried Treasure Part II

Yes, this is part two, but really it happened before–long before–part one.

So about 25 years or more ago, Mark’s dad built a bunkbed for Mark and his brothers–a triple bunkbed.  About 2 years ago, we inherited the bunkbed.  We really didn’t have a need for it, but kept it in the garage in case another family member did–because that’s just what we do.  Anyway, it so happened that one of our awesome neighbors ordered a little too much sand for their sandbox and asked us if we wanted it.  Hmmmmm…

 Well, yes!  Soon those triple bunkbeds were reconstructed to make our little sandbox.  So how’s that for “reduce, reuse, recycle!”  A free sandbox, and hundreds of hours of entertainment for the kids.  Not bad.

And that my friends is the other buried treasure of this story.

Mother’s Day!

Wondering what to do for Grandma for Mother’s Day? 

This is a really fun thing for kids to do at home or at school.  Kids love to decorate cookies and they love it even better when they get to present it to someone they love.

Just cut out the ‘Grandma Recipe’ and paper cookies.  You could use the recipe card to write a sweet note on the back, or just use these as embellishments to decorate a plate or bag filled with your grandma’s favorite treat.  Even if your sweet grandma can’t have sweets, you could still use these to decorate a cute gift bag or Mother’s Day card.

Click on either the Grandma set or the Mom set to print out the full-size PDF.

BTW-I don’t really bake cookies a whole lot.  It takes too much time!  So if you’re a fabulous dessert maker, go make something that will knock grandma’s socks off!  If you’re a not-so good dessert-baker, like me, and like to save time, there are several different things you can do and still give a little homemade touch.  You can buy sugar cookie dough already made, or even the already baked plain sugar cookies, and then just frost and decorate them.

Pizza Pizza

What’s for dinner?

But first, a little clip from last summer…


We had some extra sauce and peppers in the fridge, so I picked up some mozzarella and pepperoni and other favorite toppings at the store, and decided it would be a good day to have a “make your own pizza” dinner.  I usually don’t think of what to do for dinner until it’s just about dinner time, but today I happened to.  It was Friday and I just thought it would be a fun thing to do.  Making pizza is  kind of a messy process when all the kids are rolling their own dough, but hey I have to wash the floor anyway.  (Generally I try to go by the philosophy of if the entertainment lasts longer than the time it takes to clean up the mess it’s worth the clean up.  Making pizza is the exception to that rule.)

I tell everyone to roll the dough into a circle and then put it on the tray.  Usually, however, they just squish the dough around, roll it out, squish again, sprinkle flour, and sometimes Anne even tries to spin it in the air.  Sometimes the pizza ends up in a circle, sometimes it looks more like Mickey Mouse or the Loch Ness Monster.  It’s yummy in whatever shape it turns out to be.

Putting on the toppings…

Like I said, this really takes longer to clean up than to actually make and bake.  It’s because the recipe is SO easy.  When it comes to cooking, I’m all for the easy way of doing things.  You might say, well why not just used prepared dough, like Rhodes Rolls or something?  That’s a great idea!  I do use Rhodes for other things, but for this I usually do it the ‘from scratch’ way.  Part of the experience for the kids is to help put the ingredients in the mixer and see chemistry in action.  They’re always amazed that the liquid-y goo turns into something great.

So here is the recipe:

No Fail Pizza Dough (the name must be true, because it’s never failed on me and that’s saying a lot!  Cookies and other bread recipes fail on me regularly)

 1 C. Warm water

1 T. Dry yeast

1 t. Sugar

1 T. Oil

1 tsp. Salt

2 1/2 C. Flour

Place warm water, yeast and sugar in bowl.  Let yeast activate until slightly bubbly (about 5 min).  Add oil, salt, and flour.  Mix in Bosch or other mixer until flour is absorbed.  Sometimes I add a little more flour at the end if it still feels too sticky.  You should be able to roll it out without getting it stuck to the counter.  Split the dough into 3 balls if making individual pizzas, or you can roll it out on a cookie sheet (I always spray the cookie tray with cooking spray first).  Top with your favorite sauce, toppings and cheese.  The dough will rise while you add the toppings–that’s why I love this recipe!  You don’t have to wait for it to rise!  Then stick it in the oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  (Individual pizzas take about 25 min.)  I double this recipe for our family, and then we will have leftovers for another night.

Once I had a get-together with friends for a pizza night.  I cut out 8″ cardboard circles, wrapped them completely (so it covered the top and bottom of the cardboard) in heavy tin foil.  I made the dough and rolled it out, then I actually cut it out in 7″ circles and placed each circle on a foil wrapped cardboard circle.  I made 12 of these and put them in the fridge until the party.  We set out lots of various toppings and everyone had fun making a custom pizza.

FYI-you can also make the pizza with all the toppings and then freeze it without baking it.  When you are ready to eat it, take it out of the freezer and put it straight in the oven, 350 degrees for about 3o-35 minutes.

Holey Rocket Shoes!

Run Jump Play.  It’s a kid’s job.  How well do they do that job?  You can judge it by their shoes.

For example, we were all doing the morning rush this morning and had 10 minutes to get to school before the bell would ring.  I told everyone (for the hundredth time) to get their shoes on.  Suddenly there was a flood of “I don’t know where they are,” “Mine don’t fit,” and “Mine have holes in them.”  What? Holes?  As I gathered the shoes and examined them closer I was shocked to realize that Mary’s and Anne’s shoes were completely worn through the toes. 

So this is why she’s been coming home with wet socks the last few days.  Why didn’t I notice that big hole before?  How did this happen so fast–I seriously only bought these shoes less than 2 months ago.  Mary’s shoes were in the same, if not worse, condition.

Well, with only a few minutes until school, I raced upstairs to our trusty little closet called the “Stuff From Cousins Closet.”

This closet is awesome.  Each box has something different–things like winter clothes, summer clothes, snow clothes, dresses…and of course, shoes.

We save them all and pass them down.  It comes in so handy and saves money!  Kids grow out of shoes fast, and if they’re not grown out of, they are worn out before you know it.  This box is the place where shoes go if they have any life left in them after they are grown out of.

Happy day, we found a pair that fit Mary.  Just added some new shoelaces, and voila, new shoes!  Mary was totally excited over her “new” shoes.  She especially loved the laces because they were “just like Anne’s.”  She wanted to learn to tie them right then and there.

…and look who just found her precious cowgirl boots.  Yes, Eliza has happy feet today too!

But oh, sadness.   After searching the box we still couldn’t find any shoes Anne’s size.  She had to run out the door with the ones she had on (the swiss cheese sneakers).

When I came back home again, I started to put all the “cousin shoes” back in the box.  Suddenly this box of little old shoes brought back a flood of memories.

These little red shoes were worn one Halloween when Anne dressed up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  They became the favorite of hers, and of both sisters, and were worn EVERYWHERE.  I used to find red glitter on everything.

These darling little pink shoes were a birthday present one year for Mary.  Mary is a shoe person.  She would rather get shoes than toys anyday, and she loves the Mary Jane style, especially with sparkles.  She used to call these her “sparkle shoes.” I’m surprised they survived and made it to the box!

These little Airwalk shoes are another favorite of mine.  Once when Grandma T. was babysitting, she took the girls shoe shopping and each got to choose their own pair.  Anne chose these.  She wore them all the time, and since they said “airwalk” on them, she was convinced that they made her run faster.  She called them her rocket shoes…and since that time every pair of sneaker-type shoes in our house are called rocket shoes.  They are not sneakers or tennis shoes, they are called rocket shoes.

So anyway, back to the shoe problem.  Mary and I decided we’d better give the old shoes away.  There was a clothing drive at school this week to collect items for the people in Haiti.  We gathered some things together and put them in a box.  I don’t know if people there will want shoes with holes in them, but we put them in the box anyway.  Maybe it could help someone just a little bit.  At least Mary seemed excited that her shoes might go to some other little girl far away who really needed it.

I picked up some new shoes for Anne when I was out, and the second she was out of school, we delivered her shoes along with the other things, to the school.

No more holes.

I wonder how long these ones will last.  If she’s doing her job well, it won’t be very long!

C’est la vie!

The Wonder of a Box

What in the world!  Snow?!

Yes, that’s right folks.  It’s April 29th and we had major snow today.  But that’s not all, rain, hail, and even spots of beautiful sunshine!  Crazy!  Anyway, since most of the day was extremely cold, and the rest of the day was very soggy, it was another ‘play inside day.’

The Beautiful Amazing Box

I put a box by the back door to go out to the recycling.  I walked in later at just the right moment and grabbed the camera as Eliza discovered the box.  So glad the camera was right there and I snapped these pics…

Curious mind at work…

…and there she goes!

Just her size.  And they say good things come in SMALL packages.  I don’t think so.

Mark came in at about this time and we were both chuckling at how cute she was.  Then Mark decided to play along.  He picked up the box with Eliza in it, put it on the counter and called the other kids to “come and see the package that just arrived!”  They came running.

The kids were hysterical when Eliza popped out.  Then all the kids played with the box for about an hour before I had to drag them away for dinner.

So what is it about a box?  It makes me laugh!  We have a bazillion toys in the house, and it seems like there is just nothing better than an empty box.  Is it the mystery of it?–You know something to open, the wonder of what’s inside maybe?  Maybe it’s the pure discovery and make believe nature of it.  For example, first the box is a package and everyone pretends it’s each others’ birthdays, then the box becomes  a dog house and everyone pretends to be puppies, and then it’s a boat, and then it’s a plane.  The possibilities are endless.  Maybe that’s why it’s so fun, just because it can be anything.   You can’t really pretend that a toy plane is a toy dog house now can you?

Long live the cardboard box!