Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bottlecap magnets

Another craft post, since Aaron and the girls are out of town so I don't have adventures and cute pics to share.

At CONvergence, one of the crafts they did in the kids' area was making necklaces out of bottlecaps. It was pretty cool and something I thought we could replicate at home. But as I didn't want to drill tiny holes in the bottlecaps for the jump rings, we did magnets instead!

(Yes that is a Halloween-themed tablecloth. It was what we had that was plastic, and I was pretty sure that things were going to get messy!)

I used a 1" hole punch to get circles that fit perfectly inside the bottlecaps. (I got a whole bunch of bottlecaps for free from the Rusty Taco, which sells bottles of Jarritos and Mexican Coke. They let me just scoop them out of the little collection box. They weren't perfectly flat but they worked just fine. We just needed to wash them!) Then I brushed on some Mod Podge and the girls filled in the circles with beads and sequins.

We used all kinds of beads, both regular little seed beads and some larger shaped ones. We also had snowflake-shaped sequins as well as regular colorful circle ones.

When the girls had their bottlecaps the way they wanted them, we filled in the caps with this crazy stuff called Mod Podge Dimensional Magic, and let them dry for 24 hours. The Dimensional Magic dries clear and holds everything together... it was super easy!

The only thing I didn't care for was that reviews online suggested that it would not shrink down as it dried, and it totally did. It shrank sort of weirdly, too, and some bubbles seemed to appear when I was super careful to pop any bubbles before we let them dry. So it wasn't the exact effect I was looking for. But still, it worked just fine to hold everything together.

Once the Dimensional Magic dried, I used rubber cement to glue 3/4" magnets on the back of the caps.

The rubber cement may have been overkill - the magnets were actually adhesive. But I wasn't confident that the adhesive would be strong enough, because some of the caps were really very full of beads.

So once that dried, voila! Final product:

The girls are super proud of them! They like to play with them on the fridge, and also gave some to beloved neighbor Beth for her birthday.

I think they look great! I will say that the ones that the girls did that are completely full of beads and sequins look way better than the ones I did that were a little more sparing with the decoration. So, lesson learned: this is a craft for making over-the-top decoration.

It was fun and definitely something we'll repeat!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Time (again!) to eat the donuts.

One of my new favorite things is food trucks. (That sentence seems weird but I don't know how to fix it. Food trucks are among my favorite things, perhaps? anyway...) There's been an explosion of food trucks recently. It's not just hot dogs any more! Tacos, sushi, bahn mi, kebabs... you can get almost anything from a food truck in downtown Minneapolis. One of the first food trucks I knew about was the Chef Shack. It's so awesome. It does the farm-to-table thing, using fresh and local ingredients to make its delicious, delicious food. I particularly love their Moo Me sandwich, which is like a Thai spiced meatloaf sandwich. Yum yum yum.

So on Saturday we were going to the Mill City Museum. But the girls were hungry, and we were early, so we swung over to the Mill City Farmers Market. And when I saw that big red truck I knew I had to stop by! I got some delicious breakfast tacos with eggs, beans, cheese, and a crazy good salsa. Maisie had french toast (yum). But Ella wanted only one thing:

Mini donuts.

Ella was so focused, I couldn't get her to look up for a picture. But with good reason: Chef Shack's mini donuts are the best EVER.

Go get some!

(Ha! I just realized I had written an identically-titled post last month, also with pics of Ellie chowing down on donuts. She is quite the donut conniseur!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

My employer sponsored the Rembrandt exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, so employees got free tickets. So off we went on Sunday to the MIA, despite the girls' protests that "I only like museums where I can touch things" and "I think that sounds boring."

The line for Rembrandt tickets was really long and slow, so we decided to go through some of the galleries and come back for the tickets later. As promised, the girls didn't enjoy very much of it. They liked the period rooms, but otherwise found the older art pretty boring. They also don't like naked people or anything depicting anything scary, which is honestly quite a lot of the collection.

They were a little more taken with the more contemporary art, like this piece, Panda, by Takashi Murakami:
(another view and some further info on the artist here.)

Maisie was very interested in Cy Thao's work. We found a little video that told his story - born in Laos, escaped to a Thai refugee camp, immigrated to Minnesota, became a legislator for 8 years, and now an artist. The museum has 9 of his 50 paintings in his "Hmong Migration" series. She watched the video and looked at his paintings and said "He's really talented!" Yep!

We next found a please-touch art cart, with Native American items from the Pacific NW, that the girls liked. There was a doll, some beautifully woven fabric, jewelery, and other objects that they could handle.

They also really liked this installation by HOTTEA, letting go:

(more info on it here.)

Oh, how was the Rembrandt exhibit, you ask? Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. It had timed admissions and our tickets were for 2:00. But everyone pooped out and melted down and was basically done 45 minutes before that. I ended up giving our tickets to someone who was in line to purchase them.

So, oh well. It was a pretty hit-or-miss excursion, but all in all I think it was a success, even if we didn't get to see the Rembrandts. At least we did show the girls that the art museum isn't all boring.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Oh man, it's been a hot summer. Hot hot hot hot hot. Heat records are being set all over the country, and Minneapolis has been no exception (87 records have been set so far this year!). Because we don't have central air, we spend a lot of time going from museum to restaurant to other air-conditioned venue. Lately we've tried to include some movie theaters.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I took Maisie and Maya to see Brave when Maya & family were visiting. Maisie was really freaked out by it, but she came away saying that she liked it.

Well, a few weeks later we decided to try to go see it all together, all four of us, as a family. Poor Maisie could. not. handle it. She cried and we had to leave. A week or two ago, the same thing happened - this time at Ice Age 3. Auntie Laura and Dylan stayed with Ella through the end of the movie, but I had to take Maisie out. Today, we considered going to see Pirates! Band of Misfits. Ella and Aaron both wanted to, but Maisie was dead set against it. So those two went, while Maisie and I hung out in a coffee shop.

This isn't limited to movies, which can understandably be overwhelming, with the huge screen and surround sound and all of that. Sometimes even watching a TV show, she finds whatever minor conflict there is to be so intense that she has to leave the room. Seriously, I never thought that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic would be too frightening for her, but it's driven her out of the room more than once!

It's kind of frustrating. She knows that the show/movie/whatever isn't real, and she knows that it'll be fine in the end. Goodness knows she's seen enough kids' movies to grasp the happy ending concept! But in the moment, she gets so worked up that she's unable to pull herself out of it.

Sigh. So, we're obviously done with movies in the theater for a little bit (although we might keep trying, at least for $2 matinees at the second-run theater). Anyone have any ideas how we can help her remember that it's really just a show, and that there will be a happy ending?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ella's birthday party

About, oh, a month ago, we celebrated Ella's third birthday. I mentioned it briefly here and promised a recap, but never delivered. I am the worst mommyblogger! Auntie Clare even blogged it before I did, and with better pictures, too - here's her writeup and gorgeous pics. Go check it out. Her pics are just lovely.

The party was awesome. We had it at Edinborough, an indoor play area in Edina. It's a pretty sweet deal, if any Twin Citizens are looking for an indoor place to host a birthday party - the park is owned by the city so it's really not expensive.

Here was our little party area:
The park sets it up for you and provides all the paper products, along with a shirt for the birthday kid. They also handle cleanup! yay!

Here was our cupcake cake, made of cupcakes!
Seriously, so much easier than trying to slice up a regular sheet cake or whatever. Everyone just gets a cupcake! Less cleanup, too. We got it at Target... this was seriously the birthday party of convenience.

This is what occupies the kids and where they run off the sugary cupcakes you fed them:
It's called Adventure Peak. You can't really tell from the pic just how enormous this is - it's hard to get a good perspective. According to their website, it's 44 x 44 x 37. The oak tree thingy on the side is 30 feet tall. Huge, right? There's slides and ladders in between the various levels. There's also a little bounce house on the lower level, and a toddler area for the littl'uns. Then there's a separate gym that has balls and rolly slidy toys.

We had so much fun with all the friends and family who came to celebrate. It was great to see everyone. Ella had a wonderful birthday party. Thank you all!

(I stole that picture from Clare. Isn't it great?)

And finally, here's a pic of Maisie and Maya, who I took to see Brave on Saturday afternoon, post-birthday party.
Maisie got pretty freaked out by the bears. Maya kept reassuring her, "Maisie, it's just a movie, it'll be fine." Ha!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Easy DIY Cape

So as I said, we spent the weekend at CONvergence. A big part of the scene there is costuming, as you could probably tell from a few of the pictures I posted. Because the theme was Wonder Women, I decided that the girls needed capes. But because I decided this at the last minute - like, on Thursday morning, the day the Con began - I needed a quick & easy, no-sew DIY cape. Here's what I came up with!

First, I stole an old t-shirt from Aaron that he doesn't wear any more.
I turned it inside out and drew my cape pattern on there. I did the wider part at the bottom, along the hem, and the skinny part at the top. Then I cut it out, keeping the shirt's collar attached, and snipped the collar in the middle to create the ties.

We ran to Michael's and picked out iron-ons to decorate the cape, and we were done! Easy-peasy, no sew, upcycled kids' capes.

Back view:

And a front view of Baby Panda Superhero, showing the tie around the neck:
I did make capes for both girls. Maisie opted not to wear hers, instead dressing like a ballerina (Thursday), a sun princess (Friday), and some other kind of princess (Sunday). But Ella wore hers all weekend, and ran around saying "Me a SUPERHERO!!!" which delighted just about everyone who saw her.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

CONvergence Con!

It's blazingly hot out this weekend, so we're getting our geek on at CONvergence, a huge (6000 people!) all-things-geekery convention: Sci-fi, fantasy, science, games, etc. We're all having a blast, girls included! Full recap next week but here's a few pictures to give you an idea until then...

Monday, July 02, 2012

These are a few of our favorite things

These are from our garden. I attempted a pectin-free jam, but it didn't set. So they became strawberry sauce that's really yummy over ice cream.

Especially 24 cupcakes that are covered in a ton of frosting and smooshed together to make one GIANT cupcake!

Orange soda...
at the movies, with cousin Maya.

Strawberry soda...
and ice cream...
both on the patio on a beautiful evening at Pizza Luce, the girls' favorite pizza restaurant.

Apple pie and chocolate milk...
at the coffee shop with toys - you can see the toy room in the background. It also has great coffee and free wi-fi. It's a family favorite.

And finally, raspberries...
2-3 cups of them picked from our neighbor Beth's canes with the intent of making jam... but somehow none of them made it home!