Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Clay Cross

This past Sunday we had a gentleman from our church dedicate himself to the Lord on his birthday. Following the church service we had a birthday party for him and I wanted to give him a little something to commemorate his day. I had recently been in our local Hallmark store (which I LOVE!) and saw a small clay cross that was sort of what I wanted - but not quite. So, I decided to make one.

First I started out with some black Fimo clay - the kind you bake in the oven to harden. The hardest part about working with this clay is the first step which is called conditioning. Basically playing with it until it gets warm and soft and easy to mold. Then the next step is to shape it into what you need, in this case a cross.
Next, I wanted some texture. There are a ton of ways to do this and it can be as simple as poking at it with a stick. I wanted something a little classier - but not too feminine. I have a bunch of Fiskars plastic texture plates and used two, one design for the front and one for the back. I placed my clay between the two plates and smooshed it.
Now I needed some color. You can just leave it the color it is, it can also be painted after it's baked. I wanted something a little iridescent that wasn't as girly as glitter. These are fine powders - like eye shadow, that just brush on and then bake into the clay. I also should mention before going further - if you want to hang your cross - be sure to poke the hole into it before baking!!
Then comes the baking. The instructions are on the wrapper of the clay when you purchase it. This one was to bake for 30 minutes is a 230 F degree oven. My oven doesn't show 230 so I just aimed for close enough.  I bake my clay on a tile that I found somewhere and once the buzzer goes off I leave the whole thing in the oven to cool completely.
Doesn't it look pretty now that it's been baked? My favorite part is the embellishing. I have some copper wire that matches the copper color powder I used and I found a variety of beads that match the green and blue colors as well. I wrap the wire around and add beads as I go until I like the looks of it. I use the wire as a hanger as well and secure in a couple of spots with some clear glue (I like E6000 for jewelry and clay).
Now it's all done and ready to wrap and give away! I may need to make a few more of these for Christmas presents, it turned out really pretty. Please let me know if you have an questions I can help with - don't be afraid to try and make something with clay - it's pretty cheap and easy to work with!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

After School Snack

Well, we're a month into the school year and I'm already hunting for new lunch ideas and after school snacks. AJ is always starving as soon as he comes home, so there is no doing homework until the belly has been satiated.

One of our favorite snacks is popcorn. I've owned a Whirley-Pop for years now and recommend it to all of my friends and family. Once you've had popcorn made this way, you can't go pack to the microwave style. Not to mention the fact that it is so much cheaper and better for you.

So once you have a Whirley-pop you need some unpopped popcorn, some canola oil and the magic secret ingredient - Uncle Bob's popcorn salt. That's all that's needed for ultimate deliciousness - no butter, no additional salt, nada.

Well .....

Unless you are like AJ and I and like to experiment with your popcorn. Our new favorite popcorn flavor is "fish food". Okay, that's just what we call it around here because that's what it looks like. It's Japanese rice seasoning and is a requirement in this house for rice, most veggies and now popcorn!

Here's the fish food we added, it should be in the Asian section of your grocery store -

If seaweed isn't your thing, check out Uncle Bob's for tons of other popcorn seasonings. We like cheddar, white cheddar, jalapeno, and ranch. (In Tucson they are on the NW corner of Speedway and Columbus otherwise check their website above.) AJ's second favorite popcorn flavor is Taco Seasoning, we buy it in the canister now instead of by the packet.

So, experiment with your kids and try to find some new kind of flavor you can add to your popcorn to make it a bit more interesting. I'm going for curry powder on my next bowl! :0)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Keeping Busy

It's Saturday. I would have liked to sleep in, but that isn't going to be my Saturday mornings for awhile. I signed up to take a few free classes on base to become a little more knowledgeable about using Microsoft office. The classes are from 8am to 5pm pretty much killing my entire Saturday but it's free so I can't really complain. The teacher has a great accent (Spanish) and is fun to listen to and he has a sense of humor which is nice. (Brian would be lost as he probably would not be able to understand a word this guy is saying :0) The classes are for Word, Excel, Publisher and PowerPoint. The first half of the class is beginning and then the afternoon is intermediate.

Well, I'm typing this during my beginning Word class, so you can probably guess as to how interesting I'm finding this. I am self taught so thought I could pick up some cool tips, however I didn't know how much would be covered in the beginning portion - so wasn't comfortable with skipping it.

Yea - I should have skipped it.

The next one is Excel and I will probably be a little slower in that class as I don't use it much. The last class I am taking is Publisher, I'm really excited for that one as I am still going to do the newsletter for AJ's school's PTA. I'm skipping the PowerPoint class entirely in favor of camping with my cute little cub scout. :0)

Oh well, it's funny to listen to the people around me learning how to do things and making discoveries. Hopefully this afternoon will be a little more interesting for me and I'll hear a few nuggets of wisdom. One nice thing is I got a HUGE instruction book that is MINE! Seriously, it's like 300 pages and is put out by Pima Community College and is pretty self explanatory so I could use it much easier than using Microsoft's awful help feature.