Peanut Butter Playdough

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It is so easy and quick to whip this up and your child will love being to play with their food or eat their playdough (depending on how you look at it.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups honey
  • 4 cups pwdered milk (dry)

Directions:

Cream peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar, then add honey. Fold in powdered milk.  You can freeze portions for later use, or just go crazy with the whole batch!

March

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As of a few days ago, I began to realize that March is almost here. This means a few things. It is the beginning of spring, the days are finally getting consistently warmer and we can go outside and play. Warm weather and all that it brings with it are certainly seductive. It is also still early enough in the year that I have not lost of hope of being reasonably attractive in a swimming suit, so there’s that. But March is also my little sister’s birthday. And as she passed away from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma over five years ago, this is the most painful and emotionally conflicted holiday of the year for me.

Having a deceased sister is difficult because it is just so awkward. I have been reading an excellent book for my bookclub, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I was floored by part that I read today where the younger sister of a terminally ill cancer patient asks “If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?” It conveys a certain aspect of this whole situation that has been frustrating and painful for some time. I feel like I have a heaping basket of emotions and really, there isn’t anyone I can talk to about it. My Mom and my big sister have different different definitions of Koryn. We have such different perspectives on our memories that it really isn’t easy to talk about what the absence of Koryn means to us personally because it isn’t shared and none of us wants to step on the other’s toes. My husband is caring and tries to help, but will admit that he doesn’t really understand. And it is just so painfully uncomfortable for other people. Everything from the casual mention of “Do you have brothers and sisters?” and the “I’m so sorry.” that inevitably follows when you try to navigate just how much information is called for in response; to the more personal declarations to close friends while they try to figure out how they should respond.

I just want to talk about her, but I don’t want the discomfort for others attached to that. I want to be able to say “My sister loved cats when she was a kid. We thought she was going to be a crazy cat lady; but she grew out of it.” Without the awkward silence of …and then she died trailing behind. Koryn was a huge part of my life growing up. My Mom had to work hard (as most single moms do) to take care of us and there was a special quality that comes from “being Mutt and Jeff” (as she put it) after school together. I guess I am just gearing up for March and don’t have anywhere better than here to spew out my feelings about Koryn. Frankly, it is liberating just to say her name as many times as I have to myself while writing this. Maybe I will make March my official Koryn blogging month–just allow myself to say it here. To admit that I still feel a sharp and aching pain as well as annoyance and acceptance at her loss. Maybe I am just need some chocolate.

So very tired…so little time.

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That is life summed up for me right now. I have a billion projects that are hovering over my head and I feel like I can hardly keep up with my two little peanuts. I am looking into starting up art classes again. It has been something that I kept saying I would do and a few weeks ago another art teacher called me and all of the sudden the ball is rolling. Now if only I can keep up! girls

I am also doing some cake decorating on the side. It is a great creative outlet. I carve and sculpt everything from airplanes to flowers. This takes a while-usually about 7-10 hours of work, but it is fun (and frustrating) to do. Also, I am finally making some progress on designing this website. Woohoo! Expect to see that soon. (Oh, the frustration! oh, the learning curve! Oh, the two girls vying for space on my lap!)

Meanwhile, in the last few days I have hit a new level of sleep deprivation. Seriously, I was up 14 times last night. If you have sleep tricks for the kids, please post them-now! I am desperate. On the happier side of things though, waking life is better. Megan seems to be mellowing out. We are having so many more happy moments and fewer timeouts. I think the turn-around came when I lost my temper and yelled at her for the first time on Sunday. I was so mad and just let go and yelled out “That’s enough! You are having time out in your room with the gate!” (Which is our most severemeg1.jpg punishment–and it works, she hates it by the way.) The look on her face (before she started screaming at the top of her lungs) made me feel like the worst mom ever. The funny thing is that instead of feeling really crappy, it was enough to jolt me out of being angry with her. She was a nightmare for the rest of the day, but I was able to handle it and remember that she is just two and doing the best she can. My improved attitude has made a difference and she seems happier. I am sure it is because I am more pleasant and giving and she responds to that. I don’t know; it has only been a couple of days, but I am hoping to make this last…even despite the fact that the nights are getting longer and longer as Mike and I get up more and more. As my sister loves to say “All bleeding stops eventually.” ;-)

Pastels

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Degas-Ballet RehearsalPastels are wonderful because they are easy to use, relatively clean, and they are “real artist” tools. It seems that kids hit a certain age and they consider themselves too big and sophisticated for crayons. I am always quick to tell my art students that I love to use crayon. It is a great medium no matter what your age. However, there are inevitably a few upturned noses when I pull out the what is really the staple of childhood art. Maybe that is because they are so familiar. Pastels are athe perfect solution. They are similar to crayons, but they are oil based (versus crayon’s wax base). I tell my students that it is a lot like oil paints that are poured into sticks. Many masters used pastels, Degas was a big fan; and with reason. You can acheive some really great effects with pastel. Here are a few things to keep in mind: Bridge and Tayt

~Pastels are very soft, you want to press lightly (very lightly at first, until they get used to the feel of them.) They are easy to break.

~Keep a paper towel and/or wet wipe closeby to clean your fingers off (so that you don’t accidentally blend in colors that are already on your fingers.)

~They look great whey you mix several colors together. Lightly color shadows and highlights in different shades and even use the color’s compliment (the opposite color on the color wheel) sparingly to make it pop.

~Use a paper with tooth or extra texture to really show the character of your pastels. (You can buy paper especially for pastel work.) Let some of the paper show through to give texture and put down layers of color to make it very bold where needed. When working on an object, start with your darker shades and work to lighter.

~Use different parts of the pastel to get different effects. Experiment with the edge, end, and side of the pastel.

~Use your fingers to blend the colors together, try other things to blend, like a piece of paper towel, cotton swab or a sponge.

~Generally work from top of page to bottom to keep your picture free of stray smudges. Ifpossible, work on an easel or incline to let the dust drop off the page while you work.

~If your crayon shatters, you can collect the pieces on a piece of wax paper. Use just enough rubbing alcohol to wet it so it will stick together and roll into a stick. It will dry in a day or so and be good to go again

.starting pear Blending pear pear

The Pastel Artists of Canada site has a lot of good information on safety and storing/showing your finished product. If your little artist really takes to pastels, you will definitely want to check out the International Assoc. of Pastel Societies website. It is a fabulous resource!