Midwest Bloggers DIY Round Up

 

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I haven’t accomplished much around here lately. I am struggling with some DIY projects. Struggles are part of the blogging lifestyle, you just have to figure out how to deal with them. Somedays, it’s easier than others.

I had a paint sprayer explode the other day, and spray paint all over everywhere. I gave up and let it dry all over the floor of the upper deck.

I have a desk that is half re-finished. I decided to make my son finish it for me.

I have a million stairway spindles to redo. I bought a special refinishing glove because using a brush would be too much work. More on this later.

My new parental safe router system has arrived but we can’t figure out how to install it. We were in crisis mode without internet service for 3 hours yesterday while I tried to install it. I unplugged it, still haven’t worked it out.

I feel like I still haven’t had time to enjoy the summer. It’s not really August, is it?

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The highlight of my day so far has been notice of my back to school project being featured on the Huffington Post. I will be demonstrating this project at the upcoming Randolph Street Market. Hope you will come pay me a visit for the demo!

 

 

 

Blue Moon Ice Cream

Blue Moon Ice Cream

Did you see the Blue Moon this week? It’s the second time this month we have had a full moon, the second cycle is referred to as the “Blue Moon”.

The phrase “once in a blue moon” has brought on new meaning to me as I have gotten older. There are things that I just never have time to do that I enjoy, one of them is making fresh ice cream. Life is too short not to take time for simple little pleasures.

Blue Moon ice cream is a Wisconsin favorite, a best seller at our family’s restaurant. It has the suburb combination of watermelon, blueberry and raspberry that can’t be beat. You can make your own ice cream simply with a few plastic baggies and ice, it’s a fun project for kids and great entertainment for a hot day.

Ingredients:

1/2 pint fresh blueberries

1/4 of a large watermelon, Rhine removed, seeded and chopped into 1″ cubes

1/2 pint fresh raspberries (you can substitute 2 Tablespoons low sugar Raspberry jam if needed)

2 cups almond milk or whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups ice

1/2 cup table salt

2 large gallon sized zip lock baggies

2 sandwich size zip lock baggies

 

Directions:

Blend the fresh fruit and milk together in a blender until smooth. Add the sugar, blend again.

Pour the mix into two sandwich baggies, only filling them about 1/2 way. Close the bags, releasing as much air as possible. Divide the ice and salt into the two gallon sized bags. Close the top, shake the bag briefly to combine the ingredients. Open the bag, add the ice cream mix Baggie, close the top.

Here’s the fun part. Shake the bag all you can until the ice cream gets firm. It only takes about 10 minutes. This may require you to wear gloves or pot holders on your hands, as the salt lowers the freezing temperature of the ice and it becomes very cold. You can play catch with the bags out side until it hardens, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it inside the house.

We have had exploding bags in the past, trust me on this one, do it outside. Exploding bags of ice cream are not a pretty sight.

When the ice cream has to hardened, you can eat immediately ( it will be a soft set ice cream, similar to ice milk), or freeze until completely hard and serve later. Dispose of the bags, ice and salt afterwards.

 

Today is a beautiful hot sunny day, I will be spending my time on the porch nibbling on our Blue Moon Ice Cream and fanning myself with Granny’s vintage fan from Japan. Sounds like a great way to spend the day, doesn’t it?

Who knows, I may even take a nap on the porch! It is once in a blue moon after all.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

How to Keep Your Family Safe Online

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Keeping your family safe online is a huge topic of discussion and concern for people today. I hear every day of families who are distraught, trying to keep their children safe from the uncontrollable Internet. The statistics of children viewing porn and graphic content at younger and younger ages is staggering, even among Christian families. No one is safe from it. As a parent, I don’t want to see it either, it is annoying, frustrating and shocking. One wrong click of the mouse and your child’s innocence can be lost forever. How are we to keep this unwanted content out of our homes? There are a number of things you can do to keep the Internet in check.

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1) Set up parental parameters: Devices your children use such as the Wii, XBox, Nook, the Kindle and hand held game systems have improved internet safety software to keep children from viewing inappropriate content. Set up a parental login and get started.  Check regularly to see what your children are viewing and downloading online on each system. If you don’t know how to set up your device, call technical support and have them help you set it up over the phone.

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2) Set Up Cell Phone Blocking. Did you know you can pay a few extra dollars per month to your cell phone provider to block inappropriate content on all the phones on your plan? We use AT &T, they only charge $4.99 per month for this service.  Click here to find out more information. You can set up time usage limits, text limits, and even block specific numbers. This is money well spent for a bit of peace of mind. Blocking cannot stop all phone to phone content transfer, however. Be aware that if your child gets an email or text from an approved number that is inappropriate, there is no way for you block it. Hopefully, this will change in the future and parents will have even more control over their children viewing content.

3) Set definite boundaries with your children. Do not allow them to have private passwords, you need to be able to check their electronic devices, email and social media accounts for appropriate content. Make it a house rule, all passwords for electronic devices and emails are shared in the home.

4) Keep your computer in an open space. Do not allow your children to have online access behind closed doors. There is no reason they need privacy, they are children. Our children do online classes at home but they understand the doors are to remain open. If this is an issue in your home, try installing some glass doors instead or move your computer to an open area without doors.

5) Set your browser to remember passwords and record website history. Look under the System Preferences icon to on your computer to change this function. Check the browser history frequently to be sure everything is on the up and up.

6) Call your internet service provider and see what parental controls they offer. They may have some tools available that you weren’t aware of. If you bundle your services and have cable TV with them as well, have them help you set up controls on your television for cable.  We use Charter Communications and they have an excellent tutorial on setting up your TV blocking here. Many TVs are set up for Internet streaming, you want to have controls in place for that too, here another link for Charter that may be helpful.

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7) Install a content filtering router. You can purchase a special router to filter unwanted Internet content right at the source where it enters your home. With a router like this, no one in the household will be able to view unwanted content whether they connect to the router directly or wirelessly. A filtering router can work with your current Internet provider and is programmable so you can block unwanted websites and specific content. Generally these routers are rather expensive, but they are available. I recently won a router like this, and I can’t wait get started using it. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

8) Limit your child’s Internet access by age. Young children should have little or no reason to use the Internet, especially when they are unsupervised. Our doctor recommended no more than 20 minutes of screen time per sitting, not more than 2 hours daily for our kids.

These are some pointers, but the best way to keep your kids safe is by being an involved parent. Know who your kids are friends with and what their family rules and values are. Establish your own family rules and stick to them. You may need to step in and make some difficult choices, but your kids will thank you in the long run.

Are you wondering what all this silly artistic censorship is about? These silly art pictures won me the grand prize of a complete content filtering router system! I don’t have the system yet, but I will have more to share soon, including how you can get one for your family!

Stay tuned!

Joining the Link Up!

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How to Make a Flower Crown

 

 

Crown leadI have been dreaming about flowers lately. They find their way into my dreams, my shopping cart, my home and garden. I just can’t get enough of them. Recently, I attended a party at the SNAP Conference where we made Floral Crowns from faux flowers. They were nice, but I am a sucker for the real thing.

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I found these flowers at the market the other day and on a whim, I decided to give the Floral Crown a try. The flowers weren’t all that expensive, about $15.00 for all.

I was not disappointed.

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Here’s how to make your own Floral Crown:

Supplies:

Floral Wire

Floral Tape

Wire Cutters

Pruning sheers

1 bouquet Baby’s Breath or other small flowers

1 Mixed flower bouquet with Daisies and Chrysanthemums

6 spools 1/8″ craft ribbon in various colors (white, blue, pink, purple, magenta, green)

scissors

measuring tape

cut to size

 

The first step, is to cut 20 pieces of wire, about 6″ long.

I attached my measuring tape to the table with Scotch tape to make it easy to measure.

I also cut 9 pieces of 3″ wire.

Then I measured the circumference of my head, mine was 21″.

in process

 

Starting with the small baby’s breath branches, I wired several of them together with the 6″ wire pieces. I trimmed the ends of the flowers to about 8″ in length. When they were firmly attached, I grabbed another spray of them and wired them to the stems first ones, making a chain.

baby's breath

I continued this same process until my chain measured 23″. This was slightly longer than my head circumference, but I wanted to have enough room to attached the chain together at the end.

Notice how the flowers are all facing one direction, it is best to keep the back side flat so it will fit against your head.

flower with wire

 

The next step was to trim the Mums to a 2″ stem. Using a 3″ piece of wire, I poked it up through the middle of the flower, hooking it slightly at the end with the needle nose end of the wire cutters. PULL the hook gently back through the center of the flower until it’s secure, it will disappear in the center of the flower.

adding flowers

Add your flowers to the baby’s breath chain, wiring them to the base at even intervals.

joining the ends

 

Join the ends by overlapping the first strand of baby’s breath and the opposite ends of the chain. Wire in place. I also used floral tape to cover the wire ends to keep them from being sharp. I left a small space between the ends to attach some ribbons.

adding the ribbons

 

I cut 3 pieces of each different colored ribbon (18 pieces total) at 24″ long. Putting them all in a pile, I attached them to the flowers by making a loop halfway up the ribbon length, then pulling the ends back through the loop, leaving the cut ends free.

finished This Flower Crown reminds me of the ones that they sell at the Renaissance Faire each summer. I think I will be making another one for the trip to the Faire! I can imagine how darling this crown would look on bridesmaids, or even for a special event like a birthday party or bridal shower. The possibilities are endless!

on the fence

 

If you are walking by my house and see this crown hanging on the picket fence, you are welcome to take it home with you.

Have a beautiful day!

Butterfly Cloche

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Today I’m SO excited to be at SNAP Conference in Salt Lake City surrounded by 500 other talented crafty bloggers learning, creating, and celebrating the friendships we’ve made because of blogging! And to celebrate with you, I teamed up with Abbey from The Cards We Drew and a large group of bloggers to create Crafts in a SNAP {15 Minute Craft Ideas} so that ANYONE, whether beginner or seasoned pro, can learn to create fun and handmade items in no time at all! Check out my tutorial for the Butterfly Cloche coming up, then scroll down below and be sure to check out some of what my blogging friends have to offer!! Have fun and get creative!

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I have admired Butterfly Cloches for a long time. They are so elegant and colorful.

I have always dreamed of having a mini butterfly garden with real live butterflies.

We tried to hatch them indoors once, as one of our homeschooling projects.

Somewhere during one of our long winter days, the cocoons died and we never hatched any butterflies.

My children were so disappointed.

So was I.

Then, we began to visit butterfly gardens.

This was a much better option. We visited gardens in Niagara Falls, Chicago, Denver and Santa Barbara.

They were beautiful, so inspiring. They made me want to learn how to garden.

The only problem is that in our area, the garden season is so very short. Real butterflies aren’t around here very long in the summer.

This decorative Butterfly Cloche is the next best thing.

It was very easy to make and only took about 15 minutes of time.

flower frog

Supplies Needed:

A Glass or Plastic Cloche (I found mine at a thrift store, it was missing the bottom but that doesn’t bother me)

Branches from a bush with buds on them

Pruning shears

A flower frog

A plastic soda bottle

Spanish Moss

Decorative faux butterflies (from the craft store in the floral section)

A glass cake stand

Optional: A cork trivet (Mine came from Ikea)

Directions:

1. Cut the bottom off the soda bottle with a sharp knife. Mine is about 2″ tall. Fit the flower frog into the bottle base. If you don’t have a frog, you can use strips of floral tape across the top of the bottle to hold the branches in place.

2. Set the cork trivet on top of the cake stand, it keeps the glass pieces from sliding around. (Optional).

3. Set the soda bottle with the flower frog on top of the cork base.

forcing branches

4. Trim the branches to fit into the flower frog with the pruning shears. You will only need 2 or 3 of them. Keep the branches with the biggest buds, trim off the small branches with little buds or no buds. You can also smash the cut ends of the branches with a hammer for better water absorption.

5. Add a bit of water to the soda bottle, be sure the ends of the branches are completely submerged in the water.

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6. Cover the frog and soda bottle with a bit of Spanish Moss. (I bought mine from the Dollar Store).

7. Add the decorative butterflies, and cover with the cloche.

The forced branches will bloom in a few days. You will have people wondering if the butterflies are real!

Don’t forget to check the water level and add more water as needed.

That’s all folks! Be sure and visit thecardswedrew.com and my fellow bloggers below for some great craft ideas!