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Cooking, Creativity, Parties, Work

Fall Bake Sale

So, 2020 may be obnoxious, but for the girls, it’s been fun and profitable.

They’ve been so busy with the bake sale!

It started earlier in the Spring when Sof wanted money for a cheerleading bid. She lost the bid, but won herself an entrepreneurial ❤️ heart – wahoo!

She and her friends followed it up with a summer bake sale and now a fall one. It’s been so fun to watch them work. Choosing and making recipes, cute bags and ribbons to wrap everything up with, and signs and advertisements. The younger girls have been bringing in customers with their “mad sign dancing skillz” and amazingly even some breakdancing.

Everyone from two families has pitched in with various donations of time, expertise, help, etc. – it’s been so much fun to watch them come together to create and work hard. But the best thing about this one has been that they wanted to raise the money for a princess birthday party – that may turn into a business of its own. But more on that soon!

A GIANT thank you for our little community for supporting our girls so generously and for the “golden corner” which has brought them so much luck!

Creativity

Celebrating Creative People

Over the years, I’ve been blogging about people who I have found fascinating with their creativity, and I would like to highlight some of those posts here, to inspire you to continue to work on your creative projects.

For years, I thought that I needed permission or approval to do something creative. Not sure why. I would jot down ideas, keep a million plots for books twisted in my brain, have a shelf of half-completed projects in my house, but I didn’t finish them, and I certainly didn’t show any one anything. Then, two amazing people inspired me. My sister, who started a writing group and kept saying, “what are you working on?” I was in awe at her ability to just work. She said to me, “Ryss, if you need permission, then I give you permission to do projects.” I LOVE her for that. The second was a talk by [then] President Dieter F. Uchtdorf who wrote a talk called “Happiness, Your Heritage” in October 2008. It inspired me at a time when I needed a creative outlet more than anything else in this world.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Happiness, Your Heritage,” October 2008.

Check out these great reads and I hope that you begin to create today!

And a final word on creation and this post, is our new tagline (that my middle daughter thought of for this site) –

What will you create today?

Creating with my daughters has been enjoyable, but now that they are older – WOW! This is getting good. Stay tuned!


Cooking, Holidays

REPOST: Homemade Sugar Easter Eggs

Just in time for Easter, and the COVID-19 Quarantine (and to break our World-wide fast), I thought it would be really neat to bring up this post (originally from 2011) on how to make those GIANT SUGAR EASTER EGGS, you know the kind that you can look into and see a whole world inside. My daughter is going to try this and we will post the results on Instagram.

Just a couple of notes:

  1. You can get the Wilton Meringue Powder from Walmart, but if you are unable to get out or don’t have it at a store near you, you can use egg whites or egg white powder. Here’s more information on substitutes you can see this post on The Pioneer Woman’s blog.
  2. We couldn’t find an egg mold from Michales because they’re closed or on Amazon because we put it off too late. However, at Walmart, there are a ton of plastic eggs for the easter baskets and we bought a couple of different sizes to use. 

The original post follows and the recipe for the Homemade Sugar Easter Egg is at the bottom.

Please post your picture of your sugar egg in the comments or tag us on social media so we can see!!

Original Post from 2011

My husband’s amazingly creative Aunt Susan and her daughters made Easter eggs this year for my mother-in-law. Not just any Easter eggs, mind you, but the beautiful, sugar, peek inside to another world kind of egg.

I read a book about a sugar egg like that when I was little and it made such an impression on me.  The book was called, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward

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Those eggs are seriously cool!

So, Aunt Susan graciously gave permission to write about her AND sent her recipe to share. (She’s one of those women that blow you away with her abilities and talents!)

Maybe we should have a contest next Easter… 🙂


SUGAR EGG RECIPE

4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbs water
2 tsp Wilton Meringue Powder

Placed sugar in large mixing bowl. For extra strength, or if you live in an area that has high humidity, add 2 tsp meringue powder to mixture. Mix sugar so there are no lumps in it. Make a well in sugar, then add water. Rub mixture between your hands & knead for about 1 minute or until well-blended & mixture packs like wet sand. Makes 1 large egg, 2 medium eggs or 3 small eggs. (These are SOLID eggs without scooping out the sugar to hollow them. You can reuse the scooped out sugar to make more eggs so you’ll get more than what is stated.)

To tint sugar:
Add icing color to water. Add color sparingly; lightly tinted sugar makes the prettiest decorations. Mix until color & sugar are well-blended. I usually just make mine white then make it colorful by adding the decorations to it.

HOW TO MAKE HOLLOW SUGAR EGGS (Note – I use the sugar I scoop out of the eggs to make more eggs.)

*Dust mold with cornstarch to prevent sticking. Pack sugar mixture into half egg mold, pressing firmly with heel of hand.

*To remove excess sugar, hold metal spatula at 45* angle to egg mold and scrape off excess sugar.

*Unmold at once by placing cardboard circle over mold and turning mold upside down. To loosen mold, tap top of mold with spatula. Carefully lift mold off.

This is what I do – cut the narrow end of the egg of both halves about 1 – 1 1/2 inches. This is what will make your opening to see your display inside the egg. You can keep this part of the sugar to reuse – just keep it covered with a damp cloth.

*Let egg dry for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Then carefully pick egg half up holding it in palm of hand. Do not squeeze or move egg while it’s in your hand or it will crack.

*Use a spoon to gently scoop out soft sugar following the contour of the egg. Smooth inside & opening of egg with your fingers. You can keep this sugar, just put it in a bowl & keep covered with a damp cloth. Then reuse it to make more sugar eggs.

*Place egg right side up (so hollowed part can dry) on cardboard to finish drying for about 24 hours.

DECORATING SUGAR EGGS

Decorate the inside of your egg putting decorations in with royal frosting. Then put top & bottom of eggs together with royal frosting carefully handling the halves. Decorate the outside with royal frosting & decorations. Let dry. To store during the year, put in a box that has no light & keep in a cool place.

ROYAL FROSTING RECIPE

3 Tbs Wilton Meringue Powder
4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbs warm water

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 min at low speed with a heavy duty mixer or 10-12 min at high speed with a hand-held mixer. Makes 3 cups.

NOTE: I make my own flowers by coloring the royal frosting & making drop flowers on wax paper night before until they are dry & hard. Make plenty, they do store well if not used. I have even made little chickens before but haven’t done rabbits yet.


Again, we invite you to please post your picture of your sugar egg in the comments or tag us on social media so we can see!!

Check out these posts:

Creativity

A New Reboot

So, we are doing a grand re-boot to Tamarack Idea Factory – and what better time than during the quarantine time during COVID-19? Actually, these plans have been underway for a while. As my daughters have grown, they have been more and more excited about my creative projects and have begun to do some of their own. Now, instead of just a blog to celebrate creative ideas of people, homes, and families, we are working on some creative projects as well.

Jillian, my oldest is working on a Pop-up Bracelet Shop both as a school project, but also to earn funds for an iPad so that she can do more of her artwork. She’s also a phenomenal artist, musician, and cake baker/decorator.

Sofia, my second daughter is in a video production class at her school, is working on a novel, and is learning to knit. She is artistic, creative, an actress and is so great at creative play with younger kids. She will be posting her creative ideas on this blog.

Ruby, my youngest (pictured with some of her art) is deeply into seeing what creative concoctions she can make – imagine with me absolute quiet coming from the bathroom (so I know that something is up). When I enter, she has been mixing soap, shampoo, perfume, etc. to create a homemade brew of exotic smells. And that explosion of creativity continues with clay, chalk, paint, food, art – anything she can get her hands on. Just listen for quiet and you know that she is up to something BIG.

As for me, I have been keeping busy juggling work, family, and trying to write and create when and where I can. (More on that another time). For now, please consider supporting Jillian’s Shop. or enjoying some of these creative ideas while you are in quarantine.

Check out some of these great posts –

Homemade Books – A fun idea with old pictures, drawings etc.

Notebooks – why this worked, I can only attribute to the creativity in children, because they worked on this for HOURS!

No Budget Birthday Bash – So, a challenge from this post: you’re a creative person – create a party or a game ONLY with what you have in the house – you cannot buy anything.

When to follow and when to fly free! – another challenge from this one: do an art project with your kids and just let them do WHATEVER they want with the materials. You will be so surprised as you allow them to do this over time how honed their work and style get because of the practice!

Old Scrapbooking Items – Okay, here is a fun challenge for the quarantine that goes along with this post – what do you have that you can let your kids “go to town” on (aka be creative with)? Old sewing, crafting, knitting projects? Stamping sets? Jewelry making supplies? Come on, you haven’t done anything with those supplies in a long time, and your kids/grandkids are cooped up! Let them have something to do. Open up your treasures – they will be in HEAVEN, and you may find some peace during this really crazy time.

Please consider sharing the creative things that you have been doing while at home during this time. And enjoy the possibilities that are coming with this very unusual season!


		
Uncategorized

Silly Summer Creativity

  
She said, “It’s an eyeglass or a bubble wand!” So silly! Love this kid. 

We’re listening to an Army band playing a summer concert in a park. Right now they are playing a suite from Spielberg’s ET. It’s so fantastic. Makes me want to fly. Love John Williams. Love our military and our wonderful country that allows for so much creativity and ingenuity!!! 
It’s just been a beautiful, fun, family day and as geeky as it is, I just wanted to celebrate families on this Fourth of July. Hope you have a great holiday!!!

What makes you happy in the summer? 

Composers, Creative People, Money Wise (aka Budgeting), Music, Songwriters, Video/Film

Creative People: The Ostlers – a family creating together

One of the things that I admire most about my sister (and there are a lot of things) is that she has a TOTAL mother-heart. She and her hubby LOVE their family and they love to be together, which is wonderful, but can be problematic when you are trying to make your artistic dreams come true! Both she and her husband are incredibly creative people. Fiona writes novels and has a theater background (including acting, writing and directing) and is amazingly musical (songs just pop into her mind – wow!) Bret is an artist, I mean everything that the man touches turns into art! He does photography, draws, writes poetry, and is very musical. As a married couple, each has supported the other in their aspirations – he has a band, she a writing career.

But recently, they came up with a BRILLIANT idea. What would happen if they created together? What if they involved the whole family in creating together? That way they could work on their dreams, talents, and passions, but have family fun as well (and teach the kids valuable lessons about creativity). The solution? The Bret and Fiona Show. It’s a YouTube family comedy sketch show. They involve everyone, create original songs, write and produce, film and edit.  It’s truly amazing to think about how much those kids are going to learn about the creative process!!!

Here’s their first season –

1. Family Band: in which Bret quits his job in order to start a family band.

2. We Have Cookies: in which Bret is unable to get his job back, but finds a silver lining in a bad situation.

3. Fiona Strikes Back: in which Fiona uses her musical ability to slap some sense into Bret.

4. The Mommy List: in which Fiona goes back to work and leaves Bret in charge of the home.

5. Staycation: in which Bret can’t stand being a stay-at-home dad and moves the family into a hotel.

6. Travel Agent: in which Fiona loses her job and only writing a song can bring her out of her sadness.

I put in my favorite videos, although they’re all fun and there are some holiday special songs as well. Check out all of their shows through the links above.

It led me to think for a long time about what I could do with my girls. What would be a creative activity that we could all do together? One that will be fun, teach them some skills, help us to learn to work together, and fit into our time and money budgets – but most importantly be something that I am passionate about creating. I think I’ve come up with the right fit, which I will write about soon.

What about you? What can you and your family to create together?  With summer coming up, this is the perfect time to do something wonderful together!

Creativity, Outdoor Activities, Summer Creativity

A Long Line of Sub-par Theatrical Productions

Yes, that’s my children’s legacy! As my cousin once said, this is one in “a long line of sub-par theatrical productions”. We did plays, my mother’s family did in-home musical concerts, and I’m sure way back, there were theatrical productions by the pioneer players!

Just like the March girls putting on productions in Little Women my children seem to put on plays when they’re with their cousins. It’s wonderful!

Here are some shots at my in-law’s house of their last play –

 

The players at the magic wishing well

 

At the curtain call

 

What do you need to get all of this fun in your life?

  • Dress-ups (old prom dresses, go to thrift stores for costumes, old Halloween costumes, old dance costumes – just keep a box handy and throw in any old outfits)
  • Props(again, just use what you have – toys, old games, boxes, etc. Let the kids be creative, you’ll be impressed what they do!)
  • Space(Any where – garage, carport, backyard, living room, any place can be a stage!)
  • Imagination – (quite honestly, the key here is to have belief in your children. Tell them that they can do it. Maybe they’ll need a story prompt to begin with, but my experience has been to just encourage them to put on a play (a dance, or a show, or a concert) and they will do it. No further prompting needed. Watch them go!)
  • Be an audience – (it is quite critical that you and the grandparents and the aunts and uncles watch the show when it’s ready. Film it, set up chairs, have them make tickets and programs, whatever! Just be there. Now, it’s okay to say to them in the middle of the performance, “one more scene” or “one more minute”, because sometimes these things can go on rather long, but MAKE sure to give lots of clapping during curtain call and positive reinforcement (“wow, who knew that you were so creative!?!”, or “I loved the part when …”, or  “What happened after …”,  the more you talk with your children about what they did, the more they will do.) 

Finally, my favorite part is to see all of the cute creative touches. Check out my favorite one from this last performance –

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This is a microphone that they made out of paper clips and tape. Cute huh!!

What’s the point of all of this?

  • Helps your children become creative problem solvers
  • Helps exercise their imaginations
  • Great childhood memories
  • Builds social skills
  • Helps them practice performing
  • They become creators, not just consumers

and at the very least –

  • Gives you time away from hearing, “I’m bored!” 😉

What shows do your kids do? Let me know in the comments.

 

Arts and Crafts, Creativity, School Projects

School Projects – we rock!

This is just a reminder to my daughter that together, we can rock school projects!!  Every time we work in a school project, she FREAKS because whatever we are doing is not how she pictures it in her head. The problem is, we usually can’t recreate what’s in her head because we usually don’t have the supplies to make “life size dolls” and “what-not”. So we have to use what’s available.

This week’s assignment was to make a shoebox type float (a miniature float for a parade) about the county in our state that she was assigned. Here is the rubric –   She got Salt Lake county. She wanted to get something professionally store bought. The problem is, there aren’t a lot of SL county floats in the local stores. 😉 Then she wanted to build the whole thing out of Legos or put the float on wheels. (Great ideas, but we didn’t have the time or the supplies!) So, she was forced to use what we have at home (plus some styrofoam that I got at Walmart for $3). 

And here is her float – 

  
Why does she doubt? Our mixed creativity ROCKS!!! She did most of the float and I just helped with some basic ideas, but she put it together. 

Then she told me that next time she freaks out to show her these pictures so that she can remember that using what we have can work well, especially when we use our creativity!!!
   

That’s one happy fourth grader!!

What school projects are you doing? 

  

Arts and Crafts, Creative People, Creative Play, Creativity, Toys

Creative People: Sonia Singh and the Tree Change Dolls

I have been so impressed by Sonia Singh’s Tree Change Dolls (see the video below) –

I especially loved the looks on the girl’s faces as they held and played with their dolls. One of the girls said, “They kind of look like they’re the same age as you,” and you could see that in their play. I think that the innocence of childhood is so beautiful and should be protected and nurtured. While I do prepare my children for the world that they live in, I am very careful in the way that I prepare them. I have had a very hard time choosing dolls for them and the girls and I have gone the rounds about which toys I’ll buy. In fact, I fell in love with Fanny, by Hollie Hobbie for that very reason, (see this post on my book review).

Sonia talked about the fact that her intention wasn’t to make a statement about the sexualization of girl’s toys, but as her work has become viral, it has created a debate and I believe that part of that is, as her husband said, “They really look lovely this way.” It’s true. There is a sweetness to the dolls. And, it does reflect a choice that the toy manufacturers are making. Based on at least some of the debate (and many of the mothers out there) it seems that a lot more people would also like to have dolls that are sweet and simple. I do love American Girl Dolls for that reason, but they are quite expensive, and this is a great way to save the expense, create, and teach some valuable lessons all at once.

It’s clear that Sonia’s main purpose was to make a statement about upcycling and reusing (as evidenced in her own words, but also in the name that she chose for the company). I am struck by the message that she has given both about choice and about creativity. Knowing that she can’t become a doll manufacturer on the scale of a toy company, she runs an etsy store and has created some videos encouraging others to create their own dolls. On her tumbler site, she encourages others to create saying,

I encourage others to recycle and upcylce old dolls and toys. Do it yourself, do it with friends, do it with children and others in your family, do it with strangers. There are so many plastic dolls already made that could still be played with and could inspire the creative minds of children with a little attention and creativity.

She also points others to some Do It Yourself videos on how to do a doll “makeunder”. The first is on how to remove the paint and change the face of the dolls –

and then she has one on what to do about missing feet and/or shoes, that one uses chemicals and is not recommended for children, but is interesting to watch –

I am so edified by this! I sometimes forget that I still have a choice and can fix the things that I don’t like in the world. We can change our clothes, toys, media, etc. and create things that are uplifting and wholesome in the world around us. Thank you Sonia for such a brilliant idea and for encouraging others to create as well!

Creativity, Summer Creativity

Don’t Wait Too Long

JMW getting biggerSo, two weeks ago, I wrote a post about summer creativity. Read it here. My girls went crazy after I showed it to them and they created an arcade of their own. They were busy for days. They created a bottle ring toss, a claw game in which you could win jewelry, an egg-carton game, and a few others (5 or 6 total).  They found prizes from our thrift store pile, made tokens, and wrote out rules.  Everyday, they asked me to put it up on Facebook so that they could have a “grand opening”.  But, I kept putting it off.

One of my daughters, who is a total organizational/neat freak, decided that now (two weeks later) it was old news and has disassembled everything. (The other daughter didn’t mind, because her attention span is short).

The Arcade did have one day of fun though.  My sister’s kids came and played with it for an afternoon and they all seemed to have an AMAZING time.

A word of caution, don’t wait too long. Kids grow. Kids loose interest.

But kids are also inventive, loving, and very forgiving. It is not too late to enjoy their childhood. Remember Stephen R. Covey’s metaphor of Emotional Bank Accounts (or EBAs)? He writes –

Remember the emotional bank account—similar to a bank account, you can make deposits or withdrawals from each of your family relationships. Make a conscious effort to make meaningful deposits in your relationships. When you make a withdrawal, apologize and correct the mistake.

See more on his blog here.

It reminds me of the 1957 song, Turn Around

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.
Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

So, I am sorry that I didn’t get pictures of the creativity. I am sorry that I didn’t follow through, but we will have more fun.  Right now, I’m making this post is short so that we can hatch up new schemes of summer creativity.  What are you doing with your children this summer?