Thursday, December 13, 2012

Teacher Gifts

I lost track of time these last few weeks. There has been so much going on with the kids and wrapping up the semester. Yesterday one of my friends asked me what we gave last year for teacher gifts. That is when I realized that the last day of school is tomorrow and I had not even thought of teacher gifts.

Personally, I prefer to donate money to a class fund to purchase a gift card or some other group gift. That way I don't have to worry about gifts.

This year, being short on time, I just had the kids help me put together some gifts with things we already had at the house.

We made snowmen containers from old peanut butter jars and DH's old socks. The cuff on the socks made great snowmen hats!  I got the idea from here.

I also found some directions for a felt owl ornament from Juicy Bits.  I put the front of the owls together and each of the kids sewed and stuffed an owl.

The kids also helped me make chocolate covered pretzels. We bagged those up and put them in the snowman jars along with the ornament. The kids made cards using clipped images from last year's wrapping paper.

I made gift bags from newspaper. We put the gifts in the bags and decorated with paper snowflakes. The red ribbon was from a gift my daughter received the other day at her class holiday party.

I might be just nuts or cheap or both, but I love reycling or finding new ways to use old things. I hang onto anything I think might be useful down the line. DH thought I cut up a pair of his perfectly good socks for the snowman hats. I told him they were socks he had discarded because they were worn out. I just never threw them out. What do you know, they actually did come in

Newspaper Gift Bags

Snowman jars

Felt owl ornaments

Card decorated with clippings from previous year's wrapping paper

Monday, November 26, 2012

Recycled bows and bags

The first graders at my children's school put on a holiday market as a fundraiser for a charity. Each year they ask for gently used items to sell as well as gift bags and ribbons.

I donated some used gift bags. I also donated some bows made from magazines and some gift bags made from newspaper. My kids helped me make and decorate the bags. They were so fun to make.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Play Dough Update

The recipe I previously posted for non-gooey homemade play dough is still my favorite thus far.  It has been over a week and the stuff is still as good as the day that I made it.  It has not dried out nor has it gotten all gooey and squishy like all the other recipes that I have tried.  This one is definitely a keeper!  The consistency and texture really is much like that of store bought Play Doh.  If you are looking for an easy play dough recipe, definitely give this a try. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Non-gooey Homemade Play Dough

I don’t know how many homemade play dough recipes I have tried.  None of them have even come remotely close to resembling the store bought Play-Doh.  I’ve tried both cooking and non-cooking recipes and no matter what, the homemade stuff always turns out to be a gooey mess.  I think that maybe the homemade recipes are okay if you live in dry areas, but I have always lived in really humid places. Although some of the homemade play dough is okay initially, it doesn’t take long before it turns into a gooey mess.  Some websites say to just add more flour and knead it into the dough if it becomes to sticky. I just don’t even want to handle the gooey mess much less try to salvage it. 

The last batch of homemade stuff I made had to be scooped out of each container, and it was just gross.  I kept all my original Play-Doh containers so that I have containers in which to put the new homemade play dough.

So back to the original  problem…gooey dough.  I think I finally have a solution to non-gooey play dough.  This stuff actually resembles the store bought brand. At least it's the closest I've come.  The solution was so simple it was almost ridiculous.  Just add less water.  I make Chinese dumplings all the time and realized that the 2 cups of flour to 1 cup of water would probably be appropriate ratio for the play dough recipe as well. This ratio makes for a really nice pliable dough.

I didn't want to have to cook to make play dough so I really was wanting a non-cook recipe. The salt is important but I didn’t like the recipes that called for a ridiculous amount of salt (1 or more cups).  I think too much salt makes the texture of the play dough grainy.  That and I think it’s a waste of perfectly good salt. Overall, I am really liking this recipe.  There is no cooking involved and it's really simple.  Most people already have all the ingredients in their cupboards.

Non-Gooey Play Dough

2 cups flour
2 Tbs. Vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
2 Tbs. Cream of Tartar
1 cup hot or warm water (I did not use boiling water)
Gel food coloring

I mixed all the dry ingredients together.  Then I drizzled the vegetable oil over the mixture.  After that I added about 3/4 cups of the water.  As I kneaded the dough, I added a little more water as needed.  You really shouldn’t need more than 1 cup of water.  The dough might seem a little stiff at first, but it should become more soft and pliable as you knead.  It also helps to let the dough sit for a couple of minutes before kneading again.  I used gel food coloring since the liquid food coloring just adds more moisture to the dough.



I will try and remember to blog again in a month or so about how this play dough has held up.  So far it has been a couple of days and no gooey mess.  The kids have played with it a lot and so far so good.

If anyone has a recipe for homemade play dough that holds up well under humid conditions, I would love to try it out.  Until I can find a better substitute, I think this will be my recipe of choice.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wheat Tortillas

I've only bought tortillas a couple of times since moving to Jakarta because the packages are so expensive!  It's probably around US $7 for a package of 8.    A friend of mine says that she always makes her own tortillas so I got the recipe from her.  Here it is.  It is simple, and my kids really like it.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose white flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. Canola oil
2/3 cups water

Combine all the dry ingredients.  Then add the rest.  Knead a little until it sticks together.  Divide into eight balls and dredge in flour.  You can store them in the fridge in a plastic bag or roll them out immediately. Flatten to a 7 inch disk or larger.  Fry on medium high heat about 30 seconds per side.  Cover with a towel as you make the rest.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Easy Biscuits

DH loves Bisquick biscuits.  I think that I’ve seen Bisquick here in Jakarta on occasion,but as I recall, it is very expensive.  Awhile ago, I looked online (probably at and found an easy recipe that DH says tastes just like the Bisquick biscuits he likes so much.  It’s pretty simple to make and both DH and the kids love it warm from the oven.  They taste really good with a little bit of butter and honey.
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter (softened)
2/3 cup milk

I mix the dry ingredients together first.  Then I put in the butter and milk and mix it all up with a fork. There is no need to knead the mixture.  Make 9 small balls (just pat the dough together)  and put on a greased baking sheet.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with a little bit of milk.  Put in the oven at 220C for about 10 minutes.  Enjoy!



Back in August, I posted about planting some chili pepper seeds and green onions in plastic buckets.  Well, months and months later, we finally have chili peppers!  I’m not sure what the variety is, but the peppers are a mixture of slightly sweet and spicy.   The package said it was a hot pepper, but milder than other varieties.  I tried planting a couple of other things, but they didn’t turn out so well.

The green onions do well in the plastic buckets as has kang kung (green leafy vegetable).  Sadly, my tomatoes grew some kind of fungus and died without ever producing fruit.  The strawberries never even sprouted, and the pumpkin sprout died.  Of all the things we have planted, the chili peppers have been the most successful. The kids think it is pretty fun to harvest the chili peppers.  They also enjoy going out with a pair of scissors to cut green onions for me.  Although it’s pretty tiny, it’s nice to have our own little garden.


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