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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Wednesday, 31 August 2011
At our last encounter, the exasperated heroine was surrounded by a battalion of spinach green cake balls....

It was 9 pm Friday night.
Party set for 1 pm Saturday.
And still no cake.

Darkness had fallen taking all hopes of birthday cake with it... or had it?
*dramatic music* (you'll have to add your own sound effects)

Just when it seemed all was lost.
Just when it seemed that she could bake no more... our heroine lifted up her weary head, squared her shoulders, washed the 8" cake pans one more time and declared:
"Honey! Go get me a cake mix!"
(insert triumphant trumpet blasts... go on... make the noises.. it will help the story, honest!)
"And another can of icing, too!"

And so he did.
And so she baked once more.

Making a total of eight layers of cake in one day.

Chastened from her earlier folly, our heroine made two simple cakes.
One with pink and yellow dye swirled through, the other with blue, green and purple.
That was as rainbow as it was gonna get.

Cool 'em.
Stack 'em.
And off to bed to dream of herself running, her Indiana Jones' whip in hand and hat on head, pursued by a giant rolling grey green cake ball of doom,  fleeing from the avalanche of fluffy white snow rolling down a mountain of rainbow coloured rocks, the whole time calling out 'blow out the candles!'.
Or that is what she would have dreamt about had she not fallen into an exhausted, dreamless slumber.

With the morning came a new hope.
The two layers held firm and and a simple coating of white icing was applied, followed by a most lavish application of rainbow sprinkles.
And the age old adage (Shakespeare? Confucius?) proved true once again,
"Sprinkles make everything better."


Add a tiger, and presto, chango!
Rainbow Tiger Birthday Cake.
(cue fanfare! sing it sister! woohoo!)
(I can't hear you!)

And for you gentle readers, who have endured this saga, who have laughed and cried, cheered and despaired, a bonus.... for just to kick a little sand in the face of the baking gods who frowned upon our heroine's hubris, she made a cake banner, pretty as can be! Super simple and endlessly customizable. 
Make your own (they look pretty just put in a favourite potted plant, too!).

○ Markers or stamps + ink
○ scissors
○ paper
○ string (I used silk cord)
○ tacky glue
○ bamboo skewers
1) Determine the length of your banner (ie the width of the cake +1-2" for swag).
Determine the number of pennants you want to use and the width of each flag.
Cut out diamond shapes of the appropriate size, stamp or decorate and fold over your string.
Glue in place.

2)  Decorate your skewers~ pony beads of plastic or wood will fit over the ends as end-caps~ glue in place.
Knot on your cord and glue in place.
3) Enjoy your brilliant cake banner! I love the idea so much I expect to make many more!
Post-Script~ the cake balls were enjoyed by at least some of the children and everyone was sent home with at least a pair...
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Safe & easy dyeing with kids!

After years of tie dyeing at camps and being disappointed by the results every time, I discovered Procion dyes. The real thing and wow! what a difference!
In fact my business began as with dyed (and painted) clothing...

However, Procion dyes and the chemical dyeing process are decidedly NOT kid-friendly.
So I was thrilled to find out that you could 'dye' with Sharpies!

We did the activity with 8 six year olds on a sunny afternoon.
It took them anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to do the colouring, and we were able to wash and dry them and send them home at the end of the 2 hour party.

{This is also a great way to refresh faded or stained white tees! Cover the spots or cover the whole shirt!}

• Sharpie markers in desired colours
• Rubbing alcohol
• Eye droppers
• Rubber bands
• Plastic or other cups
• Cotton tshirts
Work in a well ventilated area~ the alcohol is stinky!

1) Prewash your tshirts. Avoid purchasing 'stain resistant' shirts. 
Wash them in hot water to remove any remaining sizing or other chemicals from the fabric.

2) To create the circle patterns on your shirts, insert as many cups as you wish, putting an elastic band around the mouth to attach them to the tee. 
You can also tie your shirt in traditional tie-dye patterns and folds and follow the rest of the instructions to create the effects.
If using cups, be sure that each can stand upright.  If doing front and back, do one side at a time.

3) Colour the circles.  Encourage children to use the entire space and a variety of colours in each circle.
A couple of hints:
Small dots are very effective when applied around the circle... alternate colours to create stripes!
Large patches of a single colour are not effective in the end, nor are patterns that are too far from the edge of the cups. 
Colours do not blend much (unlike real dyes) so there is little concern with how close they are to one another.
Specific shapes and pictures (ie. a heart or a name) blend away and do not work well.
Circular patterns of dots, dashes, lines and so on work the best in the end.

This child didn't add much to her circles and was disappointed with the lack of colour on her finished shirt:
These kids filled up the circles with a variety of shapes and colours to better effect:
4) Add the Alcohol: Use your eye dropper to apply the rubbing alcohol to each circle.
Be sure that the cups are upright to allow the ink to spread evenly around the circle and beyond.
Apply the alcohol around the outer edge of the circle, allow it to spread and then saturate any remaining dry spots in the center.
 Varying the amount of alcohol will change the distance of the ink flow.
This step is captivating for kids and adults alike!
Set aside and allow the alcohol time to evaporate for a brighter finished item.

5) Wash the Shirts: toss the tees into a cold water wash on their own. Dry as desired.

And you will have very proud and happy kids who have designed their own tees!
Monday, 29 August 2011
...when we last left our intrepid heroine (me!) the six layer rainbow cake has slid like an avalanche down an Alpine slope...
It was 4:45 on Friday afternoon.
Party scheduled for Saturday at 1 pm.

With the all the ingenuity of a Pinterest addict, I formulated a hasty back up plan based on a rampant post-cupcake trend..
Cake balls.
While I had no idea what they entailed, I knew that there was smashed up cake involved.
I had smashed up cake.
It just. might. work.

A valiant leap to my Pinterest page revealed the need for canned icing, smashed up cake and melting chocolate. 
I had the first two.
It was now 4:50 pm.
Our small town boasts one bulk store that closes at 5 pm.

In my rainbow encrumbed (it's a word, right?) garments I flew out the door and made it to the shop just before closing and seized upon the last two bags of Mercken's melting wafers (white).

Once I removed my white steed (ok, white minivan) from the crooked parallel parking position in which I had left it, I rode valiantly home and sent the following text to brave companion:
"OMG help! Cake fell! Come help me make cake balls"
(Oh, the ballads that will be sung in future generations, of my noble eloquent rallying cry...)

OK. This saga business is wearing me out.
Let's talk turkey.

Cake Balls.
Cake pops. Cake truffles, if you must.
I like the directions here.
Basically this: a bunch of smashed up cake, moistened with canned icing and rolled into balls.
Place in freezer for one hour or more.
Remove, insert lollipop stick (we have a case of 10 000 in our home. Seriously. Long Story.).
Dip in melted chocolate stuff.
If desired, add sprinkles before chocolate hardens.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Watch this.

Cake into bowl.
Mash it all up.
Make balls.
However, if your cake was rainbow... you end up with balls approximately the colour of spinach (and that is NEVER a good thing).
After chilling, add sticks.
Okey dokey.
Enrobe in chocolate.
...erm... I don't have any pictures of this step because it was a massive failure.

Did you know if you heat your chocolate too much it thickens up? Yep.
And if you think putting it in the microwave, no matter how briefly, will thin it out, think again.
It turns into a hideous smelly brown burnt powder.
Try THAT on your cake balls.
And should you have even a smidgen of appropriately textured chocolate, your giant cakeballs are going to fall off of the sticks into the chocolate and fall apart when you fish them out, leaving you with white chocolate peppered with chunks of electric purple and spinach green?
And that no mater how many times you tell yourself "They are 6, they will eat it!" you know in your heart they won't?
And then you will realize that if all you have are 50 bajillion khaki cake balls painted with (yes, painted, we painted the chocolate on) white chocolate and sprinkles (all hail the sprinkles rack!) you have no place to put the candles for your daughter to blow out?
And that once you stuck a cake ball on the plate, any attempt to remove it would result in the fracture of its painted on shell?
Bet you didn't know all that.

Despite my friend Naomi's best attempts to cheer me up and assure me that the cake balls would be a hit, I was downcast.
(And I will say that her best attempt was to eat a cake ball and declare 'It's delishishh!' through gray green coated teeth).

It was now 9 pm Friday night.
Party set for 1 pm Saturday.

And still no cake.
As darkness fell, spirits plummeted and it seemed that all was lost...

...stay tuned for the final chapter of this gripping tale...
Welcome to the Playdate! (#21)
Everyone is welcome to link up to this post all week long with your
kid related posts ... 
recipes, games, crafts, parenting, stories...
just think of it as our virtual play group!
Summer is nearly at an end and everyone is thinking back to school!
(or maybe school has already begun where you are?)
End of summer at our house is birthday time!
As I have missed a week (or was it two?) I am starting fresh this week and will be looking for more great ideas to feature on next week's link party!
This week on the blog there will be bunches of birthday related ideas and tutorials! 
So please do pop back in!

Grab a button and join the fun!
Beneath the Rowan Tree

The Playdate Guidelines:
♥ Add your link and thumbnail below and please visit some of the other links and comment.
♥ Your posts can be old or new, we welcome your best! (no more than 3 per week, please)
♥ Consider adding the playdate button (above) to your post or sidebar, or even a text link back to this blog ( ~ you don't have to, but it sure would be sweet ♥!
♥ ANY kid/ baby/ family related posts and ideas welcome... but please no shop links, promos or giveaways.
♥ I will feature my favourites from the playdate in next week's Playdate post (choosing from those who have added our button or link to their shared post).
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Saturday, 27 August 2011
I don't mean Saga, the prog rock band from Oakville, Ontario (sorry to disappoint!).
I mean The Saga of the Birthday Cake That Wouldn't Be.
As in saga:  "The texts are epic tales in prose ...of heroic deeds of days long gone, "tales of worthy men,". The tales are usually realistic,... They are sometimes romanticised and fantastic, but always dealing with human beings one can understand." (wiki)

So sit back around your monitor and listen to a woeful (but ultimately triumphant) tale of a (worthy) woman alone against 6 towering tiers of cake, a battalion of cake balls and one final two tiered beast with fangs and flags a-waving.

I can't keep that up.
But it is saga-ish. Saga-riffic? Sagalicious?
Meh. It's long.
(But bear in mind, if you are sensitive to graphic scenes of baking disasters, stop now, for once you embark there is no turning back...)

So I meant to make a 6 layered rainbow cake, in fact, I coaxed my daughter into a rainbow tiger birthday (I posted yesterday about how this was all supposed to go) so I could make The Cake.
Things started out well enough.
I made the 6 rainbow layers using 8" cake pans and approximately 2 1/4c. of batter for each layer, dyed with Wilton cake dyes (1 tsp.-ish).
Like this:
So far, so good.
Now, I am crafty, but not much of a hand in the kitchen, I'll admit.
I started stacking cool cakes, using a skiff of icing to seal in the crumbs, but the cracks started in the foundation.  The purple layer wasn't centered and the blue layer was considerably smaller.
The green layer was literally cracked and I clearly did a poor job of leveling it off for stacking.
I lost a retaining wall soon after.
But I pressed on!
Three cans of icing down on this baby so far (perhaps my fatal error?! we may never know...).
And then I placed it in the fridge with the addition of a number of bamboo skewers intended to hold it together.
But I had a bad feeling about this (me too, Shaggy!).
Somewhere in the next two hours, things went horribly, irreversibly wrong.
We'll never know what happened in the fridge, in the dark (assuming the light really does shut off when you close the door!) that day.
But we opened the door to this.... (please take the children from the room!)
Oh the humanity.
I shut the door, horrified.
And then, opened it slowly....
It was worse.
So much worse.
We now had floor cake.
(And a very happy 4 lb. dog intent on eating his weight in cake carnage!)

It was 4:45 on Friday afternoon.
Party scheduled for Saturday at 1 pm.

I was chastened in my attempts to be a hero.
One compatriot said I should have settled for rainbow icing, instead of trying for the whole rainbow.
I had flown too close to the sun on my wings of wax....

Would we eat cake? Would our heroine (that's me) give in to the pressure to buy a cake at the 24 hour grocery store? Stay tuned for the next gripping chapter. be continued....
I swore we would keep the party simple this year (and I think we have, and by 'we' I mean 'me').
Rowan is turning 6 and we are expecting to host 8 six year olds for a couple hours this afternoon.

No problem. really.
I am a veteran camp counsellor and children's programmer.
And barring a death, my friend Naomi, another vet, is on board to help.
Barring a death? Of course, for anyone, but Naomi is also a funeral director.
The kids aren't the concern.

It was the preparation.

Rowan wants a tiger party.
I am kinda thrilled that she doesn't want Princesses or pink and fluffy stuff, but a 'tiger party' is a little tricky.
I mean, my FIVE year old knows that tigers and lions don't live together in the wild, but every party packager on the planet seems to think that a Safari theme includes lions AND tigers, elephants and giraffes.
That would be quite a safari~ Kenya to Sumatra.... but I digress.

Tiger party. *scratches head*
Pin the tail on the tiger?
(one friend directed me to a fellow in the region who actually owns and trains live tigers... but I had unfortunate visions of excited 6 year olds and docile well trained tigers taunted to the brink... at the very least, I saw our 4 lb. Papillon between tiger teeth...)
So I went to Pinterest, my latest addiction, and began pinning ideas.

I really wanted to make a rainbow cake (like the one pictured below). And I managed to swindle Rowan into a Rainbow Tiger Party ("how groovy cool would it be to have RAINBOW tigers?" Ya, I'm hip like that.).  So cake was taken care of and my back up plan was to make cake balls (what? cake balls? check it out!).

Rowan wanted a pinata.
Great! A chance to play with papier mache.
She wanted something like this:

And for an activity we decided to raid the tshirt stock at the shop and make some Sharpie tie dye tees like these...

And for other decorations, I would use our personal stash of playsilks and a bunch of balloons~ after filling Rowan's room in the morning like this:
Rainbow (tiger) cake and tiger tail ice cream? Check.
Tiger Pinata? Check.
Sharpie Tie Dye Tees? Check.
Naomi's 25 year old energy? Check.
72 Balloons? Check.

Practically failsafe for a crafty crafter like me.

{When we make a plan, God laughs}
And God has an amazing sense of humour (just look at camels, or men).

This was my thinking as of Thursday, when I cleared off my orders, cleaned the house and got ready to get ready for the party.   
Stay tuned for the reality.
I tried to be a super mom party hero.
(Pride goeth before the fall, and other bits like that.)
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Create a 3D, mixed media butterfly garden with your kids.
A great craft for teaching basic principles of art and painting!
We have been planning this craft all summer and finally got it done!
We built a playdate around it, as there were several steps at which we had to wait before we could go on with our project.  It worked very well with two busy almost Grade One girls on a rainy afternoon.
If you planned for a dry and sunny day, things would go much more quickly!

This craft is fairly supply intensive... but you could adapt it to make it much simpler for younger children, or to suit your supplies on hand.  After the kids were finished making theirs, I made one, too, it looked like so much fun...

♥ Watercolour paper
♥ Watercolour paints
♥ Sponge
♥ Paint brushes
♥ Acrylic paints
♥ Palette
♥ Water
♥ Canvas in size of your choice (we found ours at the Dollar Store)
♥ Butterfly punch
♥ Tacky Glue (white school glue would work as well)
♥ Drop cloths and paint aprons as needed

1) Painting the Canvas: Begin by choosing a few colours of ACRYLIC paint for the canvas~ keep it simple to allow the butterflies to stand out at the end.  Water the paint down to a wash. We began this step by discussing perspective... if we painted a tree on our canvas, the butterflies would be gigantic in scale... imagine lying in the grass on your tummy and looking through it.... When finished, set aside to dry completely. Wash out your palette and brushes and put away your acrylics.

2) Painting the Watercolour Paper: We began by choosing colours ~ and a lesson in colour theory... primary, secondary, blending and how to avoid making muddy brown!  Blend your pigments with water to create a thin wash. 

Use your sponge to dampen the watercolour paper (increases the flow of the paints over the surface) ~ wet your sponge, wring, and blot it over the paper (you'll know if it is too wet as it will tear!).  As the girls applied the colour we watched them blend and move and discussed our results. 
When the paper is fully covered, set aside to dry. One 9 x 12 sheet was more than enough butterflies for our 9 x 12 canvas.
Tip: if you are painting on a humid day, as we were, you can hasten the drying of the paper with a dry iron or a blow dryer.

3) Butterflies: Once everything has dried, use your butterfly punch (the bigger the better!) to cut out as many butterflies as you can from your sheet of watercolour paper.

You can use the leftovers for making cards or other crafts~ the girls here put theirs in a bowl and spent a happy hour flying butterflies off of a top bunk. 

Next, fold your butterflies in half, colour side to the inside. Apply glue to the fold on the back and place the butterfly on the dry canvas as desired, pressing down the center/ body portion to ensure good contact between glue and canvas. 

Allow to dry. Add hook to the back and hang, or simply prop up for a beautiful burst of colour where you need it!

The girls were so proud of their finished work~ and so intrigued by colour theory that we ended up reading a book about it (Color Chaos, by Lynn Rowe Reed) and drawing our own color wheels after carefully choosing and lining up the appropriate crayons!
{Draw a large circle. Divide it into 12 equal pie pieces. Begin by adding the primary colours (red, yellow blue). Then the secondary (purple, green, orange) and finally the tertiary (Crayola makes it easy with red violet, blue violet etc.).}

Have fun making your own works of art with your little ones, and please do share int he comments!♥♥
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