Sunday, August 31, 2008

This favourite fabric/craft supplies shop

Sadly, I have no local shop to support. Yes, I do live in the Metro NY area and have -- in theory -- access to the amazing fabrics and notions in mid-town. However, the reality is that with the little one to wrangle, going there is impossible. And what I actually have nearby is a dreadful pit of a Joann's. If I need a zipper, I go, but I come out cursing just about every time.

So, I shop online! And my favorite shop is the etsy supplies section -- truthfully, I don't necessarily buy that much, but I browse to see what's coming out and what might be cool. I've also been a long-time customer of equilter for their selection, great website and customer service. (The website is an important factor to me; if a website is hard to use, doesn't work in firefox or just annoys me, say, by blocking right clicking on links when HELLO that's how you open that link in another window, you goofuses. Not to mention, blocking right clicking doesn't do anything to prevent image theft. Oh, and in fact it doesn't do anything because I just block your ability to block me, ha ha. It just annoys actual customers, like me, who don't give you their money. okay, I'm digressing here, where was I? Oh, then I don't come back.) And finally, for basics I like and, which is a diaper-making supply shop, but carries loads of high-quality cotton you can use for anything!

This week's This Is... theme brought to you by Handmaiden.

Friday, August 29, 2008

youtube for the little ones

Everyone I know thought of it, but someone finally did it -- figured out a way to make a kid-friendly version of YouTube, that is. YouTube is great for entertaining kids with endless clips of kittens, puppies and the Aquabats. But as Evan has noted, on YouTube you always just a few clicks away from the porno. (Okay, not real porn, but I have seen a spanking fetish video come up as a recommended video after a nice little kittens-set-to-music clip with my own eyes.) Totlol is a site with parent-screened YouTube content that you can, in theory, let your kids safely watch. And the skin they apply to the video prevents any "suggestions" you might not agree with. So far, I am for it. I've let Emily roam around on the site while I was cooking and didn't feel the need to constantly peek over her shoulder. It's only just gone into beta so there are still some bugs to work out and features to rejigger*, but the biggest problem is the lack of screened content, simply because not enough people have joined up. So here is my call to arms -- parents! aunts! uncles! everyone! sign up and start adding cool content to Totlol and make it a fun place for all the little ones in our life to go to! (Missy, you know I'm talking to YOU!)

* My main peeve -- there needs to be a parent-managed kid account option so kids can create their own "favorites" list. Not only the the "add to favorite" link tiny and right next to the visually identical "add to blocked" link, you can only add favorites if you have an unlocked account -- which allows the user to access all of youtube (via scout mode), totally defeating the whole point of the site. But if you lock the account...then no adding to favorites. This irks me. And I really should probably drop them a note instead of complaining here, right?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

yo gabba sleepover!


Reader Gal from Panada tipped me off to this one -- Sears Canada (not Sears US, apparently) has a Yo Gabba Gabba Ready-Bed, a kid's inflatable sleeping bag/bed thing -- which seems pretty cool, actually, the idea of a little built-in air mattress in your sleeping bag sounds good to me! I wish they'd had these when I was little, man did I hate sleeping bags on the floor.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

have you faced your manga?

For some reason I didn't see any Face Your Manga icons until just the other day, but of course I had to try it when I did. My "manga" avatar is not terribly off:

my manga face

But Evan's is dead-on...too funny!

evan's manga face

Emily demanded one too, even though there is no "small child" option, so here's a probably inaccurate representation of a 10-year-old-or-do Emily. It made her happy though.

emily's manga face

Like all such things, it seems to be luck whether or not you can make it look like someone (I had zero luck getting anything even close to my brother!) But still, a fun way to waste a few minutes if you're bored....(and the site is working!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This favourite children's book

this favorite children's book

There are many, many children's books I love. Books I loved as a kid, books I love as a parent. But the hands-down winner has to be this book, Sugar Mouse Cake by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham. It's the story of a lonely and under-appreciated pastry cook named Tom and his beloved companion, the mouse Tina. It has it all -- suspense, near-tragedy, and a happy ending...and lots and lots of cakes.

I never owned this as a child, I checked it out regularly at our library and read it in the library probably every week I didn't check it out. I always remembered how much I loved it, and years ago (pre-ebay) I was in a specialty book store and asked if they ever got it. The shop owner told me that he could put me on the waiting list...but it would be 5 or 6 years before my name got to the top, and I could expect to pay several hundred dollars for it when I got the chance. That's when I found out how many other people loved this book!! Sadly, it has never been reprinted even though the authors are very well-known and most of their other books remain in print. Luckily for me, we eventually found a reasonably priced reading copy on ebay; and then Evan found an even nicer copy for me as a present which we have shelved out of reach. Someday, I dream of finding a perfect copy (no library marks!) at a price I can afford...not likely, but in the meantime, I have perfectly readable copies for Emily and myself.

This week's This Is... theme brought to you by PottyMouthMama.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

muno guitar - new and improved!

Some of you may have seen the Yo Gabba Gabba toys popping up at Target and Toys R us (and ebay, if you want to pay 10x the real cost...). There's some pretty cute stuff! We ran across them last week and let Emily pick out two -- she went for the talking Brobee and the musical Muno guitar. (I think the guitar was her number one pick!)

Unfortunately, when we got it home and unpacked it, it turned out to be just too heavy for her to hold it and "play" at the same time. She loved it, but she could only play with it on her lap, which was just not fun enough...especially when Cornelius came on and she wanted to rock out 3-year-old style.

I was afraid I was going to have to take the whole thing apart to add a strap that would stay on! But when I started looking at it, I realized that two of the slots in the back that the horrible packaging twisty wire went through were in the perfect spots to improvise a guitar strap! So, I took two short lengths of 3/8" elastic, one length of 1" wide cheetah print ribbon (picked out of my ribbon box by Emily) and a hot glue gun....and ta-da! Guitar strap!

muno guitar - now with strap!!

It works perfectly - she can already sling it on and off by herself. Here's a closeup of where it's attached -- basically, I just ran the 3/8" stuff through the little holes, hot glued the ends to the ribbon, and then used lots of hot glue and rolled the ribbon up.

cheetah guitar strap

I could have used a narrow ribbon instead of the elastic, it really has no function -- I just had it handy. You can't take it off, but if it gets too short I'll just cut it off and make a new one. And now she can go crazy during the Super Music Friends Show and play along!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Super Martian Robot Girl on dvd!

gabbadvd.jpg The first Yo Gabba Gabba! dvd, Yo Gabba Gabba: Dance Dance Bunch, is scheduled for an October release and apparently will include two of the Super Martian Robot Girl segments we worked on! The episode "Dance" has the "Dance Party" story, and "Happy" has the "Pink Baby" story (which is one of Emily's favorites -- and adapts the creature from the original live-action pilot). It's exciting to see it getting released! Not as exciting as seeing season two on the air, though...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

i saw you lollipopping, lollipopper


So, this is a bit of a story. My brother has been doing all this amazing stuff to make a Mario-themed party for my nephew. He's been working for a couple months coming up with ideas, and at some point I suggested star lollipops, which we decided would be fun to do. Then we got all excited about making our own lollipops, and planned on performing our grand experiment during a recent visit he made to our part of the country. We found an excellent recipe, I looked into flavors and colors, we found supplies and molds....but then....the molds took forever to get here and they didn't get here before his visit ended!!

So I sent him his half of the supplies and we both made them (with kid help!) this past weekend. And up there are mine!! We were both very happy with our results (and Emily loooooves them) and we'll definitely be making more!

A few notes:

The metal molds rock. I would not use anything else.

You don't need to use wooden utensils. Silicon is fine, and would actually work better -- I followed the instructions and used a wooden spoon -- which was still damp from stirring the water/sugar mix, and when I used it to mix in the flavor and color the water instantly boiled off and made bubbles in my candy!! My brother used silicon and had no such trouble.

Have more than the 10 molds called for ready for each batch -- because I used some small molds, I could have easily made 12-13 lollipops. My brother used a larger mold and got 11 lollipops per batch. (As you may have guessed, he let us go first and then learned from our experience.)

If you are wondering, my lollipops are "cake" flavor (which is mostly kind of sugary and buttery, and very tasty). I also picked up creamsicle and shirley temple (the drink) flavor, going with the theory that fake fruit flavors in candy can turn a kid off real fruit...I figure fake cake and popsicle flavors? what can that do? Next time it will be orange colored creamsicle lollipops, I think Emily will like those even more!!

And while I'm talking flavor -- since I used flavor as opposed to extract (flavor is much stronger), I only was supposed to use ¼ teaspoon, and accidentally didn't even put it all in. The result was a very sugary flavor, sort of like cotton candy. Which we really liked! I will go easy on the flavor in the future.

They are not kidding when they say the temperature will creep up slowly then suddenly start shooting up. Literally stare right at your candy thermometer towards the end so you don't overshoot and end up carmelizing your sugar! I actually turned off the burner just short of 300° and it still went slightly past the mark.

All in all, a really fun project with delicious results!

Mmmm...there are only 5 left now!! How long will they last?

and the winner is....


As chosen by Emily and displayed by her faithful canine companion Mongmong! Thanks for playing everyone!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

this is... a work in progress

I've just recently discovered this is... and have decided to join in the fun! This is my favorite work in progress at the moment, or at least the most photogenic...part of Emily's fall wardrobe! I don't usually get that into the trim, but she's been asking for it more and more as she gets increasingly girly these days. This is the piece I'm most excited about from my fall sewing slate. What is it? You'll have to wait and see!! (And no, orange and black doesn't mean Halloween, either. Just two of her favorite colors!)

this is...sunday aug 9th

Friday, August 8, 2008

freebie friday!

Yowza, good thing I never announced my intention to write more frequently this summer, because that sure didn't work out. Between the illnesses, the car going into the garage twice (at least the 2nd time was something simple and easy to fix, although it seemed catastrophic), working like crazy, and the general ick-ness of summer...oh well. Anyway. To make up for my slackness, it's my first giveaway!!

I did an interview for the newsletter of Quirk Books, and to thank me they sent along some of their books to check out.* One of the books I was interested in was out of stock, so they sent a few others along and one of them was this:


Unfortunately, I do not knit anymore, and if I ever start again it'll be just for clothes, I think. But, it looks like it could be a lot of fun for someone who does like to do this kind of knitting! So, I'm offering my copy of this book up to one lucky reader! Leave a comment or shoot me an email if you're interested, and I'll pick someone randomly on Sunday night. Good luck!!

*more on the other books later!! and news on the interview when I get it!

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