Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bird-Themed Birthday Party Food, Including Another Watermelon Cake


For the birday party, I used fruits and vegetables to make an owl and a nest, an apple tree, a watermelon cake with a bird in a nest, and we used some packaging paper to make nests around some snack bowls and served seeds (sunflower seeds) and twigs (pretzels).

Last year I had made this watermelon cake for my other son's birthday:

This year I decided to attempt a bird's nest with a bird.


I cut the two ends off a personal watermelon and then removed the skin to get a cylindrical shape.
I used toothpicks to attack blackberries and pineapples cut into triangles.
I cut a honeydew melon in half, removed the seeds and had a nest.
I just put it on top of the watermelon base without attatching it with a toothpick.  I filled it with some more pineapple slices to get my bird high enough in the nest to be seen.
I then cut a wing out of the pineapple and a bird out of watermelon and attached the wings to it with a toothpick.
Then I took a bit of a blackberry and stuck it on the bird's face for an eye.  Because it was moist it stuck without a toothpick.


For decoration on the food counter, I then cut an owl out of the remaining watermelon and pineapple, giving it blackberry eyes, and used the other half of the honeydew to make its nest.  I balled some watermelon for the owl's eggs and used celery as a branch.


I cut celery and broccoli and used tomatoes to make this apple tree:


And then I taped old packaging paper to serving bowls to make nests and served pumpkin seeds and pretzels as seeds and twigs.





 Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products, DIY toys, and the rest of the birday party, including decor, favors, a game and a craft.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bird-Themed Birthday Party - Bird Crowns





The bird crowns for my son's bird-themed birthday party were fairly easy to make.  I cut out owls out of scraps of green felt.  Then I cut out white eyes, beaks in various shades of pink, and wings from patterned felt.




I blanket stitched all of this together onto the center of a folded rectangle of felt.

I then cut up old fabric ribbons and using a sewing machine, sewed the ribbon in place to the rectangle.



I used a blanket stitch to sew together the 3 open sides of the folded rectangle and the crown was done.


I put the crowns on a table with this sign so that right when kids entered our house they could put them on and join the Birday Party.


Previous Bird-Themed Birthday Party Posts:
Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green toys and DIY toys.  I'll be posting about the rest of the bird-themed party over the next few weeks.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bird-Themed Birthday Party - Giant Egg and Nest


For a photo opp for my son's bird-themed birthday party, I made a giant nest and egg for kids to pose behind while wearing these crowns that I will post about next week.

I took an old cardboard box that I had opened by removing the tape just from one flap so it was standing upright.  Then I took scrap orange card-stock from an old shirt box that was damaged and glued it over the entire front of the box, including the flap.


I then cut into the top to make it look like a broken egg.


Since the bottom of the box isn't rounded like an egg, I took brown packaging paper and taped it to the two lower corners of the box to form a rounded bottom.



I then took a bunch of brown packaging paper that had come in parcels to our house over the years and formed it into one large nest.  I put the entire thing on top of a blanket and the giant egg and nest was complete.

At the start of the party, kids could wear their bird masks, get into the nest, and crouch behind the egg for a picture.
This was a quick and easy way to reuse packaging materials.

If you missed my earlier post on how to make a bird-themed no-sew bunting, click here.


Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products, DIY toys, and the rest of the birday party, including decor, food, goody bags, a game and a craft.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Urthware All Natural Simplicity Series Cutting Boards

I thought I had decreased our toxin exposure as much as possible in the house.  I knew how to diminish our exposure to so many toxins like BPA, Phthalates, PFOAs, PBDEs, Triclosan, Herbicides and Pesticides, but one day, a couple months ago, while cutting up some vegetables on one of our cutting boards, I began to wonder what was in my cutting boards.

I knew there wasn't any Triclosan in them because they weren't plastic and were not anti-microbial, and had always assumed the wooden boards were solid wood.  But it turns out my "wood" boards were not made from solid wood.  They were made from wood fibers and glue.  And although bamboo can be grown without pesticides, my bamboo boards were not all natural either, as they, too, were made with foreign glue that wasn't advertised as being formaldehyde-free.

So all this time I have been chopping up organic fruits and vegetables on our boards, I have been cutting them up on a surface that contains toxins we had always thought we were avoiding at home.  Pretty unappetizing.

I started to look for a more natural option but every bamboo board I found was still held together with some sort of adhesive, and the cutting boards I found that were made out of a solid piece of wood were finished with mineral oil, a petrochemical.  If we didn't put petrochemicals on our bodies in my house, why would we want to eat them?

It was starting to look hopeless until I came across Urthware's website and their All Natural Simplicity Series.



(Note: I received a complimentary product for review purposes.  All opinions are my own).

These gorgeous cutting boards are handmade in Canada using one solid piece of Canadian Hard Maple and no glue!  They contain high grade stainless steel reinforcing rods and screws and are finished with Canadian beeswax and either organic walnut oil or organic coconut oil, not mineral oil.  The boards' feet are made of all natural Gum Tree rubber that the folks at Urthware cut themselves, not the synthetic rubber filled with phthalates.

Natural Gum Tree rubber feet
Urthware was the answer I was looking for in my search for a real wood, non-toxic cutting board.  I was so impressed I ended up purchasing another medium All Natural Simplicity Series Cutting Board and a small one to give to family members.

I received the Medium All Natural Simplicity Series board.  It measures approximately 4 lbs, 9" L X 14" W X 1.25" H, (sizes can vary by 1/4"-3/8" since the boards are custom made from a single piece of wood).  A closed grain hardwood, the Hard Maple is durable and able to withstand heavy kitchen use.

Front and Back Side Views.  You can see the stainless steel support rods on the right.

Top and Bottom Views.

Side
If you don't want organic walnut oil on your board, you can select organic coconut oil instead.  I chose the organic coconut oil/beeswax finish instead of the organic walnut oil/beeswax finish.  But Urthware is NOT a nut-free facility and boards will have had contact with walnut wood and walnut oil, as they make walnut boards as well.

The boards ship with instructions from Urthware on how to clean and care for your cutting boards.  Because the cutting boards are wooden, like any wooden cutting board, they will display some movement from moisture.  You can read up more on that here.  You can see your shipping rate before checking out.  I was able to save on the international shipping by paying to ship 3 boards together.  Urthware is not responsible for any duty or added taxes incurred from your country's Customs Agency.  Click here for more information on Urthware's shipping policy.

After getting my board ready, it was time to put it to its inaugural use, chopping up vegetables to make a spaghetti sauce, pasta dish and salad.



It felt great finally using a glue-free cutting board to chop up my produce.
Tomatoes, carrots, basil and garlic chopped for my sauce.





I do have wimpy wrists from years of typing, and lifting the solid board to slide my veggies off was quite a change from my previous cutting boards that were not made from one piece of wood.  But although the board was heavy, it was nothing that would deter me from lifting it daily.



I was so pleased with my Urthware All Natural Simplicity Series cutting board.  It was great to look at, use, and it made me happy, knowing it was such a green alternative to the boards we had used in the past.



You can see the All Natural Simplicity Series Cutting Boards and all the sizes and styles of Urthware's cutting boards on their website, including live edge serving boards and other boards with handles.  

Urthware also has a Professional Series line of heavy duty, larger boards.  They are made with glue, but as Mike from Urthware says, "Not all glues are created equal. The foreign glues used in most bamboo boards and wooden cutting boards are formaldehyde based. Many glues used in foreign manufactured boards are not necessarily approved for food contact. Some glues however are safer and some manufacturers (like us) use FDA approved glues made on this continent (by trustworthy manufacturers).  Obviously we agree that the ultimate in a natural cutting board is a cutting board with no adhesives at all, just pure wood, but there are sometimes benefits to some of our boards that use glues (depending on what a customers wants and needs are)."  So unlike some foreign glues, the glue used by Urthware in the Professional Series boards is FDA approved, made in America, and formaldehyde and phthalate free.

Where to Buy Urthware Products:
You can purchase cutting and serving boards, and learn more about Urthware by visiting their website and in their FAQs.

Connect with Urthware:
Facebook
Pinterest

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts, including more info on green toys and products and more DIY toys.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Sunday, March 1, 2015

No-Sew Bunting for a Bird Themed Birthday Party

We had a bird-themed 1st birthday party for my son with lots of easy, DIY games and decorations that I will be posting about over the next few weeks. 

This bunting just took a couple minutes to make and the string can be used over and over again since the birds are just clipped on with small clothespins.

I drew the following shape onto the back of a patterned piece of felt:



And cut it out:


These are the small clothespins I got from JoAnn Fabrics.  They come in lots of colors but I thought silver would work well with future buntings.


I cut a piece of yarn and pinched the rectangle in it.  It ended up looking too long though and because of the pattern, I thought the rectangle sticking up was distracting.

So I just folded the rectangle down and clipped it again with the clothespin.


I cut out more birds facing in both directions and then cut out a bright pink heart.


I ended up folding that rectangle down too before putting the clothespin on it.
Then the bunting was ready to go up.




Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts, including more info on green toys and products and more DIY toys.  Coming up, a glue-free wooden cutting board and the rest of the bird-themed birthday party posts.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Make A Pig Out Of An Old Shirt



Last week I showed you how to make a sew or no-sew version of the 3 Little Pigs' houses.  Today I'll go into how I made the extra pig I needed.


I cut the following shapes out of an old shirt sleeve.  The body is in duplicate.  I just cut along the sleeve (the snout is the cuff) so I didn't have to sew anything on the top of the body since it was along the fold and therefore already connected.

You might remember this pattern, as it was the shirt used in the upcycled octopus I made last year.

I always make sure I am not using stain repellant or wrinkle-free clothing because that means they are coated with PFOAs.

I sewed the body of the pig together using a blanket stitch, stuffing it with scraps of the shirt as I made my way around it.
And then I sewed the ears on by just sewing the rectangular parts of the ears down with a blanket stitch.  This makes the triangular part of the ears flap freely like a real pig's, as seen above.
In the picture below you can see some of the frayed edge of the rectangular parts of the ear as I started to sew them down.

And within a few minutes the pig was done!



Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts, including more info on green toys and products and more DIY toys.  Coming up, a glue-free wooden cutting board!
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25