Search Results for: concentration tongue

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

I’d been meaning to make bird feeders out of toilet paper rolls with the kids when I saw Dana’s picture of her five-minute bird feeders on Instagram. Pine cones are much more beautiful than toilet paper rolls for spreading peanut butter on and rolling in birdseed. Agreed?

pine cone bird feeders

And it was perfect because I already had a couple baskets of pine cones that we’d collected in the fall.

I hyped up the project to the kids and took them with me to get the bag of birdseed. I love their excitable-ness at this age.

The project itself is very easy and perfect for young children. Also, I think I should start ranking a project’s engagement level by the amount of concentration tongue it elicits. ūüėČ

concentration tongue while making pine cone bird feedersElora made several pine cone bird feeders, but with Danny, after the novelty wore off, things degenerated fast.

boy eating birdseed

Yes, that’s my boy¬†eating the birdseed off the cement. (This, of course, alternated with sticky peanut butter licks.) Eating art projects is nothing new for this little guy. I’d also like to point out that I take no responsibility for that outfit. ūüėČ

Meanwhile, back in the land of productivity, here’s how to make your own pine cone bird feeders:

What you need to make pine cone bird feeders

  • Ribbon, yarn, or string for tying the pine cones onto tree branches and scissors to cut it with.
  • Pine cones
  • Peanut butter
  • Knife or other spreader. In hindsight, I realize a spatula would have been safer for the kiddos.
  • Plate for spreading the birdseed out.

How to make pine cone bird feeders

  1. Tie your ribbon around the pine cones. Tying a loop lets you hang your pine cone bird feeders easily.¬†¬†It’s best to do this before the pine cones are sticky. Otherwise, your ribbon will get all goopy, as pictured below. Live and learn, my friends, live and learn.¬†clean pine cone and finished pine cone bird feeder
  2. Pour some birdseed into a plate.birdseed for pine cone bird feeders
  3. Spread peanut butter generously all over the pine cones.spreading peanut butter on pine cones
  4. Roll the peanut-butter-covered pine cone in the birdseed.rolling pine cones in birdseed
  5. Set them out to dry a bit if you like, or hang right away.pine cone bird feeders hanging on tree

Just last night, as we dined al fresco, Elora-Belle asked what happened to the pine cone bird feeders. I noticed that they weren’t hanging on the trees anymore and assumed Dear had taken them down; he hadn’t, but they were definitely gone.

His theory: squirrel thievery.

Elora’s theory: “Maybe the birds took the pine cones off of the trees and brought them to their nests for their babies.” I like her thinking.


5 Secrets to Perfect Cinnamon Rolls Every Time

Cinnamon roll craver and snob: That’s me.

five secrets to perfect cinnamon rolls

I may or may not have mentioned that since Ezekiel’s birth, I’ve developed an insatiable sweet tooth. Maybe it’s the nursing, maybe it’s less sleep, who knows. But I¬†do¬†know that cinnamon rolls stave off the cravings for a few hours — like between a midnight snack and breakfast the next morning. (I told you, it’s BAD.) I’ve made many batches in last few months.

Aside from the waiting-for-the-dough-to-rise factor, which is only hard in the patience department, cinnamon rolls entirely from scratch aren’t hard to make. They have only three components: dough, filling, and frosting.

Ohhhh, the frosting… Let’s not kid ourselves, what are cinnamon rolls if they aren’t the¬†most delicious cream cheese frosting delivery system?

Anyway, through these many batches, I’ve picked up the following tricks to getting them just right every time.

Use a good recipe.

I love All Recipe’s Clone of a Cinnabon¬†recipe. Usually, when a recipe has over 5,000 reviews and five solid stars, it’s at least worth a shot. And these are the best I’ve made. It’s a¬†huge pet peeve of mine when people comment on recipes along the lines of, “This recipe was perfect. I just did thus and such and this and that. Here a little there a little. Excellent!”

But I’m about to do the same thing and offer you my own modifications:

  • Use butter instead of margarine.
  • Just make the dough in a regular mixer if you don’t have a bread machine.

Here’s how:

Don’t be afraid of yeast. Proof it.
cinnamon rolls baked from top

  • Put the warm milk in the bowl of your mixer.
  • Add the sugar and stir around a bit.
  • Add the yeast.
  • Wait until you see little bubbles forming.
  • Add the melted butter, eggs, salt, and flour.
  • Proceed according to directions.

What does this accomplish? Putting the yeast in the warm milk with the sugar gives it just the right environment to activate so you can be assured that your yeast is alive. The bubbling shows you that it’s alive. If it’s not alive, your dough won’t rise. Proofing it like this ensures that your yeast isn’t too old or that you didn’t accidentally kill it with milk that was too hot, etc. You’ll know that your yeast will “work” before you’ve wasted all your other ingredients in a bad batch. Did that get boring?

(Note: Yeast can be killed by being too old, not being stored properly, or by being put in liquid that’s too hot. Proofing it gives you the peace of mind that your dough will rise. It takes the mysterious, scary factor out of using it — at least it does for me.)

(Tip: If you don’t have a mixer, try Pionneer Woman’s cinnamon roll dough. It’s easy, and yields two whole batches of dough.)

Thin dough means more flavor.

The thinner you’re able to roll your dough, the higher the ratio of cinnamon sugar filling to dough and the more rings of cinnamon sugar ooey gooey-ness you have. But don’t go overboard; about a quarter inch is good. Flour your work surface and your rolling pin to help you roll the dough thin without it sticking. Using a bench scraper¬†to¬†shape your dough into a nice neat rectangle helps too, if you’re being persnickety.

cinnamon rolls dough

More is more.

When it comes to cinnamon roll filling, you can’t go wrong with too much of it. Be generous with the butter you spread over the dough, and don’t be afraid to use heaping measurements of the cinnamon and brown sugar.¬†cinnamon rolls filling

Cut with a serrated knife.

The key to cutting perfect cinnamon rolls is using a serrated knife and a light touch. Pay attention to cutting the rolls of the same thickness so they cook evenly.

cinnamon rolls rolled

cinnamon rolls rising

Look at these beauties, straight out of the oven. Can you smell them or can you smell them?

cinnamon rolls baked from top

Don’t forget the powdered sugar-covered help. He will keep a very careful eye on everything.¬†¬†With concentration tongue.

boy cooking

Next time we talk about cinnamon rolls: THE FROSTING. Subscribe by email so you don’t miss anything. And don’t forget to pin, share, like, email, tweet, whatever! See you soon!!

cinnamon rolls frosting



Keeping Kids Busy: Pipe Cleaners, Colander, and Beads

Since Elora-Belle started preschool, some mornings have been challenging with Little D. This morning I may have even told TatEE that someone was “driving me nuts-o.”

keeping kids busy with a colander and pipe cleanersPoor kid just gets a little lost without his older sister playmate, and when I stymie bored snacking, he has been known to bump around the house aimlessly, even when I make numerous suggestions for things we can do together.

This morning, desperate like I was the day of the mini carwash, a boredom buster I’d seen on Pinterest or elsewhere on the web came to mind. So I grabbed a package of pipe cleaners and a colander and told Little D I had a special treat for him.¬†indoor kid activities pipe cleaners and colander

Well, it turned out to be a treat for Mommy too because this activity kept Little D occupied — like totally absorbed occupied with concentration tongue and everything — well up until it was time to pick up Elora.

indoor kid activitiesTaking the pipe cleaners out of the colander to start over was just as fun as poking the ends through the holes. He yand them out with a flourish…¬†indoor activities for kids taking pipe cleaners out of colander

… and went at it again.

indoor activities for kids colander and pipe cleaners Happy boy, and happy Mommy.

indoor activities for kids
Little D was excited to show Elora his new activity when she got home. She quickly came up with her own interpretation, telling me this was “like sewing.” (She’s been into the cardboard cards that you “sew” cording through lately.)
indoor kids activities pipe cleaners and colander
keeping kids busy colander and pipe cleaners

 pipe cleaners and colanderThen Elora-Belle came up with another activity. She asked if she could use her beads to make bracelets with the pipe cleaners.indoor kids activities pipe cleaners and beads

pipe cleanerssmall plastic beads

pipe cleaners and beads

pipe cleaners and beads

indoor activities for kids beadsTo my surprise, Little D was able to do this too, in his own way — but he was occupied constructively, and that’s huge.

pipe cleaners and beads

Few things make a mother happy the way her children playing nicely together does. Or is it just mine who fight? ūüėČ
pipe cleaners and beads
This activity was a great one. And it’s minimally messy (unless the beads spill; but you know, sometimes it’s worth it.) I expect we’ll get a lot more mileage out of it…
pipe cleaner crafts bracelet
… in addition to these gorgeous creations. Hooray!!!

pipe cleaners bracelets



Make It: Playdough

We finally made playdough, which has been a to-do for the better part of a year.

make playdough balls

I even had containers for it, which have been sitting in my cupboard for the better part of a year. =/

containers for homemade playdough

(Am I the only one motivated by containers? Did you know, professional organizers say not to buy containers until you know exactly what will go in them?)

ingredients for making playdough

The players: water, salt, vegetable oil, cream of tartar, food colors (I used gel, which are less watery than regular food coloring). 

make playdough

Mix it all up, according to this playdough recipe courtesy of Susannah at An Art Nest).


 Put a quarter cup or so in a smaller mixing bowl and add the food gel.

make playdough

Mix some more. Try to contain your emotions while your little brother takes his turn. 

cook playdough

Pour the colored mixture into a frying pan on low heat. Let it sit a bit and stir/flip/smoosh together with a spatula.

make playdough


I don’t think I’ve ever made such a pretty little mess.




Put the little lumps of cooked dough on parchment paper or similar to cool off and knead them as soon as they are cool enough to the touch (happens fast).




I didn’t knead the blue soon enough.

See how it’s crumblier than the others?



Play with the dough.





Stack it. Slap it.



Pat it. Cut it.



Self-narrating Little D says, “Eat it. Eat it.”







I love concentration-tongue.



And concentration-lips.














One sweet girl kept making and bestowing hearts.




And one little boy made a workspace all his own.

His sister had no objection.