Monthly Archives: February 2010

Another Sweet Doll Idea for Grandchildren

So in my post yesterday, I mentioned that I had dolls on my mind.  Here’s another doll that I think is fabulously fun!  I love the little curlicue curl on the forehead.  I love the lollipop.  I love the Scotti dog.  In my book, a pink checked Scottie dog is much cuter than a red plaid one!

Another reason that I love this doll is because you use computer printer fabric and print up the doll pattern on your ink jet printer.  How cool is that? A techno craft is right up my alley!

Tim (the brains behind this darling doll) said that he got the fabric at his local JoAnn’s store.  Since there’s a store within a ten minute drive from my house, can you guess where I’ll be going tomorrow??  You’re right!  JoAnnes!  You are so smart . . .

You can go here to see his directions and download the pattern.  All for free.  Isn’t he wonderful to do that?  I say let’s all give him a round of applause.  (Clap, clap, clap.)

But that’s not all, folks!  He has five other freebies that include cute, cute Gnomie Paper Dolls (with three outfits) and a Gnome Bowling game.  What a hoot!  (It seems like I’ve been using that word a lot lately.  I had better brush on some synonyms so I can fling them out at you as I write!)  Another round of applause for Tim!

He also mentioned that you can use printer fabric for quits and pillowcases.  You, my dear readers, are so creative that I bet you can come up with a plethora of ideas on how to use printer fabric now that you are aware of it.  For things such as little cloth purses, book bags, aprons, place mats, bookmarks, table runners, and framed art.  Make a comment below and tell me some of your ideas that sparked in your creative brains.

Thanks Tim, for granting permission of the use of your photo and for freely sharing your creativity.  And — JoAnnes, here I come!

Mannequins for Grandchildren

Make cardboard mannequins with the kiddos.

I was a tomboy growing up.  In fact, I was well into my thirties before my parents stopped asking me if I was acting like a lady.  I was a wife and a mother of three by then.  Sigh.

One of my favorite toys was a Matchbox race car.  It was green.  (I like red sports cars now.  Red ones that go fast.)  So that’s why I’m rather surprised about my interest in dolls lately.

Dolls, dolls, dolls.

Maybe my interest is because these dolls aren’t your normal cuddy-mama-put-a-diaper-on-baby dolls.  (Although if you want to cuddle and snuggle with these dolls, I guess that’s okay.  I just might shake my head,  look at you with askance, and roll my eyes like I am often wont to do at times . . . )

These dolls are not dolls per se.  The delightful creator of this fascinating dolls calls them mannequins.  (Ever thought of snuggling with a mannequin as a child?  Trying to pin a diaper on it?  Give it a bottle of milk?  No?  I don’t understand . . .)

These mannequins are not made out of hard plastic.  They are not expensive.  These mannequins are made out of cardboard.  They are rather quirky.  Adorable quirky.  That’s why I like them.  Quirky is my middle name.

There’s no real expense if you have some cardboard boxes laying around the house.  You probably have crayons or marking pens already so the only expense would be the googley eyes.  But, hey.  If you are into crafts (like many of you are), you might have some of these tucked away in some crafty corner.

Check them out at You can see more pictures and get her directions.  (As usual, I have used her picture with her permission.)

I think it would be a hoot to have a whole flock of these mannequins — mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins.  It would be fun to have a gaggle more of friends, pets, neighbors, chickens, elephants, the local clerk at the grocery store.

I can see where you could spend a whole afternoon making these mannequins — and then playing with them!  Don’t you think it would be great fun to do with your grandchildren?

Now let’s expand this thought.  Instead of making these cardboard mannequins, why not make some out of plain white card stock?  I can see it now — funky drawn stick figures.  At least that’s what mine would be.

Then, you can dress them by snipping scraps of material and gluing on shirts, Levis, dresses, pajamas, winter hats and scarves, formals and tuxedos — whatever.  Then, rough cut around them and glue them on  popsicle sticks for paper dolls on a stick.

What if your grandchildren live far, far away?  Maybe you could make a kit with cardboard, markers, fabric scraps, and googly eyes and send it to them to create their mannequins.  You might want to make one up (as you??) to include so they can get an idea of what to do.  Then, have them take a picture of them with their mannequins and e-mail the picture to you.

If you think your artistic abilities are lacking and can’t draw out a paper doll pattern, see what you can find on the Internet or in simple coloring books.  However, I think if you hand draw them, your grandchildren will love them.  And, you’ll be able to personalize them to make them look like the person they are modeled after.

Have fun making and playing with your mannequins!

Homemade Wet Wipes

Make these homemade wet wipes to help your daughters-in-law save money.     GrandmaIdeas.comHaving babies is expensive — moreso now than when I was a young mother back in the Dark Ages.

(If I was a young mother back in the Dark Ages, that means I am OLD. But, that means my children were alive back then, too. Which means THEY are old! Heh heh . . . I’ll have to share that idea with them . . .)

Now, where was I?  Oh yes, the expense of having babies.

I don’t know of one single young mother that uses cloth diapers.  I’m sure there are ‘green’ mothers somewhere out in the world who use them for the sake of saving the planet.  Which is all good and well.  I just don’t happen to know any.  Disposable diapers are great — and expensive.

And, I must say that I am totally impressed by the quality of disposable diapers of today.  Totally.  They are so much better than the ones that were available back in my day that shredded into soggy pieces of cotton when they were full.

And the marvelous tabs on today’s diapers that hold the diaper on.  You can actually ‘undo’ them without wrecking the diaper and the tab will still ‘stick’ afterwards. It almost makes me wish I had a baby.

Wait!  Who am I kidding?  I don’t want a baby at this stage of my life.  I am very happy with being a grandmother and loving the babies that my daughter and daughters-in-law have.

Okay.  Let’s move on to the topic at hand.  Homemade wet wipes.

I read a young mother’s blog yesterday where she shared the ‘recipe’ for homemade wet wipes.  It seems that her delightful son seems to have lots of blowouts lately and that she has been going through tons and tons of wet wipes.  (Is wet wipes a registered trademark for a specific product?  Probably.  I ought to use a different phrase here . . . but I’m too lazy to come up with a generic phrase.  I’ll probably get sued for using this name without it’s registered trademark symbol. . . )

Back to making a homemade product that you can use to clean a baby’s bottom.  (Saying ‘wet wipes’ is more succinct.  Less words.  Aren’t we all about conservation?  Word conservation is good.  You know, I’ve just realized my words are forever getting off track here.  Sheesh!)

Here’s the ‘recipe’ to make those wipes.

Baby Wipes

1 #6 Rubbermaid container (or any container that won’t leak and can hold half a roll of paper towels)

In container mix:
2 cups of water
3 tbs baby oil
1 tbs baby shampoo

Take one BIG roll of Bounty paper towels and cut in half with your electric knife or a knife with a serrated edge.  (So when I’m carving the Thanksgiving turkey, I need to be sure there aren’t any chunks of paper towel still clinging to the knife.)

Leave in the cardboard tube. It will be easier to take out after wipes are made.

After you have your mixture made and your paper towels are cut, put the paper towels in the container and put the lid on. Tight.  You don’t want anything leaking out here.  Then put the container upside down for about 4 hours so paper towels will get entirely soaked. After it’s soaked, remove the cardboard tube.

Voila!  You now have cheaper baby bum wipes.

The mother who shared the recipe says that only Bounty paper towels will work for this.  She also said that her husband didn’t like the fact that they were so ‘wet.’  So, she reduced the amount of water to 1 1/2 cups.  You might want to keep this in mind.

So, there you have it. A great recipe to have tucked in your recipe file box between the Rollo Cookies and the sinfully rich chocolate dessert recipes.

You might want to make up some wipes and see how this all works.  Then, share this with your daughters and daughters-in-law.  This is a great way to help them save a little money.  And that’s something that all of us like to do in this rough economy.

St. Patrick’s Day Movies for Grandchilren

Here is a list of fun movies to watch with the kids for St. Patrick's Day.

I know that Valentine’s Day is barely over.  I know that St. Patrick’s Day is a month away.  But, I think that you’ll probably want some time so that you can prepare for watching St. Patrick’s Day movies with your grandchildren.

I recommend that you go to your local library or Blockbuster store, get a copy, and preview the movie.  That way, you can make sure that the content is appropriate and that it is good for your grandchildren’s age level.  Here’s a list of a few possible movies that I have found.

Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Darby O’Gill tells wild stories of leprechauns. When he actually captures the leprechaun king and discovers their hidden gold, no one will believe him.  Filmed in 1959.

Finian’s Rainbow. A mysterious Irishman has stolen a leprechaun’s pot of gold and goes to a small Southern town to plant it in the ground so it will grow. A leprechaun has followed him and tries to get the pot back.  Filmed in 1968.

The Gnome-Mobile. An eccentric millionaire (Walter Brennan for those of us who are old enough to remember him) and his grandchildren are caught in the plights of forest gnomes who are searching for the rest of their tribe.  Filmed in 1967.

The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns. A businessman rents a cottage on Emerald Isle which is occupied by a family of leprechauns.  Filmed in 1999.

The White Pony. Kids, horses, magic, whimsy.  This is a movie about a pony’s journey to the top of a movie career. Made in 1999.

Leapin’ Leprechaun.  A man tries to build a theme park on top of land that’s the home to friendly Leprechauns.  Filmed in 1995.

Luck of the Irish.   This 1948 movie is about a leprechaun who acts as a news reporter’s servant and conscience.

I couldn’t resist sharing one other movie.  But this is more for grandma than for grandchildren.  Maybe. That movie is The Quiet Man.  There’s action, excitement, romance.

It’s a classic movie from 1952 starring John Wayne and is about a young man who returns to Ireland from America to reclaim his homestead and escape his past.  No leprechauns in this movie but if you’re a John Wayne fan, you’ll enjoy it.  And, I think that grandchildren will enjoy it too — if you tell them in advance that this is a ‘classic’ movie sans visual effects, aliens, or magical wizards.  The plot is king here.

Do any of you know of other movies that would be fun to watch with grandchildren to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Grandma Camp: Start Thinking Now About It

Grandma Camp

Grandma Shelley made a comment on my post about making licorice with grandchildren.  She mentioned that she had been contacted by the LA Times to write about the grandma camps that she does for her grandchildren.  She has some great ideas that I think my readers ought to be aware of.  You can click here to read what she has to say.

Grandma Shelley has good advice about doing lots of pre-planning and preparation for her grandma camp.  So, if you have the mid-winter blahs like I do, now is the perfect time to start thinking and planning what you would like to do for your very own Grandma Camp. (Or, you can start planning and preparing for a trip to Fiji like I am!)

If I put the rule down that the grandchildren have to be potty trained before they can come to a grandma camp, it’s going to be a long time before I can do a camp!  Sheesh!  Since Simon is only 2 1/2 months old and Natalie is only six months old, they really can’t do much anyway . . . I tried to get Simon to play Twister with me when he came over two days ago.  He just looked up at me from my arms and grinned . . .

Isn’t Simon cute??

You might also want to read about the heart attack that Grandma Shelley gave her grandchildren.  I know that Valentine’s Day is over.  But — you can start collecting ideas and preparing for next year, huh? Great ideas, Grandma Shelley.

Do any of you have activities that you have done with your grandchildren?  Please feel free to post a comment and share them here.

Thanks a bunch!

Make Black Licorice with Grandchildren

I mentioned in my posting about Lewis Day (creating your own family holiday) that our son and his wife left pieces of homemade licorice around the house.  I finally got the recipe and finally made it.

I had to exert TONS of self-control with the candy they left us and eat only one or two pieces at a time because it was so yummy.

As I wrapped up the candy that I made, I didn’t have any self-control.  At the end, I almost felt like I was sugared out.  I’ve decided I have lots of self-control when there isn’t any tempting thing to eat in the house.  When it’s right in front of me and I’m working with it (wrapping the pieces of licorice in pieces of wax paper), I’m a goner.  I ought to join Licorice Anonymous . . .

Here’s the recipe.

Licorice Caramels

2 cubes butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon black paste food coloring
1 teaspoon anise flavoring oil

Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil.  Butter the foil and set aside.

Slowly melt butter in a large, heavy pan.  Use a fork to swirl butter up the sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals.  When melted, add the rest of the ingredients — except the black paste food coloring and the flavoring.

Turn heat to medium-high and cook stirring constantly with a flat bottom wooden spoon.  Do not cook on high heat.  It will scortch!)

Cook to 234 degreed on candy thermometer (soft ball stage).  Remove from heat and add coloring and flavoring.  Mix well so there are no light colored streaks in the caramel.

Pour into prepared pan and let sit in a cool place overnight.  Turn out on a cutting board and remove foil.  Cut into squares and wrap in waxed paper.

Now that you’ve read the recipe, let me give you a couple of hints — based on my experience.  First, about the coloring.  When I went to the store, the clerk told me about a powdered coloring.  “It will last 30 years and won’t go bad,” she said.  I thought that sounded like a great deal.  The food coloring from my cake decorating days that sat in my cupboard was 30 years old.  That’s why I went to get new coloring. . .

However, the coloring wasn’t a dark black.  It was more a greenish steel gray.  The candy tastes yummy but looks rather odd.  I recommend that you try the gel coloring instead.

Second.  My daughter-in-law said that her sister just sprayed a cake pan with Pam instead of lining the pan with foil.  (At least that is what my memory told me.)  Even though I sprayed the pan it was rather hard to get the licorice out.  (And then there was the flavoring from the spray.  I had to wipe the oil off so it wouldn’t over power the yummy licorice flavoring.)  So, next time, I’m going to use buttered foil in the pan.

Third.  When the recipe said to put in a cool place overnight, I thought, “Put it in the fridge.”  The fridge is a cool place, right?  Well, I think it is almost too cool.  The licorice was really hard to cut.  And that leads me to my fourth suggestion.

Fourth.  Test out your candy thermometer BEFORE you make the candy.  It had been a long time since I used my thermometer.  Heck, I don’t even know if I really even used it at all!  As I was cooking the candy, it started looking like candy at the hard ball stage instead of the soft ball stage.  But the thermometer didn’t say 234 degrees.  So, I’m thinking that part of the reason the candy was so hard to cut was because it was cooked too long.

You might want to make a practice batch before you invite your grandchildren over to make it with you.  That way, you’ll work out the kinks beforehand.  Then, you’ll have a much happier time with your grandchildren!

Candy making is a great skill to add to your grandchildren’s culinary repertoire.  Happy cooking!

Detoxing Grandchildren After They Visit Grandma

The other day, Here is some advice for grandparents on how to manage visits with grandchildren so parents don't have to 'detox' the kids afterwards.I watched a video by a young mother who was quite incensed about the condition that her children came home in after spending time with grandma.  She was vehemently angry.

I was rather taken back by her anger.

She was upset because her mother and father fed her two daughters candy and soda pop when the granddaughters came for a visit.  The grandparents didn’t put the granddaughters down for a nap.  Nor did they put them down at their regular bed time.

The mother complained how she had to  spend time detoxing her daughters every time they came home from grandma’s house.

The video cut away to show a little girl about two-years-old wallowing on the floor, whining.  The mother said this was how her daughter acted after spending time at grandma’s house.

Then it showed another girl about four-years-old.  The mother asked the little girl what she ate at grandma’s house.  The little girl replied, “Candy.”  Then, the mother said, “And what about soda pop?  Does grandma let you drink that?”  To which the little girl replied, “Yes.”  Somehow, it came off as if the mother had prepped the little girl in what to say.

The video ended with the mother weakly saying that she did appreciate that her parents spent time with her children.  Really, she did.  And that it was so nice that the grandparents and grandchildren were developing a relationship.  But after all of the strong venting at the beginning, the I-really-appreciate-my-parents at the end came off extremely week.  Extremely.

I’ve been pondering this video for a couple of days now and have decided to write about it here.  I’d like to give advice to all my grandmother readers so that their grandchildren won’t have to be detoxed when they go home.

Advice #1:  Limit the amount of sugary treats and foods that you give to your grandchildren.  You probably didn’t give tons to your children.  Follow the same common sense with your grandchildren!

I know that grandmas often feel compelled to give grandchildren cookies, candy, cakes, and other sugar-laden edibles.  Just keep in mind: moderation in all things.  A little bit of sugar goes a long way.  I’m not against treats.  Just gobs and gobs and gobs and gobs and gobs of it.  (Well for grandchildren, anyway.  Tons for me are just fine . . . )

Advice #2:  When at all possible, make sure that grandchildren get their naps.  Put them to bed at their regular bedtimes.  Children who don’t get enough sleep are cranky.  Grandmas who don’t get enough sleep are cranky.

Advice #3:  YOU are the one who is in control.  YOU are the adult.  Don’t be buffaloed by your innocently smiling grandson who says that ‘mommy lets me smear peanut butter all over the brand new carpet in the living room.’  Come on.   Use common sense.

If you didn’t let your children swing from the chandelier, I’m sure you don’t want your grandchildren doing it either.  While you don’t want to be such a stick in the mud that grandchildren can’t do anything in your home, you don’t have to let them wreck it either.  They need to learn things such as running is an outside activity — and not in your home; wiping the mud off their feet on the outdoor mat is what they do  — and not tracking it in mindlessly all over the place.  Things like that.

Advice #4:  Talk to your children and their spouses.  Find out their feelings on different issues.  (Hopefully it can be a calm, adult conversation.)  That way, you can come to an agreement on issues such as these.  And hopefully that will negate your child from posting an angry video about you for the whole world to see.

You know, I wondered just why that daughter felt so compelled to rant so very publicly about her feelings.  I wondered why she just didn’t talk to her mother . . .

When you have the discussion, do it with gentleness and love and without any criticism on anybody’s part.  After all, parents and grandparents love those little rug rats.  And they both want what’s best for them.

Grandparents just need to use common sense . . .

Glow In The Dark Frisbees

I know snow still lurks in my yard.

I know that just days ago, Washington D.C. got hammered with a record breaking snowstorm.

I know it is still considered winter — even though stores are starting to sell swimsuits.

But that doesn’t stop me from writing about my latest find — glow-in-the-dark Frisbees!  Wait, these are called light-up flying discs.  Frisbee is a registered trademark that others can’t use.

Actually, the real name is ‘Flashflight L.E.D. Light-Up Disc.’  It’s made by Nite Ize.  The flying disc is great for daytime use.  But a simple flick of a switch turns this flying disc into a glowing orb floating through the air (or rolling on the ground  . . . that’s how my disc throwing abilities go . . .)

The ad claims you get up to 100,000 hours of light.  Which to me is a life-time full of light — who in the world will every have the time to play with this toy for 100,000 hours, I ask you?

It come in green, red, blue and Disc-O (whatever color that is!)  They sell for $24.99.  They sell a Junior size which is smaller and cheaper and also the mini disc which is even cheaper and smaller yet.  I’ve just got to get several of each size!

When I saw this, my grandma ideas mind started chuggin’ away.  These would be great as a birthday present — especially for teen-aged grandchildren.  Or, for a unique Valentine’s present, Easter Basket stuffer, or Christmas present (if you as so organized that you are already thinking about Christmas 2010!).

It would be great to have a few of these on hand when your grandchildren come to play.  I can just imagine the fun night games you could play with these things.  Wouldn’t they be a hit at a family reunion, on the Fourth of July, or at a Halloween party?  Never a dull moment with these babies.