Our Tricky Lemonade Stand

Monday, July 19, 2021

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We have all seen a lemonade stand. Adorable, sweet, tart, cheap. All around a good time. But you know what is better than a boring old cute lemonade stand?

A tricky lemonade stand!

We used some simple methods to add magic to the mundane. And maybe a little bit of gross to the mundane as well. What can I say? It's tricky!

Prep for this was easy, but it is something you have to plan ahead for. For our "tricky" ice cubes we filled our ice trays with gummi worms before we added the water. I have heard that boiling water will freeze clearer (our cubes were almost too smoky to see the worms) but I'm not sure what that would do to the candy.

Ronan was able to help with every part of this lemonade stand (being that it was his and all) and that included everything we prepped. He helped me put the worms in for the ice cubes, get them in and out of the freezer, and even used the tongs to put them into the customers glasses. Actually, I think using the tongs might have been his favorite part!

Let's talk about the real star of this stand: color changing lemonade. This recipe is an old library secret that we have used for years to add a little magic to our programs. The trick? Put a little food coloring at the bottom of the cup. So simple, but so genius. As soon as any liquid hits the bottom it will change color. We added our food coloring the night before. The cups I chose had a little space at the bottom when they stacked, so we could add the food coloring and then store them stacked up without making a mess. 

The reactions to the color changing lemonade were priceless. Ro and I had a bit of an act going on where I would ask him what color the lemonade was, and when he responded with "Yellow!" I would say "Are you sure?" and then pour the glass. Even the adults were dumbfounded for a second!

I am including a link to a .pdf of some signs that say "the Tricky Lemonade Stand." Feel free to print them out and color them for your own signs, and please use our ideas to make your own stand a little bit tricky! This idea might be my favorite thing we've done all summer. It's a perfect way to add some magic to a hot day!

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What YA Readin? Episode 5: Teens in... Spaaace!

Friday, July 16, 2021

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 We are fans of space. Like, as a family. Space fans. So obviously Bre and I were going to do a deep dive into young adult science fiction. In this episode, we discuss The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James and Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Bre also shares The Disasters by M.K. England and Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre, while Jes speaks of her love for Skyward by Brandon Sanderson and Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer.

Listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm/what-ya-readin!

If you like this theme and would like to read more books about teens in space check out our list on Goodreads.com: Teens... In Spaaace!

A list of links to things we talk about:

StargateStar WarsDoctor WhoStar Trek

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Supernatural, Grimm, NCIS, True Blood

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Disasters by M. K. EnglandHonor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre
Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer
The Silence of Bones by June Hur
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
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Wanderlust Puzzle

Monday, July 12, 2021

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I have a new puzzle template to share with you guys! This puzzle's design was inspired by sunrises above the clouds and 1970's vibes. We haven't been on a vacation since Ronan was born and I am feeling it. Right now it's not really feasible for us to take a big trip involving airplanes and hotels and passports, so I'm satisfying my wanderlust in little ways.

As always the puzzle itself is made out of recycled cardboard and paint. The curves were a little annoying to cut out with an Exacto, but I love the finished result. If you want to make a puzzle for yourself feel free to print out the template below!

If you like this puzzle I also have templates for a leaf puzzle and a camping puzzle available! I go a little more in-depth about the creation of the puzzles on the other two posts, so if you want to create your own out of cardboard you should definitely go check them out!
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Magnet Dominos DIY

Monday, July 5, 2021

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We are finally to the point where Ro has the attention span and skills required to play simple tabletop games. It's pretty much the best thing ever. One of the very first games we got him into was dominos. But normal dominos was still a little complicated for our attention span.

So I figured I had two problems to fix: make it simple and make it something we could walk away from and come back to later. For the first problem, the solution was pretty easy: colors. I had seen many bloggers use paint to make some beautiful dominos (like here and here.) The second problem was fixed as soon as we got our new/old set of lockers... magnets! (Why didn't I think of them before? Because our fridge isn't magnetic. Who does that!? Where am I supposed to put Ro's beautiful creations?) The process after the idea was pretty straightforward.

I like to be thrifty whenever possible, so this DIY is made of recycled materials. Cute AND it helps save the planet? That's my jam.

thin cardboard boxes (cereal, mac and cheese, etc)
magnets (on Amazon)

Step One: Cut up your cardboard.
Cut your cardboard into rectangles that are the same size (mine are about 1 1/2 in by 3 in). If you are using thin cardboard you should be able to use normal scissors. If you use the same amount of colors as me you will need 21 rectangles to make a full set.

Step Two: Paint your dominos.
I used 5 paint colors (pink, yellow, blue, white, green) and then let one color be the color of the cardboard, so in total I had six colors. Every color should have 1 whole color piece and 5 half color pieces. So, for example, blue will have blue/blue, blue/pink, blue/yellow, blue/white, blue/green, and blue/blank. When you are done painting set them aside to dry.

Step Three: Add magnets.
Magnets usually come with a sticky side. Cut your magnets to be smaller than the domino and attach it to the back side. Then, as long as the paint is dry, they are ready to be played with!

These dominos are so fun and colorful that I put them all in a mesh drawstring bag and used a magnet hook on the side of the lockers so they would be available whenever we wanted to play. We've gotten them out a few times to play a few rounds, but we have also used them to create shapes, or just to make a giant color matching train!

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Lemon Book Basket

Monday, June 28, 2021

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I love lemons. A real, true love. The kind of love where you buy a lemon tree, kill it, then buy another one and keep it alive for three years and harvest multiple lemons off of it. I swear the lemons from my tree are better than others, but it could just be wishful thinking... 
Anyways, I knew that I would need to do a lemon book basket at some point. There's too many sweet books out there that feature the subject to not do it. I always try to include books that are well written, engaging, and have beautiful illustrations, and every book in this basket checked all of the boxes! I also included a simple little activity to practice some measuring that's perfect for a toddler or preschooler. It's an ideal book basket for the warm summer months!

For our activity I bought some cheap yellow sponges from the dollar aisle and cut them to look like lemons. Whenever we sat down to "make lemonade" I saturated the sponges and put them into a container. I also set out a glass, some sugar, and some measuring spoons. First he would squeeze the "lemons" to get all of the juice out, then we would add a measurement of sugar and stir it up. 

Books we read:

He had a ton of fun making his own "lemonade." In the end I think there was more sugar than water in the cup, and his hands were a sticky mess, but we had a great time and had a sneaky math lesson, too!

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What YA Readin? Episode 4: the Aesthetic Generator

Saturday, June 19, 2021

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Birthday Wish List

Sunday, June 13, 2021

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I have to admit, I enjoy making these lists. It's not that I get everything I link (although I think it is helpful to have a visual aid when sending a list to my parents.) I just really love combing through all of my saved posts and pins and boiling everything down to what my favorite finds of my current season of life are.

1. Lava Lamp Tee from Camp Collection

2. Rover Pack Classic (Sage) from Topo Designs

3. Porter Mug (Terrazzo Cream) from W and P Design

4. PARKS Board Game from Parks Project

5. Firewood Rack found on Amazon

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DIY Recycled Fishing Game

Saturday, May 22, 2021

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I have no idea where my kid learned about fishing. We live in a river town so it really could have been anywhere, but for some reason it still surprised me when he came up to me with a stick and told me it was a fishing pole.
The other day he specifically wanted to play "fishing," but his original poles (about 5 feet of Hot Wheels tracks) needed an upgrade. I found some dowel rods and then while I was at it I decided every great fisherman needed one thing... fish. I had seen these amazing Koi fish they had made at Art Camp Studio and figured we could easily recreate them. With the addition of magnets, the set became a full fishing experience.

t.p. or paper towel rolls
staples and stapler
adhesive magnets (on Amazon)
small wooden dowel
magnetic hooks (on Amazon)
pen or marker

Step One: Cut out your fins and tail.
Make a pattern by folding some paper in half and drawing half of a fish tail (kind of a paisley shape with an added flat tab), then cutting it out. Refer to the above picture for an example. Make sure the square end of your tail fits into a squished t.p. roll. Cut down the length of a t.p. roll then lay it flat. Trace your pattern onto the roll then cut it out. You will also need two tear-drop-shaped pieces for fins. Fold your cardboard and cut two out at the same time to get similar shapes!

Step two: Staple everything on.
Fold your tube flat at one end. Insert the tail and staple along the edge of the tube. Make sure to do more than one staple so the fish keeps its shape. Pinch the fin to give it a bit of dimension, then place it about 1/3 down the tube and staple. Do the same for the other fin on the opposite side.

Step Three: Add Magnets.
Take the paper layer off of your magnets and stick them to the inside of the fish. I put them in the mouth, but the cardboard should be thin enough that anywhere will work. If you don't have magnets, you can substitute a row of staples for this step. Not as hidden, but it will work just as well!

Step four: Add a design to your fish!
The gaping mouth of these fish kinda reminds me of a Magicarp from Pokemon, so I kept with the theme and drew eyes that were a little silly. Add some scales and some lines on the fins and you've got yourself a pretty little fish!

Step 5: Make your fishing pole.
Use scissors to carve a small notch in your dowel.  Cut a length of string that is about 3 feet. Tie the string onto the stick with a knot, then test the length. When you are satisfied with your fishing line, add the magnet hooks with another knot at the other end of the string.

Now all you need to do is put out your "gone fishin'" sign and go have some fun!


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What YA Readin? Episode Three

Saturday, May 8, 2021

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So, first things first, our podcast has been re-named! We chose to rebrand after we found another awesome podcast with the name "YA Gotta Read This." Our new name reminds me of sitting next to my sister saying "What ya reaaaadin?" again and again and again... so very on brand for this podcast, really.

Episode Three: The One with the Darkling on Anchor.fm

Onto the show notes! In this episode, we gushed over Leigh Bardugo's series "Shadow and Bone" which can now be found on Netflix! Here's a list of links to all the things we talk about.

Shadow and Bone Series on Netflix

Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Article about the Darkling’s Name on Screen Rant

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YA Gotta Read This Episode Two: The Love Pentadecagon

Saturday, April 10, 2021

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The subject of this podcast is something my sister and I have discussed many times throughout the years. For a while love triangles were inescapable in YA literature.  We have finally gotten to a point where they aren't as common, so we realized it was high time we used science to decide once and for all what "Team" was the best team. Totally unbiased science. You are welcome.

Check out this podcast here:

The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins


Boys Over Flowers, Vol. 1 by Yoko Kamio


The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black


To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han


Twilight by Stephenie Meyer


Skyhunter by Marie Lu


The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones


And, because I promised, here is our teen heartthrob magazine!

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Magical Creatures Book Basket

Friday, February 26, 2021

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This book basket comes from the bottom of my fantasy adoring heart. It's a love letter to Dungeons & Dragons but in book basket format. Because the theme of this book basket? It's all magical creatures. 
Each of the books I selected for this basket features imaginative creatures: either from folklore or just plain made up. There are stories for a wide age range, and a few non-fiction books thrown in that just have really pretty pictures. 

The activity we did with this basket was to change some of our animal toys into magical creatures. With paper, tape, and pipe cleaners we gave a hippo a scorpion tail and an alligator a lion's mane. We also turned this giraffe/zebra into a winged beast, but let's be honest that one was kind of a magical creature before we started. Why does this zebra have such a long neck!?!

Books I included in this basket:

Not Pictured:

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Bathroom Refresh Mood Boards

Monday, February 1, 2021

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My bathroom is sooo close to being "finished." I really just need to add those last final touches. While on a hunt to find those last few perfect items, though, I fell down a rabbit hole of bathroom decor and found some seriously amazing decor pieces.

The idea behind these mood boards is that if you have a bathroom that is a neutral color (seafoam blue is a neutral color, right?) you can drastically change the feel by just switching up a few key items. All of the boards are a little funky and vintage-inspired while still being trendy.

This first board is the feel my bathroom has currently. It's such a warm and inviting vibe, and I've had a lot of fun thrifting little yellow trinkets to put on my shelves. That big yellow towel with those beautiful details is on my wish list for sure. It's practically a piece of art.

There's something about a cheeky bath mat that always gets me, and with this one's fun color palette I couldn't help but build a whole mood board around it. There's a huge trend of candles that look like Greek sculpture right now, and while I chose a head for this board you could easily swap it out with a body to contribute to the "cheeky" (ha!) feel.

I saved this last one's graphic as "chill Tiger King" because I felt like that encapsulated the mood. This board has more of a retro funky vibe, with the stars of the show being the simple but well-designed accessories that pack a big punch, like that candle and the soap dish.

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Knitting Book Basket

Monday, January 25, 2021

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Every January I question my choice to remain in Illinois. It's just so dang COLD. This year I told myself I would do everything I could to make my winter warmer. I bought slippers, a good coat, and tried to think of warm thoughts.

Keeping in the spirit of warm things and warm thoughts, when it was time to put together our next book basket I knew just what theme I wanted to use: knitting! I grabbed some props from around my house (knitting needles, yarn, small knitted objects) with the intent of giving Ronan some tactile examples of the things we were reading about.

For our activity, I put together a tp roll loom and made him a cute little bracelet! He liked watching the knitted cable come out the end of a tube. Here is a link to a tutorial so you can make your own!

I really loved the books I chose for this basket. They were sweet, silly, and inspirational. And they were especially beautiful. Jon Klassen, the illustrator for "Extra Yarn" is one of my favorite children's illustrators. Links for the books are below the pictures!

If you would like to find more book baskets check out the tag here!
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