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Life In Texas

Life In Texas

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pardon the pause...

     Today, Life in Texas will be switching over to Wordpress. While Stone Alley 4 WP is working hard to make it a seamless transition, Life in Texas may be down briefly.

     If this happens, watch Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of when we're up and running again. Thank you for continuing to read Life in Texas.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grow Your Own Snowflakes!

    If you're like me, you're always looking for fun, fast and inexpensive crafts for your kids to do. Last Christmas, my kids and I grew our own snowflakes. I had seen a post or two about this floating around the Internet, but none of them explained as clearly as I wanted or included pictures. So, I hope that you all find this instructive and easy to follow!

     pipe cleaners
     pencils or bamboo sticks
     microwave safe jar or container
     food coloring (optional)

     Step 1: Cut pipe cleaners in to 3 - 5 equal pieces (depending on what size you want your snowflakes). We cut ours into 5 pieces and used 3 pieces for each snowflake.

     Step 2: For a 6 spoke snowflake, fold 2 pieces in half and wrap around a 3 piece of pipe cleaner. Spread the spokes to desired position. Don’t stress about making them all “perfect” or identical. Remember, in nature, every snowflake is unique.

Step 3: Attach a piece of yarn to on spoke of each snowflake.

     Step 4: Tie the other end of the yarn around the pencil or bamboo stick. Make sure to tie it short enough that your snowflake isn’t touching the bottom of your container.

     Step 5: Measure in cups, the amount of water that you’re container or jar holds. Boil that amount of water. Once it’s boiling, pour it into your container. Then add 3 tbs of Borax for every one cup of water. (Ex: If your container holds 2 cups of water, use 6 tbs of Boraz.) Add food coloring, if desired.

     Step 6: Place snowflakes in Borax/water mixture. Make sure that your snowflake is completely submerged and not touching any edges of your container.

     Step 7: Allow snowflakes to sit for 12 -24 hours.

     Step 8: Remove snowflakes from mixture and lay them on a towel to dry.

     Step 9: Once the snowflakes have dried, tie yarn into a loop and hang as decoration. We hung some on our Christmas tree. They also make great hand-made gifts for the kids to give to grandparents. We also put one snowflake on each gift my kids gave last Christmas.

     For a new twist on this popular craft, cut a brown pipe cleaner into 4ths and shape like a tree. Follow steps 3 – 9 to grow your own Christmas tree.

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South Texas MAiZE Review

     Last weekend, a friend, my husband and I loaded up our kids and headed to the South Texas MAiZE at the Graff Family Farm in Hondo, Texas. None of us had ever been to a corn maze, so we were as excited as the kids were. As per the planning tips on their website, we decided to go on a Friday evening. We were pleased with the size of the crowd. They were busy, but we were able to do the maze without continually running into people (a great thing when you're navigating a maze with 5 kids all under 5 years old).

     Before we entered the MAiZE, a very sweet employee suggested that we take a "passport" with us. Each "passport" has 10 multiple choice questions that help you navigate the maze. There were several different categories to choose from. We picked a Tiny Tots Passport and a Halloween Passport.

     When you get to a number post, you read and answer the corresponding question on your passport. The correct answer sends you in the correct direction while an incorrect answer sends you the wrong way. Using our passport, we didn't get lost and we never had to turn around. It took us only 30 minutes to complete phase 1 of the maze. The kids weren't ready to walk for 30 more minutes, so we took a break and checked out some of the other attractions at the Graff Family Farm.

     At the Boar Goat Walk, the kids were able to pet goats and watch them play. You can also purchase food to feed to the goats.

     In the Lil' Poppers Play Pen, Thing 2 enjoyed jumping around on the hay pyramid. All of the kids enjoyed the tractor and the swings. The parents enjoyed the picnic tables and the shade provided by beautiful Live Oak Trees.

     Since the Corn Poppers are open to all ages, I was very pleased to see that they separated the big kids and adults from the little kids. The girls got to jump for 10 minutes and we didn't have to worry about them accidentally being tackled by bigger kids.

      The last stop on our visit was the hay ride and pumpkin patch. The girls loved the hay ride and the driver was so friendly and talkative. The girls enjoyed talking to him.

    We told each kid that they could pick one pumpkin but that they had to carry it back to the hayride and then to the car. Thing 2 thought that this was the pumpkin that she was going to be taking home. Unfortunately, she couldn't carry it more than a few steps and I made her put it down before she dropped it and it smashed.

     There were a lot of other fun things we did while at the Graff Family Farm. To see more picture from our trip, be sure to check out my G+ album, South Texas MAiZE. Be sure to check out the South Texas MAiZE on Facebook and Twitter.

*As a US Family Guide Blogger, I may receive free or discounted tickets to local attractions. However, all opinions are 100% my own and completely honest.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

15 Reindeer Crafts for Kids

     Reindeer are my favorite part of secular Christmas. When I was little, I loved leaving carrots for the reindeer more than leaving cookies and milk for Santa. Every year, my kids and I make a reindeer craft or two. So, I decided to put together a list of 15 reindeer crafts for kids. Some of them are going to require help from Mom or Dad, but that makes it more fun. A special thanks to Mommy of 4 Peas in a Pod for suggesting a few cute ones that I might have otherwise missed. Enjoy!

1. Candycane Reindeer

2. Christmas Critters

3. Clothespin Reindeer

4. Craftstick Reindeer

5. Paper Bag Reindeer

6.  Pine Cone Reindeer

7. Reindeer Bell Ornament

8. Rudolph Lollipops

9. Reindeer T-Shirt

10. Wooden Spoon Rudolph

11. Reindeer Finger Puppet

12. Reindeer Gift Bag

13. Paper Reindeer Ornament

14. Posable Reindeer

15. Reindeer Puzzle Piece Pin (not pictured)

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Pinterest Weekly: DIY Laundry Detergent

     I have never had an overwhelming urge to make my own cleaning products. I'm just not one of those people. I think it's cool when others do it and have bought my fair share of homemade bath products at craft fairs and market days. Mostly, I think that it's more effort than it's worth. I don't mind paying for the convenience.

     But, when I saw a recipe for DIY Laundry Detergent on SlapDashMom, I just had to try it. It's only 3 ingredients and it just seemed super simple.

     So, I headed to the store to get my ingredients. Before we left, I told my sister, that I wanted Zest, Lever 2000 or something similar. When we got there, a 3 pack of Zest was $1.98 with a $1 off in-store coupon. So, that's what we got. We got home, and I decided that I would increase the recipe to use all three bars of soap. We don't use bar soap so it was easier to add it to the recipe and get it out of the way.

     It was as easy as SlapDashMom's directions made it seem and it took us less than 30 minutes to make. One thing I didn't count on was how much space the soap would take up once it was grated. With increasing the recipe to account for a third bar, my finished laundry detergent was about 8.25 cups.

My laundry detergent

     Total, it cost me about $3.15 to make the laundry detergent. Since you only use 1 tablespoons per load, it'll wash 132 loads. That means that it's only $0.03 per load! When we were buy laundry detergent at the store, we pay $0.13 per load. I know that $0.10 per load doesn't seem like a lot of savings. But, when you think about the fact that, according to the EPA, the average American family does 400 loads of laundry per year. That's saving $40 per year on something that you're going to need, no matter what.

     Be sure to check out SlapDashMom's recipe for complete instructions!

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