Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to make a Gymnastic Figurine Cake Topper?




I have recently discovered polymer clay and felt in love with it. This time I made a series of gymnasts for my daughter's birthday. If you want to know how to make them, read on.

Materials:

  • Polymer clay: Skin color, Black or Brown for the hair and your favorite color for the leotard
  • Wax paper
  • Metal tray
  • Clay tools
I started with the body. I took the skin color clay and kneaded  3 pieces which will eventually turn into arms, legs and head.



To make the legs, take one of the pieces and roll it until you get twice the length of what you want the legs to be making sure the roll is a little fatter in the middle.



Fold the roll in half, each side will become one leg.



Now you need to mold each leg. Bend the ends to make feet and roll out the knees. With a small tool or needle, mark the toes at the end of the feet.



You are going to do the same with the other piece of clay for the arms. Make sure that you measure the length of the arms against the legs and that the arms are slightly shorter and thinner.

Now roll the head. Just take some clay and make a small ball - Again, make sure that you put your pieces together as it was a doll already to make sure your dimensions are OK.



Once you have the right dimensions, cut the arms and legs in the middle so you end up with 2 arms and 2 legs.

Take the head and stick it on a toothpick. With the modeling tools, make some small holes for the eyes, roll a little ball of clay for a nose and open a little smile. Take some clay and make a little cylinder for the neck.



Now it is time to put it together - you need a body. Knead a piece of clay in your favorite color into a small rectangle.


Model a small leotard out of it. You will now assemble the doll. Put the head and neck on top by inserting the toothpick on the top, you will need some skin color clay to do the neckline. Stick the legs and arms. Put the legs and arms in whatever pose you choose. My doll is doing the splits, so I have the legs on the splits and one arm up and one down.




Now you need to make her pretty with details. You can add flowers and patterns to the leotard. You will need to add hair, eyes, bows etc.

To do hair, get your black or brown clay and either roll it very thing by hand or pass it through a clay extractor to make strands. Carefully put the strands one by one on her head modeling the hairdo you want. Mine has a low pony tail. I put a small bow on the top and one at the bottom. To do the bows I got a small piece of red, roll it into a thin ribbon and bend like a bow.

To do the eyes, I roll 2 small pieces of brown put inside the wholes, you can then also put a even smaller piece of white on top of the black (I did not) Flatten carefully with a tool.





Now is time to bake, Put your doll on a tray that has been covered with a piece of wax paper.  Read the obstructions of your clay carefully for the right oven temperature and time. It varies with every brand. Put your gymnast on the oven and voila! you are done.

For the cake I made 4 gymnasts, all with different leotards and hair colors. I put each one on a different apparatus, so I ended up with a gymnast for the floor (red), a gymnast in vault, a gymnast on the balance beam and one on the bars.







I hope you get inspired to make your own gymnast. If you want me to make you one, no problem. I custom made them in my Etsy shop. I can do them in all skin, hair and eye colors, your choice of leotard, hairdo, etc. if you send me a photo of your gymnast I can made the figurine to look just like her! or him! I can make boys too. Click here to go to my Etsy shop.

I am Language Frustrated! is that a word?

OK I am not sure what else to do to get my boy to like Spanish! I said it and I am sooo frustrated!. While my daughter progresses and even have little conversations with me, my son just plain hates it!

Now I tried to speak to them as much as I can, I exposed them to music, radio, I explained to them the reasons why it is important and I do have them taking classes at Language Stars once a week.

I know he likes the music and he enjoys his classes (even though he does not like to admit it). But this is what he does to me every week:

Me: Baby, time to go to class!
Him: NOOOOO!!! WHYYYY???? I am tired.... I cannot think.... it is sooo difficult

Then it comes the silence..... no words until we get to Language Stars, no words when we leave the car, his face is down, his mouth in a curled gesture of disgust.....

But as soon as we open the door of the place, as if by magic he runs to his class and starts laughing. I can see him through the little viewing windows they have in every classroom, and I see a child that is not the child that was in the car. This new child is happy, talking, laughing, obviously having fun, playing games with his friends....

Then it is time to go, and as soon as he sees me the transformation happens again... the mouth curls, the head goes down and he forgets he can talk...

Me: how was class?
Him: hmmmrrrmmm
Me: What was that?
Him: hmmmrrrrmmmmm
Me: Did you have fun?
Him hmmrrrrmmmm

and that is it, every week! What do I do? is there hope?


Disclosure: I will receive discounted tuition from Language Stars as compensation for this post. However all facts and opinions expressed in this post are true and my own. Language Stars have not asked me to write about anything in particular, only my true and honest opinion about my experience with their program.  This post have not been edited by a third person.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Going back into the Language swing!

After a few weeks of vacation during the Holidays, the kids started back on their Spanish classes last week.     We had to change my son's schedule again as we got him into swimming and the classes were at the same time. I hope that decision does not interfere with his learning. So far he seems content, but you never know with him - as he still is very against learning a new language.

I am so glad the people at Language Stars are so accommodating as we keep changing him from class to class, and they have always helped us find the best class that fits our schedule. It also helps that they have quite a few classes for each level so there are plenty of classes to choose for.

I sometimes feel that we are so over scheduling the kids, and I find it quite difficult to let go of any of the activities, particularly Spanish as it is so close to my heart. I keep finding excuses as to why certain class needs to stay. Here is an example, starting this January, my son is in: Travel soccer, piano, swimming and Spanish.
  • He loves soccer so it has to stay
  • Swimming is a lifesaving skill so it has to stay
  • Spanish is a necessity so he can communicate with my family, so.... it has to stay and 
  • Piano is my husband's wish - his father was a great pianist, so guess what? it has to stay!!
Now going back to Spanish. I was quite pleased to hear the kids talking to my mom and family during the Holidays - they went a little further than their usual: Hello! how are you? fine. Te quiero mucho, here is my mum!!!  

We also did a lot of vocabulary, particularly around food - they may not be able to hold a conversation, but they can ask for arepas, hallacas, pernil, perico, panquecas! They can also say Nacimiento, Niño Jesús, Reyes Magos, Arbolito! and my girl can sing the "We wish you a Merry Christmas" song in Spanish, so the time off did not all go to waste. For more I guess I have to see how the rest of the year goes. In the meantime to classes off they go!

Disclosure: I will receive discounted tuition from Language Stars as compensation for this post. However all facts and opinions expressed in this post are true and my own. Language Stars have not asked me to write about anything in particular, only my true and honest opinion about my experience with their program.  This post have not been edited by a third person.

Two Easy Scallops Recipes in less than 5 minutes- Great for the Dukan Diet!

Creamy Scallops
 I love scallops! They are just divine, sweet, tender, yummy!!! I normally order them at restaurants but hardly make them myself. Well, that is just about to change! I made some today and my son really liked them - he is my fuzzy eater so this is good news. They take only 5 minutes to make and they are allowed in my Dukan Diet, so we are sorted.

Today I am sharing 2 recipes in 1. The first one is a simple broiled scallops, and the second a creamy version of it. I do allow myself a little fat on my Dukan Diet, so I went with the creamy version today, but if you want to be very strict with your diet, try the broiled version only.

The 2 recipes start the same way, the only different is the sauce. Basically you do the broiled scallops and if you want the creamy one, you make the sauce!

So let's start with the broiled scallops:

Ingredients:

  • Fresh scallops (3 per person for an appetizer, 4-6 for a main dish)
  • Butter (optional)
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • PAM Butter Cooking spray
  • Fresh Lemon juice (optional)

Wash your scallops very gently and pat them dry. 



Spray a tray with PAM. Put the scallops on the tray and sprinkle sea salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.  Top with a little butter (or spray with PAM butter again)





Put the seasoned scallops under your broiler for 2 minutes, turn them around and broil for another 2 minutes. Turn them around again and check for done-ness. They should be slightly browned, soft and tender. If they are not ready,  leave them in the broiler for another minute.



Serve and squeeze some lemon juice on top if desired. You are done!!

Now for the creamy version, prepare the following sauce while the scallops are in the broiler. Be careful not too forget about the scallops!!

Sauce Ingredients:
  • Chopped onions (2 tbsp for 8 scallops)
  • 2 chopped roasted garlic cloves (see recipe)
  • 1/4 cup of light cream (can be done with milk but it will be more runny)
  • 1/2 tbsp of chicken bouillon powder
  • Fresh grated nutmeg to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • PAM Butter Cooking Spray
  • Fresh chopped Parsley to decorate

Spray a pan with PAM and add the onion and garlic. Cook on medium heat until onions are transparent.




Add the cream or milk and the chicken bouillon, add the nutmeg and pepper and reduce. About 2 minutes.





You are done! To serve, put 3 or 4 broiled scallops on a plate, top with the sauce and sprinkle some chopped parsley. Enjoy it!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Wheat-less Tabouleh: An easy recipe perfect for the Dukan Diet

Tabouleh Salad


This is my version of this wonderful Middle Eastern Salad called Tabouleh. I have always liked Tabouleh, and I make it quite often, but I had not made it since I started my Dukan Diet as the original recipe has wheat (bulgur) in it. But my husband bought some parsley today by mistake (I asked him for cilantro) so I thought, well lets sort this problem and make Tabouleh without wheat. I have to say that it turned out so delicious that I may continue to do it without wheat from now on!!

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 2 bunches of Curled Parsley
  • 1 medium Tomato
  • 1/4 of an onion
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A little fresh coriander (1/4 cup) 
  • Vinegar, salt and pepper to taste

Dice the cucumber and tomatoes relatively small and put in a big bowl. Chop the onion very small and also add to the bowl. 




Cut the parsley stems and discard. Chop the rest of the parsley small, wash, drain the water and add to the bowl.




Mix it all. Add the lime juice, crushed garlic, vinegar, salt and paper to taste. Mix again. Try it and adjust seasoning as needed. That is it!!



This is  very refreshing salad and it actually taste better the day after it is done, I normally make a lot so I can eat it for 2 or 3 days in a row! Just keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator.



I goes perfectly well with any meats, perfect for a PV day!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Arts and Crafts Weekend Blog Hop: Happy New Year!







If you want to display the blog hop in your blog here is the code:
get the InLinkz codePlease do not forget to comment!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dukan Diet: Easy Stir Fry Recipe


Believe or not you  can have a nice stir fry on your PP days on the Dukan Diet. I have just made this one today and I loved it! The recipe below is the PP version of it - on PV days you can easy customize it by adding some vegetables too!

Ingredients (serves 2):
  • One packet on Shirataki Noodles (Soy noodles sold at Asian supermarkets)
  • 2 Hebrew National Hot Dog sausages - 98% fat free (or any protein of your choice)
  • Tofu (half a pack) diced
  • 1/4 cup of soy beans - shelled
  • 1/4 tsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 egg or equivalent Egg beaters
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • PAM 
  • 1tbsp of chopped spring onions




Cook the shiratake noodles in water as specified in the package. Boil the soy beans with the noodles. Drain the noodles and beans and keep aside until needed.


In a hot wok,  spray a little PAM and cook the egg or egg beaters to make a thin omelet. Break the omelette into pieces and remove from the wok. Keep aside until needed.

Add the olive oil and the diced tofu to the pan, stir fry the tofu for about 1 minute and add soy sauce to taste. Stir fry some more until tofu nice and brown, add the spring onions, stir fry for another minute.


Add the eggs and keep stirring for another minute,


Add the chopped sausages or any other  diced protein that you may have available,


Add the noodles and the soy beans and keep stirring,


Add the sesame oil and more soy sauce to taste, stir for a few seconds and you are done!!



 If you are on a PV day, you can add shredded carrots, cabbage, broccoli or any other vegetable you enjoy before you add the noodles.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Dukan Diet Explained!

As of today, I have lost 29 pounds in 11 weeks by following the Dukan Diet. Needless to say, it has been the most successful diet I have done in my entire life! So now that it is physically obvious and noticeable to others that I am a little bit thinner, I am starting to get a lot of questions about what am I doing? How the Diet works? etc. So here is a quick explanation of the Dukan Diet from my perspective. This is what has worked for me and how I am doing it.

Off course if you want the full details, you can buy the Dr Dukan's book (I did), but believe me this post makes a lighter and quicker read! and after all, this is really all you need to get you started! Good Luck!

The Dukan Diet consists of 4 phases, it is not by any means a lose weight quick scheme.You are here for a while! The good news is that the weight loss is quick enough to keep you motivated, the diet does not starve you, in fact you eat a lot and best of all you do not feel deprived, even though you are giving up a whole bunch of stuff that you probably like. The trick here is to find substitutions for this things, I certainly have!

Phase I: The Attack Phase

This is the shortest and most strict phase of the diet, but it is the one that gives you the quickest weight loss. It will last between 3 to 10 days depending on how much weight you want to lose. I did it for 10 days as I need to lose 55 pounds - I lost 8.5 pounds during those 10 days!! I needed that quick weight lost for my motivation. I normally will give up diets after a week of suffering because I will see myself losing a pound or two.

So what do you do? you eat only lean proteins during the whole time - as much as you like!!!. No carbohydrates (sugar, starchy foods, fruits, etc.) and very low fat. There is a list of about 70 foods that you can eat but it can all be summarize as:  Lean beef, chicken, lean pork, eggs, fat free yogurt, fish, seafood, fat free dairy and soy. You should also drink 2L of water a day and 1.5 tablespoons of Oat Bran! Read my post on what I did to survive it!

You need to commit to doing 20 minutes of exercise a day - walking is absolutely fine and recommended.

Phase II: The Cruise Phase

This is the main phase to lose weight. You will be on this phase until you reach your goal weight. How long? well that depends on the amount of weight to lose and how good you are! I have been on this for about 9.5 weeks and have lost a little over 20 pounds. This is considering I have been doing the diet during the Holidays, so my weight has been stable for a couple of weeks as I cheated a little! I could not do Christmas and New Years without Carbs! Sorry you all....

Anyhow, what do you do in this stage? You eat one day of only proteins (like in the attack phase) and one day of proteins and vegetables and you increase your intake of Oat Bran to 2 tablespoons a day- That is it! so we call it a PP day (Protein only) and a PV day (Protein -Vegetable). Now, not all vegetables are created equal! You are not allowed any starchy vegetables, so mainly potatoes, beans and peas are out! Carrots and beets should be eaten with care too.

I have discovered that there are certain foods and products that have helped me go through this phase - click here to see what they are.

Now you need to up your exercise to 30 minutes a day - I am doing 30 minutes most days and about 1 hour during weekends. I have discovered Zumba and absolutely love it!

Phase III: Stabilization Phase

I am not in this phase yet, but the theory is to get your body used to your new weight and avoid having to go back to your old weight in a short period of time, which is what your body will try to do. In order to do that you need to stabilize your weight. You will be on this phase for 5 days for every pound you lost on the two phases before. So in my case, I would like to lose 55 pounds so I will have to be on this phase for 275 days!!! Yes!! almost a year! this is why I say earlier that we are here for a while!!

During this phase, everyday will be a PV day and in addition you can also eat the following:

  • 3 tablespoons of Oat Bran a day
  • 2 pieces of whole wheat bread a day
  • 1 piece of fruit (excludes bananas and grapes) a day
  • 2 servings of potatoes, rice or pasta a week
  • 1 celebration meal a week in where you can eat whatever you like
  • 1 day a week you go back to a PP day
After you have done half of your time on this phase you can have 2 celebration meals a week. Remember to keep exercising!


Phase IV: Consolidation Phase

This is the phase in where you go back to eat whatever you like. The only thing you need to do here is to do one PP day a week for the rest of your live!! and keep up with the exercise.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Easy Craft for Kids: Iron on Plastic Beads


I had to put my girl on a day care abut 2 weeks ago and when I went to pick her up at the end of the day I found her concentrated on making these hearts with some plastic beads. She truly liked making the hearts and I thought there were cute but did not pay much attention to it. About a week ago we went to IKEA and there they were - the plastic beads! I have not seen then at any other stores, so I bought them.

These are probably some of the best little crafts for kids that I have found in a long time. The set of beads called Pyssla and the plastic mats that you need, cost less than $10 and have been keeping my girl and my husband entertained for hours!!! and you read right, my husband! He has done a few pieces himself.


Basically what you do is to place the little beads on the little sticks on the  mats, you can make any shape you like. Use a pattern of colors, let your creativity flow!

Once you are done, you get a piece of wax paper, place it gently over the piece and iron it for about 5 seconds with a hot iron (cotton setting). Turn the piece around (the beads will be slightly melted and attached together) put another piece of wax paper on the other side and iron again for another 5 seconds.


Let the piece cool down and peel the paper off. You are done!! So easy!

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