Discover: The Butterfly Joint

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The Butterfly Joint  (San Francisco)

“The Butterfly Joint is a woodworking and design studio for children ages 18 months and up (and adult classes are offered as well!). 

When students walk through the doors of the Butterfly Joint, they are transported into a woodworking studio designed just for them. They clock in with their very own punch cards, put on their work aprons, and get started on their projects after hearing the sound of the steam whistle.”

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my very first emotional reaction to hearing of this studio was jealousy. Not a pang – it was the painfully intense, “nothing-can-fix-this!” jealousy of a toddler. Oh, how I would have LOVED this as a kid!!! You’ll be happy to know that after a few minutes I recovered from my regression, shed my angst, and found the prospect of this place even existing SO exciting that I HAD to share it. I had no choice. I mean, just look at these smiles (and enthusiastic determination!)  If you’re anywhere near San Francisco, living or visiting – get there. Do it for me. If you’re not anywhere near San Francisco, check out their website and instagram feed for some great inspiration to try some small wood projects (we did, and we’ll have the DIY coming for you shortly!) I also have added something to my life wishlist – steam whistle.

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The Butterfly Joint

2640 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

email: make@thebutterflyjoint.com
415.894.2685

 

Follow on Instagram for adorable pics: https://www.instagram.com/thebutterflyjoint/

 

 

Make: Pink-Salted Soft Pretzel Hearts

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Not-so-secret secret: I am a carb-aholic. The weather has been damp and dreary lately, and these gray January days make me feel like folding myself into a huge dough ball and eating my way out. I had run across this delicious-looking recipe, and thought I’d give the whole pretzel-making thing a try. O.M.G. – so, so scrumptious. This is my idea of a perfect Valentine’s Day treat (bread over chocolate for me any day) so here is my own “twist” on the recipe [giggles at pretzel punning]. Kids will have a ball helping to twist the taffy-like dough and, for maximum enjoyment, turn up the tunes and shake your salt bags to the beat.

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Pretzel Recipe
Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 4 TBSP canola oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2  cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 TBSP cold water
  • Rock Pretzel Salt
  • Red Food Coloring
  • 4 TBSP butter, melted

Proof the yeast in a small bowl by adding the yeast, 1 1/2 cups water and brown sugar together.  Cover with a towel and let stand for 5-10 minutes until bubbles or a foam form.

Add 3 TBSP of  the oil and the 2 tsp. of salt.  Begin adding in the flour a cup at a time while mixing, and continue until its all been combined. Knead the dough until the dough its smooth and pulls away from the sides. Remove the dough from the bowl and pour the remaining 1 TBSP oil in.  Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl,  turning it to give it a nice thin coating of oil (this will prevent it from sticking to anything).  Cover with a towel and place in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about an hour).

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill a large pot with water, add the baking soda, and bring to a boil. While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, throw some rock salt in a bag with a drop or two of red food dye. Give it some good shakes, and continue to add drops of color until your salt has reached the desired color. For this beautiful mixture of pinks and reds, I used about 4 TBSP. of salt and 2 drops of color – all in the same bag.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Twirl and pull both ends of a piece, until you have a long rope, then shape into a heart, and pinch or roll the ends together toward the middle. Repeat with remaining pieces.  Boil each pretzel in the water solution for 45 seconds.  Drain with a slotted spoon and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet (just a note: even on the parchment, mine stuck to the paper a little, so either drain the excess liquid off well, or throw a tiny bit of rock salt on the paper before you put the pretzels on to bake).

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Once they have all been boiled and drained, beat the egg with 1 TBSP of cold water and brush over the tops.  Generously sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and immediately brush with the melted butter.

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Obvi, these are SO GOOD 20 minutes after cooling – almost right out of the oven – but honestly, 3 days later, they still taste just as wonderful and retain their chewy soft texture. We totally recommend showing your love with salty soft pretzels this year!

If we’ve inspired you to jump on the carb bandwagon, be sure to tag @barleyandbirch / #barleyandbirch in your pretzel-making pics – the making is REALLY half the fun and we’d love to see how yours turn out. For more kid-friendly cooking ideas, check out our  In the Kitchen board over on Pinterest!

Make: DIY 2016 Art Calendar Printable

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Just in time for a wintry weekend, we have a super cute printable for you! This one doesn’t require any instruction – just print out on a thicker paper or cardstock, cut the months apart, and let the kiddos go nuts filling in fun pics to brighten your walls (or theirs!) Add chill tunes + hot chocolate for a perfect snowy Saturday afternoon. Pro tip: print one out for yourself and scribble away – this is seriously relaxing after a long week. You don’t even have to worry about staying in the lines.

You can download the files here, and if anyone wants to get *extra* creative, here are some ideas that go beyond markers and paint:

  • Paste on some found items from nature
  • Recycle some old paper & collage
  • Create stamped patterns with vegetables, bubble wrap, or toilet paper rolls
  • Use up some scrap fabric
  • Punch some holes in patterns and thread with yarn

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Be sure to take lots of process and finished product pics and tag us (@barleyandbirch or #barleyandbirch) when you’ve finished your mini works-of-art – we can’t wait to see and share the creativity of our b & b’ers!  Love this? Want to pass it on? Please, please do! Our only request is that if you repost somewhere, you include a shout-out back to us with the original link to this post instead of a direct link to the files – we appreciate it!

For more fun snowy day ideas head over to our Pinterest page – so. many. projects. !!!

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Change: Teaching Activism

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others? ‘” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

OK world-changers – who is ready to DO? We’re big believers that you’re never too young to start changing our world for the better…but where to begin…?  If you don’t know of it already, DoSomething.org is an awesome place to start.

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DoSomething.org

Wow – I wish there had been something like this around when I was a kid. With projects that range from hosting a park clean-up rally, to creating an anti-bullying comic, to acting as PR rep for your local animal shelter, this site is an ahhh-mazing tool for budding activists (really good inspiration for adults too!) What a great way to show kids how far some knowledge, planning, effort and care can go in the fight for good. While this is definitely geared toward older kids, there are lots of good ideas and inspiration for projects you could tweak to be used with younger ones as well.

In their own words: One of the largest global orgs for young people and social change, our 4.8 million members in 130 countries tackle volunteer campaigns that impact every cause. Poverty. Discrimination. The environment. And everything else. Our promise: Any cause, anytime, anywhere. 

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Some of our favorite things about it:

  • It doesn’t just share causes – it gives great information and facts
  • Encourages group participation & sharing
  • Utilizes social media, but doesn’t require it
  • Promotes goal-setting, activism, volunteering & community service
  • The search provides a super-simple way to find the right cause/project
  • Offers TONS of creative projects and ideas for involvement
  • Multiple projects can be followed

*Heads Up: In addition to tackling some pretty serious issues that may need more explanation, the activities on this website invite users to create an account in order to participate. An email address is required to set up an account and a cell number is optional for texts – so we’d say this is definitely (at least in the beginning) a kid + parent thing.

Happy MLK day, young do-ers!

Make: Magic Zen Jars

Welcome to 2016! We have so many exciting things planned for this year – a new website is coming, new spring designs, new collaborations, new surprises in the store and, of course, BRAND NEW posts. Wow. So much going on.

With all the new in the new year, I’ve spent the last few days floating on a cloud of excitement and anticipation…but…(shhh…I’m whispering this part…) now that the week has REALLY begun… and I’ve finished twirling around the room shrieking and giggling…and I’ve played with all my new toys…and all the company has left…is anyone else starting to feel a familiar little pang of worry creep in? Anyone else get back to work and start to feel….overwhelmed…? Was your first day back in the routine a little…chaotic…?

Post-holiday time can be just as stressful for your mini vacation-revelers – and they can’t even choose to lose themselves in a Pinterest vortex. With that in mind, we thought we’d share a little meditation activity today for anyone looking for their moment of calm (and extra zen points to get everyone participating).

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Magic Zen Meditation Jars

These magic jars are SO. MESMERIZING. Photographing these literally took 40 minutes longer than it should have due to being caught in a hazy, dazed amazement. Explaining the what, why and how of meditation to kids is one of those things that can quickly spiral into a “what even just happened here…?” moment for everyone. The idea is that after you shake the jar, you just watch and wait…by the time all the glitter reaches the bottom (I timed mine to take about 1 minute) you will have found your happy place. The great magic of these “magic” jars is that your kids will be be teaching themselves the practice before you even get started in on an explanation.

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You’ll need:

  • A Jar or Plastic Container with a water-tight lid (we used a small plastic container)
  • Hot Water
  • Glycerin
  • Dish Soap
  • Glitter
  • Other fun stuff? (i.e. legos, little plastic animals, charms, etc)

These take about 5 minutes, so go crazy and make a bunch. I wanted a smaller, travel-size, travel-safe jar to give to a sweet little biscuit I know who has a fear of riding the bus – but you can use any jar you want (these were about 4″ tall and $2.99 for a set of 4 at our local craft store). Time to start throwing the goods in.

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Pro tip: the more glycerin you add, the longer its going to take the glitter to fall to the bottom – I’m going to give you MY recipe and you can alter accordingly….

2 parts water (I filled roughly 2/3 of the bottle)

1 part glycerin (I filled the remaining 1/3 with glycerin)

1 or 2 drops of dish soap (this keeps the glitter from clumping and staying at the top)

Glitter to taste  :-)    (I put in about a tablespoon of regular, fine and snowflake-shaped)

This is kind of an anything-goes project –  like beads? Put ’em in. Have some Lego people laying around? Yup, into the drink. Old barbie shoes? Sure, yes, let’s do it. Pretty much anything small, durable and light enough can be added. You can also color the water with food coloring. After some test-shakes, if you’re afraid of a mess or your jar isn’t quite water-tight, add some non-water-soluble glue around the rim and screw the lid on tight and let set.

After you’re done putting the jar together, kids won’t even need a prompt for what to do next. Sit back and watch them  shake these up then completely zone out watching the swirl-y, glitter-y amazing-ness (like I did). Fun game: see how many of your adult co-workers have exactly the same reaction.

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This is a perfect opportunity to explain how these can be used – and actually, there are so many different ways to use them. They can provide a sense of calm and be time for reflection and quiet. They can represent worries or frustrations – a good shake and some consideration time goes a long way to help little ones with those. They’re a perfect time-out timer and can help divert angry energy, reset focus, and switch gears.

As much as we would LOVE to take credit for this idea, we were inspired by Angie Yingst and Kaley Ann – check them out for some more good ideas and happy thoughts! Happy New Year and cheers to learning ways to steal moments of chill in 2016 – for more meditation (& yoga!) ideas for your kiddos, check out our Pinterest board here. Suggestions? Questions? Pictures? Free Hugs? Leave a comment, send us an email or tag us on FB/Twitter/Instagram (@barleyandbirch, #barleyandbirch) !

PS – hey, you guys…? We’re so happy to start the new year with you…thanks for sticking around  :-)

Holiday Fuel: Chia & Flaxseed Almond Butter Bites

Because, A.) it is a Wednesday afternoon and B.) there are 8 days until Christmas I thought it a good time to share a super quick recipe for the secret fuel I’ve kept in a (huge) bowl next to me all day. This took me 5 minutes to put together, which is frankly the MAX amount of time I want to spend on cooking this week. And don’t they just look so adorbs in those mini cupcake liners?? (Embarrassingly proud of my cupcake liner usage).

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Chia & Flaxseed Almond Butter Bites

 

Prep Time:

5 min

Serving Size:

40 Bites

Ingredients

  • 2 c. almond butter (peanut butter if you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 c. dry oatmeal
  • 2 c. vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 c. mini carob chips
  • 1/4 c. flaxseed
  • 1/4 c. chia seeds
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries (you can also throw in crushed dried banana slices, coconut, etc)
  • 3/4 c. honey/agave (optional)

Directions

Mix peanut butter, protein powder, honey and 1 1/2 c. oatmeal in food processor or hand mix (add protein powder as needed to get the right consistency). Transfer to bowl and add carob chips, etc. Roll into walnut sized balls. Refrigerate until serving or freeze if packing for a lunch.

You’re going to be popping these butter balls like they’re going out of style, so don’t be afraid to double it up and make extra – I’m very serious about this. Happy fueling!

Chia & Flaxseed Almond Butter Bites via barley & birch

For more yummy recipes to make with fam, checkout our b&b : in the kitchen board and follow us on Pinterest!

Make Something Monday Part 2: Mini Winter Gardens

Make Something/Green Monday continues with Part 2…

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Mini Winter Gardens

 

I have a long list of people who do things for me on the regular, so every time the holidays roll around I try to keep an eye out for a simple & beautiful something I can give to quite a few without breaking the bank. I’ve always loved having clear vases of paperwhites all over the house come January – aaaaand there was an excess of mason jars hanging out in the kitchen – so there you go. This is the perfect solution for an army of giftees.

You’ll need:

  • Mason Jars (I used 1/2 pint & pint wide-mouth jars)
  • Potting Soil
  • Rocks or Pebbles
  • Live Sheet Moss or Peat Moss
  • Water-Blooming Bulbs (I used Paperwhite & Crocus but you can also use Amaryllis, Hyacinths, Tulips, Daffodils, or Dutch Iris)
  • Water

If you don’t plant your mini-gardens right away, store your bulbs in a cool dry place and your moss (if its live) in a cool, damp place. The roots of crocus and paper whites only need 3″ of room to grow, so I did a layer of soil for moisture and a layer of rocks for drainage, plunked the bulb down on top, then pushed some sheet moss in around it to hold the bulb in place (plus, this is what REALLY takes it from “bulb in a jar” to “mini winter garden”).

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1 Narcissus bulb fits perfectly in a wide-mouth pint jar and 3 Crocus in the 1/2 pint wide-mouths. I used White Marble Rocks (love that fresh, bright white) and live sheet moss from the local garden store. I totally recommend buying the live stuff – its a cheery festive green, it insulates the bulb, holds just a bit of water (even when dried out) and a little goes a LONG way. I probably only used about a 5 in. x 5 in. square for the 20 I put together tonight.

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Personally, I think they are super cute as is in the clear jars, but if you are feeling a dressed-up version, we wrapped some of ours in paper bags + twine and are loving the look. You could also use some of the sweet phonebook wrap you probably just made… 😉

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This is seriously a great thing for kids to make (so quick and easy) and give (especially to other kids). And its truly the gift that keeps on giving, because who isn’t ready for some fresh flowers come January?  REALLY.

 

 

Make Something Monday Part 1: Phonebook Wrapping Paper

Happy Green Monday! To be honest, I didn’t really even know that was a thing until this morning – and I guess its just a…second cyber Monday? Hm-kay. Well, we’re celebrating “Green Monday” AND our usual Make Something Monday with TWO, count ’em TWO simple and lover-ly holiday projects that will leave you with the cutest darn eco-friendly gifts you ever did see. So if you by chance are not standing in a line somewhere waiting to see Star Wars tonight, grab your kiddos and make these with us!

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Tonight I’m finishing up  2 projects – one is a wrap and one is a gift, and they go sooooo well together!

While cleaning out the kitchen recently, I ran across a stack (not just one) of old phonebooks – the bane of my existence. Low on brown paper, and needing to get some gifts out the door, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and turn those lame old doorstops into something cool and useful. I loved the pattern the print on the phonebook pages made and using bright colors turned something dull into something bright and cheery!

Phonebook Wrapping Paper

 

THIS is SO EASY. And SUCH a good project for kids and SUCH a good way to repurpose an old around-the-house item.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • An old phonebook (or even just pages you never use…the X’s?)
  • Paints (I used old samples of exterior paint – this actually worked way better than I thought it would! Any old paint that isn’t TOO water soluble will do though)
  • Paintbrush or stamping tool or even just little fingers!

So this isn’t a project that really requires any instruction, just have fun painting! I’ll share a couple quick tips though…

Although you can’t see through the paper once its on a package (which is kind of amazing) it takes just the slightest breeze to blow it around while you’re working on it. For kids especially, a little painter’s tape or some paperweights at the edges while  working and drying is a great idea. I paint on the back of old cookie sheets because they’re super easy to clean off. This also makes it easier to move them if I need to do that for drying. Also, leave PLENTY of time for that – there’s nothing worse than getting wet paint on a new gift. (*shudder!*) After they’ve dried completely, flatten out any crinkles by letting them sit underneath a few heavy books for about 20 minutes – the paint I used didn’t stick, but you may want to put some wax paper between pages when you do this depending on the paint). Use as is, or tape a bunch together for larger-sized gifts.

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VOILA – super fun upcycled custom gift wrap! And the phone company generously supplies you with a gazillion pages! :-)  I like to “garnish” with some green clippings and twigs from the yard and twine – super simple and super cute.

Sit tight for Part 2, coming tonight: ADORBS mini crocus and paperwhite garden gifts!

Make Something Monday: Festive Felt Garland

For all of you still celebrating a little break from over-excertion, we have the PERFECT weeknight activity to do with your kiddos. It takes only 3 supplies and 2 steps and in about 20 minutes (less with more helping hands) you’ll have a very fun, tres chic holiday decoration you can put just about anywhere and reuse the whole year round!

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How cute is that felt garland?? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • About 12 pieces of felt
  • Twine or yarn
  • Scissors

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Instructions:

  1. Cut each 8 1/2 x 11″ piece of felt in half length-wise, then cut every 1/2″-1″ to make about 20 rectangles from each piece of felt
  2. Knot each rectangle around a length of twine or yarn (I’d keep it on a big ball until you’ve used all your pieces, then cut at the end).

BOOM. That’s it!

Every part of this project is kid-friendly (except for maybe the cutting depending on age, because you’ll need some sharper scissors).  Its super fun for kids who want to pick their own colors and patterns, and is great practice for cutting, tying and pattern-planning. Best part: this garland can be reused for any special occasion! Happy garlanding!

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Holiday 2015 – New designs have arrived!

Woohoo! We’ve been anxiously awaiting the day we could announce the arrival of new designs in the shop – and that day is TODAY! Stop by the store and checkout our new papercut winter friends collection!! Keep checking back because we have more designs and surprises headed your way…isn’t the holiday season the BEST?!?

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