Galaxy Hot Chocolate in Galaxy Mugs!

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I’m about to blog Bug’s amazing, 11th-birthday, galaxy-themed party but I have a few galaxy things I want to share first individually and I’m thinking a bunch of posts is better than one crazy long one. Or maybe not. Who knows.

First up is Galaxy Hot Chocolate in galaxy-painted mugs. Amazing right? I was inspired by this super-over-loaded sugar-blitzed-unicorn hot chocolate. (Thank you Plumeriacat for the heads up on that one!) We tried to visit the store that makes these. They are local but the line was out the door and around the corner so we made do with our imagination.

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Basically, we made hot chocolate in a crock pot using this recipe.  This was a great idea because it could sit on the counter slowly-warming for two hours without me having to worry about it.  We tried to add purple food coloring to the mix to make it more majestic but the coloring didn’t stick. The brown of the cocoa was too powerful. I think I could have made it with white chocolate but I’m not a fan of white chocolate. (blech!) In the end, the hot chocolate was a light purple-brown color but that didn’t really matter because Bug’s birthday party was outside at night and you couldn’t really see the hot chocolate under layers and layers of whipped cream anyway. We topped the towering whipped cream with these sprinkles which are so so so so cool, by the way. Totally worth splurging on. I wish I had made some homemade star marshmallows and bought a whipped cream dispenser and maybe colored the whipped cream lavender but I had to cut my losses by that point. You can’t do everything all the time I’ve learned.

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What I heard at the party was that the hot chocolate was DELICIOUS! “Like a candy bar melted in a cup!” said Annalie.  I wish I would have doubled the recipe though because we ran out! Every kid got one cup but they would have gone back for more if there had been any. I also poured it into a thermos dispenser so that the kids could serve themselves without slopping sticky hot chocolate all over the place with a ladle. This worked well until the pump got sticky and refused to pump anymore. Now that I understand how the pump works I could easily clean the seal and get it working again but out in the dark, during the party I had no such wisdom. So we popped the top off the thermos and poured it the old fashioned way for the last two kids waiting.

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Now you are probably wondering how we made the galaxy mugs. It’s not a perfect craft but it was pretty fun.

First, we bought a bunch of cheap, dark gray mugs from Ikea. I would have preferred black but no such cups existed in my price range. Gray was fine. Then I bought special made-for-glass enamel paint. There are a lot of porcelain paints that you can buy online but unfortunately I had a deadline and couldn’t wait for the premium brands to get to me in the mail. I had to sort it out at Michaels, my worst favorite place in the world, but I was lucky and found the one friendly employee who let me in on some folk art secrets. If there is a wine glass symbol on the lid you can paint this on glass! Who knew! Probably everyone. But this really helped me. The cool thing about this particular paint is that you can bake it on and it holds up to regular hand-washing. I wouldn’t trust a dishwasher (though they say you can) but it can take quite a few washings. I tested.

So where was I? Right, paint. After you are sure you have food-safe, non-toxic, made-for-glass-and-ceramic paint, you begin the process. First clean any fingerprints or sticker residue off the mug with rubbing alcohol. Then smudge on some black paint with a foamy sponge. I even used my fingers and it seemed to work well too. Then dab on some lighter colors like purple or teal, but use the colors sparingly. Smudge and smear and squint your eyes so that if everything is blurry your smudges sort of remind you of a nebula. This part is tricky and you will convince yourself that it all looks like crap but don’t worry! This is part of the process and when you add the white splatter stars it will all come together! Just trust me.

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Smudge, smudge, smudge and then! Load up a toothbrush (one that you don’t care about obviously) with white enamel paint and gently flick on some stars. I don’t have a magic method to this. You want small atmospheric white dots and not big oblong splatters so you’ll have to experiment with how you flick the toothbrush and distance you flick paint from the mug a bit until you get it just right. If you don’t get it just right, don’t worry. Just tell everyone the splatters with tails are comets. Like I said it’s not a perfect craft. But it’s fun!

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It’s spacey, right? No? Squint more.

After we smudged our way through eleven galaxies, we painted each guest’s name on the other side of the mug so we could use the mugs as party favors and table name place markers at the same time. Then we popped the mugs (all together on a cookies sheet) into a cold oven and heated it up to 350. We baked them for 30 minutes and then turned the oven off and let them cool. I actually just left the mugs in the oven overnight because I wasn’t going to bake anything that night anyway and took them out the next morning.  It’s important not to check on the mugs when they are cooling or take them out of the oven because if the ceramic cools down too fast the cups can crack. Better to be safe than sorry.

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Then on the day of the party we set each person’s mug at their place at the table. Everyone loved taking home a mug. Of course, I had to mad-dash hand wash everyone’s sticky mug while they were playing games in the other room but I didn’t mind because by that point I needed some peace and quite in the kitchen for a few minutes anyway. I’m one of those weirdos who finds doing chores soothing and kids screaming about Pusheen not so much.

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All in all, it was really fun and I’d definitely recommend this hot chocolate and making a galaxy mug to anyone planning a galaxy party. I’m not sure everyone needs more mugs in their house (we don’t!) but that’s their problem, right? Heh.

Next up: Galaxy Pancakes!

Bug Gets a Chalkboard in her Room.

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From time to time I like to rearrange things in my house and purge out all the unnecessary flotsam and jetsam that gets piled up without anyone really noticing it. This past weekend Bug got her turn. I’ve been nagging her to clean up her room but it always seemed to be impossible for her because she never has enough room to put everything.

You know what that means! Add on another room? Nope! It’s time to purge because there must be a place for everything and everything must be in it’s place. I am so much fun that way.

So we decided to rearrange! She’s really into gaming and she does her homework in her room now with her computer so she needed more desk space. We needed to make a little office in her room so we did what we always do: we flipped the expedit bookcase! It was vertical (see below).

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Now it’s horizontal! And since space is tight we put her desk on top of the expedit bookcase, creating a tiny little nook with some slide-around work space to the side of her. It’s tight but super functional. Especially since we moved the rug over that was seriously hindering her chair-sliding mobility.

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Then, since we were fixing things, we decided to take the old frame that used to be Bug’s faux headboard (That thing has nine lives.) and make it into a chalkboard, which is something she’s wanted since day one. It was really cool as a headboard but unfortunately it was never bolted in correctly and every time the bed got pushed up against it too hard, it would wedge out dangerously. It was just kind of a pain in the head.

We had bought the chalkboard paint way back when we first painted Bug’s room but we ended up not using it because we were worried about chalk dust and it just looked weird painting a square randomly on the wall. Now, however, we had this big picture frame just sitting around waiting for a new use so we decided to use it to frame in the chalkboard. We’re still worried about chalk dust but using this frame kind of keeps the dust contained a little. Bug can just wipe the bottom of the frame with a damp cloth instead of her floor and bed which is much easier.

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Payam bolted the frame into studs in the wall so it really won’t budge and then Bug and Payam got busy with the black chalkboard paint. We waited a day for the paint to cure properly and then Bug primed it with a layer of chalk. It wasn’t as much work as I was worried it would be.

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Now her room is much tidier (we got rid of a ton of out-grown clothes and books that she doesn’t read) and it looks a tiny bit better. She still has a ton of stuff but what can you do with a ten-year-old pack rat? Actually, she has gotten so much better at throwing stuff out. She used to be super attached to anything that had a face, no matter what it was. Now she at least can pass things on to people she knows will appreciate them as much as she did.bugs-chalkboard-1

That’s that!  Bug is happy as a clam with her new chalkboard! Now it’s time to make one for Joon.