04 February 2016

VALENTINE'S FOR KIDS

If you're in need a quickie Valentine's idea for your kids to pass out to friends, neighbors and classmates, here 'tis. This year we made pencil arrows.





SUPPLIES
Card Stock & Printer
Valentine's Pencils (ours came from the Dollar Spot at Target)
Pen
Heart Punch or pre cut Hearts
Felt or Paper Fringe (I used felt and scissors)
Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks

PROCESS
1. Print the free printable and cut the strips out.
2. Have your child write their name or personalize them if you'd like.
3. Hot glue a heart to the flat pencil tip end.*
4. Cut the fringe pieces about 1.5"x2"
5. Hot glue around the metal portion of the eraser end.*
6. Wrap the fringe around the glue.
7. Hot glue the pencil to the card.*

*The hot glue should peal off of the pencil easily when it's time to use the pencil.





28 January 2016

TEA TIME




































I am an Activity Days leader for a group of eleven year old girls in our neighborhood. It's a churchie thing. It's loads of fun to see these girls each month and talk and craft and eat. I'll post a few of these every so often.

One time it was Tea Time. We talked about some fine things that have gotten lost in the hustle through the years. Sipping tea and writing letters and dropping them in the box knowing that it will make someone smile to get something lovely and real in their mail.

We also made wire hearts, wrapped with yarn for our craft. Anytime I can bust out the teacups and craft with these girlies, I call it a success.

24 January 2016

COMPLETED COZIES

Oh... it only took me TWO YEARS to complete these chenille lap quilts. But I'm happy now that I spent the time and effort and I can say, I did it!

I wanted something for my two girls that was soft and cozy that would go at the foot of their beds. I had first seen these and fell in love (the original quilt is long since sold and not on this page). I thought it would be so easy to find vintage chenille bedspreads and just cut them up... I was wrong. Etsy offered a variety of shops that sold pieces of chenille. But they weren't cheap. The price to purchase a quilt was actually quite affordable after planning out how much fabric I'd need to buy.

BUT... I wanted it to be a gift that I made instead of purchased so I took some time to plan out the colors and patterns, and ordered the chenille from here. I have to say the owner of this shop helped me quite a bit. She was really sweet to understand my desire to make these myself and helped me pinpoint the colors I wanted. I purchased twelve different patterned chenille pieces in a variety of sizes and colors, then cut them down to 6" squares. There are 6 rows of 9 = 54 squares. I got the fringe from a vintage bedspread I found at an estate sale.

Next I talked to lots of quilting friends and family for advice. The prep, purchasing and planning took me six months... the percrastination took me over a year. The actual sewing time took me a couple of weeks. I just didn't trust myself, but once I started in I quickly learned how to piece together the squares and put it all together. I'm happy to report that the kids were pleased on Christmas morning. All worth it.







































04 January 2016

PLUSHIE OWLS

I made a couple of plushies for my girls this Christmas. They are on a bit of an owl kick, particularly snowy owls. 

I used felt for the faces, beak, and eyes, and white minkie for the backing and wing backs. And the feathers are a combination of felt and wool. I also used a bit of patterned quilting fabric for the front background and wing fronts. I wanted to make them similar but a bit different so the feathers and patterned dot fabric have slight differences. I also made a little tag coming off the side.

These aren't hard, but they take some time because I hand stitch the feathers. But before I do that, I pin them all in a row and use a machine to stitch them all securely. They turned out pretty cute and the girls sleep with them which is worth all of the effort.




19 December 2015

HOLIDAY NEIGHBOR GIFTS

This year I need a neighbor gift that is a keeper. A go-to that I can call our own, year after year. We have neighbors that give yummy stovetop potpourri every year, some that give the honey butter every year, others that make bread. This year, and hopefully for years to come, we are the ones that give candied almonds. I've tried so many things in the past (this, and this), wrapping paper being the most droll, and hot chocolate dippers the most complex.

Sugared Almonds. It's a winner. It was fairly easy and ... semi-inexpensive.



































SUPPLIES
Recipe items — Almonds (or Pecans). Sugar. Brown Sugar. Cinnamon. Eggs. Vanilla. Crock Pot.
Coffee Bags — These are perfect because they're lined for food and have a closure that is cute.
Sticker or Tag — I made a wrap sticker that was personalized, but you could use any sticker or tag.

RECIPE
There are oodles of recipes for slow cooker candied almonds. I used this one. But after doing it seven times, I made some alterations.

Ingredients
1 c Sugar
1 c Brown Sugar
2 Tbs Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Egg Whites
2 tsp Vanilla
6-9 c Almonds (I buy mine at Costco)
2Tbs Water

Instructions
In a large bowl mix the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
2. In another large bowl whisk together the egg whites and vanilla until it's frothy. Add the almonds and mix until they're all coated. The sugar sticks to the egg whites, so coat the almonds well.
3. Prep the slow cooker with cooking spray. Turn it on low (I do 10-hour low because mine cooks faster than most.
4. I cook them for 2-3 hours and stir every 20 minutes, making sure to scrape down the sides and inside bottom of the cooker.
5. In the last 20 minutes sprinkle a couple tablespoons of water around the outer edges and stir. I like them to still look sugary in the end so if they start to look too glazed, then too much water is getting to them. You can always add a bit more sugar to get that sugary look.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread them out to cool. Break apart and put them in bags.

This makes about 8 gifts with the bags in the pictures. I put approx. 3 cups in each. I'm pretty much doubling the recipe I noted and using less sugar. Trust me they are sugary enough. And so yummy.

14 December 2015

ANGEL CLOCHE



































My daughter made this cute little angel peg doll and I just loved it's sweet face. I had to do something with it. I found a mini cloche and glued some stuffing and then the doll. I cut out a tiny star and glued it to some gold string and then glued it into the top of the dome. All done. Sweet little Christmas bit.

30 November 2015

CHRISTMAS BOOK ADVENT

I'm trying something new this year... My good friend, Tia told me about this and I just love the idea. A Christmas Book Advent.









































We already have an advent calendar but with two kids it will be worthwhile to have another. They will each have something to do in the morning. One can unwrap a book and the other can put an ornament on the advent tree, and then swap duties each day.

TO-DO — Gather 25 Christmas books and wrap them up. And this really could work for any holiday or even the winter season.

I wanted specific books unwrapped on certain days, for instance:
I'd like to start in with fun stories of Santa and winter, maybe day 4 Santa's Favorite Story: Santa tells the story of the first Christmas. And on day 7 Santa Clauses: Short Poems of the North Pole.

To remind my kids of the real Christmas spirit, throughout the month, I'd like to spread out the thoughtful Christmas stories. Perhaps on day 10, Bella's Tree and on day 18 The Christmas Wish.

On the 24th when my kids have absolutely no right for gifts of any kind after a month of heightened sass and bickering, a meaningful story of giving and gratitude. I like Christmas Day in the Morning.

To emphasize the Twelve Days of Christmas on day 25. That song was originally written to help children recall the tenets of their faith in celebration from December 25th through January 6th. Huh... things I never knew.

So before wrapping them, I laid out the books in order 1-25.

I already had several Christmas books but I purchased a six more to mix in. I wrapped them up in kraft paper and twine, and cut out felt numbers. I admit cutting out felt numbers is a bit nutty. I like to do things while I watch TV so it suits me just fine to work on this projects for a couple of evenings.





















































After gluing the numbers on the package, I drew a little wreath around the number and put them all under the tree. This will be the first time we've started out with packages under the tree. My girls are really excited, and this project didn't cost us much because I already had so many books that are either about snow, winter, or Christmas related. This just might have to be a new tradition!

Happy Holidays, Friends.

24 November 2015

TINY HOME PLACE SETTINGS

I gathered several house lanterns and house shapes for a Friendsgiving table, my Thanksgiving mantle...  I'll surely use them for Christmas too. I love the white marble, silver and wood mixture.



























For the table, I needed place settings so I turned to my favorite, Sculpey Clay. These sweet little house place settings were so easy to make. My daughters made some of them too.

I thought it would be cute to utilize smoke in some way, so I printed out name tags in a "banner" of smoke, cut those out and poked it through the wire that I had put into the house before baking them.

Here they be...

23 November 2015

FRIENDSGIVING TABLE

One of my girlfriends recently rebuilt their home so we celebrated with a feast. Friendsgiving Feast! What a lovely concept.

Here is a peek into the table setting...
Sticking as closely as possible to pewter, marble and linen for the materials and greys and creams. There were a lot of us, so there are some mismatched items (linens, silver, glasses) but the plates and chargers are all the same. That provided a little continuity.

I gathered some house-shaped items for the center, as well as vintage silver and pewter candlesticks. I wanted small mini white pumpkins, but I missed the window of their availability so I painted my orange ones. I made the runner by fraying the edges of three strips (about 16" wide), sewing a stopping seam, trimming, and then sewing the strips together. The cotton was tough to find locally, I was originally interested in dried, but it looked a bit messy, so I stuck with the faux cotton stems and cut them down. The micro lights and candles add some twinkle and depth.

Stay tuned, I'll post a DIY for the house place settings.









15 November 2015

THANKSGIVING PEG DOLLS

My daughter calls it "The Teepee Area". I made the teepee, pilgrims and Native American couples last year. I also found that amazing fur bit and gathered some river wood sticks at Kingfisher Bend Ranch... both nice additions to the Thanksgiving gathering.

This year, I wanted to make it more of a play area for my kids so I made some felt logs and fire and four animals. The turkey was my daughters idea. She's five. She's brilliant. The owl is my favorite, though.


 


31 October 2015

SPOOKY ROCK PAINTING







































For my daughter's class we painted magnet rocks on Halloween Party day. I prepped the rocks by spray painting them first. White, Black and Orange. Then I superglue'd a magnet to the back of each. Each kid gets three rocks to paint. They painted whatever they wanted but I did offer a bit of ideas for each color on a tri-fold table topper. That's what you get when you have a designer mum in charge of the school craft. Table toppers.

They turned out super cute. I do have some lessons learned... the biggest being that I'm glad I brought acrylic paint as well as tempura. I had never painted on rocks before. Not for a craft that mattered. I wanted it to dry quickly because it was a half day of school. I also wanted it to stick to the rock without beading up. The tempura didn't stick. So I used acrylic and each child had a wipie to dab their paintbrush on... kind of dry it off before dipping it into the paint.

SUPPLIES TO PREP
Spray Paint - White. Orange. Black
Magnets
Rocks - (Smooth Pebbles) I got mine at the dollar store

SUPPLIES FOR CRAFT TIME
Table Covering
Aprons
Paper Plates
Baby Whipes
Paint Brushes - I used nice ones, not too fat. Small rocks need fine brushes
Paints - I used Black, White, Orange, Yellow, Green and Pink
Black Sharpies
Hot Glue Gun
Foam Core Strips* - Cut to 2.5" x 7.5"
White Pencil*
Plastic Spiders - I glued one to each of their boards for added fun.

*Each child has their own board with their name in white pencil. I hot glued their rocks to their board when they finished to keep them all organized and able to dry without getting messed up.
When the rocks are peeled off of the board the hot glue will stick to the magnet. I instructed them to peel off the glue from the magnet.






































I did this craft again with my kids and some friends at home and they loved it. They started getting rocks from the yard and painting them. Smooth, rough... they don't care. They love that they have a magnet on them. But if the rock is too heavy, the magnet is useless. Be sure you choose rocks that maintain some sticking power. You also need a rock with a flat back that a magnet can stick to.

Happy Halloween to all you Spooky Ghouls & Gobblins!

27 October 2015

SCARY BEANS

























It doesn't get any simpler than this. Martha Stewart's test tube favors and some "scary beans" a.k.a. Peanut Butter M&Ms. Perfect for the neighbor kids or school room treat trading.

Happy Halloween!

12 October 2015

SET YOUR TABLE

Autumn is truly one of my favorite seasons. Sure, I love Spring growth... the absence of schedules in Summer and a slow snowfall in the Wintertime... but Fall... what's not to love about cozy textures, warm colors, and the smell of pumpkin somethin' cooking in the kitchen... not to mention the crisp morning air. Thank goodness for seasons and the change that comes every few months. I embrace the variety and adore the opportunity to hunker down in the fall... it speaks to my soul.

After the hustle bustle of getting my kids back to school, Autumn brings a chance to slow my brain down and think for a minute. When I do that, I can't help but think of all the things that I love. My favorites... beyond my little family, home, community, and friends, there are the mountains that surround our city and our country that, while I have my personal frustrations, has always provided safety and freedom.

I'm reflecting a lot today, maybe it's the sense that Thanksgiving is around the corner and that brings on the warm fuzzy feelings. The long and short of it is that life is good. I have dreams and hopes and I can't help but make plans and plans and plans and more plans. Those are for speedier days. Today is a day of leisurely thoughts and gratitude.

With that... if I could decorate this feeling, what would it look like? Funny thing, it looks a lot like a dinner party in Autumn. Perhaps even a Thanksgiving dinner table. My favorite part is setting the table.



































































A mix of aged materials in subtle tones: Marble. Wood. Linen. Pewter. Silver.

FINDINGS:
Linens — Grey or White Linen Napkins. Grey Wool or Linen Runner.

Flatware — Mixed Vintage Silver (This could be a journey of vintage shopping to find your mix or just hit up Anthropologie)

Dinnerware —Pewter Pates (These are tough to find and quite spency, but the feeling could be pulled off with gray or aged scalloped chargers and white plates).

Glassware — Smokey Glasses or Goblets (herehere, and here)

Serveware — Mix of Wood and Marble bowls, pitchers, platters, cake stands and trays.

Centerpiece — Aged votives and tiny lights (Terrain), Cotton Stems or strands, Pewter Candlesticks (again, pewter can be tough to find, but worth the hunt. I like a lot of candles running down the table. If these are too hard to find, mix in wood and marble candlesticks) For added color, orange berries or mini pumpkins. To keep it monochromatic, you can add mini white pumpkins.

Furniture — Rugged wood table and benches with additional seating in black or linen (Anthropologie Fringe Chairs) For a soft touch add some fur to the benches.


05 October 2015

OCTOBER HOME

Halloween decorations at our house are not terribly frightening. We are a house of lightweights. Large spiders on the wall may bring a start... crows in the bushes might make us pause a little too long. And that's where it ends.

We like happy ghosts... smiling cats.... I do kinda like some creepy things. So I adopt in a skeleton when I can. As my kids get older our Halloween style will surely evolve, but honestly we've never really enjoyed body parts in the yard.

This is what we are, Halloween Ninnies. So our Halloween decorations lean toward the simple, modern and friendly. This year, this is how it is.









01 October 2015

HALLOWEEN NECKLACE CRAFT

Getting a jump on Halloween Crafting!

At first I made these with my daughters, aged 6 and 4. My six year old was able to tie knots and load the cello tubes. My 4 year old needed more help. With that trial, I decided to do these for the 1st grade Halloween Party craft.

THE REALITY: I actually needed a few more adults to help the kids as this was a SPEED craft session. I had 6 kids every 3 minutes! It was crazy. Their little fingers just couldn't go fast enough. So I don't really recommend it for school projects unless you've got time and helpers.

But for something fun to do with your kids at home, or Halloween gifts for neighbor friends and/or kids, this is super cute and so fun. My girls loved to wear these all around town as Halloween approached.







































































SUPPLIES
2"x10" Clear Cello Tubes - 3 per necklace (for a child size. For a larger head, use 4)
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
1/4" Ribbon
String
Fun Halloween Bits & Candies (I try to use more toys than candy... here. here. and here)
Pencil

PROCESS
1. Hot Glue two cello tubes closed ends together and tie a 1/4" thick ribbon around that glued spot to hide it. Tie it in a knot.
2. Load one of the tube sides and tie off each section with string. Repeat until near the end, and hot glue the opening closed.
3. Repeat the same process for the other side of the tube.
4. Glue a third cello tube to one of the glued ends. Again, tie a 1/4" ribbon over the glued portion.
Load the third tube with each section tied off with string.
5. Connect the third tube end to create a closed necklace that can fit over head. If you need to keep going with a fourth tube, keep going. We only needed 3.

*Any rubber rats, or erasers may stick a bit and that's why I have a pencil on the supply list. Use the eraser end of a pencil to shove things in.

Happy October Everybody!

25 September 2015

THE YEAR OF THE TOMATO

My MIL cans tomatoes every year.... Her garden is A-MAZE-ing...the envy of everyone within a 20-mile radius. She has about a dozen tomato plants. This year that produced enough tomatoes for THREE rounds of canning. She usually can handle that much canning, but she broke her foot at the end of summer and has had to give up some of her produce. I was lucky enough to join in the fun this year.

On her second round of canning, we picked a few buckets of tomatoes, scalded, peeled, cut, boiled, and canned 17 jars all for my little family. This tomato sauce is the best start for soups, spaghetti and countless Mexican and Italian dishes throughout the year. I feel so lucky I could burst.

If I had space, patience and a gift for canning I would do this for myself every year in my own backyard but I don't. I just glory in these little moments that happen every so often.



04 September 2015

SEAHORSE PARTY

Could she ask for anything harder than seahorses? I sweated for a moment then took it to the vast array of options in the ocean theme. I couldn't deny her little five-year-old heart because she has another two parties coming to her... if we're comparing to her sister, that is.

She loves blues, greens, and yellows, so I started with that color palette but made the yellow a florescent yellow. She also loves Friends With You so her dad designed a cute invite with that in mind.

For food, I was keeping it simple with candies in fish bowls, cookies and cake. I had some Target plates on hand that were perfect, and I made skewers with pom poms on the end for the grapes. It was important to have something seahorse, and cookies seemed doable... but this was my first try with royal icing. I managed ok, but I've got to practice that one to make it a true skill. But they're cute. I also used my grandma's cookie recipe which in hindsight I wouldn't do again because they're softer, not great for decorating. The jello cups were easy enough. And I made a triple layer cake. That actually turned out ok. Let me just say this... with baking, I usually PURCHASE, for sanity sake, but I wanted something specific, so I just did it. and made some cake stands with vintage ice cream glasses and clear plates.

The activity was a treasure hunt with the party favor at the end. Eating, playing with gel balls, fishing and unwrapping presents were all built into the clues so that the end could be back to play time. Honestly, the biggest hit was the pool of gel balls. They would've been happy with just that.