10 April 2014

KIDS & SIGHT WORDS

I'm new at this learning to read business. I feel for these little kids trying to learn the ins and outs of the unpredictable and tricky English language. My daughter is a thinker and quite intelligent but we could sense her struggling with reading early on. She wasn't excited about it and knowing her, it was because she wasn't getting it quickly enough so she was losing interest.

Here's the thing... SIGHT WORDS... they're everything. It's clear to me why they push them so hard in Kindergarten. Once they get sight words they are able to read sentences because these simple words are what make up most of our sentences!
He. Her. She. Him. In. Out. They. That. This... There are about 80 words that these kids are learning. So the trick to getting them down quickly is not flashcards, sorry teachers, that's not it. At least not for our stubborn little one. It needs to be a game.















































A friend had a recommendation that I have to pass on because it's truly brilliant. It has captured that excitement of learning, it has brought her up to speed quickly, and inspired further learning.

1. Cut out 3"x4" pieces of paper and write out the sight words on each piece.
2. Tape about 20 of them around your child's bedroom.
3. At night before bed, turn out the light and turn on a flashlight.
4. Point to a word with your flashlight and your child needs to say the word.

* Our daughter had all 20 within days.
5. Once your child has all of these words down, change up the game... Use the word in a sentence. (i.e. for THIS point to the word with a flashlight and they could say something like, "THIS game is so fun" or "Tomorrow let's play THIS again").

* Once this is easy to them, add more cards. I kept the first 20 up as well.

It's such a simple idea and I tell ya, it works. It takes away their frustration and makes it fun. After a couple of weeks, we noticed a huge difference in her ability to read. I've told a few friends and they have had the same experience.

So *disclaimer, I'm not a teacher, but I really think this is a great way to help inspire our little learners. And the added bonus is our daughter's little sister gets to play too and at 3 1/2 she's getting early exposure to these lessons.


Here are a few to start. Print at 100% on 8.5"x11"


08 April 2014

SCHOOL PHOTO PACKAGES




Instead of handing out school photos, I thought it might be fun to send them out as a little package.

These can be recreated for wallet sized photos by cutting the cards below and handwriting a message. They fit in an A2 envelope.


27 March 2014

PLAYROOM GALLERY WALL

More on the playroom...
The reading nook needed some color!



FRAMES
Mostly randoms from around the house supplemented with IKEA cheapies. Inserted are sunshine and rainy day images that we love.

LIGHTING
This IKEA light is, of course popular and well known. We've had it in this room for years. Still kicking and fits the look of this room.

PILLOWS
The blue heart is from Target's dollar section (love that!) The green pillow is made with fabric by Heidi Kenney called dandelions. It's so cute I couldn't bring myself to cut it so I just made one big pillow out of a fat quarter. It is backed with a yellow cozy plush fabric. The cloud, I used a white fluffy (ever so messy) fabric from Joann's and the teal cushion was originally made to sit on but I like it propped up against the wall.
 

RUG
From Target

CURTAINS
I used IKEA Vivian curtains for the window to block out some of the sun and IKEA Lill curtains next to the shelving to create a sheer division.

PLUSHIES
One handmade bunny and one blabla owl we named Olive.




















GALLERY WALL PROCESS
1. My process to do a gallery wall is fairly simple. First I lay out the frames with nothing in them on a flat surface. I tend to arrange things on an axis of some sort... a "+" that is slightly off.

2. Next, I put the artwork options on top of the frames and arrange those until they're visually appealing to me. Take a picture of the layout.

3. Next, I insert the artwork into each frame and prep the frames for hanging. Some may need arms taken off and hardware put on. If there's nothing on the back to hang with and the frame is light, I like to use 3M Command Velcro because it doesn't ruin walls and is easy to use.

4. Next I cut out paper pieces the same size as the frames. Place each one on top of its coordinating frame.

5. Number each piece of paper and take a photo of the numbered layout.

6. Tape the paper pieces to the wall until they are back in their designed layout, making sure they're centered in the space.

7. Now it's time to hang them up. I usually start in the largest in the middle. Nails, velcro... whatever means. I usually end up with a variety of hanging methods because my frames are a mix of new and old.

8. Take out the paper pieces after the frame is up if nails are used, but before if velcro is used.

That's it. Not too painful ;)


25 March 2014

PLAY TABLE, HOORAY!

I've wanted this table for far too long and when it showed up on gilt today, it officially became part of the playroom plan. It's coming together, people!


14 March 2014

THE SOMETIMES MAMA BLUES

Some days, being a mom makes me want to scratch my eyeballs out. Other days are filled with beautiful, lovely, shining, memory making moments.

Today is one of those eyeball-scratching-out-days. A day where bad decisions are made and wood floors are ruined. And then more bad decisions are made. And we spiral into a pit of despair that seems to never end.

On these days, I find that I need a small break in a room alone without anyone asking for sippies or a snack. A moment when I'm not cleaning up pee puddles (as if I own a dog). A moment when kids aren't giddily destroying the house. A moment without complaints or whining. A moment without blaming.

A while back my girlfriend emailed some inspiring thoughts that brought me much needed comfort today (Thank you Tia!). And I have to breathe deeply and remember that we can't be too hard on ourselves, that parenting these little ones can be a roller coaster of tough times and joyous times all within a matter of minutes.

I don't need to be rescued (this isn't an option anyway), we'll get through it. Then it's on to better days, hours, and minutes. We may even get one or two in today.

I have hope.

10 March 2014

ST. PATRICK'S DAY DECOR

Finally, my St. Patty's decorations are increasing. Last year I made a little felt ball and felt shamrock garland. I still use it, but I added some garlands from Dwell Studio (they were on sale;) I splurged because anything from Dwell is still a splurge even when it's on sale.

I also dug out anything gold and green from my party stash (mostly painted vases). I purchased some chocolate gold coins, some clover and daisies.

This isn't much, but it's enough to help our home feel like Spring is on the way. Hooray for that!


28 February 2014

KEEP ON PINNING

Pinterest. It can be overwhelming just as easily as inspiring.

Originally I started pinning to organize the heaps of design influence and ideas I'd come across while researching. That is all good and well, but I worry about the day when the links no longer have a route to the item of interest.

On the other hand, in my computer's filing system, sometimes I have images that I can no longer trace to an original source. Two different organization tools..... same issue.

Neither are ideal but both are helpful in the big picture, the NOW picture. There are reasons to keep both going.

One thing I've noticed since I've been pinning, I am able to decide what to DIY easily. It's all right there on my ever growing DIY board. For the most part, I pin items that I really do intend to make. I can also see which items to purchase rather than suffer through the material costs and time.

Below are four examples I've had in my computer files for far too long, most are on my Pinterest boards too. I have deep desires to create all of these things, but the reality is I know I can sew a clutch, I think I can make a wire wreath, I might be able to paint something, and I highly doubt I can make that dress! I know my limits.

All that said, thank you Pinterest for keeping my inspirations organized and my limits known. And an even bigger thanks to those out there that continually inspire all of us. Join me on Pinterest... your own personal inspiration meeting.






19 February 2014

ON THE ROAD WITH KIDS

We are novice road trippers. We recently upgraded to a vehicle with lower miles and instantly felt that a little road trip was doable. A six hour jig over Thanksgiving weekend was a good first try.

I put together little packages of fun and entertainment for our kids. Before they got in the car, I placed a starting kit in their car seats. One of the kids really made use of everything put before her. The other set each thing aside at first and looked out the window, but eventually got to the entertainment we provided ;)































TO START
They each received:
1. A new color/sticker book
2. A pencil case with crayons, scissors, gluestick, and pencils (nothing gooey)
3. A plastic enclosed clipboard that contained several travel bingo games (see below)
4. A small baking tray (stored in the seat back pocket) and magnets to hold their paper games on. The tray ridges are handy for coloring and keeping everything on their laps.
5. A magazine box full of library books
6. A snack kit (I used our Beaba Babycook freezer containers and refill as needed)

DURING THE DRIVE
I had planned to give them each five small ($1 store) gifts to open one each hour. Things like construction paper, window clings, small activity books, embellishments, post-its... anything to entertain! One of the gifts was for both of them, a DVD hoping to take up two hours. I kept these gifts in a bag at my feet so that I could distribute based upon their moods, temperament and boredom level instead of actually on the hour. We ended up with some leftover gifts that I used for Christmas stocking stuffers.

PRE-TRIP DILEMMA
a few weeks prior to our trip one of our kids started urinating too frequently. When I say too frequent, I mean 18+ times per hour, that's not right. It left is a quandary... should we postpone? Should we stop by the side of the road every ten minutes? After talking with her doctor, seeing a specialist, ruling out any serious diagnosis's and spending some time considering our options, we chose to put her in a pull up. We were concerned she might feel embarrassed but she was excited to pick some out at the store. It worked like a charm. She didn't feel the need to go as often. We made some stops but at least we weren't getting frustrated on the side of the road.

All in all, these kids didn't sleep at all during our drive. They played the games and used the crafts we had planned out, and it was enough to entertain them for twelve hours of driving. That's pretty good, I say!

ROAD TRIP BINGO PRINTABLES








16 February 2014

SICK OF FROZEN YET?... NOPE.

We had huge anticipation for this movie back in August. My daughter was Anna for Halloween before anyone knew about Frozen. Explaining over and over who she was.

Then we saw it Thanksgiving weekend. INSTANTLY Anna was no longer of interest in her mind. It was all about Elsa from that point on.









































The songs are sung in our car ALWAYS. Carpool = 3-7 kids yelling their little guts out, "Let it Go!"

We just got back from Disneyland and of course, top on the list was meeting Elsa and Anna. I stood in line for 2.5 hours for that sweet little moment. And I'm happy to report that Elsa was the one in there. We were two people away from meeting both of them, but honestly if it were only Anna in there, I think my husband and I would've thrown some punches. "Why can't you hire two Elsa's and two Anna's?" is his big (justified) complaint, "Rotate them!"

I feel like the only person that prefers Anna. Well, how can you compete with ice shooting from your finger tips and a sexy, slinky sheer dress, and a long braid of hair. Anna may be the hero, and hilarious, and carry the whole movie, but Elsa will always have her beat in my girls minds.

What does this all mean? An upcoming Frozen birthday party... AND the gears start to turn. I have two months to plan it out. In the mean time, we continue to sing the songs and build paper ice castles (compliments of daddy's craftiness) and see the movie over and over until we're all sleeping, eating, breathing and gagging on Frozen.

With all of that said, I have to confess, I'm not really sick of it. It's cute. I enjoy watching it with my little family, despite the fact that the parents die (thank you Disney, for that). Our girls are like Elsa and Anna in so many ways that it makes me cry when they stop playing together in the beginning and again when Anna sacrifices herself for her sister. And I'll always adore Olaf.

06 February 2014

KIDS VALENTINE CARDS



SUPPLIES
Bouncy Balls - Target (in the Valentine's section. They come in a bag of q15)
1" Hole Punch - Michael's
Printer
8.5"x11"Cardstock
Paper Cutter or X-acto
Cellophane Bags - (3.5"x8") Zurchers
Ribbon or Baker's Twine
Treats

PROCESS
1. Print out FREE "XOXO" PRINTABLE and cut the cards.
2. Punch the first "O" of the xoxo.
3. Have your child write their name or draw a heart below the "XOXO"
4. Gently place the bouncy ball in the cut out, matching the seam of the ball to the paper's edge. This helps keep it in place.
5. Place card in bag with other treats.
6. Close with a ribbon or string. To personalize, add a tag.

FREE "XOXO" PRINTABLE


04 February 2014

VALENTINE'S BOOKS FOR KIDS

We frequent Barnes & Noble so we often see a slew of books prior to each holiday. I was looking through some of them and thought, "huh, so many are just so-so". Not worth the space on the bookshelf. But there are others that are sweet stories with equally adorable illustrations. I took note of a few of my favorites.

"The Nice Book" by David Ezra Stein. I love the simple story of sharing love and the words that we like to use with our kids. I love the naive painterly style, but not so much the typography. This will be a good one for my three year old (for length of attention span) and my five year old (for the simple words to sound out).

"Hug Time" by Patrick McDonnell. I'm a fan of all of his books and his cute little characters that often don't use words but actions to get their message across. Hugging is the best gift.

"Plant a Kiss" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This book has a fantastic fresh take on giving love. And the pages have a bit of sparkle to them which my girls will love. We also adore the illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds.


01 February 2014

VALENTINE'S KID CRAFT - PAPER HEARTS

We made hearts out of triangled construction paper pieces, with the points meeting up in the center. The girls loved the colorful result.

MATERIALS
Colored Construction Paper
Backing Paper - We used a 13"x19" white sheet 
Pencil
Scissors
Glue - Rubber Cement works well

PROCESS
1.  Cut big triangles from a variety of colored construction paper. We started with 8.5"x11" paper and used the entire sheet, cutting from corner up. It's not precise.
2. Put a blob of rubber cement in the center of the backing paper.
3. Place your first triangle, with the point in the middle.
4. Glue under that triangle to secure it to the backing paper.
5. Repeat the process with triangle papers until it's full all the way around. The backing paper won't be visible.
6. Flip the whole thing over and draw a large heart on the backing paper.
7. Cut out the heart.
8. Glue down any parts that need to be tacked down.
Done!


30 January 2014

VALENTINE'S KIDS CRAFT - TRIANGLE HEARTS

Looking for a fun craft to do with your kiddies? This is super easy and cute. Here's a quickie tutorial for a TRIANGLE HEART GARLAND.

SUPPLIES
Valentine's colored pipe cleaners - Michael's

PROCESS
1. Bend one pipe cleaner twice (in 1/3 spots) making a triangle.
2. Kink the top ends, wrap them around each other and pinch together to close the triangle.
3. Push in the side on the opposite side of the closed point to make a angular heart shape.
4. Take another pipe cleaner, send one end through the first heart and repeat the process.
5. Do the whole bunch and you've got a nice garland of triangle hearts.


23 January 2014

FELT HEART GARLAND

I get together with a bunch of friends every so often for DIY NIGHT. With Valentine's coming up we've crammed in two this month. Last time I started hand stitching these little felt hearts and made a garland with them. Tonight is another DIY NIGHT... what should I make?



21 January 2014

VALENTINE'S FELT ENVELOPES

Last year I saw these felt envelopes at Pottery Barn Kids so of course I knocked it off my own way.

The night before my husband and I had our own little craft night making cards for our girls. They enjoyed it so much that I feel like we need make this a long running tradition. Then when they're grown they can see an accumulation of love notes from their mom and dad.

These are aprox. 9" x 7" white felt envelopes with pink puffy heart closures. Lined with pink printed cotton fabrics. I also used gold thread. These were quickly done, and a bit sloppy but they're cute and good for the job at hand.


17 January 2014

BEST BURP CLOTH EVER



























I was asked to sew up some burp cloths for the new moms in the neighborhood. Recalling those spit-up days...I wanted an absorbent fabric, sweet pattern and a contoured shape.

Many of the DIY burp cloths you see online are cute and all but the grossness slides right down cotton quilting prints. So when you sew a the patterned fabric to the rectangle cloth diapers (the absorbent part), nothing soaks in. And those ultra soft fabrics like dimple dots don't actually absorb as much as you'd think. Terry cloth is absorbent but it's thick and messy to sew on because it sheds, plus it's not as soft. I even did an absorbancy test on Kokka fabrics because there are so many sweet prints, but alas, not absorbent enough. So I settled on flannel.

Cute flannels are harder to come by than cotton quilting prints. I'm not talking about cutesie baby fabrics. That's what I find at Joann's (No surprise there. Somebody tell me who that buyer is so I can T.P. her house)

Online was my source. I found some designer flannels here and here, the fanfare collection. If you really want to spend a pretty cent on your burp cloths, you can hunt down the amazing Heather Ross Munki Munki flannels (Cut up PJs). That's what I really wanted to do, but I was also on a budget and needed a large quantity.



























FREE printable pattern:




SUPPLIES
Flannel Fabric
Sewing Machine
White Thread
Scissors
Straight Pins
Needle
Iron and Iron Board
Chopstick*

PROCESS
1. Print pattern on 11x17 paper and cut it out.
2. Back up two prints of fabric and fold. Line it up so that you can fit as many as possible on the fold.
3. Place pattern on one of the back sides with the "Place on Fold" on the fold of the fabric, pin and cut out.
4. Sew 1/4" in from the edge, straight stitch all the way around the shape, leaving a 2" opening on one of the middle contour sides.
5. Turn inside out and iron flat, making sure to push out all of the fabric. *I use a chopstick to get the full shape.
6. Hand stitch the opening closed using a blind stitch (pretty good tutorial here).
7. Finish off with a decorative or zigzag top stitch all the way around the burp cloth shape about 1/4" in from the edge.




15 January 2014

PLAYROOM IS DONE...ish






















This room has taken four years to find it's place. As my daughters room it was never really complete. Now it's The Happy Place. See the style sheet here. There are still a few things to add, but that will happen later on.

For the first time, I can really say I'm pleased with this room. Many thanks to my helpful and patient husband!

WHAT'S IN THERE:
White Expedit Shelves - IKEA
Egg Chair - IKEA
Play Kitchen - IKEA
Knappa Light - IKEA
White Shag Rug - Target
Play Table/Chairs - P'kolino
White Baskets - Pottery Barn Kids
Cloud Shelf - RoomMates
Curtains - IKEA
Side Table - Vintage
Rag Rug - Handmade (more on the rug here)
Yellow Side Table - Vintage (painted)
Green Baskets - Target
Mirror - Handmade
Balloons - Handmade
Jonathan Adler Table Lamp - JCPenney
Globes - Vintage
Fisher Price Toys - Vintage
Mr. TTT - Friends With You
TJUSIG Wall Hooks - IKEA

TO ADD:
Wire Shelf - Urban Outfitters*
New Kitchen Dishes/Food*
Friends With You Map*
Play Table/Chairs - Little Nest
Yellow Pouf - Etsy
Round Rug

*I have these things but I'm spreading the project out. Spoiled kids ;)



13 January 2014

THE GRASS RAG RUG

This was a project that in my mind seemed so simple and then I started in... "what have I done!?!"


Sometimes I think everything is like working on the computer, command Z this and command C, command V that.... making projects so simple when the reality is really a monotonous time taker. THIS was a monotonous time taker.

I did about half of it, I don't even know if you could call it half. It was probably about 18 nights of tying knots, with hand cramps and back aches. It was still so thin and bare looking. Then my husband's grandmother, BLESS HER, was needing some projects and she saved my bacon.

GrandmaGreat completed enough in one week to hit the goal: just enough to make it look like grass. It's not completely full. If you were to turn it over, you'd see lots of spaces that could use filling. She and I both agreed that this is something you could do forever and never be done. But we were both satisfied that it looked like grass and that is all we needed. It is for the playroom and it won't have any foot traffic, it's just for show.

If you'd like to make one, I suggest something small for your sanity sake, unless you too have a GrandmaGreat that is willing to save your hide.

SUPPLIES
Variety of Green Fabrics (I used fat quarters*)
Scissors
Non-Slip Rug (cut to the desired size)

PROCESS
1. Lay out one fat quarter of fabric, one piece at a time, upside down. Fold it in half, and then fold it in half again.
2. Cut the folds so that you have four equal strips.
3. Cut 1/2" strips.
4. Repeat this process for each of your green fat quarter fabrics.
* If you buy more than fat quarters, just do this and eyeball it. The finished strips are about 1/2" x 5".
5. Cut your Non-Slip Rug Pad to the desired size.
6. Begin tying knots*, one strip per opening.
*Because my rug was not in a high traffic area and I'm not planning on ever washing it, I just tied it ONCE, I didn't tie it twice to make a knot.
7. Try to tie all of them in the same direction. I'm not sure why, maybe this is a bit of OCD talking, but it's nice to turn it over and have them all going the same direction ;)

This is what mine looked like after a few nights of working. In my next post... The playroom dress up area has the finished rag rug.



06 January 2014

JANUARY = DEJUNK MONTH

Setting New Years Resolutions are not really my thing. I like the idea of setting goals and New Years Resolutions. I'm all for ideas that better ourselves, our habits and our homes. I just don't like the cliche that we don't keep our resolutions. It all seems so doomed to fail. And honestly, I'm one of the many that has tried the "work out resolution"... and like many others, I made it to about February or March. It's a dreaded task for me, which means it won't easily become a habit.

I need a goal that is attainable to turn this doomed concept around. Sure it can still be dreaded but to make it doable, I make the entire month of January a deJunking month. It is liberating to let go of all the little unnecessary things that get collected all year long.

TAKE CARE OF THE HARDEST PART FIRST
I used to enjoy putting away Christmas because it was easy. I had ONE bin. But now, I have collected quite a lot of decorations, I'm up to six bins for Christmas (that's probably less than most people, I realize). Like most, I have bins for other holidays too, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, Summer/Spring... I also have bins from past parties so I can reuse decorations I've made.

As I pull out decor throughout the year, some gets put away in it's proper place and some doesn't. Some is out on loan and gets put away in the wrong place because I can't even reach the bin that it's supposed to go in. So before Christmas, the storage room is a fright.

As a result, putting away Christmas decorations means it's best to organize the basement storage room first... The aspect of this goal that is a bit of a chore BUT I love the way it feels after it's done!

Color code bins by holiday and/or season:
(I use Target's Sterilite bins because they sell different colored lids throughout the year):
Blue - Easter/SpringGreen - Summer
Silver - Various Parties
Orange - Halloween
Bronze - Thanksgiving
Red - Christmas


NEXT ATTACK THE BUSIEST ROOM
After Christmas has come down and the storage room is in order, I move on to the next biggie; the play room. I let the kids in on this one. They "get to" pull out 10 toys that they no longer need. I try to talk up the "get to" because it's hard for them to let go of toys. They've never been the kids that give up their favorite for the child in need. They're not there yet. I have high hopes that they'll be compassionate one day ;)

We put the box in the middle of the play room and load it up. I then load it up when they're not looking with other things that I feel can go. Every mom on the planet loves to get rid of some toys. You know the ones from Wendy's, McDonald's, puzzles without all the pieces, toys that are too young for them.

I keep one bin with baby toys that are sentimental to us. That way if any friends come over that have a baby brother or sister, I still have toys for them to play with.

I TRY like the dickens to edit out the stuffed animals. I'm not sure why this one is so hard for us. I even get attached to some of these toys. If we can pull out 3 plushies each we're doing great!

USE THE ENTIRE MONTH FOR ALL THE OTHER ROOMS
Next I go after our closets. My husband and I edit out our closets easily, we know what we don't wear enough to justify taking up space. He's a shoe guy so it's always great to lose a few of those. Big feet = big shoes = space takers.

Then I edit out the kids clothes. I have the clothes in bins by size. Clothes that my youngest can wear are most accessible and the small sizes that both my girls have grown out of are put away for the long haul. In those bins, I only keep the extra special, sentimental outfits, the clothes that they may want for their own kids later.

Next, I edit out the bathroom cupboards and drawers, the medicine cabinet, the food storage, and kitchen cabinets.

By the time January is over we all feel refreshed. It's amazing what editing for a month can do to the way your home feels!






19 December 2013

CHRISTMAS NEIGHBOR GIFT - HOT CHOCOLATE DIPPERS

It's not too late! Tis' the season for sharing a little something sweet.























This year I teamed up with my good friend Chris from Well & Good to make Hot Chocolate Dippers. I saw them at Anthropologie for $6.00 each and I figured I could make those!

Below are links to what we used. It's not necessary to get a caramel loaf, but it's easier than unwrapping a bag of individually wrapped caramels. I used about 1/4 of the loaf for 60 dippers. I melted the rest of the caramel for another recipe and some caramel apples. So it has plenty of uses. Also, Chris and I did three batches of dippers (two batches were salted caramel, one batch was peppermint = 180 dippers total!), so we went through about a 1/2 loaf by the end of this project.

A word on chocolate. I'm not a master baker, but every time I've bought the chocolate listed below, all has gone very well. I love it. It's smooth and so so yummy.

About the trays. We searched and searched for trays that looked like the same size as the dippers I saw in the store. I liked these because they weren't tapered but completely square. About 1.25"x1.25". After trying out the dippers, this size works great with a small mug of milk. If you have larger ice cube trays, expect to use more milk, or have extremely rich hot chocolate. Also, I've only tried this with silicone. It's tricky to get the first one out, but once that's out, they'll all come out easily. An old hard plastic tray???? Who even knows.

SUPPLIES
Silicone Ice Cube Trays
Wood Coffee Sirrers
Wax Paper
Rubber Scraper
Squeeze Bottle
Pam

Packaging:
Clear Cello Bags - Singles (2.5"x6") Duos (3.5"x2"x7.5")
Ribbon
Tags - See below for FREE PRINTABLES
*Optional - Plates ($1 section at Target) and doilies

RECIPE
Ingredients:
Makes 60 Chocolate Dippers (using four trays of 15 each)
5lb bag of Guittard Milk Chocolate A'Peels
Caramel Loaf
Sea Salt
Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

*Optional (and extremely tasty) - Peppermint flavoring oil
Peppermint Candy Canes - Mini's, thick... they all work.

PROCESS
1. Wash each silicone tray and lightly spray with Pam. LIGHTLY.
2. Cut 1/4 of the caramel loaf off and place it on a sheet of wax paper. Slice it into .75" thick pieces. Then cube it into about .75"x.75", you can round them to a ball or keep them flat.
3. Put sticks into 15 of the caramels (enough to load one tray at a time)
4. In a large pot melt about 1/4 of your 5lb bag of chocolate on low. I start at 3-low for a few minutes before I add them, then move the dial between 3 and 2. Stir occasionally. Once melted, pour the chocolate into a squeeze bottle. This will save on the mess!
5. Pour in another 1/4 of the chocolate and stir until the new bits are coated with whatever is left in the pot.
6. Squeeze a bit of chocolate into each spot of ONE tray.
7. Place the caramels with sticks in them into each spot in the tray
8. Check on the chocolate occasionally, stir. You don't want any crumbling or bubbling = too hot. It should be smooth. It's a steady slow heat.
9. Start to add chocolate and fill each of the spots in the tray. You'll probably run out of chocolate in your squeeze bottle, but that's ok, the chocolate in the pot should be melted by now. Reload your squeeze bottle and finish the TRAY 1.
10. Repeat this process for the other two trays.
11. After each tray is completely filled put them into the refrigerator. It's ok to keep them in overnight, but I've found that about 2 hours in the fridge is perfect.
12. After about 20 minutes, you can add some sea salt to the top. Do a bit on one, see if the salt melts in, if so, wait a few more minutes. You want it to be tacky so the salt sticks, but not so hot that it melts in because the salt is pretty.
13. It's nice to have sticks that stand upright, so check on them occasionally, move them back into place.











































* If you want some Peppermint Dippers, no need for the caramel. On your next load of chocolate, add a few drops of Peppermint flavoring oil. The sticks will have a tougher time standing up on their own, you can put a mini candy cane in upside down and let the stick and candy prop each other up, or you can get fatter candy canes and break them down to about 2" pieces. I like the finished rounded edge sticking out the best. You can also add crushed candy cane to the tops after about 15 minutes or so (see #12).

14. Once cooled (I think 2 hours is optimal, but overnight is ok) it's time to take them out of the trays. Let them sit about 5 minutes, put down some wax paper.
15. Turn one tray upside down and work on one corner, trying to push out from the bottom and stretch the sides. Do so gently. As soon as you feel it giving way, turn it back over and push it out from the bottom.
16. With one out, you can get the others easily by pushing from the bottom, slightly twisting, pulling at the edges gently. Get them all out and place them onto the wax paper.
17. Dip each one into a bowl of Cocoa powder and tap off any excess. This is mostly to coverup any odd swirling that may have happened while cooling. It looks nice to have them coated slightly in the powder.
18. If needed, you can top each of the caramel dippers with a bit more salt before putting them in their baggies.












































19. Print off and cut the tags. Load the dippers either 1 per singles bag (2.5"x6"), or 2 per duo bag (3.5"x2"x7.5"). With the wider bags, I use the folded card and string through the top with ribbon. The individuals get a bit of ribbon cinched around the bag and then a tag on each one. FREE PRINTABLE TAGS are below.

Merry Christmas Gifting! xoxo

























Print these on 8.5"x11" Cardstock (q4 Cards) and fold at the center line then punch a hole.
This will provide How-To instructions without having to print front-to-back.

































 








































Print these on 8.5"x11" Cardstock (q12 Cards) and cut out each individually.
These do not have How-To instructions. But offer some various mug options.








































Print these 8.5"x11" Cardstock (q4 Cards) and cut at the center vertical line then again at the center horizontal line. Then fold at the center line for each card.
 These are for packaged sets of two, one Salted Caramel and one Peppermint.





















15 December 2013

TOOTH FAIRY PILLOW

Apparently my husband's family tooth fairy, is named Janice. I love it. Janice?! Who's idea was that? Because all I can think of is "Three's Company". In keeping with tradition... we needed to prepare for Janice's arrival... And FAST. Our daughter had a wiggler for a few weeks and then all of the sudden she was eating breakfast and it just popped out. Quick and painless! Bless-Ed Be because I wasn't interested in the crying and whining... (oh wait, we got our share of that on her second wiggler, exactly 5 days later.)

Needless to say, I was in tooth fairy mode instantly. I had my eye on this pillow for years, but never really noticed the price until recently. Not within my budget for a 5" pillow. I couldn't find any others in the same range of cuteness or patterns for less so I started in. I had 5 hours to start and finish this little friend.



SUPPLIES
White Knit Sweater - (I found one at a local second hand store, it was huge, without seams and the right color, but not wool. It will do in a pinch but wool would last longer.) - washed
1/4 yd. Thin Cotton Muslin - washed
Stuffing
Pattern (see provided PDF)
Pins
Fabric Scissors
Sewing Machine
White Thread
Embroidery Thread - Pink. Warm Grey

PROCESS
1. Print provided PDF pattern.
2. Wash the knit fabric and cotton muslin
3. Lay out the knit, folded once over so you can cut two pieces at once. Situate your pattern on top and pin. Cut around the fabric at the pattern line.
4. Repeat the process for the cotton muslin.
5. Layer the four pieces... muslin, knit, knit, muslin... and pin.
6. Sew around the tooth leaving a 2" gap on one side.
7. Turn the fabric inside out so that the muslin is on the inside.
8. Stuff the tooth with stuffing.
9. Hand sew the 2" side opening closed with small stitching.
For the Pocket
10. Cut a piece of muslin (using a finished end for the top of the pocket if available) that is 2x as long as the pocket size, fold in half and iron.
11. Cut a piece of the knit (using a pre-finished edge for the top of the pocket if available). Make sure it's about a 1/2" larger all the way around from the muslin size.
12. Sew the top of the muslin (unfolded) to the top of the knit,
13. Wrap the 1/2" portions around the folded muslin and pin.
14. Sew the three sides, leaving the top open, creating a pocket.
15. Hand sew the pocket to the back of the tooth.*
16. Embroider the face to the front of the tooth, making the eyes far apart and the smile long.*

* You can also, sew this pocket to the back, before you layer your pieces (#5)
* You can also embroider the face to the front before you layer your pieces (#5)

It is my preference to do these last two steps after the tooth is stuffed to ensure that the placement works. Sometimes stuffing throws me off and the face ends up too low or in a crack... this is just me.

Here's my happy toothless sweetle with her new friend, "Toothie".























Free patterns!