Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paper Plate Snowmen

So, I was looking at a stack of paper plates that was sitting on our table this morning as I was eating cereal with my girls, and I got to thinking... "Hmm... I wonder if we could do some sort of Christmas craft with these plates." (yep, I'm crazy like that) And then it hit me... Snowmen! Perfect! So we pulled out some scissors, glue, yarn, and construction paper, and before we knew it, we had two adorable little snowmen adorning our kitchen wall. It's just a fun little craft that was quick and easy and the girls thoroughly enjoyed it.
My 3-yr old did hers all on her own and I helped the 2-yr old with hers (although she did surprisingly well), but I think they both did awesome. The trick was marking a little "x" on the paper plate where the different pieces were supposed to go. I even color coordinated the ink of the "x" to match the color of construction paper so that my oldest wouldn't have to ask me what to do but could do it more independently. I think she loved that. She even started learning how to tie the knots to hold the snowman together. (She'll be tying her own shoes before I know it!!) :)
Here are the masterpieces:

Anyway, here's the basic idea of how I did it, in case you get the itch to make one too. (You know you want to!) :)

What you'll need: 3 paper plates (per snowman); black, orange, and blue (or whatever color you want the eyes to be) construction paper; scissors; glue; hole puncher; white yarn; black marker (for drawing on the mouth)
What to do: Cut out your shapes (eyes, nose, and buttons) from the construction paper according to the design above, or however you want yours to look. (Note: the design above is not to scale. It is just a guideline for referencing.)
Mark your paper plates with the "x"s where you want your pieces to go. (Use different color ink to match the coordinating piece. i.e. a blue x where the blue eyes go, a black x where the black buttons go.)
Place a dot of glue on each of the "x"s and then place the coordinating piece on top of the glue and press.
Punch two holes in the top and/or bottom of your plates as necessary. Cut 4 pieces of yarn and tie your snowman together.
Now enjoy your winter creation! :)
Merry Christmas!

(Oh, and we did our snowmen with the plates concave, but I think it might actually be cuter with the plates backwards so they have more of a real snowman look. It would just make it harder to stick it to the wall that way. But either way works.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Butterfly Mobile

Wow! It has been for.ev.er since I've posted on here. I blame it on the kiddos not taking their naps anymore. :) I have SO many projects that have been left in limbo because I just have not made the time to finish them. But today I actually finished one off! Woohoo! It's this super cute butterfly mobile. I made one for each of my girls' rooms. I got my inspiration from HERE along with the template for the butterflies, but I made some changes (like making them 3 separate butterflies instead of one long mobile) and added some fun details as well (like the beaded butterfly bodies). These were fun to make, but I learned something very important: I. hate. working with invisible thread. It drives me bonkers! It gets tangled so easily and then is nigh impossible to untangle because you can't see the thread well enough to know which way is coming or going! Merciful heaven! But in the end, I guess it was worth it for the look on my daughter's faces when they realized they had BUTTERFLIES flying around their rooms. :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Dinner Organized

I don't know about you, but the thought of dinner time can often be a source of stress for me throughout the day--I hate trying to think of 'what to make' for dinner. It will stress me out all day long until I finally come up with something that sounds good, only to realize I don't have the ingredients I need for it and have to start all over again at picking a new meal. Ugh. So anyway, I came across this idea on my cousins blog of having a month long menu planned out. I loved it. Loved it. You just take some time on one day, plan the whole month (or at least a week or two), and then each day, you don't have to worry about what you're going to make... you already know! And once you've got the menus planned, you just write down a list of all the ingredients needed for each meal and take that with you to the grocery store. So nice. So easy.
And since I love to make things all pretty and flourishy (I know... not a word), I came up with some cute shopping lists to make the list writing more fun, along with some nice calendars to make the menu planning more pleasant as well. :) (You would think I have too much time on my hands, but oddly enough I don't. I just spend my time on randomly strange projects). :)
Anyway, I figured since I had these calendars and shopping lists done, I would share them with anyone who chances to come across this blog. :) They're nothing fancy, but I've got a calendar for each month up to February 2010 (and they have little pictures to remind you of any major holidays as well). The "M" is for Main Dish, and then there's a spot for Side Dish 1 and Side Dish 2. I usually only have one side dish, but there's room for a second on the rare occasion.
Well, that's it for me. Enjoy and Happy Eating to you all. :)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

4th of July T-shirt Wreath - Tutorial

I was trying to think of some fun decor I could make for the 4th of July and as I looked at the empty hook on our front door, it shouted at me, "I need a wreath on me!" (My, what a demanding little hook that is!) :) But it was right. A nice red, white, and blue wreath would look great there. Now, how to make it? I must have seen something on someone's blog that inspired the idea, but for the life of me can't think what or where it was, but I came up with the idea of using some of my old shirts to make the wreath. AND, it just so happened that I had a red, white, and blue shirt in my old give-away pile. Granted, the red wasn't as deep or rich as I would have preferred, but beggars can't be choosers, right? And so, hi-ho, hi-ho it was off to crafting I go. And this is how it came out! I was pretty pleased with it. :)

And the best part??! This was 100% FREE! I had everything I used for this on hand! Nothing beats free decor, right?

So anyway, here's the tutorial...

-1 shirt each of red, white, and blue
-1 wire hanger
-scissors or a rotary cutter (the rotary cutter makes this go SO much faster)
-pliers (I realized after the picture that they were much needed)
-hot glue gun and sticks (again, noticed the need after the picture)
-coordinating ribbons (optional-- I didn't even end up using them)

First, untwist the top of the hanger and straighten it out. Then bend it into a nice circle. I used the rounded hook part of the hanger to make a nice loop for hanging, but you can just make it completely circular if you like. (This is where you'll likely need your pliers- in helping you bend and twist the wire around each other to close off the circle. And once I had my circle and hook in place, I used hot glue at each end of the wire to keep it from being pokey and to help everything stay put.)

Next, cut your shirts into strips that are approximately 1-2" wide by about 6-8" long (you really don't want to go any longer than that). Now, it's not an exact science, so just start cutting away! Also, you will likely only need about 1/2 of the shirt (depending on how big it is) so don't cut everything all at once. Start with half the shirt and then you could potentially save the rest for another project (or at the very least, you've saved yourself from spending unnecessary time cutting extra strips).
(In mine, I used the parts of the shirt that had print on them. I like that it reminds me that the wreath came from some of my shirts. You may not like this and therefore may just want to use the unprinted parts of the shirt.)

Next you just start tying the strips onto the hangar. (Only do a single tie. Double tying to create a knot will leave you with too much bulkiness and the strip stays on just fine without a knot.) Keep tying, keep tying, and when you're tired of that... tie some more. :) There's no rhyme or reason. Just put some strips on there in varying orders until it's a nice, full wreath.
I actually ended up tying some on top of each other once I had gotten all the way around the wreath because it didn't seem full enough to me. So I just kept going until I liked it. :) (This is where you could also add some strips of the ribbon if you wanted. I just didn't want to.) And here it is!
But it still seemed like it was lacking something...

So out came some wooden stars that I had in a drawer, and some white sheer ribbon. I painted the stars red and blue...

hot glued them to the ribbon, and tied the ribbons onto the wreath...

and Ta-Da! It's done!

Happy 4th of July everybody!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Fun

I had a lot of fun making my hubby's Father's Day presents this year (this is the first time I've actually made him something as a present... I think). I came across this tie tutorial from 'the purl bee' and it just got my creative juices flowing. I figured I could make a tie and then have the girls put their handprints on it to add some sweet personalization from them to their daddy. And then I thought it would be cute to not only make a tie, but to also make something for the girls to wear so they could match their daddy when we went to church that day. So the oldest got yet another simple skirt, and the new baby got a cute little hair bow to wear. (I was going to make a skirt for the baby as well, but I ran out of time and needed something fast, so in came the bow idea.) And here's how it all turned out:

And here's the gang, sportin' the goods... :)

They're so darn cute!!

...haha, if you notice, the tie is a bit short on the under side. Um, ya... that's a combination of using the unrevised version of the tie pattern (the revised pattern is apparently a bit longer) as well as not taking into account that I have an extra tall hubby. Lesson learned. From now on, all ties need about 10 inches added to them. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Finally Done!

Holy cow. I have been two buttons away from finishing this cute little clutch bag for about a month now. Why can I not just sit down and sew on two buttons?! I'll tell you why. It's because I have a strict policy that I MUST have at least 10 different projects going on at the same time, at all times. So, until I picked up another project, I couldn't finish this one. (anyone buying it?!) Okay, truthfully... I'm just a super big slacker who has major procrastination issues. :) But here it is! It's finally finished! The cute little bag for my other SIL, Annie. Hopefully she likes it. This one was designed specifically with her style in mind (so if she hates it, that just shows how observant I am regarding people's styles and tastes, doesn't it!). :)
Anyway, funny story about it... I was sitting in my craft/sewing/computer room putting the buttons on while my hubby was on the computer, and when I was done I showed it to him and his comment was, "it looks like the 'money' on those Geico commercials." (you know, those SUPER DUPER ANNOYING commercials with the DUMB song that gets stuck in your head??!) But I gotta say, when I look at this next picture... I totally see it! :)

"It always feels like somebody's watchin me!"

Ahh... two cute little bags. Don't they just look like they're going to be good friends? :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Homemade Granola Bars

Mmm! Mm! Good!

Okay... ever since I went to a food storage activity night and heard a comment about how we are so stuck on processed foods these days... how we buy these "granola bars" that we think are so healthy and yet are packed with HFC (high-fructose corn syrup) and other crazy stuff and we buy "fruit snacks" that really have nothing to do with fruit, etc. I have been thinking about making my own homemade granola bars (I'm still sticking with fruit snacks, though! What can I say? I'm still somewhat of a kid at heart :)). I started checking for some recipes online but still found a bunch of corn starch, sugar, etc in all these bars and never really settled on anything. And then I came across THIS recipe. After reading through some of the rave comments for them, I decided these had to be worth a shot. And seriously! They're so good! They're way better than what you buy in the store, way cheaper, and way healthier! Is there a down side to this?! ...Other than that now I will be having to make my granola bars instead spending two seconds to throw them in my grocery cart? ...but actually, that's half the fun too! And really it is, because this recipe is so versatile that you can customize it to be pretty much anything you want! I didn't have all the things the recipe called for, so I just used what I had on hand and they turned out fabulous. SO... give them a try. Click on the link for the original recipe, (plus she has great pictures for each step!) but here's the recipe that I made...

Homemade Granola Bars
-2 cups oats
-3/4 cup flax seed (half of that was milled and half just regular seeds)
-1/2 cup coconut
-1/4 cup chopped pecans
-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
-2/3 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup honey
-4 Tbsp butter
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
-about 1 cup dried fruit (I used Craisins);

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
-Mix the oats, nuts, flax seed, and coconut on a baking dish (with sides) and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don't get burned.
-While they're toasting, get a 9x13 glass baking dish and line it with parchment paper (you can use wax paper with a nonstick spray if you don't have parchment, but be aware that you may end up having to pick wax paper out of your granola bars! -don't say I didn't warn you!)
-Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer, stirring constantly. (Don't forget to check on your toasting mixture as well!)
-Once it comes to a simmer, remove it from heat. And your grain/nut mixture should be done now too, so take it out of the oven (and you can turn the oven off too... we're done using it).
-Throw the toasted mixture into a large bowl and power the melted mixture on top, along with your dried fruit. And mix, mix, mix.
-Mix some more. :) You want to make sure that everything gets coated with the "glue".
-Dump your granola mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread it out as evenly as possible.
-Using another piece of parchment (or wax paper, but again, watch out for sticking), press down HARD all over the top of the granola. You want to compact it together so the bars won't fall apart when you cut them.
-Wait 2-3 hours, or until the granola has completely cooled.
-Turn the granola onto a large cutting board and peel away what is now the top layer of parchment paper.
-Cut the granola into bars by firmly pressing down with a big cutting knife (not sawing). You can make the bars whatever size you like, but if you make them the general "granola bar" size, you should be able to get 18-20 bars out of this.
-Finally, you can either wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap so they're ready to grab and go, or you can just store them in an airtight container (with a piece of parchment placed between any layers).
Ta-da! Homemade granola bars. Enjoy! They're tasty!
Also, if you read through the comments on the original recipe, there are options for substituting things like agave syrup for the sugar, or reducing the amount of sugar and honey and adding some peanut butter instead... stuff like that. Really, you can just play with it and make it to your tastes! Have fun!