Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 1: Grow Sparkling Crystal Ornaments

Welcome to the first day of The Twelve Days of Homemade Christmas here on Homemade Mamas! The first project we want to share is this one we found on - Growing Crystal Ornaments! This project was one that definitely caught our eye, as we have kids that are crazy about science and Christmas, so finding a way to combine both was wonderful! And it was so easy...and a little magical!

What you need:

  • Pipe cleaners

  • Scissors

  • Pencil

  • String

  • Mason jar or glass

  • Water

  • Borax
First, have your kids make different shapes out of their pipe cleaners, making sure that the finished shapes will easily fit inside your jars or glasses without touching the sides. We made spirals, swirls, and letters of the alphabet!

Next, boil your water. Carefully pour the water into the glass containers and then add your Borax (start with about 4 tablespoons). If you want, you can have your kids carefully stir the borax into the water - just remember that it's going to be hot! once the Borax is dissolved, check and see if there is sediment at the bottom of the glass. If not, add more Borax and stir.

Tie a string around your pipe cleaner shapes and then tie them to the pencil. Then lower the pipe cleaner shape into the glass, resting the pencil on top to keep it from falling in. Make sure that the pipe cleaner shape does not touch the bottom of the container (if it does, pull your shape out and shorten up the string).Let your containers sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Crystals should start to form in an hour or two as the water cools down. You can tell your kids that the hot water is able to hold more of the Borax, so as the water gets cold Borax is released and crystals form on the pipe cleaners!

After 24 hours (or earlier if you are impatient), pull your new ornaments out of the liquid, dry them off, and admire their crystally, frosty beauty!These not only make pretty ornaments, but would be lovely hanging in a window or tied to a package!
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble Gobble....and an Announcement!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers! We hope you are all enjoying a wonderful food-filled day with your loved a drumstick for us! We have so much in our own lives to be thankful for and wanted to take this this opportunity to share our warmest appreciation to our wonderful readers for helping us to make this little blog so much fun! We are definitely thankful for all of you!

Around here, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the countdown to Christmas! So here is a little holly-jolly news: Starting next Monday (November 29th) the Homemade Mamas are going to start "The Twelve Days of Homemade Christmas"! How will it work? Instead of posting on Mondays and Thursdays, we will post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday starting next Monday and going through Christmas Eve - twelve posts in all! And each one will feature a homemade Christmas project! So get ready to haul out the holly because we have some great ideas to share!

In the meantime, go grab a second (or third) helping of pie and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Stringing Up Some Snow

With fall soon making way for winter, our kids are anxiously awaiting snow (us not so much). And one of their favorite activities this time of year is cutting paper snow flakes. They make them by the thousands, it seems! Because we only have so many windows to hang them in, we needed to find a new way to display these masterpieces. We have been seeing people making garlands by running paper through their sewing machines, so we wondered if the same could be done with our plethora of paper snow flakes! And the answer is yes! (forgive the quality of the pics - our inspiration seems to strike at night when the lighting is poor)

What You Need:
  • a load of paper snow flakes
  • a sewing machine

This is so simple and quick! Simply switch on your machine and run the first snowflake though. Once that once clears the needle, simply run the next one through. Keep going until you are out of snowflakes and you will have a gorgeous winter garland made out of your kid's (or yours!) snowflakes!

The end result is so pretty and everyone will be amazed at your craftiness!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rainbow Smoothies

Doctors say you should eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies a day. That is often easier said than done. One of the hardest things to do as parents is to make sure your kids (and ourselves) are getting all the fruits and veggies they are supposed to get each day. We decided to see what it would taste like if we made a super smoothie with the recommended amounts of produce in it. After much experimentation (and some really weird smoothies) we came up with this delicious smoothie (maybe not the prettiest, but - yum!). You can drink the whole thing yourself for breakfast and lunch or share it with your family - it makes about 32 oz and is about 400 cal. all together, when made with water.

The recipe
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup frozen blue berries
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/4 cup avocado
  • 1 small banana
  • 2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
  • 2 cups water or milk
  • a splash of lemon juice

Throw all the ingredients in your blender. Blend on high until all the ingredients are very well blended. Our kids don't want to see any spinach at all! Enjoy!

If your kids find the color a little strange, cut back on the spinach. You can substitute some pumpkin puree if you prefer.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Something's Fishy...

Last year we shared a recipe for making your Homemade Dog Treats (a fun food project for your kids to make and your pups to eat!). We are just now getting around to sharing a great recipe for making Homemade Cat Treats! We use this great recipe, and the cats in our family love them! The best part is that this recipe makes a lot for very little money, and you know exactly what your furry friends are eating.

What You Need:
  • 1 - 6 oz can tuna, undrained (we were out of tuna, so used canned salmon)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup water
Mix all your ingredients in a large mixing bowl, adding more water or flour as needed to get a nice, workable dough. Does it smell good? is pretty fishy. But while we prepared our dough, we soon had a little "helper" begging for a taste...she apparently didn't know these were for the cats...

Roll your dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness, then cut into small pieces. We found that a pizza cutter made the job so easy!

Place your treats onto a greased cookie sheet. You don't have to worry too much about spacing them apart, since they won't rise or puff up.
Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven then let cool completely before allowing your kitties to dig in. While ours were cooling, the smell of freshly baked treats were drawing the attention of one of our test subjects!
Just like with the dog treats, these have no preservatives, so they need to be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. This recipe is so easy to make, and the furry members of your family (including the dog!) will love them! And they'll love you for making them!
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

5-Minute Apron

Let's face it: housework stinks. None of us want to do it, but it's a part of life around here. But sometimes the the most mundane tasks can be made a little bit better when you are wearing something cute! So how about a cute apron? We whipped this on up in no time flat (it took longer to set up the sewing machine than to actually put the apron together), and we love the way it came out! Best of all, it was free! We made it using things we already had on hand.

What You Need:
  • a clean dishtowel
  • ribbon
  • pins
  • sewing machine (although you could sew it by hand if you wanted)
First, lay your towel out flat. Wrap your ribbon around your waist to make sure it will be long enough to use as a tie. Then lay your ribbon up against one of the long sides and pin it into place.

Next, simply run it through your sewing machine.

Finally, all that's left to do is tie it on and channel your inner Donna Reed!
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Guacamole? How About Mock-a-Mole!

We love food. We really love food. Seriously. If it is sweet, salty, fatty, and high in calories, we are all over it. In an attempt to show us the error of our ways, Rebecca and Maggie's mom (who we call Homemade Nana) has been introducing us to all sorts of healthy versions of the tasty things we crave. One such recipe is one for a healthier version of Guacamole that she found thanks to Hungry Girl. Teasing her, we started calling it Mock-a-Mole, but were surprised at how tasty it really is!

What You Need:

  • 1 (15oz) can young peas (Nana says that she's tried frozen - canned works better)
  • 1 medium avocado, mashed
  • 1/3 cup chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 4 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp each black pepper, cumin, and chili powder
  • optional: cilantro, jalapeno
Now that you've read the list of ingredients and are thinking, "Are those Mamas, nuts? Peas??" just remember that, being the food junkies that we are, we would never share a gross recipe. We promise (have you forgotten our Homemade Marshmallow Fluff, Chocolate Mug Cake, or the Fossil Cookies?).

To make your Mock-a-Mole, simply mash your peas with a fork or potato masher., then add the rest of your ingredients. Easy-peasy! This is great for dipping chips or adding to your favorite tacos, but we also found it's really yummy as a spread for your sandwich! And it's pretty healthy, too! In a 1/3 cup serving there are:
  • 78 calories
  • 3 g fat
  • 320 mg sodium
  • 10.5 g carbs
  • 3.5 g fiber
  • 4 g sugar
So give it a try! You will be pleasantly surprised!
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall is Knocking at the Door

With the beauty of fall all around us, we wanted to come up with a project to do with the kids that really showed off all of the wonderful colors. We came across this project, and liked how it was constructed. But since our kids have discovered the fun and "magic" of doing rubbings with leaves and crayons, we wanted to incorporate that too. So we came up with this cute door hanging - perfect to celebrate fall!

What you need:
  • Leaves
  • Stick
  • Construction paper
  • White paper (not pictured)
  • Crayons (not pictured)
  • Twine
  • Glue
  • Scissors
First, you and your little artist should make the rubbings of the leaves. To do this, we placed a leaf under the white paper. Many leaves are more textured on their underside, so have the most textured side facing up. Then we rubbed our crayon (on it's side) over the paper to reveal the leaf underneath. Our boys think this part is pretty magic!

We made a couple copies of the same leaves in different colors.

Then we cut out our leaves...

...and glue it to a piece of construction paper.

We flipped the construction paper over and glue a piece of twine down the center. Then we glued a second cut out of the same leaf on top of the twine. This will help secure it and show a pretty leaf picture even when the wind blows them around.

We then cut around the leaf, leaving a colorful construction paper border. We then repeated the above steps , attaching more colorful leaves up the length of the twine.

Then we tied the twine to our stick and repeated these steps until we had the look we wanted! Finally, we tied more twine to the stick to make a hanger, then hung it on the front door! It's the perfect addition to our fall decorating and a great way to get the kids involved as well!
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Warm Legs Are Happy Legs

We, like so many, have clothes that are ready to head to charity. But then there are those pieces that are too far gone to be donated. We hate to just throw them away, so we try to think of new things to be made from the fabric. One such item was a sweater that had a run-in with some moths. But what can be made with a holey sweater? How about some leg warmers!

What You Need:
  • an old sweater
  • sewing machine or needle and thread
  • chilly legs
First, cut one of the sleeves off of your sweater, trying to do so straight across versus along the shoulder line. Try on your sleeve (with the cuff at the top and the cut edge at the bottom)to make sure it is the length you like, as well as if it is as tight as you would like it. If it is a little too loose for you, check out these instructions for how to tighten them up. Ours were perfectly snug, so we moved onto the next step.

Turn your sleeve inside out and fold over the cut end. Using your sewing machine or needle and thread hem it up so that it doesn't unravel.

Turn your sleeve...we mean leg warmer...right side out again and try it on! Repeat these steps with the other sleeve and get ready to channel your inner jazzercizer!

These can be made in a matter of minutes and are perfect now that the weather is turning chilly. And they would make great gifts, too!
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