Sunday, December 25, 2011

Winter Break

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Holiday Season with friends and family! We definitely are! So much so that we've decided to take a little break this week to to slow down and enjoy this time...and recover a little from all the festivities! But we will be back with more crafty fun after the New Year!
Happy Holidays!
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 12: "Piñata" Ornamants

Can you believe this is the last day of our Twelve Days of Homemade Christmas? It has gone by so fast, with Christmas approaching even faster! And while we are busy around here getting ready for the big day and all the festivities, we couldn't forget our kids' teachers who have given our boys so much. We wanted to make them special gifts as a way to thank them, and come up with this simple ornament idea! We call them "Pinãta Ornaments" not because there are treats
inside, but because to make them we used the same basic procedure as with our piñata! So easy for the kids to make themselves and they look so pretty too!

What You Need:
  • small balloons (we used water balloons!)
  • glue (or Modge Podge if you're feeling fancy)
  • tissue paper
  • paint brushes
  • string
First, blow up your balloons. To make them stay still while we worked we placed them on toilet paper rolls that we cut down to smaller sizes! Then rip/cut your tissue paper into smaller pieces.

Pour your glue into a small container, and dilute it with water if you think it's too thick. Then "paint" your balloon with the glue and stick your tissue paper to your balloon. Add another layer of glue to the tissue paper. Add more layers of tissue paper to your balloon, finishing it off by adding a final coat of glue to your balloon (yeah this can get messy but it's fun!). This will help smooth down the tissue paper and give your finished ornament a little shine.

Once you have a layer or two of tissue paper on your balloon, but a length of string and tie it into a loop. Lay it on your balloon and secure it in place with layers of tissue paper. This will be the hanger for your ornament.

Place your balloons somewhere to dry (again we used circles made form toilet paper rolls), or if you are impatient like us you can go at them with a hair dryer!

Once they are dry, hang them on your tree or in your window and admire you and your kid's handiwork!

Unfortunately the above picture doesn't do these ornaments justice. In real life the light shines through them and they are just gorgeous!

Such a simple project, but one that we think our favorite teachers will appreciate.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 11 - Coal Candy

Here is a sweet treat to remind your friends and family to be nice and not naughty this time of year! Hard candy that looks an awful lot like real coal! We found recipes all over the web, but we decided to try the one from our Gooseberry Patch cookbook, Christmas in the Country. Many recipes we found flavored the candy with anise, cinnamon or peppermint extracts. We thought the kids would enjoy orange flavored coal more. We were right. Ben says this is his new favorite candy! We wish we had taken more pictures of this project. Jonah was hilarious smashing the candy apart!

The recipe:

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1 - 2 tsp. black food coloring paste

  • 1 tsp. flavoring (orange is weaker than other flavors, next time we would use more)

In a heavy sauce pan, mix sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil without stirring. Wash down any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush (we didn't find we needed to do this). Continue to boil with out stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 260°; add food coloring. Continue to boil until the thermometer reaches exactly 300°. Remove from heat. When finished boiling add flavoring. Pour syrup into a lightly greased 8"x8" baking pan; cool completely at room temperature. Using a wooden spoon, (we used a meat mallet) break apart candy into coal like pieces. Wrap in small plastic bags tied with a ribbon!

The boys loved how black the candy made their tongue and teeth! They also think we should leave some of this candy for Santa. It would be funny to leave him some coal for a change!

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 10: Snowball Surprise Soap

We recently saw this fantastically simple idea from Sweet and Simple Things (thank you Craft Gossip!) and knew it would make a great addition to our Twelve Days of Homemade Christmas! These adorable "snowball" soaps hold a secret inside and will make a great homemade gift. We're even thinking about making a bunch as gifts for our kids' classmates!

What You Need:
  • Bar Soap
  • Grater
  • Small Toy
  • Warm Water

First grate your soap into shavings. Keep an eye on little fingers if your kids are helping!

Then add a small amount of water to your shavings and begin to mold the soap around the toy. As usual we were hoping to use something more festive, but the boys insisted on bugs...

Keep molding until you have a nice snowball shape, adding more shavings or water as needed. We got about two snowballs per bar of soap. Then place your soaps somewhere where they can dry for awhile.

Now your Snowball Surprise Soaps are ready to wrap up and give as gifts! But they are so cute you might be tempted to keep one for yourself!
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 9 - White Chocolate Pretzel Snowmen!

When we opened our Taste Of Home holiday issue. We knew we had to make these cute little guys! Sweet, salty and delicious! They would be great treats for any holiday party or enjoyed with a mug of hot cocoa. Gather up the kiddies and make a batch of these frosty fellows!

What you need:

  • long pretzel rods

  • White chocolate chips

  • gumdrops for the top of the hat (we used Christmas Dots)

  • gumdrop rings for the hat brim(we used gummy lifesavers)

  • mini chocolate chips

  • mini m & m's - for buttons and carrot nose, we couldn't find them so we used mini chocolate chips and orange fruit snacks.

  • Fruit by the foot for scarfs

  • wax paper

We put the chocolate chips in a glass and melted them in the microwave. Watch out, stuffepuppies like white chocolate too! While the chocolate was melting, we got the candy ready! We cut the fruit by the foot in half and into about 8 inch strips. We cut orange fruit snacks into carrot shapes. After the chocolate had melted, we assembled the hats. We used a little white chocolate to glue together. The directions had us make them this way, but... ...we thought that flipping the gumdrops over makes them look more like tophats.

The directions for assembly were a little vague. After a little experimenting we figured out a few tips. First we dipped the pretzel rods then laid them on a piece of wax paper. We made the face and added the buttons. Let the chocolate harden then tie on the scarves. Stand the snowmen up in glasses. "Glue" a hat on with a little melted chocolate.

After a few minutes your snowmen will be ready to package or simply eat!
Jonah thought that was a good idea!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 8 - "Glass" Candy Ornaments

When we saw this idea for making "Glass" Candy Ornaments, we knew we had to make it as part of our Twelve Days of Homemade Christmas. The original tutorial involved melting hard candies in your oven using foil-covered cookie cutters as a mold. Sounds simple enough....until we tried it and it was a total FAIL! We are sure the error was on our part, but we were determined to make these adorable ornaments! Then an idea came to us: skip the cookie cutters and use silicone muffin tins! We tried it and it was an amazing success! So much so that we had to share our version with all of you!

What You Need:
  • Hard Candies
  • Cooking Spray
  • Silicone Muffin Tins (all we had were heart-shaped! haha!)
  • Wooden Skewer
  • Ribbon or String
Spray your muffin tins with the cooking spray and set them on a cookie sheet. Then place your unwrapped hard candies in a single layer in the tins (we found that three fit nicely).

Place your tins in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until your candies are completely melted. Careful! They will be really hot! Let the candy sit for a couple minutes, then with your wooden skewer make a hole in the still-soft candy. You may have to do this a couple times, as the warm candy may fill in your hole.
Once it is completely cool, pop your new ornaments out of the molds. They should come out very easily! Then tie a ribbon or string through the hole and hang on your tree or in your window! They look so pretty - just like glass!
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 7 - Beautiful 3-D Paper Snowflakes!

Everyone who sees these snowflakes are simply amazed! They can't believe we didn't buy them. We had seen them on several other websites and knew we had to try making them. To our surprise, they were super easy to make! This is a great project for older kids to make as well. Younger kiddos will enjoy them as well, but might need a little help putting them together.

You can use any kind of paper - printer paper, wrapping paper, origami paper. They are pretty in all white or pretty patterns and colors.

What you need:

  • paper - enough for six equal size squares

  • scissors

  • tape

  • stapler

  • hole punch

  • ruler

  • string or floss to hang

Decide the size of your snowflake. We liked using an 8 1/2 inch square. Cut out a square to use as a pattern.

Trace and cut out 6 squares.

Diagonally fold your first square into a triangle.

Fold in half again into a smaller triangle.

Use the ruler to mark three lines across the triangle starting from the single fold edge toward the double fold edge. We found the ruler was the perfect spacer for the three lines on an 8 1/2 square.

Cut on the lines, but don't cut all the way to the edge. Cut from the single fold edge toward the double fold edge. DON'T CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH!

When you open the square, it should look like this.

Fold in the corners in on the inner square and tape the corners together with a small piece of tape.

Flip the square over and tape the next inner square's corners together.

Flip over again and tape the next square's corner's together.

Flip over a final time and tape the last set of corners together.

Repeat with the other squares of paper until your have made the six sections of the star. Lay out the sections and make sure that they are all pointing in the same direction. Staple three of the sections together at their inner points.

Then staple the two halves together at the center.

Finally, go around the snowflake and staple together at the sides of each section.

To hang your snowflake, decide which point will be the top. We reinforced the spot where we were going to punch the hole with a square of tape.

Tie a piece of string to the snowflake and hang!

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