Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 3: Paw Print Ornament

Little known fact: My dog Dory is the BEST dog in the world. Seriously. Rebecca may disagree and say her dog Rocky is the best, but whatever. In my eyes, Dory takes the cake! And since she is truly a member of our family, the boys and I wanted to make her her very own ornament (especially after seeing this cute one here!). This was a fun project to do with the kids, who now want to make their own paw print ornaments (ok, ok, hand print ornaments)!  We used this simple recipe for salt dough and it couldn't have been easier!

What You Need:
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 or more awesome pets

First, mix the flour and salt.

Then gradually add the water until you get a dough-like consistency. Add more water if it's too dry, more flour if it gets too wet.

Knead it for several minutes until it is smooth and workable.

We found the simplest way to do the pint making was to roll out the dough onto a cookie sheet. We didn't grease ours and had no problem with the dough sticking.

The plan was then to have Dory "sit and shake" and get her paw print that way. However, my normally mellow, laid back, patient, sweetheart girl turned into a maniac when we'd get the dough near her feet. She thought that running away became a fantastic game and had no interest in sitting still so we could get a picture of the process. Naturally, the kids thought this was hilarious as well! The blurry pictures below show the madness:

But she eventually cooperated (with the help of fast hands and treats).

We then cut a circle around her print, made a hole for the ribbon, and popped it in a 200 degree oven for a couple hours (cooking time will vary depending on your oven and the thickness of your ornament. You can also just let it air dry).

Once it was completely hardened and cooled, we painted it white

...then added blue around the imprint. We also added her name, of course!  Then sprayed it with a coat of polyurethane to help preserve it.

 Dory has now been immortalized on our Christmas tree!

We're thinking about making ones for our two cats, but think maybe we'll wait until they're sleeping....

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 2: Easy Outdoor Arrangement

Here is an easy outdoor holiday planter arrangement. This may seem like a very simple arrangement for some people, but for the floral arrangingly challenged (sorry - there's a lot of made up words in this post) like me, this is pretty impressive! My idea of flower arranging is to take the plastic wrapping off a bouquet and stick it in a vase of water! Since I moved into this house, I have thought my little porch needed a holiday arrangement. I've been studying every arrangement I would come across and finally decided that one like this was a great place to start.

Here is the flower pot I used. Mine had dirt and the remains of summer still in it. My poor begonias didn't survive the first frost. This wasn't a very welcoming sight for my guests! I started by removing the dead plants and breaking up the surface of the dirt. The top layer was frozen! If you are using an empty pot, place a chunk of floral foam inside.

I used a variety of evergreens for the filler of the arrangement and then added a few add-ins with bright color and different textures I had gone to Michaels earlier to find a few addi-ins for my arrangement. I was so pleased to find red berry branches and ribbon for 50% off! (plus I had a 50% off one item coupon) I also picked up a bunch of gold twirly stick things - my mom always called them ting-a-ling, but I'm not sure if she just made that up! I also thought I might need some wire and floral picks, but I didn't. You don't have to use exactly the same add-ins, but you will want to find some things with height and contrast.

My yard is surrounded on all sides with all different kinds of evergreens - I even have holly growing! If you don't have any at your home, see if you can find a neighbor who might let you take some. Most Christmas tree lots sell greenery too.

I used some longer yew branches in the center of the pot. You will want to have height in the middle of the arrangement.

Next I placed some arborvitae branches around the edge, covering the dirt and slightly hanging over the edge. I liked the arborvitae because it was flatter and fan like.

Then I added boxwood and holly sprigs in and around the yew in the center. Next the bright red berries.

I love the way the colors and textures look together.

For the final touch, I added just a few of the gold ting-a-ling and few pinecones at eh base.

The pot needed a little zing as well. A festive bow did the trick!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 1: Magazine Christmas Tree

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  And now....

Welcome to our 3rd Annual 12 Days of Homemade Christmas!  I decided to start this year's crafty holiday fun off with a simple, recycled (and FREE!) project: A Magazine Christmas Tree! As I mentioned in my last post, my husband has a disturbing amount of magazines. So when I saw this idea (complete with video tutorial), I knew it was a great way to not only recycle but to also begin our holiday decorating around here.

 What you Need:

  •  A Magazine. Yeah. That's it.

This is so incredibly easy. If you can fold half of a paper airplane, you can make a Magazine Christmas Tree.  But if my instructions are unclear, check out the video tutorial mentioned above. First, rip off the front and back covers of your magazine.

Take the first page and fold the upper corner down so the upper edge is along the spine of the magazine.

Now fold it over again, so that the first folded edge is along the inner spine (See? Just like folding an airplane!).

Now fold the pointy "tail" up so that the bottom is level with the bottom of the magazine pages. Turn the folded page and begin folding the rest of the pages in the same manner (is this making sense??).

I found there to be only a few challenges with this project. First, as you get further along in your tree-making, the pages you've folded can be a little tricky to keep to one side and out of your way. I found that by doing this project on the floor I could keep one knee on them and they were able to stay put.

My next issue was rather hairy...or furry....

Apparently cats and dogs like Magazine Trees, too!

Once all your pages are folded, fluff up your tree and set it out for all to admire! You can spray paint it if you like, but I like the magazine-y look of it. Ours in going in the husband's office, as a way to add some festive, yet design-y touch ("Magazine-y? Design-y? I sure have a way with words today!).

As in past years, we are going to be posting three times a week, as opposed to our usual twice a week! See you on Wednesday!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nursery to Office Makeover...On a Budget!

*This post is not really a tutorial. I just wanted to to show how we made a wonderful office space using only items we had on hand!*

As I mentioned in a previous post, we recently let Jack and Charlie share a room. This meant moving Charlie out of the little Baby's Room" and  into Jack's larger room. The two of them couldn't be happier (and if the two of them would sleep in a little longer and stop waking each other up in the mornings I might be a little happier. But I digress...). The timing for the move was perfect, as the hubs has been working from home and having an extra space to use as an office was DEFINITELY needed (computers in the dining room just wasn't working for me). So we set up a nice little office using only items we had on hand and did not have to purchase any additional items!

Jeff is a designer, so he needed a large work space. Instead of a regular desk he chose to use a long folding table, perfect for spreading out his work. But the features I'm most proud of are the "new" magazine rack and inspiration board. We had been hanging on to our old crib for ages and just couldn't seem to part with it. I had the idea to turn the metal spring thing that goes underneath the crib mattress into an inspiration board! He can now , with the help of clothes pins, hang pictures and fabrics to help him in the design process! I wanted to paint it a funky color, but he said he liked it just the way it was (I think he just didn't feel like painting. Our laziness bonds us together! :) ).

The magazine rack was his idea. He took one of the side rails and turned it on its end. The magazines are then simply hung over the bars! This was the perfect solution for the man who has a zillion design magazines!

Our nursery has now become an office for grown-ups!  And it cost us absolutely nothing to pull together!

*Homemade Mamas will be out of commission for most of next week as we prepare for Thanksgiving!  We will be back on Monday the 26th to begin our 3rd Annual 12 Days of Homemade Christmas!*

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lemon Cakeys!

This past weekend my husband and I started 4 batches of our limoncello to give as Christmas gifts. Since we only need the zest of the lemon for the limoncello, I now have a 1/2 gallon of lemon juice. I've been looking for some new recipes that will help me use it all up! In my searching, I kept finding lemon cookie recipes that used lemon cake mix, egg and cool whip. I was pretty curious. They all had positive reviews. Many had stories about grandmas making them for them as kids. I had to try them! Most were pretty similar, so I combined a few recipes and added some fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and ground clove. They turned out really nice. My boys decided they were kind of like cake, and kind of like cookies, so they called them "cakeys"!

The Recipe: Makes about 3 dozen
1 lemon cake mix
8 oz. whipped topping thawed
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves ( I think I will add more next time)
the zest of one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
powdered sugar to roll cookies in
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
Zest the lemon. In mixing bowl combine zest, whipped topping and eggs. Next add cloves, lemon juice and cake mix. Stir well.

Let the dough rest. I found that my second batch was much easier to roll than the first batch after it had sat for about 15 minutes. Using a spoon, scoop balls of dough (about 1 tablespoon) and drop in bowl of powdered sugar. Roll around the sugar using a fork. Place on cookie the "sheet. Bake for 10-12 min, just until the bottoms start to turn golden brown.

Let the "cakeys" cool on their cookie sheet for a few minutes. Then enjoy! They are delicious with a mug of tea!

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ever-Open Laundry Bag

My boys have always wanted to share a room, especially because Rebecca's boys share a room and you KNOW that whatever they do my boys want to do! Now that they are big 7 and 4 year-olds, we decided to give it a whirl. So we moved Charlie out of his room and into Jack's. And to our surprise, they LOVE it! We think their relationship is actually becoming closer and that's really fun to see. What's not as fun to see is how much of a mess two little boys in one room can make! With two of them in one room we've definitely had to get a little creative with space. The biggest challenge has been laundry - there really isn't room for a hamper in the room anymore.

Jack's solution has been to  throw the laundry (along with the occasional book and stuffed animal) into a big pile.  
However, Martha Stewart and I have a better idea: an Ever-Open Laundry Bag! I've hung it on the doorknob - out of the way, but low enough for even the littlest mess-maker to reach. 

What You Need:

  • Large Embroidery Hoop (at least 14 inches)
  • Laundry Bag (or maybe a large pillowcase!)
Truthfully I didn't even know we had a laundry bag until I found it at the bottom of a closet. Please ignore the wrinkles, but I couldn't stand the thought of ironing something that's going to be filled with dirty boy clothes. Ok, ok, I can rarely stand the thought of ironing...

This is such a simple idea! Just open up the hoop, fold the bag (or pillowcase) over the inner hoop, and secure it all by fitting the outer hoop over the whole thing!

Martha hung hers on a hook, but I decided on the doorknob so that my little guys can reach it easily. Now we have an out-of-the-way hamper that everyone can use. Is that easy-peasy or what?

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