Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

The kiddies (alright and their mother too) love play-dough, using it for anything from pretend baking, to forming and drying for craft projects,  play-dough just spells hours of fun for them (and me).  As often our playtime and projects involve large quantities of the dough to cover things and create it can get expensive to purchase, also some children have unpleasant reactions to the gluten and artificial coloring used in store brands. Play-dough can be made very simply at home using all natural ingredients and even coloring. It takes as much effort to whip up a huge batch as it does a small container, and the cost is mere pennies.  Here is the process I use to make our own dough and one I recommend for you and your little ones to make your own dough.

Homemade Play-dough

2 cups water

1 cup salt

4 tsp cream of tartar

4 tbsp oil

2 cups flour (for gluten free dough use rice flour)

Food color/Tempura paints/ or natural colorings such as beet juice, spinach juice, carrot juice, blackberry juice, etc.

Combine water, salt, cream of tartar and food coloring in large saucepan.

Cook on low heat and stir, as the liquid heats slowly add oil and flour to form your dough.

Continue to heat and stir until the mixture in pot looks dry and pulls away from the pan.  Test by pinching between your fingers, when it is no longer sticky it is finished.

Dump out on counter and knead by hand until smooth.  Once cool enough to allow touch, let your little ones join in aiding in the kneading process, they love this part of the creation.

Store your dough in airtight containers or baggies.

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Sidewalk chalk is a big hit in this family, even not having sidewalks does not stop them from finding things they can decorate. Trees, garden stepping stones, rocks all become subject to their artistry in the summer months.  It also means a lot of used up chalk which can get pretty expensive.  This recipe is pretty easy to make and can be done in numerous molds.  Plastic Easter eggs, ice cube trays (these happen to be made using a tube like ice cube tray I found at the Dollar Store.), toilet paper rolls with one end duct tape shut.  To make your own you need:

2 parts Plaster of Paris

Less then 1 part water

Food coloring, tempera paint or Koolaid (sugar free).

Mix together and pour into parchment paper lined mold, let harden, unmold and let creativity flow.

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Today began the first of the mint harvest.  My tackle today was the spearmint patch outside my front door and the first project before I began hanging any for drying was soap making.  Today I whipped up a batch of fresh mint and a batch of orange bergamot mint bars.  I’ll make more batches of various mint infused fragrances over the next weeks and this is just the beginning of the harvests.  I’ll keep you posted as I work through the spearmint, peppermint,  sweet lemon mint, apple mint, chocolate mint, and orange bergamot mint beds on other projects.

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My daughter loves to finger paint.  Getting her fingers in gloopy mess is a highlight of her day and if she can get that mess coating other parts of her besides her hands, all the better.  I tried the store bought paints but found we went through them exceptionally quick, that and she would paint other things also, front walk, walls, steps, nothing was skipped in her canvas finding. This created several problems as I learned “washable” on store brands does not necessarily mean washable when dried, or worse, sun baked.  This is a old recipe I used when my son was young and my daughter was still infant wanting to paint too. I never held fear of them putting it in their mouths as its perfectly safe to consume and clean up, even if the oldest dried on mess just takes hot water.

MYO Finger Paint

2 cup flour

3 cups water

1 tsp salt

Food Coloring

Microwave safe containers

Mix flour with water, beating well to remove lumps.  Divide into dishes and add drops of food coloring until desired color reached.  Place dish in microwave and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between, until thickened.

That’s all there is to it.

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This is a picture of my latest project(s).  Two quilt tops (minus the bordering/back/final stitching).  I apologize for not having pressed them prior to picture taking.  I am hoping by weekend to have the project completed, and will be sure to post the final quilt when it is.

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New Quilt Laid Out

Think I’ve found a workable pattern for laying out the pieces.  This quilt was a bit of a struggle as it was done with various size yards of fabric.  All the pieces were from scrap so there was more of some, less of others.  When finished it will fit a full size bed and host a border of black.  My mission today, start sewing the rows.

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Took most the morning, but I have finished the decoration on 17 boxes of chocolate-mint chocolates. (Picture shows content of one box worth.) Now just to get them packaged and on to the cookies.

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One Lump Or Two?

Valentines is soon approaching and I am far behind in being prepared for it.  I still have fabric and felt heart ornaments to finish sewing.  Cross stitch valentine plaques to finalize for an order. There are gingerbread valentine cookies for all the children in my son’s school.  A PTA party in which I’ve been given the charge of providing sweets, for that I will do an assortment of biscotti .  Then there is this, decorated sugar cubes for the Teachers, Principle and rest of the staff.

As decorated sugar cubes can be made in advance and stored in airtight containers without any issue. I have been working diligently on this project.  Each individual will get a 24 piece gift box.  a total of 35 gift boxes are needed in total.  (This school believes in the “If you bring for one, you bring for everyone philosophy. So that’s 35 staff, 500 students, and 275 PTA members, you do the math.) So far I’ve accomplished getting the ones which will have red hearts done, but have not yet gotten the arrows  completed as the frosting needs time to dry and set.

Should you want to try your own hand at decorating sugar cubes, or even cookies.  I recommend a few tips.

1.) Chose either to use a Royal Frosting, or a thick confectioner sugar frosting.  These are made with confectioner sugar frosting as I wished them to retain a bit of a sheen for the hearts, the arrows will be done with a Royal Frosting.  If you want to do fine scroll work, writing and such Royal Frosting is the best option as confectioners tends to “run” slightly.

2.) Don’t bother wasting time and money on decorator bags if you don’t already own them.  Purchase a good cake tip and the connectors (or several) and use Ziploc or equivalent baggies.  Simply cut a small section off one corner of the baggie, insert your connectors, tip, secure and you are good to go.  They can be rewashed and reused again many times before needing to be discarded.

3.) Unused icing can be stored in the fridge in the baggy, simply pull out and let warm to room temperature before using again. Left over icing is wonderful drizzled on homemade donuts, cinnamon rolls and desserts like puddings or pies.  True you might end up with some strange color rather then white frosting on your cinnamon rolls, but who cares if they taste good right?

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While going through some old bags of clothing from when my children were infants and toddlers. I came across several pairs of pull up pants I had made her to cover her diapers. The fabric was still in good shape so true to form, I began brainstorming.  We had an old artificial Christmas tree I had been storing in the shed as it has gone past it’s prime.  Another item I just couldn’t bring myself to replace, because I “might” find use for it someday.  When the children began protesting to having their Christmas tree taken down, loving to lay by the fire beside it while basking in the soft glow of the lights.  I decided to put the old tree to use, rather then just being a Christmas tree, it would become a year round tree.  Showing the seasons and celebrations on it’s branches and offering it’s soft glow the year through.  The fabric would be the perfect compliment to some Valentine Ornaments, and so, the plan was finalized.

Making these items is so simple, but the memories of that little baby in those polka dotted panties will forever be in my heart, and now that statement is literal.

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I have gotten all the pieces cut for the “medieval” banner.  There are 16 pieces total echoing the same designs.  Then “Happy Birthday” in letters, one letter per section. Still need to stitch them to the triangles and add the accessories.  Golden glitter will adorn the edges when all the sewing is finished. Then the final stage of connecting  them all to cording for hanging. Think I can pull it off in 24 hours? I have to, tomorrow I have to start on the treat bags.

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