Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Card Display with Decorated Clothespins and Twine

I saw this idea here a long time ago on how to make clothespins look cute and I LOVED it. This year I decorated them with Christmas wrapping paper and used them to display my Christmas cards on a piece of twine hung across my big window. This is really easy and took me about 10 minutes total.

clothes pins (got a huge pack at Dollar Tree)
modge podge (or diluted Elmer's glue)
small paint brush
scrapbook paper or wrapping paper
twine (got 200 feet for about 2 dollars from the hardware store)

Trace clothespin onto paper and cut out. Put a thin layer of glue with a paintbrush onto one side of the clothespin and glue the paper on. Trim any excess edges with scissors. Hang your Christmas cards onto twine (could also use ribbon or yarn).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas placemats (made from a vinyl tablecloth)

I wanted some Christmas placemats that would wipe off easily so I got the idea to make them out of a vinyl tablecloth. I bought the tablecloth at the Christmas Tree Shop for 2.99 and I could probably make at least 10 placemats out of it. I picked one without any strict geometric patterns so that I wouldn't have to worry about lining everything up just perfectly. I just traced a folding tv tray I had for the shape, folded the corners in and the sides in (sort of like wrapping a present) and pinned it and then sewed it around. They were very easy and I think they look pretty nice. I didn't bother with trying to get our the wrinkles but I saw online somewhere that you can put them in the dryer on low with a wet towelle for short amounts of time until it is smooth.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fall Felt Leaf Garland

I saw the idea for this craft here. I made my own leaf template which you can download. Cut out the leaves and pin to two layers of felt. Cut out leaves and line up on floor in what order you want them and then stack them in that order. Take one at a time and put it through the sewing machine with a light brown thread and do one continuous stitch lining the end of one leaf up against the edge of the next leaf. 17 leaves made about 5 feet of garland. You don't need very much felt, 1/8 yard of each color would be plenty so even without coupons it can be really cheap. Some stores don't have many color options for felt so you might have to hit up multiple stores. I had so much extra felt I made a few extra for a friend and my mom. This only took me about 30 minutes. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Clay Pot Nativity

I know it's far from Christmas, but I also don't like finding good Christmas ideas just weeks before the big day, and then having no time to make them, so I thought I would share it now. I found this idea when I was looking for a Christmas craft for the kids at church. They loved it and I thought it would be nice to make one for my house too. The supplies can be a little expensive since you may only find some of the items in bulk, but if you can find them individually and or use your craft store coupons, then it's really cheap. This also makes a nice gift so you could make a bunch of them. It took me about an hour to make one. I just happened to find a wooden stable at Goodwill awhile back so it will be perfect for displaying them. There are lots of ways to decorate these, I went really simple, but if you search google image you will find lots of different ideas.

supplies needed:

disposable drinking straw
paper straw for baby Jesus
3 wood balls, two 25mm and one smaller one
2-2 inch clay pots (cheapest ones I found were at Hobby Lobby)
1-1.5 inch clay pot or clay pot saucer (I just couldn't find one small enough)
acrylic paint
paint brushes
some cloth scraps for Mary and Joseph
glue gun
butane lighter (to melt the edges of the fabric to prevent fraying)
stable (if you have one)

Put the heads on a paint brush to easily paint them while holding the paint brush then set them on cans to let them dry. Paint the clay pots for Mary and Joseph (they dry really fast so you can quickly get on two coats. I did not paint the pot for the manger.

For Joseph's shawl I just cut a strip of cloth. For Mary's shawl I cut a diamond and then rounded off the top and bottom corners. I would suggest cutting a scrap piece of paper to get the size and shape you want and use that a a pattern before cutting your real cloth. For the baby swaddle I just cut a circle of cloth. I used a butane lighter to melt all the edges of the fabric so that they won't fray over time.

Glue the heads to the pots and the baby head to a piece of drinking straw. Wrap the baby in a piece of cloth and glue to hold in place. Stuff some straw into the small clay pot and then glue the baby on top of the straw.

Glue the pieces of cloth over Mary and Joseph's heads. The instructions for folding Mary's shawl are in the pictures since it's a little hard to describe in words.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Handmade Crunchy Baby Cloth Toy with Tags

I made this a few months ago for a friend that was having a baby shower. It was really easy and I wish I had made something like this for my son when he was younger because he would have loved it. 

I used snuggle flannel and cut two square out and folded the edges over so that they were the exact same size and ironed them down. I folded the corners as if wrapping a present. 

Then I folded a thick crunchy retail bag so that it was four layers thick and just slightly smaller than my two squares. I put it in the middle of the two outside pieces like a sandwich. 

 Then I took 9 pieces of ribbon and cut them about 6 inches long and melted the edges with a butane lighter so that they would not fray and pinned them in the sandwich so that the pins went through all the layers. Then I did a zig zag stitch all the way around to sew it together. Easy peasy. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spring Rolls

One of my favorite items at Thai and chinese restaurants are the fried spring rolls. They are always super expensive, at least a dollar a piece, but you can make them at home for almost nothing and they are really easy.

spring roll wrappers (not egg roll wrappers)
any combination of the following veggies:
     chopped/shredded cabbage
     chopped/shredded carrots
     bean sprouts
canola oil
deep fryer (I have a FryDaddy, which is nice and small and doesn't require a ton of oil and heats up to the perfect temperature in 15 minutes)
spring roll sauce

Spring roll wrappers are really cheap if you buy them at an oriental store (I paid $1.39 for 25 wrappers). They are really thin and make a nice crispy spring roll. They come frozen and you just let the whole package thaw on the counter for 15 min or so and then you can easily pull them apart and refreeze any that you don't use in a ziploc bag. Keep the ones you are going to use under a moist towel or wet paper towel so that they don't dry out. They need to be pliable so that you can roll them. 

I usually just put cabbage and carrots because they are cheap and easy to find. If I really plan ahead than I will get bean sprouts too. 

Place the wrapper on a clean counter like a diamond. Put about 1 tablespoon of filling near the bottom corner of the wrapper. I found this great blog that has a great tutorial for rolling these. I suggest looking at the tutorial because she explains it really well. When your roll up the last point then moisten with water so that it really sticks well and blends in with the rest of the wrapper. You do not want your roll to come apart when you fry it. Once wrapped you don't have to keep them moist, getting dry will actually make them fry crispier and prevent them from exploding. I have had many spring rolls explode in the fryer because I did not wrap them tight enough, seal them well enough, or they were too wet when I fried them. Once I read her tutorial and followed it they came out perfectly. 

 Fry until golden brown (only takes a few minutes) and serve hot with spring roll sauce*.

I served these with MeiFun noodles that I made last night. When I perfect that recipe I'll post it too.

*You can make your own spring roll sauce but the bottle kind is really good too and lasts forever. I also got that at the oriental store. It's basically like a sweet and sour sauce but a little lighter. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pizza Rolls

I saw this recipe on pinterest and finally made it a few weeks ago. It's a fun change from making regular pizza and it's easier to serve. When I made it from this one large pizza crust recipe it made 12 rolls.

Preheat oven to 450 while your dough is rising.

Roll out pizza dough into large rectangle. Use pizza cutter to cut the dough into 12 squares. Place a cube of mozzarell cheese on each square (I have shredded in the pictures but have since used cubes because it is easier). Place two slices of pepperoni on top of each cheese cube. Fold corners of the dough up and pinch the seams together. Place each roll, seam down, into a lightly greased casserole dish (little smaller than 9X13). Brush the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Bake at 450 for approximately 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and dough is fully cooked (brush with more melted butter, optional). Prepare pizza sauce. Serve rolls with pizza dipping sauce.

Serve with pizza sauce on the side.

How I make my pizza sauce:
1 small can tomato sauce
2 tsp oregano
1.5 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp garlic salt

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mr and Mrs Mugs (wedding gift idea)

A friend of ours recently got married and I made these mugs for a present. I used mugs from Dollar Tree and pebeo porcelaine paint which is really easy to work with and forgiving. I bought it at Michael's and it has lasted for many projects. You can fix small mistakes with a toothpick or q-tip or big mistakes with water and a paper towel. It's never permanent until you bake it. You let it dry for 24 hrs and then bake it in the oven at 300 degrees for 35 minutes. Use a good quality fine paint brush.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ham Salad

This is a perfect way to use up leftover ham from a holiday dinner that you have been saving in the freezer for a long time (a situation I found myself in this week). My mom always buys the really good kind from the Amish meat market when she comes to town but making it at home is really easy and tastes the same.

2 and 1/2 cups ham, chopped fine in food processor (I got this much out of three thick slices)
6 T mayo
1-2 T sweet relish

Ham doesn't need to be completely thawed before chopping, in fact a little frozen is good because then your salad will be nice and cold. Mix ingredients and serve on wheat bread sandwiches or on crackers. Feel free to adjust ratios based on your own taste.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Easy Monkey Bread

This is the perfect breakfast treat for weekend mornings. learned how to make this when I was kid when I used to go over to a friends' house after school. Sometimes I would end up having a sleepover there on Friday night and this is what they would make on Saturday morning. My recent addition is making a little extra sauce for the top. I think a lot of people have their own variations but this is how my neighbor friend's made it and it reminds me of being a kid and watching Saturday morning tv. It's not an exact recipe, you can just eyeball it and it will turn out tasty every time.

2 cans of those cheap buttermilk biscuits
about 4 tablespoons of butter
about 3 or 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
a couple of squeezes of maple syrup

Preheat oven to whatever temperature the can of biscuits tells you.

Cut biscuits into quarters withe kitchen scissors or a knife. Arrange blobs of butter in a circle around the edge of a pie pan. Sprinkle about 2 or 3 tablespoons of brown sugar over the butter. Squeeze the maple syrup over the brown sugar going around the pan 2 or 3 times. Arrange biscuit quarters over the topping in a ring. It is supposed to appear like a braided "monkey" tail (hence the name monkey bread).

Put about 2 tablespoons of butter, about a tablespoon of brown sugar, and a squirt of maple syrup into a small microwavable dish and heat until butter melts. Stir and spread over the dough with a pastry brush. I prefer silicone pastry brushes since they won't suck up any of your yummy sticky goodness.

Bake somewhere between 10-20 minutes, or until golden brown and biscuits are cooked when toothpick is inserted. Serve and enjoy immediately. Makes enough for 2 people and a toddler (if you even feel like sharing any ; )