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.