Monday, December 17, 2012

Neighbor/Teacher Christmas Gift

Here's the project I did for my neighbors and the kids teachers this year.  The best part is that it is very inexpensive but doesn't look it!!  

First I made them all a glass cake platter.  This project is only 2 dollars!  It's a candle stick holder on the bottom and glass plate, both from the dollar store.  Just use E6000 glue to attach the holder to the bottom.  Let it dry thoroughly before doing anything else.
Then I added my favorite box of Peppermint JoJo's (oreo's) from Trader Joe's (each box is about $2.65)
 And then I wrapped it!  I used cellophane, ribbon...
 and then added a personalized ornament to each.  I got sparkly scrapbook letter stickers and put one on a plain ornament.  I got a huge box of ornaments at the dollar store and the stickers were just a few dollars.
This is one of my favorite gifts for under $7 dollars because it doesn't look it.  Everyone who got one thought I'd spent way too much :-)  Happy Gifting!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

December Favorite Things Party 2012

I attend 2 "Favorite Things" parties each year- a summer party and a winter/Christmas party.  (Here's the scoop, each person brings 3 things that are their favorite.  You draw names and give your 3 items away and get 3 different items) Here's my "favorite thing" for this year's Christmas party:
 Have you seen these adorable Mason Jar lids on etsy/pinterest/groupdealz?  I just love them!  Our party had a $9 minimum, $10 maximum budget so I could only get 4 glasses for each person, but I think it turned out cute.  I put 2 packs of pomegranate crystal light drink mix in each glass.  These glasses were a big hit.  I'm going to pick up a bunch more for a baby shower I'm doing in February.  I just love these!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Count Down to Christmas Ideas

We've tried out a few different kinds of countdown to Christmas ideas over the years.  I have some of the blocks I made from a Pick Your Plum project.  Last year I wrapped 25 Christmas books that we counted down by opening one each night.  This year we are doing 3 countdowns each day (I have 3 children so this way they each get to "do" something everyday).   Here's our 3 countdowns this year:

The Traditional Advent via Magnetic Plate:
 I got this as a gift from my friend a few years ago and it's a favorite every year.  This is a wonderful craft project.  It's made from a large plain plate, adding vinyl, hot glue ribbon to the back, and find a cute magnet.  One of my kids gets to move the present each day- closer and closer to Christmas!
Activity Countdown:
This year I decided to add an activity countdown.  I really wanted the whole thing to be  service project countdown and do a different service project each day, but my kids are little and I realized that there's no way I could get that much done since many of the service projects require a lot of advance planning, prep, and cost.  So, I included the service projects and added other fun activities for us to do all month long.  So each morning after moving the day counter (above), another child would pull the tag off the wall with our Christmas activity for that day.  Depending on the day, it would be completed after school or in the evening.  I kept these 2 advents on our stair landing where we each pass it several times a day.
 I really wanted to have this adorable advent wall hanging done so that I could put these slips of paper in the pockets on the wall hanging, but I didn't get it done.  So I put them on cardstock and taped to the wall :-)  Whatever works!  My kids love it.

Here's a sneak peek at my advent wall hanging pockets.  I will have this done for our activity countdown next year!
You are probably wondering what some of the 25 activities and service projects are.  Here's a partial list:  Visit a nursing home (take treats and sing carols), Making Ornaments for their Grandma in a retirement home, Visit Grandma's and take gifts, Christmas Caroling to some Elderly/Widow's from our Church, Handing out Toys, Food, Sleeping bags at a homeless Shelter, Taking Cookies and Thank You note to our local Fire Station, Delivering Goodies to our Neighbors and Friends, Attending a Living Nativity Exhibit,  Going to a huge Gingerbread Display, Writing Letters to Santa, Christmas Family Home Evening Lesson, Watch Miracle on 34th Street & Hot Cocoa, Drive to Christmas Light Houses, Call their Grandma & Grandpa who live out of state, Watch Frosty and Make Caramel Popcorn.
The Book & Scripture Countdown:
Last year I wrapped all of the Christmas books and they got to unwrap one each day.  While this was fun, the kids didn't get to enjoy many of our Christmas books until they got unwrapped.  So this year I didn't wrap them.  I simple put a label on each with their number and also included a scripture about Christ.  I put them in a special basket by our Christmas tree.  I'm totally fine if they want to read the stories during their own reading time, we would just read the designated Christmas Book each night but they still got to read many of their favorite books over and over during the month.  We'd also read the designated scripture about Christ each night so it would help us keep our thoughts focused on the 'reason for the season'.  The kids look forward to our Book time each night before bed.  The 3rd child would get to pull the book from the basket and help look up the scripture.

Whatever method you use, it creates some fun family traditions.  I've been consciously trying to focus my efforts on service or Christ, while still making it fun.  I'm hoping this helps us focus on the true meaning of Christmas and help keep us "centered" all month long.  Happy Count Down!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mini Pies for Thanksgiving

I had to bring a treat for my son's Thanksgiving Feast at preschool.  In trying to stick with the "thanksgiving dinner" theme but also make it something the kids would actually want to eat,  I made mini pies.  This looked difficult but it was so very easy. 

I took pre-made crust and cut it with a circle (I used a kid bowl), pushed them into regular sized muffin tins and baked at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.  Once they were totally cool, I put in a big scoop of chocolate pudding, and topped with whipped cream and some chocolate shavings.  The kids loved their mini "pies".  I really want to get a scalloped edge cutter for the next time I make these.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Car Seat & Nursing Covers

I just loved how this project turned out!  A good friend of mine asked me to make these adorable covers.  I loved the Moda fabric she picked out.  I used this great online tutorial for the car seat cover.  It can be found HERE.  This tutorial pieces the top together, which I didn't do, but it was helpful in using her overall measurements for the various pieces.  I also used the same nursing cover tutorial I've used in the past but I change it a little and make it longer.  I've found people tend to like it about 4 inches longer in length so it helps cover the babies better when they squirm around. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

USC Dress 2012

Well, our team isn't doing as good this year, but we sure are having fun cheering them on!  Here's my little cheerleader in her USC dress for this year.  The fabric can be bought (surprisingly) at Joann's or Walmart, locally.  We used a little extra gold fabric from the quilt shop for the neck and hem.  I love how it turned out.  And it's big enough she'll probably be able to wear it again next year with leggings :-)  Fight On!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Resses Peanut Butter Cookies

 I first had these cookies at a party and they were to die for.  They were fantastic but I thought they looked really hard to make.  I quickly found out the opposite, and they are really easy!  They are my husbands favorite cookies now!  Here are the easy steps!

*First you need your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Click Here for my recipe, but you can use any recipe.  Make your recipe as normal.  Now we'll transfer your normal cookies into these amazing treats!
Step 1:  Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, place 1 scoop of cookie dough in each slot of a mini muffin tin.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 min.  Each oven is different.  Check the cookies and make sure they don't get over cooked.  You want them to look cooked but not turning brown yet.  When they look done, pull them out.

Step 2:  While the cookies are baking, unwrap the mini reeses peanut butter cups (enough for 1 per slot of your mini muffin tin.).  This takes much longer than you think.  Do NOT wait until they come out of the oven.  It won't work if you do.  They need to be ready.

Step 3:  As soon as you pull the muffin tin out of the oven, take your reeses and gently place 1 into each cup.  Push down slightly.  The reeses will melt right into the cookies.  Put 1 into each cookie.

Step 4:  Let the cookies sit for maybe 3 minutes in the muffin tins till the chocolate starts to sit up a little.  Then remove the cookies from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack.
Now just try and wait until the chocolate cools to eat them!  It's tough!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Back to School Teacher's Lunch

I was in charge of preparing/hosting the Back to School Teacher's Luncheon at our Elementary School.    Chik-Fil-A generously donated sandwiches for us.  I added some salad and fruit.  I think it turned out fun :-)  And my chalk board came in handy!

Simple Chalk Board & Tips

Well, life has been a whirlwind like usual and I haven't had too much time to add in any tutorials to my life :-)  But, as you guessed it, I'm always crafting.  I just haven't had too much time to document it lately.  I will try to catch up a little in the next little while.  But it's time to start my Christmas and Holiday projects so we'll see.
 I didn't sew my kids clothes for the first day of school, but I did make this really cute chalk board that I used for their morning pictures.  It only cost me about $8 to make and I have used it a LOT already!
 So if you want to make your own chalkboard all you need is a cute frame and chalkboard spray paint.  I got my supplies at Walmart.  They didn't have any cheap white frames.  They were all $20 or more.  I agonized for a while and decided to buy the $5 black frame.  I came home and sprayed the glass with the chalkboard paint.  Spray steady and get a good even coat.  Let it dry overnight.  Since I didn't want all black, I primed and spray painted the frame white.  It turned out perfect.  The chalkboard paint was about $3 and I already had the little bit of white I needed on hand.  This was an AWESOME $8 project!

Writing with Chalk Tips:  I found a couple great tips online and they have been invaluable.  My chalkboards have looksed awesome and the chalk has been very pretty.  My handwriting could use some work, however :-) 
*Take a paper towel and wet it and squeeze out all the water.  You want the paper towel to be damp, not dripping wet.
* Take your piece of chalk and wrap it up in your damp cloth.  Leave the chalk in the towel for several minutes.
*Now take your chalk and write with it.  It will appear like it's invisible at first but then it dries or something and then shows up perfectly.  It almost looks like you wrote with a pen.  It's not all chalky and smeared.
*If you need to erase, use a damp towel.  Once it dries, it's perfect again.

Happy Chalk Board Making!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer S'mores Party

I went to this fabulous girls night out bonfire party and had the most wonderful gourmet s'mores.  I decided I had to copy it for a family reunion bonfire party I was hosting this month.  Thanks Katie for the wonderful concept! 
 Here's my smorgasbord of s'mores options for our family reunion party!  Everyone went crazy for them.  Nothing was left.  this was super simple and so much fun!  The idea is to pre-melt chocolate onto your graham crackers and add toppings that cool into the chocolate and stay stuck.  That way, when you are roasting your marshmallow's over the fire, you don't have to balance your chocolate and  everything.  Just stick a marshmallow in between 2 gourmet graham crackers and you have everything you need!
Here's what you need to make your own gourmet s'mores.  Chocolate you can melt, and toppings.  I used milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips because that's what I had on hand.  I raided my cupboard to see what kind of toppings I had.  I came up with:  coconut, mini m&m's, mini chocolate chips, heath bar topping, and Ande's mint topping. 
Simply melt your chocolate in the microwave (add about 1 table spoon of oil for about 2 cups of chocolate chips to get a good consistency).  Then either dip or spread the chocolate onto your graham cracker pieces and immediately add your toppings.  Let them completely set.  I put mine on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator for a while to get them good and cold.  I stored them between layers of wax paper and kept in a cooler during our beach day.  They were perfect when I pulled them out for the bonfire.
 I still offered plain graham crackers, multiple options to layer chocolate (for those that wanted to go old school) and lots of marshmallows.  It was a perfect night and a perfect S'mores party!!  The ocean was pretty perfect too :-)

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Pottery Barn 4th of July Table Runner- How To

Did you see this adorable table runner at Pottery Barn?
I loved it the second I saw it and wanted it sooooo bad!  Then I looked at the price tag... $69 plus tax (and shipping if you need to order it).  Ugh.  I couldn't justify that, especially since I was there buying things that were more practical and useful, and this once a year table runner did not fall into that category.  So I decided I had to make my own, and I did it for $15, and in less than an hour!  I spent a total of $30 on supplies and will be making the matching flag pillows this weekend.  Here's how I got my PB runner (it is EXACTLY the same, their picture editing makes the blue look darker, but in real life they are identical), for a fraction of the price...
First- Order your blue flag fabric.  I had to order it online.  It's by Moda and it's for this adorable quilt I'm actually making called Quilts of Valor.  I've linked the words Order your fabric to an ebay site that carries it.  I'm sure there are several, just search for it..  I'd get 1/2 a yard to be safe.  Then you just need high quality muslin for the white and a deeper, richer plain red fabric (not christmassy red).  You need  about a 1/2 yard of each of those fabrics for the front and extra muslin for the back, so a total of 1 yard of muslin.  There's your $15.
Now it's time to sew.
*Cut your piece of the blue with white stars to measure 18 inches long and 11 inches wide.
*Now cut your red and white fabric into 3 inch strips.  You'll need 6 long strips of each color.  Alternating between the red and white, sew all of your strips together.
*Then cut the strips at 18 inches and take what you cut off and sew that chunk of red and white stripes to the ones you already have.  You need 21 red and white stripes that are 18 inches long. (You can make your runner as long/short as you want.  You can increase the blue bunting part and increase/decrease how many strips to add, this is just the size I made and it's pretty awesome)
*Now sew your strips to your blue fabric.
*Trim all your loose threads and iron the top
*Cut a piece of muslin 18 inches long and  59 1/2 inches wide.  (sew pieces of muslin together, if needed, to get 1 solid piece this size for your backing)
*Put the pretty side of your runner face down against your muslin back piece.  Sew 1/4 seam allowance all the way around the edge, and leave a small hole about 4-5 inches long.  Take your hand and reach inside the whole and pull the fabric out (flipping it inside out).  The pretty part of your table runner should now be on the outside and all seams on the inside except for your hole.
*Iron the runner and fold in the fabric along the hole so there are no raw edges.
*Now you are gong to top stitch 1/4 inch all around the entire table runner top, including over the hole.
*Trim your threads and you are done!
 Enjoy your Pottery Barn Runner.  Now I'm off to make the matching pillows :-)

Linking Up to:
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Red, White, Turquoise/Blue Party

My sister and I hosted a bridal shower luncheon for our cousin this past month.  We had so much fun putting it together!  We went with a red and white and turquoise party.  I used red and white chevron for the background print for the invitations and also for the table runners.  There were so many small details.  Here's a quick summary of a very fun party:
We were having 16 people to lunch so we extended the table to seat everyone together.  We had clear glasses and red gobblets.  We had adorable pennants that tied all of our colors together, along with turqoise, and red and white polka dot tissue poms.  We did 3 smaller flower arrangements down the table.  We used red roses and babys breath. 
 *One of my favorite features of the party were the individual cupcake stands.  At each place setting, everyone had their own cupcake on a stand.  They were red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!
*We also served strawberry daiquiri's and had adorable turquoise and white striped paper straws.
*For the food table, we used small wooden chalkboard signs to label each food item.
*We had a separate water station that highlighted the beautiful glass etched pitcher I made with my silhouette!
*For the party favor, we made lavender and orange body scrub.  We packaged them in mason jar's and covered the lid with blue fabric and tied with red ribbon.
*I decided to make some adorable "streamers" out of napkins.  You use a ruffle stitch and sew the napkins longways together.  They turned out really cute and festive, especially with decorative napkins.
*I also decided to make a burlap banner that said Congrats!  I used the same instructions for making the happy birthday sign in this post.  I think the sign really finished off the food table area.
*We also had several small glasses and mason jars filled with babies breath around the tables.

It was such a fun party and so pretty!  We love hand-made!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wax Paper Gift Bag Tutorial

I was making goodie bags for my daughters birthday.  I really wanted some of those cute wax paper bags that you can buy online.  Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to order them before the party, so I decided to make my own.  These are so versatile and turned out so cute.  I will definitely be doing it again.
Here's a quick "How To", to make your wax paper goodie bags:
Step 1:  Get your roll of wax paper and cut it into long rectangles about 8 inches wide and 16 inches long.  This is variable.  You can make the bag whatever size you need for what you are putting in it.  These are just the measurements I made them.
Step 2:  Fold the wax paper in half so it should now look like a square (mine were about 8 inches by 8 inches).
Step 3:  I decided to stamp a Thank You on the front of each bag.  I used black ink and a cute stamp that had some little butterflies on it.  The stamp will smear if you touch it right away.  I stamped mine and let them dry overnight.  They didn't smear after it dried.  So stamp all of your bags.
Step 4:  After letting your stamps dry, take the bag and sew a straight line along 3 sides of the bag.  You could use different color thread, whatever you want.
Step 5:  Fill up your bag with whatever you want.
Step 6:  Sew across the  top of the bag so it is now sealed on all sides. 
 That's it!  You've got an adorable, custom made, wax paper goodie bag!

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Burlap Banner Tutorial

The month of May also brought my daughters birthday!  I used some of the similar colors from teacher appreciation because it ended up being the same week- turquoise and yellow.  We did a pool party with pizza.  I used the tissue poof balls, and paper flowers.  I added new runners and decided to add a burlap Happy Birthday banner.  I love how it turned out!
This sign was super easy to make and was a great addition to my birthday decor!  I used a light/white burlap and black paint.  I think this will be very versatile.
 Here's a quick "How To", to make your own burlap banner:
Step 1:  Cut your burlap into rectangles.  Mine were about 6 inches by 8 inches.  (Be warned, burlap is messy)
Step 2:  Taking the long side (that's 8 inches), fold over the burlap about 2 inches and iron flat.  Your square should now look square (about 6 inches by 6 inches).  Repeat for all of your rectangle pieces.
Step 3:  Sew a straight line a quarter of an inch from the edge of the fabric that you've folded over.  Repeat for all of the burlap squares.  You want to have a casing that is about an inch and a half.  This is where you are going to run the string through to hang it up. **If you don't sew, you could hot glue this piece down as well.
Step 4:  Using Freezer paper, cut the letters of your word out of the freezer paper.  Don't get them too close together because you need to cut out the space around the letter.  I used my silhouette to cut out my freezer paper.  I did about 4 letters per sheet and used the same settings as cutting vinyl and used my mat.  It's a little tricky getting the letters all cut out right but once you iron the paper onto the burlap, it turns out perfect.
Step 5:  Turn the burlap square over so the folded side that you've sewed down is facing down.  Iron the letter/paper  onto the Burlap square.
Step 6:  Put your burlap squares onto a towel or cardboard or something that paint can bleed through onto.  Carefully paint your letters.
Step 7:  Once it's dried, remover the freezer paper.
Step 8:  Take your string and feed through the pocket/casing you've made on your burlap squares.  I attached a safety pin to the end of my string which made it easier to feed through the pockets.
You're done!  You can do this with any word or phrase.  I love my burlap banner!!

Teacher Appreciation Thank You Gifts

Here's a few of the extra goodies we made for Teacher Appreciation Week:
 Cookies in the CD Holder:  Did you see this on Pinterest?  We got this idea on Pinterest.  These are the paper CD holders.  We got cookies donated from this awesome bakery in town.  The cookies fit just perfectly in the CD window.  We tied them with twine and put on an adorable Thank You tag. My friend Taryn made these tags.  They had a chevron background.  So cute!
 Thank You Pot with Gifts:  To go along with our "Grow" theme, I had the kids in our class decorate this pot for our teacher.  I collected money for the group gift and then filled the pot with all of our gifts.  I wrapped it all up with cellophane and a bow. 

Apple Oreo Pops:  We got this idea online too, but we did learn a few things that were not mentioned online.  You take the top off the oreo and then need to spread some of the chocolate inside and then push the stick into the white filling and chocolate.  Replace the top and let it set/harden.  Then you can dip the whole oreo on a stick into the chocolate.  Once it comes out, put in the pretzel stick for the stem and an airhead cut into a square for the leaf.  they turned out so cute!  We made 50 for all of the staff at our school.

 Hugs & Kisses:  This was the easiest but I think they loved it.  I used clear cellophane bags, added a handful of hershey kisses and hugs, and a tag.  The tag said, "We love our teachers and staff!  XOXO"