Friday, December 23, 2011


Wow. I actually accomplished some holiday baking this week! While Abe was napping yesterday, I mixed up the dough for these gingersnaps and left it chilling in the fridge until this morning. Then I popped them in the oven and viola - Christmas cookies! Santa will be so happy. Although I hear tell that Santa would be happier with sugar cookies. Oh well...maybe next year Mr. Claus.

To make these soft and chewy gingersnaps, you'll need:

1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup butter
1 egg
¼ cup dark molasses
¼ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1½ tsp. ginger
¼  tsp. nutmeg
2¼ cups flour

1. Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Beat in the egg and molasses.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. (This is the only baking trick I know. Instead of sifting, which I never do because I don't have a sifter, mix dry ingredients together with a wire whisk. Does the same job with a much smaller piece of equipment!) 

3. Mix dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, form into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap.

4. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

5. Roll dough into small balls about the size of a walnut and coat with sugar.

6. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with water.

7. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350⁰ F. Makes about 3 dozen. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Painted Candy Canes

Christmas is on it's way and I've still got so much to do. Wrapping presents, baking cookies, sending out cards (they usually don't make it out until after Christmas)...but my baby doesn't take "I'm busy" for an answer, so the best I can do is find ways to keep him occupied while I try to get stuff done. Luckily, he loves to paint and, although I wish he would choose a less messy medium, I'm thrilled that he'll sit still for 20 minutes to do anything that doesn't require my active participation. 

Today it was candy canes. Normally I would use marbles for this one, but Abe's too young to be trusted with such a tempting choking hazard, so instead we opted for small plastic balls...

Just cut out a candy cane shape and put it in a cake pan or small cardboard box. Squirt a little paint in the pan and add some marbles or small balls.

Older kids can pick up the pan and tilt it from side to side to get the marbles to roll through the paint and across their candy cane. (Marbles leave lovely stripes.) Abe just rolled the balls around by hand, which worked fine too.

Toy cars make nice stripes as well, and little hands don't get quite so messy. And yes, Abe is sporting a wool Minnesota Gophers hat indoors. Apparently that's how we roll...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reindeer T-Shirt

Back in college, I worked at the childcare center on campus. It was such a fun experience that when I moved back to Minnesota after graduation, I ended up working at a preschool for two years before deciding to pursue a career in the field I actually went to school for! This was one of my favorite art projects from back in those days when I worked with Miss Rachell's toddler class.  

You'll need:

Plain white t-shirt in baby's size
Brown, red, white, and black fabric paint
Cute little hands and feet

* Fabric paints dry quickly and are permanent once applied to fabric. Make sure baby is wearing a painting smock (dad's old t-shirts work great) or stripped down to a diaper. Keep a wet wipe or paper towel on hand to clean off baby's hands and feet, or you'll end up with paint covered clothes as well!

1. Slide a piece of cardboard into the shirt and tape the arms around the back. (This will make the shirt easier to handle and prevent paint from soaking through to the back.)

2. Squirt some brown paint onto a paper plate and dip baby's foot in the paint, sliding it around to make sure the bottom is covered.

3. Carefully press baby's foot on the shirt - toes facing the top!

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with baby's hands. I did one hand at a time to control the mess, but older kids should be fine doing both hands at once.

5. Let brown paint dry, then use baby's fingers to add the eyes and nose.

See why it's my favorite? Far too cute to wear only at Christmas! 

Do you have any favorite hand or footprint projects? Ever put them on a shirt? I'm hoping to add more ideas for handmade and customized baby clothes on the blog. I'd love to see what you've all done!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snowball Fight!

A couple weeks ago, I repinned this snowball fight in a bucket thinking it would be a fun gift for my nieces who live in Arizona. What I thought was a pattern was actually a link to a store and the snowballs were sold out. Oh well...I decided to make my own pattern instead.

I didn't bother adding faces because real snowballs don't have faces, and I wanted to be able to put these together quick so I could ship them off in time for Christmas. For just a few dollars and about 90 minutes of work, my nieces will be getting a present that's sure to keep their dad and uncles busy. 

Oh and if the indoor snowball fight gets a little out of control, take it outside! Unlike real snowballs, these ones are machine washable...and they won't melt in the sun.

Download the pattern for the snowballs and my easy gift bag here. If you have a little more time, try making one of these cool storage bags instead.

Friday, December 16, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 12: Silhouettes 3 Ways

I love a good silhouette. The only trouble is, it's really hard to get a 15 month old to sit still while you take a picture of the side of their head! After countless attempts I finally stumbled upon a solution. I sat Abe down on his step stool in front of the bookcase (I needed a white wall to shoot against), and lined up a bunch of raisins on the shelf in front of him. He happily sat there eating raisins for all of 3 minutes...

...but it was enough. I ended up with a few good shots to choose from, and some awesome raisin eating shots to boot. I wanted to see his chubby little cheeks, and the shots that showed his lips (although adorable) lost all that chubby deliciousness, so in the end I went with this one:

Now I'm not one to spend a lot of time doing something that can be done much faster in Photoshop, and since I knew John from Young House Love posted a wonderful tutorial (found here) on how to convert a photo to a silhouette, I simply followed his instructions and ended up with a nice resizeable file to work with.

To make up for my lack of a "DIY silhouette tutorial," I've decided to instead show you three ways to use your Photoshop silhouette to make Christmas ornaments!

Printed on textured paper and framed

1. The first one is easy. Just find a store bought frame (I found this one at Crate & Barrel), and measure the size of the opening. Crop and resize your silhouette to fit the frame and print on white paper. (I used a textured cardstock for mine.) Cut to fit the frame, pop it in, and you're done! 

Printed on patterned cardstock

2. This is an easy option if you don't have (or want) to buy a frame. Simply print out your silhouette on a piece of patterned paper or cardstock, mount on a lightweight piece of cardboard or heavy cardstock (I used Mod Podge to attach it to the cardboard), and once it's dry cut into any shape you'd like. Punch a hole at the top, add a ribbon, and hang! You can write baby's name and date on the back too.

* Just a note, when this one came off my printer, the stripes were clearly visible through the black ink. I carefully filled the silhouette in with a black Sharpie to make them less visible.

Cardstock cutout

3. This one requires a little more work and a pair of sharp scissors. Use Mod Podge to glue two pieces of cardstock together patterned sides facing out (I used a glittery yellow cardstock, but I think a patterned paper would be super cute!), and let them dry under a couple books. When dry, tape a pre-printed silhouette to the cardstock and carefully cut around it. (I found it helpful to line up the bottom of my silhouette with the edge of my cardstock and wrap a piece of painter's tape around the edge to hold it in place.) Punch a hole in the top and add a pretty piece of ribbon.

There you have it. Three silhouette ornaments that are fun, easy, and absolutely adorable! 

Well, that's it for our 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments series. I hope you've enjoyed them all! If you missed any, you can see them all right here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 11: Silver & Gold Snow Globe

I remember making these oil and water bottles in school as a kid. Normally you add a bit of food coloring, but this time I used luster dust. Part snow globe, part science experiment. How can you go wrong?!

You'll need:

Silver and Gold Luster Dust (or any other 2 colors)
Baby or mineral oil
Jar with a tight fitting lid
Waterproof caulk or hot glue

1. Fill the jar about halfway with oil and add some gold luster dust. I used about 1/2 teaspoon for a baby food jar. Add more if necessary.

2. Put on the lid and give it a good shake. Basically you want all the gold dust particles to be coated in oil, which will prevent them from mixing with the silver dust in the water.

3. In a separate container, add enough water to fill the rest of your jar and mix with silver luster dust.

4. Pour the silver water into the jar.

5. Run a bead of caulk or hot glue around the edge of the lid, and screw onto the jar making sure you have a tight seal. (See how cool it looks when you mix them together!)

6. Paint the lid a nice festive color (this can be done earlier if you think of it) and tie a ribbon or piece of yarn around the neck for hanging.

Give it a shake and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 10: Felt Monogram

I always buy ornaments to use for gift wrapping, so of course I fell in love with these adorable ornaments that easily double as gift tags!

They are so easy to make (especially when you attach the letters with fabric glue), and go together really quick. Find Dana's full tutorial at MADE!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 9: Faux Paper Mache Recycled Ornaments

When we first got married I bought a bunch of glass bulbs to decorate our nearly empty Christmas tree. After a couple years I noticed many of those bulbs had developed weird rust spots, so I stopped using them on the tree. Then I saw these and was inspired to give those sad little bulbs a new lease on life.

You'll need:

Some old bulbs
Strips of tissue paper
Mod Podge

1. Cover your bulb with a thick coat of Mod Podge.

2. Wrap a few strips of tissue paper around the wet bulb. 

3. Gently paint another coat of Mod Podge over the tissue paper so all the loose edges adhere to the ball. Gently cut or tear away any extra tissue paper around the neck.

4. Let dry for at least an hour.

5. Once the glue is dry, paint the entire ball with acrylic paint. Once it is dry to the touch, add a second coat if necessary.

6. Hang to dry...and enjoy!

The wrinkled tissue paper makes these look like paper mache ornaments. If you prefer a smoother look, skip the layer of tissue paper and paint directly on the glass bulb.

Though mine did not turn out as smooth and shiny as the ones from Land of Nod, they are a huge improvement over what I started with!

Sparkle Balls

A few years ago my husband sent me a message that basically said "we have to make these!" with a link to this tutorial on Instructables.

They looked fun and easy, so I thought, why not?

That Thanksgiving, while we watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy in his parents' living room, we put together our Sparkle Balls. All I remember about the experience is that after punching 4 holes in 250 plastic cups with a handheld hole punch my hands were really sore. (Hole punches were not designed with comfort in mind...and probably not made to punch through plastic.)

At any rate, we finished our sparkle balls before Frodo's journey ended, so come Christmas, they were happily hanging from our tree in the front yard. The particular tree is rather tall and hard to hang stuff from, so the next year we hung them from the apple tree in our backyard. Last year, they were left hanging in the garage where we store them for the summer. I wanted to bring them back out, but didn't know what to do with them. 

This year my husband put LED lights around the front window and they looked so sad and dim that I decided to pull out the sparkle balls. I put them in the garden where they look like giant icy plants during the day...

...and cast a nice warm glow on the snow in the evening. 

Anyone else have Sparkle Balls? How do you display them? Any tips or tricks for making it a pain-free experience?

Find the full tutorial to make your own Sparkle Balls here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 8: Sequin Bulbs

I found this link (via Prudent Baby) on Friday and had to make some of these this weekend! 

All you need is a glass bulb, sequins, and cold water.

I used all the sequins I had at home, but I love how these turned out, so I'll have to buy more sequins the next time I go to the fabric store.

Find the full tutorial by Jenny Bevlin at MadeByGirl.

Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Ornaments - Day 7: Cardboard Igloo

Today's ornament was inspired by these adorable ornaments from Anthropologie. I love the idea of raiding the recycling bin for craft supplies!

I decided to make an igloo, but really the possibilities are endless with this one. Just dream up something to create and have fun building it! Here's what I did...

1. Start with a cardboard box with thin walls (29 or 32 lbs/in). The cardboard gets hard to work with if it's much thicker than that.

2. Run the pieces over the back of a chair or edge of a table. The cardboard is easier to work with if it's already bent a little.

3. Make the roof of the igloo by cutting one rectangle and two petal shapes. Tape them together.

4. For the walls, cut a long, narrow strip of cardboard and tape the ends together to make a circle. Attach it to the roof using tape. It helps to press on the roof a bit to flatten it before attaching.

5. Once the roof and walls are in place, trace around the base of the igloo and cut just inside the line to make the floor.

6. Cut another strip of cardboard and wrap it into a semi-circle with a flat bottom to make the door. Cut a hole in the side of the igloo big enough to fit the door.

7. Put a line of glue around the edge of the door...

...and fit it into the hole. Attach the floor with glue as well.

8. Starting at the bottom, begin attaching bricks with glue. Once you reach the second level, switch to the modified bricks, slightly overlapping the bricks on the level below. Continue with the modified bricks until you reach the top. Towards the top, you may need to trim the bricks to fit as you go. You can stop once you've put 4 layers of bricks in place and cover the remaining space with a circular top piece.

9. Poke two holes in the top piece and run a string through them. Make a knot underneath and attach to the top of the igloo with glue. Let dry overnight.

10. When the glue is dry, paint and decorate however you wish! It's hard to tell in the photos, but I used a silver luster dust over white paint, which gives the "ice" a slight shimmer. Silver metallic paint or glitter would work too!

I don't have a formal pattern for this one, but I did make some quick sketches along the way that you can download here. It's mainly for reference though, so make sure you trim your pieces as needed to make them fit together!