Monday, January 30, 2012

Groundhog Day Finger Puppet

Groundhog Day is coming up this Thursday, and although I'd like Punxsutawney Phil to predict an early spring, it seems more likely that we'll be stuck with six more weeks of winter. (Winter never ends early in Minnesota!) Abe's a little too young to grasp the concept of Groundhog Day, but he likes finger puppets... 



...so I made this little groundhog finger puppet for him. The groundhog sits on a stick that is used to pop him in and out of his hole. Pull him off the stick and he can be used as a finger puppet. 


For the groundhog, I used a brown felt called "copper canyon," and "apple green" for the grass, both from Michael's. For the stick, I used a tongue depressor (instead of a popsicle stick) since they're longer and wider. You can find them in craft stores...or at your doctor's office.


Abe loves his little groundhog, probably because he looks a bit like Goldy Gopher... 


Only his favorite rodents get kisses!


Now as legend has it, if Phil comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. No shadow means there will be an early spring. Download the pattern and instructions here, to make your own groundhog and find out how long winter will last in your area. Then be sure to look for his shadow (or lack of) on February 2nd!

For step-by-step instructions on how to sew finger puppets, check out my holiday finger puppets pattern here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Recycled Pants

I have a hard time getting rid of pants. I mean, it's easy to donate pairs that don't fit or that I never really liked in the first place, but the ones that I love and wear until they're falling apart are the ones I tend to hang on to. Once they've reached that point - where they're unfit to pass on to somebody else - it seems a little sad to just throw them out. 


My pants usually wear out at the knees first, but these guys had a couple tears around the pockets and a huge rip up the back of the leg. Luckily, baby legs are considerably shorter than full grown ones (even short legs like mine), so I was able to turn my much loved corduroys into a cute pair of pants for my little guy!


Since I was making these for Abe, I decided to throw caution to the wind and use contrasting orange thread, instead of a boring beige that would blend in (and hide my mistakes). Luckily, there weren't too many mistakes, and the orange thread looks adorable on the back pockets. I love a little baby butt with pockets!


I basically followed this tutorial (from MADE) for sewing baby pants, which even shows you how to create your own pattern from an existing pair of pants - which is what I did.


One of the places I strayed from her directions was in cutting out my pattern. I decided to keep the outer seam intact, so instead of cutting out four pattern pieces, I lined up the outer edge of my "pattern", with the outer seam on my corduroys, and ended up with two pattern pieces that were exactly the same. 


I also wanted to add pockets, so I cut two small pieces for pockets and hemmed the top. Once I had the back seam finished, I folded the edges of the pocket under about 1/4 inch, pinned, and sewed them directly to the back of the pants. I eyeballed the placement so they're not perfect, but who's going to notice on a toddler who rarely stops moving.


Keeping the original outer leg seam made my job that much easier, and makes these pants look almost professional. Notice the raw edge on my hem. If it's not going to show, or fray too much, I usually just leave my edges raw. I'm sure he'll outgrow these before my laziness becomes issue. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blood Oranges

When you're a child and you overhear your grandma explaining how to make blood sausage, you quickly learn to avoid any food with the word "blood" in the description. That's probably why I didn't try a blood orange until I was a full grown adult - and realized that there was no way blood oranges actually contained any blood.


Much like garden fresh heirloom tomatoes in the summer, blood oranges are only available in Minnesota for a short time. Blood oranges appearing in grocery stores is the highlight of my winter. Seriously. Although I usually buy a bunch intending to use them for some of the gazillion recipes I've found, we usually end up eating them just like regular old oranges, savoring their raspberry-orange flavor. Luckily Sonny's ice cream makes an amazing blood orange sorbet, so I can still enjoy them for a short time after they've disappeared from stores. 

Do you have any unusual or hard-to-find fruits or vegetables that you love? I'd love to know what I'm missing living in Minnesota!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Heart Stamps

Last night Abe had his first swimming lesson. He loved it so much he's been asking me for a bath ever since! I don't mind letting him splash in the tub to his heart's content, but I figured we should get a little messy first, so...I grabbed an empty toilet paper roll, some red paint, and a handful of blank cards, and we were ready to make Valentines!


I started by flattening the cardboard tube so it had a crease on two sides.


Then I pushed one crease inward to make a heart, and wrapped a piece of tape around the tube to help the heart hold it's shape.


I poured a little red paint on a plate and dipped one end in the paint...


...then I handed it to Abe and let him have fun!  


He really enjoyed seeing the "schips" (shapes) appear on the paper.


We ended up with four cute cards to send to family and friends, and enough paint on his hands, face, and in his hair to require a nice long bath. I'd say mission accomplished.


Abe tried fingerpainting for the first time last Valentine's Day when we made cards for his grandparents. For those cards, I made a heart stencil from construction paper and laid it on top of a blank card. I poured some red and white paint on the card and let him mix them up. When we pulled the stencil off there was a pretty painted heart on the card. Super easy (and super cute) Valentine's Day craft for babies!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rosemary Butter Cookies

If you follow me on Pinterest, you've probably noticed that I occasionally pin some unusual recipes...southern biscuits with chocolate gravypickle friessweet potato doughnutscold fruit soupdark chocolate and bacon ice cream... (I know it's not for everyone but, having tried chocolate covered bacon at the Minnesota State Fair I must say, those are two ingredients that are meant to be together!)

Rosemary Butter Cookies

When I found this recipe for rosemary butter cookies, I thought it sounded a bit strange, but since I'm always looking for new ways to use the herbs I grow in my garden, I decided to give it a try. I made them last Christmas when my family was visiting, and the whole batch quickly disappeared. Always a good sign...or a sign of hungry visitors...either way, I thought they were delicious!

And the best part - I can keep a roll of frozen dough in my freezer to have a fresh batch of cookies ready in minutes. One step closer to being the perfect hostess. Now I just need to remember to ask if anyone would like a drink...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jolly Holiday

We've lived in our house for almost 4 years now and still have empty walls in most of the rooms. It's not that we don't have anything to hang...I have a lot of artwork, but I can't really decide where or how I want to hang it. I think I'm a little scared too. Our walls were such a mess when we moved in, so after patching, sanding, priming, and painting, I kind of hesitate to do anything that could ruin all that hard work. But now my husband has given me an ultimatum. I can't buy any more artwork until I get the pieces I already have up on the walls! Time to get to work. 


I'm starting with the big blank wall above the stairs going down to our basement. I bought a gigantic Ikea frame for this Rilo Kiley poster before finding a smaller frame that fit it better, but then I was left with a big empty frame. It fits perfectly on that wall though, and since I didn't know what to put in it, I decided to let Abe paint a giant picture to fill it for now. 


I simply flipped over the huge piece of paper that came with the frame, squirted some fingerpaints on it, and let him go to town.


I gave him a couple kitchen utensils to paint with, but he seemed to prefer just sliding around on his feet.


Every time Abe sees his finished painting, he tries to climb into it like that Jolly Holiday scene from Mary Poppins. I guess it's more fun to be in the painting than staring at it from the outside.


Still need to hang it, but at least it's framed and ready to go! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

DIY Photo on Canvas

I have a stack of canvas and stretcher bars in my basement that I bought back in college. I've been meaning to do something with them, and have been looking for a good tutorial on how to transfer photos to canvas. Most of the tutorials I found required special materials I don't normally have laying around the house (and will never use again), or needed an image printed on tissue paper. Printing on tissue paper wasn't the kind of living-on-the-edge experience I wanted to try, especially since I just got a new printer that actually seems to like me! (More about my love/hate relationship with my old printer here.) Then I realized that I also have a bunch of iron-on transfer paper. Canvas is fabric, right?


You'll need:

Ink Jet Printer
Iron
Staple Gun
Paint Brush

I opted to use dark transfer paper this time around, but I'm sure this would work equally well with regular transfer paper. (I'll let you know when I try it.) *** Update - see the canvases I made using regular transfer paper here.*** Read all directions that come with your paper carefully before starting!


I started by printing a photo (this one was taken with my phone using the free Retro Camera app for Android) directly onto transfer paper. My printer can print borderless prints, so after trimming I ended up with an 8½ x 8½ inch print. I used 9 inch stretcher bars, but 8 inch bars should give you similar results if your printer doesn't do borderless prints.


Lay a towel or pillowcase on a wooden cutting board or other solid heat-proof surface. Peel the backing off your printed image (if using dark transfer paper) and lay it on the canvas. Cover it with a piece of parchment paper (comes with the transfer paper), and iron for 3 minutes.


Let it cool for 2 minutes before slowly peeling off the parchment paper. If any of the image peels up with the paper, lay it back down and iron a little bit longer.


Once the image is transferred to the canvas, put together the frame. Wrap the canvas around the frame centering the image on front, then flip it over and start stapling.


Staple the canvas to the back of the frame, pulling it taut as you go.


Do the corners last, wrapping the fabric around the edge and laying it as flat as possible on the back. 


Trim any excess fabric on the back. I went a little overboard with staples. One every 2-3 inches should be plenty!


I used a 9x9 inch frame which left a white border around my 8½ inch print. Since the decorative edge on my photo was the same color as the canvas, I just left it to blend in with the border. If you prefer, use a smaller frame or acrylic paint to hide the edges.


Go over the entire canvas with a couple coats of Mod Podge. Not entirely necessary, but it dries clear adding brush strokes to your "painting" and a giving it a protective coating.


Hang it up and enjoy! This was so quick and easy I'm already planning to make a bunch more...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cloud Dough

I pinned this recipe for cloud dough awhile back and have been wanting to try it ever since.


The texture wasn't quite what I anticipated. It was very soft, but crumbly...


...and although it stuck together when I squeezed it into a ball...


...it crumbled almost as soon as Abe touched it. 


He loved it though, so much he just had to see what it felt like on his feet!


Um, I think this kid needs a real sandbox. (Perhaps I'll put that on my list of things to do this summer.)


Because I only have one kid and I didn't want to clean up a huge mess (this stuff is messy!), I only made a small batch. Instead of 8 cups of flour, I just mixed 2 cups of flour with 1/4 cup baby oil.


I buy unbleached flour so mine had a slight brownish tint to it. Be sure to use bleached all-purpose flour if you want your dough to be white!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pom-Pom Headband for Baby

I attended a friend's baby shower this weekend, and as I was wrapping gifts the night before, I decided I wanted to throw in something handmade. So, I whipped up this sweet baby headband while watching a bad horror movie with my husband. 


It's essentially the same pattern (found here) I used to make headbands for my nieces, but since babies heads are smaller, I cast on 5 stitches instead of 10, and knit until the band was only about 14 inches long. The band is quite stretchy and needs to stretch a bit to prevent it from sliding off baby’s head.


I tried it out on my son's doll (boy doll = no eyelashes), but had to pin the band in back because it was a few inches too big for the doll's head. To make a doll version, knit the band 2-3 inches shorter than the circumference of the doll's head.

Friday, January 6, 2012

DIY Calendar

I've always found it fascinating to watch how kids' drawing and writing skills develop. They start by scribbling, and before you know it, are able to make carefully controlled marks and eventually shapes, letters, and more. I wish my mom had saved some of my early artwork, but it's too late for me. Not too late for my son though... 


Abe has finally gotten past the point where giving him a crayon meant wiping chewed up bits of crayon out of his mouth three seconds later, so he found a lovely box of crayons in his stocking this Christmas. He enjoys scribbling, and finding this calendar for my calendar post the other day gave me an idea.


I printed out a blank calendar and let him scribble on the first page. Every month I'll give him a new page to color on, and by the end of the year we'll have a sweet collection of his little drawings...and a record of how his drawing skills have changed and progressed. 


My little brother used to draw faces where the smile went from eye to eye. When I was a kid, my E's had so many lines in the middle that they looked like little combs. For some reason I look forward to things like that.


Every kid is different, so I can't wait to see where Abe's little box of crayons leads him. Until then, we'll just admire his latest masterpieces one day at a time. 


I circled the date that he made this one, and popped the whole stack of blank pages into an empty CD case. When the year is over I'll probably tie them together with a ribbon to make a little book.

If you want to start this project on your own, download a blank calendar here.