Thursday, December 23, 2010

Snowball Emergency Kit and Tree Skirt

Can you tell life has calmed down a bit? I finished the sprint to Christmas and now have time to post a few things. I'm also stuck in take-out boxes. For a few neighbor gifts I made more divinity, rolled it into balls and then made snowball emergency kits like this one.

The sticker label across the tops says: "Snowball Emergency Kit:
We're dreaming of a white Christmas, but in case it isn't white;
These little baby snowballs are ready for the fight!
Hope your Christmas is heavenly and that you enjoy this snowball divinity!" Then I attached a more religious message with a bow on top. Take-out boxes are so much fun.

 I also needed a tree skirt. Since we moved, we couldn't find the one my MIL made me about 10 years ago that we have used every year. We have searched every Christmas bin and still no luck. I swear, we always lose things when we move! I still can't find my silicone hot pad that I lost 5 years ago in our move to the East Coast. I'm still a little sore about that. But, anyway, I digress. Tree Skirt: We got this ginormous tree this year! (Never doing that again!)  Since we couldn't find our traditional tree skirt, we had a tarp wrapped around the base. UGLY! So, I bought a little one from Target. Now, my allegiance to Target remains steady, but the little tree skirt just wasn't big enough. It was 48" diameter and solid red, and just NOT big enough for this tower of a tree. Seriously, I think it's 17 feet tall. It touches the vault. I digress again.
So, being unhappy with the little red tree skirt that couldn't, I thought bigger. And I see potential in things beyond what they're intended for. I didn't want to spend $50 on a big tree skirt, so I found a round tablecloth instead. $15 and a pair of scissors later, this is what we have!

I cut a slit down the back and a circle in the middle, hemmed the edges and wrapped it around the trunk! Took a whole 20 minutes. And the tablecloth was 70" in diameter, so quite a bit bigger.

I must also say that I like the print of the tablecloth-turned-tree skirt. It has the 12 days of Christmas printed around the edges and a great round red border. Made it easy to cut the circle out of the middle.
So until we find the tree skirt of yore, this one will fit the bill. Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fortune Cookies! And Divinity. Remember that?

For teacher gifts this year, I dipped fortune cookies in chocolate. Made a ton, and really fun. I had  11 teacher gifts to make this year. Why, you ask? Because my Lady has a whole crew of wonderful people who support and teach her. And I wanted to thank them because they put a lot of effort into helping my Lady progress.

So, I bought a few bags of chocolate chips (only used 2), and one large bag of fortune cookies from a restaurant supply store. It made probably 100 cookies.

This is my double boiler. A pyrex on a pot. Medium low heat, 2 inches of water in the pot, make sure glass doesn't touch the water. Simmer. Chocolate melts as you stir it, and don't cook it too long, because chocolate will change it's consistency permanently if heated too long. We found that out the hard way.

Then we dipped them in candy sprinkles! Aren't they cute?

Put them in take-out boxes that I got from that same restaurant supply store.
Then tied these tags on that say: "We feel so FORTUNATE to know you! Thanks for all you do! All the Merriest!" Hope our Teachers like them.
And this is random, but I made divinity for a cookie party I went to last week. I hadn't seen divinity is probably 20 years. But I remember my mom making it in her big Bosch mixer (you know, the never-say-die mixers that can keep on trucking through an atomic bomb!). My Kitchenaid had to do for this one, but it was a rough task for my machine. (Wishing I had the Bosch right about now.) Seriously, the motor on my Kitchenaid was HOT from all the beating. Anyway, the divinity still turned out wonderful, in spite of a hot mixer and a cloudy, very cloudy, overcast, did-I-mention-foggy?, day. I'd forgotten how DIVINE this confection is. And I introduced a whole new generation to the treat of the gods. (My kids got to lick the bowl and beater. Happiness on a spoon!) Very sweet and heavenly. The treat truly lives up to it's name.
Here's the recipe:
Perfect Divinity:


Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 35 mins

  1. 1Line 2 cookie sheets with wax paper, and butter the wax paper. Set aside. In a 2 quart saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt.
    2Cook, stirring, till sugar dissolves. Wash sides of 
    of pan with a brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals. Boil, without stirring, until mixture registers 260 degrees on candy thermometer. This makes the syrup.

  2. 3Meanwhile, as temperature of syrup reaches 260 degrees, beat egg whites on high speed till stiff peaks form, at least 5 minutes.
  3. 4When syrup reaches 260 degrees, very gradually add the syrup to egg whites, beating at high speed with electric mixer.
  4. 5Add vanilla and beat until candy holds its shape and begins to lose its gloss, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. 6Stir in the chopped nuts, if desired.
  6. 7Quickly (work very fast!) drop candy from a buttered teaspoon onto buttered waxed paper, swirling the top of each piece.
  7. 8Let cool. Yield about 1 1/2 lbs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Letter Tracing

Many of you know Lady is autistic. At the suggestion of my mother, I am going to start including things that help us cope and work through raising a child with autism.

And this is my first post. Lady struggles with fine motor dexterity. This morning we were trying to trace letters and she was about to melt down. So, what I did was using my fingernail, I gently traced the letter on her left arm as she was tracing it with her right hand on the paper. She would follow my pattern, so she formed the letters correctly, but I wouldn't begin until she started moving the pencil on the paper. She needed that sensory motivation to complete the assignment. I also would use the pad of my finger as if it were a pencil eraser and rub her arm over the spot where I just traced the letter so we could start a new letter. I also did that if she erased on her paper. She responded beautifully. We have some great looking pages of A's, B's, and C's.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Headboard: Anthropologie attempt

So I saw a wall about 4 years ago in an Anthropologie store back east. I fell in love. My mom came to visit me this week, and we needed a project. I had this one stewing for about four years and we thought we'd take on the challenge. And, true to form, it was a challenge, with many layers of work to complete the project. What were we thinking!?! We were attempting to recreate the Anthro wall, but modify it to match the bird painting I love.
We started with this frame. 2x12x8 foot boards, but in half so they were four feet long. We had B screw 2x4's into the back for the legs and to hold up the 2x8's.
Then we tried this wonderful technique for aging wood. We soaked steel wool in vinegar for at least 4 hours, added some (about a cup) water after they soaked, then scrubbed the boards with the steel wool.
This is how it turned out.
Then we took my favorite wrapping paper, spray adhesived it to the wood, put a water color of brown over it, let it dry. It wrinkled the paper and I loved the texture it added. After it dried, we dry-brushed cream paint over the black flowers to tone them down. Let it dry, then sealed the paper with clear, satin polyurethane.
This made the paper curl some, but the texture was great, so I just nailed down the edges of the paper that curled.
Next, we took muslin and silk and ripped it into 4 and six inch strips. We had to use Rit dye for the teal/aqua color on some of the muslin because I couldn't find that color. The natural muslin was left alone because it's texture was a little rougher than the muslin we used to dye. The silk was stuff I already had.
And a project isn't a project until the hot glue comes out! My SIL called it the crafter's power tool. Too true. And you can't truly due a project until you get burned by the glue gun, too! Anyway, enough about the glue gun. I cut out three cardboard circles, small, medium, and large. We hot glued the fabric strips around the outside edge first, then filling in the middle, pinching the fabric to make the gathers. Confusing? Sorry.
We placed the fabric flowers, and then I used green mesh floral wrap for leaves. I cut long strips of it, wrapped the center with floral wire, then stapled the flowers and leaves to the wood in whatever fashion.

My blessed B screwed in the 2x4's into the bed frame, and my good boy helped hold up the beastly headboard. Man, it was heavy! It took about 20 minutes to move it from the garage to the bedroom just because I had to keep resting!

Pretty close to the painting! And now I really need new bedding!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Birdhouse, Night light and Lady's room

I've got a thing for trees. I love them. I just do. I can't help myself. In our house back east, I painted a tree in my kids' room in the corner, floor to ceiling, and on the ceiling. I seem to still want that. So, since we moved into a rental and I can't paint the wall, I made a tree out of cardboard. You can see parts of it behind the night light.The night light was a lot of fun. It hangs above her bed and has LED Christmas lights in it. The lights don't get hot, they save energy, and they're blue! So, it almost looks like a moon or fireflies caught in the japanese lantern. I also had this awesome sunflower that is seriously 4 feet across. It hung above the stairs back east, and it's just so happy I had to find a place for it here.
The room is still in progress, probably always will be.
Entry to the room.
Pretty good shot of most of the room. At least the tree, bed and book house. Remember the pvc house we built last time? Well, Lady wouldn't allow us to break it down, so we had to move it to her bedroom. It sits between her bed and bookshelf (that we built this spring and posted about that a while ago.) We left one side open to the books, filled it with pillows, and she decorated it like Christmas. She loves it.
I also made this birdhouse for her tree and thought I'd include instructions because it's made from recycled stuff and I love that. I took a cereal box and a granola bar box and a paper bag.

I cut the granola bar box in half,Taped it to fit in it's corners so it would be pitched like a roof. I covered all the boxes in the brown bag paper.Hot glued the roof to the cereal box, hot glued felt cut-outs on the box, stuck a pencil in the bottom and cut out a hole for the bird to go in.Home, tweet home.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pvc Pipe Play house

I finally got to this project. Thanks to Wintertree Design for her instructions. We modified it just a little. We made the connection from the roof to the cross connectors longer for a taller roof. I can actually stand inside it.We took old (repurposed-love it!) curtains and hung them around the side, they worked out really well.
Lady actually hung a flashlight from the cross bar on the roof for a night light and she slept in it a few nights ago.
We still need to add a front door and some details. Any ideas?

Then we got to my son's loft bed. This was completely constructed from our own plans, so we made it up.
Talk about a custom house. It will eventually be a fort.
My son actually cut the pipe himself. He loved it.
Great summer time project.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dots baby shower

June was insane. But somehow I was able throw a baby shower for my sweet, very, very pregnant friend. But because of the insanity of the month (we moved, school was in its final phases, scout camp, youth conference, blah, blah), I chose to do a simple theme of just dots and circles of primary colors and brown. Above is the invitation that I made on Photoshop Elements. (My first attempt at Photoshop, not too bad.)
This is the centerpiece. I filled my three cylinder vases with these. The tall one has alphabet blocks. The middle is filled with wiffle balls (circles on circles!) and the m&m's in the small one had a spoon in them and were part of the refreshments. I put paper circles on the table over a white table cloth.
The favors were just m&m's in a basket tied with tulle. More circles.
As they entered for the shower, they wrote notes on clean diapers so my friend could have some reading material or some laughs while she was changing diapers. Some of my favorite notes said, "does this diaper make me look fat?" and "Daddy's turn." The written-on diapers went into the "dirty" basket.
Favors again.
I glued the invite on a big red circle and wrote "come in" with chalk on the blue circle so people knew to just come in and we didn't have to answer the door. The refreshment table had five salads, spinach dip and french bread, snickerdoodles, and Costco cream puffs. (And m&m's). We played only one game where we made babies out of bubbleliscious bubble gum on index cards. Laura got to choose which baby she liked best and the winner got a package of Sugar Babies ('cause that's what we made.) Then we opened presents. It turned out to be nice and simple, and fun still. Congrats, Laura, with your new arrival!