Saturday, December 17, 2011

Recycle that T-Shirt! Gift Idea

***WARNING TO MOM AND DAD!  GIFT SPOILER!  If you continue reading this post, you will spoil the surprise of what Maggie made you for Christmas this year!  YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!***

Ok, now that that's out of the way ... 

If you're like me, you like to have your child give homemade gifts, especially to grandparents.  Every year, I'm trying to think of new and different gift ideas Maggie can make that don't involve a picture frame or a craft store ceramic mug.  Last year, the idea we had was really cute.  We made personalized magnets in Altoids tins and labeled them, 'MAGGIE-NETS!'  They turned out great and I'm kicking myself now for never having posted that idea for you. Maybe one of these days when I have nothing else to do, I'll make an extra post to give you a tutorial on making them.  (Fat chance of me having a day with nothing to do, though!)  So, moving on, this year, I came across a great idea in the January 2012 issue of Parents magazine (page 62) ... the 'Side Dish,' or little catchall bowls made from old T-shirts!  What a great idea!  My dad is always dropping change onto his dresser and with some of Maggie's sweet little T-shirts that she's grown out of, I could surely make my mom a pretty little bowl that would remind her of Mags.  And who doesn't like the idea of reusing these days?!  We were hitting all my major criteria for a great gift craft ... functional, sentimental, clever, cute, and Earth-friendly.  And, so it began ...

Before we got to work, we set out to have a Christmas-inspired snack, a healthy 'candy cane,' in fact, thanks to a great idea from  (Her site is FULL of neat snack ideas!)  For the same, you'll need a banana and some strawberries.
 After washing your fruit, cut your strawberries into thick slices, then alternate on your plate with thick slices of banana in the shape of a candy cane.
 A hit!  And healthy, too!  :)
 And now onto the craft!  For your recycled T-shirt bowl, you'll need a cookie sheet, wax paper, a glass bowl, saran wrap, a foam brush, Mod Podge, and your old T-shirt.  (To protect my cookie sheets further, I wrapped them in foil as well.)
 First, cover your cookie sheet with wax paper.
 Next, cover your bowl in plastic wrap.
 Our bowls, wrapped and ready!
 Then, we laid out our shirts.  We chose this sweet one of Maggie's for my mom's bowl and an old Press Your Luck T-shirt with a whammy and 'Big Bucks' written on it that Al used to wear often for my dad's.  (I thought the logo appropriate for a change bowl!)
 Drape one layer of your T-shirt over your bowl and cut close to where the bowl meets your cookie sheet.
 Once I was done cutting, I had a somewhat round shape, seen below.  (To make it easier on myself, I then used this same piece as a stencil for the other pieces of fabric I needed to cut, as cutting around the bowl proved to be a bit tricky!)
 My fabric, cut to size, over my bowl.
 Ready to go!
 Next, coat your wrapped bowl with Mod Podge, using your foam brush.
It should look like this once well coated.
 Lay your T-shirt over the coated bowl, pattern side down and smooth as best you can.
 Using your foam brush, coat the T-shirt in Mod Podge as well, being sure it doesn't move around on the bowl while you're doing it.
Let it dry overnight.
Once dry, we carefully peeled them away from the bowl and smoothed their edges.
 Something to hold Dad's spare change ...
... and Mom's keys!  Very cute!  
And here are the magazine's designs to give you more ideas ...
Happy crafting!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wreaths, wreaths, wreaths!

Today, we did all things wreaths.  We had our buddies, Leah and Lucy, over for a few hours and while they were here, we included them in our breakfast plans ('Wreath Waffles') and a craft ('Button Wreath Ornaments'), then later had some 'Bagel Wreaths' for lunch.

Here, Lucy is adding green food coloring to our waffle batter to find a good color for our 'Wreath Waffles.'
 We used a fruit roll-up to make our bow, though, unfortunately, I didn't realize this was the type of roll-up that had writing on it when I opened it.  Oh well!  
 Then, we halved maraschino cherries to serve as 'berries' for our wreath.
 Pour a ring of your green batter around the iron, being sure to keep the middle empty.
 Our wreath, out of the iron and ready for its berries.
 Lucy, my great kitchen helper today!  :)
 Ta-da!  'Wreath Waffles!'
 Later, for a craft, we made 'Button Wreath Ornaments,' inspired by a picture of a similar craft I saw in our Oriental Trading Company catalog.  For the same, I used green paper rings (just cut from green cardstock), green and red buttons, glue, scissors, and red and gold ribbon.
 First, glue green buttons all along your ring.
 After the green buttons had dried, we added a few red buttons on top for 'berries,' then made a small bow with our red ribbon, gluing that on as well.  Finally, we used the gold to make a loop hanger for our ornament.  Simple, but quite cute!
Our 'Button Wreath Ornament,' hanging from our tree!  :) 
Later, we made 'Bagel Wreaths' for lunch, as seen in the December 2011 issue of Parents magazine, page 68.  (This is a really healthy meal option that Maggie ate up quickly because it was fun!)  To start, I steamed almost 1 cup broccoli in the microwave.  
 Then, after heating my oven to 450 degrees, I lined a baking sheet with aluminum foil and halved 2 whole-wheat bagels, which would result in four wreaths.  I then divided 1/4 cup of pizza sauce among the bagel halves, spreading it evenly over each.
 Once they were covered in sauce, I added about 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella to each bagel half.
 I then topped them with my steamed broccoli ...
 ... and then added halves of grape tomatoes to represent the wreaths' berries.
 Finally, I took some jarred roasted red bell peppers and cut thin strips out of each before forming them into bows to be placed at the bottom of each wreath.  I then baked the wreaths for about 10 minutes before serving.
They were a real hit!  The first thing Mags ate was the bell pepper ribbons and then she quickly gobbled up the broccoli!  What a great meal idea!  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thumbprint Reindeer

So, for those of you who know me, believe it or not, I actually toyed with the idea of not sending out Christmas cards this year.  I thought, 'No one sends them anymore,' and 'We've just got so much else to do,' but the guilt I felt (and this cute idea I came across in Family Fun magazine!) changed my mind.  I think a lot of you would have been shocked not to receive a handmade Christmas card from us this year, but never fear, though it's later than usual, it's on its way!  

We chose to make the 'Thumbprint Reindeer' as seen in Family Fun, simply made, using cardstock, ink pads, googly eyes, black paper holes (punched out from a larger piece), red sequins, tacky glue and a brown and green marker.  (The magazine used mini pom poms for their reindeer's noses, but I was worried about them in an envelope through the postal service, so we used black paper circles and red sequins for our noses.)  And, since there are three in our family, we thought it'd be cute to make one reindeer to represent each of us, using our individual thumbprints for each. 

First, we got to work, each of us making a thumbprint on our cards, being sure Maggie's (the smallest print, obviously) was in the middle.
 Then, using our brown marker, we made antlers for each.
 After all of our cards were thumbprinted and antlered, I used one of my rubber stamps to make a greeting on each of our cards.
 Then, we added googly eyes and noses to each reindeer, making sure Maggie's print got the red sequin to represent Rudolph.
 We then used our brown marker to add ears and I added green bows to my print's antlers to distinguish it from Al's print (another variation from the magazine's suggestion).
 All our cards, drying and waiting to be mailed!
 Later, for some letter review, I gave Maggie some jellybeans for snack (Thanks, Mom and Dad!), but before I'd let her eat them, I instructed her to make an uppercase J and lowercase j out of them.
Great job!  :)
'J is for jellybean!'