Growing Out On A Limb


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Christmas Ornaments

I really love the idea of inspiring creativity in my kids by sitting down with them to do crafty things on a regular basis.  Maybe they’ll decide they don’t enjoy it but, in the meantime, it’s a fun way to spend time together. 

I’d like to start the tradition of making homemade ornaments for our tree every Christmas.  Eventually our tree would be full of but homemade ornaments that are full of sentiment and memories. 

With that in mind, we made salt dough ornaments this year.  Emery, at 5 weeks old, can’t be of much help and, truth be told, Oliver at 22 months is still limited in the crafting abilities and the focus to work at anything for long.  But we persevered. 

I made the salt dough and cut out various shapes using cookie cutters.  After air-drying for several days, we covered them in glitter.  I ran the glue and Oliver (mostly) ran with the glitter.  I think they turned out quite shiny and sparkly… just the right touch for our tree! 

I also think it will be nice for the boys to do something homemade for their grandparents every year.  This year, we painted more of the salt dough ornaments (with a helping hand from mommy).  Of course they look just like a two-year-old painted them but what grandparent wouldn’t love that?!  I think they are darling so we kept a few for our tree too. 

So much fun! 

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Chocolate Cookie Bark

This has to be the easiest recipe in my Christmas cooking repertoire.  I always make a double (or triple) batch because it’s quick and delicious and everyone seems to love it.  I find myself sneaking down to the freezer to snatch a small piece when I need a quick sugar fix (hence the need for a triple batch). 

The recipe comes from kraft.ca

 

INGREDIENTS

1 package (8 squares) semi-sweet chocolate (I have also used sweet chocolate)

1 package (6 squares) white chocolate

2 Tbsp peanut butter

10 Oreo cookies

DIRECTIONS

Melt semi-sweet and white chocolate in two separate bowls using microwave or on the stovetop using a double boiler.  When melted, add peanut butter to white chocolate.  Crumble half of the Oreos over each type of chocolate; mix well. 

Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with waxed paper.  Alternate the colors of the chocolates.  Swirl gently with a knife. 

Refrigerate until hard and break into pieces.  To store, refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. 


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Gift giving

Here are a few of the crafty gifts that I gave this year.  I’ve already blogged about most of Oliver’s crafty gifts, since he doesn’t read the blog, but didn’t want to post about others in case the receivers do. 

I gave these rice bag feet warmers to my grammies and sister.  So easy to make, these take just a fat quarter of muslin, another of cotton, and some rice.  The tutorial is from here and couldn’t be easier. 

 

I made these cloth napkins for my sis.  They turned out really well despite it being my first time doing mitred corners (eight napkins x four corners equals a LOT of mitred corners).  Next time I will add a little something to them though… maybe just a little modern-looking embroidery or a bit of stenciling.  Another verrrry easy sewing project but a little personal touch to the gift. 

<Insert photo of wreath>

 

I originally saw this idea in a wreath roundup somewhere and instantly thought what a great gift this would make for my mother-in-law who loves to knit.  There are several tutorials out there and various ways to do this but here’s an idea of how mine was made:  with three sizes of styrofoam balls that were covered in three different colors of yarn using hot glue (I’m LOVING the colors), and two or three different sizes of gold Christmas balls.  Everything was hot glued together and the final product feels surprisingly sturdy.  I added the pieces of artificial flower because it needed a little something – I think it adds just the right touch of glitter and glam. 

I really love how it looks in the end and so does the mom-in-law.  I think I might have to make one for my grammy but the next one will probably be a little smaller and using something less expensive than styrofoam balls (those suckers are expensive – maybe plastic balls from the dollar store?). 

In addition to the car pillow and the personalized bag for Oliver, I also made him an ABC book.  This idea came from Cheri at I am Momma – Hear Me Roar a while ago.  I love it because it teaches ABCs while using personalized pictures of him, relatives (some of whom don’t live close), places we’ve been, and objects around our house. 

Here are a few of my favorite pictures used: 

  

  

S – Odell park in Fredericton; U – A photo taken during a rainstorm in St. Martin; O – With daddy during vacation on PEI; V – With papa and his new wheeler

I love how personal this is while being educational.  I used an inexpensive photo album like Cheri did but it could also be done a little more formally by creating a photobook using a service like shutterfly. 

For hubby, from the boys, I wanted to do a desktop calendar for his desk at work.  I was going to use something like shutterfly but I really didn’t like the idea of the pictures in Dec 2011 being a year old.  I could not find a product anywhere with a pocket that lets you slide your own photo in (maybe I should patent the idea?) so I decided to make one using a CD jewel case.  I saw this idea all over the internet once I started looking and found many templates that all used photoshop, but I don’t have photoshop so finally settled on this site.  All you do is upload your jpeg, choose the month, and let it generate the calendar page… download the generated jpeg and print it out.  That’s it!  Now I can create a calendar page every month that has current pictures.  Love it! 

I enjoyed giving these gifts and am all over making all homemade gifts next year but I’m pretty sure I would have to start preparing in June!  It’s totally worth the effort though – I hope everyone else thinks so too!


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A Bag for Oliver

I love this little project. 

Since Emerson came along, I’ve been wanting a new bag for Oliver – something he can take to the sitter’s so the diaper bag is freed up for the baby’s things. 

So I got online and found this bag made out of organic cotton. 

I love the vibrant blue but wanted to make it a little more personalized for my little guy.  I used this tutorial for inspiration (Cheri is so talented).  Here is the end result: 

Oliver is all about anything with wheels right now so I went with a bus and a car for the images.  I used freezer paper stencilling to put the images onto scrap fabric that matched the border of the bag.  Oliver’s name was stitched with embroidery floss in green. 

I love the way this turned out – a totally personal bag with very little effort and time.  I plan on filling it with books and putting it under the tree for Christmas.


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My stars on ice

Our new Sunday afternoon activity …

Public skate! 

Oliver has taken to skating so quickly – he just loves it!  Granted, he is using two-bladed bob skates that make skating more like walking on funny shoes, but he loved it from the first moment he saw the kids on the ice and was no time taking off on his own.  I can’t wait to get my own skates out and join the boys! 

 


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Cherry Chocolate Cookies

This cookie is one of the softest, gooiest, and most scrumptious cookies that has ever come near my mouth.  I found the recipe here on allrecipes.com and made it a few years ago for the holidays.  It has been in my holiday repertoire ever since. 
 
 
 
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 10-oz jar maraschino cherries
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I have also used milk chocolate chips)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
 
 
DIRECTIONS
~ Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt, baking powder, and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
~ Drain cherries, reserving 1 1/2 tsp of the juice. Pat cherries dry. Shape 1 Tbsp of dough around each cherry (do this rather quickly as the dough tends to dry out). 
~ Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  (Word of Advice: these cookies do expand slightly as they cook but they don’t reshape. When done, they will look exactly as they do now so shape them
as you want to).
~ Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until set (don’t overbake). Cool on wire racks.
~ Frosting: In a saucepan, heat chocolate chips and milk until chips are melted (I have also used the microwave, cooking at 15 second intervals until smooth); stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved cherry juice and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Frost cookies.  (Some recipes skimp on the frosting but this recipe allows a good amount of frosting on each cookie). 
Beyond delicious!