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Gingerbread Wishes

25 Dec

Happy holidays!!! I wanted to share our tradition of making a gingerbread house with you. Here are three different ones, the cute unfinished one is my daughter’s. she is using Golden Grahams cereal to create a thatch roof.
The house with the nerds rope wreath has been eaten!!! The others will be eaten this week.
Thanks for reading and happy new year from our houses to yours!!

House_1 House_2 House_3

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We’ve been hit…by a PINTEREST Thanksgiving craft storm

20 Nov

20121120-152325.jpgOh Pinterest….you suck my time but in return give me great inspiration, it’s a love hate relationship. If you have read my earlier posts then you know I am cookoo for Thanksgiving and decorating. My nine-year old is also has the “crafty”gene, so we found a bunch of fun crafts to make. I thought it would take hours but it really didn’t with the exception of finding foil wrapped candy bars. (grrr)

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I wanted a few interesting take aways for my guests to thank them for spending the holiday with us. I found these cute candy bar wrappers on Martha Stewart but it is darn hard to find foil wrapped candy bars these days. Most companies did away with the foil and these only work with foil wrapped bars. I found some Cadbury from England but I didn’t think the kids would appreciate dark chocolate so these are for the grown ups only.  For the kids we made cute mini cornucopias from sugar cones, seen here. We didn’t get too fussy, we just added some Reeses Pieces and candy corn and bagged them up. We will use up cranberries by placing them in jars with some rosemary and a candle as seen here.

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As for place cards we really loved the large turkey drumstick, I think it is supposed to hold a large popcorn ball but we already have enough sweets! We stuffed them with paper towels, we can use for clean up after dinner. I hot glued the “bone” in to the paper bag and Claire labeled them, one for each kid.

We found lots of fun ideas for the grown up place cards, one we saw just used sticks and a sprig of evergreen. I had the idea to make mini drumsticks to match the kid table! We collected sticks from the yard and hot glued them together. We added the mini drumsticks and were pretty happy with how they turned out.  They standard turkey hand print is a place mat for the kids table, made by Claire. Thanks Pinterest!

Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!!

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Baked Typefaces

15 Feb

 I couldn’t resist sharing this amazing post for all you font freaks and cookie monsters out there!  I found this cute post over here…  Even more baked typefaces. What a cute and creative idea, keep being creative!!

Rainbow and Squirrel Sandwiches (not what you think)

25 Oct
We made it through September and October seems to be even busier!! Seriously is it me or do we get busier every year? What happened to the down time it must be somewhere, I am still looking!! The preparing dinners is tough enough, but making lunches can leave you at a loss too. Walking in to the kitchen groggy and trying to juggle breakfast, finding missing socks and making sure homework is in the backpack can be a real chore. The last thing you want to do is make a bunch of lunches, am I wrong? Well I can’t help with that because the kids have to eat!! At our school we have to bring lunch everyday we do not have a lunch program (yet).  Over one hundred and twenty or more lunches in a school year can seem daunting, and if you have more than one child…well you get my drift!  
          When winter comes I immediately get out the Thermos and go for soups and stews, warmth during the day can give a child that little boost they need. But until then I like to make sandwiches, the problem is that my daughter has never been a fan of the sandwich. She much prefers a warm lunch, something homemade of course but that can’t always happen. Recently I remembered I had some edible markers I usually use to draw on hard boiled eggs with. My discovery that they work on bread was a gold mine!!! I can write notes like “I miss you” or “drink more water” on her bread!! 
The best part is that she likes make her own lunches (with some persuading) because the markers are fun to use. We make the sandwich the night before so we are not rushed in the morning. We only do this once a week to keep it special but it sure is fun!!  We add, fruit, cheese and crackers, and a veggie like cucumbers or carrots. I very rarely add any sugary treats unless it is home baked like banana bread.   This gives me a break the next morning so I can gear up my creative brain for the next day’s lunch.

Try going to a thrift shop for cookie cutters, Ikea has some fun ones too!  I have a large collection and find that I almost never make cookies with them. They work so well for “sandies” as we call them in our house!

Cookie cutters and edible markers make a great lunch.

Mucking it up in Spring!

3 Mar


Article from: Edible Marin and Wine Country — Spring 2011

Stone’s Soup Corner


For those of us who live in Northern California, spring is all about waiting for the rains to end and the sun to arrive again, and, thankfully, it always does. During this time of year, there is a lot to be done to prepare the garden for summer planting. It’s also a great time to talk to your kids about what you are going to plant so that they will be excited about taking care of the garden and harvesting and eating what you have grown–and getting dirty in the muddy veggie patch! So, put your rain boots back on and go get dirty with your kids in the Spring muck!


Try my recipe below for “Swamp Soup,” and I bet you will get your kids to not only eat their vegetables, but love them. The trick here is to hide a few beans in the bottom of their soup bowl and tell the kids to eat to the bottom of “the swamp” to find the “muck beetles”–and yes, I made that up. By the time they get to the bottom of the bowl, the soup will have magically disappeared. The soup itself is delicious, packed with green vegetables and will warm you and your kids up on a chilly Northern California spring day.

Swamp Soup

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided in half

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups zucchini, thinly sliced (about 3 whole squash)

2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and with the pit removed

½ teaspoon salt or to taste A handful of cooked organic black or pinto beans Prepared pesto (optional)

TO PREPARE

In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of the broth to a boil with the onion, garlic and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the remaining 2 cups of broth and the zucchini and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, re-cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the soup to cool slightly.

In a blender, purée the slightly cooled soup mixture with the avocado, in batches, until it reaches a smooth consistency. Return the purée to the saucepan, add salt to taste and warm gently. To serve, place a few of the beans in the bottom of the bowl and gently pour in the soup. When you serve it make sure to tell the kids to eat to the bottom to find the muck beetles!

OPTIONS:

• If you don’t want to open a whole can of beans for this recipe or take the time to soak dried beans and cook them separately, just pick up a few at your grocery store’s salad bar.

• Add a dollop of pesto to this soup after you purée it for an extra punch of flavor and a green color.

• Float strips of toasted bread or crackers on top of the soup and place a bean on one so your kids can make the “bean bug” “jump” from log to log.



KIDS’ CRAFT–SCIENCE IN THE KITCHEN

Looking for something fun and educational to do with your kids over a long weekend or spring break? Try this project using dried beans that will teach them a little science and gardening know-how. Setting it up is a great inside activity on a rainy day. Beans sprout very quickly so they are fun to watch and this experiment works well for kids of all ages.

In this version of the old-school experiment you use different liquids–milk, water, salt water and sugar water–to find out which one causes the beans to sprout in the shortest amount of time.

Things you’ll need:

4 empty cups

1½ cups of water

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 paper towels

20 dried beans

4 plates

Steps of the experiment:

1. Fill 3 cups each with ½ cup of water, and a 4th cup with ½ cup of milk.

2. Add the sugar to 1 of the cups that contain water and add the salt to another, leaving 1 with just plain water.

3. Soak 1 paper towel in each cup for 1 minute, or until saturated.

4. Label each of the 4 plates with one of the following: water, milk, salt-water and sugar-water.

5. Place 5 beans on each plate, and cover loosely with the saturated paper towel that corresponds to the label on that plate.

6. Observe the growth of the beans each day for several weeks, making notes on the number of beans that have sprouted on each plate, as well as the length of the sprouts. Determine which liquid was the most successful at causing the beans to sprout.

7. Once the beans sprout, you can plant them in dirt and keep them growing!

Going Against the Grain – Healthier Gingerbread House * Recycled*

11 Dec


Here we are again…It is winter and the holiday season is in full swing. I bet you are all as busy as I am so I know you will understand when I tell you that I am recycling an old post I wrote for Edible Magazine. Things around here are great and I have a few projects up my sleeve. I am not quite ready to share all the details with you. So I figured it is better to re-share than post nothing, enjoy and if this is old news to you then chime in with some new ideas for the perfect gingerbread house!! I promise that after the break I will get back to posting more healthy recipes for your little ones. Until then enjoy your time and don’t stress out too much, remember to have fun and take a breath this holiday season!

With the holidays coming, kids have two things on the brain—presents and sweets! When I think of the holidays I always think of a gingerbread house. We made one every year when I was growing up, and we always looked forward to it. It was an elaborate plan of blueprints and time. This year I am thinking of making a much healthier and simpler version—a rustic gingerbread cabin, if you will.

Are the kids sighing in the background? (Just wait kids, this can be fun.) I understand that the thought of a gingerbread house conjures up visions of candy canes, sugary gumdrops and gobs of frosting, but why not build one with some healthier, but still tasty, ingredients?

Remember, a gingerbread house can be any kind of house—a tiki hut, a ski lodge, a trailer, a mouse house or a train. When you make a traditional gingerbread house you end up with bags of sweets left over and, let’s face it, no kid wants to get old, stale candy for Halloween next year and tossing it out is so wasteful. Go against the grain and forgo the candy this year! Challenge the kids to use items you already have in your cupboards and try not to go out and buy a ton of new ingredients. The great thing about this project is that the “decorations”—foods such as nuts, cereals, and crackers— are healthier, easy to use, and you could make a fun cereal trail mix with your leftovers. This gingerbread house will be different, and still just as fun to look at and eat.


An easy way to make a small gingerbread house is to use graham crackers. If you are more adventurous or want to make a larger structure, you can purchase a readily available gingerbread house kit or bake your own.


You will need:

· Graham crackers: 10 per house to allow for mistakes!

· Royal icing for mortar (see recipe below)

· Piping bags and tips or gallon size freezer bags (make sure your bags have a nice square corner, not a pleated one)

· Decorative items such as: nuts, seeds, dried fruits, chocolate-dipped dried fruits, candied ginger slices, banana chips, marshmallows, pretzels, crackers, cereal of any kind, and cookies

Tips:

· To color your royal icing “mortar” for a more rustic look, add a drop of black food coloring during mixing.

· To fill a zip top bag with the royal icing, stand the bag up in a tall glass before filling.

· Cut a tiny hole in one corner of the zip top bag after filling it. You can always cut a bigger hole, but you can’t make a big one smaller!

· Keep your icing bag in the refrigerator for touch ups or other projects during the holidays.

To build the house:

Use a large plate or sheet pan as a base so you can also create an amazing landscape around your house. Attach the graham crackers to each other with the royal icing by piping a line of frosting along the edge of one piece, pressing it against the adjoining piece, and holding them in place just until the icing sets. Prop up the pieces with cans of food or other heavy objects, if necessary, while they dry. Allow the house to dry for several hours before decorating. A graham cracker cut in half diagonally works well for the sides of the roof, or make yours a flat-roof house.

Royal Icing

3 egg whites *

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 (16 oz) box confectioner’s or powdered sugar Yield: 2 cups Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and thick, about 7 minutes. When a knife blade drawn through the icing leaves a clean cut, it is ready. Chill in a tightly sealed container if you are not using it right away.

· Purchase pasteurized egg whites if you are concerned about using raw eggs.



IDEAS TO SPUR YOUR CREATIVITY

Firewood pile: mini Tootsie Rolls

Shutters: sticks of gum

Rustic stone siding: chocolate cereal

Sand: brown sugar

Roofs: Oreo thins, Wheat Thins or Shredded Wheat cereal

Fences: pretzel sticks

Lamp Posts: pretzel sticks with marshmallows on top

Trees: green gum drops shaped like leaves (sold as “Spearmint Leaves”)

Pile of presents in a sleigh: decorated sugar cubes

Barnyard: animal crackers

Walkways: flat cookies or dried fruit

Snowmen: marshmallows with pretzel sticks for arms

Bamboo siding: pretzel sticks

Chimneys: sugar cubes or marshmallows

Snow: shredded coconut (can be sprinkled on for a snowy look on roofs and trees)

Photos: Matthew Carden—www.350degrees.com

Halloween 2010 – Treats and Insanity

31 Oct


I am writing this fast post between sleepover and costume application for my small yet scary Vampire child….Claire.


This Halloween seemed to come on like a huge wave. The water was calm, I turned around and WHAM right in the face! Usually I have a list of planned out treats to make for the various we go to. This year I was not focused at all, I was distracted by life, not ready for the “big game.” I am only being overly dramatic because generally I love Halloween, I live to make disgusting treats once a year, like the Kitty Litter Cake or Severed Fingers. This year I was so overwhelmed with great ideas from my Twitter friends, magazines and bloggers that my brain became a scramble of ideas and then my head popped off!!


My first idea was to make Bakearella inspired Cake Pops like eyeballs on a fork. Then my ideas changed when I saw some cake pops that had witch hats made from Oreos. Let me save you from the thought process, anyway I went back and forth and eventually just let it become free form.

The Cyclops were and after thought, I was low on eyeballs so I decided to make a one eyed monster. I had black sprinkles and thought they make goofy hair, perfect! The second is a witch and the kids loved them.

I also saw some fake earwax Q-Tips so of course I made them and, they were my yuck factor.
Last but not least, Lychee “cow eyeballs”
I happened to have a can of Rambutan, I used creative licence and substituted them in for lychee, it worked just fine.
So I am just taking a few minutes to share our creepy treats with you. I’d love to see yours, leave links in the comments for me to see!! Happy Halloween!!

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