Monday, December 5, 2011

Santa's Mailbox Ornament DIY

Evie is just starting to understand who Santa is so we haven't quite reached the Letters to Santa phase yet. But I'm looking forward to it. This year I had her "write" a letter and I'm going to print up a list of what she got for Christmas and another list of what Owen got on his first Christmas. Then it's all going into these cute little ornaments I put together during the miraculous few minutes that both children napped at the same time.

I love Christmas ornaments. LOVE THEM. My favorite day is Black Friday because I spend all day getting the tree up. I pull out each ornament and I can tell you who gave it to me, where and why. We collect ornaments when we go on vacations, we each get a Hallmark ornament each year plus more on special occasions. I love the hand made ones I've received from loved ones. I plan to make one of these each year and then I'll most likely go and re-read their Christmas lists each Black Friday.

To make your own you'll need: 1 toilet paper tube, a 12" piece of ribbon or string, glue or Mod Podge, Scrapbook paper, hole punch, scissors, computer and printer (optional).

I started by creating this template. Please feel free to print and use it. Make sure it is 4 1/4" Wide x 6" Long when you print it.

I added a name to the flag and printed it directly on scrapbook paper.

If you choose not to use my template just cut your scrapbook paper to 4.25"wide x 6" long.

Coat the back of your paper with glue or Mod Podge and (if you're using the image above) starting at the bottom where the line is glue it around the TP tube.

It should overlap a little. Allow glue to dry slightly so the paper doesn't slide around. But you don't want it hard yet.

Punch 2 holes in the top of your ornament about 1 1/4 inches in on each side, as shown.

Tie a knot at one end of your ribbon so it doesn't pull through the hole. Thread the un-knotted end through the hole from the inside out. Then down through the other hole and tie another knot in the end.

Gently push the ends together along the half circle lines.

Glue one end closed.

Wrap a rubber band around your ornament to hold the bends in place while the glue dries.

In the meantime, make your letter. Of course a child can just write a letter and decorate it however they like. I made Evie a little letter sheet since she can't write yet. Feel free to print it out if you like.

Evie's letter is on a plain sheet of letter sized computer paper.  I trimmed it to 6" wide and I glued a 6" x 2.25" piece of coordinating scrapbook paper to the bottom.

To fit it in the ornament, first fold the scrapbook paper back right along the edge.

Then, with the "Dear Santa" facing up, fold the whole sheet in half short ways.

Next fold it in half short ways again.

The scrapbook paper should now be on top. Gently roll your letter with the scrapbook page out so you have a 2.25" tube.

And there you go! Easy, Fast and FREE! Love that!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

DIY Dot Stockings

We broke out the Christmas decorations yesterday and discovered that sometime during the hot, hot summer a red Yankee candle melted and stained my white velvet stockings. Bummer on two counts.  So we need new stockings.
  Land of Nod sells these adorable stockings for around $30. 

I made these four tonight for $23, and that includes a giant bottle of Modge Podge AND the eggnog to sip while I sit back and admire my handywork. AND I have enough material leftover to make 4 more.

Here's another shot.... Pretty close, right?!

For each (7"w X 18" l) stocking you will need 1 old stocking, some newspaper or tissue to make a pattern, 1 yard of fabric- I used muslin (1 yard will easily make 2 stockings), Craft felt or fleece (I had fleece on hand from lining hats but you just need something that doesn't fray or roll) in a variety of colors, card board or chip board, approximately 2 yards of rick rack, glue, glitter, 6" 3/8ths in grosgrain ribbon, 8" satin mini ribbon.

Step 1:  Make your patterns.  

Lay your old Yankee candle stained stocking on top of the newspaper and trace around it. Trace a little large to allow seam allowances. Cut it out.  Mine is approximately 18" long x 7" wide at the top. Create 3 different size circles on a piece of cardboard or chip board. I pulled the back off an old notepad.  My circles are 1 1/2" from a circle punch, the mouth of a shot glass and the bottom of a pilsner glass. I promise I wasn't drinking when I made these, but they're easy enough, you could be.

Step 2: Cut out your fabric. 
(Keep in mind, I was making 4 stockings. If you're only making one  or two you won't need the other 2 layers of fabric folded behind as shown here.)
With fabric doubled pin your pattern down and cut around it.  Put your husband to work cutting out 20 felt or fleece circles using your handy patterns. 

Don't let him get sharpie on the kitchen table.  
I didn't, but should have, finished the top edge of the stockings at this point. Just fold the top down a 1/4", then another 1/4" and sew it down. I didn't do this and would have ended up with a seam across my dots so I just glued the top edge down later.

Step 3: Design your stocking. 

Lay your circles in lines on the front side of your stocking. Pin them down before your 2 year old runs off with them.  Cut rick rack to lay across the center of the circles overhanging the edges just a tad and pin down. 

Set your sewing machine on a medium width zigzag stitch and sew straight down the rick rack. 

Step 4: Assemble. 

Pin stocking together with right sides facing and stitch. 

Clip curves. Turn stocking right side out. The circles near the bottom seam tend to flip over so I glued them in place. This is where I realized I'd get a seam across my circles if I sewed the top hem down so I just glued it too. 

Step 5: Hanger.  

Fold a 6" piece of ribbon in half. I glued the ends together to make it easier to position.  Sew to heel side seam as shown below.

 Go over it a few times so it holds when Santa stuffs the stocking full of heavy things.

Step 6: Initial. You can use those fancy chip board letters to make it easier or you can DIY. I harvested the cardboard from another notepad. On the computer find a font you like. I used 250 pt Curlz and printed off the letters.  Then I used modge podge to stick them to the cardboard. 

I'm pretty sure plain old Elmers would work just fine. Use a scalpel to cut out the letter. Cover each letter in glue and cover with glitter. Let it dry and repeat on the other side. It'd be cute with fun scrapbook paper too. Punch a small hole in the letter and thread the piece of 8" mini ribbon through it. Tie the mini ribbon into the hanger.

Step 7: Sip Eggnog and marvel at your awesomeness.  Think of what to buy with the $100 you just saved yourself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turning "Meh" into "More!": An Upcycled Meal

So, here's what happened.  For dinner last night I made this Chicken Marsala and this Panzanella Salad and we were terribly underwhelmed by both. (In the interest of full disclosure and fairness to the authors of both recipes I must admit that the only wine in the house was a box (don't judge) of Cabernet and the only bread we had was whole wheat sandwich bread and all my basil died so I had to use dried. The recipes might be great but my version was lack luster to say the least.)

Anyway, I had all this left over Panzanella salad. And the bread was all soggy and gross and I knew I'd never eat it. And Mike took the leftover chicken for lunch. All this resulted in my coming up with a new recipe using the left overs and it turned out to be much better than the original. It was really easy, although now that I've got it typed up it sounds more complicated than it was. You can make the veggie mixture ahead of time if you want.  It took about 30 minutes start to finish and I spent a good amount of time picking soggy bread out of the leftover salad. It made a ton.  Now I have a fridge full of leftover upcycled leftovers and really, that's not such a bad thing.


2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil

1 lb spaghetti

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and rough chopped
2 large tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 can black olives, drained
3/4 cup fresh basil (or in desperation, a TBS or 2 of dried)
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 can chicken broth or stock
1 tsp corn starch

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and add 2 Tbs Olive Oil. Heat over medium high and add garlic.  Combine Flour, Bread crumbs, Parmesan, 1 tsp salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.  Dredge chicken strips in flour mixture, coating well. Add to skillet and cook until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

While chicken cooks, in a large bowl combine artichokes, tomatoes, basil (if using fresh) and olives. In a small dish whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, basil (if using dried), salt and pepper.  Pour dressing over veggies and toss to coat.  (If you're using left over Panzanella use this time to pick all the soggy bread out of your leftovers... yuck.)  Add veggies mixture to hot pan. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently until veggies are heated through and the sauce is starting to reduce. Sprinkle in corn starch and stir to combine. Allow sauce to thicken slightly.

While sauce simmers cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Stir cooked and drained spaghetti into thickened sauce and coat. Serve hot with chicken strips on top.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Owen is 1 Month Old

It's hard to believe it's already been 1 month since our sweet little boy joined our family.  He is such a sweet little snuggly guy. We've all been enjoying his warm little cuddles and the funny little sounds he makes when he sleeps.

I very unscientifically weighed and measured Owen this morning and he weighed in at approximately 10.5 pounds and about 22 inches long.  I'm glad to see that he's growing. At his 2 week check up he was only 9 pounds, hadn't regained his birth weight. But then he really hit a 3 week growth spurt and seems have caught up.  

We took him to meet with a surgeon this week to get a little more information on his congenital hydrocele. Basically we waited for 2 hours past our scheduled appointment time to be told that he's not in any pain, may or may not have a hernia, and that he may or may not need surgery...all things we already knew.  We are to bring him in every 3 months until it seals up on its own or it is determined he needs surgery to repair it when he's between 12 and 18 months old.  Here's hoping the doctor's office can keep to their schedule a little better in February. 

Owen seems to have his days and nights a bit mixed up but it's getting better. He's up around 10, Midnight, 3, 5, and 7 and then sleeps well during the day. I wake him up every 2 hours to eat in an attempt to get him switched to a more convenient schedule.

This has been a month of firsts for Owen, as I expect the rest of his first year to be of course. 

He watched his first Razorback Game.

Had his first bath.

Took a trip to the Tulsa Aquarium.

Had his first photo shoot. Photo Credit: Victoria Knaup Photography

Took a nap in Daddy's chair.

Snuggled with his Great-Grandpa

Visited the pumpkin patch.

Had his second photo shoot (thanks to an uncooperative big sister). Photo Credit: Victoria Knaup Photography

Celebrated his first Halloween. (Photo Credit: fx studio)

Evie has been a very good big sister.  She loves watching me give Owen a bath and change his diapers.  She helps pick out his clothes and demands that he wear matching shoes. She is kind to him, giving him cuddles when he cries and sharing her special Pink Blankie- the one thing we would never ask her to share. She's also started playing Mommy to her baby dolls.  When Owen isn't in the bouncy seat there is almost always a doll in his place, lovingly covered in a blanket.  Of course it's a naked baby that's been dropped on it's head more than once but that's not important.  Evie likes to hold Owen when you bring it up but she doesn't ask to hold him. And she's quick to point out the differences between them:  Owen doesn't get Halloween candy and has to sleep in a little tiny bed but Evie can trick or treat and sleeps in a big bed.  So, all in all, I think she's pretty happy with her Big Sister status. The first few weeks were rough, with lots of tantrums, but things seem to be calming down as we get used to our new addition and routines. 
(Photo Credit: fx studio)

Evie turns 2 1/2 this month but I think that warrants it's own post. 

Now back to snuggling my little guy and maybe a shower, if I'm lucky. :) The joys of motherhood.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lil' Ghosts

Let me preface this by saying, it's SUPPOSED to be raining today. So I'd planned a day of laying around in our jammies doing rainy day things like baking Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and making crafts. It turns out, it's a beautiful sunny day, not too hot and not too cold. But I'm already committed to jammies, so jammies and crafts it shall be.

We started our day baking these Chewy Oatmeal Raisin cookies. YUM. Evie had a great time helping make and eat the dough. Poor Owen just had to watch from afar.

Then it was craft time. I saw these footprint ghosts on Pintrest a couple weeks ago and thought it would be really fun to do with the kids, especially since Owen's little ghost is so tiny.  But I didn't want to spend any money on it and, like I said, I'm committed to jammies today anyway, so there was no going to the store for supplies.

I started with an 8x8 piece of black scrapbooking cardstock.  I didn't have any acrylic paint so I used white puffy paint instead. It sort of worked. I took both kids out on the front porch (since it's not raining and all) and I used a small foam brush to paint the bottom of each kid's foot. Then we pressed their feet onto the cardstock. Evie wiggled a little so it looks like she has 7 toes. But it's supposed to be spooky, right? :)  After I cleaned the paint off their feet I used the puffy paint to outline their foot prints. When it had dried a bit I used some black puffy paint to make the eyes and mouths.  On Evie's I made a small bow with some orange ribbon and just pushed it into the tacky puffy paint. I used a white paint pin to put their names by their ghost. Then I printed "Halloween 2011" on a piece of white scrapbook cardstock (the Font is Blackadder). I glued that to Purple and then orange and finally glued the whole thing on a piece of purple 12x12 cardstock. When it's fully dry I'll either put it in a 12x12 frame and hang it up for all to admire, or more likely, I'll stick it in a scrapbook. Either way, it was a fun little craft and I think everyone will enjoy looking at it when their feet get bigger.