Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blog Alert: National Hugging Day

A hug is a handshake from the heart. ~Author Unknown

Today is National Hugging Day...did you know that?  Well, me either to be honest.  A peek at my son's school calendar informed me of the fact this morning.  Actually, I think of all the made up holidays (if you want to call it that), this is a cute one.  Right up there with National Cookie Day.  It was started back in 1986 by Rev. Rev Kevin Zaborney from Caro, Michigan. Why? I'm not sure.  But hey, you can't lose with a hug, right?  So, go on! Grab someone and give them a squeeze, but be sure to ask first.  You don't want to turn this into, Your-butt-gets-thrown-into-jail-day.

In an interesting little side note, while I was researching Hugging Day, I came across something I wasn't aware of.  January actually, has 5 odd and unusual holidays (once again, if you want to call them that):  January 3rd: Festival of the Sleep Day,  January 18th: Winnie the Pooh Day (wish I would have known about this one, I LOVE WINNIE THE POOH!!),  January 21st: National Hugging Day, January 23rd: National Handwriting Day (It's purpose is to make people aware of the importance of handwriting.  It was created by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977.  This date was chosen because it's John Hancock's birthday and he was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independance.), and lastly, January 31st: National Popcorn Day (can't wait for that one...yum).  Big Hugs to all!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to make: Yo Yo Candle Mat, Yo Yo Sachets + some freebies!!

I love candles.  They are all over my house in every room, including the bathroom.  Back in my pre-rugrat days, I used to love to fill up the tub, light some candles, grab a good book and have a lovely soak.  Nowadays, I can't even shower without an entourage or at the very least, two little fist banging on the bathroom door going..."Mommy, let me in..what are you doing in thereeeeeee"  I was at a craft show many years ago and the lady next to me, who sold candles, had her's displayed with the cutest little mats underneath them. Being a yo yo lover, I quickly realized that they were made with those easy to make and oh-so-addictive little circles of fabric.  I broke the cardinal rule of craft shows and asked the lady if she minded telling me how she made them, which she so kindly did.  I had made yo yos before, tons of them in fact. I sewed them and stacked them to make dolls, Christmas ornaments, and the like, but I had never joined them side by side.  Of course as soon as she showed me how to do it, I quickly went home and did an Internet search that turned up all kinds of neat joined yo yo projects, like yo yo quilts, table runners, place mats,etc (to be discussed at a later time).    Yo yo crafting dates back to the 20's and 30's.  For the waste not, want not years of the Depression, it was a great way to use up every little bit of fabric, make decorations for home decor, and embellish clothing.  They are the perfect waiting room craft.  Stick a couple dozen yo yo circles, a spool of thread, and a needle in a tote bag and it will spare you a half an hour wait of reading Field and Stream.  OK, so I've talked up the wonderful world of yo yo making enough, let's get on with the how to, shall we.

To make  a candle mat, simple cut out a circle (size of your choice).  You can use any circle object to make a template, a CD, cup, plate, saucer, etc.  Trace it on to a piece of cardboard and cut out.  Now, they Clover Crafts makes a Yo Yo maker. They have  a large and a small size.  Personally, I think they aren't necessary.  Don't make yo yo making any easier, the only good thing is you will have perfectly uniformed stitches, which is not that important to me, but might be to you. 

After you cut out your template, lay it on the wrong side your fabric and trace, trace, trace. cut, cut, cut.  The number of yo yo's you will need will depend on how big you want your finished mat and how big your circles are.  The mat in the picture was made with circles approximately, 4 1/4 inches, the finished yo yo turned out to be about 1 3/4 inches.  I sewed four rows across and four rows down.  My finished mat was about a 7 1/4 inch square.  Experiment. 

Once you have all your circles cut out, thread your needle and sew a running stitch around your circle. As you sew, turn the edge of your circle under about 1/4 of an inch so you have a smooth clean edge.  If you don't know how, check out this video on how to make a running stitch.  A little tip:  Shorter or little stitches create a more open center, longer, wider stitches make a tighter, more closed off center when you are done.  I chose black thread so it would show up better against the white fabric, but you will want to pick a thread that will match.  Once you've sewn all around your circle, pull your thread slowly and firmly.  This will gather your fabric.  Pull as far as it will go, and knot off your thread.  Fix your gathers, and flatten your yo yo.

Now, to put it all together is just as simple. Take two yo yo, hold them together, front to front ( your two centers will be belly to belly so to speak).  On the side of your two pressed together yo yo's, sew them together with a whip stitch.  You don't want to sew too much. You basically want them tacked, about 1/4 of an inch. If you don't know how to whip stitch, check out this video.  Repeat this step till you have the length you want.  Personally, I sew two yo yos at a time, then when I several sets, I sew two, to two others ( like sewing a couple to a couple), til I get the length I want.  And once you do...well, you're done.  They really aren't just for candles, use them in place of doilies under lamps, candy dishes, vases, pictures, anything you want really.

For yo yo craft #2...also very simple...make a yo yo sachet.  These make cute gifts for friends, co workers, teachers and such.  Hang them from door knobs, dressers drawers, closets or throw some in your draws and cabinets. 

Cut out a big circle and a smaller.  I used a dinner plate and a saucer as a template.  Using the steps above, make a yo yo.  The exception is, before close off your yo yo, add some potpourri into the center of your circle.  You could also use herbs, such as lavender.    You don't want to make it too full, so experiment with the puffiness of it before you tie it off.  Once you got it where you want it, finish off your yo yo like I explained above.  Make your second, smaller yo yo the same way, minus the potpourri.  You are going to make this yo yo just like you did for the candle mat.  Once you got it done, glue the smaller yo yo over the center hole of your larger one.  This is going to keep your potpourri from falling out.  You can leave it just like that or cover your center hole of your smaller yo yo with a button, flower, bow, whatever.  Thread a needle with a bit of thread or floss and near the top of your bigger yo yo, just sew a hanger loop.  Once again, you're done!  How simple are these things to make!!??

Now, totally random here...I made some freebies that I was suppose to post back before Christmas...yeah, yeah I know.  But I'm sharing them now...that has to count for something...right??? Just right click and save to your computer :)  I hope you enjoyed this post and stop back again.  Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Our December

OK, so I thought I would blog my way through December.  It being such a crafty and kitcheny (yes, I know that's not a real word) time of year.  Unfortunately with all the hustle and never ending bustle, I just didn't get it all together enough to meet the goal.
I thought for my journey back into blog land, I would recap the past of month with my favorite moments of holiday bliss.

We kicked off the season of merriment with a visit to see Santa. This was our first year to do this, but it's definately on top of the list for next year.  The look of complete amazement on the little ones faces actually getting to meet the big guy was a joy to watch.

Our next stop was the Build a Bear Workshop.  I, now understand why this is such a popular attraction to the kiddies.  The pure sweetness of it all had me fighting the urge to grab one of those stuffed cuties and build my own bear!

My kids walked out with two new additions to thier furry family, Bengal Bear and Holly.

We had lots of cooking adventures in December too.  One of my favs was our first try at making a popcorn cake.  The hubby had this at a work party last year and has raved about it ever since, so I thought I would surprise him and give it a try.

It wasn't very hard to make, quite messy and very yummy.  I mean, popcorn, candy, and can it be bad right??

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

4 quarts popped popcorn (16 cups - plain, unsalted, and unbuttered)
2 cups M&M candies
1 cup cocktail peanuts (lightly salted)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 pound marshmallows (mini or regular)

Cooking Directions

Grease a large tube or bundt cake pan with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix the popped corn with the M & Ms and the peanuts.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, oil, and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When melted, pour over the popcorn mixture, and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared cake pan, pressing down to fit. Cover with aluminum foil to keep moist.

Let sit for 3 to 4 hours, or until firm and set.

To serve, invert the cake pan onto a large plate or platter. Shake gently to release.

Serve at room temperature.

The great thing about this cake is that it's not just for Christmas.  You can make it for any holiday thanks to M&M's they sell in various holiday colors (valentine, easter, etc.) or just about anytime.

Another fun night was teaching my kids to make chocolate lollipops.  We make a bunch for him to take to school and pass out to his friends.

Super simple:  A couple of chocolate lolipop molds (we found ours at Michaels Craft Store or look online)

A bag of chocolate melts (my son picked white chocolate with sprinkles in it)

A bag of lolipop sticks

Melt your choco melts in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave.  I start it at a minute, take it out, stir it and then at 30 second intrevals

Once you get it all melted, spoon it into the molds.  Tap them periodically to remove any air bubbles.  Slide in a stick and put it in the fridge for about an hour to set.

I got a box of regular sandwich bags and just slide one over each pop and tied with some curling ribbon.

My biggest craft project this year was making clothespin magnets for all of my son's teachers.  Seven sets of five each.

If you need a nice present in a large quanity, clothespin magnets are where it's at.  I got a pack of 50 clothespins at Walmart for a buck and a half.  Some scraps of scrapbook paper or wrapping paper, something with a small design works best, some glue and magnets. 

Just break apart one of your clothespins to use as a template, and trace on to the paper.  Cut it out and glue it to the top of the clothespin.  Decorate with some ribbon or sequins or buttons, whatever you have on hand and glue a magnet to the back. Cute, easy and inexpensive.  My kind of craft!!

I packed them in some brown paper bags. I bought a pack of 50 at the Dollar store.  Cut out some snowman pictures from a roll of wrapping paper and glued them to the front of the bag and then tied them closed with some curling ribbon at the top.

For now my tree is still up. I don't have the heart to take it down yet.  I just know looking at that empty spot where it stood is going to send me into a round of the after Christmas Blues.   It was an amazing month filled with all the good stuff that should come with such a wonderous time of year, made it all the more special sharing all these fantastic moments with the ones I love most in this family.

On with January......