Category Archives: Craft

What to Do With All Those Christmas Tree Pine Needles: Drawer Pillows!

Don’t call my crafty or anything, but this is heaven in a fairy pillow.

Thought I’d share some heaven in a pillow with you. My Brynnie-the-Pooh came over the river and through the woods, from grandmother’s house with the most darling and deliciously-clean smelling drawer pillows:

pillow“Smell this, Mommy!” she said excitedly.

Oh, it truly was heaven in a fairy pillow!

“We made them! First you beat the tree – Grandma was making all these weird noises while she beat the tree with a broom…here I’ll demonstrate.”

So she demonstrated how one beats a tree with a broom making cavewoman-like noises, and ta-da! all the dry pine needles fall off onto the floor.

DSC_0005First, let’s pay homage to that beautiful christmas tree that was once cut fresh, sold on a lot, wrangled into the house, planted in a pot of water, dressed, tangled with lights, attacked by small children and pets, and glowed bright all month long.

pine needlesAs the weeks wore on and the pellet stove blew dry, hot air, hundreds and hundreds of pine needles fell.

By January 1, I am more than ready to say good-bye. The tree has done its duty. It’s time to have that big ol’ bonfire in the backyard!

But hark! Grandma has a story, an old tradition.

“Every Christmas, when I was a little girl, I would make pine needle pillows and send one to my grandmother.”

In my head I can see the the sock drawer being opened. Day after day, the fresh scent of pine floats through the air, reminding a grandmother of her granddaughter. It’s a Donald Hall or Tomie DePaola story book story if I’ve ever heard one (I’ll let him know.)

Oh yes, we had to do this.

So we took off the ornaments and packed them away. The lights were untangled, tangled back up, and stuffed into a bin.

And then the beating of the tree began. What great, messy fun this was for a kid!DSC_0138

Seeing my husband’s face? Quite priceless.

“What the heck are you doing?” he asked, as pine needles flew threw the air.DSC_0145

“We’re beating the tree, of course and making pine needle pillows!”

To his credit, he turned around and walked back into the kitchen. The beating unleashed a fragrant christmas tree smell that wafted throughout the house –  it smelled so good!DSC_0146After our tree was truly Charlie Brown-worthy, I threw it out the front door with nary a trail left behind. The girls then took all the pine needles and rubbed them together between their hands so nothing was left on the sticks.

DSC_0147A bowl full of fragrant and soft pine needles

DSC_0155We ironed a bit (optional) and cut squares, turning the fabric inside out.

Sew 3 and 3/4 quarters around the square on the sewing machine, then turn the fabric right side out.

Load pine needles into the pillow, and sew up small hole by hand.

DSC_0148These little pillows smell so good, and the girls are so excited to give them away as teacher and family gifts. Etsy has quite a few ideas, but I’m partial to my fairies 🙂

DSC_0150A grandmother-mother-daughter-christmas tradition lives on.

Meaningful and easy = my kind of craft.

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Bold and Beautiful, All Natural Egg Dye

This is just the sort of thing I look at and say, seriously? The PAAS kit is $1.52.

But then I pondered the great possibilities of cabbage.DSC_0317Gregor kept walking past large vats of vegetables and spices, shaking his head. “I just don’t understand…”

I know. But occasionally we like to try being Martha.

The best thing about this experiment, was playing chemist with the kids.DSC_0254 Here are the eggs our hens so lovingly layed. We used the brown, too.

cabbageThis was the only thing I purchased specifically for eggs. The rest was in the fridge or cupboard.

DSC_0248 Cabbage is so naturally beautiful

DSC_0258 Red onion skins

DSC_0259 I took a picture of the tumeric and it gave me a reflection of spring, coming

DSC_0260 The cloves gave me a shot of the sky

DSC_0263Beet juice and Cloves

DSC_0267Dill and Tumeric working magic.

I kind of felt like a witch above her cauldron.

Instructions:

Boil eggs (I actually don’t boil mine; I just use raw and try not to drop)

Keep boiled water for dying

Bowls should be deep enough for eggs to sink to bottom and be completely covered.

Add Ingredients to pots and pour boiling water on top. Let sit awhile (1/2 hour?) so the color from the ingredients can seep out. It won’t work if you don’t do this! Also, don’t add raw eggs until water is cool. They will crack.DSC_0270For Azure Blue: Boil 1/2 head of red cabbage on stovetop for about 1/2 hour. Spoon out cabbage and eat. Or not. Let cool. Add 2 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tbsp salt. Add eggies!

DSC_0288Perhaps a beautiful orange color? Boil 3 cups water, 1/2 a bag of carrots, 1 orange peel, and 4 skins of yellow onion. Let cool. Add 2 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tbsp salt, and eggs.

DSC_0291And this would be the dinosaur eggs. Dill was supposed to turn it green. Oh well.  3 Cups Boiling water, 3 tbsp dill seed. Add 2 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tbsp salt, and eggs.DSC_0294 Lemon yellow: 3 cups boiling water, 3 tbsp tumeric. Add 2 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tbsp salt, and eggs. 

It really…smells.DSC_0303Clove Brown: 3 Cups Boiling water, 3 tbsp Cloves. Add 2 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tbsp salt, and eggs.

This had a particularly potent odor. DSC_0310I was hoping for red, but beet juice gives a light brownish…so we basically dyed our white eggs to match the brown eggs.

3 cups Boiling Water, Canned Beet Juice, Skins from 3 Red Onions. Add 2 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tbsp salt, and eggs.

Cranberry juice and Paprika probably would have worked better. DSC_0323And there you have it, your very own colorful palate of naturally dyed eggs.

In addition, you’ll get a perplexed husband, a wonderfully(?) aromatic home, and kids playing chemist.

If this freaks you out, go buy the kit. We have so many eggs, we’re trying that route tomorrow, but I do like how there is no downside to actually eating or touching these natural dyes.

Looking for more? Try some Easter Egg bread. Delicious and beautiful for Palm Sunday or the Easter meal. Also, a very Happy Passover to my Jewish friends!

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An Elf Ornament and Runner’s Holiday Granola

Miles run: 5.5 
Yippee – we can still run outside!  

There hasn’t been much cleaning or cooking around here this week.  Brynne has got me elf-crafting. Gasp.  I know.
Mothers work in mysterious ways.  Two years ago I bought supplies to make this elf ornament I saw on CloverLane.  Two years ago.  That’s kind of how I do crafts…oh!  that’s looks like so much fun…oh, the craft store is so exhausting…I’m too tired to make it now.  Let’s do it in two years…

Imagine crafty Brynne’s delight when she discovered a bag with all the supplies needed for such a project.  We wanted to share the joy.
Supplies Needed:
Crayola Air-Dry Clay
Pine Cones (preferably fat and flat-bottomed. Now you really want to make it, no?)
Colored Felt
Ribbon
Small Pom-Poms
Pipe Cleaner
Glue gun
(forget the feathers above, that was for another project I never made)
1.  First, roll clay to make the elf head.  I bought all of the supplies at Michael’s.  No baking necessary.  (imagine all the great things you could make out of this clay!)

Brynne rolled and rolled and let the elf heads dry overnight.

It’s so hard to wait!

2.  Draw some cute faces with sharpies

3.  Cut a wide-based triangle out of felt.  
4.  Glue-gun a string on, and continue gluing down the felt for a long line of hot glue.  Quickly fold the triangle into a little hat.  This was hard for us, but we persevered 🙂 Caution – it’s hot!

Trim hat

5.  Glue pom-pom on top

6.  Glue hat on head
7.  Glue head on top of pine cone.  Again, much easier with flat-bottomed cones.  Let dry.

8.  Cut and tie scarf around elf

Ah.

9.  Cut pipe cleaner, little boots, and little mittens.  Then glue gun them together.

10.  Glue gun onto elf.  Cheese!

Because our pine cones were so long and skinny, our elves had lots of personality.

Some became superhero flying elves, some were babies wrapped in a pine cone cocoon, no arms or legs necessary.

Singing elf

This is kicker

Runner elf

Scaredy elf

Wicked elf

Brynne was so pleased and has already assigned them out to the perfect person she must give to.  I like that she made her gifts, and I have to admit, crafts…are…fun.  There, I said it.  We shall now have a section on the blog called, Don’t Call Me Crafty, with Brynne tutorials.

It’s supposed to be weekend recipe day, but as you can see, the elves won.  Never fear, if you’d like a twist on a recipe, here is a Runner’s Holiday Granola.  I submitted it quickly last week and learned that it went in both the print and web edition of the Deseret News.  The email said I should be very pleased, as space is incredibly limited in print editions, and only the highest degree of work is published.  

This made me laugh out loud thinking of the hours of time I have spent on some articles, but the granola recipe is the one that made it into real print.  I think this just goes to show, that we must stop and embrace our destiny, whatever it may be.  Mine is obviously to spread the good word of granola.
Runner’s Holiday Granola is the same recipe as Amy’s Runner’s Granola, except I added green pumpkin seeds to make it more Christmas-like.  And of course when I eat it, I add some pomegranate!

Tied up with a ribbon, the bird food is ready to deliver (something a nice elderly lady once called my gift 🙂
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Play Dough; Mom Recants Stance

Over a year ago I said it here, right here on this blog:  No More Playdoh!  Ever!  Ever.  Again.  I don’t even know how to spell it – playdoh? play dough? playdough?
But then awhile back it rained and rained and rained.  Paige was so bored and I was out of ideas.  So I got on-line (it continues to amaze how we can learn about anything and everything on-line!) and found a simple recipe.
It’s a stove top recipe.  Paige was mighty confused.  Since its banishment, playdoh was not even a household word.  She didn’t know what it was!  She thought I was making something to eat.

Mmmm…let me smell it.  Let me tasted it.  Salty snack!
Letting it cool was interesting.
Anticipation was high!
Ooooh…it’s so fun!  so moldable, not sticky!
And it’s all mine since all the kids are gone!
We rolled and rolled and rolled.
We cut it up into a million pieces.  I’m not kidding when I say she did this for over an hour without stopping.  Then Brynne came home and they played another hour!  Just goes to show that sometimes its wise to put things away and wise to bring them back when more “appropriate.”  As of now, it has not been mashed into bits into the carpet, floor, or trampoline.  It has not dried out and been scattered across the house.  The dog has not eaten it.  It’s played with and put back into its proper sealed baggie.
Are your kids ready again?  Are you?


Make Your Own Play-Dough

I love this Play-Dough Recipe because it’s super quick to make and provides hours of fun with the kids. I used to make a batch of this play-dough once a month in the classroom. I always chaged up the colors to match the season. Although 20 little hands stayed busy shaping and molding, the play-dough never dried out! Had enough of play-dough? TryBread and Glue Clay, or Gooey Goop.
Materials:



  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • a few drops of food coloring (color of your choice) OR 1 package of unsweetened Kool-Aid

Directions:
1. Mix ALL of the ingredients in a large saucepan.
2. Cook over medium low heat, stirring intermittently, until the dough comes away from the edges of the pan and becomes thick so it is difficult to move the spoon. Remove from heat.
3. Let play-dough cool in the pan until it can be handled.
4. Turn play-dough out on counter or on wax paper and knead 3 – 4 times.
5.Play! Store in an air tight container.
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A Fall Garland

I often feel crafty, and I love looking at other people homes and blogs, but when it comes down to actually doing a craft, it goes right at the bottom of my list and rarely gets done.  I’ve come to terms with this.  I have other things I enjoy doing.  Right now all my scrapbook stuff is spread out on a table in the living room.  I want to finish 2009 before Thanksgiving.  It’s driving Gregor crazy – he hates the clutter.  I think this will be my last year before I go completely digital (sorry Becky!)
Anyway, a craft I actually did was this leaf garland.  I got the idea from another blogging mama.  The best part was taking a leaf walk with my kids.  They had so much fun finding the “prettiest” leaf.
Instead of dipping the leaf in wax, I ironed them in-between waxed paper.  I’ve heard of people preserving leaves this way, but this was my first attempt.   Ta-Da!
It actually works!  The heat melts the wax onto the leaf.  How amazing.
I found some clear string at Wal-mart and actually glue-gunned the leaves to the string.  Ta-Da!  That worked too.
Then I taped it up on the corners of the window.  Wow.  I did a craft.
And it was fun and probably only took about an hour.
It makes me happy, every time I walk into my orange kitchen.
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