Thursday, December 31, 2009

Making Candy Turtles - Success!

Every year around the holidays we make a bunch of chocolate covered candies. We do a lot of pretzels, peanuts, marshmallows, and whatever else happens to be handy and sounds like it would be good covered in chocolate. We use some as gifts. The current snug fit of my jeans is proof that much of our homemade goodies are also consumed right here at home.

This year I wanted to make Candy Turtles. They are my husband's favorite, but for some reason I never made them before. My first attempt was a failure. I posted about it at Stop the Ride. The candy tasted good, but it was tooth breaking hard. My husband still ate them, but I knew we could do better.

Commenters on that post left me some suggestions, and I was determined to try again. The first thing I did was to buy bulk caramel instead of using the pre-wrapped squares. I found this at the same store where I buy the chocolate. It is a party supply store.

I tried a couple of different ways to make the turtles the second time around. Wouldn't you know, the simplest way actually turned out the best candies?! I was making the job too hard the first time. This was what worked best.

First, start melting the chocolate in a double boiler. Lay out some wax paper. Then arrange the pecans on it using three pecans to create a Y shape. Cut a small piece of the caramel off, and lay it on top of the pecans. Finally, cover the caramel and most of the nuts with the melted chocolate. Allow to cool, and enjoy! I know my husband has been enjoying them!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Carnival #148 Holiday Week

Welcome to the Make it from Scratch carnival! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Judging by the number of submissions, I think you all have been busy with family, friends, and festivities; just as it should be. Below find some great ideas for this between holidays week.


NerdMom presents Easy Refrigerator Cookies posted at Nerd Family Food.

Cyndi presents Black current jelly posted at Real Food Fast!, saying, "While the kids are off from school, how about whipping up a batch of easy black currant jelly?"

Devildogwife presents Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls posted at Marine Corps Nomads.

vh presents Ginger-Pineapple Punch posted at Funny about Money.

knitting. crafts. other

Lucky presents Make Your Own Finger Paints! posted at Making My Own Luck, saying, "This one's for the kids!"

SVB presents Become Debt Free Faster With The Lending Club DebtBuster Challenge posted at The Digerati Life, saying, "Are you open to this challenge? Go debt free faster by moving to cheaper loans and committing to a debt reduction schedule."

TSW presents 11 Ways To Save Money On Crafts and Creative DIY Projects posted at The Smarter Wallet.

Cindy presents Recycled T-Yarn Kitchen Set posted at My Recycled, saying, "Crochet a recycled kitchen set from old tee-shirts. Included is a potholder, trivet, knob cover and a skillet handle cover that were crocheted from t-yarn or tarn."

Make it from Scratch presents How to Rag Roll Hair with Video posted at Make It From Scratch.

Thank you for joining us for the Make it from Scratch carnival during this holiday week. We hope you join us again next week at Out of Debt Again. Submit your blog article using our carnival submission form.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Leftover Remix Rescue

I made way too much holiday ham for the Christmas so now I'm stuck with trying to figure out what to do with it all besides making the standard ham sandwiches! Here's a few of my ideas that may help you with your left overs too!

Breakfast Casserole - I usually make this with chopped bacon and crumbled sausage but i think ham would work well in this dish too.

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly great a 9x13 baking dish. Lay day old bread, dinner rolls, or even left over stuffing mix in the bottom. Whisk about 8 - 10 eggs with 1/2 cup of milk or cream plus 1 tsp of salt and any other spices like pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. You can also mix in 1/4 cup of quick cooking oats for added nutrition. Pour over bread. Dice ham (as much as you would like but I generally use approximately a pound) and drop evenly in pan. Add about a cup of shredded cheese - optional. Bake approximately 30 minutes till top is slightly brown and knife cuts the center clean. This can be made the night before and refrigerated till morning. Just pop it in the oven till done for a speedy breakfast.

Ham & Bean Soup - Usually white beans are used in Ham and Bean Soup but I like red beans. Cook beans per package directions but add in ham bone, pepper, garlic and 1 tbsp of salt for added flavor. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add diced ham and enough water for your preferred consistency. If it's too soupy, simply mash a few of the beans with a fork to thicken!

Ham Pizza - Use diced ham for pizza topping. Use left over dinner rolls slice in half, add pizza sauce, ham and cheese for a individual pizza. Toast in the oven till cheese melts.

Caramelize It - Cook it over medium heat till it starts to brown. To get the caramelize, spritz a bit of water into the pan and the ham will take on a beautiful caramel brown color as it cooks. Serve with eggs, rice, or any other side dish.

Cheesy Ham & Rice - Boil rice per package directions, mix in chopped ham, 1/4 cup cheese, splash of milk or cream. Add any other spices like salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, etc to taste!

I imagine these dishes would work well with turkey too. Like I said, I've got TONS of ham left over so, I'd love to hear what left over remixes you have planned!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Carnival #147

Apologies for the delay of the carnival this week. Edition #147 is now up at Frills in the Hills. You'll find lots of scrumptious recipes this week, and some very cute crafting ideas that would be perfect for last minute gifts. Here are some of my favorites:

Sausage and Cream Cheese Mushrooms

These would be a perfect appetizer for our Christmas dinner. Yum!

100% Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

A healthier version of the classic which Katie claims is, "the perfect melt in your mouth, buttery soft chocolate chip cookie."

Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes

Cheesy yummy goodness from scratch.

Thank you for joining us this week. Enjoy the entire carnival!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Emergency Gift Ideas

Christmas is almost here! YAY!! Seems like last week was Thanksgiving; I don't know where the time went! The gift list has been made and it's been checked twice. All my shopping is done and the cooking will begin shortly. Gifts get wrapped on Christmas Eve - I've got a 3 year old boy, need I say more? ;D Santa will show up with the rest of the loot sometime during the night! Sounds like I am home stretch, right?

After a visit from some of the hubster's friends yesterday, I discovered I was not as close to the finish line as I thought. After they left gifts for the hubster, the kids, AND me, I was quickly reminded how handy it is to have a few extra emergency gifts for those unexpected or forgotten holiday guests.

Here are my emergency gift ideas! They are quick and easy anyone not on your list would love to receive!
Fancy Peppermint Bark - 10 minutes plus cooling - Melt package of almond bark per package directions. Mix in crushed peppermints. It may turn your bark pink. Pour in a foil or wax paper lined baking pan. Allow to cool. Heat colored candy melts or chocolate in double boiler till melted and smooth. Pour over white almond bark. Sprinkle the top with crushed peppermint. Allow to cool on counter or in refrigerator till set. Break or cut into pieces.

Homemade Caramel Corn - 1 hour 15 minutes start to finish - Preheat oven to 200. Start with 10 cups of POPPED corn and remove all unpopped kernels. Place popcorn on lined large baking sheet or pan and set aside. Over medium heat, combine: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 1/4 cup corn syrup and a dash of salt. Bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 tsp baking soda (it will foam a little). Continue stirring till it quits foaming and baking soda is dissolved. Pour the HOT mixture over the popcorn. Carefully toss popcorn in the mixture till it is evenly coated. Bake in 200 degree oven for 1 hour stirring at least once. Remove popcorn and allow to cool. It is better than store bought so I'll make this for us as well as for gifts throughout the next year.

Jar Gifts - Time Varies - There are so many ideas using what is in your kitchen already. Cookies, quick breads, drink, and soup mixes. Bath scrubs and salts. Sauce and seasoning recipes. Here's my favorite jar mix recipe site but you can find hundreds by searching for "jar mix recipes". If you preserved any pie filling or soups, they would make excellent gifts too. Simply add a beautiful ribbon and an instruction tag for a great gift.

Electronic Gift Cards - Instantly - Retailers have made it so simple and FAST to purchase and receive gift cards. You can't go wrong with a gift card to Walmart or Kmart. Grocery gift cards are another idea. Then there are movie rentals like Netflix and Blockbuster. My newest find is just for girls, called Fashion Playtes. The girls create their own custom clothing online and use the gift certificate to have it made and shipped. There's several options for under $25. I just wished they had stuff like this when I was a girl!!!

So there you have it, my list of emergency gifts. What's on your list???

From my porch to yours, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season! See you next week!

Jenn also blogs about crafty and foodie things at Frugal Front Porch!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Projects on Deck...

Kellie is a tree-hugging mom, wife and crafter with too much to do and too little time. She blogs regularly at Greenhab and the Green Phone Booth.

Since I've had zero time to do many crafty things this week, I thought I would share some of the things on my to-do list instead.

I could use about a hundred of these scrap buckets from Sew I Do in my sewing room. I can just picture them all lined up on a shelf and making me instantly organized.

This blogger is adorable and makes such cute and fashionable clothing and accessories, as well as dolls, wallets and more. You'll get lost in her blog, so be sure to visit it AFTER you read the rest of this post. :@)

(Photo courtesy of Sew I Do.)

Today I made chocolate covered banana pops for my son's preschool holiday program. (You can find the directions here.) Over the weekend I'll be making some Peppermint Bark, which I hear is just as easy. I've been craving it for weeks. Hopefully I can practice some restraint and actually save some to give to Fletcher's teachers on Monday.

I absolutely, positively must find time to make one of these water bottle carriers (a masculine version though) for my mom's beau for Christmas. We gave him a reusable canteen for his birthday and thought he could use a carrier for it since he likes to take a walk each day.

The tutorial (and photo) is from Pink Chalk Studio. I can't wait to make one of these for myself as well...when Christmas is over, that is.

I was also hoping to find time to make a few of these cute little flower pins to use as stocking stuffers. I have so many cute fabric scraps I could use up on these. The tutorial is over on Design*Sponge.

And that's it for my "Things I really need to get done before Christmas" list. My "Things I'd love to find the time to do" list is much longer. If I could only remember to buy a lottery ticket...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to Rag Roll Hair with Video

I have two daughters at home. The oldest is seven, and has always been my girlie girl. I on the other hand am not really all that into frills and putting a lot of time into doing hair. Most days we are lucky to get out of the house with the girls' hair brushed and pulled out of their faces. But there are days, when even the most practical of mommas, wants to doll her girls up with fancy hair dos. The holiday seasons often bring those days.

Trouble is that Lydia, the seven year old, has a ton of straight fine hair. I've tried curling it with a curling iron before, and it an enormous effort whose results did not last. Almost three years ago we tried rag rolling for the first time.

Since then, if the girls want curly hair we break out the rag bag. It is really a simple process. It is cheap, and the curls last for a very long time. I also thoroughly enjoy that this can be done the night before the big day. Here is what we do.

1) First you need rags.
I've cut up some old towels and old sheets to use. They are about an inch or two wide and seven or eight inches long.

2) Then comb out the hair. It helps if the hair is slightly damp. I just dip the comb in water to accomplish this. If the hair is to wet it won't dry, and your work will be for nothing. Ask me how I know.

3) Take a small section of hair to roll. Smaller sections will make tighter curls. Larger sections will make loose curls.

4) Starting the hair around the rag is the hardest part. I use my finger to hold the hair while using the other hand to start rolling. It does get easier with practice. Once you get it started just roll the hair all the way to the top of the head, and tie the ends of the rag together.

The video below shows the first four steps:

5) Once you have all the hair rolled, your daughter will look something like this. Then I tie a big scarf or a bandanna around their heads to help hold the rolls in place, and to keep the three year old from pulling at them. If we are going somewhere in the evening I leave the rolls in all day. If we are going somewhere in the morning we will roll their hair the night before, and let them sleep with them in.

6) When you are ready to take the hair out, simply untie the rags and unroll. Use your fingers or a pick to arrange the hair. Brushing it will make a big fuzzy mess. Again, ask me how I know.

The end result will be a head full of long lasting curls. And by long lasting, I mean days of curls. I rolled the girls hair Monday. Lydia still has quite a bit of wave left in her hair this morning.

Here are my girlie girls with their curls. You can see that I got the front of the little one's a little too tight, but she still loved all the curls.

Stephanie is a homeschooling, homesteading momma of four, attempting to live a frugal and simple life in the hills of West Virginia. She also blogs at Stop the Ride and Adventures in the 100 Acre Woods.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Carnival #146

Thank you to Jenn for hosting this week's edition of the Make it from Scratch carnival. She has put together a feast for the eyes. It is full of fabulous pictures of all your made from scratch projects. Here are a few that I found particularly appealing.

Button Wreath Ornament
This is so cute, and easy (a high priority to me when it comes to crafts.) Will definelty have this one in mind for next year's Christmas ornament making.

Cupcake Tree Ornaments
Again, super adorable, and pretty easy, they are on the list too.

Crocheted Kitchen Gift Set
I know. Three craft picks from me, it is unheard of. This one is well beyond my skill set, but it is such a lovely set that I just had to included this week.

Hope you enjoy the carnival. Check out the All things Eco Carnival too.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Handmade Gifts for the Fellas

A sweet girl named Megan posted a comment asking for some handmade gift ideas for the guys in her life. Here's what she said:

I need some help!
this year I wanted to make christmas presents for everyone in my family. I have great Gifs made/almost made for all of my girl relatives... but when It come to my dad, grandpa, uncle, and 14 year old brother I'm stumped! I try searching google for ideas, but it's not really helping me out, (I'm only 12 and can handle adult craft stuff, but some of the ideas on other sites seem really hard, and expensive to make and will take a long time!). I really need some help because christmas is in 14 days and I want to make something really special for everyone!

Hopefully you can post something to help me out,
Megan, this post is for you and anyone else who needs some ideas for the fellas in your life!

My favorite place to look for inspiration is Etsy! They have a gift guide section for the guys that is fantastic. Another place to find inspiration is with the fellas themselves. What do they like? Hobbies? Music preferences? Favorite sports teams? What gadgets do they already have? What type of things would make their life simpler? What do they like to eat? Their favorite places? Then I figure out if I can make something in answer to one of these questions.
And YES, I copy other people's ideas. NO, I don't feel any shame when I do it and neither should you! ;D

  • For the techno-guy with cell phones or hand held video games then, perhaps sewing a protective case using fabric with some of their favorite colors or sports team logos. You can "man up" this case at Sew Mama Sew with leather, denim, suede, etc and use metal snaps or buttons. Stitch in a belt clip on the back to make it functional too.
  • Create a laptop case. Here's a link to 12 different free tutorials. Use tweed, wool, or a range of fabrics you can easily find in the men's department at the thrift store. This keeps the cost down and allows you to quickly find material deemed "manly".
  • Consider Kellie's coffee cuff for the coffee drinker in your life. Give it some guy flair with skull and cross bones fabric, denim, camouflage, leather, or other dark colored fabric with metallic buttons.
  • For the businessman in the family, make (or buy) an simple tie and screen print it with a design you create. Here's an easy an inexpensive tutorial for screen printing with Modge Podge. An idea you can really go nuts with!
  • Consider making scarves and hats. I can't knit or crotchet but if you can, this would be great time to bust out those skills. Kellie has a great tutorial on making them from old sweaters. I make mine from two colors of fleece. Cut two long rectangles for the scarf. Stitch the long sides. Pull through to hide the seam. Cut fringe on the ends and tie to each other in a square knot. Fleece doesn't unravel and it's warm! Here's a tutorial from Martha Stewart's site to make the fleece hat.
  • Another great idea is a home baked goodies! I haven't met a man yet who doesn't like a home baked treat! Bake a batch of their favorite cookies, package them in an inexpensive decorative tin from the dollar store. I have a super simple chocolate toffee recipe you should be able to make with no trouble at all. There's also Stephanie's Chocolate Covered Pretzels. PLEASE make sure to get parental permission first.
  • Make a simple clock with an inexpensive clock kit from the craft store and a dry erase board, an LP record, picture frame, or virtually anything else. Search for things at the thrift store to reduce your cost. Leave the glass out of picture frame and seal the background image with a clear top coat or modge podge to make it easier to install the kit. Background ideas: a photo collage, poster, cd cover art, movie and dvd cover art, fabric, a painted design, etc.
  • My husband also suggested a couch caddy! Here's a free pattern I found but it's basically a pouch that fits over the arm of your chair. Perfect for the remote, TV Guide, pens, pencils, and anything else they might need to stash.
  • For the writer, aspiring journalist in the family, a customized covered journal. Again, man it up with images of their favorite sports teams or interests. Use blues, greens, black, silver and camoflauge fabric or paper. Here's a great tutorial on how to do this quickly and easily.
  • I also made a wallet for my step son who FLIPPED over it. Granted, he's 11 but I think this would work for a 14 year old. I used fabric from one of my husband's very worn western shirts and equally worn denim jeans. Added some black felt detail and wha la! It didn't take me long to make and cost nothing. I used denim because it's durable and will last but you can use just about any kind of fabric just make sure you add several layers of interfacing!

Find other great gift ideas in this Father's Day post as well as this article full of sewing tutorials. This is all the ideas I have for the moment. What other ideas do you, the wonderful MIFS readers, have for Megan?

On a slightly unrelated topic, I have a giveaway going on at Frugal Front Porch where 2 winners will receive an eBook bundle from You Can Make This.

*Jenn also writes about craft, recipes, and frugal living at Frugal Front Porch.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest Post - How to Develop Creativity When You Don’t Have It

Today's guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills, who writes on the topic of x ray tech schools. She welcomes your comments at her email id: I completely relate to this post. My natural creativity ends in the kitchen. Developing creativity elsewhere is something that I am working on. Thanks for the helpful tips Shannon.

I was always of the opinion that you could never develop creativity – you either have it or you don’t. I’ve always believed that you’re born with the creative instinct, that it is an innate ability and that there is no way to artificially induce it. But then, my relationship with a very talented and creative friend changed my perception and understanding of this ability. I don’t have an iota of creativity in me when it comes to working with my hands and making stuff. But I realized that if you are clever enough, you could trick creativity into making a home inside you, even if it is only on a temporary basis. And if you’re looking for ways to do this, read on:

• Copy without guilt: One way to get into the creativity game when you’re a novice is to copy your creative friends without any guilt whatsoever. I’m not saying you must steal their ideas, just that you could follow their lead and accord credit where it’s due. When you begin to learn by copying, you’re getting the hang of it. This forms a platform or lays the foundation for you to develop your own creative ideas.

• Learn by association: When you hang out with someone who is creative, you begin to learn by association. You start to think like they do and you’re often inspired by their work. You begin to learn about the practical side of creativity – the materials you could use and the tasks that can be done without too much effort. And when you really want to develop creativity, you’ll find that it comes to you when you persevere.

• Don’t be afraid to experiment: The best part about creativity is that there are no rules or standards. So in essence, anything goes. As long as you’re using your brain and coming up with new ideas to make your own stuff, you’re good to go. So don’t worry about gaining approval or praise from anyone else when you try to get creative. It’s all about gaining confidence in yourself and your newfound abilities.

• Know that even geniuses struggle: And if you’re having trouble once in a while or even more often than not, remember that even the best of creative geniuses are not free from mental blocks that hamper the flow of their creative juices. Give yourself time to learn, time to experiment, and time to grow as a creative thinker and doer, and watch the difference in the way you make things from scratch.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Homemade Chocolate Covered Pretzels

'Tis the season for chocolate!

Well, any season is a good one for chocolate, in my opinion, but the Christmas season is when our kitchen becomes a candy factory for a day or two. One of my favorite chocolate projects is to make chocolate covered pretzels with the kids. They are easy, fun and delicious!

First, you need chocolate. For the best results you will want to start with a good coating chocolate. It is sometime sold in large blocks, but most often you will find it in wafers. It can be found at craft stores, party stores or online. I'm partial to the Merckens Brand.

Coating chocolates come in many colors and flavors. I stick mainly to the dark, light, and white. the kids like the colors. In my opinion, the other colors tend to have a waxy taste. They are great to use to add color to your pretzels though.

Next, you need pretzels. Any pretzel will do, but I like to use the small twists or the large rods. Using holiday shaped pretzels is also a fun idea for this time of year. Lay several sheets of wax paper out to get ready for your chocolate covered pretzel making.

Now, it is time to melt the chocolate. A Double Boiler is the best way to go. You are less likely to burn the chocolate, you can dip right from the double boiler, and you do not have to worry about the chocolate setting up again.

If you don't have a double boiler, chocolate can be melted in the microwave. Put the chocolate in a small bowl and microwave in 30 second increments. Stir after each heating. Do this until the chocolate is completely melted. You may need to reheat periodically during your dipping session.

Let the fun begin. Dip the pretzels in the melted chocolate. For large rods you can simply hold one in end while you dip the other. You may need to use a spoon to help get the chocolate far enough up on the rod.

For twists and other shapes, use a chop stick, fork or tongs to help you with the dipping. Another useful improvised tool is to take a plastic fork and break off the middle tongs, leaving just two tongs on the outside.

After you dip the pretzel in the chocolate, lift it out and gently tap it so any excess chocolate drops off. Lay the pretzel on waxed paper to dry. Before the chocolate is completely set, pretzels can be rolled or sprinkled with colored sugar or other candy sprinkles for decoration. Or wait until the chocolate is a bit more set, and drizzle the pretzels with a different color of melted chocolate. Allow the pretzels to completely dry.

When you've dipped all the pretzels you can, there will still be quite a bit of chocolate in the bottom of your bowl. Don't let it go to waste! Put some peanuts in the chocolate, and stir them around to coat. Drop them by the spoonful onto the waxed paper.

Once dry, if you can keep your family from eating them all, they can simply be stored in a covered container. To give as a gift, simply put them in a plastic bag with some ribbon and a gift tag. They can also be put in a tin or other container. They look great on a tray of other candies or cookies to take to your holiday events. They also are a nice addition to your gift baskets.

Want some more ideas for homemade chocolate candies? Check
Easy Chocolate Christmas Candy.

Making homemade chocolate covered pretzels is an easy and fun project that can be done with the kids. The end result is delicious and pretty. What more could you ask for?

Stephanie is a homeschooling, homesteading momma of four, attempting to live a frugal and simple life in the hills of West Virginia. She also blogs at Stop the Ride and Adventures in the 100 Acre Woods.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Carnival #145

This week the carnival is hosted at Gotta Little Space. After working around some sort of glitch at Blog Carnival, the 145th edition of MIFS is up and running. Here are a few of my favorites from this week's carnival.

Chocolate Mint Candy Cane Cupcakes

Love this flavor combination, especially this time of year.

Holiday Cranberry - Apple Coffee Ring
Cranberries are another holiday favorite of mine. This recipe is making me drool.

How to Make a Room and Linen Spray
A how to with a great list of of diy fragrance blends.

Thank you for joining us for the carnival this week. Be sure to check the entire carnival at Gotta a Little Space.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How To Make Fabric Gift Tags/Keepsake Ornaments

Here is an easy way to snazz up the perfect gift in no time flat. All you need is some fabric scraps, ribbon scraps, optional felt, coordinating fabric, jingle bells or other embellishments plus pinking shears, needle and thread. You can hand or machine sew.

  1. Cut strips of fabric (or use ribbon) and sew right sides together to make a fabric panel. Make a panel as large as you like.
  2. Create your tag and transfer the image to your fabric. I used chalk since it's easily removed and went with a simple circle but a star, tree, or various other shapes work well. A cookie cutter functions as a wonderful template if you are not the artistic type!
  3. With your pinking shears, cut your template shape plus about 6" to 8" of ribbon for your loop. One on the scrap panel, one felt (optional but gives is a plush look), and the last should be a coordinating fabric for the back.
  4. Piece the layers together with right sides facing out, felt sandwiched in the middle and sew with your preferred stitch with about 1/4" to 1/2" seam.
  5. Finally, add any embellishments you like to personalize your gift tag. Printable fabric opens up the option of adding photos, you can stitch the recipients name, fabric paint and marker allow other decorating options too. If you have an embroidery machine then there is no limit to what creative designs you can create.
I am having trouble deciding on whether I should hand stitch my recipient's name or add some groovy design via iron on fabric! What do you think????

Jenn also writes about crafts, recipes and other house hold tips all on a budget at Frugal Front Porch. If you leave a comment on any MIFS post, it earns you an entry in my Jiffy Lube gift card giveaway. Just head on over to the giveaway post and let me know what post you commented on.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stocking Stuffers for those who are on-the-go...

Kellie is a wife, mom, tree-hugger and crafter extraordinaire. Well, let's not go that far. She blogs regularly at Greenhab and the Green Phone Booth.

I am hip-deep in making Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers this week. Why does December fly by so quickly? (And don't I say that about every month?)

Today I have some cute tutorials for you! At least I think so...hopefully you do to!

In our effort to tread lightly, we also try to influence friends and family in a positive way. This year, I've made a coffee sleeve for my mom's to-go cup, or just to carry in her purse in case she has the sudden need to visit Starbucks.

~*Coffee Sleeve Tutorial*~

You'll need fabric (all the same, or coordinating), some insulated batting, and a paper coffee sleeve from your local coffee shop to use as a pattern. Depending on your preference, you might want a piece of elastic and a button to hold it closed, or even some velcro.

1. Using your coffee sleeve as a pattern, cut your pieces of fabric: one outside, one inside, and one piece of batting. Remember to add about a half inch all the way around for seam allowance.

2. Put the outer and inner fabrics together, right sides together. Then lay the batting on top. I usually cut my batting a little smaller. This makes the whole thing lay flatter once you turn it. As you can see from the third photo, you only need to catch it in a few stitches here and there so it doesn't get loose when you turn it right side out.

3. Sew all the way around, leaving a hole open at the bottom to turn. Clip corners. Notch the top curve and clip the bottom curve so the fabric doesn't bunch up when it's turned.

4. Turn right side out, press, top stitch all the way around.

5. At this point I hand stitched the sleeve closed using a few strands of embroidery thread. I also embellished it with a felt petal and a button.

There are so many ways to close this. You could make it a bit longer, so that the sides overlap, and velcro it closed. Or, sew an elastic loop into one end and a button on the other. I'd like to make one in a solid color and put a little felt bird on it.

~*Utensil Wrap Tutorial*~

For this project I used the same coordinating fabric, a piece of ribbon, and some utensils. (I also made a second version for one of the guys used a more manly mattress ticking fabric and a leather cord instead of ribbon. You can use utensils you already have, of course, but I found these bamboo utensils on sale for a few dollars at Greenfeet and thought they'd be perfect for this gift.

1. Time to cut! The outer and inner fabric will be 12" square. The pocket will be 4" wide by 9" tall. The ribbon can be 24-ish inches long, give or take an inch or two.

2. First we're going to make the inner pocket. Fold the pocket piece in half, with right sides facing. Pin and sew all the way around, leaving an hole at the bottom for turning. Clip the corners, turn and press flat.

3. Pin the pocket to the lining fabric, wherever you desire, and sew the left and right sides of the pocket to the lining fabric, very close to the edge. I used about 1/8 inch allowance there. You can leave the bottom unsewn as it will get eventually be caught when the outer and inner pieces are sewn together.

4. Using a fabric marker, draw two lines from top to bottom of the pocket. (I did mine 1 and 1/8 inches apart, because that was what fit best with my bamboo utensils.) Then sew down each of the lines. Now you've created three little pockets for your fork, knife & spoon.

5. On the left side, pin your ribbon to the lining with the tails going in.

6. Lay your outside fabric on top, so that the right sides are together, pin.

7. Sew most of the way around, leaving an opening of about 4 inches for turning. Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Clip corners, turn, press flat.

8. Top stitch using a 1/4 seam allowance.

Now you can fold the top of the napkin down and wrap it up. I like have the top fold down because then the utensils don't fall out the top. I made a crayon roll last year that was very similar to this and I've found that the crayons tend to pop out the top sometimes.

You could make this a totally "green" gift by using an old shirt, handkerchief, or scrap fabric. I throw this in my purse and always have it handy when I'm out and about, which helps me to avoid disposable plasticware.

Header designed by Crystal. Thanks!