Archive for the ‘Handmade Gifts’ Category

Making Merry With Chocolate

December 18th, 2011 by zoe 6 Comments

Today we made my Grandmother’s Walnut Roca – nothing says celebration like melting chocolate!

I love you Grandma Zena, and I forever LOVE your Walnut Roca!

For those who asked here is the recipe!

Zena’s Walnut Roca

Ingredients

1 Pound butter

2 Cups White Granulated Sugar

Candy thermometer

4 Large 7 oz Hersey Bars or 28 oz of Fancy Dancy Chocolate of your choice

Walnuts — at least a pound.

Large Cookie Sheet

 

Take 1/2 cup of walnuts and chop them very fine, set aside.

Put butter and sugar in a sauce pan over a medium heat and sir like mad

(do not stop stirring this will take at least 10 minutes!).

Stir till it turns a caramel color and reads 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Note: as it gets close watch very carefully that it does not burn!

Add finely chopped nuts to toffee and mix thoroughly, spread the mixture onto a large cookie sheet in a very thin layer. Let fully cool.

While toffee sets up chop the remaining nuts finely.

Now rig up a double boiler and melt about 14 oz or half of your chocolate.

Spread one side of toffee sheet completely with chocolate, sprinkle heavily with half of your chopped nuts. With your hands lightly press nuts into chocolate.

Allow to cool completely. We set our outside in the winter air to speed this along.

When your chocolate is completely firm flip the toffee sheet over and repeat process on other side -

melt 14 oz of chocolate, spread melted chocolate onto toffee, add nuts and fully cool.

Now the hard part. This takes some strength! Snap off pieces of Walnut Roca – my mother scores hers before layer with chocolate to make this part easier. I just snap away!

Store in an airtight container.

Warning

This is the best candy you have EVER had and it is highly addictive!

I recommend gifting it quickly or you will eat it ALL.

Making Woodsy Wreaths

December 6th, 2011 by zoe No Comments

On Sunday we went for a family walk. We gathered a big bag of Princess Pine from the forest floor. The children ran here and there excited to find a new patch, plucking it up and adding it to their bags.

Yesterday I used the metal hoops salvaged from a broken old lampshade and some thin wire to make a hand wrapped holiday wreath.

We bathed some pinecones in glitter too but they are still drying!

I think it came out swell and I love that we were able to gather it from our back yard!

Make a Elf Hat

November 29th, 2011 by zoe 2 Comments

This sweet little elf hat is made from upcycled wool sweaters!

It’s pretty darn simple, all you need is some scraps from an old T-shirt, and a shrunken wool sweater.

First print your pattern pieces and enlarge them using the inch guide. The hat fits toddler to youth.

After cutting your fabric match hat bottom pieces and hat bottom lining pieces with right sides facing in, pin and stitch along bottom edge with a 1/4″ inseam. Unfold the stitched hat bottom piece, match the lining and wool sections with the right sides facing in pin and stitch. Turn the hat bottom piece right side out and try on, adjust sizing now. Iron bottom edge.

Top stitch bottom edge around hat bottom.

With a 1/4″ inseam stitch hat top around the curl, leaving bottom edge open. Turn the hat top right side out.

Making sure to properly line up your seams and fabric facings pin and stitch hat top to hat bottom. Turn right side out and admire your creation. I like to add polka dots!

Pop your little elf hat on the closest cutie around!

To print pattern, click photo, save to file and print. Enlarge pattern pieces to recommended size in inches.

Sewing This & That

November 7th, 2011 by zoe No Comments

I have been puttering around sewing a few random things here and there. The shift of seasons always throws me for a loop. Getting into the groove of low light, shorter days and more time indoors. That cold weather groove.

I made a quilted laptop sleeve for my computer last week from pink waterproof pack cloth. The inside is a funky vintage canvas and it’s padded with batting scraps from this quilt project. I could have bought one but where’s the fun in that!

I sewed this cute cap, pattern found here. Oliver is modeling it but it became a birthday gift for an adorable little friend of ours.I used recycled fabric reclaimed from a pair of old corduroys which made the hat nice and soft and we lined it with hot pink cotton from the scrap pile.

Lastly we have been doing lots of freezer paper stenciling. Now I thought pretty much everyone had heard of this technique but everywhere the kids go wearing their newly customized shirts folks are asking. So if you havent tried this super fun stenciling technique —– check out tutorials here and here for the how to. So much fun!

ps. I don’t use fabric paint, just straight acrylic paint because that is what I have on hand and it seems to work just fine.

Oh and I don’t let the paint dry because I am too impatient, we just carefully peel the paper stencil off after painting and it always seems to come off just fine.

Oh and you know that freezer paper is kind of hard to find, just ask the local butcher for a bit of it, they are usually happy to oblige. A little goes a long way!

 

 

 

Dyeing a Rainbow of Play Scarves

September 7th, 2011 by zoe 5 Comments

Whenever the kids ask me what my favorite color is I say RAINBOW. One of my boys loves hot pink best of all, this makes me happy beyond all belief. I wonder when he will be hustled into believing colors belong to different genders? A few weeks ago he approached an older woman at the lake – “Excuse me, I really like your dress because, you know, hot pink is my favorite color!” Big smile.

I imagine before long hot pink will not be a favorite, but for now, I happily ride this wave of color neutrality.  Children always seem to make color allegiances with other kids, they bond through color, it’s one of those cute ways in which kids make friends …..” Hey I like your green bike dude, did you know, green is my favorite color?”

I am pretty happy to have brought some new rainbows into our lives lately. A good friend and I managed to have a day of nature hikes, and rainbow creativity with a whole passel of kids — we were quite proud of ourselves and the awesome results.

We ordered blank silk scarves through Dharma Trading Co. and looked all over for tutorials on how to Kool-aide dye them. Some the sites we found helpful can be found

here and here .

But mostly after looking around we realized you couldn’t really go wrong!

We dumped our scarves in hot, hot water and threw in a few cups of vinegar. We took medium-sized bowls with a bit of hot water and added three to four packets of Kool-Aide to each one and let it dissolve. Next we dropped a scarf into the dye and stirred a bit watching it quickly soak up the dye. So quick and easy and fun!

The Saffron Yellow and Sky Blue were done using a dozen drops of  McCormick Food Coloring. The colors came out less marbled and a bit more vibrant. I am loving that!

After our scarves were washed in cold water and dried we used them to put on a weather performance. There was thunder, lightning, sunshine, floods and in the end a beautiful rainbow!

Kool-aide flavors from left to right -

Cherry, Orange, Yellow (food dye), Pink Lemonade, Grape and Blue (food dye).

After so much rain these last few weeks I am ready for the rainbow!

 

 

 

 

Make a Cool Worm Shirt!

August 8th, 2011 by zoe No Comments

Awhile back I showed you the Baby Dinosaur shirt I stitched up for Oliver. I was supposed to have stitched TWO shirts that night but somehow it just didn’t happen.  It can be challenging to make two of everything!

Thankfully the boys are patient, and sometimes they even share with each other.

This shirt has a surprise, a little bird peeks around the back corner – little birds really do love worms!

This is an easy and fun stitching project, it takes just a few colors of felt & embroidery floss.

I have to say it makes me quite happy every time my boys wear them, I love to see them clad in their mama made wear!

 

Click the pattern, save to a file and print to make your very own worm shirt.