Category: holidays/celebrations

Magazine Page Valentine Pockets (“Page” Unplugged Project)

By , February 10, 2011 12:20 pm

Recycle your magazine pages into colorful valentines with this fun and very easy project!

At this time of year, there are lots of interesting pink, red, and valentines-themed pages in magazines.  First choose a pretty page and tear it out.

You’ll need a square section of the page for this, so fold up a corner of the magazine and cut around it.

Unfold and you have a square.

I used these origami heart instructions to make my hearts:  Origami Heart Instructions.  (Note, be exact with all your folds and your heart will turn out better.)

First fold the square precisely along the diagonal and press the fold with your fingernail to make a sharp crease. Unfold and refold along the other diagonal.  Trim any excess edges if necessary to get a perfect square.

Lie the square flat with the unwanted side facing up. There will be an “X” of creases on the square.

Fold the top corner down so the tip touches the intersection of the “X.”

Fold the bottom corner up until the tip touches the top edge of the page.

Next fold each side of your paper in so that the edge meets flush with the fold.

You should now see the heart start to form.  Flip it over so the “bad” side is facing up.

Finish off the heart by folding the side points in until they are halfway to the visible crease.

Then fold the top points down until the tips touch the top of the “good” side.

Turn over and you have a heart!

The hearts look best if you squash them flat overnight with a heavy book.  You can use them as decorations or as surprise pockets for love notes or messages, candy hearts, glitter, flower petals…

If you want to fill them with anything that could spill out, just tape together the two heart front flaps using a small piece of scotch tape applied to the inside of the pocket (so it won’t show).

By the way, this really is easy folding.  My 5 year-old learned it quickly and became obsessed with making hearts for her classmates out of origami paper squares. Here is a funky photo of her at work just ignore the dirty, inky hands :-) …

She made these all by herself!

[NOTE: If I confused you, be sure to go to the great description and photo-tutorial here at Origami-Instructions.com!]

Have you come up with a page-themed Unplugged Project this month?  If so, feel free to share it.  For more on how the Unplugged Project works, please read more here.

Ghosty, Ghoulies …

By , October 14, 2010 9:21 am

Here are a couple of quick and fun Halloween ideas that I love, but unfortunately can’t really take credit for. The first came from school, the second was from a bake sale. Oh well, have fun with them anyway!

Ghostly Foot Prints:

Boney Witch Hands:

(These are just plastic food service gloves with candy corn “fingernails” in the tips and then filled with popcorn “bones.”  Tie wrists closed with black yarn or ribbon!)

Don’t Forget The Birds! (Homemade Bird Feeder Ornaments)

By , January 23, 2010 7:37 pm

Today we sit stranded at home after a week of snow days and over four feet of snow!  The hungry birds hop busily about the bird feeders trying to fuel up before a cold night’s sleep.  It seems a good day to write that post about edible ornaments for the wild birds.

As I mentioned not long ago, every Christmas Eve the kids and I sit down and make edible tree decorations to hang on our trees outside as gifts to our wild birds.  We call it our Bird Christmas, but you could have fun making these at any time of year.  The squirrels often make off with many of our treats, but I don’t mind!

(By the way, although wire and dental floss are easy, if I can, I like to use natural cotton yarn or string for hanging since this is recycled by birds in the spring for cozy nests!)

Classic Pinecone Feeders: Send the children out to collect pinecones.  The bigger and more open, the better.  Mix peanut butter and bird seed together in a bowl.  Tie string or yarn around the pinecones to use for hanging (I find that it is a bit less messy to do this step before covering the pinecones in peanut butter).   Roll the pinecones in the mixture using a spoon to push it down between the scales if necessary.

VARIATION:

  • No pinecones where you live?  Then use bagels!  Spread with peanut butter, sprinkle on birdseed, and the hole makes them really easy to hang.

Orange Cup Feeders: An adult should prepare the cups. Cut oranges in half and scoop out the insides to set aside for a healthy snack or a fruit salad (a grapefruit knife makes this job easy).  Use a metal skewer, knitting needle, or large darning needle to poke three approximately equidistant holes around the edge of the orange cup, near the top.  Thread string or yarn through the holes forming a hanger made of three strings.  Now for the kid part: Fill the cups with a peanut butter/birdseed mixture.

VARIATIONS:

  • Fill with softened suet and birdseed, although peanut butter is more kid-friendly.  Suet is a great alternative for kids with peanut allergies though.
  • If you have orioles in your area, fill the cups with grape jelly.  Orioles like jelly and they are attracted to the color orange!
  • Easiest option – Don’t hollow out the oranges and just hang orange halves as is.  Orioles, robins, mockingbirds, tanagers, grosbeaks and cardinals like the fruit.

“Bird Tinsel”: Decorate shrubs and trees with strings of cranberries and popcorn (no salt or butter).  Thread the treats using a large needle and string, heavy duty thread, or dental floss.  Our popcorn didn’t string so well this year for some reason (perhaps our needle was not sharp enough) so we ended up just doing cranberries.  Use frozen or fresh berries.  I prefer frozen.  Frozen are less messy to string and thaw quickly once threaded.

VARIATIONS:

  • Try dried fruits such as cherries, craisins, blueberries, papaya, apples or apricots.  How about peanuts in the shell?
  • String fresh orange slices.
  • Try other fresh berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or rasberries.
  • Raisins come in many colors and sizes.  Experiment with different varieties to make pretty patterns.

FUN TIP:  When threading a variety of foods, have your children create repeating patterns.  The garlands will be pretty to look at and your children will exercise their art and reasoning skills!

Bird “Cookie” Ornaments: You can use cookie cutters to make shaped ornaments for your wild birds.  The easiest variety are made with stale bread (although fresh is fine too, but might be harder to cut).  Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the bread.  Poke a hole near the top using a skewer or straw. String yarn, string, dental floss or wire through to make a hanger.  I have even hung these using a wire Christmas ornament hanger poked directly through the bread.  Very easy.

VARIATIONS:

  • If you want to get fancy, you can decorate your “cookies” with peanut butter and sprinkle on birdseed designs.  The seed will stick to the peanut butter and you’ll have instant “fancy” ornaments that the birds will love!
  • For those with peanut allergies, or for a change, brush the bread shapes with egg white.  Sprinkle with bird seeds and bake on a baking sheet at 300 degrees for about 5 minutes (this will cause the seeds to stick to the bread).
  • Melt suet, mix with birdseed and pour into greased, shaped molds (or lined muffin tins).  Put in freezer to harden, or outside if it is very cold.  Use a skewer to poke a hole through when they are getting solid but not yet truly hard.  Remove from molds when frozen and hang outside.  (NOTE:  You can use commercially available rendered suet, get some from the butcher, or make your own suet mix from a recipe in the links below.  Be careful of vegetable based fats, they are not supposed to be as healthy for birds.  Also, ordinary animal fats can spoil and melt easily if the temperature is not cold enough.  Think – greasy mess on your deck and birds with indigestion.  More on all these issues here:  The Great Crisco Debate).
  • Try wiping your bread ornament in bacon grease.  I once read somewhere that Blue Jays and squirrels love this.  Perhaps a good way of recycling sink-clogging bacon grease?  The bread plus bacon grease would probably work a lot better in summer than straight bacon grease which melts very easily.  Also, since bacon grease is salty, it is advisable only in moderation and when a fresh supply of water is available nearby.  I have a heated bird bath that is hugely popular with my birds in winter, since it provides fresh water when all other sources are frozen.

Bird Goody Bags: Save your nylon mesh produce bags (the kind fruit, tomatoes, or onions come in).  Stuff them with suet, seeds and dried fruit.  You could even put in shelled peanuts or other nuts, unsalted is best.  Make sure they can fit through the holes – crush them if necessary.  Hang outside.  You can decorate these with fancy bows if you want them to look festive.

VARIATION:

USEFUL LINKS:

Orange – Pomanders (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , January 4, 2009 9:26 pm

The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project is orange.  Unlike some more premeditated weeks, I really had nothing in mind when I chose this theme.  An orange-colored collage maybe?  But having missed last week’s project, I felt like trying something a bit more adventurous.

In a moment of restless insomnia, I suddenly thought about pomanders.  Do you remember the fragrant old fashioned drawer fresheners made from fruits studded with cloves?

I googled “orange pomanders” and found quite a few different sites with instructions.  Most required orris root powder (the dried and ground root of a certain iris) as a preservative and several weeks of drying in a cool, dark place.  Interesting fact tangent:  if you are a gin connoisseur and drink Bombay Sapphire Gin,  you are drinking orris root (as well as lots of other stuff).

Since I had neither orris root (who has that in their pantry?), nor time for the curing, I was happy to find one site that claimed that an oven could also be used to cure the fruit.  We don’t have orris root, but we do have an oven!  We can do this!

As usual, I have a hard time sticking to a “craft recipe” precisely and often venture off into often messy “improvements.”  So, loosely inspired by the About.com oven-curing method, this is how we made ours:

You will need oranges, apples, or lemons.  We used an orange and a clementine.  The clementine was a bit of an experiment.  Would it make a nice, smaller pomander – or would it shrivel and wither away?  I tried to choose a clementine with a tightly fitting skin rather than the loosely-skinned ones that one gets sometimes.

You’ll also need whole cloves, a skewer to poke holes in the fruit, as well as masking tape and ribbon if you want to make a hanging pomander.  If you want to add extra fragrance, gather together some ground cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.  Some people also add ground ginger.

Our major original modification involved honey.  So you might want to have some honey and a brush on hand too!

First tape off the parts of the fruit where the ribbon will be.  That way you won’t put cloves in the wrong place.

Use the skewer to poke holes where you want the cloves to go.  Make sure the holes don’t touch or the cloves will fall out.

Of course my 6 year-old son enjoyed impaling his clementine.

Push cloves into the holes.  Traditionally, pomanders are completely covered with cloves, but I was feeling stingy with my expensive cloves and thought that this first time we’d just make some stripes.  Less expensive bulk cloves might be better for a full-clove pomander.

I didn’t really want my three year-old playing with a sharp skewer, so I gave her a few grapes to push cloves into.  She loved this activity!

Once the cloves were in, we mixed some cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg on a plate and tried to roll the fruit in it (be sure to remove the masking tape first).  Of course it didn’t stick well, so that is where the honey came in!

We brushed just a very light coating of honey, then poured on the spices and rolled the fruit around in it.  It stuck quite nicely then.

I put our uncured pomanders on a glass pie plate and into a 170 degree oven (the coolest temperature of my oven) for an hour.

After an hour, not much had happened so I upped the temperature to 225.  I left them in for about another hour at that temperature.

I wish I could upload the smell for you all.  Mmmmm….heavenly, and very “Christmassy.”  NOTE TO SELF:  Project for next Christmas or Winter Solstice perhaps?  If you are trying to sell your house, make sure you have a pomander in the oven.

When I took them out, they looked fairly dry, but not too pretty.  My oldest daughter said:  “I thought they were supposed to look nice!?”  Did we wisely speed up the curing process, or overdo it? Time will tell.

Well, I guess my daughter was right. They really weren’t that attractive, but at least they smelled good.

We dressed them up with some ribbons, and then put them in a paper bag in the garage to dry out some more. They are supposed to be quite dessicated and light by the time they are properly done. Stay tuned!

++++++++

Here are a few other pomander-making links:

How to Make a Spicy Orange Pomander

Oranges and Yule

Making a Pomander

++++++++

As usual:  if you did an orange Unplugged Project this week, please link to your post in Mr. Linky below.  If not, then please do not link, but enjoy reading the projects in Mr. Linky.  If you would like to learn more about how to join in the Unplugged Project, then please read more here.  Hope to see you soon!

++++++++

Next week’s Unplugged Project theme is as random as this week’s was.  It will be:

Square

Have fun!

++++++++

Wrapping Paper – Weekly Unplugged Project

By , December 29, 2008 8:56 am

The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project is wrapping paper.  I am hoping to learn lots of neat new ways to recycle used holiday paper.

With all our indoor time due to the terrible icy, snowstorms we had all week, you’d think we’d have found an opportunity to do our project on time.  But somehow we have been too busy with holidays and sledding and playing games to get to a wrapping paper project yet.  Maybe today or tomorrow?

++++++++

If any of you were able to work a wrapping paper project into your busy holiday schedules, them please put a link to your project post in Mr. Linky below.  Please link to your post, not just your blog, so we can always find your project!  If you didn’t do a wrapping paper project, but would like to learn more about the weekly Unplugged Project, then please read more here.

++++++++

Next week’s weekly Unplugged Project theme will be:

Orange

Enjoy!

++++++++

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Panorama Theme by Themocracy