crafts


DRILLING FOR BLACK GOLD

Today my son taught me how to use a drill.  It gave me the thrill of riding on a roller coaster and I laughed aloud with maniacal glee!  The power of it, punching holes with a roar!

We “made” two compost bins out of plastic trash cans by drilling holes into them.  For years I’ve tried to make compost by having two bins created by skids, but all I’ve been doing is feeding the trees.  The trees send roots over and up through the compost, making it a tightly woven pile of tiny roots, much like an overgrown potted plant.

Lately I’ve been noticing posts of other folks, who use the easy plastic trash can approach, so we’re on our way to a new (and hopefully more aesthetic) method.

BEFORE

AFTER

It was terrible fun.

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CHOCOLATE CHIP MERINGUES

Last night I made meringue cookies with chocolate chips in them.  They are divine.


I’ve been making so many, and they are eaten so fast, that now I automatically double the batch each time.  Be careful before you think of doing this though, as they ALL have to fit in the oven at the same time!

So I added 1 C. of chocolate chips per batch.

I also made peach meringues the other day too.  They were … OK.  I doubled the recipe–minus ½ cup of the sugar, and replaced it with a package of peach jello.  They tasted nice and peach-ish, but the rather artificial flavor of the gelatin was also there.

I think I’m done with meringues for a while!

THE WARM GROUP PROJECT

Another great craft/gift idea is to “make” no-sew fleece blankets. Last year a church group made single-thickness blankets and passed them out to nursing home residents, which included my mother-in-law. She LOVES her blanket, and it even travels with her when she goes to the hospital.

This year our group of homeschooled students made blankets of two thicknesses to give to an unwed mothers’ home.

We mothers, at our own annual Christmas gathering, cut the fringes into the blankets.

Then the students tied the fringes together at their Christmas party.

Today I learned through Project Linus that there are MANY ways to finish off fleece for a blanket–all kinds of fringing, braiding, and cutting.

We chose to knot the ends, and in retrospect, we could have used a better knot, such as an “overhand” knot, as explained at All Kinds of Baby Stuff .  Ah well!  Next time!

I didn’t know I was supposed to write a Thanksgiving post till all my xanga friends pointed it out, so I only took one photo on the Big Day.  But it does tell a story.

I was planning to take several of my niece holding her twins, in the hopes that I would end up with one photograph that didn’t have closed eyes, open mouths, or arms in the way!  But if you look at the photo closely, perhaps you can guess what might be coming next-and all opportunity for another photo of them was lost.  (HINT:  Mama was not happy)

I spent the day before Thanksgiving cooking as I’ve done every year, even though this was the first time in years when the meal wasn’t going to be at my house!  In this way, my son and I were able to take our own gluten-free food to the feast, and we all came home to leftovers in the evening.

In spite of being gluten-free, we were still able to carry on our tradition of making “turkey bread.”  I have a photograph of my children with their turkey bread for every year since we began, so we can’t stop now.

Younger son, in grade 1

Even though it definitely took a drastic down-turn for the worse this year…ah well, there are many more new recipes to explore.

Younger son, in grade 11

Everyone in the extended family was kind enough not to mention its loss; the taste of it is something they all look forward to at the holidays.

FRIDAY could be dubbed Teenage Day.  Because some teens who had moved away were coming to the area to visit their grandma, we hosted a get-together in our church basement for the teens to play games, chat, and dance some English Country and contradance.

My older son traveled to pick up some dagorhir warriors from New York state (girls this time) and they slept at our house for a few hours before leaving to attend a dagorhir event in the Washington, D.C. area.  Every mother’s dream:  to have children traveling on the highways on Thanksgiving weekend.  If you’re dying to see dagorhir in action, click HERE to see a 30-second commercial.

TODAY: Ah, today is the relaxing day, the housecleaning day, the catch-up day, the prepare-for-the-next-whirlwind day!  It is good to have a few hours like this!

I spent all of last winter moaning and feeling sorry for myself because I was sooo cold.  But this year I realized that I really should DO something about it (and no, that doesn’t involve turning up the thermostat, although I would be glad to do it if I could!).  So I’m on a CAMPAIGN.

I bought thicker socks.  I am wearing long underwear under my sweatshirt under my cardigan.  My winter pajamas are WAY heavier, and I dug out the flannel sheets from storage.

If worse comes to worse, I could always wear a hat to bed, along with a turtleneck dickie!

Never mind that I feel like the Pillsbury Doughboy stumbling around the house…

Truly, though, as part of the Homemade~Handmade Christmas Carnival going on over at Antique Mommy, I want to tell you about something I create that makes winter feel so much more lovely:  we simply call them Microwavable Rice Bags.  We use them all the time, they are easy to make, and they are great to give away as gifts. 

My husband has one at home AND one at the office.

You can buy these at a store, made of some strange stuff inside, but they’re not near as inexpensive or cute.  Mine are simply a bag of rice that you heat in the microwave for a minute and a half.  Then you hold it close to your tummy (or put your toes on it, or wrap it around your neck), and it’s just like drinking a cup of tea: eventually you feel warm all over.  Here’s how to make one:

MATERIALS:

2/3 yard of flannel fabric makes 2 bags with 2 covers (flannel is a “must” for the outside cover.  I usually just use flannel for the inside too)

4 lbs. of long-grain rice fills 2 bags

1.         Cut a rectangle of 9 1/2 ” by 17 1/2 ” for the inside bag.

2.         Cut a rectangle of 11″ by 19″ for the cover.

To cut things more quickly, I fold the fabric in half with selvedges together and cut out two at a time.  (Also, for crafts that I create all the time, I make a nice pattern out of interfacing fabric so it will last longer.)

TO MAKE THE INNER BAG:

When sewing, use 1/2 ” seams.

1.  Fold the first rectangle in half, right sides together (it will then be 9 1/2″ by 8  3/4″).  Starting at the short edge, sew closed one short edge and the remaining long edge.  Leave one short edge open.

2.  Clip the pointy corners and turn right-side out.  Iron the side seam if you want to, but it’s not necessary.

3.  Fill the bag with rice to 10 1/2″ full; that is, when holding the bag closed with your hand, the bag is full for 10 1/2″ from your fingers.

4.  Sew the opening closed:  fold in 1/2″ all the way around the opening and then stitch it closed.

TO MAKE THE COVER:

1.  Using the second rectangle, turn under (hem) the raw edges of the end that will be an opening, this way: on one side that is 11″ long, turn the fabric under 1/4″ and then 1/4″ again.  Stitch to make the hem.

2.  Fold the rectangle in half, right sides together (it will then be 11″ by 9 1/2 “).  Starting at the short edge that was not hemmed, sew closed one short edge and the remaining long edge.  Leave one short edge (the hemmed one) open.

3.  Turn it right-side out and stuff the rice bag inside!

Options:  In the past, I cut the cover to be 11 X 19 1/2″  and then I would sew velcro on the hemmed opening so that it would close.  I don’t do that anymore–it seems to be just fine as it is.  Also, you can add some cinnamon with the rice for fragrance.

DIRECTIONS TO GO WITH THE BAG:

THERAPUTIC RICE BAG–Heat in microwave on high for 1 1/2  to 2 minutes.  Not recommended for small children.