Family Fun: To Your Heart’s Content

So I haven’t posted any crafting posts lately, and they seem to be popular, judging by my stats (not that I keep track of my stats but they are fun to look at once in a while).

Please note – I’m simply sharing the crafts that have caught my eye and ones I would totally do if I were one: not lazy and two: had small children again. Since I AM lazy and I DON’T have small children anymore, all I can do is browse through the various crafts and share the ones I like the most with you.

Just because I don’t actually DO these crafts doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the creativity, right?

At any rate, please enjoy. And you can find so much more at Spoonful.com.


Merida’s Celtic Heart Necklace

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Merida’s three suitors never stood a chance at winning her affection with their pitiful archery skills. But, had any of them presented the feisty Scottish princess with one of these lovely heart-shaped pendants, there’s no telling where the story may have led.

What you’ll need
40-inch length of colored beading cord
Pliers
Pair of crimp-style end clasp clips and O-rings
Necklace clasp


Heart-Felt Fairy Pouch

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Right before Tinkerbell accompanies the other fairies to the mainland, Terrance hands her a little pouch filled with magic Pixie Dust to tide her over while she’s gone. Decorated with stick-on felt hearts, one of these enchanting pouches makes a sweet gift for your child to give to a special friend — it’s the perfect size for packing valentine candies and trinkets.

What you’ll need
Heart-felt Fairy Pouch template
Scissors
Felt
Pins
Low-temperature glue gun
Small sticky-back felt hearts (sold in craft stores) or small hearts cut from regular felt
Small adhesive-back Velcro fastener


Sweetheart Songbirds

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This Valentine’s Day, your little princess can serenade her valentine with a sweet songbird made of paper hearts.

What you’ll need
Sweetheart Songbirds template
Scissors
Scrapbook paper
Glue stick or glue dots
Ruler
Jeweler’s wire or thin craft wire (flexible enough to bend without pliers)
Googly eyes
Colored pencils and/or glitter glue (optional)


Treat Transmitters

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Personal robots may do our bidding in the future. But these adorable little inventions are already on the job, programmed to transmit Valentine’s Day messages.

What you’ll need
Template
Card stock
Double-sided tape
Aluminum foil
Candy


All Aquiver

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These arrows from Cupid’s quiver may not have any supernatural effects, but that doesn’t make them any less fun to share.

What you’ll need
pretzel sticks
heart-shaped gumdrops
TO ASSEMBLE
toothpicks
cellophane bags
card stock
stapler


Caped Cute-sader

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Your kid will be a hero when he hands out these supertreats.

What you’ll need
template
card stock
hole punch
paper
glue stick
lollipop
black marker
tape

Family Fun: Classic Cookies Never Go Out of Style

I don’t know if it’s because I’m on a diet (sort of) and haven’t been eating the junk food like I used to, or if I’m just hungry (actually, when am I NOT hungry?), or what, but I saw these cookies on Family Fun and my mouth started drooling.

Can’t you just SMELL these??

Umbrella Cookies

Here’s a sweet activity to brighten up a rainy day — bake a batch of these cookie pops, then let your kids decorate them with a rainbow of frosting colors.

Ingredients

Sugar cookie dough, store-bought or try our Easy Sugar Cookie Dough
Cookie sticks (available at craft supply stores)
Frosting
Food coloring
Tube of white icing
Bendable straws

Instructions

Roll out the cookie dough into a 1/4-inch-thick disk. Use a plastic cup or round cookie cutter to cut out dough circles.

With a knife, cut each circle in half, then scallop the straight edge. Cut raindrop shapes from the dough scraps.

Lay cookie sticks on an ungreased cookie sheet and gently press a half-circle of dough on top of each. Place the raindrops on the sheet and bake the cookies according to the recipe directions.

Once the cookies have cooled, frost them. Pipe on icing lines and make vertical grooves by dragging a toothpick up to make one groove and down for the next.

For a special presentation, add a colorful handle by trimming a bendable straw and sliding it over the stick.


Lucky Pennies

Delicious bite-sized cookies are sure to make you feel luck or at least really happy.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
Granulated sugar (for coating cookies)

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. In a separate large bowl, use a wooden spoon to cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.

Stir in the molasses and egg and mix until well blended. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until combined.

Cover the dough and refrigerate it for at least 1 to 2 hours or until firm enough to roll into balls. Heat the oven to 375.

Use a tiny spoon (we used one from a child’s tea set) to scoop the dough out of the bowl, then roll it with your fingertips into balls that are about 1/2 inch in diameter. Roll the balls in a shallow bowl of granulated sugar.

Place the balls on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between the cookies. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until the cookies are crinkled and set.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat until all the dough is used.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month and at room temperature for up to 1 week. Makes about 10 dozen Lucky Pennies.

KIDS’ STEPS: Kids can mix up the dough, shape it into balls, and roll the balls in sugar.


Pinwheel Cookies

What would Christmas be without home-baked treats? These fetching pinwheel cookies, with their swirls of light and dark doughs, are doubly appealing and look great wrapped as a gift! The dough needs to chill awhile before you bake it, but the final product is well worth the wait.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter until it’s smooth (see tip below.) Stir in the sugars and vanilla extract until they’re evenly blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture one third at a time, stirring after each addition, until the dough is evenly blended.

Set aside half of the cookie dough. Add the cocoa powder to the remaining dough and stir until it is fully incorporated.

Divide the chocolate dough in half. Place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap, pat it into a 1/2-inch-thick square, and then wrap it in the plastic. Repeat the process for the vanilla dough. Refrigerate the 4 squares until firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Unwrap one piece of the chilled vanilla dough, leaving it on the plastic. Cover it with a second piece of plastic wrap, then roll it into a rectangle measuring about 9 by 7 inches. If the dough gets too soft and difficult to roll, slide it onto a baking sheet and refrigerate it until it’s firm again, about 5 to 10 minutes. Unwrap a piece of the chocolate dough, cover it with another piece of plastic, and roll it into an 8- by 7-inch rectangle.

Remove the top piece of plastic wrap from both rolled doughs and invert the chocolate dough on top of the vanilla dough, lining up 3 sides and leaving about 1 inch of vanilla dough exposed on one side. Starting at the opposite side, lift the vanilla dough by the plastic wrap underneath it and snugly roll up both layers into a log, peeling away the plastic wrap as you go. Wrap the log in the plastic and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours. Repeat the process with the 2 other pieces of dough.

Heat the oven to 350º. Line 2 shiny, heavy baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap one of the logs and slice it into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. (See tip below for a safe, kid-friendly way to slice dough.) Arrange the slices on the parchment about 1 inch apart and bake them for about 13 minutes. When done, they’ll still be a little soft to the touch — the cookies will have a better texture if you don’t let their edges brown.

Leave the cookies on the sheet for 1 minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Slice and bake the second log as the first. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Peanut Butter Buttons

Besides regular peanut butter, this recipe also calls for peanut butter chips, which make the dough lighter and smoother. Stringing the licorice laces through the holes is a particularly fun job for kids. This recipe comes from the kitchen of Kathy Farrell-Kingsley, whose cookbooks include “The Woman’s Day Cookbook” and “The Woman’s Day Dessert Cookbook”

Ingredients

1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
Red licorice strings (optional)

Instructions

Heat the oven to 375°. Microwave the peanut butter chips at medium heat for 1 minute. Stir the chips. If they’re still not melted, microwave them for another minute, then stir them until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat together the melted chips, peanut butter, butter, and both sugars with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Blend in the egg, vanilla extract, and salt. Gradually beat in the flour on low speed until a firm dough forms.

Working with half the batch at a time, roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness on a flour-dusted surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin. Cut out cookies with a 3-inch round biscuit cutter and transfer them to ungreased baking sheets. Reroll the dough scraps for additional cookies.

Press the bottom of a small drinking glass into the center of each cookie to create a circular indentation. Then use the end of a drinking straw to cut four buttonholes in each cookie (twisting the straw a quarter turn each time will lift the dough from the hole).

Bake the cookies until set and slightly golden on the bottom, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let them cool on the sheets for 1 minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

For a fun finishing touch, lace licorice string through the holes in each cookie. Starting from the back, thread a piece of licorice through the holes, crisscrossing it in front of the cookie. Trim the ends to about 1/2 inch long, leaving them loose at the back. Makes about 32 cookies.


Zookies (Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies)

What do you get when you cross a zucchini and a cookie? Happy children. Squash your child’s sweet tooth with a delicious zookie.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small zucchini, shredded
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Instructions

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together and mix into a wet mixture.

Add the shredded zucchini, oatmeal, raisins, coconut (if desired), and butterscotch chips and mix thoroughly. Drop the dough by the teaspoonful into greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 for 12 to 14 minutes. Makes 50 cookies.


Hoot Owl Treats

A wise choice for cookie-lovers. For generations, kids have been getting a hoot out of these sweet owl treats. They’re great to make for a bake sale or school party.

Ingredients

3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 ounces baking chocolate, melted
Chocolate chips
Whole roasted cashews

Instructions

In a mixing bowl combine cream the butter and sugars. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture and beat until combined. Now put a third of the dough into another bowl and mix in the melted chocolate. Wrap both doughs in waxed paper and chill them for 2 hours.

With clean hands, shape the chocolate dough into two 8-inch-long ropes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the plain dough into two 8- by 4-inch rectangles.

Wrap each chocolate rope in plain dough (this makes a log with a chocolate center). Wrap the dough with plastic and chill it until firm, about 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 350º F. Cut each dough log into 3/8-inch slices. Arrange pairs of slices side by side on an ungreased cookie sheet, gently squeezing them together to create an owl face. Pinch the upper corners to form ears. Press chocolate chip eyes (tip down) and cashew beaks into the dough, as shown.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. Leave them on the cookie sheet a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack, as they will be fragile when warm. Makes about 20 cookies.

To find more classic cookie recipes, click here.

(No. Family Fun does not pay me to brag about their awesome stuff. I think it’s cool, I’m passing it on to you. End of story).

ENJOY!

Six Word Fridays: Weight

On a diet and losing weight.

I’d tell you, but not yet.

My clothes are much less snug.

Internally, I feel clean and healthy.

My hunger pangs are subsiding.

I’m going to look freaking hot.

I live in a fantasy land.

Don’t you even agree with me.

Friday Craft – Watch Your Garden Grow

I do not, I repeat, I DO NOT have a green thumb.

I can’t grow stuff to save my life. And I confess, the thought of putting my hands into the dirt and, well, getting dirty, is not very appealing to me.

However, I like plants, I love flowers and I think it’s uber cool that people grow gardens … you just won’t find me doing it.

But here are some fun ideas if you ARE into gardening …

Beneficial Bugs

These helpful row-marking insects appear to be standing guard above your tender seedlings.

Materials

Plastic jug
Scissors
Plastic cap
Pushpin
Flora wire
Hole punch
Black craft foam
White craft foam
White duct tape
Permanent marker

Instructions

For each, cut a set of heart-shaped wings out of a plastic jug. Hold the wings in place on top of a plastic cap and use a pushpin to make two holes through both. Fold an 18-inch length of floral wire in half and thread the ends through the holes as shown, twisting the wire to secure.
For the eyes, use a hole punch to make black craft-foam pupils, and use scissors to cut larger circles from white craft foam. Attach the eyes to the cap with a 4-inch length of floral wire as you did with the wings, then trim any excess.

For the tag, stick two pieces of white duct tape together, then cut out a word-balloon shape. Write the name of your plant on the tag with permanent marker, then use more duct tape to secure the tag to the floral wire.


Grow Your Own Name

Even if your little gardener can’t write his name yet, he’ll still enjoy watching it grow with this project from the book Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma’s Bag of Tricks, by Sharon Lovejoy. Keep the grass watered in a sunny spot, and it will last for weeks. The bonus? Your child can practice his scissor skills trimming the grass.*

Materials

Wheat berry seeds (available at natural food stores)
Bowl of water
Shallow, rimmed tray or baking pan
Potting soil, moistened
Letter cookie cutters (optional)

Instructions

Soak the wheat berry seeds in the bowl of water overnight.

Fill the tray with about an inch of moist potting soil. Help your child arrange the seeds in the shape of her name, then have her gently press them into the soil with her fingertip (we set alphabet cookie cutters on the soil to use as a guide, then removed them after the seeds were pressed in place).

Mist the soil around the seeds to keep them moist, but don’t pour water directly on them until the roots are established. Place the tray in a sunny window, and the seeds should sprout within a few days.

Variations:

Grass Letters Instead of growing your child’s name in a tray, you can use cookie cutters to create a letter-shaped topiary with visible roots. Set the cookie cutters in a tray, fill them almost to the top with potting soil, then cover the surface with wheat berry seeds that have been soaked in water overnight. Gently push the seeds into the soil. Pour a thin puddle of water into the tray to keep the soil moist, and set the tray in a sunny window. Once the seeds have sprouted and the roots are established, pick up the cookie cutters and gently pop out the letters.


Leaf Tokens

These clay coins are lovely springtime keepsakes. As a bonus, in making them, your kids can learn the names of all the trees in your backyard or local park.

Materials

Leaf samples
Polymer clay (we used Sculpey)
Waxed paper
Bowl, lid, or glass with a wide base
Toothpick
Tweezers

Instructions

Collect leaf samples from the trees and large bushes in your yard or on a walk. Use a guide to identify each one.

At home, form clay into balls. Sandwich one between two sheets of waxed paper, then use the bottom of the bowl to press the clay into a disk. Peel back the top sheet, place a leaf on the disk, replace the paper, and flatten the clay with the bowl to a 1/4-inch thickness. Flip the clay over.

Use a toothpick to carve the tree’s name into the clay. Flip the clay over again and remove the leaf with tweezers.

Bake the tokens leaf-impression side up according to the package instructions.


Foam Caterpillar

Here’s a critter you’ll actually enjoy seeing in your garden or planter. Our cheerful, cheeky caterpillar is constructed out of — surprise! — foam practice golf balls, available at major retailers.

Materials

3 foam practice golf balls
Serrated knife
Colored craft foam
18-gauge wire
12-inch wooden skewer
Permanent marker

Instructions

Slice 2 balls into thirds with a serrated knife (a parent’s job).

Cut about a dozen colored craft foam circles (for perfect circles, trace a cut ball).

For the antennae, clip two 2- to 3-inch pieces of 18-gauge wire and curl the ends.

Draw a face on a third ball with a permanent marker, let the ink dry for 15 minutes, and insert the antennae.

To assemble your bug, poke the craft foam circles and ball pieces in an alternating pattern on a 12-inch wooden skewer. Then top off your skewer with the ball and find a leafy home for your new friend.


Plant Pals

Your indoor gardener may not get your “bad hair day” jokes, but the fun of this grassy-haired friend won’t be lost on him. Like a Chia Pet, the project requires just a sprinkling of seeds, a bit of sun, and a few drops of patience.

Materials

One 9- or 12-ounce plastic cup
1 to 1 1/4 cups of potting soil
1 tablespoon of grass seeds (we bought rye grass at a garden center)
Decorations, such as office dot stickers, markers, and ribbon (for safety, it should measure less than 6 inches long)

Instructions

Fill the cup halfway with soil. Divide the remaining soil in two, then have your child measure the seeds and stir them into one of these halves. Tip: To speed germination, you can first soak the seeds in water overnight.

Spoon the seed-filled soil into the cup, then top it with the remaining soil (this final layer should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep). Water the soil well.

Let your child decorate the cup with stickers and markers. Finally, leave the plant in a warm, sunny spot to sprout. Water as necessary to keep the soil about as wet as a damp sponge.

Friday Craft: Quadropus

Quadropus

Got a single glove and no hope of finding its match? Some easy sewing will transform it into a four-legged octopus.

Materials

Single glove
Needle and thread
Dry rice
Hot glue
Large pom-pom
Buttons
Wire
Ribbon
Felt

Instructions

First, tuck the thumb inside the glove and use a needle and thread (an embroidery needle works fine) to sew it shut. Fill the glove with dry rice, then tuck the cuff inside.

Stitch all along the cuff’s edge, then pull the thread tightly to close the top. Knot the thread.

Sew or hot-glue a large pom-pom to the top of the glove. At the base of the quadropus — where the glove’s fingers attach to the palm — pinch the sides together and sew a few stitches to hold them. This will help make the body rounder.

To make the tentacles, attach buttons to the undersides of the four fingers with hot glue. Sew or hot-glue on button eyes and a felt mouth. Make earrings by threading stacks of buttons onto pieces of wire; tie ribbon around the pom-pom for a head scarf, or add a felt brim to the pom-pom for a hat.