Friday, December 7, 2012

5 Awesome Holiday Gift Ideas

Click the image to explore!

Monogramed Mugs - tutorial

Camping Chair - Tutorial

Love Map - Tutorial

Cookies for Santa

Snowflake Marshmallows
~not really a gift but we couldn't resist sharing~ :)

Marshmallow Snowflakes

Snow enforces winter's cold by trapping the earth's heat underground and reflecting away the warmth from the sun. In a play on that relationship, we've created a flurry of homemade marshmallow snowflakes floating in mugs of steaming hot cocoa. These marshmallows are fun to make; the geometric patterns are easily formed with snowflake-shaped cookie cutters.

Makes about 100


2 envelopes (each 1 scant tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable-oil cooking spray


1. Coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; line with parchment paper. Spray parchment; set aside. Pour 1/3 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle with gelatin; let mixture soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Place sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cover; bring to a boil. Remove lid; cook, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup reaches 238 degrees (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes.

3. With mixer on low speed, whisk gelatin mixture, and slowly pour the syrup in a steady stream down the side of the bowl (to avoid splattering). Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is thick, white, and has almost tripled in volume, about 12 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat 30 seconds to combine.

4. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet; smooth with an offset spatula. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

5. Coat a 1- or 2-inch snowflake-shaped cookie cutter with cooking spray to prevent it from sticking. Cut out as many individual marshmallows as possible; coat cutter with more spray as needed. Use marshmallows immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Dust these Marshmallow Snowflakes with cornstarch to keep them from sticking to each other in storage; they'll keep in an airtight container up to a week.

1. Spread the marshmallow mixture on a rimmed baking sheet with an offset spatula.

2. Once the mixture is firm, use cookie cutters coated with nonstick cooking spray to punch out the flakes.

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Tripod Camping Stool

With the help of some hefty dowels, a little hardware and a piece of leather or heavy canvas, you’ll be sitting by the campfire in style. Also, the materials will only set you back about $25.


three 1 1/8” Birch hardwood dowels (enough for three 24” pieces)
one brass 2.75” bolt
one 1.5” eye-hole bolt
two brass acorn nuts
three brass washers
three brass finishing washers
three brass 1” wood screws (big enough not to slip through the finishing washer)
finish (I used Osmo PolyX-Oil)
leather or other heavy material for the seat


center-finder (optional, but helps)
small socket wrench to fit acorn nuts

1. Start by cutting your dowels to 24” or as close to that as possible. I bought two 48” dowels, so each leg is about 23 7/8″ after the saw blade’s share. Drill a hole completely through each one 10.5” from the top of each leg. Find the center of each leg’s top, and drill a small pilot hole for your seat-mounting screws. You’ll need this pilot hole to prevent your legs from splitting. Sand each of the legs smooth, and sand a little around the edge of the tops and a good amount on each bottom to round them out more. It doesn’t have to be perfect; just make sure you don’t shorten any leg with too much rounding.

2. After the legs are cut, drilled and sanded, apply your choice of finish and set aside to dry. As they are drying, you can work on the seat material. Download the seat template to see the exact size to cut your own. I chose leather because I have plenty of it around, but you could sew up a heavy canvas seat or any number of materials. Make sure it’s heavy and sufficiently reinforced, since there will be a good amount of stress on each corner.

On one corner of the seat, I left a tab for the carry strap, but this is optional. Mine’s attached to a closure strap, which I recommend having regardless of a carry strap. It’ll keep your stool from popping open in storage or carrying. I edged my leather pieces and treated the smooth surfaces with carnauba wax.

3. Once the legs are dry, assemble the structure by threading two of the legs together with the bolt, using the eye-hole bolt in the middle. Use washers on both ends, and attach the acorn nut. I actually cut my bolt down a little bit with a hacksaw, so it fit close. You’ll need a little play in the assembly to move, but it shouldn’t be gaping. Once those two legs are secure, feed the eye-hole bolt (which I cut down a little, too) into the third leg, and attach with a washer and acorn nut. Tighten both acorns securely with a socket wrench.

4. After the base is complete, attach your seat to each leg using a large finishing washer and the wood screw. Don’t over-tighten and strip out your holes, for you’ll need all the strength on these mounting points. After everything is secure, you can take a seat. The main bolt might bend a little to the stress, but that’s fine; it keeps its bend permanently, and that shape will aid in the folding-up state. Now you’re ready for your next campfire, sitting in distinguished comfort.

5. You’re done!

via [designsponge]

Cookies in a Jar for Santa

During the Holidays, I love gifts that either make my life easier or are a fun activity for the family. Today’s gift idea does both.

Most kids love to leave a plate of cookies for Santa. But having time to bake on Christmas Eve can be a challenge. This gift makes it easy to throw together a batch of cookies in a hurry.

“Cookies for Santa” makes a great gift for friends as well.

Of course I had to make a batch to “test” the recipe. And I can vouch that Santa will love these cookies.

To make this wonderful cookie mix click here to go to Bakerella for the recipe.

And here’s a few additional tips: I found it best to make the cookie mix in a Wide Mouth Quart jar. I didn’t buy the special craft jars that Bakerella used, because they are more expensive and I don’t mind the embossing. I used my wide mouth canning funnel to pour the ingredients in the jar, which really reduced the mess. One batch made about 2 1/2 dozen cookies. I used regular Christmas M & M’s, but I was tempted to try the Mint Christmas M & M’s, I think that would be really yummy.

For the recipe instructions I created a document with both the front and back labels. I printed it out on scrapbook paper and cut them out using a 2 inch circle punch. I adhered the labels to the bottle using double sticky tape. If you’d like to make your labels using the document I created click here.

This project was so fun to make.It’s a great feeling to make my gifts now and know I’m saving major stress in December.


1 1/3 cup all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup & leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup m&ms
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Stir all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.


1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup butter (melted slightly in the microwave)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Use the back of a large spoon to work it all together. You may even need to use your hands to get everything incorporated.

Then roll the cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. I got about 26-28 cookies out of these.

Start with a 1 quart smooth Ball jar. I found these at Hobby Lobby craft store.

Layer the ingredients in like this:

First: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
Second: oats
Third: m&ms
Fourth: chocolate chips
Fifth: brown sugar
Sixth: white sugar
Seventh: chopped pecans

Pack each level down really tightly. I mean it. Pack it in. Or else it won’t all fit. Also, I added the chopped pecans last, because if the ingredients were too much or not enough, then I could add more or less pecans to adjust. I’d rather sacrifice nuts than chocolate, you know. The ingredients should be flush to the top of the lid when you seal it up.

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Love Map - Tutorial

This is the frame that I started with.
(smaller version of this tut)

Found an old frame & sanded it back

Wanted to paint it white, but didn't have any at home & I really HAD to make this right away.
So I actually used Zac's paint.

I used some paper towel and rubbed it back to give it a little texture.

I was going to use the insert that comes with the frame, but the shape was wrong, so i decided to the use the white backing paper that comes with the frame. (image below) Just make sure the picture doesn't show through.

I found my 3 pages & ripped them out, then on another map or plain paper. I freehand stretched one half of a love heart.

Cut it out

Folded, traced & cut around the heart

With the maps I intended on using I placed the heart over the exact spot where "we met". I tried to place it in the centre of the heart.
I traced & cut in the inside of the pen line.

Pasted all three hearts on the white paper evenly.
Used Scrap booking letters for the wording.
Put glass over the top.

Hang & Enjoy!!

via [minimozblog]

DIY: Monogram Mugs

It’s a very doable project. Inexpensive. Eco-friendly. And family-friendly too — these mugs are dishwasher safe. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

1) We started with a trip to Goodwill, where we collected 8 plain white mugs. Enough for the entire family. Mugs were 50 cents each and we had dozens and dozens to choose from.

2) Then we gathered supplies. Scissors, pen, tape, graphite transfer paper, Black Pebeo Porcelaine Pen in Fine Point ($4 at Michaels, also available here) and a print out with the family’s initials.

For the font, I had something very specific in mind. I love the look of this Sketch Block Font and had it mentally filed away as the sort of thing a kid could replicate well — because it’s inherently imperfect. For this project, it worked like a charm! Since we were adding our own sketchiness, I started with a similar, but non-sketchy Rockwell font. Look for any slab-serif font (with names like Egyptian or Glypha) and they should work equally well.

3) Cut out an initial and a piece of transfer paper. Tape the initial and the transfer paper (dark side down) to the mug.

4) Trace the initial. Any pen or pencil will work and you’ll want to experiment with different pressures to see what’s best. You’ll just need a light outline. If you want, you can make your own transfer paper by rubbing a graphite pencil all over a sheet of plain paper.

5) Take your Porcelaine pen and trace over the lines of the initial. Get the edges nice and thick then fill in with diagonal sketchy strokes. A few notes:
- The sketchy strokes look best if they’re all one direction.
- The pen didn’t produce very smooth lines for us — which was fine because of the sketchy nature of the lettering. But later, I tried a red Porcelaine pen and produced very smooth strokes. So, I’m thinking my black pen was an old, dried out one. Who knows? This was my first experience with Porcelaine, so I’m not sure.
- It helped to have a blank paper handy where we could test the paint pen.
- We definitely got better at it as we practiced. So plan on it. Until it’s baked, the paint will scrub right off in soap and water. We redid mugs at least 4 times.

6) Once the lettering is done, let the mugs sit for 24 hours. Then bake them at 300 degrees for 35 minutes. It’s fine to bake them with graphite residue. The graphite will wipe right off even after they’re done baking.

7) And that’s it! Once they’re baked, they’re done. We pulled them from the oven, wiped them up and they were ready to go. For fun, we filled cellophane bags with hot cocoa mix and marshmallows and put them in the mugs.

The project turned out so well that it has my mind spinning with other possibilities. Maybe we’ll make a monogrammed mug for their teachers with a Starbucks card inside. Or a matching 2-cup set for Grandma and Grandpa. Fun for Christmas, but equally fun for other events too.

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