Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY Paper Heart Wreath (Valentine's Decoration and Preschool Craft in One!)

Much like our paper heart garland, this is another pretty Valentine's decoration that I adapted from a picture perfect version to make it into a preschool activity for my two boys (4 1/2 and 3 years old).

We also don't have any scrapbook paper and I didn't want to waste printer ink on this project, so I came up with a different way to make the decorative paper. This added another element that small kids can do easily as well.

Homemade Paper Heart Wreath

  • Paper
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils in Valentine's colors of your choice
  • Stamps and ink pad (you could use stickers or something else to decorate the other side as well)
  • Hole punch and string (Or some other way to fasten the hearts together like glue, tape, or even staples)
  • Tape and or a straw to make a needle for the string (optional)

    1. First we decorated our paper. We stamped Valentine related stamps on one side and scribbled a lot of reds and pinks on the other.

    2. Then I cut the strips, about 2 inches by about 14 inches, and folded the strips in half. I folded half of the strips with the stamp side out and the other half with the scribble side out.

    3. I punched two sets of holes at the top and middle. Later I discovered I needed another set of holes at the bottom to stabilize the wreath.
    4. Then we strung them together. First we curled the top ends around so the outsides went in and touched each other forming a heart.
    5. Then starting at one side sew through the heart, looping it through both the middle holes to secure the top of the heart together, and then out the other side. Sew through all of the holes on one side of the heart this way and then go back through the other side. Then sew through the holes at the bottom of the heart.

    6. Tie ends of string together and make a loop to hang.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    DIY Strawberry Scones

    One of the interesting things about living in this part of southern China, is that our strawberry season is in the winter. In the summer it rains a lot, but in the winter it is usually quite dry and sunny. So now is the time to make all things strawberry here.

    These strawberry scones turned really good. I had to quick freeze a few for Valentine's Day or they would have all disappeared the first day. The strawberry icing really brings out the strawberry flavor.

    To make the rest of the recipe really easy first wash and hull strawberries and puree enough in a blender to equal 1 cup of strawberry puree to divide for the recipe. If you puree too much you can always make smoothies. :)

    Homemade Strawberry Scones

    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup strawberry puree
    • 1/2 cup oil or melted butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tbsp baking powder 
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    1. Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until well combined.
    2. Divide dough in two, and press or roll out into circles (or a giant rectangle on a 9x13 pan) on greased pans until about 1/2 inch thick. (Here are more pictures of making scones.)
    3. Score into about 16-18 total triangle-shaped scones.
    4. Bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes until just lightly brown.
    5. Remove from oven, and let cool.
    6. Make strawberry powdered sugar glaze.

    Homemade Strawberry Powdered Sugar Glaze

    • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar (approximately)
    • 1/4 cup strawberry puree (approximately)
    1. Mix together strawberry puree and powdered sugar. To get desired consistency it may be necessary to adjust the amounts of wet or dry ingredients. If the icing is too dry and you don't have any more strawberry puree, you can add a little milk a teaspoon at a time also.
    2. Drizzle on top of scones.
    Makes 16-18 scones. 

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    DIY Fabric Heart Garland

    I've been doing some more sewing lately. After doing some very functional sewing of diapers and mending I wanted a quick and easy project just for fun. This simple heart garland came together really fast and makes me smile.

    Easy Homemade Valentine's Day Heart Garland

    • Assorted fabrics that won't fray easily (I used felted wool and fleece)
    • Sewing machine (although you could do this by hand with a needle, it would just take longer)
    • Thread
    • Scissors
    1. First I cut out a bunch of hearts free hand. The shapes and sizes vary slightly, but I kind of like it that way. I did make the same number of each fabric.
    2. Then I arranged them in the order I wanted to sew them in a big stack. I choose to make a repeating pattern since the shapes and sizes vary some.
    3. Then I sewed  them together using a straight stitch on the sewing machine. I started sewing point first and then just lined the next one up right behind. For them to feed into the machine smoothly, it seemed to work best to sew them point first and over lap them slightly with the next heart just under the one being sewn.
    Once you have sewn all of the hearts together, you can hang it up and smile.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    DIY Strawberry Jam Coffee Cake

    "Why is it a coffee cake, when there is no coffee in it?" wondered my then three-year-old ever inquisitive eldest son when I first made this coffee cake.

    Well, this cake goes great with coffee, but even if you don't like coffee (and my husband hates it) you'll love this cake. It goes great with tea, cocoa, or just by itself.

    Homemade Strawberry Jam Coffee Cake Recipe

    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • 1 cup yogurt
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional but very good)
    Strawberry Layer
    • 1 cup strawberry jam (homemade or store bought)
    Streusel Topping
    • 3 Tbsp cold butter (cubed)
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    Optional Icing
    • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
    • 2-3 Tbsp milk
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional but very good)
    1. In a mixing bowl combine all cake ingredients and mix until well combined.
    2. Spread cake batter in a greased 9x13 pan.
    3. Dot the top of the cake batter with spoonfuls of strawberry jam.
    4. For the streusel topping cut together ingredients with a pastry blender and then sprinkle on top of the cake.
    5. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
    6. Mix together icing ingredients and drizzle on top of baked cake if desired.
    Makes one 9x13 coffee cake.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    DIY Paper Heart Garland (Valentine's Day Decoration and Preschool Activity in One!)

    Lately, if you tell my 4 1/2 year old you are going to do something (and it is something he wants to do) he will just keep asking you about it until it actually happens. So we made this paper heart garland a bit earlier than I had intended. That's OK, we'll just enjoy it a little longer.

    Our version looks quite a bit different than the picture perfect Real Simple version that I got the inspiration from, but in the end I definitely like ours better, because my boys did all of the cutting, tracing, and stringing themselves. My 4 1/2 year old did all of the cutting, and my 3 year old did most of the stringing.

    Also, my 4 1/2 year old was the one who decided we should write on all of these hearts. I wrote the words and he traced over them. We started just writing love and then added ἀγάπη (agape, love in Greek) and 爱 (Ài, love in Mandarin). Then we wrote a bunch of people we love (our family names, grandparents and extended family, friends, etc.). You could also write about what love really is, but I think we're going to do other projects later doing that.

    Homemade Paper Heart Garland

    • Paper
    • Yarn or string
    • Tape and/or plastic straws for "sewing" (optional, but makes it a lot easier)
    • Scissors
    • Hole punch
    • Pencil
    • Markers (optional)
    • Other embellishments like stickers if desired
    1. Trace half hearts onto folded paper and let a preschooler who can be trusted with scissors cut them out.
    2. If desired write and/or trace words on the hearts.
    3. If desired put on stickers or other extra embellishments.
    4. Punch a hole on each side of the heart.
    5. String hearts onto yarn or string to make a garland. (I threaded the yarn through part of a small plastic straw that I cut at an angle for a "needle." This made "sewing" the hearts together much easier. You can also tape around the end to just make it a little stiffer, like the end of a shoelace.)
    6. Tie off and hang up the garland to enjoy.
    You can see pictures of the steps below.


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