Monday, December 24, 2012

Crochet Unicorn Pattern Link

After crocheting a blessing/herd of unicorns to give out to the girls' friends for Christmas...

...I feel very good about recommending the free pattern from Sheep Dog's Fleece (click here to go there).  It's a beginner level project, and the pattern instructions are clear, and easy to follow. There is a fair amount of fiddly sewing together though - so allow a little extra time for completion if you decide to make a unicorn for everyone you know.  Believe me, it's next to impossible to make just one.

Oh, and don't worry if the head looks too small for the body when you attach it - by the time you get the mane on, it will look just right.

Merry Christmas! And, a big thanks to Sheep Dog's Fleece for the fantastic pattern and inspiration.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Preschool Egg Carton Manger Craft

For the preschool Sunday school class:

A googly eyed cotton ball "baby"...

...wrapped in toilet paper "swaddling clothes"...

...secured with a small piece of tape...

...and laid in a manger...

...made ahead of time, out of an egg carton, cut apart...

...and trimmed, so each cup has one side left sticking up, like a spoon handle...

...filled with ripped up, paper bag, "hay" (children can rip up the paper, and fill their mangers, while the googly eye glue dries on their cotton balls)...

...then topped off with a shiny star, cut out ahead, from tinfoil, or in our case - recycled chocolate wrappers, glued onto the egg carton "handle".

Any theological discussion as to when and where the star should actually appear in the Christmas story can probably be left to the grown-ups, or at least the upper elementary classes - but that's up to you.

Merry Christmas from Almost Unschoolers!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Washable, Color Your Own Doll, Craft

Here's one for those of you scrambling to craft up a homemade Christmas, or trying to put together a few extra gifts to have on hand.

This time of year I start sorting through my craft closet, with potential presents in mind, which is how I happened to find myself sitting in front of my archenemy - the sewing machine - with a scrap of white fabric, left over from some forgotten craft project or other, just waiting to be turned into a doll.  My sewing skills are sadly insufficient to the task, so the little dolls I came up with are sort of strange, but the girls loved them - so no judging!

I had them draw large paper dolls for me... cut out, and trace onto the fabric... a pattern (two for each doll).

Then, I sewed the pieces together...

...and stuffed them with polyfill.  If your sewing skills are as lacking as mine, I would suggest using a nice simple doll pattern, in a largish size, for slightly more normal looking dolls.

But really, my girls didn't seem to notice how oddly shaped, and lumpy their new dolls were, once I handed them the pack of washable markers...

...and told them they could draw the faces, hair, and clothes on for themselves.

We let the marker dry for a few seconds, before the played with the dolls...

 ...and much to my relief, the dry marker didn't come off on the girls' hands, but did rinse right off in the washing machine, in cold water (it might take two washes, depending on the colors used)...

...creating a clean slate for the girls to decorate again.

Not too bad for a scrap of cotton fabric, a couple of handful's of polyfill, a box of markers, and a rather frustrating hour, or so of sewing time.  I'm even thinking a couple of the old pillowcases taking up space in the linen closet might have to become color-your-own dinosaurs in time for Christmas, evil sewing machine, with it's wicked empty bobbin, not withstanding.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Homemade Holiday Scented Crayons

C was busy coloring in a sheet of gingerbread men, when she commented on how much better it would be if her picture smelled like gingerbread too, and I thought...

...why not?  We've made scented everything else - play dough, finger paint, even wrapping paper...

...why not crayons?  There are plenty of posts out there with instructions for melting, and remolding your children's left over crayon bits. I usually go for the melt-in-the-oven method, but this time I tried out the fast and easy crayons-in-a-can-placed-in-a-bowl-of-boiling-water...

...but added in a few shakes of cinnamon...

...what amounted to about 2 teaspoons of spice per four or five crayons worth of bits...

...before melting the crayon, and pouring the scented wax into a mini cookie cutter with the bottom wrapped in tinfoil... cool and harden...

...into a festive shape.

We followed our cinnamon crayon up with mint (made with two teaspoons of mint extract added to green crayons), and hot chocolate (made with a couple of teaspoons of hot chocolate mix added to brown crayons).  I was all set to make up a black licorice crayon, when I realized I was all out of anise extract, and so decided to call it a night.

I'm sure any of the oils designed for making scented candles would probably work to make scented crayons just as well, but I love finding things right in my own kitchen that can be reworked into fun little presents like these.

You can really smell the mint and cinnamon, even on the paper, though the chocolate is a little more subtle.  I had the Man of the House give them a quick, blind-folded sniff.  He identified the mint right off, and the cinnamon after a second smell, but he guessed the chocolate was vanilla - still a nice scent.

Needless to say, C was thrilled to be able to draw mint trees with cinnamon ornaments and chocolaty...or at least sweet smelling...trunks.

Happy fall from Almost Unschoolers!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Watermelon Fudge

For National Watermelon Day (no I'm not kidding), we loosely followed a recipe from Something Swanky, to transform the traditional 3 minute, 3 ingredient fudge we like to make at Christmastime, into a summer delight... melting together sweetened condensed milk (14 oz), white chocolate chips (3 cups), and watermelon flavored candy oil to taste (we substituted a strawberry, watermelon water enhancer, because that's as close as we could come to a watermelon flavoring) in the microwave for...

...a minute and a half, or until the chips are completely melted, stirring after every thirty seconds...

...then dividing out a small portion (about 1/3 of the total) into two bowls, adding green food coloring to one bowl, leaving the other white, and dyeing the remaining portion red (with food coloring, and a few extra squirts of flavor if desired)...

...before layering them into a small loaf pan (we used a regular size loaf pan, and had to make additional red fudge, in order to make it thick (as in deep) enough, unfortunately adding too much sweetened condensed milk to the second batch, making for a gooey top, which you'll see in the pictures to come, but doesn't reflect on the original recipe), green first...

...then white...

...and red...

...allowing an hour in the refrigerator for the fudge to set up, before removing it from the pan... slice into strips, and then wedges (every other one of which will look like a watermelon wedge, and all of which will taste good)...

...and top with mini chocolate chip "seeds".

Happy National Watermelon Day!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Crochet Koala

I was in a crochety kind of mood today, and came across a link on Craft Passion to a super cute, simple and  quick to crochet pattern for a amigurumi koala from Woman's Day Magazine, that will work perfectly as a gift for one of C's friends' upcoming birthday.

Craft Passion offers a few hints and variations for putting the koala together.  I pretty much followed the original pattern, except I found the ears and nose as written, turned out a little small, and not the usual rounds of an amigurumi pattern, so I reworked them as follows, just for personal preference.

Ears (make 2):
With white yarn -
Ch 3, slip stitch through the first ch to form a loop.
R1 - Make 4 sc into the center of the loop (4 sc).
R2 - 2 sc into each sc around (8 sc). FO.
R3 - Start grey yarn with a slip stitch in the first sc, then 2sc in that same sc, and one sc in the next sc around (12 sc).
R4 - Sc in each sc around (12 sc). FO, leaving a tail for sewing onto the head.
Weave in remaining loose ends.

With black yarn -
Ch 3, slip stitch through the first ch to form a loop.
R1 - Make 3 sc into the center of the loop (3 sc).
R2 - 2 sc into each sc around (6 sc).
R3 - 2 sc into first sc, 1 sc in the next two sc around (9 sc). FO, leaving a tail for sewing on.
Sew the nose onto face with one corner of the three sides facing down.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Upside Down Microwave Cherry Cheesecake in a Mug

I found myself yesterday, a day late, and dessert short.  It's not that I had forgotten about National Cheesecake Day, or that I had forgotten it was on July 30th, or that Monday was 30th, I just sort of lost track of Monday.  Do you ever have one of those weeks?

Anyway, I figured a day late was better than not at all, especially considering the number of interesting and delicious sounding cheesecake recipes floating around out there, like this one, inspired and modified from the Five Minute Cheesecake recipe at Not Quite Nigella -

Spoon a tablespoon or two of cherry pie filling into the bottom of an 8oz microwave safe mug.

Blend together until smooth:

2 1/2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
2 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
and 1 egg white.

Pour the mixture over the cherries in the mug, and microwave on medium power for two minutes and a half minutes, or until the sides seem firm but the center is still jiggly (but not runny).

Crumble a graham cracker over the top.

Allow to cool thoroughly, and finish setting up, in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or more...

...before digging in.

Happy Belated National Cheesecake Day!

It's great to be a homeschooler.