Saturday, November 19, 2016

Monthly Crafting Book Club: Cinnamon Sandpaper Gingerbread Men!



This month for our Christmas themed Monthly Crafting Book Club, I chose "The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas".

As much as we love our, "It's Christmas David" book and all the other classics, I decided to get a book that we hadn't read before.


This is a really sweet book about a teacher and her class (and the gingerbread man), that spread Christmas cheer around the community by making special gifts and singing songs.
My girls loved it and we have read it several times since getting it from the library. We may have to add it to our collection!

Not only did they enjoy it, but it was actually the perfect book to read because I was able to start a conversation about our Christmas Eve tradition where we make hundreds of homemade cookies and put together fruit and baking baskets for the families at our local Ronald McDonald House.

So, thinking about the gingerbread man, we made Cinnamon Sandpaper Gingerbread Men! 
That's a mouthful to say!!



Cinnamon Sandpaper Gingerbread Men
A simple, fun craft that smells like Christmas!

Supplies:
Sandpaper - cut into a gingerbread shape
Cinnamon sticks
Glue
Collage items such as:
  • buttons
  • pipe cleaners - cut into small pieces
  • red and green shredded crinkle craft paper
  • snowflakes
  • sequins
  • googly eyes


Instructions:

  • Cut out a gingerbread man (or lady!) shape from the sandpaper
  • Have your child draw on or "color" the gingerbread man with the cinnamon stick



  • Once that is done, start gluing away!


My girls love doing art, and as I mentioned last month, they love messy, messy art. I tend to do a lot of messy (gluing, painting etc.) and open ended art projects with them because I enjoy watching them create.



That being said, I also think there is a time and place for structured art activities, and I feel like this craft is a nice mix of messy, open ended and structured art.

Hope you and your kids enjoyed this craft! I know mine did!



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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Halloween Fun: Monster Rice Krispie Treats & Spider Cracker Sandwiches!


I can't believe that Halloween has come and gone. 
The girls had so much fun this year!
They are both at ages where they get totally excited about every holiday and event that happens!
This year for Lauren and Olivia it was all about Superhero girls!

 



For Lauren's preschool Halloween party, I made 2 different treats - one for the party and one for each kid to take home.

For the party I made Ritz Cracker Spider Sandwiches. They were super cute and super easy.


Spider Crackers:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Ritz crackers per spider. I used one box of crackers and it made about 25 spiders. 
  • 4 Pretzel sticks per spider, broken in half.     
  • Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese, I used plain
  • 2 Raisins per spider

Directions:

  • Carefully break the pretzel sticks in half. These will be the legs for the spider. 
  • Spread some cream cheese on two crackers. 
  • Put the 8 legs on the cream cheese side of a cracker. 
  • Place the second cracker (cream cheese side down) on the cracker with the legs. Gently press down. You now have your spider body. 
  • To keep the eyes in place, either dip the raisins in the cream cheese or spread a little bit on the raisins, and then place them on the top of the cracker.

For the take home treats last year I made these Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats. 
I thought about making something other than Rice Krispie Treats, but I wasn't sure what. 

I decided to make monster sugar cookies with royal icing. Thankfully I did a trial run because I realized that when you flood cookies with royal icing, they take a loooong time to set. 
I scrapped that idea and went back to my original idea of Rice Krispie Treat Monsters! 

I like making Rice Krispie Treats because they're so fast to make and easy for the kids to take home.



Monster Rice Krispie Treats:
(Adapted from www.ricekrispies.com)

To make the Rice Krisipie Treats:
I doubled the recipe (below) and was able to make around 25-30 Monsters

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 80 large marshmallows or 8 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 12 cups Rice Krispies/Rice cereal
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  • In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat.
  • Add marshmallows and vanilla.
  • Stir until completely melted.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add rice cereal and stir until well coated.
  • Using a buttered spatula evenly press mixture into two 9x13 pans coated with cooking spray. 
  • Let cool and cut into squares.

To make the chocolate coating:
Ingredients:

  • White chocolate chips - I ended up using about 2 bags of white chocolate chips
  • 1-2 tbsp Butter - Optional
  • Wilton Colored Icing gels - I used Lemon Yellow, Violet, and Kelly Green
*You could also use colored melting chocolate wafers instead of the white chocolate chips.
Our preschool has a No Nuts policy and all the wafers I found had nut warnings or were sold in bulk so I couldn't use them. 


Directions:

  • To melt the chocolate, bring about an inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan
  • Place a heatproof bowl in the mouth of the pot, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl
  • Add chocolate and butter (1/2 - 1 tbsp), if using
  • Stir chocolate occasionally as it softens
  • When chocolate is melted, remove bowl from heat and place chocolate in 3 separate bowls
  • Add color gel until you get the desired color you want
  • Once the chocolate is colored, dip the tops of the squares in it and place on a cooling rack or parchment paper and allow to dry


To make the eyes and smiles:
Royal Icing:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Wilton Christmas Red Icing Color
  • Black decorating gel
Directions:

  • Add icing sugar and milk to a clean bowl, blend with a mixer until it is mostly lump free
  • Add corn syrup and extract and continue to blend until smooth for about 45 seconds - 1 minute
  • If it's too thick, add water by the drop. If it's too thin, add more icing sugar.*See note below
  • Divide the icing into separate bowls
  • For the eyes, keep it white
  • For the smiles, add the red color gel until you get the desired color
  • Using a small round tip, pipe the eyes and smiles onto the squares
  • I used a size 4 for the eyes and size 3 round tip for the mouth
  • For the pupils, I used a small amount of Wilton black decorating gel
  • Wilton sells candy eyes that can be used instead of royal icing, but they have nut warnings so we couldn't send them to preschool
**Royal Icing should somewhat hold it shape for a count of 10. This will make a perfect consistency for the eyes (and cookies and gingerbread house decorating).
Scoop up some icing with a spoon and let it drizzle into the bowl. You should be able to see where you drizzled the icing for a count of 10. If it combines too quickly with the other icing it will spread out too much when decorating.


(Not so) Fun Fact: the decorating gel never actually dries/hardens completely, but it set enough overnight in the fridge to bag them without too much smudging.

All bagged up

These fancy handmade tags definitely
show off my crazy awesome art skills...

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