Quick and Easy Tea Towel Apron

I make no excuses for my love of tea towels (also called dishtowels, but I’d rather clean up from a delicious afternoon tea than dry dishes…at least in my mind, I live a high tea kind of life!). And my sister-in-law is kind enough to indulge and enable my addiction with fun and fabulous towels.  For my birthday, she sent a fun “Keep Calm and Bake On” tea towel, and I really, really didn’t want to relegate it to a drawer.  So, instead, I turned it into an apron!

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To make one from your favorite tea towel, you’ll just need the towel, 2 yards of 1” to 2” wide ribbon (you want it comfortable around your neck, but not too thick to tie easily around your waist), and some fusible (iron-on) tape or needle and thread.

First, fold back triangles at the top, from about 4” in on either side and down about 12”.  The easiest way to make them equal is to fold the towel in half lengthwise, then tuck the triangles into the center.

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At this point, you can cut the triangles off.  I left them, because I might want to take out the stitching and just have a towel again at some point.

Next, cut a piece of ribbon 18” long, and attach an end under the top of each triangle, either sewing it or using the fusible webbing tape.  Cut the remaining ribbon in half and tie a knot at one end of each piece to prevent fraying. Sew the unknotted ends to either side of the apron, just below where the triangles end on the sides. I tucked the ends under before sewing, to prevent fraying.

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There you have it…a cute new apron in about 5 minutes. How much easier could that be?  And, I’m pretty sure my food tastes better (and my mood is definitely better) when I’m wearing an apron I love!

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Flannel Owl Handwarmers

Princess Thundercloud and I got our craft on last weekend, mostly because she has a gift exchange at her gymnastics party and handmade gifts were strongly encouraged. We came up with a cute and useful gift, though…Flannel Owl Handwarmers. Handwarmers-ChaosServedDail

To make some for yourself, or for cold little hands you might know, you’ll need just a few supplies:

  • Scraps of flannel
  • Thread and sewing machine
  • Rice, 1/4 cup per handwarmer
  • Essential oil, if you’d like (we used lavender in some and peppermint in some)

We freehand drew an owl outline, about 4 inches high and 3 inches wide.  Cut two of those for each handwarmer.

For the eyes, we cut 3 sets of progressively smaller circles.  The largest is a little more than an inch in diameter, and the smallest is between 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch. Then we cut some triangles for beaks.  We sewed all those on the front owl piece.  Actually, I sewed, my helper just placed them for me. Despite her suggestion that she operate the foot pedal while I held the pieces in place as the needle pierced all of my fingers.

Next, we sewed the front and back together, topstitching them, since you can’t throw these in the washing machine, with the rice filling, anyway. I left about 3/4 inch unsewn at the bottom to add the rice.

For the filling, measure a quarter cup of rice for each handwarmer into a bowl, then add a few drops of essential oil, if you’re using it, and stir to combine well. Fit a funnel into the gap in the owl’s body, and pour 1/4 cup rice into the owl body.  Then finish stitching it closed, either with the sewing machine or by hand.  If you’re using the sewing machine, don’t fill the body too full, or it’s impossible to sew shut on the machine.

We tested these by heating them for 15 seconds, then taking the dog for a walk…they worked perfectly to keep our fingers toasty!  We made enough to give to the recess duties, as well…I’m sure their fingers are freezing while standing out there watching my hooligans misbehave!

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Kid-Made Nativity Platter

If you’re a grandma or godmother to my hooligans, stop reading right now, or risk a spoiler for your Christmas gift!

For the rest of you, take a peek at these fabulous platters my precious angels made. (And, no, they’re generally not angels in any way).

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I found these great square dinner plates at Target..on sale, no less!  I don’t like them as plates, but they’re perfect as cookie platters for Christmas gifts. These didn’t take long at all to make, and, while they aren’t perfect, I think they’re charmingly handmade…and pretty impressive for 6-,8-, and 10-year-olds.

All you’ll need is a platter, a gold paint pen for glass, and the drawing you want to put on the platter.  Oh, and the hardest thing to procure…carbon paper!  I had to look through all of our moving paperwork from like 8 moves ago to find a piece!  Anyway, that’s all you’ll need.

I found a similar line drawing on line and printed it as a goal for the hooligans.  Then I assigned parts of the drawing to each…Princess Thundercloud did the star and rays, and the ground.  My middle kid drew the stable and Jesus in the manger. The eldest drew Mary and Joseph. And all without fighting…can you believe it?

I used the carbon paper to trace the drawing onto each platter, then the eldest went over it with the gold glass paint pen. We let them dry overnight, then baked them according to the directions on the package.  I think we put them in a cold oven and heated it to 375 degrees, then baked them 30 or 45 minutes, then turned the oven off and let them cool in the oven. I washed them a little too soon, to get the carbon off that was peeking out from under the gold paint.  A few spots got a little thin…but it was still pretty!

These are not microwave or dishwasher safe, but can be handwashed with warm soapy water and a soft cloth with no problem. And, really, would you want to use a scratchy pad on the Holy Family, anyway? I thought  not.

This was a fun project for the kids…it didn’t take more than an hour, and they were proud of the results.  Almost-instant gratification is always a plus! We made these for the grandmas and the kids’ godmother (who happens to be their aunt)…and I had them make an extra for us!  I’m so excited to use it this Christmas season!

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Perfectly Simple Snowman Mugs

I’m sure, if you’re on Pinterest, you’ve seen these Snowman Mugs about a hundred times.  Here’s what’s different about these…I did not use Sharpies.  I’ve tried and tried using Sharpies on dishes…following all the tips…let cure overnight, put in a cold oven, heat to 400 degrees and leave them for 40 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave them in there until cool.  Nothing has ever made them truly washing-proof.  And I mean hand-washing.  The dishwasher?  Fuhgeddaboutit.

But I love snowmen/women/people, and really wanted a set of mugs for all of us, instead of the pairs we have. So I bought some dollar mugs and a set of paint pens. They weren’t that expensive, either…less than Sharpies, I think. But they stay on through washing!  I still can’t brave the dishwasher with them, though. Maybe someday.

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I made bowties for the boys and hairbows for the girls, and personalized the ones for the hooligans. It’s so nice that they think the Tinkertoy writing I learned as a high school cheerleader is impressively artsy!  I left the other 3 mugs blank as far as personalization.

As you can probably see, I used orange, black, red, and purple paint pens…the fine tipped ones.  I let them dry overnight, then put them in a cold oven and heated it to 350 degrees. After leaving them for 30 minutes, I turned off the oven and let them cool in it. Then I resisted temptation for another day and didn’t immediately try washing them. When I did wash them, 24 hours later, everything stayed right where I painted it.  Wahoo!

I’m going to give these to the kids on Christmas Eve, along with new PJ’s, so we can have hot cocoa, popcorn, and watch “The Polar Express” for the umpteenth time. Wouldn’t these be a fun party favor for a cookie swap, with a few cocoa or coffee packets inside?  Or if you’re having guests for the holidays, they’ll think you’re the bomb when they have a personalized mug at the breakfast table! Just don’t give them to your kids’ teachers…as a child of teachers, I know they have WAAAAY too many coffee mugs already!

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Made in Minutes T-Shirt Tote Bag

A couple of weeks ago, a hooligan helpfully left a crayon in a pocket in the laundry…fortunately, the only thing it really ruined was a t-shirt belonging to Princess Thundercloud. I’ve successfully gotten crayon out of clothes before, using dish soap, hot water, and a whole process I found online that took about a day of my life. This t-shirt, adorable though it is, was on the verge of being outgrown anyway, so I planned to just throw it out. And, happily, I found the next size larger on clearance last weekend.

Anyway, this ruined one has been sitting on the dryer for two weeks and I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it in the trash…but I also couldn’t donate it to the thrift shop with those crayon marks on it. So I decided to make a tote bag out of it for Princess Thundercloud’s gymnastics gear…she has very little gear, and what there is, is not substantial! It’s basically flip flops, a dinner bag, and a water bottle. This t-shirt would be a perfect size bag.  I saw this idea on Martha Stewart years ago, and it’s been stuck in a corner of my mind ever since.

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Here’s what I used:

  • a t-shirt
  • stapler
  • scissors for cutting material
  • scissors for cutting duct tape
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And there’s no sewing involved!  This actually would have been a good project for Thundercloud to make herself, but I wanted to give it to her as a Christmas gift.

First, cut off the sleeves along the seam, then cut around the neck and as far down as you want or can without interfering with the design.

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Next, turn it inside out and staple all across the bottom.  Then turn it over and staple the same thing again, to reinforce it.

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Now grab your duct tape and just start covering it. Make one strip across the bottom so that half of its width is on one side and half on the other. Keep covering until you get to where you cut the sleeves out. Yes, the armpit of the shirt.

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Staple a triangle on each bottom corner to make a sort of gusset, fold it up along the staples and duct tape over to make it smooth. Tote-Corner-ChaosServedDail

Now just turn the bag right-side-out.  I added a strip of tape around the top of each handle, just to reinforce it a little.  But I forgot to take a photo of that, so see…it’s up there at the top of this photo. I’ve already wrapped her bag, so can’t take another photo now!

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I think she’ll love it!

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Santa’s Longjohns Candy Bag

I found this cute Santa’s Longjohns Candy Bag at a craft bazaar a long, long time ago…probably at least ten years ago, before I had kids and could freely wander through the booths without a care in the world. I’ve copied it many times, however, in the years since, and I decided it was finally time to write up a pattern and share it!  I don’t think it’s copyrighted already, and I apologize if it is…just send me a note if I’m infringing.

Anyway, here it is…Candy-Bag-Title-ChaosServed

Sorry the photos are not the best…it’s been gloomy, gloomy here and it’s hard to get great shots! And it was a little snowy and pine needles were everywhere!

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Click here for the downloadable pattern

This is so simple if you have basic sewing skills. And a sewing machine.   First, for the felt…you can make 15 from one yard of 45” wide felt, so much cheaper than buying those little squares of thinner felt.   Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Red felt
  • 5 small white buttons per bag you’re making…2 on back, 3 on front
  • 9” green ribbon for the bow at the neck
  • 1” square scraps of Christmas fabric for the patch on the front
  • Rhyme printed out and cut with decorative scissors
  • Fabric glue or hot glue for buttons, ribbon, and patches

The directions are printed on the pattern download, but here they are again.

1. Cut 2 of the bodies and one flap. Cut a 2” long slit in one body, where the flap would go.

2. Sew the flat side of the flap to the body with a slit in it, just above the slit. Candy-Bag-Back-ChaosServedD

3. Put the two bodies together, with the flap on the outside, and sew all around the edges.

4. Glue 2 buttons on the flap and 3 buttons and a ribbon bow on the front at the neck.  Glue the small fabric piece, like a patch, on the front.  Also glue the paper with the rhyme on it to the front. Candy-Bag-Front-ChaosServed

5. Stuff some treats inside!

Here’s the rhyme for the tag:

I looked for a stocking,

But couldn’t find a spare,

So I ended up stuffing

Santa’s red underwear!Candy-Bag-Sign-ChaosServedD

Trust me, the little ones in your life (and some big ones, too!) will get a kick out of these!

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A Few of My Favorite Things

It’s that time of year again…the time when I am ready to get in my craft room and make tons of fun Christmas gifts!  I’ve been finishing up Calc 2 this week, so my school term is done and I have no academic responsibilities until 2015…YAY!  So today I’m sharing a little recap of some wonderful gifts I’ve made (and given away, even!) in the past…enjoy!

These Washer Necklaces are inexpensive and quick to make in any color you’d like.

Handmade Coffee Syrups are, hands down, my most popular post…and you won’t believe how easy they are!

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The granddads (and dad, too) in our lives loved these Shadow Words I Love You Photos.

Just wanting a cute giftcard holder?  This Purse Giftcard Holder is adorable and quick to make!

What neighbor or friend wouldn’t love a personalized, Etched Glass Baking Pan, complete with your favorite breakfast casserole inside? And you get to play with etching cream and stencils!

And don’t forget about making ornaments!  These Simple Nativity Ornaments are perfect gifts for religious ed teachers, or to tie onto any package!

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These “Cozy Toes” Cupcakes, which actually hold a pair of warm and fuzzy socks, make a great little gift for teachers.

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People will be your friend forever if you give them a jar of delicious Jezebel Sauce.  It takes seconds to whip up, and is perfect for friends or as a hostess gift.

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We also like to give a Soup and Bread Gift, with homemade lentil soup mix and beer bread mix tucked into a fun bread pan.

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And, just to make it an even ten ideas, these Personalized Coffee Cup Notecards were easy to make, and impress anyone you give them to! Coffee-Notecards

Now, go get crafting!

TBT: Kid-Crafted Thanksgiving Leaf Napkin Rings

We made these a couple of years ago, and, much to the kids’ dismay, they’ve held up, so there’s no need to make new ones.  I did decide, however, that they could make a bunch of clay leaves and we could create some kind of centerpiece/candle ring/ garland for our table this year.  We haven’t completed it yet, so I’ll let you know how that turns out!

In the meantime, if your little ones are stuck inside by November rains, these Napkin Rings are a fun way to pass an afternoon!  And if you’re going to grandma’s for Thanksgiving, I’m sure she’d be thrilled to get these as a hostess gift! And here’s what I wrote about the project the first time around:

My hooligans love making crafts. I know, I’ve mentioned that before…but they constantly want to be crafting, and it’s challenging to come up with things that might actually turn out to be useful and pretty enough to keep!

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Recently we made these napkin rings, and the kids could not be more impressed with themselves.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Oven-bake clay (like Fimo) in autumn colors
  • Leather cords
  • Leaf cookie cutters (ours were about 2” long)
  • Toothpick

First, roll out your clay.  We rolled snakes out of the different colors, twined two or three together, then sort of patted them together and rolled them out, to make a marbled effect. It’s really hard to make these ugly, with those pretty fall colors.

Use the cookie cutters to cut out different leaves, then, with the toothpick, make a few veins in each leaf.  Bake according to package directions.  We draped some of our leaves over pencils on the baking sheet, to make the finished leaves a bit wavy.

After they’ve baked and cooled, use hot glue to glue two leaves together.

Cut your leather cords into 6” lengths and glue the leaves to the center of each.  Then all you need to do is tie them around your napkins.

Thanksgiving…it’s a family time, so everyone in the family should feel like they’re contributing something. And do you really want those grubby little hands preparing food? Keep ‘em busy with crafts instead!

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Upcycled Yardstick Table

I’m determined to complete a least a couple of UFO’s this summer. That’s Unfinished Objects, for those of you who don’t have this common crafting syndrome. Way back last fall, the hubs found an end table at the post thrift shop for $3. It wasn’t fabulous wood, or in fabulous shape, but for $3 he bought it and brought it home. He’s an extravagant, romantic fool!  I set it in my craft room, next to the overstuffed chair where I have dreams of spending an afternoon reading and drinking hot tea, and it quickly overflowed with other UFOs.  Well, I’ve worked my way through the stack on it this summer, so it was finally time to finish the table! And I love it!

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I bought 10 yardsticks and a half-pint of paint, for a little under $15.  Yardsticks are ridiculously expensive!  But $18 total for the table really isn’t too bad. I had a little Golden Oak stain on hand already, which I wiped on the yardsticks.

Here’s the table before I started working on it. I used a palm sander with with stripping sandpaper to knock off a bit of the finish, so the paint would stick. It took about 5 minutes. It took longer than that to find the sander and paper.  Then I painted everything but the top with the blue paint.  And forgot to take a photo of that step.

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When the paint was thoroughly dry (the next day, because the humidity here was about 423%), my favorite handyman helped me figure out the yardsticks for the top. Basically, you need to measure the yardstick with a tape measure to piece together the top, because when you cut with the compound miter saw, the blade width wreaks havoc with your straight sides.  So we measured and cut until the top was all covered.  I made sure to stagger the seams, so it didn’t look odd. This took about thirty minutes.Table-Measured-ChaosServedD

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We used Liquid Nails for the adhesive, and made sure to get the first piece on perfectly, then clamped it to dry.  Once it was clamped, it was easy to continue by picking up and gluing one piece at a time, pressing it against the previous one to keep the yardsticks straight. That took about ten minutes. Then I let it dry overnight.

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After the glue dried, the edges were a little uneven, so I used the sander again to even them out.

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I also ran the sander along random spots on the painted base to distress it a bit. You could do this by hand, but why bother when you can use a power tool?

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And what were my minions doing during all this craftiness?  Marathon chess games…on a cardtable over the firepit in the backyard. Silly kids!

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So in all, I (and my hubs) spent about an hour of actual work time, $18, and got to use a compound miter saw and palm sander. Oh, and the caulking gun with Liquid Nails. Fun quality time!  Anyway, there’s another UFO finished, and it’s perfect on my front porch for the start of school.  Now on to the next project!

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A Dozen Kid Crafts for August

So instead of Throwback Thursday, I’m sharing this roundup of fun crafts for the hooligans.  Because maybe by August you need a little creativity boost…I certainly do, and I have the supplies for most of these already on hand, so I don’t have to make a trip to the store with kids and chaos in tow!Untitled-1

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I found lots of great ideas at Joanns….just click on the photo to go to the idea page.

Flying Saucer Flings (image from Joanns)

Flying Saucer Fling

Summer Kites (image from Joanns)

Kid's Summer Kites

PomPom Jewelry (image from Joanns)

Pom Bead Necklace and Bracelet

Pony Bead Butterfly (image from Joanns)

Pony Bead Butterfly

Also some fun things from past blog posts: (click on the photos or the titles to go there)

God’s Eye Ornaments

Butterfly Bleached Tee

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Serenity Soon Glitter Bottles

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Monster Glitter Slime

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And then a few ideas we’re trying in the next couple of weeks:

Homemade Lava Lamps (really just lava bottles) from Education.comHomemade Lava Lamp Activity

Shaving Cream Notecards from Instructables

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Homemade Bouncy Balls from KidsActivitiesBlog

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Ninja Stress Balls from Frugal Fun for Boys

Ninja Stress Balls!

Hope this gets you through the rest of summer!

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