Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Easy Pilgrim Hat Cookies- Success!

If you are going to make one Thanksgiving cookie, you might as well make two, right? After spending an hour or so making the Oreo turkeys, these pilgrim hat cookies were a cake walk! (Or is it a cookie walk?)
I was also able to use the same icing recipe for both cookies. If you haven't seen the adorable Oreo turkey's, check them out here:

I found the Pilgrim Hat Cookie recipe on Pinterest, courtesy of Women's Day. It's pretty self explanatory, and I added a few things, but here's the link just in case you want to look at it!

So, the Pilgrim Hat cookies. Here's the deal!

Ingredients Needed:
- 1 package (actually more like a half a package) Fudge Stripe Cookies
- 1 bag mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (I used half a bag on this recipe and the other half for the Oreo Turkey recipe)
- Food coloring

Icing Ingredients Needed:
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 egg white

Step One: Make icing. As I said previously, I kinda did my own thing to get the icing a little firmer. Beat one egg white until stiff. In separate bowl, mix cream of tartar and powder sugar. Slowly add cream of tartar/powdered sugar mix to egg white. Continue to mix. This icing is pretty firm, sticks well and dries fast!

Step Two: Dye icing orange (red and yellow food coloring). Put in a Ziploc bag and cut a small hole in the corner.

Step Three: Unwrap Reece's and put a dab of icing in the middle. Press down over the hole in the Fudge Stripes.

Step Four: Use icing to circle the peanut butter cup and make a small square on the candy. This should resemble a hat band and buckle.

Step Five: Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to eat. Take a picture and enjoy!

If you have a pastry bag and small tips, it might work better than the Ziploc bag, but that worked fine for me. Otherwise, it's pretty easy to do. This would be a great activity to do with kids. Of course, I'm a big kid at heart so I did it all by myself! :)

Oreo & Reece's Turkey Cookies- Success!

Happy Thanksgiving! In an effort to keep my creative mind rolling and continue the streak, I attempted to add some fun to tomorrow's Thanksgiving dessert and make Oreo and Reece's Turkey Cookies.

I looked around Pinterest for what seemed to be the easiest technique for making these and stumbled upon blog. Thanks to them for the idea and comprehensive directions. I did make a few minor changes but here's there original recipe.

Ingredients Needed:
- 1 package Oreo Cookies (I used the store brand)
- 1 bag Candy Corn
- 1 bag Reece's Mini Peanut Butter Cups
- 1 small box Whoppers
- Assorted colored sprinkles

Icing Ingredients Needed:
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 egg white

Step One: Make icing. I had to redo this because the original recipe just didn't firm up like it was supposed to. Instead of following that, I did the following. Beat one egg white until stiff. In separate bowl, mix cream of tartar and powder sugar. Slowly add cream of tartar/powdered sugar mix to egg white. Continue to mix. This should give you a pretty firm icing that sticks very well. Caution, though, it dries quickly!

Step Two: (OPTIONAL) Dye icing black so that it blends in better with the cookies. Keep in mind that this will make the icing a little more runny so you will need to add more powdered sugar. I did half of mine with black icing and half with white and don't really think it was worth the extra effort to make the black. Especially seeing as black never really seems to turn out black!

Step Three: Pull Oreos apart without breaking them (it's harder than it looks). Stick five pieces of Candy Corn, point first, into the Oreo icing to act as feathers. This is also harder than it looks but I washed my hands really well and then wiggled the candy corn into the cookie cream. You sort of have to reform the cookie cream around the Candy Corn. Add a dollop of icing and put the top back on the Oreo.

Step Four: Take a dab of icing and use it to secure the bottom of the Candy Corn Oreo to a flat side of another Oreo.

Step Five: Use a knife to flatten the side of a Peanut Butter Cup. Dab a bit of icing on the flattened side and stick to the Oreo.

Step Six: Dab a bit of icing on a Whopper and and stack on top of the Peanut Butter Cup to act as the head.

Step Seven: Let sit in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm up.

Step Eight: Remove from fridge and use icing to draw feet, eyes and nose. I added blue sprinkles to the eyes and an orange sprinkle to the nose.

Step Nine: Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to eat! Then take a picture and enjoy!

These were super easy to make, aside from figuring out the right consistency of the frosting and trying to get the icing black. Thankfully Mr. C is a culinary genius and was able to help with both tasks. Love you, honey! :)

Now these don't look anything like the ones I saw in Better Homes and Gardens, but seriously people...your cookies aren't going to look like that. Those people have all the high tech cooking equipment, spend hours to make them look exquisite and then have fancy schmancy photographers to capture them perfectly! This version...this is the real deal!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wine Bottle Vases: SUCCESS!

In an attempt to keep costs down during craft weekend (yeah right), we decided to try a few projects that involved things we already had. Obviously Mr. and Mrs. A are avid wine makers/drinkers/giver away-ers so wine bottles were something we had a great supply of!

Materials Needed:
- Wine bottles
- Epsom salt
- Spray adhesive
- Spray primer
- White spray paint
- Floral stems

Step One: We began the project by spraying several wine bottles down with spray primer. It was tricky to get the entire bottle all at once so it might be easier to do it in two stages.
Step Two: This step is optional, but will help if your wine bottles are colored. If the spray primer doesn't cover the bottle enough for your liking, spray an additional coat of white spray paint over it and let dry.
Step Three: Pour epsom salt into a dish large enough to roll wine bottles in. We used a pyrex dish.
Step Four: Spray the bottles with spray adhesive and roll in epsom salts. If you prefer more salt, you may want to repeat this process more than once.

Step Five: Let the bottles sit to dry about 24 hours.
Step Five: Add floral stems to your vases and arrange to make look pretty. Take a picture and you are done!

This project was relatively easy and our biggest challenge was figuring out how to prime/paint the bottles all in one step. We are very impatient crafters, but things worked out just fine. Although the bottles aren't perfect, it adds to their charm!

Yarn Balls: FAIL!

After seeing all the cute pictures of yarn balls filled in vases and used to make wreaths, Mrs. A and I were inspired to make some of our own. After all, everyone did this project as a kid and didn't have any problems. So novice crafters such as ourself should be A-OK. Not so much...

We were inspired by's blog and attempted to follow her instructions to recreate this project. Obviously her instructions were impeccable but our direction following was not so much.

Materials Needed:
- Balloons (water balloon size works best)
- Glue
- Water
- Glitter
- String
- Wax paper

Step One: Blow up balloons to be about the size of a small water balloon. We had trouble finding water balloons so ended up using regular balloons. Next time, I'll hunt a little harder, as the regular balloons weren't as firm once blown up.

Step Two: Mix glue and hot water. Holidash recommended two parts water to one part glue but Mrs. A and I came to the conclusion (after the fact, of course) that half glue/half water would work better. Mix well!

Step Three: Add glitter to the glue. The more the glitter, the better!

Step Four: Holidash recommended measuring the string around the width & length of the balloon and cutting individual strips. Mrs. A and I tried this at first but it didn't seem necessary so instead we cut a giant long string to wrap around the balloon multiple times. Of course, instead of using string, we used yarn. This did not work so well.
Step Five: Dip string in glue and start to wrap it around the balloon multiple times.
Step Six: Secure the end of the string and place the balloon on wax paper to dry for 48 hours.
Step Seven: Pop the balloon and remove with tweezers.
Step Eight: Place in a vase, tie with a string or do what you want. Take a picture and enjoy!

Unfortunately for us, after 48 hours the balls still hadn't dried all the way and the ones that had weren't strong enough once the balloons were popped. I think this was in part due to the glue/water consistency and in part due to the heaviness of the yarn as opposed to string.

Lessons Learned:
- Use water balloons instead of regular balloons
- Less water, more glue
- Don't try doesn't work. When they call for string, they really mean string!
- Cutting small lengths of string isn't necessary. One long string wrapped multiple times works better.

Mrs. A and I will definitely try this project again. It was simple and very easy. Next time we just need to follow the directions!

Rock Trivets: SUCCESS!

Mrs. A and I saw several variations of projects using rocks and decided to give one of them a try. Because the trivets seemed the smallest of the tasks to take on, we decided to go with that first. Thanks to Pinterest and Martha Stewart for the photo and idea! We didn't have any directions for this project, so we made it up as we went along.

- Rocks. These can be purchased at the dollar store or picked up at your local lakeshore. With the snow on it's way, we skipped the lake and bought them at the dollar store. Make sure you get the smaller rocks for this project.
- Glue. We found that E6000 worked the best for attaching the rocks, as it's so strong. However, superglue worked better for attaching the felt to cardboard.
- Felt. A neutral color such as black or brown works best.
- Cardboard

Step One: Cut cardboard in the shape of a circle, large enough to put a pot or pan on. Tracing an existing pan works well.
Step Two: Cover cardboard with felt. Superglue worked best for this step. Be sure the felt covers the sides. I cut and glued pieces of the remaining felt for the top, as I knew most of the rocks would cover it.

Step Three: Start in one area and start gluing the bottom of the rocks to the felt with E6000. Because the glue takes awhile to set, it might seem a little loosey goosey at first but it will begin to stick after a little while.

Step Four: Complete securing the rocks and set the trivet aside for 24 hours to dry. When dry, your trivet is done!

This project worked pretty well, but the E6000 was very smelly and made Mrs. A nervous about the nasty chemicals inside. In response to the dangers on the container, she was kind enough to fashion these lovely face masks for us. If only we'd had them while spray painting!

Overall, the project worked great. I can't wait to give one of these to a friend for Christmas! (So if you get one of these from me, don't be surprised! :)

Christmas Ball Wreath: SUCCESS!

Mrs. A seems to bring all the good ideas to our crafting weekend. I think that this is a sign that I need to expand my creative pallet and learn to be a little more visionary. Apparently this is what you get when you take someone with a type A personality who has very little creative insight and toss them into a craft weekend. Thankfully I'm committed to honing my creative skills!

The Christmas ball wreath project started with a trip to the dollar store. Here, we purchased about 50 Christmas balls in various sizes and colors. Because we both wanted to include blue in our wreaths, we decided to paint some of the balls. If you are thinking of doing this, STOP and read my post regarding spray painting. It is MUCH easier to shell out the extra few bucks at Target and get the colored balls you want. Other than that little setback, the rest of the project went well.

In addition to the balls, you will also need:
- One wire hanger
- Pliers to bend wire
- Glue gun/glue sticks

Step One: Glue the tops of the balls so that they do not come off when placing them on the wreath.
Step Two: Take a wire hanger and bend it into a wreath shape.

Step Three: When the balls are glued and the wire hanger is ready to go, start stringing the balls onto the hanger, alternating colors and patters of balls. I was skeptical at first because it didn't seem to be working but once you get enough balls on it straightens itself out and starts to look good.

Step Four: When you have threaded all the balls on the wreath, use the pliers to close up the wreath and wrap the ends of the wire together. I must confess that Mrs. A and I did not have our Wheaties on the day we did this project and had to enlist the help of Mr. A to bend our wires. Good thing he's a trooper!
Step Five: Tie a ribbon over the connector site and you are good to go! We left the natural "hook" of the hanger for easier hanging in the future. We also used super glue to secure the ribbon.

In the end, the project was a huge success. It was so easy to make and only cost about $5! I'm looking forward to making another one in different colors!

Thanks to TipJunkie for the idea! It worked great!

Soap Dispenser Re-Do: FAIL!

As a last minute addition to our crafting weekend, Mrs. A and I decided to try a simple project that involved painting soap dispensers with spray paint. The project was supposed to turn out like this:

Instead it turned out like this:

We followed the directions, but obviously something went awry! Here are the steps we followed.

Step One: Remove stickers from soap dispensers. Mrs. A used SoftSoap and couldn't get the labels off so left them on. After all, it was a trial run. I used a soap container from the dollar store so didn't have any stickers on it.

Step Two: Spray prime the dispenser. The directions we used said to do the pump, too, so owe complied.

Step Three: Spray paint the dispenser a color of your choosing. We chose red because it's Christmas!

Step Four: Well...we didn't quite get this far. After priming and spraying the dispensers, we put them back together only to have half the paint flake off the pump. Mrs. A's idea of not removing the label didn't work so well either, as you could obviously tell it was still there. (Duh, right?) At this point she decided to abandon the project and I set mine aside for later.

Later, when I picked it back up, I noticed mine was also chipping on the sides and front. In an effort to jazz it up a bit and possibly salvage it, I painted a chalk board paint circle on the front. My circle painting skills leave a lot to be desired! I consider this project a bust, but would be willing to try it again in the future. And I promise to follow ALL the directions next time!

Lessons Learned:
- Spray primer needs to cover the ENTIRE project.
- Priming and painting the pump isn't necessary and will likely flake off.
- Dollar store soap dispensers don't hold the spray paint as well as the SoftSoap containers.
- Removing the labels is essential to an aesthetically pleasing project.
- Goo Gone would have been a great help to remove labels.

Wine Cork Reindeer- Success!

I was a little skeptical of this project at first, but Mrs. A brought it to the table and insisted it would be adorable. Being avid wine makers, Mr. and Mrs. A have an endless supply of wine corks. These, coupled with my mini cork collection supplied us with enough to make several of these Christmas ornaments. I'll give Mrs. A credit on this one, the project turned out adorable and was a great success!

Materials Needed:
- Wine corks (5 per ornament)
- Small red pom pom (for nose)
- Small black pom pom (for tail)
- Black jewelry stringing wire. We used 20 gauge copper wire.
- Christmas ribbon
- Googly eyes
- Safety pin (for putting antlers in)
- Glue gun
- Kitchen steak knife

Step One: Cut one cork in half, angling the cut. The full size cork will be used as the head and the half cork as the neck. Glue these corks together using a glue gun.

Step Two: Cut an angle on the cork you are using for the "body" and attach it to the neck with the glue gun. For smoother corks, you may want to score the two connection points to make the glue stick better.

Step Three: Attach "leg" corks. You may choose to angle the bottom of the neck, too, to make the front leg angled. At this point, all corks should make the shape of a reindeer. It took me a few minutes to get used to the idea that my reindeer only had one front and one back leg, but after I got used to it, I really liked it!

Step Four: Glue red pom pom on head cork for a nose and black pom pom on the back of the body cork for a tail. At this point, also glue the eyes onto the head.

Step Five: This is probably the hardest part. Cut the wire about 3 inches long and shape two of them into the shape of antlers. It took us a few tries to get it to look right but once you get it down, it's actually not that hard.

Step Six: Once the antlers are shaped, use a safety pin to poke holes where you want the antlers to go. Dig the antlers into the cork until they are secure.

Step Seven: Tie a ribbon around the reindeer neck to look like a scarf. I used wire strung ribbon, as it was easier to wrap around, but any ribbon will work.

Step Eight: Take a picture of your masterpiece and post it! If you want to use it as an ornament, hang some fishing line on it.

This project was really pretty easy! Despite my skeptisicm of Mrs. A's idea, I am really pleased with these! They will make great additions to the bottles of wine we plan to give for Christmas presents this year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adventures with Spray Paint...

Being new to crafting, Mrs. A and I haven't had much experience working with spray paint or any of it's sister products, spray primer, spray adhesive or spray sealant. So when we decided to tackle a weekend of craft projects and couldn't find all our supplies in the right colors, we didn't think it was that big of a deal to pick up a can of spray paint and paint the supplies the right color. Boy were we wrong!

Four of the projects we decided to do involved us using spray paint or primer to get things the way we "needed" them. The items were: Christmas bulbs, a soap dispenser, buttons and branches. After some research on the joys of spray painting and a trip to our friendly Home Depot (HD for short), we picked up a can of spray primer and three different colors of spray paint. With dusk approaching, we headed out to the garage to begin stage one off our crafting weekend.

We knew that in order to get the paint to stick to most surfaces, we'd need to spray a coat of primer on first. So we set up a spraying station complete with garbage bags to protect the floor, and a hook to hang our projects on.

After the setup, we began by spray priming the Christmas bulbs. Holy crap, it took forever! Apparently with spray painting, less is more, and the smaller the coat you put on, the better it stays. We learned the hard way that too much spray means lots of drips and way too long to dry! After spending about an hour spraying about 20 Christmas bulbs, we moved on to some pink buttons that we wanted to turn white and our floral stems that were eventually to be silver. Lastly, we spray primed some hand soap containers trying to make them pretty. Please note that we followed all directions with these projects, but not all directions are very thorough!

After the priming, we moved on to painting. The Christmas bulbs were destined to become blue, as we weren't able to locate enough blue balls at the dollar store. So we cracked open our can of blue and started spraying. And spraying. And spraying. And spraying. Another hour later the balls finally looked somewhat blue. Unfortunately, as we looked around so did everything else. Apparently when they say "well ventilated" they mean REALLY well ventilated and opening the garage doors isn't quite enough. Bummer. Most alarming was when Mrs. A looked at my face and gasped, "You really DO have paint on your face!" Um. Yes.

I had paint on my face. Everywhere. And in my hair. And on my clothes. Everywhere! So, not to self, when they say "well ventilated" take it seriously!!

The rest of our spray painting adventure went "okay" as we learned to step back a bit from what we were spraying and not to breathe so heavily. Unfortunately, the drips and chips that came along with it were not expected. To summarize, here are the lessons learned.

1-Too much spray paint will drip!
2-Wearing a mask is recommended
3-Spray paint sticks to everything! Don't wear your new jeans or good sweatshirt while using it (oops).
4-Well ventilated means (say it with me) WELL VENTILATED!
5-garage doors do not meet the definition of well ventilated
6-Spray painting takes FOREVER!
7-If you want something a particular color, it's much easier to buy it that way than to paint it!
8-A coat of primer does not prevent something from chipping.
9-Plastic flowers are probably the easiest thing to paint.
10-Spray paint isn't as cheap as you think.

So that's it folks. Adventures in spray paint aren't as promising as they seem!

Monday, November 14, 2011


After a weekend of crafting adventures, we are left with no other option than to document the trials, tribulations and important lessons we have learned in our newfound adventure as crafters. Stay tuned for details about what not to wear while crafting, how to turn a wire hanger into a gorgeous Christmas wreath and of course, a tutorial on the etiquette of spray paint.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mini Pumpkins: Success!

When I first got the crafting bug around Halloween, I decided to try a project on my own. It looked cute and easy enough for a novice crafter such as myself. Without a need for any fancy crafting tools, I figured I could handle it.

Materials Needed:
- Minature pumpkin (I used three)
- Vampire fangs, any color
- Googly eyes. Large ones work best, but any size will work
- Glue dots or super glue to secure googly eyes
- Knife to carve pumpkin

Step One: Make slit in the "mouth" area of the pumpkin and start carving out a hole large enough to insert the vampire fangs. I found that I needed a much larger hole than I anticipated in order to get the fangs to go in. I also had to angle the hole from the inside to get the fangs to stick.

Step Two: Use the mouth hole to remove all the inside guts of the pumpkin. This is a little tricker than traditional pumpkin carving because the smaller pumpkins are harder and the hole is smaller.

Step Three: Insert vampire fangs in mouth hole. You will likely need to make a few tweaks to get them to stick. I didn't use anything to secure them, as once they were wedged in they stayed just fine.

Step Four: Use glue dots to secure googly eyes on.

Step Five: Take a picture and enjoy! If you want, add a battery operated tea light for a little extra pizazz.

Despite my somewhat jagged mouth holes, I was pretty pleased with the way these turned out. I had never used mini pumpkins before and although they were a bit harder to carve, it worked out well.