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Friday, February 13, 2009

Smarty Crafts for Your Little Valentines

By Guest Blogger Summer R

Nothing says L-O-V-E like handmade to me, so for Valentine's Day I have two super easy, very fun crafts to share with you. One is send-able, and one is edible!! These have been a big hit with my kids ages four (twins) and two. I'm guessing my four-month-old loves it too, but since she really only expresses herself in coos, drool and spit up it is difficult to be certain. So here’s how on both crafts…

Craft One: Window Collage Valentine in 8 Simple Steps

If you are anything like me (and I am hoping I am not alone in this) the biggest stress when crafting with your kids is how "unique" their designs seem to be. Well, this collage project is fail-safe, in that you control the color combination and materials, and for goodness sake, it's meant to look a little like patchwork.

1. Gather your materials: blank card with matching envelope, clear contact paper, scraps of ribbon, felt shapes, colored-tissue paper, shape confetti, glitter (if you are super brave), scissors, Sharpie marker.
2. On the inside front flap of the card, draw a heart shape and cut it out carefully.
3. Apply clear contact paper to the entire front flap so that the sticky side is sticky. Don’t close the card or it will stick together and be ruined (guess how I learned that…)
4. Place card in front of your “cardmaker” (ie: child) sticky side up, grimace and cringe as they pick all the things you wish they wouldn’t have, and things you are certain do not go together.
5. When you can stand it no longer, put a new card in front of your child, to work on while you trim any pieces that are way too big, and cover the inside front flap with another piece of clear contact paper.
6. Turn over card. GASP!! It actually looks great - just the right mix of abstract and artsy. But you always knew your child was talented though, right?
7. Use a permanent marker to write a Valentine’s message on the contact paper, or if you are very, very smart - type one up on your computer and preprint it on all the cards.
8. Put in envelope and giggle, because you’re pretty sure you’re going to keep all these cute cards.

Tips and Tricks:
- Only lay out color-coordinating items for your child to use (less stressful for you!).
- Use the same idea of cut-outs for other holidays, ie: shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day, eggs at Easter, trees or gingerbread men at Christmas.
- Use cookie cutters or clip art to get good shapes (or a die cut machine if you have one).
- If you don’t want to buy coordinating cards and envelopes, you can always make a card out of cardstock, or that cute scrapbooking paper.
- For added flair, line the inside front flap with cutesy scrapbooking paper before adding the contact paper, or stitch around the cutout with a sewing machine.

Craft Two: Homemade Heart-Shaped Doughnuts in 12 Minutes

What says I love you more than heart-shaped doughnuts? Heart-shaped doughnuts you make yourself (with your favorite little helper of course)! I know, and anyone who has seen my backside, knows I shouldn’t be writing instructions for homemade heart-shaped whole-wheat organic pancakes with yogurt syrup. But my family loves doughnuts and I love my family. So here you go.

Gather your ingredients:
- 1 roll of those biscuits that “pop” when you unwind the can
- 1 container cutesy valentine’s sprinkles
- /4 cup chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Frying pan with 1/2 inch vegetable, canola or other oil (although I do not recommend olive oil, it’s a doughnut for goodness sake, just go with it!!)
- Heart-shaped cookie cutter about the size of your biscuits (or some kitchen shears)
- One reusable container with locking lid filled with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 2 Tbs ground cinnamon

1.Turn the frying pan with 1/2 inch of your favorite frying oil on medium to medium-high heat. (I know it’s so much faster if you turn in on HIGH but the doughnuts will cook brown on the outside and be gooey in the middle…guess how I learned that!!)

2. Cringe and cower as you anticipate the popping of those biscuits (one of the tensest cooking experiences of my life), groan when you realize it didn’t pop, and now attack it with a spoon.

3. Remove the very nice neat little stack of biscuits and use your cookie cutter to turn them into heart shapes. (But, save the scraps). What no cookie cutter? NO problem. Use your kitchen shears to cut the bottom half of the biscuit into a triangle, then snip the other semicircle that is still round in half, manipulate the shape to resemble a heart. (Again, save the scraps!).

4. Give the “scraps” to your “helper” and tell him to roll them into balls. (These will be like doughnut holes.

5. Put a few of the hearts into the oil, and flip them when they are nicely browned.

6. While the doughnuts are cooking, place the chocolate chips and oil in a microwave safe bowl that is larger than a doughnut for 30 seconds, stir and reheat until the chips are all melted. (This is frosting).

7. Remove the cooked doughnuts from the oil and set on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, dip them carefully and gently into the melted chips to just cover the top. Sprinkle with sprinkles and set them aside (excellent job for your helper).

8. Fry up the “balls” your helper made in the same fashion. Place them on the same paper towel-lined plate, then toss them in the reusable plastic container. When they are all in there, put the lid on and let your helper shake away!! This gently covers the doughnuts with cinnamon and sugar..

9. Serve and enjoy! (Better give your little helper a vitamin too, since the nutritional value of this breakfast is just about nil).

Let us know if you have any questions with the crafts above. And by all means, let us know how they turned out!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for these ideas. I am looking forward to trying these out sometime!

Beth said...

We are definitely giving the donuts a try!

Kelly G. said...

I was browsing for fun and came across this. Hysterical. I do the same kind of cringing when my own kids make things like this, and no, I am not above giving my kids chocolate for breakfast. : )

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