Flavored Salts

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Homemade gifting fun continues, this time with a set of flavored salts we knew would be just right for a special family member this Christmas. Kids will love using a funnel to put the gift together.

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For each salt, Travis and I started with a base of 1/4 cup kosher salt. Then we made the following 3 variations:

Herbs and Garlic: Add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, and 1 minced garlic clove

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Orange Rosemary: Add 1 teaspoon grated orange rind and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

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Chile Lime: Add 1 teaspoon grated lime rind, 1 teaspoon chile powder, and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

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Use the funnel to fill mini mason jars with each salt.

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We decided to keep a fourth flavor for ourselves: lemon pepper! Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the mix. Store in an air-tight container.

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Edible Holiday Teacher Gifts

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Homemade gifts add such a nice touch around the holidays. And what’s better than an edible homemade gift? This year, one of Travis’s teachers will receive cocoa mix and the other will receive cookie mix. Yum!

For the Hot Cocoa Mix, we combined the following in a blender:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Process until you have a fine powder.

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Pour the powder into a 16-ounce mason jar and top with mini marshmallows, such as Dandies.

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For the Homemade Cookie Mix, layer the following in a 16-ounce mason jar:

  • Layer 1: 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Layer 2: 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Layer 3: 1/3 cup sugar
  • Layer 4: 1 and 1/4 cups chocolate chips (or use candy!)

If you’re having trouble getting any dry ingredients into the jar without spilling, twist a piece of paper into a funnel shape, leaving a wide opening at the bottom, and pour the ingredients through.

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This one looked great in the jar!

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Now for just a few final touches. We printed out the recipe instructions and gift tags from Raddish Kids, and Travis filled in his teacher’s names.

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Add a holiday bow for a final flourish.

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Of course we needed to make two sets of each recipe: one to gift and one to enjoy at home! Travis loved his cocoa…

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…and declared the cookies awesome.

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As a bonus, we prepared a batch of Gingerbread Pancake Mix, another dry mix that looks beautiful in a mason jar.

GIngerbread Pancake Gift

For this mix, we combined:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Again, transfer to a mason jar and add a gift tag with recipe instructions and a pretty bow as a flourish. These would make the perfect Christmas morning breakfast, once the recipient adds in 1 flaxseed egg and 1 cup non-dairy milk!

Gingerbread Pancake Mix.JPGWhat will your child gift to teachers this season? Please share in the comments!

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Peppermint Candy Box

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It was all about holiday gifts in our home over the weekend. When we spotted these decorated cookie tins in Travis’s Highlights magazine, we knew we’d found the perfect gift for his kindergarten teachers!

Wrap a store-bought cookie tin in white felt.

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Use hot glue or tacky glue to adhere securely. We wrapped only the lids, since the bottom of our tins were already printed in holiday pictures, but you can wrap the whole box if desired. Cut out red pieces of felt to mimic the red swirls of a peppermint candy and glue these to the lid.

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Fill the tin with your favorite holiday cookies or other treats, of course!

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To finish the presentation, wrap in plastic wrap (or clear cellophane) and secure with green ribbon on each side so it looks like a peppermint candy waiting to be twisted open.

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Fortune Cookie Gifts

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Travis and I hope to prepare several homemade Christmas gifts this year. This easy twist on fortune cookies is sure to bring a smile to the recipient’s face! It’s what Travis will be gifting to his bus driver this year as well as to a few special neighbors.

You can order fortune cookies online through Amazon, although many packages come in huge bulk quantities. I found one retailer with a more moderate quantity of 50, which was the perfect amount.

To decorate the cookies, heat 6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, until melted.

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Working with one cookie at a time, dip half of it in the melted chocolate, then roll in sprinkles for decoration. White ones made a beautiful contrast to the dark chocolate!

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Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let stand until the chocolate is completely set.

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Travis loved cracking open a few extra cookies to read fortunes as we worked!

To package these, I purchased Christmas-themed takeout containers at the craft store.

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As an alternative, look for clear takeout containers and decorate with holiday stickers. Line each container with wax paper and nestle in about 7 to 8 fortune cookies.

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Add gift tags as a finishing touch!

Hands of Love

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With only a few days left before her first birthday, it was time for another set of hand prints with Veronika. I haven’t done this since she was nine months old and those little hands have grown.

Anyone who follow this blog knows that handprints with Veronika are a risky endeavor. I had plates of paint ready, along with a thick soft paintbrush, and wet wipes right next to me.

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Gently brush paint over your baby’s palm. She seemed to like the soft sensation!

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I pressed her hand firmly down on a small canvas tote bag. The idea was to make gifts for upcoming holidays! Other fabric like t-shirts or hand towels would be fun, too, if you use acrylic paint.

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You can also just press the prints onto thick paper for pretty commemorative artwork. Add a border with marker, and don’t forget to add the date!

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Now compare these prints to your older sets and marvel at how much your baby has grown.

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Bow-Tie Card for Dad

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This cute Father’s Day card idea from Highlights magazine was the perfect craft for Travis to make this year… because daddy can really rock a bow tie!

To start, we measured out a long rectangle that was 11 inches long x 2 inches wide. Travis proudly followed along the line to cut this out, needing no help from me.

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We cut a second rectangle that was 5 inches x 1 inch.

Fold the large triangle in half, and open back up. Now fold the ends of that rectangle in to the center crease and secure with tape.

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Cut each side into a trapezoid shape; now it looks like a bow tie!

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Wrap the small rectangle around the center and tape down.

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Kids can now decorate the tie with markers. Because Daddy loves orange, Travis proudly added orange marker atop orange paper.

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Your kids may want to add polka dots, stripes, or other common bow-tie designs.

I cut a final piece of cardstock into the shape of a gift tag and added a happy father’s day message. Loop through the bow tie with a piece of string.

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When Father’s Day is over, this card does double-duty as a bookmark! Need more ideas this Father’s Day? Check out a few photo gift options here.

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Make a Father’s or Mother’s Day Gift

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With Mother’s and Father’s Day just around the corner, here’s the perfect idea for your spouse: Put together a gift featuring photos or sounds of your little ones.┬áThe following gifts will actually be mine to my husband in June, but adapt them for a special mom this coming Sunday, if you’d like!

There are so many websites on which you can make photo projects. I used simple software at Zazzle for two versions.

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The first was a tote bag, featuring one big photo of the kids.

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The second was a mug, which was able to feature three pics, plus a sweet inscription.

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As a final photo touch, I added a picture of Veronika to the front of a card.

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The final piece of the gift was auditory: a recording of Veronika’s babbles to be a ringtone!

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These personalized gifts are sure to make a mom or dad feel special, whether it’s the first Mother’s/Father’s Day, the tenth, or beyond!

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Bubbling Bath Fizzies

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If you’re still wondering what to make for grandmas, moms, aunts, or any other special mother-figure this mother’s day, Travis and I have got you covered with this treat for the toes from Highlights magazine. The gift is equal parts craft and science, which makes it a fantastic way to engage kids in the spirit of gift-giving.

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In a large craft bin, Travis mixed up the following ingredients:

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup citric acid

1/2 cup Epsom salts

3/4 cup corn starch

Make sure to tell your child that the mixture isn’t edible, even though most of the ingredients are, especially if you’re used to cooking together!

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In a small bowl, we whisked together 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. Add the liquids to the mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Kids will want to wear goggles (or sunglasses, in a pinch!) to protect their eyes, since it will bubble as you stir.

We also added blue food coloring for a pretty tint and a few drops of vanilla extract for a nice smell. The downside was that this made our mixture a little too liquidy (you want it to be slightly dry and crumbly). It seemed all right at first, but as our bath bombs dried, they puffed out. Note Travis in his too-cool-for-school sunglasses, ha!

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Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out each portion, and pack down tightly. Gently release onto a paper towel and let dry for a full 24 hours.

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Package the bath bombs in any pretty tissue paper or parchment paper.

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We also added a little gift tag with instructions for treating those tootsies!

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And of course we saved one to test out at home! Travis loved watching it fizz, before putting his feet in to soak. Don’t forget to give a quick explanation of why it all fizzes up – the baking soda and citric acid reacting together once in water, of course, which releases CO2 gas (ergo, bubbles).

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Mother’s Day Hat Card

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This adorable card in the shape of a hat, which evokes Kentucky Derby season and all things springtime, makes a wonderfully whimsical card for a special someone on Mother’s Day! When Travis and I spotted the craft in Highlights, we knew we needed to put one together for his grandmother.

Cut a large circle from colored cardstock; we chose a royal purple. I was impressed with the way Travis followed the lines along the circle I drew – I hadn’t realized his cutting skills had grown so precise!

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Then we cut the rim from a paper bowl for a smaller circle.

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Cut a tab into your cardstock near the middle, and glue onto the bowl. It should be able to lift open and closed.

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Next we glued purple ribbon around the bowl, and also affixed a purple bow.

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Once the glue dried, we added our Mother’s Day message to grandma under the hat!

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Hats off to this cute idea!

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Footprint Plaque

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I’ve already made a beautiful keepsake of Veronika’s footprints with paint, and today we tried a version made with clay! I had leftover air-dry clay from a project with Travis, so it was the perfect opportunity for Veronika to play with this material.

Roll out a large piece of clay with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Be sure to let your little one watch, even though they are too young to help with the process!

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Use a bowl and knife to cut out a circle large enough for both your baby’s footprints.

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Here’s the hard part: hold your baby carefully and press one foot into the clay at a time. This might be a bit uncomfortable for them, and indeed poor Veronika let out a little cry! So you’ll notice that her prints are not very deep or pronounced, but at least I was able to capture the size and shape.

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Punch two holes in the top using a straw, then lay the plaque flat to dry.

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Once dry, thread a pretty ribbon through the holes, and you’ll have a beautiful plaque to display.

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Don’t forget the name and date!