Crafts and DIY, Sewing

Creating a Community among Children

Transition and major life change can be hard on families, especially children. So, often as adults we persevere through life's challenging events accepting them as a part of our lot. Yes, we may question God, swear at the obstacle, murmur and complain, but somehow we overcome and pull through. Human will is amazingly creative and resilient!

Children go through those obstacles too! As adults and parents we often set the example for our children of how to act and endure those life challenges. As gate keepers of our children's innocence we must be careful to set a good example, filter what we expose them to, and still remain transparent and sensitive to what our children are feeling in those hard times of change. However, transitions are oftentimes necessary, and gates to new opportunities.

Recently, a church I was attending changed leadership. When we arrived at the church a few years prior, the church was a vibrant, family-oriented , close knit body of believers, led by an experienced elder, who served as senior pastor. However, the transition caused a great falling away and divide among adults. As adults left, with their children, children were separated from friends that they had spent their whole lives with. The church gates were wide open and there seemed to be a mass exodus.

In efforts to bring comfort to and keep unity among the church members, the leadership focused on community and building relationships. I decided to carry this theme into our kids classroom as well. As a teacher, I'm always looking for hands-on-activities to help my students engage in the learning process. I settled on creating a community classroom quilt after reading a post by Kristen Duke of Capturing Joy.

One Sunday I had each student illustrate on fabric squares what they believed their gift to the world is. I worked on the header of the quilt adding in the elements of community emphasized by the pastor. Here is the header:

I chose two different rainbow patterned quilting cotton fabrics to frame the fabric squares and make the bottom of the quilt sandwich. Here is the bottom layer:

I decided to make it a three by three squares tapestry quilt. Here's how it turned out after piecing together everything:

I presented our Gate Kids Community Quilt to the pastor's wife, a photographer and fiercely creative person, as a gift from the class. It served as a commemoration of the church's transition into The Gate, "a place where people will go to, grow in, and become healed."

I think this activity really helped the kids with understanding their own ability to adapt with change. I also believe this activity helped the kids to feel validated because they were affirmed as gifts in the world, who each have a purpose.

What other themes do you think would make a great classroom or community quilt?

In response to the gate writing prompt.

Crafts and DIY

How I put Build-A-Bear on the Back Burner

Each year for either Valentine's Day Or Christmas, I take my youngest two children to Build-A-Bear (BAB) workshop to pick out a friend. My daughter also likes to collect Beanie Boos. Each time she gets a stuffed friend its a different animal. My son is an Avid Star Wars fan, a true lover of the Dark Side. He always gets the Star Wars Edition related bears. Recently, they hinted around at going to BAB for summer family fun day time. Honestly, it's been averaging 91 degrees here; Mama feels like going nowhere. The heat and humidity just drain me. My solution…sew a bear.

I already had this pattern from some 99 cent pattern sale. Plus I needed to practice sewing darts on something small. This pattern has plenty of darts, despite only having only two pieces.

I cut out the pattern onto some remnant fabric I picked up at Hancock's (please come back!) before they went out of business. My daughter's rabbit required a little over a yard. The dog only required a yard.
After sewing the animals I allowed the kids to stuff them. I had to leave a section of the back open for that. They stuffed them quite full.

I then attached the eyes, sewed up the back–I learned how to ladder stitch to do this.

I then decided to satin stitch a quirky little nose on each. Here is how they turned out: Dotty and Kylo Pup.

The kids loved them just as much as the BAB ones. Score one point for Mom! For now, I managed to keep the trip to Build-A-Bear at bay.

Food

Kool-Aid Sherbet Review

Recently a fellow blogger posted how Kool-Aid Sherbet has become one of her kids favorite treats. My own kids also love sherbet; I think it's part of their genetic code inherited fron their Dad, who loves sherbet! I make a lot of home made cake batter ice cream, but I never thought of making sherbet until recently after suffering sticker shock at my local grocery store. Needless to say this pin on pinterest intrigued me.

When Nellie over at Butter with a Side of Bread posted this last month, she stated how she successfully blended this by hand. I decided to make the recipe in my ice cream maker.

I doubled the recipe using 2 Cups of half and half and 4 Cups of whole milk. I only used 1 1/4 C. of sugar. I wisked the sugar in the milk until it was dissolved. I then added in two packs of Black Cherry Kool-Aid. 

Once the Kool-Aid was blended, I followed the same steps as if I were making ice cream. 


I set the timer on 30 minutes. This usually gives me soft serve ice cream. I then transferred the sherbet into a freezer safe container. To harden the mix I let it freeze another 30 minutes before serving. It was still very soft. 


It was firmly set after two hours. My husband and kids loved the sherbet and are excited to try more flavors. In the future, I will reduce the sugar to one cup because I thought it was really sweet. The flavor was stronger than store bought sherbet. Afterward, I wondered if I could double the base but use only one packet of flavor. By the way, I only got a tablespoon of this one. It was gone by the time I got home from work. 

I have since tweaked the recipe to mimic the creamy flavors found at the store.

For orange sherbet here is my recipe:

  • three cups of whole milk
  • two cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 2/3 C. Of sugar
  • 1 packet of Orange Flavored Kool-Aid

Have you tried Kool-Aid Sherbet? What were your favorite flavors? Leave a comment below.

Food

Cupcakes in a Jar

Have you ever been faced with the challenge of giving a good teacher gift? As a high school teacher I generally get a lot of food. Two of my children are of the age where they love personalized gifts for their teachers. Recently, we found two pins on Pinterest that gave us two different methods for creating cupcakes in a jar. 

Walmart had these two cake mixes on clearance. I snatched them up with glee. I made the Tie-Die Cake as instructed in the directions using two 9 inch pans. The Thin Mints batter we made and baked in 12 oz canning jars.

–Side note, Do you love my potholders? I made them from leftover fabric and quilting batting. 

Okay back on topic. Here is the Tie-Die Batter Before and after. It makes six colors in total. 
When the cake was cooled, I used a round cookie cutter to make the layers. I then allowed the children to layer cake circles and frosting.


We filled each lightly sprayed jars about halfway with the prepared Thin Mint batter. We baked at 350 for about 35 minutes. After all of our labor was done here is our teacher gifts:

I added fun cupcake liners as decorations. After adding the chocolate gnoch I sprinkled white chocolate shavings on top. Both of the cake batters are very good! The thin mint cupcakes baked up lovely and surprisingly taste spot on to the cookies! Another great Pinterest find! These were a really big hit among my family and the teachers who received them.  
What gifts have you enjoyed making for your children’s teachers? Have you tried cupcakes in a jar? 

Crafts and DIY

Pinterest Sensory Bottles

When you live in the South, there are sweet things that go hand in hand with Southern culture that are easy to get used to: sweet tea, red velvet cake, biscuits, and crispy fried chicken. The hardest thing to get used to for a girl from PA is the consecutive days of 90 degree weather—Sticky humid hot 90 degree weather. School is out, and kids are indoors a lot. I turned to Pinterest for a quick craft yesterday. 

We found a DIY for sensory bottles. It linked back to this blog by Little Bins for Little Hands. It was super simple and I convinced my kids to drink a lot of water before we could start. All you need is a water bottle, some glitter glue, food color (optional), and glow sticks. I  bought my glitter glue and glow sticks at AC Moore. I used Core water bottles:

 

I filled two bottles 2/3 of the way with hot tap water. Each of my kids was then charged to dump their own glitter glue in the water. The glitter glue we used was this:

My daughter’s glitter glue was fluorescent and cream, my son’s was red. I added a few drops of red food coloring to her water to get a pink color. I added blue to get my son’s to a dark purple; he’s really into the Dark Side of Star Wars. We filled the water bottles slightly below the fill line, capped them, and they shook the bottles until the glue dissolved.  They then snapped a few glow sticks and dropped them in the bottles. We didn’t glue the lids because were going to add more glitter but look how neat they look. 

This Dark One really looks good at night. This was another fun pinterest project. We’ve also made slime although I didn’t post that. However, you can check out my pins here. What pinterest projects have you tried with your children?