Friday, November 7, 2014

Brown Bag Scrapbook

Hi friends! We are enjoying a beautiful and warm fall. It's such a stark comparison to everything that was going on last year. We spent a weekend up in the mountains with family and I made a little miniature scrapbook to remember good times there. These paper bag books are my favorite kind of scrap books. They are cute, inexpensive, easy to make and kid-friendly. They would make a great project for a Girl Scout troop, or a soccer team, as a little memento of the year or season. They would also be great as a thankful book--all things you are thankful for, a Christmas scrapbook, or maybe a Grandma and Me book (Christmas present?). There's tons of possibilities so I thought I would share this before the holidays. 

Here's the quick run down of how to make one:

Paper Bag Scrap Book

- 3-4 brown or white paper lunch sacks
- 4  12" lengths of different materials to tie with: twine, raffia, or thin ribbon (1/8"-1/4")
- hole punch
- scissors
- washi tape, stickers, glue, double sticky tape, photos --whatever you want to fill it with : )

Three bags will make a book with 10 pages (sides) inside, four bags will make 14 pages (sides). I would suggest not doing more than four bags, because it will get bulky. Stack the bags starting with a bottom facing the left, and alternating the direction of the bags: bottom, top, bottom, etc. Carefully fold all the bags together in half, crease well. 

Washi tape serves as a great hole punch reinforcement, you can use it on the edge of each page, I just used it on the cover. Take just the outer bag of the book and evenly space four holes with the hole punch (I eyeball-it). 

Then slip in the next page, line up the top and bottom and use a pen to trace markers for the punches on that page. Repeat with each page, until all pages are punched. 

Once all the pages are punched line them up and bind them together. Cut the ribbon or twine into 3" pieces and alternate what you use. Then go back and tie each hole with a second, different tie. The look here is kind of a frayed edge. You can do two or three ties in each hole. I usually only tie one actual knot per hole, then just tie the others on for pretty. You can trim up the length when all the ties are on there.

And that's a book! Ready for memories and some embellishments. The pages are small so keep that in mind when printing pictures. Walmart offers 4x6 collage prints for the same price as regular 4x6 prints so print some collages with 3-4 pictures on each and it will save you both money and space. The miniature photos will be prefect for your mini scrapbook.

Even though they are just made out of brown paper bags, they actually hold up really well. Here's one that I made for a cheerleading team that I coached about eight years ago (even though I was never a cheerleader myself. Don't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor...). Anyway, the book still looks great and it's fun to look back at those sweet girls who are now in high school! The pages that are the top of the bag open to make a little pocket for extra pictures or mementos (see the bottom left below).

I haven't sent one of these yet, but I think you could make a version of this book to send to your Compassion sponsored child, if you just do 3 bags (to be sure the total thickness in not more than 1/4 inch, tie with raffia instead of ribbon, and place the book in a quart-size ziplock. You could send a book about your family or your town. You could also try sewing it instead of hole punching, like we did with this homemade book (see that post here), which we did send to our sponsored kids.

There's so many options with these materials. They are affordable enough to make for a whole team of people or kiddos and changing up the ribbon/ties can make them perfect for any team colors or holiday theme.

Happy memory making!

You are loved!


Monday, October 20, 2014

An Artist in All of Us

We had the opportunity to go to the Denver Botanic Gardens last week. I was so excited to see the Dale Chihuly art on display, and it did not disappoint. It was all so beautiful and amazing! The combination of exquisite art in the natural beauty of the gardens was just so cool. 

I was marveling at all Chihuly's amazing pieces, but then I started thinking, maybe it's not as hard as it looks. I like to give the kids opportunities to explore and experiment with art and different styles (we gave Eric Carle's style a try here, if you're interested), so we thought maybe this was something we could do at home as well. I think it turned out pretty well. What do you think?

I bet in this last one you can't even tell which one is not Chihuly ; )

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. Thanks for your inspiring works Chihuly!

Have a happy week everyone, and don't forget to have some fun.  : )

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Big Colorful World

I wrote about this activity a few years ago, but we went on our yearly fall color scavenger hunt and I just wanted to share this year's finds. This was the first year Thing Two could really search on his own for colors and work on finding them all. He was so excited!

Every year I think, we won't find purple or it might be hard to find blue, but every year I'm in awe of the amazing range of colors all around us. God is the ultimate creative and He makes everything beautiful in it's time and season. I hope you are soaking up that beauty today. (click here to see how we make our easy artist's color palette).

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."     
                                       --Ecclesiastes 3:11

Monday, September 29, 2014

Homemade Caramel

Fall is so beautiful! There's just something so wonderful about all the changes that come with it, including the yummy foods. 

Of course we could make carmel apples any time of the year, but we only ever do in fall. Seeing these in a shop window made me want to make up my own batch of caramel. 

A few years ago I found a recipe for caramel that is amazing. Making carmel really isn't difficult, but 
is time consuming. If you have the time, you can't compare the taste to store bought carmel, so it really is a treat. Make a double batch and you will have plenty to give friends and neighbors. 

The recipe and instructions are fairly lengthy, so I'm just going to direct you to Amber Lee's GiversLog blog, for all the details --here. Here's my own pictures, following her instruction. 

It always takes a little longer than I remember to get up to 240º, but 30 minutes, like she says is probably about right. It just feels long when you are standing there waiting for the temp to rise, mouth watering in anticipation of this delicious treat. 

I always double the recipe and do two pans. If you do this, you can do one pan of plain caramel

and one sprinkled with sea salt.

I do always scoop some out for caramel dip. This will still harden some as is cools, but you can just microwave for a few seconds to get it back to liquid stage when you are ready to use it.

One piece of advice: don't wait too long to cut it up. Watch the pan though, the caramel makes those suckers HOT. Let it cool just until it holds it's shape when cut. It should still be a little warm. If you wait until it's totally cool it will be hard and take a lot of pressure to cut through. We always place the parchment on a cutting board and use a pizza cutter.  

Once you have all the caramel pieces cut, grab some wax paper, and turn on a movie.

Cut the wax paper into about 2x3" pieces (or whatever fits the caramels you cut), and get wrapping. Don't stack the caramels because they will stick together, permanently. By the time the movie is over you'll have all your caramels wrapped and ready to go. Give some away (so your neighbors know they are loved) and save some for you.  Once you make them you might feel a tradition coming on. I hope you like them as much as we do. So thankful AmberLee shared her recipe. : ) 

I hope your week gets off to a great start. You are loved!

 - Haley

Monday, September 15, 2014

Five Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

Hello! How are you? Are you ready for Fall? I am. I'm loving the cool mornings, and I've been making lots of fallish foods. There's nothing more fallish than pumpkin, right?

I just made some super easy Pumpkin cookies, so I thought I'd share that recipe (in case you haven't seen it on Pinterest 1,000 times), and a few other of my favorite pumpkin recipes from the last few years.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

1 can pumpkin (14 oz)
1 box spice (or yellow) cake mix.
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Just mix all ingredients together and bake at 350º for 12-14 minutes or until they feel a little springy when touched. I used a silicone baking mat and bumped up the heat to 375º.  They are very soft and stay that way, yum! Be warned, they don't last at room temperature because the pumpkin holds so much moisture. So keep them in the freezer, if you can keep from eating them all right away. : )

Here are my other favorite Pumpkin recipes. (Click on the name to go to the recipe/post)

Pumpkin Scones

 Pumpkin Pie Dip

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

And, the ever-popular Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I hope you are enjoying the tastes and smells of Fall!

You are loved!

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