Mittens VS Gloves for Children

Posted by: on Dec 30, 2013 in Blog | 272 Comments

Mittens VS Gloves for Children

Mittens decrease your fine motor ability but gloves keep your fingers from being warm. Children need mittens.

Mittens are warm. Children are not good at regulating temperature but they are very aware when they have cold fingers. They can be buried in boots and snow pants, coat hat and scarf but when their hands are cold; they want to go in doors. Get them mittens. Get them several pairs of mittens.

While we’re on the subject of mittens, let’s talk about keeping those mittens over time. One of the reasons people buy gloves for their children is that they can get them for less money. You can pick up the one size stretchy gloves relatively cheaply. Children are notorious for losing their mittens/gloves so it seems a shame to buy something expensive when they may not stick around very long.

mittens

Here are two methods for keeping mittens around; clips and string.

  • There are double headed clips that connect mittens to coats.

The down side to the clips is that they can still be yanked off and lost.

The nice thing about the clips is that your child can take the mittens off and they will stay             connected to the coat until they are needed again.

  • If you want the mittens to stick around until you want them gone, go for the string.

Tie one mitten to a ball of yarn and then thread the yarn through the sleeves of the coat.

Go up one sleeve and down the other from the inside of the coat.

You will want your child to wear the coat and the mittens once you get the first mitten and the yarn threaded through the coat. This way you can see how long the string needs to be to get the       job done.

I have heard that some                 people worry that this presents a choking hazard, but I just don’t see how it can be. The string is inside the coat, behind the child.

If you figure out the correct length of string while your child is   wearing their coat and mittens you won’t be leaving the string too long.

I’ve seen the mittens that are attached to the scarf and they are really cute.

However the scarf comes in one size and children don’t.

It’s too easy for the mittens to fall off, or the child may become tangled, if the scarf is too long.

If the scarf is too short, it feels too tight when your child tries to wear the mittens.

Go for the string, or the clips.

January 2014 Blog- Winter, Children and Vehicles

Posted by: on Dec 30, 2013 in Blog | 54 Comments

Winter, Children and Vehicles

Here are three important topics when it comes to winter, children and vehicles:

  1. Unattended children in vehicles during the winter
  2. Winter outerwear and child safety seats
  3. Under dressing for the weather when traveling by car

Unattended children in vehicles during the winter:

Every summer, there are numerous warnings about the dangers of leaving children alone in cars. Winter is not the time to forget the warnings. Just like you wouldn’t want to leave your child in the car alone in the hot sun, you also want to make sure that your child is not left unattended in a cold car.

  • Infants and young children have a harder time regulating body heat and can quickly succumb to hypothermia.
  • The metal of a car absorbs the cold. In some cases it can be colder inside of a car than it is outside.
  • Think that you’re just running in quick and you’ll leave the car running and the doors locked (extra key in your hands at all times, of course)? Think again. Snow can block the tail pipe and carbon monoxide can flood the inside of the car.

Winter Outerwear and Child Safety Seats

Bulky coats, snowsuits and blankets interfere with the effectiveness of child safety seats. In order for the seats to work correctly, they need to be snug to the child’s body. If you can slip more than two fingers between the belt and your child’s shoulder bone, it is not on properly. Put a child in a coat or snowsuit and you may very well have exceeded the two finger rule. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Dress your child in layers. An undershirt a long sleeved shirt and a sweater or sweatshirt should get the ball rolling. Place your child in the car seat and then use a blanket, over the straps, to keep your child snuggly and warm. Tuck the blanket around your child’s sides but never behind their back
  • Once your child is securely in their car seat have them put their coat on backwards, so the open front falls to the sides of the car seat. Kids will get a good laugh out of putting their coat on backwards, trust me on this one, I’ve seen it in action!
  • Be aware if you have an infant seat that has a cover on it that allows them to be covered yet has a hole for their face. It’s easy to forget about buckling them in before placing the cover over the seat.

Under Dressing for the Weather When Traveling by Car

So, for the sake of following the above advice and not putting your child in their safety seat with a coat or snowsuit, you start your car, get the children ready and then rush them out to a warm car. Does that mean that you don’t need the heavy winter gear?

Not at all.

Why not?

Things happen.

Accidents still happen and people still get stranded in the most inconvenient places and in some terrible weather conditions.

Be prepared.  Snow pants, snowsuits, hats, mittens, scarves, the whole nine yards. Make sure it all travels with you every time you and your children head out during the cold and snow season.

There are times when there isn’t any snow on the ground and it is just plain bone chilling cold outside. Be safe.

Expect the best, plan for the worst.

I’d rather hear you complain that you brought it for nothing than that something terrible happened because you didn’t have it with you when you needed it.

Be safe, be wise, be warm.

Share some of your winter safety tips when it comes to your child and your vehicle. Someone who reads it may be very glad you did.

 

December Blog- Handmade Gifts, More Time Than Money

Posted by: on Dec 2, 2013 in Blog | 51 Comments

Handmade Gifts, More Time Than Money

My Aunt was a crafter. She made things all year long. She tried her hand at different types of crafts, rather than specialize like my grandmother, the knitter or my mother, the baker (yes indeed, that is a craft in my book). Her gifts ranged from faux fur stuffed animals to matchboxes covered with holiday cloth and trinkets. She did occasionally try her hand at baking. Her children love to tell the story of éclairs the size of bricks and we all still talk about the cake that she made one Thanksgiving. It was intended to look like a stalk of Indian corn. She frosted the cake and then covered it with candy coated chocolate pieces (melt in your mouth- you know the rest). First problem- no one knew what it was- second problem- a frosted cake covered in candy- way too much sugar to deal with on a day already packed with too much food. Even a small piece, to be polite, was way too much to deal with, and for my family, that’s saying something!

That being said, I still have the stuffed panda she made for me.  I just bought more matches to place in the boxes that she passed out many Christmases back. They do look very attractive next to my candles. We still tell the story of the cake at family gatherings and just picturing it in my mind cracks me up. I laugh at the cake, I remember my Aunt fondly, and I recognize the time and love that she put into her gift making.

This month I want to share some handmade gift ideas. Some of them may be just right for you and your children to make together. Some may be for you to do on your own. You’ll know what’s right for you and your family. While you are making the gifts, you may begin thinking of the perfect person to receive them. You might start sharing stories and memories with your children about the people who will be getting the very project you are creating together. That’s a pretty great gift in itself.

Enjoy

 

Candy Bark

In my quest to share some homemade gift ideas, I am aware that time can be tight. It would be a shame to put the time into a gift and then have it be a great gift for someone, but not the person you gave it to. This is an idea that can be personalized very easily.

This is a very straight forward process. The great thing about this gift is that you can so easily personalize it even if you are making it for several people at one time.

  • Here is what you need:
  • Melting chocolate (there are several types out there, just find the kind that tastes best to you)

 

  • A microwave oven, a double boiler, or a small pot and a glass bowl that sits on top without falling in.

 

  • Parchment paper, a silicone mat, or wax paper on a baking sheet (to protect your table or counter top from the heat of the candy)
  • An assortment of food/candy items to add to your melting chocolate; nuts, dried fruit, pretzel pieces, crushed hard candy. Just think about the person you are making this for and add what they like.

Here’s How You Do It:

  • Get whatever you intend to mix into the melting chocolate ready before you do anything with the chocolate. If you are going to add nuts, get them out and have them sitting in a bowl. If you are going to add dried fruit, prep it first. You may need to cut the dried fruit into smaller pieces, depending on the fruit you use. Dried apricots, yes, raisins, no. What you see in the pictures is for my sister, coffee beans, nuts and mini dark chocolate chips.
  • When you have the pieces you want to stir in ready, it’s time to work with the melting chocolate. The package will give you microwave directions, follow them, they know what they are talking about.
  • I have a double boiler but I may be the only one left who does so I will show the glass bowl over a small pot. Put an inch or two of water in the pot and set it on medium high heat until it begins to boil.

 

  • Set the bowl with the melting chocolate on the pot and stir occasionally. Keep water out of the bowl! It’s the steam that is gently melting the chocolate. Don’t let the boiling water actually touch the bowl. Water and chocolate do not get along!

 

  • When the chocolate is melted, pour it onto the parchment, wax or silicone surface, it will be a free form puddle. Sprinkle the toppings you prepared onto the melted chocolate and let harden.

 

  • Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bag or airtight container.

 

Yum!

Let us know your favorite topping combinations.

 

 

Cinnamon Ornaments

This has become a classic of sorts. We’ve been making them for our wooden Christmas tree for many years.  We have always left them plain but this year I thought I would add a bit of detail work.

What you need:

  • ¾ c. Cinnamon
  • ¾ c. Applesauce
  • White puffy paint- to add detail and design
  • A straw to make the holes

 

How to do it:

  • Mix the cinnamon and the applesauce together. Even if you intend to make many ornaments, stick with this amount and make more batches.
  • Mix together until you have nice dough that you are able to roll and work with easily. Humidity may play a factor, so you want to have a bit of cinnamon and applesauce nearby so you can make adjustments.
  • Roll out a quarter of the mixture 1/3 to ¼ of an inch thickness. You may want to do this between two sheets of plastic wrap.
  • Use cookie cutters to create your shapes.
  • Bake at 200 degrees for 2 ½ hours (check on them). You can air dry them for a day or two, turning them so they dry evenly. If you put them on a rack for even drying be aware they may get lines on them if you let them sit on one side for too long.
  • When they are dry and cool, add details with puffy paint or anything else that you would like.

And you just thought this was a project for children!

Let us know how your ornaments turned out. Send us a picture!

 

Scented Note Cards

This gift may seem like a bit of a throw back in the days of constant contact and social media. People seldom send cards in the mail anymore unless it’s the annual Christmas picture. If you are lucky enough to know the right person to give this gift to, you’re in extra luck because they are so easy to make.

Here’s what you need:

  • Blank note cards with envelopes
  • A plastic resealable bag (gallon size)
  • A cotton ball
  • Essential oil – the better you know the person getting the gifts the easier it will be for you to choose the scent
  • Glue

Spice (something that compliments the scent of the essential oil)

Here’s how to do it:

  • Take the note cards and place them in the plastic bag
  • Put 3 or 4 drops of essential oil on the cotton ball and place the moistened cotton in the bag- not on any of the cards or envelopes.
  • Seal the bag.

The longer you leave the bag closed, the stronger the scent will be.

When they smell as good as you want them to (or you run out of wait time!) take them out and add a simple decoration to the note cards and or envelopes. I used cinnamon oil so I could make a simple design in glue and cover the glue with cinnamon. Find the right combination of essential oil and spice for your friend or family member and you have an easy “scent”-sational gift.

  • Note on the spice decoration! I suggest you keep it small because the extra spice that you use to cover the glue may or may not come all the way off.

 

I let my glue dry and then used a paint brush to get off the extra spice and it did not come all the way off.

 

As you can see in the picture I used the spice like glitter and that was probably not by best plan.

 

Use discretion and let me know how it worked for you. I will keep working on it because I like the idea of spice embellishment.

The cards do smell great!

 

 

Cork Coasters

I thought that the scented note cards were simple but this one is simple as well.

I originally went out looking for cardboard coasters. I couldn’t find any that were blank. Maybe they don’t exist and maybe I gave up too soon. If you can locate some, let me know. I think I would expand on this idea. Anyway…

Here’s what you need:

  • Cork coasters
  • Some simple rubber stamps.

Initials or simple geometric designs come to mind

for a simple, classic look.

  • Black, gold or silver ink pads. Feel free to go for any

color of ink that suits your gifting needs but I

like these particular color choices for the cork.

If I could have found the cardboard coasters then I

would have been a little freer with the color palette.

Here’s what you do:

You can experiment with how many or few times you stamp each coaster. This is one of the best projects to turn over to the children. Overlapping is not a problem so let them go wild. I tend to like one stamp design per coaster but that is totally up to you.

 

Calling all craft store browsers and crafty people in general

Here’s where I could use some help from you. What I originally wanted to do was find some way to “punch out” a small simple geometric design, then use that “punched out” piece to stamp the rest of the coaster with a solid matching pattern, complementing the one little hole in the coaster.

I couldn’t find anything. The paper crafting punches were too thin to accommodate the thick cork coaster. I didn’t want to get involved with a crafting knife because it would be too easy to make a mistake that would waste a coaster.  My fear was that a small cookie cutter would be too large and/or too weak to hold up to the pounding it would take to get through the cork. What suggestions do you have? I really think it would make an attractive detail, so please share your thoughts.

As long as you are sending your coaster suggestions, please send pictures of the coasters that you made. We’d love to see them!

Pinecone Fire Starters

I do not come from a “fire place” family. I do, however, come from a “campfire” family.

These are great little gifts for either family.

There are some interesting fire starter ideas out there made from everything, including dryer lint, but I figure, it’s the holidays, let’s make something pretty!

What you need:

  • Pinecones
  • Wax
  • Crayons (optional)
  • Cotton string
  • Cupcake papers or small paper cups
  • A double boiler, or a glass jar and a pan of boiling water

How to do it:

  • Bake your pinecones on a cookie sheet at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes. This helps to deal with sap and bugs! Mine were fine but I wonder if “sappy” is related to “smokey”. Be aware, although the heat seems low enough to avoid that. Let them cool completely.
  • Tie enough cotton string to the pine cone so some will hang off as a wick. The extra string also comes in handy when it comes time to dip the pine cone.
  • Place a glass jar in a pot with an inch or so of gently boiling water. Toss is a broken crayon or two if you would like colored wax. I like the simple “snow” look of the plain wax but my mother has colored the wax in the past.
  • Place cupcake papers in cupcake tray. If you put the wax directly in the cupcake tray, I wouldn’t ever use that tray for food again, so use the papers!
  • My cupcake papers are currently at school so I used a paper cup with the high sides cut down. My pinecones are small and this turned out nicely.
  • Dip the pinecones one at a time, in the wax. Let them cool. Once they are cool dip them again until you have the look that you like. If you are in a hurry, simply dip them the first time and then go on to the next step. We have even made them without dipping them. We just tied them and went on to the next step.
  • Pour some wax into the cupcake papers, about 1/3 full. Too little and the pinecone won’t hold properly, too much and it will overflow from the cup. Make sure that the “wick” is sticking out of the cupcake paper.
  • Allow to dry.
  • Cut off any excess string.
  • Package in cellophane bag or in a little basket.

Send pictures our way to let us see how your fire starters turned outl

 

 

Scented Diffusers

For a long time I had mixed feelings about the reed diffusers that turned up everywhere. I know too many people who are very sensitive to smells, especially “air fresheners”. On the other hand if you use essential oils and mix your own, you can come up with something subtle and attractive as well.

Here’s what you need:

  • An attractive glass jar with a small opening

(the small opening reduces evaporation)

  • Your choice: reeds, bamboo skewers or twigs

sanded down until they are “white” (bark free)

  • “Carrier” oil: sweet almond, safflower or grapeseed  oils are good
  • Essential oil; you can use one kind or play with mixing oils

until you come up with a “signature” scent

  • 90% rubbing alcohol (perfumers alcohol, available online or vodka (to thin the oil which helps it travel up the reed more easily)

Here’s what you do:

  • Pour ¼ cup of the carrier oil into a bottle that has a tight fitting lid
  • Add a teaspoon or two of the alcohol
  • Start with 10 drops of essential oil, add more if needed, probably no more than 15 drops.
  • Make sure that the lid is on tightly, then shake to combine.
  • Wrap the bottle, filled with scented oil and capped, the glass display jar and whatever type of reed you choose. Write the following directions on a note card and place it in the box:

Before first use, soak the reeds completely in the oil, and then place them in the jar. If you want to change the scented oil, replace the reeds as well.

Be Aware

When giving a gift like this, make sure that you are aware of any sensitivity to particular smells. People often give lavender scented gifts with the intention of a relaxing or soothing gift. For some people it induces sneezing and coughing, neither of which are relaxing or soothing things to do!

I’ve only seen perfumers alcohol on line so if you are putting together a last minute gift, just go for the vodka, you can pick that up almost anywhere and if it isn’t something that the adults in your home enjoy, you can get the little bitty bottles at your local adult beverage store.

Let us know how your diffusers turn out. Send us pictures. We love to see your handy work!

 

 

Spicy/Sweet Nuts

There are probably a million recipes for spicy and/or sweet nuts available on line.

Why in the world would you bother with the recipe that I am going to share with you? Well, reason number one, you’re here and the recipe is here, why not try this one, rather than spend time looking somewhere else. Reason two; I am one of those people who believes that if I can do it, anyone can do it.

For some reason making my own spiced nuts seemed intimidating. Most of the recipes I saw involved egg whites and hour long baking with multiple stirrings. Once I found this recipe and discovered  it was very good and very easy, I wanted to admit my fear out loud so if there are others out there hiding their fear they will know they aren’t the only ones and it indeed can be done.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cup of pecan halves
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Cayenne pepper (optional to taste-

I used a bit more than ¼ teaspoon)

Here’s what you do:

  • In a small dish combine the sugar and the cayenne (if using)
  • Place pecans and sugar in a skillet over medium high heat
  • Stir occasionally until sugar is melted and pecans are coated. I used a nonstick pan but then worried that the sugar scraping the pan before it melted would scratch my pan. I think it was fine but you may want to use a regular skillet without the nonstick coating, just in case!

 

  • When the nuts are coated (be sure to get them off the heat before they burn), spread them on a piece of parchment paper or silicone pad and cool completely.
  • Note: There are recipes out there that call for some butter but the nuts themselves are oily enough, it is quite easy to overcook butter and once you make them this way you will know the butter in the other recipes is simply overkill!
  • Let me suggest that you only use nut halves and not pieces. The coating is crisp and the pecan halves give a nice bite to counteract the crispy outer shell. Pieces can be too crunchy for my taste

Feel free to mix things up a bit and try other spices. Let us know what works for you so we can get in on the yummy!

 


Bath Salts

Many people are much more into showers than baths these days but everyone could use something nice to add to a warm foot soak. The salt relieves tired and sore muscles, the baking soda softens the water and soothes the skin. The right scent can give you a lift or ease your mind. Complete the gift with some foot care tools, towels and lotions.

Here’s what you need:

  • Epson Salts- available in the pharmacy section

of almost any store

  • Essential oils
  • Baking soda
  • Attractive air tight glass container

Here’s what you do:

  • Pour enough 3 cups of salt into the resealable bag (make a bigger batch if you want to use the same scent, or smaller to customize for each person on your list)
  • Add ½ cup of baking soda  to the bag.
  • Add 10 drops of the essential oil.
  • Seal the bag and shake to distribute the oil. If you open the bag and the scent isn’t strong enough, add a bit more oil (up to 15 drops total).
  • Feel free to add a drop or two of food coloring to compliment your scent. I personally pass on this step because I fear I would add too much and cause a stain! I know it’s silly but I’ve seen the effects of too many “washable” markers and paints to take a chance on food coloring!
  • Pour the scented salt into the container with a tight fitting lid.
  • Make a note that lets your gift receiver know that for each gallon of very warm/hot water, add 1/8 to ¼ cup scented salts and enjoy!

Note: Be aware of sensitivity to the fragrance you choose. Peppermint is a traditional “foot care” scent but health food stores have an abundance of choices. Mix, match, come up with a combination that suits your senses.

Let us know if you come up with a scent combination you are excited about sharing. We’d love to try it for ourselves!