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Christmas Ornaments

We ended up having a change of plans today and didn’t get the chane to make the cheez-its. We’ll just have to try again tomorrow. Until then, I’ll keep posting previous crafts.

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Both my Dad’s family and my Father in law’s family have a tradition of giving ornaments to the kids at Christmas. I always loved getting to pick out a handmade ornament from grandma and another from one of my aunts. By the time we got married my wife and I could have each had a pretty full Christmas tree and even with a decently large tree we had to choose which ones were going to make it onto the tree. So, once we had our son I knew that I had to start a tradition of making ornaments with him to give out to family members. Even though we had a few months since he was born in August we were too overwhelmed to try to make anything that first year. Luckily we’ve gotten into a nice groove and have been blessed with an exceptionally mild tempered little man.

I’ve found out that you can never overestimate the time that you’ll need to do a craft with a one year old helping you. Since we were doing about 20 of them I gave myself a few months and still barely got them all finished in time. We’re about to start on the ones for this year and hope that we don’t end up finishing at the last minute again.

1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
You may have to add a little more water to get the right consistency. You want it slightly damp so that it can be rolled out without cracking, but you don’t want it to be sticky either.
Knead everything into a dough ball and then roll it out. I found that putting a little more flour on it like I was rolling out pizza dough helped.
Now, this is the part that you want to have help if you can get it. It’s much easier to have someone else hold your child in a Superman pose while you press their hand into the dough. You want a nice deep impression, but make sure that you leave a decently thick amount of dough under the handprint or it will tear when you try to move it. Pressing on top of wax paper worked well for me. That let me pick up the print and just peel the paper off the back before putting it on the cookie sheet.
Next poke a straw into the dough about where the wrist would be to make a hole for the ribbon. Then I used a paring knife to trim around the hand print.
Bake at 200 for about 3 hours and then flip them and bake for another couple of hours. Once they have dried out pull them out of the oven and let them cool.

A cheap set of paint brushes, some small bottles of acrylic paint (white, red, black, and beige), brush on Mod Podge, spray on Mod Podge, and a small spool of ribbon completed the project.

Luckily I had some clean milk caps the I had saved to let my boy use as coins in his “piggy bank”, which was just an old wipe container. They worked great to hold the paint since I was only using a small amount at a time. For each color I would do one coat on each print and by the time I was done the first print was ready for a second print. I gave myself extra time between colors just to make sure that they didn’t bleed, but if you don’t slop it on there it doesn’t take long to dry.

Getting “the look” was easier once I had done the first one and could have it sitting there as a reference when I painted the subsequent batches.
A small strip of beige across the “face” to make the skin.
Then I did the white in the tip of the thumb on top of the beige for the fur trim and along all the fingers for the beard (put a little bump in the center of the beard for his mustache).
Next came the red for his hat and a small dot at the top of the mustache bump for his nose.
A thin paint brush for the black to use to outline parts of his face, make the mustache, and hide any mistakes along the fur trim. Plus a couple of eyes.
Lastly mix a bit of the red and white to make some pink to give Santa his rosy cheeks.
I used a black sharpie to put my son’s name on the back and the date.

Give the ornament plenty of time to dry then give it all a nice coating with the Mod Podge brush on sealant to protect it. That will stay slightly sticky so once that has dried spray the Mod Podge spray on it for a smooth glossy texture.

Time to decorate!

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I’ve been a pretty good cook and baker since I started getting into it in my early teens. I don’t know why it took until I had a child to decide that I wanted to be able to decorate as well. This is my first attempt to do any kind of decorating with a cake. I’m going to need a lot of practice before I can produce anything good, but luckily my son isn’t a harsh critic.

I found the recipe for the cake here Life Love and Sugar

I didn’t make any changes to the recipe at all a and it was amazing. A warning though, it is super rich. This is the first time that I was unable to finish a slice of cake. Half of a normal slice came out just right.

My wife and I want our son to have a healthier relationship with food than we do so we are beginning to experiment with clean eating and cutting way down on the amount of processed foods that we eat. Tomorrow I’m going to start trying to make homemade snacks for our son starting with cheez-its. After that we’ll move up to graham crackers and hopefully goldfish crackers and animal crackers with the actual shapes that you can get in the store.

Cookie Monster Cozy Coupe

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Good news! Using the app I’ve figured out how to add multiple pictures to my posts. I’ll have to go back and add pictures to my other posts.

No cute story this time. I just wanted to make a Cookie Monster and hopefully sell for the amount of money that I put into it.

A couple of days watching Craigslist provided a 30th anniversary cozy coupe that already had the eyes. Took off the gas cap and steering wheel using the technique described in the Mickey Mouse post (sorry I don’t know how to link to it yet) and removed the screws holding down the eyes. A couple of cans of blue Krylon Fusion for the body. A can of white on the gas cap and eyes to clean them up and then a sharpie and some black acrylic paint for the pupils of his eyes and to draw on the mouth.

Only thing left to do was to take a few pictures and put it back on Craigslist.

Mickey Mouse Cozy Coupe

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My second attempt at renovating a cozy coupe went more smoothly than the first, but I learned even more along the way. This time I did some research into taking a cozy coupe apart since I wanted the roof a different color than the body.

The first using a pair of pliers and a screw driver to remove the gas cap. There are four prongs that have to be pushed, one at a time, toward the center of the cap while you pull up to get past the lip of plastic. The steering wheel can come out by turning the car upside down and squeezing to plastic pieces on the shaft to let it slide out of the hole. Getting the roof detached was just a matter of taking out two screws behind the headrest and lifting the back of the roof up. This rotated it enough for the front supports to pop out of their holes.

Someone that knows more about tools than I do could have probably done this next part more easily but I’m more of a baker than a craftsman. I cut a long strip of cardboard from a box, soaked it in water and set it on the roof of the car where I wanted to place the ears. When it dried I was able to use it to trace the curve of the roof onto a pice of cardboard and ten draw a template for the ears. That also let me hold that up to the car to make sure that they looked right. Then it was off to my brother in law’s house for help cutting out the ears out of 3/4″ plywood. A few quick passes with the sander and they were nice and smooth. Drilled a couple of pilot holes and using 4″ screws and washers to keep the screw heads from digging into the roof of the car and it was time to paint.

Once again using the Krylon fusion I was able to use one can of red and about a can and a half of black finish it up. I found out the hard way though that they weren’t kidding about it taking a full week for the paint to be chip resistant and had to touch up parts after putting the roof back on. Turns out taking it apart is much easier then putting it back together, but that’s true of most things. A couple of 4″ white vinyl circles later and Mickey was ready to become a birthday present for my cousin’s son.

Mickey was a huge hit and I’ve been told that the birthday boy has even been demanding to take his meals in there.

I’ve been asked to do a Minnie Mouse and will post that when it’s done. I have the bow and ears ready and I’m just waiting on the cozy coupe from the friends that want it done.

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My nephew donated his old cozy coupe to my son and I wanted to fix it up for him.  I had seen a Batmobile cozy coupe on Pinterest and since I love Batman I decided that this would be perfect.

I wanted to keep my cost down so I decided to use painter’s tape instead of trying to find and but decals the right size.  So, the first step was to measure the doors to see how large of a logo I should use.  Then it was off to Google image search to find the right logo.  I had no idea that there were as many different logos as there are.  Once I found this one I copied it into a word program and set the view to “actual size”.  This let me resize the image as many times as I needed while I held my tape measurer to my monitor to get it right.  Then I printed out copies for the sides, front, roof, and headrest. A plastic grocery bag tied over each wheel was a super easy way to keep the paint off of them. I used the Krylon Fusion and had great success with getting it to bond to the plastic.  I sprayed yellow where I wanted the logos, the seat, gas cap, and supports. Once it was dry I used painters tape to cover an area larger then the printed logo, taped the logo over the painters tape, and proceeded to use my box cutter to cut out the logo (I have since bought an x-acto knife and would recommend that you do the same). Peel off the excess tape, cover the supports and gas cap with tape and two cans of black spray paint later we had a Batmobile. A sharpie worked perfectly for the license plate.

Thanks to Craigslist I’ve been able to purchase and renovate a couple more cozy coupes and was able to figure out how to take them apart to make it easier, but that’s info for another post.

The experiment begins…

I’ve been a father for almost two years now and have been a stay at home father for the last year.  In that time I’ve been trying to find the best activities, crafts, projects, and baked goods for my son.  Right now it’s mostly been me making things for him, but as he’s getting older he’s taking part in more of the activities.  Hopefully my experiences can be useful to other parents looking to make the most of their time with their children.  So far it’s all crafts, but we are trying our hand at what my wife tells me is “clean eating”.  I am excited to try making my own graham crackers, goldfish, other snacks though.  With some trial and error we’ll see if I can make something edible and interesting.