December has been a little crazy for me. I have been hard at work making Christmas gifts (which I'll share in upcoming weeks), preparing for my AFCI presentation, and doing a massive reorganization of all my craft tutorials. Remember the HUGE undertaking I did back in June to create the US Travel page of my website? Well, this is bigger. Much bigger.
If you click on that photo, it will take you to a page with photos of my Christmas crafts, with links to each individual photo. But that's not all. I've done the same for the rest of the holidays and seasons. It's still a work in progress, but I will eventually have a gallery-style index of all my craft tutorials. It's been a ridiculous amount of work, but I am so happy with the results. Check out the progress of my Crafts by Holiday/Topic page!
I will be taking a week-long break from blogging. Merry Christmas to you all! And thank you for supporting My Creative Life.
Cut the white felt to size and wrap it around the popcorn box.
Wrap yellow felt around the bottom 2/3 of the popcorn box.
Glue the eyes onto the white felt.
Cut a black beak and glue it where the white and yellow felt meet.
Cut a pair of wings from the blue felt and glue them to the sides of the box.
Pop the popcorn. Place each color of candy melts in a separate bowl and melt them, following the package instructions. Pour popcorn into the melted coating and stir. Spread the popcorn onto parchment paper to dry.
Fill the popcorn box with popcorn. When you reach the top, arrange the colors so that yellow is on the outside, then green, and blue in the center.
Have you ever had cake for dinner? I'm guessing most of you have, at one time or another.
But that isn't actually cake. Did it fool you? It's cornbread. I used the mixer to whip a ton of air into a pat of butter, then spread it on the cornbread just like frosting a cake. Serve it on a paper plate and stick a fork in it and it looks just like a piece of cake.
This cornbread was 1/3 of a cake-themed dinner that I made for Jonna's birthday. It was the most successful, appearance-wise, of the three dishes I attempted. Would the other two "cakes" have fooled you? Any guesses what they are?
The 'cake' on the dark blue plate is meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I used this recipe. It tasted great, but as you can see, it doesn't quite pass as cake. That is because I put it together while the meatloaf was straight out of the oven and mashed potatoes were really hot. There's a reason you cool cake completely before frosting it. If I'd let both components cool, I could have made a passable cake, but then we would have had to eat cold meatloaf and mashed potatoes. No thank you.
The 'cake' on the light blue plate is a parmesan spinach cake, 'frosted' with whipped ricotta. Rather than letting the spinach cool completely, I immediately covered it with ricotta. And, of course, the ricotta did not want to spread beautifully on a 400° spinach cake. Nor did I want to serve cold spinach cakes. Trade offs.
I highly recommend having 'cake' for dinner sometime!
Our next virtual adventure through Little Passports brought us to Arkansas. I've never been there and know very little about it, so I found it especially interesting. Trevor and I started off by building a model of a fiddle.
You have to supply your own sound.
We learned about Bathhouse Row, the fancy old houses next to Hot Springs National Park. Trevor did an experiment to learn about dissolved minerals in water. He put equal amounts of water into two containers - one with hot water, and one with cold water. Then he dropped sugar cubes into each until no more would dissolve. Just like the mineral-rich water of Hot Springs National Park, the hot water was able to dissolve far more sugar than the cold water.
We read all about the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, then followed instructions to decode one of Arkansas' nicknames. We read that Little Rock got its name from a rock located at the spot where early explorers started a settlement. We learned that there are 52 state parks in Arkansas with a wide variety of outdoor activities to enjoy and solved a maze about mountain biking in the Ouachita Mountains.
Next, we read about famous events in Arkansas history. We did a crossword puzzle about the Ozark Folk Center, and learned that Arkansas has an official state cooking pot. (It's the Dutch oven, familiar to Boy Scout Trevor.) We solved a math puzzle based on The Crater of Diamonds. Trevor said that when we travel to Arkansas someday, we're definitely going there! We learned how to draw a razorback, the wild boars that are common in Arkansas.
The recipe in the Arkansas journal is inspired by the Pink Tomato Festival that takes place each year. Trevor made a sandwich spread in the blender...
... cooked up cornmeal griddle cakes on the stove...
... and sliced tomatoes, then assembled the whole thing into a sandwich.
As always, Trevor and I learned so much during our virtual travels. We're both really excited about planning a visit to Arkansas in the future. Huge thanks to Little Passports for teaching us so much about this interesting state!
'Tis the season for ugly Christmas sweaters! Or, as I prefer to call them, festive Christmas sweaters. Back in my teaching days, I wore my festive Christmas sweaters to work throughout December. I'm a fan.
I'm also a fan of this garland. I had a great time making it and I love the way it looks hanging up. I'm going to be adding to it to make it longer, but I wanted to share it asap so that you could make your own.
Ugly (Festive!) Christmas Sweater Garland
Cut the copy paper in half lengthwise to make two 4.25" x 11" rectangles. You need one rectangle per chain of four sweaters.
Fold the paper in half widthwise, then again, and a third time. Open the paper and use the fold lines as guides to fold the paper accordion-style.
Draw half of a sweater shape on one end of the accordion, as shown below. Make sure the arm is facing toward the unfolded edge.
Holding the folded paper together, cut out the sweaters. Microtip scissors work best for this. You'll end up with four connected sweaters.
Now use markers to decorate the sweaters! Anything goes. I used Crayola's scented markers specifically so that the wreath and Christmas tree would smell like pine. It's the little things.
Finally, add Stickles. You can't have too much glitter on a festive Christmas sweater!
During our October trip, we toured the Capitol buildings in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. This brings the total number of Capitols we've visited as a family up to 15, all in the last four years! Before we started visiting them, I expected that the Capitol buildings would be more similar than different. Large, rectangular, white, dome on top, grand staircase... that sort of thing. Some do look like that, but plenty don't. We really enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between the different Capitols. It's fascinating how much they vary in size, style, function, public access... and level of security!
Here we are at all of the Capitol buildings we've visited in the past 4 years, starting with our own.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Juneau, Alaska (closed for renovations)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Des Moines, Iowa
Carson City, Nevada
Trenton, New Jersey
It wasn't until we'd been to a handful of Capitols that we thought about a way to keep track of which ones we'd visited. I didn't want to start a separate album - some sort of small book would be better. In Iowa, we discovered The Capitol Collection at the gift shop. Perfect!!
This small, spiral-bound book is lightweight and easy to carry on our travels. There is a 2-page spread for each state, with information about that state and a place to stamp the book during each visit. We bought the book after we'd been to quite a few Capitols, some of which we were unlikely to ever revisit. Would those pages remain blank? No! What I love most about The Capitol Collection is that once you buy it, you can request a sticker version of each of the stamps that you are missing. Just supply the date you visited and the stickers come in the mail. Here you can see the California page. I've attached the California sticker; the Wyoming, Iowa, and Utah stickers are ready to stick in place.
You can buy The Capitol Collection at some Capitol's gift shops, or at thecapitolcollection.com. No affiliate link, unfortunately, because I've recommended it to a lot of people and now I'm sharing it with you all! It would make a neat gift for kids, retirees, or anyone who enjoys travel.
Visit my US Travel page to read about our family's travels to the Capitols and other places in the United States. You'll also find gift recommendations for travelers, crafts inspired by each state, and ideas for documenting your own travels.