Hand Print Christmas Tree

When Peyton was almost 3 years old, I was ambitious and we made this hand print Christmas tree:

And he loved it.
Somehow I packed it away carefully every year. And it still looks great and he's always so happy when we bring it out.

This year Ella is almost 4. We still hadn't made one for her, because somewhere along the line I lost the ambition that made me want to cut out 50,000 hand prints. But it was time for me to step up and do the right thing. She wanted one just like Peyton's, except with pink and purple ornaments. Of course.

Sometimes I'm all: "Yay! Crafts! Let's make something big!" And sometimes that's just dumb. These hand print trees are the perfect example of my stupidity. I love that they are really big - almost 3 feet tall, but the cutting, OH THE CUTTING! and the almost-blisters from all the cutting. The lesson being, you may want to make yours on a smaller scale. But since I had made Peyton's so big, you know, back in my ambitious days, I had to make Ella's the same size so that they couldn't accuse me of favoritism in therapy later. It's all about protecting myself.

Hand Print Christmas Tree

1 large piece poster paper
Lots of green card stock (depending on how big you make the tree)
1 piece brown card stock
1 piece yellow card stock
2-3 pieces colored card stock (for the ornaments - use the colors your child likes)
Markers or crayons
Glue Stick

Cut the poster paper into a large triangle. The bigger the triangle, the more hand prints you will need to cut out. I'm not sending you any blister salve should you choose to make a big tree, dang!

Cut a rectangle out of the brown card stock and glue it to the bottom of the triangle to make the tree trunk.
Cut a star out of the yellow card stock and set it aside.

Give your child the colored card stock and markers or crayons let the decorating begin!
For the younger kids: give your child the entire sheet of paper to mark on, then you can cut out circles when she's done.
For the older kids: Ella was able to trace a glass, cut the circle, and then decorate. I helped her out with some of the cutting, but she was pretty proud of what she accomplished on her own.

Trace your child's hands onto a piece of green card stock. Stack as many pieces of green card stock as you can and start cutting. We used three shades of green, because we're fancy like that.

Start at the bottom of the white poster paper triangle, and glue on a row of hand prints. You'll want them to overlap a little so that no white shows. Continue to glue rows of hand prints until you cover the entire white triangle.

Glue the star to the top and glue on your child's ornaments. And don't forget to write your child's name and date on the back!

Happy Christmas!

Brought To You By the Letter "I"

Last week was represented by the letter "I" in Peyton's kindergarten class. Each week, a different parent is in charge of bringing in a couple foods that start with that week's letter. And you're supposed to try to bring in fruits and vegetables and new foods that the kids might not have had before. And you're also supposed to bring in some facts about whatever you bring. "I" week was my week, so I brought Iceberg lettuce and Peyton, Ella, and I made Irish soda bread.

I know you're waaaaaay smarter than a kindergartner, but I bet you didn't know:

Iceberg lettuce got its name from the way it was shipped in the old train carriages that used to transport it to the markets. Since there was no refrigeration, ice was piled on the cartons of lettuce to keep it cold. When the train carriages were opened to unload the lettuce, they looked as if they were filled with ‘icebergs’. That’s the reason we now call it Iceberg lettuce.

You can go ahead and file that under: Useless information. And also, I totally plagiarized that info from some website.

And I know what you are probably thinking - LAMEST POST EVER! Why should you care about what stupid "I" food I took to Peyton's class, right?

This is why you should care: IRISH SODA BREAD! I never would have made it except for this letter "I" nonsense. Irish soda bread is delicious! It almost tastes like buttermilk biscuits. If I ever end up on death row and I'm requesting my last meal you can bet buttermilk biscuits with butter and honey will be the base of that meal. I'm not the only one who has already decided on my death row meal, right? RIGHT?!?

Whatever. Anyway, I had never had it before, so I was kind of excited to make it. I got the recipe from Allrecipes. There are a bunch, so I just picked one and went for it.
Oh. Freakin. Yum.

I know there are probably a zillion more ways to make it, and Peyton's teacher even told me she puts beer in hers. Which, for some reason, made me love her even more. And I don't even like beer. When she told me about it in the children-lined hallway, she felt the need to be a responsible adult and whisper the word "beer." But I barely heard her, so I stupidly repeated, "EH? WHAT'S THAT? YOU PUT BEER IN YOUR BREAD?" Sometimes I'm such a jackass.

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Irish Soda Bread

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup butter, melted


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in butter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor.

Makes 1 loaf.


Craft Kit for Kids GIVEAWAY! (CLOSED)

AND THE WINNER IS.... Katie, Kevin, and Kids!
Katie, please contact me to get your prize!

I'm having MY FIRST GIVEAWAY! I know, right? It's AWESOME.

AND CHECK THIS OUT! My $13 Paper Wall tutorial has been chosen as one of the Top 10 posts featured on the Design Dazzle blog. Design Dazzle is a beautiful, wonderful blog and I am so thrilled!

Here's what Design Dazzle is doing: The tutorial with the most comments between Monday, November 16th and Friday, November 20th at 1 pm will be on their Design Dazzler Wall of Fame.

So here's what I did: I totally rigged my Kid Kit Giveaway to run during the voting time on Design Dazzle. If you go over there and leave a comment on MY TUTORIAL post I will give you 5 extra entries to my giveaway here. Yay for you!

AND THERE'S MORE! There is a total of $500 in prizes to be won by those leaving comments on the nominees' posts at Design Dazzzle! All the details are here. So we all want ME to win so that YOU can win. Right? See how we need to work together on this one?


One winner will get to choose any Kid Kit from my Smart-Bottom Kids shop! (Does not include Party Sets.)

Here are just a few samples of what my kits can make:

You'll want to go to my shop to check them all out before you decide.

Because there are a bunch more to choose from at Smart-Bottom Kids!

Here are the Fancy Rules:

* Make sure to leave separate comment for each entry; otherwise it won't count!

* In your comment, please include an email address if it is not visible in your profile so I can reach you.

* The giveaway ends on Monday, November 23th at 11:59 pm CST. One winner will be selected using random.org.

* The winner has 48 hours to answer my email or new winner will be drawn.

* Entries only for the US and Canada.

Here’s How to Enter:

* Mandatory Entry:

- Visit SmartBottomKids. Look at all of my Craft Kits for Kids and let me know in a comment which is your favorite.

* Additional Extra Entries:

- 1 Extra Entry each - Follow my blog or Sign up for email updates.

- 1 Extra Entry - Follow me on twitter and tweet the following (You may tweet daily):
@andthencrafts Awesome Craft Kit for Kids GIVEAWAY! It's Quality Time Made Simpler! http://tinyurl.com/yfl44wv

- 2 Extra Entries - Post about this giveaway on your blog (with a link) on your site and provide your blog link in your comments.

- 1 Extra Entry - Add my button to your blog or website.

- 5 Extra Entries - Purchase from SmartBottomKids and let me know.

- 5 Extra Entries - Until Friday, November 20th at 1 pm: Leave a comment for my $13 wall post at Design Dazzle. You can leave a comment over there once a day! (For every comment on my post at Design Dazzle you get 5 entries here! That's up to 25 extra entries!)

Please make sure that each entry is its own comment!


How Princesses and Army Men Coexist

See if you can see the similarities between what Peyton and Ella dressed up as for Halloween...

Peyton - Green Army Man
Ella - Sleeping Beauty

And what I found the other day after they had been playing together quietly in Ella's room:

And just so you know, the Green Army Men are always the good guys and the Tan Army Men are always the bad guys. It's all so clear when you're 5.

I mean, c'mon! Does it get any cuter than army men positioned perfectly in the drawer of a ballerina jewelry box? No. It just doesn't.

The whole army man thing started last year. I took Peyton to Hobby Lobby to pick out decorations for his birthday party. He saw an Army Man party set and it was all over.

Peyton wanted me to take this next picture: "Watch out for the bomb!"

Those kids spend hours setting up and then blowing up each other's army men. And then playing doll house. And then shooting up more army men. At least they're learning how to take turns. And coexist peacefully. Relatively speaking.

I never pushed the boy/gun stuff or the girl/princess stuff with my kids. But it doesn't really matter, does it? They find it on their own.

Fancying It Up - Green Style

So I used to package my Craft Kits for Kids in cute little reusable Rubbermaid containers. And then, about 2 weeks ago, they stopped making them. Just in time for me NOT to be able to package my kits for my Big Craft Fair of the Year. Perfect timing, Rubbermaid. Thanks for that.

I scrambled, SCRAMBLED! to find new containers. Because I needed about 200 of them right this very second for the fair.

But the truth is, I had wanted to change up my packaging for quite some time. This just forced me to get my butt in gear. That's the way life is, right?

So I spent hours upon hours searching online stores for a container that had the dimensions I needed.
And it needed to be cost effective.
And it needed to be cute.
And I just about lost my mind.
And that is when I found my perfect craft kit container.

And the best part is: It's biodegradable!

The container is made from corn. It's called PLA, which is a plastic-like resin that is fully biodegradable in 45-60 days. I can't believe how excited I am about this. And proud, too! I just feel like I'm doing the right thing.

Check out my Fish Aquarium Kit in its new Saving the World Container:

And look at all the stuff that fits inside!

And I love how the containers are crystal clear:

Here is it in real life when it's all packed up:

Which is good because every single person who approached my booth at the Big Craft Fair picked up a kit to peer inside and see all the goodies. They also all had to pick up and touch the sample crafts I had. It's funny how we just have to touch things, right?

Here's the bottom:

The top sticker is me bowing down to the CPSIA man:

Peyton drew the picture. Isn't he awesome? I love it!

The bottom sticker is because I have to. Blah.

And yeah, I had a blast at the Craft Fair! I sold tons of kits and got to talk with so many great people. It thrills me to know that I'm making kids happy and making parents' lives easier one Saving the World Craft Kit at a time.

Leaf Suncatcher Kid Kit

The perfect craft kit for fall! These leaf suncatchers are simply beautiful. And the kit makes four of them - oh, the opportunities!

My kids and I made a set of them about a year ago and stuck them up on our basement window. They are still there. I just can't get tired of looking at them. The sun shines through and brings out the fall colors of the leaves and the bling of the sequins and it's just a pretty sight.
I think it's cool when kids can make something that is really, really beautiful. Because everything our kids make is wonderful (of course), but when they create something that would impress Martha Stewart, that's a whole different level of awesome.

Peyton and Ella love making leaf suncatchers and they love hanging them in windows all over the house. Over the years, we've made dozens of them. Seriously! We made a new set just a few days ago. I've explained about a hundred times that they can sprinkle the sequins on the glue to make it easy, but they'll have none of it. They insist on carefully placing each and every sequin:

Look at the concentration!

And I love how something that starts off looking like this:

Turns into this:

Except the Before picture is Peyton's and the After picture is Ella's, but you get the idea, right? You can see both of their finished leaves in this picture (Peyton's is the top right and Ella's is the bottom right, I did the others.):

So pretty!

Happy Crafting!