Twill Tape! Thanks to all of you for your great suggestions. It turned out really cute-- like upstaging the tree cute-- like I wanted to keep it myself cute. Guess I need to make another one for the other six trees like that I have in the basement. (too much coffee + internet shopping + good deal = many holiday trees)
So, I fused tree shapes to a little skirt made of cotton batting, and stitched through the middle of them. I also printed the kids names on twill tape (using transfer paper from JoAnn's), made little tree trunks out of them, and stitched them on. Finally, I printed the name of the school and the year on twill tape and stitched it on. I could tell the teacher really liked it, so that made it even more special. Thanks to all of you for your help! I wouldn't have thought of doing it this way otherwise.
I wanted to give Elliot's pre-school teacher this little winter tree, and of course planned to make a little treeskirt with each kid's first name on it (there are 17). Any ideas short of embroidery, cause that isn't happening at this late date (due tomorrow!).
If you're anything like me, you hate it when your kid comes up with a birthday theme that leaves you uninspired. But, I kinda figure, it's his party, not mine, so I do the best I can to get a little creative with his ideas. As many of you know, our life around here is all about firefighters (and police men, and heroes), so a Fireman Birthday Party it was.
I couldn't handle the pre-packaged favor bags, so here is what I came up with. First of all, my In-Laws sent Elliot this adorable birthday card (above). A card that is actually a toy, brilliant. So, I took that card, and color-copyed it on our home office printer. I then ran the copies throught my Xyron machine and made magnets out of them (you could also run magnetic paper through your printer), cut them out, and put them in cellophane bags. This works with regular greeting cards, photocopies of library books, etc.
Next, I added a few inexpensive goodies-- wooden race cars from Target's $1 section (tricked out with wooden hearts from JoAnn's for the girls), candy canes, kraft paper favor bags from Target, and another color-copyed Fireman stuck to the front.
The kids topped homemade individual pizzas (maybe a little advanced for three year olds who didn't want to stop playing, but the five year old was game), had cupcakes and firetruck cookies from a fool-proof cut-out cookie recipe. Add a bottle of wine for the Mommies, fun, fun.
Fool-Proof Cut-Out Cookies
(sorry no pics, we ate them all)
This recipe is super easy and lasts a long time in the fridge, so make a batch and bake them up as needed. The original recipe is from Family Circle Magazine and credited to Francesca Bacon and Joy Nagy. They are sort of a vanilla-y shortbread with royal icing frosting (or whatever kind you prefer). In college I baked these more often than I went to class.
Dough: 1 1/2 C. Butter, room temperature 1 C. Granulated Sugar 1 L. Egg 1 t. Vanilla 1/2 t. Salt 4 C. All-Purpose Flour
Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in Egg, Vanilla, and Salt. Gradually add flour until well blended.
Divide dough into three balls, put on waxed paper, flatten into rounds and refrigerate at least one hour or until you want to use it.
Heat oven to 375, roll out to 1/4" thickness, cut with cookie cutters of choice, bake 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet until edges barely start to brown (watch the first batch because I like mine barely browned at all)- around 8-10 minutes depending on size of cookie. Remove to wire rack to cool.
Royal Icing Warning: Using raw egg white could be a health hazard to some people.
Egg Whites from 3 L. Eggs 1/2 t. Cream of Tartar 1 pound of Powdered Sugar
Beat Egg Whites and Cream of Tartar until frothy. Gradually add one pound of Powdered Sugar and beat 5-7 minutes or until stiff, glossy peaks form. (Original recipe says to store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, but I may be a little more cautious because of the raw egg whites) If icing separates, stir. Add water to thin as desired. (I added a decent amount of water because I like the icing a little thin. Just experiment and see what you like.) Use paste food coloring for the most intense colors.
Isn't it funny how kids seem to have a sense of what is going on even when no words are spoken? On Tuesday night, following the tremendously sad news, as Mommy wept at her computer, Elliot played rescue with his fire jeep on the floor. I hadn't watched any news stories about the search on TV, so I have to assume that my sweet boy heard me talking to my husband, or just knew something was wrong. That night, we had some pillow talk about firemen, and police men and heroes. And he looked at me with his big eyes in the dark and said-- "Mommy, heroes never give up?"
"That's right Sweetie, heroes never give up."
I hope-- and I am sure it is true-- that Kati and James were able to have moments of joy with their children even during this challenging time. Kids have such a way of bringing you back to the here and now, thank goodness for that. May Kati find strength in the eyes of her children, the beautiful, resilient creatures that they are.
Like most of you, I've fallen for Stephanie's soft trees, and needed to make a small army of them. But with the holidays and Elliot's birthday approaching, I really didn't need to take on an arbitrary project. Well, I decided to go ahead and make a few this past weekend and had a pleasant discovery. After completing the first three steps and popping it down on a table to show my husband, the trees stood on their own. Voila, no need for sewing on the bottom and stuffing, I just put some fill right inside and perched them on a shelf. Now, I was free to make even more than I intended! These are numbers 12, 13 and 14. The first 11 are made out of polarfleece in various festive shades, but when I remembered this cream wool that I bought a few years ago that didn't felt quite right, I knew I had to make a few more. The nice side benefit to these is that you can pack them flat for storage, or better yet, mail a few to a friend with instructions on making a winter wonderland-- maybe include some plastic deer, some fake snow, a little glitter? Your recipient can stuff them with the tissue paper used to pad the box.
PS- I am in now way implying these are an improvement on Stephanie's wonderful trees. As in everything she creates, her trees are beautiful (and huggable!).
One more thing-- This would only work with a fairly sturdy fabric. I used Malden Mills fleece and felted wool for mine.
This is the first snow that has actually stuck, even if only a wee bit. No matter what I've been doing these last few days, my mind keeps wandering back to the Kim family, missing on the Oregon coast for over a week now. The painful scenarios I play out are made even harder by the fact that I too am a young Mother. Can't imagine what has happened. Please keep them in your thoughts. And hug your little ones a little tighter.
On Thanksgiving day, I was the lucky recipient of this stunning pedestal, courtesy of my Uncle Bobby, who is lightening his load due to an upcoming retirement and likely move to a far away land. I admired it once on a visit to his house, and he brought it with him to dinner last week. Lucky me. He doesn't know that the real gift to me has been getting to know him better now that we live so near to each other. Thanks Bob...