Tie-Dyed Sock Monkey

Just before Christmas, my daughter decided that she wanted to make my nephew a sock monkey as a gift. She decided that she wanted to use tie-dyed socks rather than the usual red-heeled brown ones, so we dyed up a couple of pair unevenly in shades of blue and purple.

I made a sock monkey several years ago and remembered most of the basics, but I found that the instructions from sockmonkey.net were also very helpful.

We only had to make a few changes to use our hand-dyed socks. We liked the colors of the right side of the ribbed cuff part of the socks, but preferred the colors and fuzzy texture of the wrong side of the sock for the rest of the body. After a bit of brainstorming, we decided to try cutting the socks apart and sewing them back together to get the look we wanted. Here a few pictures:

The cut pair of socks:

Sewing the new inside to the new outside- I used a narrow zig-zag stitch for this:

The new “wrong side:”

The new “right side:”

And here’s one more picture of the finished monkey:

My daughter did quite a bit of the sewing and I stepped in to help on some tricky parts. Mr. Monkey was finished just in time, on Christmas Eve. These pictures were taken quickly in very bad light and we didn’t get any pictures after we put some clothes on him, but they give the general idea of what our monkey guy looked like. He was a big hit with my nephew, which made all the last -minute sewing worthwhile!

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All Natural Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

My daughter had a party to attend today and decided that she wanted to bring Reindeer cookies.  These are a favorite at our house and have been for several years, ever since the first year that I found the recipe in an ad in a magazine.  Over the years, I’ve made a couple of simple changes to the recipe to make them all natural.  Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup softened butter

3/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1-1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

Mini pretzel twists

Pink and brown Sunspire Sundrops

Preheat oven to 375.  Beat together butter, peanut butter, sugar and egg.  Stir in flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Divide dough into 24 balls.  Then divide each of those balls into two balls, one that’s a little larger than the other.  Place the larger ball on top of the smaller one on a cookie sheet like this:

Now press the balls and flatten them slightly like this:

Next, press pretzel twists into the dough to make antlers like this:

Now, bake cookies for 10-12 minutes.  Pull them out of the oven, and immediately press sundrops into the still- soft cookies to make the eyes and nose, as seen in the top picture.  Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before carefully removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.  If you use M&M’s for the eyes and nose, you can press them in before baking, but pressing them in after works better for me with the Sundrops.

Both of my kids love these and they are always a hit when we bring them to a party!

Easy Salt Dough Ornaments

My daughter and I have recently been having fun making simple cookie-cutter ornaments out of salt dough.  These are a few that my daughter has recently finished:

The recipe is really simple:

Stir together:

1 cup salt

1 cup warm water

Let this sit for a minute or two to allow the salt to dissolve a bit.

Add:

2 cups flour

Stir together, then use your hands to knead it together until it smooth and soft.  Add a bit more flour if it is too sticky.

This dough can be used lots of different ways, but most recently we have been rolling it out like cookie dough and using cookie cutters to make shapes that we bake until they are hard and then decorate with paint.

Make sure that if making ornaments, a hole is made so that a ribbon can be pulled through for hanging.  A straw works well for this.

The recipe I have says to bake at 200 degrees for 1-4 hours.  In our experience, it’s never baked enough after 1 hour and sometimes even needs a little longer than 4.  We usually turn the ornaments over every hour or so and then keep checking them to see when they are completely dry.  They can always be put back into the oven again later if some moist spots are still there when they cool.

When the ornaments are completely cool and dry, we painted them with a coat or two of white acrylic paint as a base coat.  When that is dry, paint as desired.

We used a version of this as an activity for 2 and 3 year olds at our church.  My daughter and I cut out star shapes and then found a bottle lid that was about 1 inch wide.  We pressed this into the center of the star to make a depression.

We then painted them with a base coat of white paint.  We then let the kids paint them with either gold or opal glitter glue ( or often, a mix of both:) ).  Ahead of time, we took pictures of the kids that we sized down to 1″ circles to fit the size of the inset.  We printed a couple of sheets of these at the photo shop of a local drugstore and then cut them out to be glued to the center of the circles.  We also made a few nativity image circles so that we would have choices for visitors that we hadn’t been able to photograph or for kids to use if they wanted to make several.  Here’s a blurred view of the 4 by 6 photo sheet:

The final result looks like this, although the shimmer of the opal glitter doesn’t show up well in this photo: