Thursday, December 15, 2011

Giftmaking, redux (part 2 of 4)

Hmm, let's see now, what all did we get up to that day.... Well.

Well, we did make jigsaw puzzles. That was really fun. This is a project that I flat-out stole from Jack McKee's great book, "Woodshop for Kids" (lots and LOTS of great project ideas in there, and handy info on teaching kids to use tools wisely and well, too). I cut a puzzle 'blank' out of thin plywood and they sawed that blank all to bits with the coping saw. And then put those bits back together, painted them up, and voila! Homemade wooden puzzle, quite nice.

We also whipped up some peppermint creams, which was a recipe that I also scavenged from the amazing cookbook, River Cottage Family Cookbook (LOVE this book and all the amazing photos... so inspiring and enticing!). They're awesome because you're really essentially making ultra sweet peppermint edible playdough... which then dries into a melt-in-your-mouth little treat.
Peppermint Creams
2 c. powdered sugar
1 egg white
Peppermint essence
A few drops of cooking oil
Green food coloring (optional)

Mix up the sugar and egg white and peppermint and food coloring, if using... you will probably have to resort to squishing it together with your hands in the end, 'til all becomes a cohesive blob. Add powdered sugar as needed so that it's no longer sticking to your hands, but is easy to mold and work with, like play dough. You can then roll out the dough and use a tiny cookie cutter or jar lid to cut into nice little bite-sized uniform pieces, or you can just let the kids mold them into whatever shapes they want... which is what I did. They didn't look as pretty but believe me, they still got eaten. Rub a few drops of oil onto the piece of wax paper you have lined your cookie sheet with for easy removal.

We then dipped them in chocolate, which I had melted in this little crockpot. Optional of course, and I think this crockpot runs a little hot because the chocolate, by the time we got to it, was not smoothy, shiny, and looking forward to coating our delicious little treats, but rather in a more chunky, hard to work with state.... I shan't be using that crockpot for projects such as this again.

We also made fizzy bath salts, which I didn't manage to capture a photo of, but they are always a guaranteed hit and much easier to make than fizzy bath bombs, I believe.

There's lots of recipes out there, but here's the one that I like:

Fizzy Bath Salts
4 c. epsom salts
2 c. baking soda
1 c. citric acid
40 drops of essential oil ( I used pine tree and lavender, for a kind of holidays/ decompression blend)
food coloring optional

The food coloring might not show up in the mix, (and don't add too much, or the liquid will 'activate' the citric acid and the whole thing will fizz up and any fizzy action at a later date will be lost) but it will color the water when it goes into the bath. What could a parent or a teacher want MORE than a mix that will magically turn their bath into a fizzing purple whirlpool? Quite fun. Citric acid can be a little hard to find, but it is sometimes found in the kosher section of the supermarket as sour salt, and I also have seen it in the bulk spice section of our local gourmet grocery, Central Market.

Have fun, intrepid gifters~ more coming soon!


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