How to Throw a Bookworm Baby Shower

PART_1437411309730_DSC_0007I’m not big on ceremonies that require a whole lot of pomp or tradition just for the sake of tradition (i.e. weddings, baby showers). Yes, even if they are my own. This probably makes me the least sentimental writer out there, but so you have it.

I knew I needed to have a baby shower though because I needed a lot of things for two babies, so I wanted to ensure it reflected me in some way. And however it reflected me needed to be something I planned to pass down to my chil’en. Thus, books became the theme.

The entire idea came together in pieces, but it all turned out pretty good. I think it started with the awesome books my roomies gifted me for my girls at the horror con.

Shark Vs. Train was hilarious and The Monster at the End of This Book was a great addition to any child's book collection. Funny and unique
Shark Vs. Train was hilarious and The Monster at the End of This Book was a unique addition to any child’s book collection.

To throw your own bookworm baby shower, here are the necessary components of such a shindig:

One pregnant chick:

Yes, my belly button is off center. Stare at it too long and you'll turn to stone.
Yes, my belly button is off center. Stare too long and you’ll turn to stone.

Two impending bookworms (or one in most cases):

If you look close, you can see their designations at the top. 'Baby A' and 'Baby B'
‘Baby A’ on the left and ‘Baby B’ on the right

Bookworms galore in the décor:

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We cut a gajillion of these cute little worms out.

Bookmark party favors:

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Got the idea for these badboys from Pinterest

Books (duh):

FOT139

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We used books underneath the colorful centerpieces my sister made, and the diaper raffle prize was even a book.

People:

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Well…there were a lot more people inside.

To humor your ridiculous love of books that you will either lovingly pass down to the next generation or shove down their throats.

Some of the excellent books we received for the girls in lieu of cards:

  • Animalia by Graeme Base
Probably my favorite illustrated children’s book. Pictures cannot do the book’s detail and thought justice
  • The Time Cat series by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You and On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
  • Grimm’s Fairy Tales
This is a gorgeous leather bound edition my sister-in-law got us for the girls.
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
  • The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
  • Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

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    This pretty and colorful collection of ‘Baby Lit’ is from a high school best friend
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The illustrations are beautiful and the structure perfect for primer books, specifically counting primers or opposites primers

There you have it, folks. All you need for a bona fide bookworm baby shower.

I’m Dreaming of a Homemade Christmas: Part 2

See that crazed gleam in her eye? Yeah, that’s me right now… Image found on chicagonow.com

I want to close out my Homemade Christmas blogs with three final projects. Again, for those of you that didn’t read Part 1 (but with that handy link, there’s really no excuse 😉 ), I will post links to the projects I found surfing around on the interwebs, and elaborate on the difficulty of acquiring materials and actually completing a project (yay for actually doing one of the crafts you’ve pinned on your Pinterest!). I will be giving these final projects a scoring based on my completely arbitrary scale of easy/affordable/worth-it homemade gifts.

  • Constellation Jars

In my last post, I gave a teaser for what I’d be covering in this second part to my Dreaming of a Homemade Christmas blog. In it, I ambitiously, perhaps arrogantly claimed constellation jars, are “totally as cool as they sound.” Guess what, folks? They were so not as cool as they sounded. Don’t get me wrong, awesome idea, end result was neat (I wouldn’t say awe-inspiring): A cool gift for a younger kid that they can use like a nightlight, and it’s even vaguely educational if you go all out and make a companion chart of the constellations you use. The author of the article didn’t do the constellations accurately because of the limited space, and I followed her example. You want to do the recognizable constellations, and of course, not all the cool ones are in the same slice of sky at any given time.

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Not quite what mine looked like.

This project didn’t require too many materials but a lot of work. I got the disposable roasting pans from walmart for $4. You need an awl, which I found at Hobby Lobby for under $2. I used the same tall jars I used for my peppermint hot cocoa mix, and these lights, the ones the author of the article recommeneded, fit fine in them. You’ll need three AAA batteries for each one of the lights.

Supplies aside, this project was time-consuming. First, you have to cut the foil to size. No big deal, until you realize phsyics are against you and cutting a perfectly shaped piece of foil for a cylindrical object is next to impossible. Next, you gotta post up at your laptop or computer and draw the constellations onto the side of the foil that will not be facing out. Tip: Draw them mirrored from what you’re seeing, because when you face them out, lo and behold, they are opposite…*grumbles about first attempt*. Punching the constellations into the foil was a workout I don’t want to repeat. For me, I didn’t like the way the constellations looked without linking them as the author did in the picture (she actually left hers as standalone stars, the constelation stars bigger (?) than the regular stars around and within the constellatins). So I connected the dots on mine. I like the way it looks more. This project ended up being a 6/10 for me. A lot of work and some worthwhile payoff. My 7 year old nephew seems mildly interested in his.

  • Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub

This was probably the easiest homemade gift I made this year. So simple, so few items required (the cute botanical stickers and twine are optional), and so easy to do. The hardest part of this project was juicing the lemons; I got one of them old fashioned juicers that you hold the lemon half on top of and turn. But other than that, just mix the sugar, oil, and lemon juice and bam, you’re done. I used coconut oil because it’s good for your skin and makes your hands super soft. I also used a few drops of citrus essential oils leftover from my soap project, just to kick the olfactory gears into work. Prettying the jars up was the best part, and they were the best looking project in the end. No special tips for the lemon sugar hand scrub! That’s always a good sign in crafting.  I give this endeavor 10/10.

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My end result.
  • Almond Coconut [dark chocolate] Bark.
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Yes, it’s even better than it looks.

This was the only project I did not find surfing Pinterest. I found nutritionist Stephanie Eusebi’s website while looking for clean-eating recipes. She has tons of recipes that actually look enticing, for being “gluten-free, guilt-free” eating. You think I’m kidding? Go browse her treats.

This recipe yeilded a lot less than I thought it would. However, I ended up making 10 miniature packages of it from the measurements Eusebi designates. I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate bars, raw almonds (chopped by boyfriend again), and at first I got organic coconut flakes, which were extremely dry and small, not at all like the monster coconut flakes she uses. So I mixed the organic with some sweetened, non-organic ones. 🙂 My boyfriend concocted a double boiler from a sauce pan and a metal bowl setting in the top for me to melt all my chocolates. We mixed in most of the goodies (with copious testing in between, to make sure the ratio was right), poured it out onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and sprinkled the rest of the almond and coconut goodies on top. Tip: Gently press down the almond and coconut you top the bark with, so they stick. Also, freeze it for easier, less messy handling while pacakging.

Note that I used Eusebi’s picture for the end result, as mine did not come out quite so picturesque. However, they were the one other item I gave away at Christmas–aside from my jam–that I immediately heard positive feedback on. I broke the bark into little peices for tasteful (ha) portions. I wrapped them in cellophane and then tied that shit with a bow! This endeavor is a 9/10; there was a lot of chopping involved (which I didn’t do).

I hope my list of homemade gifts helped (or will help), and that everyone had a good Christmas. Now, onto the new year!

I’m Dreaming of a Homemade Christmas Part 1

Have you ever been annoyed when someone asked you what you wanted for Christmas? Were you even more annoyed when you asked someone what they wanted and they told you stuff they needed (the cardinal sin of X-mas gift-giving apparently)? Worse, have you ever been that person, when asked what you wanted for Christmas, gave a list of shit you needed? If you’re a practical gift-giver/and appreciative-of-practical-gifts-receiver, then this post is for you. Welcome.

Pinterest, man. The best thing for would-be and pro-crafters since the invention of scalloped scissors. I decided to go homemade this year. So I found myself surfing Pinterest like any well-meaning individual begins that endeavor. Only this time, folks, I did some of the stuff I pinned. And it even worked out.

In this post I will list some of the projects I did, how easy they are to attain materials for, approximate expenses, and the difficulty (or in most cases, ease) of actually doing them. In Part 2, I’ll include more projects (I got pretty crafty this year).

Let’s begin.

My first endeavor and truly the most time-consuming one:

  • Jam

To make jam, all you need is a waterbath canner (and jars and fruit of course). I made Triple Berry Jam. This was my first attempt at canning, and I only tried twice (the first time, I gave up because I thought it was too overwhelming. Turns out I was overreacting) and came out with some pretty excellent tasting product. I got the berries, mashed’em and followed the directions that can be found at the link. I acquired the fruit from the farmer’s market so it would taste better—it really does, and you should always support local farmers. This means it’s a little more expensive than store-bought berries, but well worth it. The jars were under $15; I used these small, cute ones. The canner was under $35 on Target.com and it came with all the handy accoutrements. Overall, it took me about 3 hours for the entire process. Though I suspect this is because it was my first time and it will probably go a lot quicker for less OCD folk than I. You have to make sure you do all the appropriate times for cooking and heating the jar lids so that everything is sanitary and sealed properly. This is important because you don’t want to give anyone botulism. Tip: Be patient with this one. On my completely arbitrary scale of easy/affordable/worth-it homemade gifts, I give this endeavor a 7/10.

  • Pickled Jalapeños

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I cannot guarantee that any of these recipes are organic, gluten-free or GMO free. At least it’s a step in that direction, because you know exactly what you’re putting into these foodstuffs and products. For instance, these easy, pretty jalapeños are yummy without any added ingredients like food coloring or chemicals. I used this recipe, and again used farmer’s market jalapeños and red onion (plus a few slices of an Anaheim pepper and Fresno chili pepper per jar for color). I got the vintage green Ball jars from Walmart for under $14, and I’m glad I did, because the red onions tinted the vinegar pink as you can see in the middle jar. The colored jar hides it better.

This one only required the time it takes to heat the pickling solution and to cut up all the veggies, which wasn’t much at all for me because I’m kind of a badass at chopping (actually, my boyfriend did all the chopping for me, and he’s really bad ass. It took him 10 minutes to prep). I give the pickled jalapeños project a 10/10 (this scoring might be skewed because of how little work I actually put in on this one). Of course, you should probably like spicy things, because it’s hot as hell. Tip: Leave some seeds out if you want it less hot.

  • Rosemary Citrus Soap

 soap, rosemary, goats milk soap, Mothers Day, Handmade gifts

This didn’t require too many ingredients. I couldn’t find the suggested goat’s milk base at Hobby Lobby, so I settled with shea butter base, making my end product a variation on this recipe. I was disappointed to find the shea butter base contained sodium laureth sulfate, on which I want to blame the gooey, plastic texture, though that’s probably not a chemically sound hypothesis. I think also because of the shea butter, mine came out slightly more orange in color than the goat’s milk soap.

Grating orange peel and picking apart deliciously smelling rosemary were the most time-consuming aspects of this project. After the prep, you cut some chunks of base off the block, microwave it in 20-second intervals until it’s liquid, mix the goodies in and pour it in the molds. Last, you pop’em out of the molds (also acquired at Hobby Lobby) after like 10 minutes of cooling.

Mine did not come out looking as great as the ones in the recipe, but they smell good and they’re kind of pretty. I give rosemary citrus soap 8/10. It would probably be a higher score if I could get the right amount of rosemary so that it shows better in the bar of soap. I suspect the shea butter base is more viscous than the goat’s milk, which resulted in more rosemary suspended in the liquid rather than sinking to the bottom of the mold. Tip: When you think you have enough rosemary chopped, chop more. Coarsely. You want the sprigs to be a good enough size to see them.

  • Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

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This one requires a number of ingredients, but the finished product is oh so Christmasy. I used this recipe and added my own aesthetic flair. Once you have all your ingredients lined up, it’s pretty quick. With the bottom of a coffee cup, I crushed my candy canes in a Ziploc between two towels, so the pieces wouldn’t tear the bag. I tried a food processor at first but I didn’t like how fine the candy canes came out—not as pretty. I used these tall Mason jars as opposed to the shorter ones in the recipe. I’m sure either would be fine; I just had to pack more marshmallows in the top of mine so that the ingredients wouldn’t move around and mix up. More marshmallows never hurt anyone though. Tip: I used the bottom of a glass spice jar to press each layer tight. Overall, this project takes a lot of ingredients, a bit of work, but is fairly easy with a nice looking end result. I give it 9/10.

So that’s part 1 of my homemade Christmas blogs; the next one will include constellation jars (totally as cool as they sound), sugar scrub, and almond coconut dark chocolate bark. I wanted to change Christmas up this year, to give gifts that will be used and enjoyed (and eaten). If you do any homemade gifts or decorations at Christmas, please, share them in the comments.

Note: This post required the creation of a new category on my blog, as it has nothing to do with writing, reading, or the dark and creepy!