Thanksgiving Dinner Trophies

Recently I got together with some friends for a pre-Thanksgiving “Friendsgiving Dinner.” It was a fun night of soup and rolls. The twist? We had the teenagers all prepare either an appetizer or a dessert, and then as the parents, we all judged the winners. To make it even more interesting, and because I had just watched a Thanksgiving episode of Friends where they had a Gellar Football Thanksgiving Trophy, I decided to make a trophy for the best dessert and best appetizers.

To make the trophies, I used the following:

Thanksgiving Dinner Tropies:

Supplies:

– Wooden plaques 
– Wooden decorative pieces (these look like miniture candle sticks)
– Sculpty clay (or generic)
– Metallic spray paint
– E600 glue

You can get all of these supplies at any hobby or big box store in the craft department.

Step-by-Step:

1. Open the package of Sculpty clay and form a dessert or an appetizer. I made a piece of pie and a crab rangoon, but you could do anything.

2. Place clay items on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes at 250 degrees F. Remove from oven and baking sheet and let cool. They sometimes don’t feel hard when they first come out of the oven and still warm. Once cooled, they should be hard.

3. Glue the wooden plaque to the decorative wooden “candle stick” piece with the E600. Then glue the clay item to the top of that. 

4. Let dry for several hours (overnight to be safe) and then spray with metallic spray paint to finish. 

Your friends, family and other Thanksgiving guests will love the trophies and the novelty they bring. Don’t like to use clay? Find play-food toys and glue them on the top of the trophy and spray paint them. It’s what I normally do, but I didn’t have anything this time around or time to go shopping. 

Mario Brothers Birthday Party

I remember when I played Super Mario Brothers for the first time. It was amazing, and so different than earlier video games. It’s even more fun that Mario and friends are still popular with kids these days. So when my Mario-obsessed 8-year-old wanted a birthday party, we knew the theme right away — a Mario Brothers Birthday Party!  In this post, We’ve got ideas for invites, decorations, games and food. Plus, get our free printable for it all. Read on for more. 

Making the Invitations

I created these invitations in Photoshop and to make them more fun, I added a scratch-off section. Under the scratch-off revealed how many extra-life mushrooms they had. 

To Make the Scratch-Offs

1. Place a piece of clear, packing tape over the section that you’ll scratch off.

2. In a small dish, mix a teaspoon of craft paint with 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap (or a 2/1 ratio if you scale it). Mix it well.

3. Paint the mixture over the words/images you want concealing, making sure you stay on the packing tape you placed earlier. Paint enough to completely cover your item. 

4. Once it’s dry, you will be able to scratch it off with a coin. Kids love doing this, and will love the element of surprise to see what’s underneath. 

Making the Table Decorations

Pipes DIY

1. If you’re making decorations for a Mario Brothers Party then you better have pipes! I started by gathering various long cans and wrapping them in kelly green card stock, attaching with hot glue.

2. Next, we want to make the collar of the pipe. Make them stick out, by adding foam core around the top. Here, I added three squares of foam board to the edge with hot glue. I did this three other places around the rim.

3. Using craft scissors, cut more card stock to make the collar of the pipe. Hot glue it on top of foam core. This is what it will look like. 

4. Cut another strip of card stock, similar to the collar size. Score the card stock about 1/4 inch along one side and bend. Since you’re going to mold this piece into a circle, cut the salvage edge up to the fold as seen in the picture. Then hot glue this piece to the inside of your pipe to hide the inside. To finish the pipe, glue a circle of black card stock to the top.

5. And there’s your finished pipe (minus the black circle, I forgot to take pictures of that). To make pipes similar to my table scape, you’ll want to make two more smaller pipes out of chip cans.

Venus Fly Trap Plant DIY

1. To make the venus-fly-trap-looking plant that comes out of the main pipe, I cut an opening out of a rubber ball. 

2. Wrap the ball in red felt and hot glue to secure, folding as you go. You’ll place any extra fabric inside the opening of the ball, and glue to secure.

3. Cut white strips of felt for the mouth of the plant and secure with hot glue. 

4. Cut circles out of the white felt and attach with hot glue.

5. Take a kraft knife or scissors and make a small hole in the bottom of the plant that will fit a dowel. Stick your dowel, of which you previously painted with green craft paint, into this hole and secure with a generous amount of hot glue.

6. Attach leaves to the dowel with hot glue. (See cutout instructions below to see how I mounted and cut them out of foam core.)

7. Punch a hole in the black card stock at the top of the pipe and push the plant into it. You may need to secure it with additional hot glue.

Character Cutout DIY

You may not be able to tell from this picture, but these character cutouts are actually on foam core. This extra width makes them fun and look professional, even though you made them at home. 

1. Print out Mario Brothers graphics. I found lots of high quality ones online, including these free vector graphics. Cut them out. I like a little white space around them. I think it looks cute and it’s much faster than cutting them out perfectly. 

2. Spray the back of the cutout with spray adhesive. Note: If you’re new to spray adhesive, know that it can get EVERYWHERE. The worst for me was getting it in my hair — I’m looking at you family tree project in college! — so I always wear my hair up when I use spray adhesive. You’re welcome! Another tip is to use a box to spray your items in so that you don’t get spray everywhere…on your table, countertops or floors. 

3. Adhere the cutout to foam core. (Tip, you can get foam core at the dollar store! While it is definitely cheaper than the craft store, it is usually not as thick. If you like thick foam core, and don’t mind spending more, buy it at the craft store — with a coupon of course!)

3. Now we get to my new best friend — the hot knife. I first saw this when my friend Mandy from SugarbeeCrafts used it to make foam picture frames. I immediately messaged her to find out where to get it. I found this one at Michaels and used my 40% off coupon to make it about $10. Just like it sounds, it is a knife that heats up. This allows you to easily make curved cuts in foam core. It has been a game-changer for me in crafting, and I use it all the time! As with all things with heat, and are sharp, please use caution.

4. Go slowly, allowing the heat to do much of the work. Curve the knife around the Mario cutout. It should cut smoothly like butter! 

I have found that it’s easier to cut just the foam core, not the paper and the foam core. That means you’ll want to cut outside the paper cutout shape, so the knife is only cutting through the foam core. The knife should be easily through the foam. If you move too slow with your hot knife, though, you can burn the foam core, so you’ll want to find a happy medium between going too fast or too slow. 

Note: if you every notice that it’s hard to cut through the foam core, make sure the knife didn’t get accidentally unplugged, as lack of heat will make cutting too hard. Also, after a couple of projects, the blade will need to be replaced. You’ll know it’s time when it becomes difficult to cut.

5. And there we have our adorable cutout with a thick foam core back. This foam core back makes him more sturdy and perfect for decorating our table and backdrop. 

To use in the table decorations, I hotglued a sharp skewer (like the kind used for bbqs) with the sharp end down. Then I punched the skewer into a foam core box I had created to look like a Mario Brother’s block. 

6. For the backdrop, I simply stuck them on the paper backdrop with packing tape.

Making the Games

Punch Board DIY

Birthday parties are nothing without games. I like a mix of simple games — musical chairs — with a few elaborate ones. The punch board never disappoints, and the foam core frame is sturdy enough to use over and over.

1. Start by tracing circles onto foam core. You can eyeball it or you can measure to align them perfectly. 

2. This is where that hot knife is really so versatile! We will use it to easily cut out these circles as well. You can do it with just a craft knife, but the hot knife does it so much easier and perfectly. 

3. Cut out squares of tissue paper and tape to the back of the punch board with scotch tape.

4. Cut paper lunch sacks down to about 1/2 their height. Cut 1-inch slits in all four corners of the top and bend back the top edges about 1 inch. Place a small toy or treat inside and carefully tape the edges to the back of the tissue paper with generous amounts of tape. When I did this punch board I used packing tape, but now I usually just use scotch tape.

Mario Brothers Bingo Game Free Printable

Bingo is a favorite game of mine and my children. The kiddos at our party really loved playing a Mario-themed bingo game. Download the free printable for this party and it includes several different bingo cards. Grab some beans to use as markers, and you’re ready to go.  

Stomp the Goomba

This was a quick, inexpensive game that the boys loved. Just draw faces on gold balloons, cut up some paper plates, tape them to the balloons, and you’re done. Gotta love a few simple games to compliment the more complicated.

Pin the Tail on the Bowser?

This is another fairly, simple game. Find a large image of Bowser online and print it off at a large print shop, or on your home letter-sized printer, by tiling it and then adhering it together. We printed our at home in black and white to save money and then cut the pieces out and tiled them together on foam core. We used our hot knife to cut it out and then colored it with oil pastels. Then we made tails for him out of card stock for the kids to “pin on.”

Party Food

Parties would be nothing without food. For this party we used simple, store-bought food and dressed it up with labels that reinforced our theme. Crunchy, cheese-flavored Fire Power anyone? You can print and use the labels in our free downloadable Mario Brother’s Packet. 

Fire Power Cheese Puff Balls

When are cheese puff balls not really cheese puff balls? When their incorporated into a birthday theme, of course. These cheese puff balls are to represent the fire power Mario and friends get to shoot at the bad guys. These are fun party favorite, but make sure your guest wash their hands after lunch 🙂

Ice Power

You can’t have fire power without ice power! We chose grapes for the job because their a fruit most kids will actually eat and they are almost round.

Ghostly Donuts

Okay, so these are kind of a stretch, but what kid doesn’t like donuts? My youngest is especially a fan, so when he asked for donuts instead of cakes, cookies or cupcakes, I thought, “Why not?!” They turned out to be a big hit, but like our friends the cheese puff balls, I mean “fire power,” they do create some messy hands, so make sure you get those kids to the sink after the meal!

Make Your Own Pizza

Mario Brothers are Italian, right? We had a make-your-own-pizza buffet with flour tortillas as our base — just like the real Italians…I’m kidding…they don’t use tortillas, but we sure did. We were baking them in the oven, but the kids were too impatient, so we wound just nuking the rest of them in the microwave. The boys folded them up into a pizza-burrito hybrid, and didn’t mind a bit.

Red Lava Punch

Fruit-punch became our “red lava punch” and the boys enjoyed it, almost as much as I enjoyed watching their Kool-aid smiles appear.

I think these crazies had a good time. I almost forgot to mention these cute sticker mustaches I found as party favors. Aren’t they fun? We also sent them home with the candy they won in the punch board game and a Mario Brothers bookmark. The bookmarks are included in the free printable.

Have you done a Mario Brother’s Party? Share your ideas with us. We’d love to hear them!

Make Your Own Cookie Cutter

Once you start making sugar cookies, you might find that you never have enough cookie cutters. You might even find that it’s midnight and you need a tooth cookie cutter and you can’t wait the two days for Amazon to ship it to you. Or, you may want a custom cookie cutter that doesn’t exist — like one for our local LDS temple. What’s a girl to do? Why, make your own, of course! Making your own cookie cutter is a fun project that allows you flexibility of getting the shape you want on your own time frame. Join us as we learn how to easily make our own custom cookie cutters. 

What You'll Need

– Aluminum flashing (from a hardware store, like Home Depot. Make sure it isn’t coated with any chemicals. If it’s shiny, it usually doesn’t have a coating. Ask a worker if you have questions. There are shorter pieces of flashing, but non are this thin. The thicker kind makes it harder to bend smoothly.)

– Needle nose pliers, jewelry-sized (the ones I’m using are smaller ones from the jewelry section of the craft store. This set has an extra long nose.)

– template, drawing or photo, or use the bird template I used

– scotch tape

– craft scissors

– ruler

– twine or string

Directions

1. Flatten the flashing with your hands. 

2. Then, line up your ruler with the edge, and trace it down the entire length.  

3. Using craft scissors, cut all the way down the flashing. This may be a little tricky, but it’s totally doable. CAUTION: The edges — especially the edge you cut — can be sharp. Please be careful.

4. Once you finish cutting the strip, inspect it for any rough edges, and trim accordingly. 

5. Next, use the twine to measure around the perimeter of the template. You’ll do this to determine the amount of aluminum strip you’ll need. Then take the twine and measure it against the strip. I always allow for a little bit more…just in case. Note, you’ll need it to be a little bit longer than the actual perimeter because you’ll need to overlap the strip when you secure it.  

6. Now it’s time to mold the strip around the template. Find the edge that you cut and make sure it’s facing down towards the paper. It will be sharper than the commercially-cut edge and you don’t want to cut yourself when you make cookies. 

7. First find the straightest edge of the perimeter. You’ll want to do this because when you finish your cookie cutter and have to overlap the ends, it’s easier to do so on a straight piece. 

8. Hold the strip to the edge of the template and slowly bend it as you go. Make sure to keep checking your strip against the template to ensure you’re keeping the right shape. 

9. Now we’re getting to our first angle. Holding the strip against the template, mark it where the end of the bird starts to angle upwards. I like using this thin sharpie because its writes well on the aluminum. This is what it looks like when you mark it. Pay attention to which direction you are going to bend it. These strips are pretty thin, making it easy to get the shape you want, but it doesn’t like to be bent back and forth more than once —  It tends to break. 

10. Grab our needle nose pliers and clamp along the line you just made. I’ve found the best way to bend these strips is fast and hard — it creates the best angles. Don’t be shy, just bend it. If you make a mistake, it’s not a huge deal, since the flashing is so inexpensive. If you want, you can practice making angles on scrap pieces before you start making your first cookie cutter.

11. Once you’ve made your angle, check your cutter with your template and see if you need to make that angle wider or narrower. Here we need to make it a bit more narrow. After you get it to the right angle, you may want to crimp it a little bit to get it just right. 

12. Measure your cutter against your template again and start curving the strip up the bird’s back. Continue on till you finish the its head.

13. Once you finish the bird’s head, you’re coming up to another sharp angle for the beak. Like the first angle, make sure to mark the cutter with a marker.

14. Place the needle nose pliers again at the marking and make a nice, sharp bend. Compare it again to your template and make any adjustments. 

15. You’ll make another two angles to finish the beak. You can always fine tune the shape later, but try to get it pretty close. Now that you’re close to finishing, it begins to be a little tricky to get your cutter to match up in all parts of the template. Don’t worry, once you’ve completed your template, you’ll be able to fine tune it. 

16. When you’ve completely gone around your template, you’re almost done. Make sure to continue past the beginning about a quarter of an inch. 

17. Fastening your cookie cutter is pretty easy. All you need to do is line up the edges and place a piece of scotch tape around the seam. I remember when I first heard that you seal your cookie cutter with scotch tape. I didn’t think it would be permanent enough. A lot of experts swear it’s a long-term option and that it’s even washable. Since I’ve been making these for a few months, I haven’t had any problems. Besides, if you ever do need to replace the tape, well, that’s an easy fix.

 

18. And there you have it. A cookie cutter you made all by yourself. Practice does make perfect. You’ll love being able to create any cookie cutter you want on a whim. See how far your imagination takes you!.

Easiest & Best DIY Laundry Detergent – Good for Front & Top Loaders

Two-minutes, two ingredients and less than $2 laundry detergent. Think making your own laundry detergent is a lot of work? We’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be. Learn how to make Lazy Girl’s DIY laundry detergent…that takes two minutes, has only two ingredients, and cost less than $2. Read on to learn more or watch the video!

Lazy Girl DIY Laundry Detergent

What you’ll need…

– Bar of laundry soap, like Zote or Fels Napa. I like the pink Zote because, well, it’s pink 🙂

– 1 cup of washing soda (This is different from baking soda and can be found in the laundry isle.)

Instructions

 

1. First, unwrap the soap, and cut it into long strips that will fit in your food processor.

 

2. Next, put the shredding disk attachment on your food processor. Shred each piece of soap one at a time.

 

3. Sometimes after shredding the soap, there a little piece at the end of the bar that doesn’t want to cooperate. Set those aside, and coarsely chop them up with a knife.

 

4. Then put those chopped pieces in a bowl. Take the shredded bits of soap and dump them into the bowl as well.

 

5. Next put the mixing blade into your food processor and put all of the soap back in. If you have a smaller food processor, you might only be able to fix half of the soap at a time.

 

 6. Next, add 1 cup of washing soda and dump it into the mix. (I’ve heard you can make your own washing soda by cooking baking soda in the oven, but I’m a bit too lazy to try that. I’ll stick to buying the washing soda, thank-you-very-much!)

 

7. Now, blend the washing soda and soap chunks together until it makes a course powder. Why are these two ingredients so special? You can put a lot of different things in laundry detergent, but you only really need two basic ingredients — soap and a water softener. In this recipe, the washing soda acts as the water softener. Softer water allows the soap to do its job better. The soap…well, it’s there to clean the clothes. You can add other things to your detergent, but that’s all you really need. I’ve tried many other detergents before settling on this one. We’ve been using this recipe for two years now, and we love it because it’s so simple, its inexpensive and it gets the job done.

 

8. And there you have it. I place my detergent in a pretty crystal cookie jar (because who doesn’t need a little boost of pretty when doing the laundry?!) and use a about a tablespoon for each load. To help ensure the detergent doesn’t dry out, I put this brown-sugar bear in the jar as well.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know if you’ve used it and how you like it.

Watch the video on the Lori Garcia Studio’s channel on Youtube:

 

Valentine Lego Minifigures

Valentine’s is one of my favorite holidays — anything that celebrates with pink and red hearts, glitter, roses and chocolate is for me!

Some years I like to hand-make valentines for my children and their classmates, and some years I like to pick up a box of generic commercial ones from Target. It really depends on my time and other crafting needs.

This year, I had a bit of time on my hands, and my kiddo is way into Legos, so we put together these little Lego Minifigure Valentines. I do think they turned out so cute, and they were easy enough for kids to help make them too!

Lego MiniFig Valentines

What you’ll need…

– Lego minifigure molds

– Candy melts in red and white, such as Wilton’s

– Candy heart sprinkles in pink and white

– Tooth picks

– Plastic bags, for packaging

– Lego Minifig Valentine’s Topper

(You can get all of these from Amazon or go to Michaels and Hobby Lobby and use your 40% off coupon!)

Instructions

1.Follow instructions on back of the candy melt bag or follow these basic instructions. Open the candy melts (use one color at a time) and pour some in a microwave-safe bowl. In this tutorial, I will refer to the candy melts as “chocolate.”

2. Microwave the chocolate for one minute and then stir thoroughly.

3. Microwave in 30-second intervals until smooth and completely melted. (You can over-melt your chocolate. It will pass the smooth stage and start to get chunky….obviously this is too far, and you will need to throw it out.)

4. Using a spoon, fill the mold with the chocolate until full. (I like to use a silicone baby spoon, as it’s small enough to only get a little bit into the mold — so you don’t overfill — and the silicone helps get all of the chocolate out of the bowl.)

5. Fill all the molds on the tray, and then tap the tray on the countertop to help settle the chocolate and remove any air bubbles.

6. Let stand until dry before popping the minifigs out of the the tray. If they don’t remove easily, they aren’t fully dry yet.

7. Once you’ve created both red and white minifigs, melt a little more chocolate in the coordinated color to use as glue to attach the heart sprinkle.

8. Dip your tooth pick into the melted chocolate and place a small dot on the chocolate minifig. “Glue” the heart sprinkle, in coordinating color, to the minifig. Continue until all your minifigs have cute hearts on them.

9. Let the minifigs dry before packaging.

10. Print out our free Lego Minifig Valentine’s Topper and trim, fold and staple to the top of bags to complete the project. (My favorite places to print are The UPS Store and Office Depot.

 

 

 

1-Minute DIY Foaming Hand Soap, That Smells Better Than the Original!

I love good smelling soap. We’ve proved — at least in our house — it helps reinforce hand washing in our kids. And as much as I love rich, thick, foaming hand soap, I sure don’t like shelling out all that money…especially for our favorites at Bath and Body Works.

Recently, though, I discovered this 1-minute trick that lets us have delicious-smelling foamy hand soap year round, for pennies. If you’re read other tutorials before THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT! This tip, will let you DIY your favorite Bath and Body Works soaps…and you won’t be able to tell the difference from the original!

Check out the video and see how simple it is or keep reading below:


1-Minute DIY Foaming Hand Soap, That Smells Better Than the Original!

Ingredients:

Foam Soap Dispenser

Tablespoon

Favorite Shower Gel

Food Coloring

Hot Tap Water, in a pourable measuring cup


Directions:

  

1. Open your foaming soap dispenser, and set the pump aside. Grab your favorite shower gel – we’re using the same brand and scent from Bath and Body Works, as our foaming soap. This way, our soap will smell the same as the original. This really is key to having your soap smell like the original.


2. Measure out a tablespoon of the shower gel and pour it into your foaming soap dispenser. If you like very fragrant soap, like we do, you can add a second tablespoon. The second tablespoon will actually make a stronger-smelling soap than the original Bath and Body Works foaming soap.


3. Next, you may want to add a couple of drops of food coloring to your foaming soap dispenser. That’s because when you water down the shower gel, it can water down the color. Food coloring is optional, but my family liked it better with it.


4. Lastly, we’re going to fill the soap bottle almost to the top, with hot tap water. You don’t need boiling water, just make sure it’s the hottest tap water you have. Hotter water will help dissolve the shower gel easier.


5. Then, all you have to do is tightly screw on the soap dispenser, and shake until the shower gel is dissolved.


And there you have it, luxurious, foaming soap, that smells just like the real thing. In fact, friends of ours didn’t even know it was a DIY version.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Until next time, I’m Lori and this is Lori Garcia Studios.

Teacher Appreciation Card – EOS Lip Balm/Apple Card

Pin-napped!

I think I might have sunk to a new low! A friend of mine on Pinterest recently pinned the cutest card for Teacher Appreciation Week using an EOS lip balm to make an apple-themed card. I instantly repinned it….and then went to work to make my own. Now, I think this would have been okay if my friend lived, say, on the other side of the country, but no, she lived in my neighborhood. That’s right, I pin-napped a craft for a teacher, from a mom in our same elementary school! Oops! Well at least her daughter isn’t in the same class as my son. That would definitely draw the line. I hope she feels flattered I thought she had good taste, not upset that I stole her idea!

I hope you like this as much as I did. Feel free to use my printable or go to the original pin at the Country Chic Cottage and use theirs.

DIY:

1. Print out the card.

2. Trace the lip balm and cut out the hole.

3. Unscrew the balm and place it through the card. Screw the other end to the front.

4. Add a leaf and stem. I used craft paper and rubber cement glue.

5. You’re done.

Thanks to Country Chic Cottage and my friend Carrie for the idea!

Enjoy!

 

Fluffy Unicorn Slime

My kids stayed home on Thursday for “Take Your Child to Work Day.” Traditionally, the boys stay with me for half the day and my hubby for the other half. Since we’ve been into making “how to” videos lately at Lori Garcia Studios, the boys wanted in on the action. They love a good project, so we decided to make fluffy slime…and since Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino’s are super popular right now, we decided to make a unicorn version. I hope you enjoy our video.

Here’s the recipe for reference:

Fluffy Unicorn Slime

Ingredients:

1 tsp borax

1 c warm water

1/2 c school glue

rounded 1/2 c shaving cream

1/2 c foaming soap

1 TB corn starch

couple of squirts of lotion

food coloring

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the borax in water; set aside
  2. Dump the other ingredients in a separate bowl; stir
  3. Spoon in the borax mixture, slowly, stirring all the while. You may not need to add too much of the borax mixture.
  4. Stir until it sets up; remove from bowl
  5. Stretch until it loses its stickiness
  6. Set aside and make three other colors of slime
  7. Layer slime on top of each other and twist into a unicorn mix.
  8. Enjoy!
Or watch the YouTube Video:
Enjoy!
Lori
P.S. This is not food. Do not consume.

DIY Paper Cup Out of a Piece of Paper

Can you make a piece of paper into a cup? Yes you can! Watch this quick and easy tutorial and learn how even a kid can make a cup out of paper….that really holds water!
Object Lesson:
This makes  a great object lesson for Primary, Sunday School or Family Home Evening.
“We Can Do Hard Things”
Can You Drink From a Piece of Paper?
Supplies: water, piece of paper
Instructions: Ask a family member or friend if he can drink water using only a piece of paper.
Show: Show him how to fold the paper into a cup and put water it in and give him a drink. (Learn how to fold the cup in the video above)
Teach: We can do hard things. Sometimes we are asked to do hard things, but with Heavenly Father’s help we can accomplish anything.

Pop-Culture Valentine Cards

If you like the tv shows “Last Man on Earth,” “Blackish,” or “Timeless,” then I have some free printable Valentine Cards for you. Each year I make my family Valentines based on whatever they are currently watching on TV…..I’m pretty excited about these. I hope you enjoy them too.