Monday, July 30, 2012

Girls Camp: Camp Journals

This year at Girls Camp we wanted to give each of our young women a journal. But we wanted it to be something they would want to keep and actually use--not just this year but in the years to come to.

So we got these very small spiral-bound notebooks for them. They're small enough to fit inside backpacks or hiking day-packs or even a purse. We also wanted the girls to be able to decorate them and personalize them. And then we had the idea to insert some important pages into them. So we included a page for each girl's name, a short letter from us leaders, the church Young Women Theme, and then some information for this year's camp--like the schedule and the list of charms they could earn for their charm necklace.

I brought all of the spare ribbon that I have. That was kind of a lot. Then we let each girl use it however she wanted to decorate her journal.

I love the fringed look that tying it on to the spiral gives. Here's mine.

Such a simple and yet easy way to personalize these camp journals!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Food on Friday: Dehydrated Apple Pie Biscuits

My church really encourages everyone to have food storage. It's not just for potential disasters, but it's good to have it around in case of any emergency. We've benefited from it at various times, like when Bob didn't have work for a while during our first year of marriage. We literally lived off of our food storage for over two months straight. It was such a life saver!

However, if you have food storage, you're supposed to rotate through it. Even dehydrated food has a shelf life, and it's usually 10 years or less.

So, I found these dehydrated apples in our food storage.

And then I ate one.

It was stale. No, it was beyond stale. It was like chewing on sweetened tree bark + flavorless beef jerky.

I hated to just throw it out though. I hate wasting stuff. That meant it was time to get creative.

Most dehydrated things can be re-hydrated. So I started thinking about what I could use sliced apples for.
Tarts. But I just made tarts a few weeks ago.
Pies. But I don't feel like making pie.
Pastries. Mmmmm... I do love pastries...

The most common dough that I know how to make takes me back to my roots. I'm a southern girl with a darn good biscuit recipe. So I thought I'd try apple pie filled biscuits... Made from dehydrated apple slices.

I soaked a handful of dehydrated apple slices in hot water for an hour. I used just enough water to cover them.

Once they were all soft again I added sugar, cinnamon, and ground cloves. (I failed to measure. I always do this type of thing by taste. Sorry.) I wanted the liquid that was left in them to thicken. I'm familiar with two thickening agents: corn starch and flour. I don't have any corn starch, so flour it was! I added a heaping tablespoon of flour to the mix too.

(Tip: If you're adding flour to a mostly water- or liquid-based mix like this, it's best to mix it into a small amount of water first and then add the flour-water mixture in, otherwise it congeals and turns into chunks of flour that stick to your pan and food.)

I turned on the stove burner to medium and let the apples start cooking a bit. The water started boiling and gradually got thicker. It took 40-45 minutes to cook down to a consistency that I liked. I tried it, and oh my goodness!! So tasty!

Then I made the biscuit dough. Almost every time I teach anyone how to make southern biscuits from scratch, they always over-knead the dough. It's not yeast based and it's supposed to be fluffy. Kneading it more than necessary makes it denser and chewier. Nobody wants to eat a biscuit that has the consistency of a rock. So when you knead biscuit dough, you only do so lightly, folding it 2 to 3 times--basically just to get the last of the dry ingredients absorbed into it.

I wrapped a spoonful of the re-hydrated apple filling inside of a little bit of biscuit dough. 

Baked them for 12 minutes.

And then I had apple pie filled biscuits.


(Like my son's sweet little face.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My first milestone means... Giveaway time!

Guess what!

I woke up this morning (After sleeping in until 10!! Holy cow, my husband is the best.) and when I checked on my blog I cheered and yelled to previously mentioned best husband, "I have 1001 pageviews on my blog!" (And it's up even higher by now!)

From the title of this post, can you guess what that means?!

Time for my first ever giveaway!

If you like the headband I posted about this morning, then you can win the one I used to demonstrate the steps for the tutorial!

I call it 'Love and Polka Dots' because it's made from pink, red, and black/white polka dot fabric.
And it's super cute!
( Like my sweet son, hence the picture with both.)

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That's it! Now go and tell all of your friends to come and enter too!

Girls Camp Craft: No-Sew Braided Headbands

One of the crafts we made at Girls Camp this year were no-sew braided headbands. I'd gotten some feedback from the young women that this was a craft they wanted to do. They'd been found on Pinterest, and when I went looking for these I had to do some problem solving.

When I first searched and saw so many results, I thought, "Perfect! I won't have any electricity at our campsite so I won't be bringing my sewing machine anyway..."

And then I actually read over some of the no-sew headband tutorials.

They all required hot glue guns. Hot glue guns?! Those require electricity too!!

But I didn't give up. I thought about how to make these headbands work anyway. I debated over hand sewing them, super gluing them, tying them in knots, etc.

And then I found the solution. It involved a material from one of the other crafts for the week: embroidery floss!

Here's how we made them:

I ripped my fabric strips into about 1 inch widths. They were all between 20 and 30 inches long.

(Tip: Ripping fabric for something like this is far easier and much quicker than cutting strips, but only for woven fabrics. Just snip the fabric at one inch intervals, then rip each snip to the other end. Plus, it gives a fabulous  frayed look to each braid.)

1. We safety pinned our fabric strips together and to the table cloth to braid them. It made them easy to work with. 

Once they're braided, safety pin the ends to keep the braid from unraveling. 

2. Take two skinny elastic hair ties and loop them together. (I recommend making sure the metal ends on them are on the outside where the fabric braid will cover them up.)

3. Safety pin one end of your braided fabric around one side of the elastic hair tie loops. 

4. Here's the no-sew, no electricity solution! Using an arm's length of embroidery floss, tie it in a knot somewhere between the safety pin and the elastic hair tie, making sure to leave about a 2- to 3-inch tail of the floss on one side of the knot and the rest of the length on the other side. 

Then, lay the short tail down along the braided fabric, and wind the longer tail of floss narrowly around the braid, keeping it between the safety pin and the elastic hair tie. Wind it really tightly!

Once you have only about 3 inches left of that longer tail, tie both ends of the floss together in a good ol' square knot. Trim the floss tails down to about a half or a quarter of an inch, and after removing the safety pin, trim any of the extra fabric as you desire.

5. Measure it around your head, looping the other side of the fabric braid through the other elastic hair tie, and once it's the right size, safety pin it into place. Repeat step 4 for this side of the braided fabric.

Voila! A legit, no-sew, no-electricity-needed, simple braided fabric headband!

One of the other leaders even used an extra strip of fabric instead of embroidery floss because we ran out of the color she wanted to use. Brilliant! There's no limit to what other kinds of supplies you could use for this method. 

And these turned out so cute. Some girls did one braid, others (including myself with the sample headband) did two braids. I love how they look on, and they stay in place pretty well too!

This one is for sale in my Etsy shop. Have a look if you're interested!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Girls Camp Charm Necklace

Girls Camp was last week and I survived it with my sweet three-month-old in tow. It helped that Bob came along with me. It was good for those young women to see a happily married couple working together in so many ways. It was also wonderful for us to take Graham on his first ever camping trip. That baby is such a wonder to have! He's so happy and well-tempered, and only fussy when he's hungry or tired. We're so incredibly blessed.

Me hiking with my sweet baby boy.

So back to Girls Camp! If you don't know, it's a church camp we do each summer. The girls age 12-17 are all invited to attend, and if they go they learn outdoor survival skills, play fun games, make cute crafts, grow spiritually, and strengthen friendships with all of the other young women in the area who are members of our church. I went each year when I was a young woman and I loved it!

I went as a leader this year (for the fourth time). It's a totally different experience than when I was 14 or 15! Still a very good one, though. My dear friend Vanesa planned nearly all of camp this year on her own. I jumped in to help as much as I could and to take a load off her shoulders. She put me in charge or crafts as well as helping to plan and organize the week.

One of our hopes for this year's camp was that the girls would have a desire to participate in each of the activities we planned. To do that, I had the idea of making a charm necklace for each young woman. As they participated in activities and did various things throughout the week, they would earn a charm to add to their necklace. I spent hours and hours coming up with what exactly they could earn charms for, designing and making the charms, and then putting the necklaces together. But I love making jewelry, so it was like therapy for me. 

Here's the end product if they earned every charm.

After doing some math, I'm happy to say that these necklaces cost under $6 each! 
(That's excluding labor--I charged for the cost of the supplies only.) 

At the end of the week we asked what they did and didn't like about camp this year, and we got some great feedback. A few of them talked about the charm necklaces specifically. They all seemed to love them! It really did motivate them to take part in lots of activities and try things they didn't want to. Oh, how wonderful that made me feel! It was well worth all of the time and energy I put into not just those things, but into everything I did to plan and prepare for Girls Camp this year.

Maybe we'll see more of these in the coming years...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Food on Friday: Cinnamon Rolls in a Dutch Oven

This past week, at Girls Camp, I didn't have to cook a single meal. I went as the craft leader. I basically planned out some fun and simple crafts for the young women to make during the week and helped them to complete them. (I'll be posting those next week!)

Every other year I've gone (which has been nearly every year since I was 12 years old) I've had to plan and/or prepare meals, on top of everything else that this week long camp entails.

However, since I just did the crafts and since I had Graham this year, I got to eat whatever our girls were making for meals. I had it pretty easy!

My favorite food at camp this year were the cinnamon rolls. Of course, the ones that come in a can are good (thank you, Pillsbury!). But somehow they quadruple in deliciousness when cooked in a dutch oven while camping. Just imagine if you made them from scratch and then cooked them in a dutch oven.... Mmm...

While we were planning camp over the last few months, I actually requested this for breakfast one morning. I'm so happy they went for it, because they were amazing!

What's your favorite dutch oven treat?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pretty Little Mess Kit Bag

This week for Girls Camp, each young woman needs a mess kit for eating meals. Just about any reusable bowl, plate, cup, fork, and spoon will do. But they need a mesh bag to hold it all in, and almost none of our girls have one.

I decided the girls could each make their own if they needed one.

The bag should be a material that will allow the dishes to dry, either mesh or something like it. I have a closet full of fabric, so I was pretty certain that I'd have something that would work.

Oh, did I ever!!

I have yards and yards of this polyester black lace. It's horrible and I'd never use it for clothing. It's really only good for a tablecloth or crafts. And I seriously have tons of it. I'm happy to get rid of some!

So I made myself a bag just to practice.
It turned out SO cute!

When I brought it as a sample to show the girls last week for our Wednesday night activity, they all wanted one, whether they needed one or not! Everyone loved it. So we got to work cutting, sewing, and stringing ribbon through to tops.

These are perfect for this week of camp, because after our dishes are washed, we can load them back into the bags, hang them up, and they'll dry in no time! Plus, they're super adorable and can be used for countless other things after camp.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pot-Holder First Aid Kit

This week for our annual church Young Women Camp, we're making sure our girls are prepared. One thing we had each of them make is a first aid kit. They're super easy to make and I think they're pretty cute, too.

For each kit you'll need:

a square potholder 
(we got ours at the dollar store)

6-10 snack sized ziplock bags
(use what you need according to the amount of supplies you want to go in it)

first aid supplies
(small or individually wrapped items are good--ointment, bandaids, gauze squares, latex gloves, hard candies, Q-tips, matches, duct tape, medical tape, ibuprofen, etc.)

a button

sewing machine, thread, & straight pins

You see how to do this, right? Well here are some tips:
  • Before you sew the bags on, make sure the loop on the potholder is on the side that the zippers are on so you can button it closed.
  • The bags are really slick, so pin them into place at the sides where you start and end sewing.  
  • Use a button that is big enough to hold it closed but small enough to fit though the loop.

It's pretty fun to flip through and see all of the supplies. I bet this would be great for other things too--a travel sewing kit, travel jewelry organizer, organizing buttons...

What else would you use one of these for?