Danish Woven Christmas Hearts – patterns made with Microsoft office tools

The woven Christmas heart is a Danish tradition founded by H.C. Andersen in the 1860s. The kindergartens helped spread the hearts (around 1910), as it was used to strengthen the children’s creative skills, patience, fine motor skills and self-discipline.

Danish Christmas hearts are woven with two pieces of folded glossy paper traditionally in red and white, but you can chose whatever colors you like.

I find it a lot easier and faster to print the pattern directly on the glossy paper than the old fashioned method where you first make a cardboard template.

  1. Find a template (on google images) that you like. If you are doing this with children or are a beginner or just not that patient, choose a simple classic pattern.
  2. Use a snipping tool to cut around the image (I use the free Microsoft snipping tool).Skærmbillede 2015-11-16 09.58.27
  3. Copy-Past the image into Microsoft word. Change the size to your desire. I use about 9×13 cm (in 3.5×5).Skærmbillede 2015-11-16 10.02.50
  4. Paste the pattern twice to Microsoft paint. Right click on one of the patterns and rotate it 180 degrees. Depending on the pattern you may need to also mirror. If your are making a simple pattern and want to cut with scissors, you only need to paste the pattern once.Skærmbillede 2015-11-16 09.59.15
  5. Align the two patterns.Skærmbillede 2015-11-16 09.59.40
  6. Print the template directly on glossy paper with the lowest quality (you don’t want the ink showing through the finished heart). Make sure that you are printing on the backside of the paper.
  7. Cut out the pattern with a pair of scissors (you can fold the template in the middle for easier cutting) or with a scalpel which is necessary when your are making more advanced hearts.
  8. Now braid
  9. Remember to attach a handle.
  10. Fill it with treats and hang it from the Christmas tree.

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Merry Christmas

 

Pumpkin Preservation – Scientifically

Background

Pumpkin carving is a fun seasonal activity for kids as well as grownups. Unfortunately carved pumpkins go bad fairly quickly and in the pursuit of making their hard work last a bit longer, several bloggers have sought out ways to minimize microbial growth of moisture loss.

When searching online, different methods are advocated as being THE WAY to preserve your carved pumpkins. There is however no real consensus on the best method.

The experiments used to test the different methods have all had the same obvious flaw. They use different pumpkins to test different methods.

Pumpkins with different genetic makeup will theoretically have different resistance to drying and attack from microorganisms. Likewise the environment the pumpkins grew in, will also likely affect their resistance to said factors.

In this experiment I tested 6 different methods to preserve a carved pumpkin while trying to minimize  the: “no two pumpkins are created equally” problem.

Method

I chose a pumpkin in good condition, divided it into 6 fairly equal size pieces. One of the pieces was left untreated as a control and the remaining 5 pieces were treated with one or more of the following preservation methods:

disinfectants

  1. Rodalon (used undiluted, contains a mix of benzalkoniumcloride and didecyl ammonium chloride in a 2,5 % aquous solution)
  2. Bleach (used undiluted, contains sodium hypochlorite in a 1-5% aquous solution, pH 12,3)
  3. Soap (a type of soap used in Denmark for cleaning with a pH of 11-12)
  4. Clear coat spray paint
  5. Pure silicone spray (automotive product that protects from moisture)

Before starting this experiment I had a theory that the optimal treatment would consist of an initial treatment with a disinfectant, followed by an inert barrier of sorts. To test this, half of the surface area of the pumpkins treated with rodalon, bleach and soap were all treated with a subsequent layer of silicone spray.

To mimic realistic conditions common carving tools were used to process the pumpkin (ice-cream scoop for cleaning out seeds and knife for carving) and no special steps were taken to ensure “sterile” working conditions. All carving was done in a “clean” kitchen environment with tools washed in the dishwasher.

The pumpkin pieces were treated one by one and placed outside near an exterior wall of our house, under the overhang of the roof, but far enough out that any rain would find its way to the pumpkins. The pumpkins were then left untouched with no repeat of the initial treatment until a winner could be announced.

Results

decay large text

 

After 9 days there was a clear winner. The rodalon treated pumpkin had done far better than any of the others and had next to no signs of microbial growth, while all competing treatments had considerable amounts of microbial growth.  The closest runner-up was the pumpkin treated with bleach, followed by the silicone treated pumpkin and the untreated (control) pumpkin on a joint third place. Surprisingly the silicone spray had no discernible effect on the pumpkins, regardless if the pumpkins had been treated with disinfectant or not. The soap treated pumpkin did slightly worse than the untreated pumpkin and the clear coat treated pumpkin did worst of all.

Discussion

Truthfully there will probably never be a “gold standard” method for preserving pumpkins. The number of factors influencing the decaying process is staggering. These include, but are not limited to: Type and amount of microorganisms introduced to the pumpkin, tools used to carve and “gut” the pumpkin, temperature, air humidity, precipitation levels, pH levels (in both pumpkin and precipitation), UV levels (uv light kills microorganisms but also degrades bleach) and the pumpkins own resistance to all of the above.

Conclusion

Unless we all start using genetically cloned pumpkins, and tightly control the environment in which the pumpkins are grown, transported, carved and later stored for viewing, different similarly performing preservation methods will come out the winner depending on the environmental factors and the particular pumpkin used.

However under the conditions this pumpkin was tested, Rodalon clearly yielded the best results in preserving our carved pumpkin. Rodalon is a brand name but products containing the same basic ingredients can be found using the US Household products database and searching for either Didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride or Benzalkonium chloride. Both chemicals are Quaternary ammonium cations and can probably both be used with similar success.

Keep in mind when using strong disinfectants like these, that this is to be done with proper personal protective equipment in a well-ventilated area and is always a job for the grownups. Never mix disinfectants, or other chemicals, as the result can be fatal. As an example mixing bleach with an acid will produce Chlorine gas which will kill you fairly efficiently.

Happy Halloween

 

Painted Kitchen Utensils

Painted kitchen utensils are all over the web right now and since we needed some new salad servers, I decided to try it out.

Ombre utencilsI gathered some inspiration on Pinterest from Liz and Sarah and ended up with some dark blue acrylic paint.

Preparation is everything so make sure that your utensils are cleaned, as greasy fingerprints will make it difficult for the paint to stick.  Don’t touch the utensils without gloves once you have cleaned them. Sand the handle lightly and you are ready for the paint job.

Remember you should only paint the handle of the utensils due to food safety

I got my (very cheap) utensils from IKEA but you can them a lot of different stores. I painted them twice and gave them two layers of clear coat. In between paint coats I sanded them again as the wood grain rose slightly.

Neon Utencils

Use a good quality masking tape for the border

 

 

I tried wasing my new salad servers in the dishwasher og even though they didn’t suffer an immediate death, they didn’t like it that much. I recommend that you wash them by hand.

Painted Kitchen Utelcils

I wonder if it’s possible to use porcelain paint instead (dishwasher safe). Has anyone tried that?

Painting Clean Edges

Our recent addition to the family prompted a space reallocation. M got the old office and A got M’s old room. Most of M’s old room is white, but a single wall was painted with stripes of white and two shades of green. Painting 10 centimeter wide stripes in alternating colors on a whole wall is fairly time consuming, (but a Paint samplescheap alternative to putting up wallpaper) which is why K reassured me that the colors were gender neutral and I would not have to repaint the room, if we got a girl at some point. Turns out gender neutral colors change over time and  3 years later we are repainting (purple with a white border)……deep down I guess I knew this would happen.

This is what I learned about how to get those perfect sharp edges:

  1. Get a good quality masking tape, which will make removing the tape cleanly a lot easier.
  2. You will need two colors of paint, even if your wall is allready the color you want as a base. Even the best masking tape will still let some paint bleed under the edge of the tape and the only way to get around that problem, is to control which color bleeds under the edge.

The process is best explained with an example. Say you have a white wall and you want to paint a purple stripe on it.

  1. Start by masking off the border of the purple line, making sure to press the masking tape thouroughly to the wall.
  2. Paint the border of the tape you want to end up as purple, white (the base color) and let it dry. ThisMasking tape allows the white paint to bleed under any part of the tape that is not completely closed off.
  3. Paint the stripe purple, making sure not to go beyond the outer border of the masking tape.
  4. When you have finished with the last layer of purple, peel off the masking tape carefully to reveal a nice clean border between the two colors.

Keep your brushes in a closed plastic bag and you will be able to paint with them over and over again without rinsing, for at least a week.

EdgesSo A’ room now has a purple wall and I thought the room was finished, but last week I overheard K telling some friends that she has some regrets about the color and now wants wallpaper instead!!!……….

Pumpkin Pie & a Failed Pinecone Paint Project

I never had Pumpkin Pie before, but according to Pinterest everyone is eating Pumpkin Pie this time of year, and with so many people eating the same thing, it must be good. Unfortunately Pumkin Pie is not at tradition where I live, so I had to make some myself to get a taste.

Pumpkin PieI looked for an easy  recipe for beginners and found Easy Foolproof Pumpkin Pie. Sounded promising. This recipe suggest that you use canned pumpkin and that’s absolutely fine by me, except for the fact that I couldn’t find it anywhere. The only solution was to make the puree myself. I used this recipe for Pumpkin Puree and because I chose Hokkaido pumpkins I could skip the peeling part. You simply put the roasted pumpkins and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor and that’s that.  Very easy. I don’t know what happened to the surface of the pie though. It certainly doesn’t look like Lindsey’s, but it did taste great.

Pumpkin PieYes… this is the right amount of whipped cream

 

 

 

After pie eating we had a little DIY planned. I saw this post on how to paint pinecones and thought it would be a fun little project for M and I. The look we where going for was something like this:

but O’s first comment when he saw our work was that they looked kind of like old dog turds.

Painted Pinecones

 

Thank you very much darling…..

Twig Lantern and Lemon-Butter-Chicken

Yesterday we went on a picnic to get the most out of the early fall. We collected copious amounts of pine cones and acorns for future crafts.

The mushrooms are starting to peep forth, but since we are newbies in the field, we left them for others to collect. I really need to see if there is any mushrooming going on in our area.

When we got home I wanted to make a twig lantern like this one.  First I used an old jar, but that turned out to be a bad idea. The bottom was slightly curved which caused the candle to slide and heat up the glass to the bursting point. No one was hurt. I used a hot glue gun to attach the twigs and added some acorns. Make sure that the glue connects all the way around the glass otherwise it will not last.

Twig LanternCheck that the bottom of your glass is completely flat.

While I was crafting and M was spreading pinecones everywhere, O made Lemon-Butter-Chicken. The recipe is repinned over 500 times which, I tell you, is no coincidence. Chicken, butter and smoked paprika are just an awesome mix.

 

 

What kinds of fall crafts are you doing this year?

 

Hama Beads

As a child I loved beads and now as a parent I might even love them more. We use them to teach M the colors and to practice fine motor skills – in particular precision grip. It’s also quite fun for adults who may express themselves creatively.

Hama beadsYou can get different kinds of beads but I’ve been told that Hama beads are the best, so I went out and bought 30.000 beads in 48 different colors and a pair of tweezers, which I discovered, is actually pretty need to have.
Apparently birds are popular at the moment so I made a redbreast and a bluetit for the baby’s room, O made a little baby penguin and M made a spinning top (just add a toothpick and spin away).

Spinning TopWhen the children are finished with their bead projects, the question is always what to do with the craft? One idea is to put them to good use and glue magnets onto the beads and use them on the refrigerator.

Now for the ironing – we tried ironing the beads like this guy who uses tape, but O thinks that HE is the master of ironing beads and made his own video tutorial.

Continue reading Hama Beads

Pyramid Shelf and Hot Chocolate

From the mid-1700s pyramid shelves (Amagerhylder) were incredibly popular among Danish peasants used as a display shelf. They have been unpopular for a long period, but have now found their way back – primarily in the children’s bedrooms.

Scrapping PaperThis pyramid shelf I got at a garage sale. I painted it black and added some scrapping paper for color. You can use wallpaper, but scrapping pager is cheaper. I finished with two layers of clear coats.

After all that hard work, just kidding it’s very easy, I needed some hot chocolate. This is the recipe we use:

  • Hot Chocolate2 cups (½ liter) milk
  • 1 oz. (25 g.) dark chocolate (70%)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Sugar according to taste (we don’t use any)
  • Cinnamon (we do that mostly at Christmas time)
  • Whipping cream
  • Vanilla sugar

 

  • Heat the milk with chocolate and add a pinch of salt. Whip often so the milk doesn’t burn. Add sugar and cinnamon if you fancy.
  • Whip the cream and add vanilla sugar according to taste

Enjoy