Breadstick Shamrocks

Breadstick Shamrocks | Zim on a Whim

Gather ’round me lads and lasses! I have such an easy treat for you to make just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. It is easy enough that even the kids can help. This comes from an old issue of Family Fun Magazine. Give it a try!

All you need is:
1 can Pillsbury Breadsticks dough (original) – 11 oz./12 breadsticks*
Green decorating sugar

*1 can of breadsticks makes 3 shamrocks, so if you need more buy accordingly.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (preferred) or use a non-stick ungreased baking sheet.

Separate breadsticks. For each you will need 3  1/2 pieces.

Holding both ends of one piece, slightly stretch and twist. Form a heart shape.

Breadstick Shamrocks - Step 1

Make 3 hearts for each shamrock. Arrange on baking sheet to form the “leaves”, making sure to pinch together in the center to adhere to each other. Half of the sides of the hearts should touch. Take half of another breadstick and twist, forming the stem. Give it a little curve. Press the stem into the center of the hearts.

Breadstick Shamrocks - Step 2

Sprinkle some cinnamon on your shamrocks, and then the green sugar. Your sugar might not stick in some spots after the cinnamon, so you can dab a tiny bit of water in those areas as needed. Just use your finger so you don’t get too much water on there…you just want to dab or smooth it on.

Breadstick Shamrocks - Step 3

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Check after 13 minutes…mine took about 15 to get nice and golden brown.

Let it cool before handling so it doesn’t come apart on you or you will have bad luck for 7 years! Just kidding. You’ll have a bunch of sad little green hearts.

If you’d like to see a couple more posts for St. Patrick’s Day, check out the Irish Beef Stew and my St. Patrick’s Day Ombre Cupcakes!

Erin Go Bragh!

Woven Paper Art

Woven Paper Art by Zim on a Whim

Over a year ago, I made this woven paper art and have gotten many compliments on it. I think it’s a great project, especially if you need certain colors in your decor and can’t find exactly what you like in the stores. The texture makes it so much more interesting. You don’t need to have any skills at all for this project! Even the kids can do it. My two got in on the action and did their own last year, too. Because you are weaving damp paper, I suggest that you do this project with kids who are a little older, say 10 and up. It can get a little frustrating for the little ones, but they can certainly help with the “painting”.

I did another one today so I could show you how to do one yourself. I got the idea and instructions from Gail over at Can’t Stop Making Things for my original projects. I used the food coloring like she shows you, but today I tried it with watercolors. The food coloring can get very messy and I wanted more control. The watercolors will be more muted, and the food coloring will be more vibrant. It depends on the look for which you are going, and how messy you want to get. Try both ways if you want! My instructions are for using the watercolors. If you want to use food coloring, refer to Gail’s post on how to get your paper “painted”. You will need a paper shredder, but if you don’t have one you can make strips using an X-acto knife and ruler. The shredder gives the paper a ragged edge which gives it more texture, but either way will be fine!

What you will need:
8.5 x 11″ white cardstock (You can find this at craft stores and in stores like Target where they have craft sections.)
Watercolors (Crayola is fine!)
Paint brush (or fingers!)
Paper Shredder
Photo frame with mat

*Note: Your finished artwork will be about half the size of the paper your start with. If you need it larger, just make 2 or more paintings.

1. Start by painting a design on your cardstock with your watercolors. Use more water for a more muted look, or less water for deeper colors.

2. Put your artwork through an empty paper shredder. Make sure it goes in straight or some of your strips will be unusable.
3. Remove strips from shredder, using caution. They will still be a little damp and can tear.
4. Count the strips that made it through the shredder okay, and divide them in half. Don’t worry about keeping them in the same order.
5. Get another piece of paper (any white paper will do), lay half of the strips down vertically next to each other, and tape the strips to the top of the paper to hold in place. Keep them close together, but not overlapping. (I had some casualties, so I was only able to get 10 strips across and 10 strips down.)

woven paper art - taping
6. Starting a little bit down from the top, start weaving the strips in horizontally. Under, over, under, over, etc. Make sure to alternate each strip – if you started with the first one over then under, then the next strip will start under then over. Capiche?

woven paper art - weaving
7. Try to keep them close together, with no space in between. If you start the second row a little further down, you can weave more easily and then scrunch it up carefully under the first row. Handle with care, as the strips can tear easily. Repeat until you use up all the strips.

woven paper art - complete
8. Let the paper dry completely.
9. You can leave it all taped to the other paper if you want, and cut to fit your selected frame.
10. Frame and enjoy your work of art!

Tip: I prefer to use a larger frame with a big mat that has a small opening, or a frame that has a shadow-box type of look.

I did this one last year and the frame and mat have a shadowbox effect:

woven paper art - orange-red

These are two that my kids did and we used a large mat with a small opening:

woven paper art - black frame      woven paper art - white frame

Give it a try and see what wonderful artwork you can make yourself!

Mini Candy Cane Heart Valentines

Mini Candy Cane Hearts

Each year I try to find something different for my kids to bring to school for Valentine’s Day besides the tiny, convenient, and inexpensive cards you find at all the stores. (Hmm, they sound really good putting it that way!) I was inspired by a post I saw a while ago on Nest of Posies’ blog but she used popsicle sticks with the candy hearts. I knew that wouldn’t transport well in a backpack to school so I just made little hearts to pass out to classmates.

I knew I wanted to make these for Valentine’s Day even before Christmas, so when I saw the mini candy canes for sale, I bought a couple of boxes back in December. If you don’t have any leftover mini candy canes, keep this in mind for next year!

All you need are mini candy canes, candy melts, sprinkles, waxed paper, and a baking sheet. A disposable decorating/piping bag or two is optional, but I highly recommended them. You can use a spoon, but they just might look a little messier that’s all. I wouldn’t recommend using a resealable bag as a piping bag because the melted chocolate will make the bag too floppy and hard to manage.

MCCH candy melts and bags

The candy melts and disposable (decorating) bags are both from Wilton and can be found at most craft stores like Michael’s or at Wal-Mart. I also purchased goody bags that were the perfect size at Michael’s.

The candy melts get melted inside a decorating bag in the microwave. There are instructions on the back of the bag, but basically you want to melt them slowly on 50% power. Put about half the candy in the bag, twist to close somewhat and tuck the end under the bag, heat for 1 minute on medium/50% power. Then heat at 30 second intervals on 50% power until it is melted – kneading the candy after each time. When it’s melted it should be thin and flow smoothly out of the bag.

First step is to lay out your mini candy canes on a waxed paper lined baking sheet. You can do this while you are melting the candy melts.

MCCH lay out hearts

When your candy melts are ready, cut off the tip of your decorating bag. (Do this only when you have your candy canes ready!) Squeeze out the melted candy, filling each heart, making sure to get where the ends meet and along the edge of the candy cane. You don’t want to overfill, but you do want to cover the whole inside.

Filling candy cane hearts

You will want to add some sprinkles after each time you fill a heart, or if you get good at filling you can do it every 2 or 3 hearts. The candy will start to set up so you want to make sure the sprinkles will stick.

Candy cane hearts with sprinkles

After my baking sheet was done, I stuck it in the freezer for about 5 minutes to set up. It will set up on its own without that step, but it helps to speed up the process. If you need more, you can melt the other half of the candy melts and do another tray. I made 2 trays, used one bag of candy melts, and got about 36 mini hearts.

Notes: You can use a second decorating bag for your second batch of candy melts to make it less messy. I used just one, but I put a paper plate under the bag in the microwave to catch any drips. Make sure not to overheat the candy melts. If you do it slowly, on medium power, and kneading it at each time interval, you will be okay. If you overheat it, it may lose it’s ability to set up/harden.

Candy cane hearts

Hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day and think of making these next year if you don’t happen to have some mini candy canes lying around!