DIY Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

The recipe that I’m sharing with you today is a family favorite at my house. The cinnamon dough is prepared as if you’re making cut out cookies, but the result is a hard, dry ornament that is sturdy enough to hang on your Christmas tree for years to come. (Trust me–0ur tree still features a dough ornament that I made when I was in preschool.) And the heavenly cinnamon scent that fills the house as these ornaments bake is just an added holiday bonus!

Obviously you can cut your ornaments into any shape, but I love the idea of personalized dog bone ornaments. They are very simple to make, and they are a perfect holiday gift for all those dog lovers in your life. This year I made the personalized dog bones, plus dog breed silhouettes, and a heart/dog bone combo (see the photo below). Your only limitation is the types of cookie cutters that you have available. Although, I did find that large ornaments are much more difficult to transfer to the baking sheet, so I would recommend using cookie cutters no bigger than 5 inches or so in length.

Once baked, these ornaments are beautiful enough to leave plain–just add a piece of ribbon, twine, or string to use as a hanger and call it a day. However, they are also a great blank canvases for all kinds of embellishments. I simply wrote my family’s dogs’ names on the bones using white fabric paint (a.k.a. “puffy paint”). You might also try using acrylic craft paint, spray paint, glitter, sequins, buttons, rick-rack, jingle bells, or any other adornment that can be adhered using craft glue or a hot glue gun. Keep it simple or go crafty crazy: it’s totally up to you.

Christmas Ornaments

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

Yield will vary depending on the size of your cookie cutters

 

1 cup ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting

3/4 cup applesauce

 

    For this project you will need: cookie cutters, an offset spatula, a plastic drinking straw, scissors, string or thin ribbon, and plus any craft supplies that you want to use to decorate your ornaments. I used white "puffy paint" (pictured here), but you could also use acrylic or spray paint, glitter, sequins, buttons, rick-rack, jingle bells, etc.

For this project you will also need: cookie cutters, an offset metal spatula, a plastic drinking straw, scissors, string or thin ribbon, plus any items that you want to use to decorate your ornaments. I used white “puffy paint” (pictured at right).

 

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

2. Place the cinnamon in a bowl. Slowly stir in the applesauce. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

3. Lightly sprinkle a large piece of wax paper with cinnamon, and roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough sticks to your rolling pin or wax paper, sprinkle with more ground cinnamon.

4. Use your desired cookie cutters to cut the dough into pieces. After each piece is cut, press the end of a plastic drinking straw into each piece of dough to cut out a round hole. (This step is VERY important because you will later use this hole to attach the ribbon that will serve as the hanger for your ornament.)

5. Use an offset metal spatula to carefully transfer each piece of dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can arrange the pieces close together on the baking sheet–they will not spread during baking–but the pieces should not be touching each other.

6. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour. Flip each ornament over, and return them to the oven for an additional hour.

7. Transfer the ornaments from the baking sheet to a cooling rack or a paper towel on the countertop.

8. When the ornaments are completely cool, add the hangers:  first cut a length of ribbon for each ornament. (I cut my ribbon pieces about 4 inches long). On each ornament, thread a piece of ribbon through the hole that you poked with the straw. Tie the two ends of the ribbon together (in a bow or double knot) to form a loop that you can use to hang the ornament on your Christmas tree.

9. At this point, you may choose to use the ornaments as-is, or you may want to decorate the ornaments with paint, glitter, sequins, or other embellishments. Once the ornaments are decorated it’s best to allow a full 24 hours for them to dry completely before hanging them or wrapping them up for holiday gift-giving.

 

NOTE:  As always, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on pets during the holiday season so that they don’t get into any decorations that could make them sick. (i.e. eating Christmas ornaments, holly, pine needles, etc). This basic cinnamon ornament dough is completely non-toxic to your pets; however, please take extra care if you add any decorations to your ornaments that pose a choking hazard.

DIY Dog Sweater

In anticipation of the cooler Autumn weather, today I’m going to share how I magically turned the sleeve of an old sweater into a new (and FREE!) dog sweater. There are several tutorials for this project floating around the internet, but one that I found to be super easy to follow is on Veronica O’Neil’s blog, VO Knits. At first glance I was a little skeptical that the sleeve of a sweater would actually comfortably fit my dog, but it did with room to spare.

Sweater    First, you’ll need a sweater. Any sweater or sweatshirt will work, but to ensure that the sleeve is big enough, you’ll probably want to use one that is size large or bigger. (I used a ladies’ XL sweater to make this project for  my 15-pound dog.) If you have an old sweater in the back of your closet that you don’t mind cutting up–great! If not, you can buy a sweater for around $2 at a thrift shop or yard sale.

Now you’ll also need pinking shears or fabric scissors and a needle and thread (or Fray Check seam sealant). Once the materials are gathered, the project takes less than 15 minutes to finish! And you don’t have to be perfectly exact to end up with a nice-looking finished product. I pretty much eyeballed the length, spacing, etc, but it helps to fit it on your dog as you go along to double-check the sizing. The process that I used to make my dog sweater is explained below, and you can check out VO Knits for the more detailed photo tutorial.

1. Use the pinking shears or fabric scissors to cut one sleeve off of your sweater, following the shoulder seam. Do not cut the wrist cuff off, because it makes a nice finished neck for your dog sweater.

Sleeve

2. Cut two small circles out of the sleeve to form the leg openings of your dog sweater. Be careful not to cut them too large. (About 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter is plenty big).

Leg Openings

3. Next, cut the sleeve to a length that fits the length of your dog’s back. You can leave this bottom hem straight or cut it into a “saddle” shape (as explained on VO Knits).

Bottom Hem

4. At this point you can turn each of the cut edges under and hand-sew the hems with a needle and thread. OR, you can take the lazy way out (as I did, of course) and simply use Fray Check liquid seam sealant around each of the cut edges to keep them from fraying.Dog Sweater

5. Dress your dog up in the fashionable new doggie sweater and hit the dog park!

 

DIY Puppy Pop Art

I dragged my mom along on my odyssey into collage art. These are the works of art that she created using photos of her three dogs.

I dragged my mom along on this odyssey into crafting. Here are the collages that she created using photos of her three dogs.

This week I got my creative juices flowing and made a paper collage project using a photo of my dog Pacey. I got the idea for the pop art style collage from Trudy K Taylor’s tutorial “How to make a pet collage with your children.” (Click here to visit her blog: http://trudyktaylor.com/making-mondays-make-a-pet-collage-with-children-your-children/). My plan was to create three different paper collages of Pacey’s face and then frame them together à la Andy Warhol’s pop art prints.

A version of artist Andy Warhol's famous "Marilyn Diptych"

A version of artist Andy Warhol’s famous “Marilyn Diptych”

Making these collages is simple and fun, and I love the fact that as you cover your dog’s photo with decorative paper, the eyes and nose remain exposed so that the finished product still really looks like your dog.

This project is also very inexpensive. I didn’t need to buy any supplies at all, because I just dug into my stash of scrapbook paper. Depending on what you have around the house, you could also use wrapping paper, wallpaper, construction paper, newspaper, fabric, felt, stickers, buttons, beads, or pretty much anything else that you can easily glue down.

In addition to whatever collage materials that you choose to use, you’ll need a pair of scissors, glue or glue stick, and two print-outs (or copies) of a photo of your dog. I scanned a photo of my dog Pacey into my computer and adjusted it to my desired size using Photoshop. I then printed it out on basic, white printer paper. Alternatively, you could make copies and adjust the photo’s sizing using an office printer.

I used a photo of Pacey’s face with him looking fully toward the camera, which I think worked really well. But you could use your dog’s profile, their face and chest, or even a full body shot. Whatever sparks your creativity.

To get started you'll need two printed copies of a photo of your dog, a pair of scissors, and glue.

Once you’ve got the two printed photos, you’re ready to get to work. Use the scissors to cut your dog’s face out of each of the two papers. You will use one of the faces as a template, so glue it onto whatever piece of paper that you want to be the background of your collage. I used a piece of construction paper.

First, cut out one of the photos and glue it onto the decorative paper that is going to be the background of your collage.

Next you’re going to use the second face that you cut out to create a stencil that will make it easier to piece together the decorative materials that you’re going to use to make your collage. Use the scissors to cut the face into pieces; I recommend that you cut it into at least four or five pieces (to allow you to use a wide enough variety of patterns and colors), but the pieces can be any size and shape that you like. The most important thing is to make sure that you CUT THE EYES AND NOSE OUT of your stencil pieces so that your dog’s actual eyes and nose (from the photo that you glued to the background) will show through on your finished collage. This is a really nice touch that keeps your pet’s face recognizable in your finished work of art.StencilOnce your stencil is cut out, you’re ready to have some fun and let your creative juices flow. Choose a decorative paper, trace around your chosen stencil piece, and cut it out using scissors. Then glue the piece down in the correct position on your photo template. Repeat this process until you’ve covered the entire face template with materials in different patterns and colors. You can also use paper (or stickers, buttons, etc.) to add extra touches like a hat, necklace, collar, bow tie, or glasses.

Before and After

There are lots of things that you can do with your finished collages. I scanned my collages into my computer, printed them out on 6″ x 4″ photo paper, and put them in a store-bought frame. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of scanning and printing, you could simply frame each individual collage as-is. I’ve also considered having the scanned photos of my collages printed on note cards or onto a calendar. Whichever way that you choose to finish your project, these collages make a unique and meaningful gift for any dog owner.

Finished Pacey Collages

DIY Slip-On Dog Collar Bandana

Pacey looking dashing in his new Slip-On Bandana. You might notice that he does NOT look too amused . . . perhaps he’s not into preppy prints as much as I am.

While I would say that my pup Pacey has at least tolerated most of the cute (some might say silly) accessories that I’ve made him wear over the years, he never seems to keep a bandana tied on very long. Like lots of dogs out there, he wriggles and chews and usually manages to lose the bandana in a matter of mere seconds. To avoid this pesky problem, a super smart blogger over at Crafty Critique has created a bandana that slips right onto your dog’s collar so that it stays in place. And since you don’t have to tie any knots, it’s much easier for you to take off and put on. Think of all of the seasonal bandana possibilities!

I am a novice seamstress at best, and I successfully whipped this bandana up in just a few minutes using some scrap fabric that I already had sitting around. Crafty Critique’s tutorial also includes a printable pattern, but I decided to make my own. I just measured out the shape using a ruler and cut it out of construction paper. The pattern size that I used (3-inch straight sides with 5-inch angled sides) fit my 15-pound chihuahua-mix perfectly, and I think that it’ll work well for most toy breeds.

Click the link below to see Crafty Critique’s full step-by-step tutorial:

http://www.craftycritique.com/2011/06/tutorial-slide-on-dog-collar-bandana.html

 

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

Fabric scissors (I used pinking sheers to help keep the edges from fraying); pattern; scrap fabric; a few pins; plus, thread and a sewing machine or hand needle.

Fabric scissors (I used pinking sheers to help keep the edges of the fabric from fraying); bandana pattern; scrap fabric; a few straight pins; PLUS, an iron, some thread, and a sewing machine or hand needle.

 

Once I had the piece of fabric cut out (as you see in the photo above), I chose to hand-stitch my bandana. It’s such a small amount of sewing that I just sat and did the stitching while I watched a sit-com, but a sewing machine would be the simpler and faster way to do it. If you know that your dog is going to be really rough on the bandana, you probably want to choose to machine stitch so that the finished bandana is as sturdy and durable as can be. But whatever floats your boat.

The other place that I cut corners on the tutorial’s instructions is that I did not sew the extra line across the bandana to form a true pocket for the collar. After sewing the edges of the bandana as instructed, I flipped it right-side-out and called it a day. Again, if you want a sturdier, more professional looking product, go ahead and follow all of the steps of Crafty Critique’s tutorial. (As my blog followers may be starting to realize, I tend to be a little lazy when it comes to craft projects so I took the easy route. But I still think the bandana came out looking lovely.)

My finished Slip-On Dog Collar Bandana.

My finished Slip-On Dog Collar Bandana.

Just slide the finished bandana onto your dog's collar, and you're ready for action. No knots needed!

The finished bandana has a wide enough pocket that it should slide onto essentially any dog collar. My bandana fit easily over Pacey’s 1/2-inch wide collar with the buckle and dog tags attached too.

Now just slide the bandana onto your dog’s collar and you’re ready for action. No knots needed!

DIY Dog Shampoo

Yesterday was officially the first day of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway), and it immediately got me thinking about spring cleaning. Nowadays I know lots of people who are concocting their own cleaning and beauty products at home rather than buying chemical-laden products at the store; inspired by these thrifty, “green” type people, this week I decided to try making my own dog shampoo.

Making dog shampoo at home is a quick and easy project that can actually save you a lot of money over time. The ingredients are all inexpensive and can be found at most grocery stores. Glycerin is the only ingredient that may be foreign to you–I had never worked with it before. Pure glycerin is a colorless, gel-like liquid. It is commonly used in soaps, lotions, and other beauty products because it naturally soothes and moisturizes the skin. Glycerin is gentle enough for dogs’ skin and will also help to condition and moisturize their fur. If you don’t see glycerin at your regular grocery store, you can find it at a craft store like A.C. Moore or Michaels (with the soap-making supplies) or at any pharmacy.

I bought a plastic squeeze bottle (for $1 at Hobby Lobby) to use as a container for my finished shampoo, but pretty much any container with a lid will do. To be really green, you could recycle one of your own shampoo or lotion bottles. I do highly recommend using a plastic container, because a glass one can be very dangerous if it gets dropped in the shower or tub.

Drying off a squeaky clean Pacey after his bath with freshly homemade dog shampoo.

Drying off a squeaky clean Pacey after his bath with freshly homemade dog shampoo.

The recipe below is given as a ratio so that you can very easily make as much or as little of the shampoo as you need. To use the given ratio, simply choose a volume of measurement, such as a tablespoon or a cup, and multiply that measure by the number of “parts” listed for each ingredient. For example, I only wanted to fill one small bottle, so I used 2 tablespoons of glycerin and 1/3 cup (a.k.a. 6 tablespoons) of the dish soap, water, and vinegar. If you want to make a bigger batch, you might choose to use 1/2 cup of glycerin and 1 1/2 cups of dish soap, water, and vinegar. Etc, etc, etc.

DIY Dog Shampoo

1 part glycerin

3 parts gentle, all-natural dish soap

3 parts room temperature water

3 parts apple cider vinegar

Scented or essential oil, as desired (optional)

 

Place the dish soap in a bowl. Slowly and gently pour in the water, apple cider vinegar, and glycerin. If desired, add a few drops of essential oil. Use a skewer to very gently stir the ingredients together, trying to avoid making the mixture too foamy. Transfer the shampoo to a plastic bottle for storage.

To use, squeeze a quarter-sized amount of the shampoo into your hand, work into a lather on your dog’s wet fur, and then rinse thoroughly with water.

If the shampoo has been sitting on the shelf for a while between baths, you should very gently shake the bottle to redistribute the mixture before using it.

Peanut Butter Jar Cookies

Finished JarYou’ve probably all seen this cute jar cookie idea used to make people cookies, but it also works nicely for these dog biscuits. It’s very simple to execute, and (if you’ve got the time and inclination) you can use your crafty-ness and creativity to make the packaging really special. This is a great homemade gift for dog-lovers. I’m planning to use it as a “thank you” gift when someone dog-sits for Pacey.

Since you aren’t always aware of the special dietary needs of your friends’ dogs, I made this recipe wheat-free and gluten-free, just in case. Most dogs love peanuts/peanut butter and can digest it well, so it is generally not a problem ingredient.

If you’re not in need of a gift for someone else at the moment, you could obviously forget the jar cookie idea all together and just make these cookies for your dog following the same recipe below.

Here are the craft supplies you’ll need:

1 large mason jar

1 scrap of pretty fabric

Ribbon (1/2-inch wide or thinner)

1 piece of paper to handwrite or print the recipe on

Hole-punch

Scissors (to use on both fabric and paper)

Here are the ingredients that you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups (gluten-free) oat flour

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter chips

Here’s how you put it all together:

-Carefully pour each of the ingredients into the mason jar in the order they’re listed above. (The oat flour goes in first and so on.) Gently jiggle the jar after each addition to level off each ingredient and keep the presentation neat.

-Place the metal cap onto the top of the jar to seal it.

-Cut your desired fabric into a circle large enough to cover the top of the jar. Depending on the look that you want, you could use regular scissors or the pinking shears kind.

-Place your fabric circle on top of the metal cap on the jar. Place the metal ring (that is made to secure the lid on the jar) on top of the fabric circle. Twist the metal ring to close the jar as you normally would, trapping the fabric tightly between the two metal pieces of the lid.

-Print the recipe onto your desired paper. This is where you can get really creative if you want. You can simply print the recipe out onto white printer paper using your computer (like I did), or you could use colorful printer paper or pretty scrapbook paper. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can handwrite the recipe or even use calligraphy.

-Once you’ve got the recipe printed on the paper, use the hole-punch to put a round hole at the top of the recipe. Then use scissors (again, plain edge or decorative ones) to cut the recipe out. I just did a plain-Jane rectangle, but you could do a circle or whatever shape you like. As long as the recipe card fits neatly against the jar, it doesn’t really matter.

-Cut a length of ribbon long enough to tie in a bow around the lid of the jar.

-Thread the ribbon through the hole that you punched in the recipe card, and tie it into a bow around the metal rim of the jar’s lid. And . . . VOILÀ! You’ve got a personalized gift for your favorite dog-lover!

Below is the recipe as I printed it out for my recipe card. This one is formatted a little differently from the way I typically post my recipes–simply because I wanted it to fit neatly onto a small recipe card.

PB Jar Cookies

PEANUT BUTTER DOG COOKIES

MAKES ABOUT 50

 

Transfer the ingredients inside the jar to a mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add 1 egg and 3/4 cup of water, and stir to combine. Use your hands to knead the mixture into a dough that will hold together.

 

Roll the dough into small balls about 1-inch in diameter, and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Use your hand to flatten each ball into a cookie shape.

 

Bake in a 350°F oven until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before serving to your four-legged friends.

 

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

DIY Doggie Bow Tie

Pacey looking dapper in his brand new bow tie

Pacey looking dapper in his brand new bow tie

Last week I stumbled upon a really cool tutorial on how to sew your own kid-sized bow tie on a blog called “A Lemon Squeezy Home.”  I’d seen these types of tutorials before, but I thought this one was particularly well done. The size of the bow tie and its Velcro closure made this particular pattern easy to use as a dog bow tie, so I decided to try making one for Pacey.  I followed the instructions, except I cut the pattern pieces a little bit smaller to be exactly Pacey-sized. Please visit http://www.lemonsqueezyhome.com/2010/04/bow-tie-tutorial.html for the full tutorial.

I consider myself fairly crafty, but I am new to sewing. I do own my own sewing machine, but I am a very, very, very novice sewer. However, these bow tie instructions proved super easy to follow, even for me. And for my first attempt I think that Pacey’s new bow tie is pretty frickin’ adorable. In the spirit of full disclosure, I did cheat a little bit when I made it . . . I didn’t sew the extra pleats into the bow itself. I also didn’t actually hem the ends of the collar, because Pacey’s fur is long enough that it’ll never show, and I hot glued the Velcro pieces on instead of sewing them nicely as the tutorial instructs. I used a sewing machine, but this is a small enough project that you could really sew it by hand if you wanted to take the time and effort. It took me less than an hour from start to finish—again, I’m a beginner–so it’s a great little project for a Saturday afternoon. This bow tie would be extremely cute for your dog to wear for a wedding celebration, on holidays like Easter or Christmas, or for any other formal occasion on his/her busy social calendar. It would also make a sweet homemade gift for a fellow dog-lover.

Here are the materials I started with.

Here are the materials I started with.

And here's the finished product. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

And here’s the finished product. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.