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Celebrate Winter: Food & Crafts to Stay Warm on Cold Days

glove animals

By Mary Heyl

Winter is the perfect time of year to learn something new—not only is January the time of year for resolutions, but there’s plenty of time to put them into practice! This month, resolve to try something new, whether it’s a new recipe, sharing some homemade fun, or learning to finger knit with your children or grandchildren. Snowy days mean there’s nothing but time to put these ideas into practice!

Jolinda Hacket of thespruce.com loves to make Tortilla Pie, an easy, delicious recipe that will warm up the whole family on a chilly day! To get started, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine 2 cups of chopped onion (fresh or frozen), 1 ½ cups of chopped red pepper (fresh or frozen), 2 minced garlic cloves, ¾ cup of salsa, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin and 2 cans (15.8 oz each) of black beans, drained, in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.

Arrange six 6-inch corn tortillas in the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish, overlapping as necessary. Spread half of the bean mixture over the tortillas and sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack and/or cheddar cheese. Repeat the layer with six more tortillas, remaining bean mixture and one more cup of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm and garnish with tomatoes, sour cream, olives or whatever toppings you like!

For the crafty kid in your life, give these adorable glove animals a try! Nearly everyone has a stash of gloves without mates, and this activity is the perfect way to use them. All you need to get started is some gloves, needle and thread, stuffing, buttons, ribbons, pompoms and any other embellishments you like! Start by folding the thumb and two middle fingers that are not needed for ears inside the glove and whip-stitch across the opening with the needle and thread.

Next, stuff the glove with fiber fill and fill the fingers (future ears!) if you want them to stand up, or leave them empty if they will be folded over. Stitch the opening for the hand closed. Teach your little ones how to sew a button and create the face for the stuffed animal (for non-sewers or young children, use craft glue to attach the buttons and embellishments). Stitch the ears down and experiment by folding back the fingers or use the fingers as arms and legs!

Even if you’ve never tried knitting and don’t have any knitting needles, you can finger knit. Finger knitting (otherwise known as French knitting) is a fun, easy way to make long, colorful chains that can be mini scarves for dolls and stuffed animals or braided together to make a scarf for you! All you need is a pair of scissors and some heavyweight yarn to get started. Kate from thecrafttrain.com offers a detailed photo tutorial of finger knitting—a great way for kids to pass the time, even while watching TV.

Clamp the end of the yarn between your thumb and the palm of your hand. If you are right handed clamp it in your left hand, and if you are left handed do the opposite. Create a figure eight with the yarn around your first two fingers. Create a second figure eight directly above it.

Leaving the second loop in place, lift the bottom loop over the top of it and slip it off the end of your finger, repeat with the second finger. You can now let go of the end which has been clamped between your thumb and the palm of your hand. Give it a gentle tug. Repeat the stitch by making another figure eight, lifting the bottom loops over the top loops and slipping them off your fingers.

Continue knitting using this technique. When you are happy with the length, slip both of the loops off the ends of your fingers and hold them in one hand. Snip the yarn with your scissors and thread the end of it back through both loops, gently tugging the end of your rope. You’re done!

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