Friday, December 24, 2010

Our Gingerbread House

This was quite project. The kids had a great time decorating with some seriously old halloween candy. Think, last year's candy!! I made the gingerbread and frosting from scratch and it was not tasty. Fun, but not tasty. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas Eve. We are in northern Iowa being blanketed with snow. Lovely if you ask me!






Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grandma B's Snickerbars


See that. It's milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter.  In some very well used measuring cups! It's also the first layer of the chocolaty , peanut buttery loveliness that is my grandma's recipe for homemade snicker bars. I have to tell you most of my life I have spent hating nuts, but loving these babies. It's been several years since I've had them since Grandma's in the nursing home and doesn't cook anymore. This year, I made my mom dig up the recipe so I could make them. Talk about transporting me back to my childhood!! mmmmm.  Yes, they are a bit of work, but totally worth it and much more interesting than plain old fudge! I made my first batch a couple of weeks ago and the hubs demanded that I "DO NOT MAKE THESE AGAIN EVER!!!! "  Not because they are bad, but because he couldn't keep shoving them in his mouth!!

Snicker Bars

Layer One:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
Melt together & spread in a 9x13 inch pan, let cool

Layer Two:
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup margarine
Boil 5 minutes, remove from heat & stir in
1 cup marshmallow cream
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
Pour over first layer

Layer Three:
One cup crushed peanuts. Spread over layer two

Layer Four:
30 caramels or one bag caramel bits
2 tablespoons water
Melt in the microwave or double boiler & drizzel over the peanut layer

Layer Five: Same as layer one
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
Melt & spread over the other layers.

Cool & cut into one inch squares.











Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BUSY BUSY BUSY

I should have been out the door an hour ago to head to Iowa. My kids both needs naps and are CRAZY. SO nice of my husband to mention 30 more holiday cards he wants sent before I head out of town. Oh and I needed an oil change and I got my hair done and I'm out of stamps and the kids destroyed two handmade gifts I made. So yeah, I will be sparse for the next week. I have a gingerbread house to show you, our holiday tea party, the kids FAB christmas outfits. So yeah, lots of stuff, just no time to blog.

oh and now Jojo is running around with a baseball helmet on and just took off the shoes I JUST put on him and Sweet Pea took out all of our sleeping bags and unrolled them. Guess I will be coming home to a mess. . . . ..

tis the season!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A preview

This is what I was up to this weekend & early this morning. More later.

Better photos later too. These are pretty bad.






- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Teacher Gift

I would like to share with you that I don't like giving teacher gifts. Oh, I think they deserve them and if I were a teacher I'd love to get them! I just hate the dilemma of choosing a gift for someone I don't know all that well. And then, did I spend enough?? So yeah, a bit of stress. I think I got turned off last year because I though I picked a nice gift, mini poinsettias Just a nice little thought for the teachers of Sweet Pea's two day a week preschool. Well, we showed up with our cute little flowers and two minutes later another mom walked in with HUGE poinsettias. Made ours look silly and cheap. Great huh?? I know it's all about the thought that counts but you know you just feel silly.

So this year it's year two with the same teachers. We all know each other well enough now that they are aware of my constant cooking & crafting and such. So, that's the route we went. I wanted Sweet Pea to help with the gifts so this is what we came up with.




One Dollar Store Canister filled with Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix. (1 8qrt box powdered milk, one tub Nesquick, 2 cups non dairy creamer, 2 cups powdered sugar. Stir and put 1/3 cup in 8oz hot water for hot cocoa)

One bag of homemade Peppermint Marshmallows. Many thanks to Little Birdie Secrets for a great recipe and tutorial on how to make them.  The kids had fun helping with these.

One Christmas Mouse. Got this idea from Oopsey Daisy . Go visit her. She is doing a great book advent with kids crafts to go along each day. My kids made these for their holiday tea party (post coming soon) and they make a cut addition to a gift.

A set of recipes. Four of my favorites. Two items that I have brought for parties at the school. The cards are a free printable from West Elm. I wanted to include a few more but was really sick of hand writing them.


and one handmade card by Sweet Pea!

We dropped these off this morning. Sweet Pea was quite pleased to be giving a gift she helped with. Had to laugh when another boy handed the teach his gift of chocolate and said "dont eat them all at once or you'll get chunky!" Anyway, hope you come up with something fabulous this year to give to the special people in your life. 


PS.  The tags on the cocoa and marshmallows are another free printable. This time from Paper and Cake. She used them as part of a layered hot cocoa jar gift!





Thursday, December 16, 2010

Angels & Men - Pint Sized Project

I feel a bit silly sharing these because it seems like they are something everyone has made sometime in their life. If you are one of the few people who have not, you should! They are lots of fun. Basically you are making a paper chain. Sort of like a snowflake. My kids both had a great time decorating these this year and just love seeing them hung up!


Start with a long strip of paper. White is fine. Cut up grocery bags are fine. We used a piece from a roll of packing paper we got at the dollar store for a dollar!

Fold it accordion style. You know, back and forth. Make sure your edges meet.


On your fold, draw one half of your design. We did gingerbread men and angels. Make sure the design fills the whole space and that arms, legs, or wings touch the opposite fold.


Cut your design out. Be sure that you leave sections attached on both folds. See, here the feet are right on the fold.

Unfold your paper. See all the little men you created! Holding hands & touching feet!!


Decorate to your liking. Crayons, markers, glitter glue, sequins.

Some one really likes the glitter glue!!


Display!!



Also, you can tape or glue several of these paper strips of men together to make one long garland to go on your tree or mantel. Ours always seem to end up in the windows. Sweet Pea really enjoys decorating these. This year she got a kick out of making all her angles the same. Last year, she insisted that every single one be different!






Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Twine Trees





So I bought twine a couple of weeks ago to make the cool twine wrapped letters . I was quite happy with how they turned out and was surprised that they used less twine than I anticipated so I had a LOT of twine left. I had seen some trees like this online somewhere last week and wanted to make some with all the left over twine. Of course, I couldn't find the tutorial so I improvised.

Started with a couple of cones made of card stock.



I wrapped my cones in plastic wrap so the twine wouldn't stick & so I could reuse the cones. I then mixed up a batch of papermache' medium. You know, a cup of starch and a half cup of flour. Gross pasty slimy stuff. I dipped the pieces in and wrapped my cones in a crisscross fashion. Make sure that each string has another supporting it. Also, make sure you make some straight wraps around the bottom so your tree has a base to stand on. There are no photos because both me and Jojo were a big slimy, sticky mess. We were doing this before 7am and my husband came down for breakfast and questioned my sanity once again. We let the trees sit overnight and ended up with this.



I'm a bit undecided about the white flakes hanging off there. It's the drips of the starch. I left it on for now because it looks a bit like snow to me. I may knock it off though because it looks a bit junky too. hmmm
Here they are dressed up with a couple of snowflakes. Not sure I love that either.

SO yeah, love these trees and wanted to share them. May have to do some tweaking to the design and process though!









Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Cards

So the time has come for me to get out a holiday card. I hate that I am doing it last minute once again but that's how it seems to go. I was just looking for something in my inbox and saw that I didn't order cards until the 19th of December last year!! Nice huh. I keep thinking I'll do something awesome and creative and never seem to get around to it. I hope my friends and family still enjoy the good old photo card! And do you write a letter to go with it?? I never have, but I like getting a letter. My mom is famous for her Christmas letters which are informative, yet funny. Like the year she said I was finally a true resident of Wisconsin because I had hit a deer with my car!

Anyway, because I enjoy seeing them again and again, here are the photos we've used in the past and a few outtakes from this year!

2006



2007




I didn't actually send this one out but it's one of my favorite holiday photos!!

And boo, I can't find the good photo of the year Jojo was a tiny baby. This one will have to do. 
2008




2009



2010



Hope you come up with something fabulous to share with your friends and family!




Monday, December 13, 2010

Frosty the Snowman

So did any one else see the AWESOME pumpkin snowman Jaime from Caught in Grace made last week that was featured on Someday Crafts last week?? And does any one else, besides me and Jaime still have pumpkins in their house or on their front step in December??? I HATE throwing my pretty pumpkins away when they are still looking nice and healthy so I was thrilled when I saw this idea!!

My snowman not nearly as cute as her's is since I only had my little pie pumpkins left. Well, actually the nice big interesting ones were on the front step but when I went to paint them I found that they were mushy. It was a bit sad because I had six of them out there and I could have had two awesome snowmen! I will plan better next year.
 I did things just a bit different because I needed more than hot glue to get my pumpkins to stay together.  I started by giving them a a couple of coats of white spray paint. My paint job is less than stellar due to painting in cooler than ideal temperatures.
 Next I drilled a hole in the top of one pumpkin, top and bottom of the middle pumpkin and the bottom of the top pumpkin. Fun times with the power tools!
 Next I put a piece of wooden bamboo skewer in top and bottom of the middle pumpkin and inserted the skewer in to the top and bottom pumpkins to make a tower.

Gave frosty a nice lopsided eye and smudge mouth face, many thanks to the help of a certain two year old, and tied on a baby sized hat!  The kids love him!

Oh and this was one of those project that added to my husband's idea that I am a bit crazy. He was questioning my sanity when he saw spray painted pumpkins on the front lawn after being out of town for four days!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pumpkin Scones




I've made these about once a week since the beginning of October and I can't stop. These are the reason I had to bust my butt at boot camp this morning and will be back at the YMCA for Zumba in the morning. I love them, Sweet Pea loves them, Jojo loves them and my scone hating husband loves them. Fluffy, spicy, moist. Try them. They come together quickly enough to make for a week day breakfast and taste pretty good the next day if stored in an air tight container. Many thanks to my friend Vicki for passing this one on!


Scone Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick cold or frozen butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg

Directions:
Mix first 8 ingredients together. Cut in butter. In separate bowl, mix pumpkin, cream and egg together. . Shape dough into disk on sprayed pizza stone or rectangle (3 inches wide by 1 inch think) on parchment lined baking sheet. Cut into wedges. Pull wedges apart so all sides are exposed. Or you can do what I do and scoop them out with a cookie scoop. Makes them a bit smaller for the kids. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Stick fork in center of largest wedge. It should come out clean. In not, bake another 5 minutes.


So I like to cheat and use 2 big teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice ! Here is the great and wonderful Jojo cutting in the butter for me @ 6:15 am
It should look about like this before you add the wet ingredients. Small crumbs.
I mix the cream, pumpkin & egg together and then dump into a well made in the dry ingredients.
And then, because they are so darn good, I add about 1/2 cup cinnamon chips. Just like chocolate chips but cinnamon flavored. They can be hard to find (aka Walmart doesn't carry them) but they are worth it in this recipe. When I am out of cinnamon chips, I stir in 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Chocolate chips would be good too.
I stir it all up with a big silicone scraper type thing. Do NOT over mix these or they will be like sad dry lumps in your belly. Just mix until all the flour is incorporated.
Don't leave the heavy cream sitting on the counter when a small person is helping. He was chugging it straight out of the carton. I forgave him because his milk mustache is so cute!  And this picture freaks me out a little because he looks exactly like my dad here!
So the directions say to make this into circle and cut it into wedges but I use a scoop instead. Makes for smaller scones, 10 -12 instead of 8 wedges.

And then you bake. And then comes the drizzle. mmmm


Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tb canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream

Mix first 6 ingredients. Drizzle cream in while whisking until frosting reaches molasses consistency.



Pair these with whatever you wish!  It was cheese and an apple for me!