Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feeling conflicted!

I have found SO many great homemade gift ideas lately (thanks to blog surfing). The only problem is that I'm trying to finish the gifts I have already started, yet I want to take time to blog about these too! I seriously need more hours in the day. In the meantime, I will blog. And feel conflicted. Because I really really need to get some Christmas gifts finished!

These are to fun to wait! Here goes:

My daughter LOVEs play food. She can play pretend for hours with some play food and plastic utensils. I know she has a ton of plastic food toys but I couldn't help but fall in love with these FELT foodies. I think they are so cute!!! The picture and MORE ideas come from this blog. Check it out -- the felt Pop Tarts are so adorable :)

It all makes me want to buy THIS book -- oh and a sewing machine too :)

Next super fabulous idea:
Please tell me you love these crate slip covers as much as I do??? You know those cheapo plastic crates you buy at Walmart?? Look how beautiful they look with a slipcover! I can picture these in every room of my house with fabric to match. Love them. And hey, it can't be that hard right?
Picture and tutorial courtesy THIS BLOG.

Check out this fun idea:

I think these chef hats are so fun! My daughter and son love to cook with me and these would be such a special gift for them -- you know, if I could sew.
Here is the BLOG where she is selling the pattern for all you cooking and sewing gurus!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Homemade Ornament

I am really enjoying these sweet homemade paper ornaments! Check out Chick 'n Scratch -- she even has a video tutorial :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I'm all about cutesy treat gifts. I am in LOVE with these printable candy wrappers from Rachel Ray. It doesn't get easier than this :

Picture courtesy How about Orange.

Thankful gift

I have a friend who is incredibly talented when it comes to gift giving. She LOVES to create small gifts and treats and I am always amazed at the wonderful things she comes up with!
Today she gave me this adorable gift:

A Thanksgiving pot holder filled with hand dipped pretzels and a poem. I love this gift for it's simplicity. Chocolate dipped pretzels are easy to do, yet look so fancy and gourmet when you are done. They also taste delicious -- she dipped hers in caramel, nuts, chocolate and then swirled some white chocolate on top. Yum!
I loved the poem so much that I'm going to post it here on the blog:

"Thank You, God, for Everything"
Thank You, God, for everything
the big things and the small,
For “every good gift comes from God”
the giver of them all
And all too often we accept
without any thanks or praise
The gifts God sends as blessings
each day in many ways,
And so at this Thanksgiving time
we offer up a prayer
To thank You, God, for giving us
a lot more than our share...
First, thank You for the little things
that often come our way,
The things we take for granted
but don’t mention when we pray,
The unexpected courtesy,
the thoughtful, kindly deed,
A hand reached out to help us
in the time of sudden need...
Oh, make us more aware, dear God,
of little daily graces
That come to us with “sweet surprise”
from never-dreamed-of-places
Then, thank You for the “Miracles”
we are much too blind to see,
And give us new awareness
of our many gifts from Thee,
And help us to remember
the Key to Life and Living
Is to make each prayer a Prayer of Thanks
and every day Thanksgiving.
By Helen Steiner Rice

This was such a lovely gift and such a neat way to show someone that you are grateful for them! I also love that this gift could easily be turned into a Christmas gift -- just change the poem and find a festive pot holder.

In case you are like me and absolutely love chocolate dipped pretzels, here is a recipe and instructions to help you on your way :

(instructions courtesy THIS LINK)

10 ounces pretzel sticks (Pretzel RODS)
12 ounces milk chocolate chips (or melting disks)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
candy sprinkles (optional)
miniature M&M chocolate candies (optional)
mini Reese's pieces (optional)
chopped peanuts (optional)

1Melt milk chocolate chips in double boiler or in microwave (be careful not to burn in the micro).2If you are using the white chocolate, wait until later before melting unless you can keep it over warm water.3Dip each pretzel rod about 2/3 of the way up in chocolate.4Lay on wax paper lined baking sheets, lining up the rods but leave a bit of space between them.5Allow to set a little, but not completely dry (while waiting, make sure your white chocolate is ready).6Dip a fork into the white chocolate and drizzle over the milk chocolate by gently swishing the fork back and forth over the rods but not touching them.7Place your sprinkles or candies on a paper plate and roll each pretzel rod in desired topping (or just sprinkle on).8Lay back on wax paper to set completely

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Feeling grateful?

My friend Raven sent over this awesome idea for sharing gratitudes:

(text and pictures courtesy Raven :)

We make a Thanksgiving Chain. It's a fun way to get children involved in recognizing all of the wonderful things in their lives.
Basically, you just create a chain out of paper links. I have a gift bag sitting on our dining room table with brightly colored paper that I cut to size, a pen, and a stapler. Having this bag on the table helps us remember to add to the chain and leaves us with no excuses not to add on.
Each evening, we pull out a piece of paper for each of us and we all name something that we are thankful for. As adults, it's fun to try to think up something new each evening. Although I try to encourage my two year-old to think of new things, she has a few favorites and that's all right, too. At her age, it's more the idea of the thing that counts. And she is loving this activity! Each night, she reminds us about the chain and is eager to share something that she is thankful for (this ranges from things like milk to family members like her cousins).
We started this chain mid-October and will continue it until Thanksgiving. It's gotten quite long and is a bright and cheerful addition to our home decor that reminds us that there are so many things to be thankful for.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I am dedicating this post to one of our regular holiday pastimes: Ding-dong-ditch. I think everyone is familiar with the activity which involves leaving treats on doorsteps, ringing the doorbell, and then running really really fast to not get caught leaving the treats.
Unfortunately my children aren't old enough to do the running part yet. My husband insists on driving the getaway car so it's always me who gets the adrenaline rush as I sprint from the doorsteps.
This year we've started two new Thanksgiving traditions that involve ding-donging. Both were inspired from this AMAZING BOOK:

Really, I love it.
The first involves purchasing or making a pie and leaving it on the doorstep with a note that says "Happy Thanksgiving, from your friend, the Pumpkin Pie Fairy." This one worked out great because our Albertsons was having a promotion where you could purchase 2 Sara Lee pies, and 2 Breyers Ice cream ALL FOR $6. Great deal huh? We ding-donged the pie and are enjoying the ice cream for ourself ;)
Here is how it looked:

Our next activity we're saving for Family Home Evening on Monday. We're going to make these super adorable (and easy) treats from FamilyFun:

I'm going to put two each on a paper plate and wrap them up pretty with cellophane and ribbon. Then we're going to attach a tag that says "We're grateful for you because ..." and then add the reason we're grateful for that person. We'll probably do about 15 homes that night so I should probably start training for the running event.
I'm excited about these traditions. Anything I can do to prolong the celebration of gratitude and thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday so you gotta make it last!

Continuing on with Ding-donging, here is a picture of what we did for Christmas last year:

Using my Cricut and some simple brown paper bags we put together The Twelve Days of Christmas for a family. The beauty about this technique is that you can pre-bag and label everything, put them in a cute box and deliver them all on ONE night. Much better then 12 consecutive nights of running in the ice and snow! Inside our bags was a peice of a nativity set and a scripture and hymn for each day.
Speaking of nativities, this year I made a TON of those wood nativities that I blogged about earlier. I'll post the results as soon as I get them finished! I'm also working on some really fun projects, but they are for Christmas gifts of people who read this blog! So I'll save those for January :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thanksgiving decoration

Wow. I am so excited to post this. Why? BECAUSE I actually made it myself. This is sadly a rare event ;) This year we started a new tradition in our family (now that our oldest is 3 she can participate in more traditions -- yea!). For our first Family Home Evening we made a list of 8 things that we were most grateful for this year. Our 3-yr-old contributed three, and we helped contribute the rest. I then took a picture of each of these "things" we were grateful for. Some of the pictures I already had -- like a family picture to represent being grateful for our family -- others I had to stage -- like a picture of my toddler with her favorite movies because she was grateful for them. I'm working on getting the photos developed, but once they are done they will be displayed in the clips you see on top of my 8 blocks. The whole project cost less than $5 :)
I simply had my hunksband cut the blocks, then sand them. I painted them brown and then used patterned paper to cover the front. I used my Cricut to cut the letters and then finished it off with the binder clips (which I covered with paper to match the letters). It was really quick and simple and the start of a fun way to display our gratitudes each year.

(if it looks like the paper isn't actually on the blocks, it's because they aren't yet. I have to go buy some spray adhesive. I didn't want to worry about any bubbles by using mod podge).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Homemade gift ideas

Ok, I definetly have a bias. I have a thing for homemade gifts. I'm finally old enough -- haha -- to realize that Christmas is NOT all about presents. I personally do not want to spend my whole Christmas season in the store! I hope I don't sound like a grinch ;) One of my favorite ways to celebrate the Christmas season is to create homemade gifts. Some years I simply make small gifts for neighbors, and other years I make, rather than buy, gifts for family. I would LOVE to hear ideas from everyone on homemade gifts that you enjoy! In fact, I need ideas for THIS year!

Here is a couple quickies to get your brain juices flowing:
These are some hot chocolate buckets made by this gal. I really like these because hot chocolate is inexpensive but everyone loves it. This is another example of a small gift made GREAT thanks to beautiful presentation! Gifts like these would be great for the office or for neighbors.

This is such a fun and simple headband that would be great for children or adults. If you are good at sewing this would be really easy to whip up! This type of gift makes me think it would be great to give to a sister, college roommates or even a cute set for your little girl. I don't have sewing instructions, but here is the website where the cute creation came from.

Also, I think specialty chocolates look so beautiful at the store. Making special treats is perfect for the holidays. There are truffles, dipped pretzel sticks, homemade nut clusters, ect. Here is a recipe for chocolate covered marshmallows (yum...)

Dipped Marshmallows

  • Need:
  • 1 bag large
  • marshmallows
  • (1 cup) milk
  • chocolate chips
  • (2 tsp.) vegetable oil
  • Assorted sprinkles colored sugar
  • coconut
  • crushed nuts

Melt chocolate chips and oil together over low heat (about 1 min. in microwave). Have your child dip each marshmallow into the chocolate (so about half of it is covered), then dip and roll in the sprinkles. Place on a cookie sheet to harden. Give away as gifts (if you know anyone who actually might enjoy eating something like this!) or enjoy yourselves.

Also, if you like doing those creative neighbor/office gifts here is a huge ol' list courtesty of this website.
  • A mug, a packet of instant soup and a card saying, "For a souper friend."
  • A box of muffin mix with the saying, "You're getting muffin for Christmas!"
  • A two-liter bottle of soda pop with a tag, "Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, oh what a great neighbor you is," or "The rest of the neighbors love you, and soda we," or "May your Christmas be merry and Sprite," or "We're soda-lighted to have you as neighbors."
  • Flavored popcorn with the saying, "Just poppin' in to say Merry Christmas," or "It may sound corny, but we wish you a Merry Christmas!"
  • A vegetable peeler with the tag, "Here's hoping your Christmas is appealing."
  • A box of Ho-Ho cupcakes with the card, "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas."
  • A box of Ding Dongs with the tag, "Merry Christmas from the Ding Dongs next door!"
  • A can of nuts with the card, "From the nuts next door" or "From your nutty neighbors."
  • Homemade spice blends, such as cajun, Italian, Tex-Mex, cinnamon-sugar, etc. with a card, "Seasonings Greetings" and suggestions or recipes for using it.
  • A bag of potpourri with the saying, "Scenting you holiday greetings!"
  • Scented soap and a washcloth in holiday motif with the greeting, "We wash you a Merry Christmas!"
  • Ice cream with a note, "Have a cool yule!"
  • Candle and book of matches, "To a matchless friend, may your Christmas be bright."
  • Bubble gum or bubble bath, "May your holidays bubble over with fun!"
  • Mints, "We 'mint' to wish you a Merry Christmas!"
  • Snickers candy bar, "Don't snicker — just be glad you got something!"
  • Cookie dough, "Here's a little extra dough for Christmas."
  • A jar of jam, "Hoping your Christmas is jam-packed with cheer."
  • Veggies and dip, "Dip into the holidays and a healthy New Year!"
  • A bag of dried pasta, "Have a pasta-tively happy holiday!"
  • A hunk of cheese and grater, "To a grate neighbor from your cheesy friends next door."
  • A basket with cocoa mixes or bath items, with a poem, "When you feel like a basket case, take a break . . . and slow your pace."
  • Hershey's Kisses, "Merry Kiss-mas."
  • Oven mitt filled with treats, "We have to ad-mitt you're a great neighbor!"
  • Frozen cookie dough with cookie cutters, "We've done the mixing, now you can cut up in the kitchen."
  • Bag or box of Whoppers, "Have a "whopper" of a Christmas."
  • Jolly Ranchers candies, "Have a holly jolly Christmas."
  • Chex Party Mix, "Santa always Chex his list."
  • Joy brand dishwashing soap, "Here's wishing joy to someone who really sparkles."
  • Juice pitcher filled with candy canes, "We pitcher you raising a little cane during the holidays."
  • Measuring cup or spoons, "Wishing you a joy beyond measure!"
  • Oranges (or a chocolate orange), "Orange you glad we're friends."
  • Homemade divinity, "May your holiday be divine."
  • Homemade fudge, "Let's fudge a little on the calories and enjoy the holiday season!"
  • Cinnamon rolls, "Here's a sweet treat rolled up with warm holiday wishes! Merry Christmas!"
  • Cheese ball and crackers, "We don't mean to sound cheesy, we just hope you have a ball this season!"
  • A candle, "May your days be happy, your heart be light, your Christmas merry and the New Year bright!!! "

That's probably enough ideas for today. After all, it IS only November 1st :)

slacker time

Sorry I've been such a slacker. I didn't even do a Monday recipe this week! Lame, I know. I started this blog and then started some new hobbies and those other hobbies are taking my time now :)
Here is a recipe rundown of all the fun new recipes I've been trying lately. They are all perfect for this time of year:

Pumpkin Muffins. LOVE them. I can't get enough pumpkins from September
through November :)
I've tried a lot of whole grain pumpkin recipes and this one is my favorite -- probably because it has 1 cup of sugar which is more than any other muffin recipe I do :)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup applesuace
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup buttermilk (I've also used regular milk and it was fine)
2 eggs
1/2 c. chocolate chips, nuts whatever

Preheat oven to 400.
Mix wheat, spices, salt, baking soda and powder. In a separate bowl mix remaining ingredients. Mix them all together. Pour into muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy.

My other favorite recipe is my newly discovered 100% juice gelatin jigglers. Call me clueless, but I had no idea that you could make jigglers or jello or any of that fun stuff using good juice! This year we attempted to make halloween ones using apple juice. The juice looks orange in the bottle, but came out golden yellow in the jigglers. Also, I wouldn't reccomend using apple juice becuase the flavor is to subtle. Something like pomegranate cranberry would work great becuase there is a ton of flavor. This was fun though and a perfect way to use all of those jello molds I have! Oh, just don't wiki what gelatin actually is. It will make it less appetizing.

I would post the recipe here but that would be silly because it is on the back of the box of gelatin! Just go to the store and look in the Jello section for a box of UNFLAVORED gelatin. The brand we bought was Knox. It only takes 4 cups of juice :D