Friday, July 31, 2009

Homemade Gift Ideas

FamilyFun has a huge list of gifts you or your kids can make right inside your own home. There are instructions for hobby boxes, no-sew fleece pillow, and many, many more.

This website has instructions on how to make star Santas, gift tags, marshmallow snowmen and more.

Amazing Moms has instructions for hand and foot reindeer, sparkling snowflake ornaments, wreaths and more.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Teacher Gift: Caramel Apple Kit

This could also be used for Halloween.

Basically you take a tin bucket and put in a Fuji apple, an individual thing of caramel sauce, and a small packet of crushed nuts. Decorate the tin with ribbon or stickers, etc.

These could also make great party favors for a holiday get together.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hot Chocolate Dippers/Stirrers

These are very easy to make and kids love them. They are great to eat by themselves or to stir your hot chocolate with.

You'll need wooden skewer sticks, big marshmallows, and dipping chocolate (can be almond bark, white or dark whatever floats your boat) and sprinkles or colored sugar.

Thread the marshmallows on the skewers then dip in chocolate and use sprinkles. Stick skewers in a piece of styrofoam to let set then cover with cellophane and add a ribbon. You could include this in a hot chocolate gift kit or put in a stocking.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Holiday Planner Sheets

Here is a website where you can find free printables for different plans and different holidays.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ornament Storage

My mom sent me this link to a neat way to store your ornaments safely after the holidays.

This is from the Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Click here to see it.

How do you store your ornaments?

Mine are all wrapped in tissue paper and put into big plastic tubs. Not very safe storage really because anything could get broken easily, although we don't use very breakable ornaments I guess. This year I might try this idea.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Food Gift: Peanut Butter Popcorn

Microwave a bag of popcorn.
Microwave a couple tablespoons of peanut butter- just til it's smooth and thinner (1 min. or so).
Drizzle the peanut butter on the popcorn.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stocking Stuffer: Finger Paint

3 T. sugar
1/2 c. cornstarch
2 c. cold water
food coloring

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan. Add the water and mix. Cook over low heat, stirring all the time, until well blended-about 5 minutes. Remove from stove. Cool. Pour into plastic or paper cups. Add a little coloring to each cup. Add a drop of dish soap, stir and use.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stocking Stuffer: Play-Dough

Here's a cheap stocking stuffer idea for little ones.

Homemade Play-Dough

1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. water
Mix together.

Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a pan and heat it. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 3 minutes stirring until a ball forms. Drop on some foil and let cool. Knead until a nice consistency. Store in a zip-loc. Add food coloring if you want.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spicy Applesauce Christmas Ornaments

We made these last year and they came out great!

3/4 c. cinnamon
1 c. applesauce
1 T. nutmeg
1 T. ground allspice
1 T. ground cloves

Stir together all ingredients. Roll out to 1/4" thick. (Dust counter and rolling pin with cinnamon to prevent sticking) Use little cookie cutters to cut Christmas shapes. Place the shapes on wax paper and poke a hole in the top of each for hanging later. Allow the shapes to air dry for several days (or bake for several hours at 250 degrees) turning often to prevent curling.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Craft Idea: Beaded Wreath

This came from Click link for instructions.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Awesome Websites

There is a cute website called Snow Ball Blast where you can create your own snowball fight. You simply register and then start a game and invite all your friends through email. You pick hiding spots and then when the game starts you get to throw 5 snowballs a day. Once you get hit 3 times you are out of the game. The last person standing wins!

Another awesome website is Magical Holiday Home. There are many, many other Christmas lovers at this site and they all have such great ideas to share. But it's more like a home on the net to be quite honest. I consider all the people there great friends even though we've never met in "real" life. It's not only about the holidays either, there is a daily thread to discuss your plans for the day and then how your day went or give updates throughout the day. There's never a dull moment and always lots of posts to read and enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Magic Elf Antics

I wanted to share some of the funnier elf antics that went on at our house last Christmas with Edward, Bella, and Snowflake. Here are some pictures:

Snowflake got angry at Edward and Bella for some reason and decided to teach them a lesson. She strung them up with garland and then hung them upside down from the ceiling fan. She sat on the end of the garland to make sure they couldn't escape.

Edward and Bella decided to try their hand at flying and got stuck on the fan cords.

There were more antics such as the elves having a tea party underneath the tree with Addison's tea set. Also Edward decided to check up on Samuel's homework one morning before school.

What were your elves up to last Christmas?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Christmas Traditions

I don't know about your family, but ours has several traditions that it's just not Christmas without. For instance, we always leave decorated sugar cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve with a small glass of milk. Also, we always open one present on Christmas Eve. The past two years it has been a set of pajamas from Mrs. Clause. The tree always comes out the day of or the day after Thanksgiving and usually stays until after the New Year.

When I was young every Christmas Eve my dad's side of the family had a dinner at my aunt and uncle's house. It happened every year no matter how bad the weather. We used to draw names and exchange gifts but that faded over the years when we started to get older. My grandma and grandpa always gave us an envelope with $5 in it as well. I remember driving out to the house, my aunt and uncle lived out in the country, and looking at the lights here and there. It was so magical just driving to their house in the dark of Christmas Eve searching the sky for any strange object that might be Santa. It was best when it was snowing. I love to watch the snow fall.

When I got into my teens my mom would let me have a very small glass of Asti Spumante with her on Christmas Eve before bed. This was something that was shared just between us.

Does your family have any traditions for the holidays? What are they?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Holiday Blogs Galore

If you look in the sidebar to the right you will find a list of Christmas blogs. Please be sure to check them out because they are all fantastic and full of great ideas!

If you have a holiday blog and it's not listed in my sidebar, please leave a comment with your link and I will get your blog added ASAP. Thank you!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Christmas Plans

Just in case you aren't aware there are several holiday plans out there that you can follow to make your holidays more organized and less stressful on yourself. You can find them at

There is the Holiday Grand Plan which usually begins the last week of August I believe. You can find all the details here. There is also the Houseworks Holiday Plan which is an 18 week plan.

Another one is the Christmas Countdown. This one begins in October and takes you to Christmas. It is a 6 week plan that focuses on all the necessary steps involved in your Christmas planning. Each week has a different purpose. I have personally followed this plan and find it extremely helpful in accomplishing all my holiday prep.

Also on the Organized Christmas website is information and free printable forms to make your own Christmas Notebook to store gift lists, ideas, plans, budget info, etc. Check it out!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge

I made this for the first time last year and it was the best! Very smooth and creamy, not crumbly like some can be.

3 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1 c. peanut butter
7oz. jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, butter and evaporated milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes on medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter til melted. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla, stirring until melted. Pour into greased 13x9. Cool at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Craft Idea: Felt Present Ornament

Photo and craft courtesy of Kaboose.

Please click on link for craft instructions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peppermint Bark

Crushed candy canes, to yield 1 cup
2 lbs. white chocolate
peppermint flavorings, optional

Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4 inch chunks or smaller. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate. Add peppermint flavoring, if desired.

Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or wax paper and place in refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Craft Idea: Paper Plate Santa

Photo and craft courtesy of Kaboose.

Please click on link for craft instructions.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pumpkin Bread

I made these as mini loaves last year and froze them until I was ready to gift them.

3 c. sugar
1 c. oil
4 eggs
2/3 c. water
1 can pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. flour

Combine sugar, oil, eggs, water and pumpkin. In another bowl mix spices, flour and salt. Add flour mix to sugar mixture and stir together just until moistened.

Grease 3 medium size loaf pans. Spoon in batter and bake at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean. Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Craft Idea: Paper Cup Rudolph

Picture and craft courtesy of Kaboose.

Please click on link for craft instructions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Old-fashioned Snickerdoodles

1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 2/3 c. flour
2 Tbsp. white sugar with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix butter and sugar. Add egg and beat til creamy. Add baking powder, salt and flour. Shape dough into walnut size balls. Roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place on greased cookie sheet. Use glass to flatten cookie.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Egg Yolk Paint

This works great on the sugar cookie's.

1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. water

Divide the mixture in several small cups. Add a different color food coloring to each. Use new little paint brushes to paint sugar cookies before baking.

Sugar Cookies

1 c. margarine
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter. Add sugar, gradually, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add dry ingredients gradually to creamed mixture.

Chill thoroughly. Roll on floured surface and cut in shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Craft Idea: Popsicle Stick Christmas Trees

Picture and craft courtesy of Kaboose.

Please click on link for instructions.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things having to do with Christmas are:

* Watching the snow fall
* Seeing the trees covered in ice (so magical)
* Cookies!! Yum!
* Hot chocolate after being outside in the cold
* Christmas lights
* Children opening presents or playing in the snow
* Decorations
* The smells of cinnamon and spices

What are some of your favorite things?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Oreo Balls

These are a big hit!

1 package Oreo's
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 package Almond Bark white chocolate

*I like to use the Almond Bark because it's cheaper and you get more for your money than buying the regular white chocolate and it tastes just as good.

Put Oreo's in food processor, process until very fine. Place crumbs into a bowl and mix with cream cheese. Roll out mixture into marble size balls and place on cookie sheet. Put in refrigerator. When cold, dip in melted white chocolate. Put on wax paper to dry.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Magic Elves

This will be our third year having the elves to visit. Actually they may make an unexpected visit sometime this month, ya never know.....

The elves have done many things over the past 2 years. Last year I took pictures of all their antics to print and put into an album. This year I plan to do the same.

Now is the time to start planning antics and gifts to be left by the elves. In the past years I tried to plan things but mostly it was spur of the moment ideas.

We have 3 elves: Snowflake, Edward, and Bella. Honestly, I have no idea where they are so I better get started on finding them.

What do your elves usually do? Do you write letters from Santa regarding the elves? Let's share ideas!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Peanut Blossom Cookies

These are my husband's favorite and mine too. They never last long in our house.

1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed firmly
2 eggs
1 c. peanut butter
3 1/2 c. sifted flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 T. milk
1/2 c. sugar (for dipping)
Chocolate stars or Hershey Kisses

Cream together shortening, 1 c. white and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and peanut butter. Add flour, baking soda and salt and stir into creamed mixture. Add milk and mix.

Shape into 1-1 1/2" balls with hands. Dip in 1/2 cup sugar and arrange 2-3" apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and quickly press a star or Kiss in the center. Bake 5-7 minutes longer.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Craft Idea: Wire Ornaments

Last year when helping to make a teacher gift with Samuel, I decided to make a special ornament to attach to the gift bag as well. It was super simple and fast to make and his teacher loved it.

All you need are cookie cutters in desired ornament shapes and some colored wire. You may have to experiment with different gauges of wire, some will work better than others. I forget what gauge I used last year but I think it was a thicker wire.

Make a loop with your wire and twist the bottom of the loop so it will stay. Then simply wrap the wire around the cookie cutter shape of choice. You can do this one of two ways. You can wrap it around once, remove the cookie cutter and then cut your wire. Secure the end around the twisty part at the bottom of the loop. Or you can wrap it several times, remove from the cookie cutter and then wrap a different color around it the other way to make it 3D.

If I can find a picture of mine i'll add it in later. I'm sure I have one somewhere.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Best Gingerbread Men

Let's start off this CIJ the right way with some yummy gingerbread cookies! I've never met a single person who didn't love these, even people who don't normally eat gingerbread.

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
1 c. molasses
1 egg
4 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
3 tsp. cinnamon

In a big bowl, combine butter and sugar with fork until smooth. Add molasses and egg. Combine. In another bowl mix dry ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Stir well.

Shape dough into ball and cover with plastic. Refrigerate 2-4 hours.Sprinkle flour on counter. Roll out to 1/8" thick. Cut gingerbread men and bake at 350 degrees for about 6 minutes.

*I always use red hots to decorate our gingerbread men. If you choose to do the same, make sure you put them in the cutouts before baking.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Welcome to my New blog!

Hi Everyone!

It's such a pain to change blogs because the new address has to be given out, but here I am. Stay tuned for Christmas in July fun all month long. I'm going to try super hard to have a new post everyday and there might even be a giveaway at some point during the month. Enjoy!