Thursday, December 18, 2014

Melted Snowman Cookies



I've seen several variations of this recipe floating around on pinterest. The one I used was from Somewhat Simple and she gives a wonderful tutorial.

The idea behind it is that you make a sugar cookie shaped like a puddle, covered with icing, and then topped off with a  marshmallow that has been warmed a few seconds in the microwave. What makes the blobs turn into snowmen is the decorations and this is where you can really get creative!

We changed it up a bit by using mini chocolate sprinkles for the faces, and some candies for buttons (and some of the noses). I have seen so many variations including the addition of the marshmallow snowball which I incorporated.



 I have also seen resees cups for top hats or edible markers to draw the faces on. The possibilities are endless once you've got the basics.


My sister in law had a great time decorating these and of course they are a hit with children.



I think Holiday cookie's are one of my favorite things. By the way I have been loving the feedback on the Andes Mint cookie recipe I posted last week.

           "These cookies are awesome and so easy! Thanks for the recipe. Seeing that I accidentally bought a box of brownies instead of cake mix, I went ahead and used that instead. I cut the vegetable oil down to 1/4 cup, added 3/4 c   flour plus 3 Tbs water. Then I added 2 eggs just like the recipe called for! These turned out perfect:)."

- Mels @bloglikeadog

"I made these over the weekend and they were a huge hit! Everyone loved them and they are so easy, moist and delicious! Thank you :)"


"I've made the mint ones twice now! They're my new go-to cookie! Thanks for sharing!!"



That's what makes me happy about this little pinnable Christmas series. It's simple little things that I have tried as a busy mom with three kids and not a ton resources. I would like to think that the crafts and recipes I am showcasing are for regular messy families just like mine. Although, clean and tidy families are welcome to try them too. Wink. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Pancakes



Last year I saw this adorable snowman pancake idea from a Kroger ad. My kids went bananas over it.


This year as my 7 year old begged me to make them again, I thought why not take it up a notch? Then as I was in the kitchen stressing over everything getting cold and kicking the children out of the kitchen because they were going to ruin it, that is when I realized WHY I should probably NOT have taken it up a notch. It worked out in the end and that night while tucking in my oldest son he said "Thank you for the pancakes" and it made it all worth while. Still, I would probably not attempt a pancake trio again, but I am totally up for one simple theme pancake every now and then. 


Here is what they are made of:


Junk. Ahem. It's a Holiday splurge!

Ornament


Twizler licorice hook 
Kiwi and strawberry stripes, on blueberry syrup for the bulb design. 


Santa


Strawberry and marshmallow hat
Banana eyes and nose 
Chocolate chip pupils
Twizler mouth
Whipped cream beard


Snowman


Marshmellow for the hat and snow
Strawberry hat and nose
Bacon scarf
Whipped Cream body 
Chocolate chip eyes, mouth, buttons (or blueberries if available)
Pretzel arms

I love breakfast. I love Christmas. There it is. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Getting Crafty With Gift Wrap



Another Christmas craft that I keep going back to is using Trader Joe's bags for wrapping paper. 

Trader Joe's is great because at least for the past 3 years they have seasonal brown paper bags with different Christmasy patterns on them. 



Although, you can still achieve a similar look using the plain side of any paper grocery bag or kraft paper. A lot of wrapping paper uses rolled up kraft paper instead of a tube when you reach the end of a roll. This year I even used that for wrapping a couple presents. No waste whatsoever!

One thing I should warn is that the paper is really stiff so it doesn't work well in all situations. If your gift is an odd shape I would recommend using a gift box. Or in my case, given that my gift recipients know me and know how frugal I am, I do not shy away from using everything from a cereal box, to a Pringles container to put the present in before I wrap it. It actually brings back childhood memories for me because my parents did this with our difficult-to-wrap-presents. Mom and dad would always jokingly exclaim "It's a toaster!" or "We thought you'd want a box of diapers! Ha ha" and we'd all laugh as we hurriedly opened the box to find what was really inside. 

Anyway, once you have your box wrapped you are going to want to dress it up a bit. 



I have already shown these Trader Joe's wrapped presents adorned with twine, greenery, and photo gift tags.



This year I changed it up with my first ever attempt at crafting with duct tape. I must admit, I think I'm hooked. 



I used this tutorial for the bow and just modified it by adding ribbons at the end. 



I also used the photo gift tags again. The ones that I shared about last week


Side note. I was thrilled to get see this message on Facebook today that said "Thanks for the great gift tag idea! Love your blog :) " 


That just made my day. I am sure their teachers are going to be thrilled to see who these gifts are from. 

Gifts are like people, it's what's on the inside that counts. Then again, I think we all like to get dressed up from time to time.

 Tis the season! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reindeer Donuts

I am at my parent's house doing Christmas with my family so I'll keep this tutorial brief, which should be easy since it's SO simple. 


All you need to make this cute little reindeer is:

Pretzels
Chocolate Mini Donuts
A tube of white frosting
Red M&M's (which you can pull out of a bag of assorted M&Ms)

I don't have pictures of the process, but you just put three drops of white frosting. Two for the eyes and one in the donut hole to keep Rudolph's nose in place. Then you break the pretzels up into the shape of antlers and stick them in the sides of the donut. Easy right? 


The kid's had so much fun with this project. Although it was hard to keep Rudolph's nose on since the M&M's are so appealing. 


I also used them as a decorative treat in the teacher baskets I gave out a couple years ago. 


The bag of cookies behind Rudolph is actually Ande's mint cookies


These photos are from previous Christmases, but I do plan on making the reindeer donuts again this year. Maybe, for the school's winter program, or the Santa pajama party, or just for fun at home. I am not sure yet, but Christmas has been so great so far and we still have so much more to come! It's the most wonderful time of the year... 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cookie Cutter Whipped Topping



I love whipped cream. I would go as far as to say that I am notorious for my love of whipped cream. I am the kind of girl that will send a drink a drink back if it is lacking this garnish. I am timid and apologetic when I do so, but I will step out of my comfort zone and take action in every instance that this topping is missing. It embarrasses my husband, but I am that passionate about it.

A few years ago when I first started Pinterest I saw this idea to freeze cool whip and then use cookie cutters to create shapes to plop on top of your hot cocoa. I thought it was a fabulous way to add a little flare to something I already adored. It's really easy to do and kids love it! My only complaint is that it takes up a lot of freezer space so be prepared for that if you want to give this thing a shot.

All you need is a tub of cool whip and some cookie cutters that are the desired shaped AND small enough to fit in a coffee mug.

First off you will spread the cool whip about 2 inches thick along a cookie sheet. Then cover it with saran wrap and place it in the freezer until completely frozen solid (preferably over night).
Once that's done you just cut the shapes out like cookies and place it in your hot chocolate or drink of choice.







Take a photo because that's the only thing that is going to last with this little embellishment. Much like the snow cream recipe I shared yesterday, the cool whip melts fast so you have to be ready to complete the whole process quickly once you get going.

Lastly, I recommended adding a candy cane as a stir stick because it's cute and it adds nice flavor to the beverage.



That's all there is to it. It doesn't have to be a Christmas treat, but it is nice to try around this time of year because it is so festive. If you are looking to show off to friends at a party, entertain kids over Christmas break, or even just treat yourself to a cup of cheer, this cookie cutter whipped topping is sure to do the trick.

Snow Cream




Snow days rank VERY high as one of my favorite moments of childhood. I didn't even discover snow cream until middle school when I lived in Atlanta. My best friend's grandmother made it for us on one of those rare Georgia snow days. It was love at first taste for me! I had kind of forgotten about the tradition after spending many of the following years in Texas where snow was even more rare. However since moving to Ohio I get to experience the joy of snow days again . Only now I watch my children light up at the idea of an impromptu day off of school due to the fun weather conditions. That's when it hit me that I had to introduce them to the magic of ice cream made of snow!

I know some of you are thinking. Uh, snow? Like from the outside world? That's gross. I am not eating that? Well, the idea is to get fresh fallen snow inches off of the ground, not some stuff that's been around all day and starting to get the muddy grey hue. If you still can't handle that, fine. No snow cream for you!

Anyway, here is the recipe.

You will need:
8 cups of snow
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla


Gather approximately 8 cups of freshly fallen snow.



Add milk, sugar, vanilla extract (or any other flavor from mint, to almond, to orange), and snow to a large bowl. 



Mix gently until the flavors are blended.



Work swiftly, but gently, and do not over mix because it will melt or turn to slush! In fact if you are more concerned with consistency over flavor pack on more snow. That's how I was able to achieve the double scoop. Ta Da!



 Finally, garnish with the toppings of choice and enjoy! 

 

We've made it in bowls with sprinkles



or put it into little ice cream cones.



We've used vanilla, or almond extract and there has definitely been whipped topping involved on occasion. I know it's just sugary ice mixture, but it's SNOW! It's magical. Seriously, what could be more fun than eating an limited edition ice cream delivered from the sky? It makes me think of that scene from cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

Maybe my children will someday look back on the memory of their mom going out in her clunky boots with a measuring cup and a giant mixing bowl to gather freshly fallen snow in front of the whole neighborhood. Maybe they'll think that I was crazy, but either way I hope they'll think of snow days with same kind of nostalgia I do. I hope it always makes them smile.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Personalized Gift Tags Using FaceBook Photos



For day two of 12 Pinnable Days of Christmas I want to give you some tips for making your own photo gift tags. Although, the title could just as easily be "How To Save Photos From Facebook" so if that's what you are looking for, you've come to the right place.

I have been doing customized gift tags using photographs for a while now. I enjoy how personalized it is. Not only that, but it's convenient since my husband and brother have the same name, and his wife and I have the same name. Yes it's confusing. This is another reason that bypassing names works well for us.

There are various ways of printing photo gift tags.

1. Cut out printed photos and glue them to a gift tag.
2. Design your own with photo editing software or do it all online with pic monkey  
3. Print photos and cut them out using a downloadable template

If you decide you want to tackle this DIY project I have one major tip for all you Facebook users. When looking for a decent photo of your gift recipient consider downloading one of their Facebook photos rather than browsing through the hundreds or thousands of photos in your personal digital photo collection.

It sounds simple and it is. But I want to explain a little further, because it's more than just "right clicking" the photo and doing a "save image as". If you do this option it isn't going to be the high res printable version. For more on what I mean by this you can check out my post on Facebook to the Rescue.

The proper way to save images from someone's profile page can be achieved in 8 simple steps. It's so simple that it's really one step (Download photo from Facebook. Done.) but I am going to break it down to a painfully detailed process for those that are technologically challenged. Especially since step 6 is so sneaky!

1. Go to the page of the person you would like to print out a photo of. If you use Facebook then you already know how to do this. I am going to use my own profile page so that I don't violate anyone else's privacy.


2. Once you are on their page then click on "Photos".  


3. You could just start browsing away at this point, but to cut to the chase and spend less time searching  just click on "Albums"

4. Once again you can choose any album and search away, but let's keep it simple and scroll down until you see  "Profile Pictures" because this were most people keep their favorite selfies. 


5. Next choose which photo you think will work for your project and click on it. 


6. When you scroll over the photo a menu will appear at the bottom and you will see a button for "Options". Click on it.


7. A drop down menu will appear and you will want to choose "Download"


That's it! Once you have your photos saved you can move onto your gift tag project. 




*


I have had wonderful feedback from these gift tags and I am sure you will too. It's just one more way that it truly is a joy to give! 

*

*The above presents were wrapped with either Trader Joe's bags or decorated by curling wrapping paper to make bows. For more gift wrap ideas check out this post.