A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Month: December 2021

DIY Pom Pom Gnomes & More!

While I have always thought gnomes to be cute, I have to say I have not been a gnome collector….until now!  Oh my goodness!  Whether it is because they are simply adorable or that making them has become quite theraputic, I am totally enjoying these DIY Pom Pom Gnomes and More!

A quick search on Pinterest will show you MANY ways of making yarn pom poms.   I have made pom poms over the years for various crafts, and I can honestly say I have tried MANY methods!  However, the one method I refuse to try is using a purchased pom pom maker.  I try to be as thrifty as I can so that is just not an option for me…and mine have still turned out fluffy and full!

Supplies Needed ~

  • yarn
  • scissors (sharp and with pointy tip)
  • serving fork, wooden fork, credit card, or cardboard cut about 1 1/4″ wide X 1 1/4″ wide
  • hot glue gun
  • embellishments for nose:  wooden ball, small stones, pearl balls, etc.
  • toilet paper roll(s)
  • tape (for incidentals)

First of all, you need to focus on your yarn.  Any yarn will work, and I mean ANY yarn.  So what is the difference between the $4.99 yarn and the $7.99 yarn?  There are many differences, but for these DIY pom pom gnomes, it is basically the thickness.  The thicker the yarn, the less it will take to create a full ball.

How to Make Yarn Pom Poms ~

My favorite method for making pom poms is with a large serving fork.  The fork I use is about 1 1/4″ wide.  Some other methods are using a credit card or cutting a piece of cardboard to the exact size you want.  There are truly so many items you can use for this project, this has just been the method I have found I really like.

  • Cut one piece of yarn about 6-7 inches.  Place the yarn as shown in the picture above.
  • Wrap your desired color of yarn around the fork until you get the desired size and thickness.  While you are wrapping, you will leave the one piece of yarn hanging down for later use.

  • I have included a picture to give you an idea of how the pom poms will turn out according to the number of times you wrap.  The smaller ball was wrapped around the serving fork 100 times and the bigger ball was wrapped around the serving fork 200 times.

  • Once you have finished wrapping, bring the loose piece of yarn up and over the top and tie loosely.  (The reason I say loosely is to make pulling it off the fork easier when it is time!)  Hold the tied yarn piece and begin pulling the wrapped yarn off of the fork.

  • When you have pulled it completely off of the fork, tie the yarn on top tightly, double knotting it.

  • Cut through all of the loops, being careful not to cut into center where the tied piece of yarn is tied off.  It is important to have sharp scissors with a pointy tip.

  • Lightly fluff your pom pom with your hand and then trim the edges until you have desired the size you want.

Whoo hoo…you have officially made a yarn pom pom!  Great job!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  The blue pom poms I made above were not for making gnomes.  Remember, I told you there are so many fun things you can do with these?  Well, these particular pom poms became “snowflakes” in my Gizmo Snail Mail project I wrote about at the beginning of this month?  Do you remember that post?  Check out this fun post on Gizmo Advent Snail Mail ….right here!

I hid a Christmas book in the bottom of a box, added a spring mechanism on that, placed a piece of cardboard on that and then filled the box to the top with the “snowflakes.”  When the kids opened their countdown box, voila, it was an instant snow storm, compliments of Gizmo!

Back to DIY Yarn Pom Pom Gnomes & More ~

Now it is time to make those cute little hats!  You will need a small book or credit card that measures about 3″.  I use a small leather book that is 3 1/2″ X 5 1/2″.   It is a fun idea to get a little crazy with your yarn selection for the hats.  Decide if you will use a solid color, a mixed yarn or use 2 or 3 different colored yarns.

My daughter, Karleigh, created some pom pom gnomes over the weekend.  Notice she has some solid colors, some yarns that are a mixed coloring and then created her own color striped hats by using 2 different color yarns.  Notice that cute little Purdue one!  Such a cute idea to pair up with some holiday candy or a bottle of wine and gift to friends and family!  (She found it to be very theraputic to make these…bonus!)

Gnome Hat Instructions ~

  • Cut toilet paper roll into 1/2″ rings.  This will make the band of the hat.  Once you get familiar with the process, you can play around with the sizing of the hat and cut them to the dimensions you prefer.

  • Wrap the yarn about 30 times around the small book or credit card.  Snip the end.  Cut the yarn across the binding of the book.  Once you have cut through all of the yarn strands, you will have 30 strands that are about 7″ long.  Depending upon the bulk of your yarn, you may choose to cut more if needed.
  • Place one strand at a time through the toilet paper ring, forming a loop.

  • Bring the two loose ends up and through the loop.

  • Pull to tighten, being careful not to pull so tight that you tear the toilet paper roll.  *The toilet paper roll is somewhat flimsy.  If you happen to tear it while working, just wrap a piece of tape around the cut to mend.

  • Continue this until you have completely covered the toilet paper ring.
  • Tie one long piece of yarn around the top, leaving some loose at the top for the fluffy top of the hat.
  • Trim the top of hat to desired length.

  • Insert one to two cotton balls in hat to keep form.

  • Hot glue inside of hat and place on pom pom you made earlier.  Adorn with a nose of your choice.

These yarn pom pom gnomes are seriously as much fun to make as they are to gift and/or receive.  They are perfect additions to gifts for friends, teachers, co-workers, and family members.  They would also make a perfect gift topper!

Enjoy your crafting ~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Onion Smothered Chicken

Nothing says “cozy meal” more than a warm baked dish of chicken covered in caramelized onions and ooey gooey cheese….lots of ooey gooey cheese.  This French Onion Smothered Chicken recipe pairs well with a dollop of buttery mashed potatoes.  Yum!  Read on for this amazing family recipe that even the kids can’t get enough of!

Caramelized onions are such a wonderful addition to so many meals.  In fact, I have posted other recipes on my blog in the past.  Recipes such as Grilled Caramelized Onion, Apple and Canadian Bacon Flatbread, (which can be prepared on grill or stove top) and Caramelized Onions and Provolone Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, are both delicious recipes!

Steps for French Onion Smothered Chicken ~

Preheat oven to 350°.

Brown chicken breasts in olive oil.  If your chicken breasts are large, cut through them lengthwise to make thinner cutlets.  Season liberally with salt, pepper and McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning.

We prefer crispy edges, so I brown chicken longer to achieve this bit of crunchiness.  The amount of time needed to brown your chicken will, therefore, depend upon the amount of crispiness your guests prefer.

While the chicken is browning, melt butter in a separate skillet.  Slice 4 medium onions.  Place sliced onions in butter and cook until browned and soft, stirring occasionally.  This will take 10-15 minutes.

As the onions are cooking and once the chicken is cooked through, place browned chicken in bottom of a prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle one packet of Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix all over browned chicken.

Once onions are cooked through, add beef broth and balsamic vinegar.  Cook this mixture on medium until it is slightly thickened.  This gives you that wonderful caramelized onion taste.

Pour the caramelized onion mixture over the chicken.  I added some extra beef broth to ensure there would be ample “onion gravy” to pour over the mashed potatoes as well.

Completely cover with shredded mozarella cheese and bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese has a nice browned texture.  You can mix shredded parmesan cheese in to for a slightly different flavor.

Serve warm over a dollop of buttery mashed potatoes.  I love to make homemade mashed potatoes, but if you are in a pinch for time, you can’t go wrong with Bob Evans Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes.  Have you tried these yet?  Wow!  They are delcious and so very much like homemade!

Other Side Dish Options ~

As stated earlier, the french onion smothered chicken pairs very well with mashed potatoes.  However, there are many other sides that would complement this yummy dish as well.

Garlic Butter Rice by Hinz Cooking is a delicious option.  This is a simple side dish that is loaded with flavor.  Another easy, yet flavorful side dish option is garlic parmesan roasted broccoli  by Easy Family Recipes.  These are just a couple of delicious side ideas, however, the beauty of this meal is that so many sides would pair nicely with it!

Whatever you decide to serve alongside this recipe, your family is sure to love this savory dish!

 

Happy cooking~

Mimi

Christmas Cookie Party

Can you smell that?  The cozy scent of warm cookies filling the whole house?  One of my favorite holiday activities is making and decorating Christmas cookies.  When my kids were younger, they would each invite a friend over for a day filled with creating Christmas cookie masterpieces as well as playing fun Christmas games.  Fast forward to 2021, these kids are now adults and yet we still get together every year for a Christmas Cookie Party!

Roll Out Cookie Recipe ~

Click Here to Print Recipe of Roll Out Cookies

In the early days I had a fun-filled day planned for all of the kiddos.  Memories of all of the kids rushing in after school all excited about the day’s events are still crystal clear in my mind!  The cookies would already be baked and placed all around the table.  Bowls of brightly colored icing  scattered all around within reach of their little hands.  Next come the paint brushes…you know the ones?  The inexpensive pack of multi-colored kid’s paintbrushes.  These served as the main decorating tool.

The Paintbrush Rule ~

If you ask any of those little bakers today, you will know the golden rule of cookie decorating.  The purple paintbrush goes in the purple icing bowl, the green paintbrush goes in the green icing bowl, the yellow paintbrush goes in the yellow icing bowl….you get the picture!  This keeps our colors fresh.    I guarantee you that when these said kids (now adults) read this they are laughing, as I am a stickler for this rule!

The small multi-colored paint brushes just like these work perfectly!

   

While I have included an easy link for you, I honestly try to gather the paintbrushes whenever I see them at the local Dollar Store or department store.  It is sometimes hard to find all of the colors you need, but collecting them over time usually proves to be successful…as long as you remember where you have stored them! 😉

Small ramekins like these are used for the many icing colors that they insist we have…ok, I insist too! 😉

 

The four primary colors are definitely not enough for this festive day!  You will need a lot of small bowls to make all of the icing colors requested.  It is much more fun if you let them create just the perfect shade of each color.  Once again those memories come rushing in, “Do you think this red is bright enough?”  “Should we do dark purple or light purple…or both?”  “Did someone make black…we need lots of black!”  “Ooooh, what about gray?”

 

The icing recipe itself is simple.  We have tried different recipes but have finally all decided this simple recipe is our favorite.  Printable version of the simple, but oh so good, icing recipe can be reached right here!

Cookie Cutters ~

We all have our favorite cookie cutter.  I continue to add new ones to the mix, but nothing melts my heart more than when I hear, “Wait a minute, did you make any snowglobe cookies?”  “Does anyone have a Christmas tree cookie they can share?” “What was this one??  A penguin, oh yea!”

Yes, sometimes the cookie shape is hard to tell what it is until you bring it to life with some color!  Other times they get broken and still get turned into a major work of art…thanks to Ali!  No, we do not have a Starbucks cookie cutter, but somehow she made the perfect latte cookie!

If I had to choose, I would say the snowglobe is one of everyone’s favorites…

It has been so much fun to watch their artistic ability change over the years.  However, no matter how beautiful they are, the taste is always the same…..delicious!  We are always careful to make an abundance so that everyone has plenty to take home and share….and to sample along the way.

When this tradition first began, the kids would start the afternoon out icing the cookies.  We would then move on to Christmas scavenger hunts and Christmas Bingo.  These activities ended with lots of festive prizes, of course.  I would send the kids home hyped up on sugar but exhausted from a fun-filled day!

The tradition has now moved to evenings as we have to schedule our Christmas Cookie Party around work schedules (that damn adulting thing always interferes!  😜).   We have a Cookie Crew text group that gets busy at the end of November working on the current year’s date.  The phone goes ping, ping, ping and voila…we have a date!  Now they all roll into the house with bottles of wine and fun Christmas gifts to share before we get to decorating!  Oh, did I mention the food?  Yes, we now have lots of savory appetizers as well.  Now instead of me sending them off exhausted and with full bellies the exact opposite happens….oh how the times have changed!

New Decorating Tools ~

We have recently upped our decorating game.  As Ali put it best, “Oh Shel, this is a game changer!”  The addition of squeeze bottles brought a whole new way of decorating to our Christmas Cookie Party fun!  Wow, these are so much fun and allow for more precise decorating.

Addi demonstrates for us…

As the years go by, we add new little ones to the crew and continue making wonderful memories.  Had I known years ago how special this tradition was going to be, I would have urged others to do the same!

One thing I know for sure is that these girls will continue this tradition and that makes me a very happy Mimi!

Photo Gallery of More Recent Years ~

(Some year I will go back to my old files to add pictures from the younger years!)

   

   

 

Now everyone get out there and get to baking…..enjoy your Christmas season!  And to you, my precious Christmas Cookie Party crew…I love you…thank you for all of the wonderful memories…and cheers to many more!

Much love~

Mimi

 

P.S.  Check out a similar post I wrote about this last year (with less details), however there are some of the fun cookie cutter links included in this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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