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

Category: Holidays (Page 1 of 2)

The ABCs of Gratitude

Here we are…three weeks into 2022.  Did you make any resolutions?  Are you still going strong with them?  Have you ever considered instead on just being grateful?  Maybe you are saying right now, “I am grateful.”   Well then, I challenge you…how deep does that gratitude go?  Let’s dive into the ABCs of Gratitude!

Like everyone else, I feel I am full of gratitude.  Recently though, I have discovered that I tend to ignore the “small” stuff…you know, take it for granted!  As I sit here typing, I look at my hands (which are not pretty and stylish like so many of my friends and family members), and I realize how blessed I am to have the ability to use my hands in the way I want.  I love to write….and my hands allow me to do that.

Heck, I have a computer!  I am definitely blessed to have a computer.  Have I ever sat and pondered why that is such a blessing?  Of course, it allows me to write….but I have started digging deeper than the obvious.  It allows me to keep in touch with my family and friends, pay my bills, watch videos and movies, research ANY topic my heart desires, create fun graphics for blogging and party planning, research my family geneology, create spreadsheets, and on and on!

What’s Your Point?

My point is, I am learning to focus deeper on the everyday things in my life AND I FEEL GREAT!  Seriously, it has given me such a sense of happiness that I haven’t felt in a long time.  Is this a New Year’s resolution…No!  I just have been reading so many different ideas on finding joy in everyday life, and I believe I have hit the jackpot!

I’m sitting here in awe….seriously everyone….in AWE of just how much this little “project” is making me more grateful and appreciative in my everyday life.  Of course, now I want to share it with you in hopes that you, too, will enjoy it as much as I am.

How Do I “DO” the ABCs of Gratitude?~

The biggest recommendation I have for you is to cut out a little bit of “me” time before you start this project.  Time that you can just sit and focus….for a few minutes, for a half hour or just work on it various times over a period of several days.  That’s the beauty of it….there are no steadfast rules.

Drumroll please……..

Yes, it’s that easy!

If you are like me, you want it to be on some pretty paper, but that’s not necessary.  I am going to provide you with several free downloads if you would like to use those.  However, you can also just write it out on a plain old sheet of paper or in a journal/notebook.

The next part is where it gets a little tricky.  You can’t fill in the blanks with the items/people that you are always thankful for.  You know what I’m talking about…the spouse, the children, the grandchildren and the furry children.  That’s why you need a little quiet time so you can sit and think.

The good part is that nothing….and I mean NOTHING is a stupid answer.  Trust me on this!  You will understand that more once we get to the next step!

Free Downloads ~

I have created some fun printouts for you to use….just click on the green link after each image!

     Greenery Pattern Gratitude Sheet

        Unicorn Pattern Gratitude Sheet

 

          Brown Floral Pattern Gratitude Sheet

 

          Superhero Pattern Gratitude Sheet

Journals & Fun Notebooks ~

You can also use a beautiful journal.  Gorgeous books filled with decorative pages make me happy.  Do you feel that way too?  Stampington & Company has amazing products.

Magical Thinking Journal by Papaya Art     This Magical Thinking Journal is perfect for the project!

Paper House Productions is another favorite online site I love:

        This Batman Mini Notebook could be a fun booklet for kids to use!

           Here is another super cute journal for writing out thoughts!

The Next Step to ABCs of Gratitude ~

Once you print out the form or get your journal, you are ready to get to work.  Think of a word for every letter of the alphabet.  Remember, I told you earlier that there is NO wrong answer.  When I did this, I first thought some of the words seemed somewhat juvenile.  What is interesting is where each word will eventually lead you!  Here is what I came up with:

My very first word was apples.  Shouldn’t it be more substantial like air or authenticity?  Well, those are good answers too, but I went with what my mind first went to.  You may find that as you think of each letter of the alphabet, it is a bit harder to come up with a word you think is “good.”

I chose to write out a word for every letter of the alphabet in one sitting.  You can follow this method or choose to go back and add to it throughout a set amount of time if you wish.  After completing the list, I sat and focused on it.

Being thankful for apples is obvious for the very reason of food and nutrition.  This is where I challenge you to go further.  Why else am I thankful for apples?

  • Wildlife –  Many animals in wildlife love apples, apple peels, etc.  I am so grateful for animals in our world.
  • Compost – Apples are good for compost…they provide a good source of nitrogen.  I love gardening!
  • Songs – There are so many fun songs to sing with your kids about apples….music makes me happy.
  • Dessert – Some very delicious desserts are made with apples…and I love desserts!

Hopefully you are getting the idea here.  Take time to focus on each word and the MANY different reasons you are thankful for it.  You have now gone beyond the obvious and focused on so many things that you may have taken for granted.  Seriously, have you ever even considered being thankful for compost???  I sure haven’t…but I am now!

I have chosen to focus on each word over several days.  It has been very fun to see where each word leads me to!  Give it a try…you may be surprised where it leads you!

Grateful to be sharing this with you…

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo ❄

Ahhh…December!  The days are filled with kids anxiously counting down every…single…day until Christmas Eve.  Many families make the countdown fun with various advent calendars filled with candies and trinkets.  My kids loved these…as do my grandchildren!!!  Now that I am a Mimi (grandma), I have decided to create my own type of December fun while not interfering with my daughter’s advent calendar that she does with her children.  This is how advent snail mail with Gizmo came to life!

Meet Gizmo~

This fun little guy is Gizmo the fuzzy snowflake.  He will show up in the kids’ mailbox throughout the month of December spreading Christmas cheer.  This little guy will be a bit different as he will not show up daily.  The kids will never know which days he will appear, which will add a bit of suspenseful fun!

Gizmo’s Festive Responsibilities ~

The advent snail mail with Gizmo will begin on December 1 of each year.  Gizmo will introduce himself to the kids with a letter and a gift.

Use this free link to print out as many copies as needed:  Christmas Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo

Fun Gift/Craft Ideas to Include In Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo ~

This being the inaugural year with Gizmo, I have decided to focus mostly on books.  There will be other small items at different times, but this is a great time to carve out some quality time reading to the kids.  Also, books are the gifts that keep on giving!  Of course, my first thought was Christmas books, which I will indeed include on some days.  However, I read a fun article about picture books adapted from famous movies and tv shows…how fun!!!  Justine, from Life In Stepping Stones, includes some great book ideas here…check them out with this link!

Books Adapted from Movies & Shows – (some with Christmas theme and some that are not) ~

These are the books that I decided to start with:

Home Alone

Elf

Back to the Future

Life Is Better With Friends

E.T. The Extraterrestrial

Coloring Activities ~

DIY Bookmarks to Color

Disney Christmas Coloring Book

 

Other Fun Ideas ~

Family Christmas Puzzle – With 3 Different Size Pieces for All Ages to Enjoy

Talking Elf Plush

Christmas Bingo

 

Christmas Tree Craft Kit

How this Works ~

After sending the initial letter to the children, you will randomly send small items of your choosing and add the 2nd Gizmo mail printout (link below)  with each succedding mailing.  I actually hand deliver the items to my grandchildren as they live close enough to me.  However, I always leave them in the mailbox for them to find when they get home from their school or other activity.  (you may be asking, I thought you said this was the inagural Gizmo…it is!  I have adapted this from my earlier post, Flat Skelly Skeleton – Halloween Snail Mail Fun.)  They have so much fun checking the mailbox each day!

Gizmo Mail Printout To Be Included With Each Gift

You decide how often you want Gizmo to visit.  It can be once a week, every other day, or any number of random days you would like to make deliveries.  Print out the above link for each time you make a delivery…and be sure to write in the number of days left until Christmas.

The thought process on the gifts that I am choosing is togetherness!  I am choosing to not include individual candies/gifts/activities for each individual child, but instead sending items for them to do together.  Christmas creates a lot of anxiety in children and I believe trying to do fun things as a group helps promote getting along!  (Does this alway work?  Of course not, but we have to keep trying, right?)

Gizmo Snail Mail Recap ~

Since this is a new type of festive fun to have with kids, I am ending this post with a recap of just the essentials.

    1. Print out one copy of the Introduction from Gizmo Deliver this printout along with your first gift on December 1
    2. Choose how often you want to make Gizmo deliveries throught the month of December
    3. Print out as many of the Gizmo Countdown pages as you choose to make deliveries!  You can print these all at once or come back to this handy link each time you are preparing to make an Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo delivery!
    4. Be sure to write in the number of days left until Christmas on each Gizmo Countdown page.
    5. Mail or hand deliver your festive gifts!
    6. Ask the family members to send you pictures of the kids enjoying their advent gifts so you can be a part of the fun!

Now…get out there and enjoy the holidays!

Much love~

Mimi (& Gizmo)

Christmas Gift Ideas!!🎄

Hello friends~

12-12-21 Update ~ I have added new deals in RED!  Be sure to check back regularly!!!

Christmas is around the corner and I would love to help you out with your shopping needs as best I can.  I have been given promo codes for various items that last for specific amounts of time.  Some specials run longer than others and all are available until the date stated OR until they run out of the product.

This is not my typical type of post, however, I do like to pass along savings to you…my friends and loved ones!  I love sharing good deals!  Yes, I do receive a small commission but this in no way affects your price…it is a win win!  I seriously just LOVE to pass along good things!  Are you looking for something specific?  Let me know and I will keep my out for you!

I will update this page every 1 to 3 days…depending upon when new codes are given to me.  SO CHECK BACK REGULARLY.  I will make sections with labels for each one stating the date that each sale is good for.   Once a date has passed, I will remove all items under that date for ease of reading.

Please note, items will show at the regular price until you go to check out.  The sale price will show before you place your order.  I believe the discount will decrease if you purchase more than one item at a time, so please pay close attention to the prices.

 

Promo Codes Good Through 12-15-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Computer Folding Desk

Regular Price $82.00

Sale Price With Link Above $41.00

5 Foot Long Tunnel

Regular Price $15.44

Sale Price With Link Above $12.35

Promo Codes Good Through 12-18-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Learning Tablet for Children-Laugh & Learn 123ABC Electronic Activity Pad with Lights, Music, Content for infants too!

Regular Price $79.99

Sale Price With Link Above $16.00

Promo Codes Good Through 12-21-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Up to 20% Off

Simple Joys by Carter’s

Up to 20% off Simple Joys by Carter's and Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson Baby Toddler and Kid's Apparel

Valentine’s Day Family Fun

Valentine’s Day ~ The celebration of romance and love!  My dad always said it was another Hallmark holiday…😂!  As a child, it is such a fun day to share Valentine’s cards and specialty candies with your friends.  But it can be so much more than that.  Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I have always loved this holiday and I still do.  For us it evolved into a special time to have some Valentine’s Day family fun!

If your children are of school age, you are probably already working ahead with them to create their decorated box or bag to collect their precious valentines in.  IF, due to Covid this year, you don’t get to do this at school, take the time to still make one for home.  Ask family members to send valentines to fill their goody box!  While in the planning process, why not make a special breakfast to start their day out right?

Valentine’s Day Breakfast ~

Mornings are hectic, I know!  But with just a little planning, it doesn’t take much to make breakfast special for this day!   Over the years, we have added food coloring to different food dishes to match the theme of the holiday…some have been great…and some not so much! For example, I urge you to NOT make green oatmeal on St. Patrick’s Day…I promise…it does not go over well!

Last year, Lauren got pretty creative with her breakfast ideas for the kids.  Suffice it to say that they LOVED it!  It consisted of red, heart shaped pancakes with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

They also had some festive strawberry milk.  She made a batch of strawberry milk ahead of time and poured it into heart-shaped ice cube trays.  When it was time for breakfast, they popped those ice cubes into a plain glass of milk….and voila!

There was a little planning ahead time.  Not too time consuming but oh so fun!  Next, let’s get to work on how we are going to present their Valentine goodies!  Need those fun ice cube trays….Get this 24-cube silicone heart mold by Wilton!  The trays can be used for ice cubes, gelatin, baking and candy molds!

Some other fun food ideas are:

Valentine Fruit Wands by afewshortcuts.com ~ This is an oh so easy yet festive snack recipe the kids will definitely love!

Valentine Grazing Board by ediblecrafts.craftgossip.com ~ Shove the diet aside for one day because you are going to love this Valentine’s Day grazing board!  yum!

Valentine Candy Poster ~

For many years, I would make a valentine candy poster for the kids.  It is such a fun way to give them their Valentine goodies.  It warms my heart that Lauren has continued this tradition.  They are so much fun to make and even more fun to receive.

I think it is easiest if you buy your candy first before making your Valentine poem.  Of course, you will want to try to work in their favorites.  This way you know what candy names you are working with to create the clever wording needed to make your poem work.

Types of Candy with Sample Sayings ~

Please don’t

You are  Extra Sugarfree Bubble Gum Slim Pack - 10 / Boxspecial

I love you to Image result for Reeses pieces

I wouldn’t trade you for Image result for 100 Grand bar

You are the best kid in the See the source image

Sending you hugs & Hershey's Kisses - 1 piece

This Valentine’s Day is going to be a Image result for Whoppersof a day!

To my   Sweetarts - 1.8 Oz Roll

You are A--zing!

You’re no!

You Skor - 1.4 Oz Baran A!

These are just a few examples of how you can create your own personalized Valentine’s poem.  There are so many clever sayings you can create with the names of the candy in it.  In fact, it is not only fun to make one for the kids but have fun and make one for your honey too!

Valentine’s Day Family Fun Continues ~

Now you weren’t planning on just handing these works of art to the kiddos, were you????  Of course not!  They need to work to get their special treats!  After all, you put a lot of time into making that Valentine poster for them.  So how do you suggest we do that?  Glad you asked!  Have you ever played the Yarn Scavenger Hunt game?

Items Needed for the Yarn Scavenger Hunt ~

1 color of yarn for each person playing

A room that has items to crawl under and over

Not too bad, right?  You will start off by choosing one color for each child and tying one end of each ball of yarn to something in the room.  This will be the starting point.  You can start everyone off at the same point or in different areas.  Weave the yarn over couches, under chairs, around tables.  Safety is key, but you want them crawling over and under as much as possible….even over each other at times when their yarns cross each other.

They will collect the yarn as they go in an effort to get to the end and ultimately to their Valentine candy!  For such a simple game, you will enjoy watching the children laugh hysterically as they race to get to the end.

Of course, once they get to the end of their yarn, they will be gifted with their candy poem poster.

You can also have fun decorating cookies in fun Valentine’s Day shapes.  Although the cookie and icing recipe I shared in an earlier post was for Christmas, you can still refer back to it for the recipes.  Click here to find the cookie recipe and icing for your Valentine’s Day cookies!  Making cookies is always a fun festive idea!

Whatever you choose to do to make this day special….be sure to have a full day of Valentine’s Day Family Fun!!!!

Love ~ Shelly

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Lights and Cocoa

The traditions continue as we enjoyed our annual night of viewing Christmas lights while sipping on hot cocoa and munching popcorn. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to watch our children carry on our family traditions with their loved ones.  Of course, that is what traditions are, right?

A few changes were made to this year’s Christmas light adventure. Normally the kids would grumble about any changes made to our family traditions. However, we all enjoyed these fun additions, so we didn’t hear those usual complaints. It all began with a hot cocoa snack board. We have always enjoyed cocoa while driving around looking at the festive lights, but this year, everyone got to create their own cocoa masterpiece.

This is so much fun to create and, of course, there are no rules!  When assembling your snack board, keep in mind that some goodies will be for the hot cocoa and some will just be for snacking.   This being the first year, I had a lot of fun assembling the goodies, but my mind is already swirling with different ideas for the next occasion.

Ideas for Creating Cocoa Snack Board ~

The other good thing to remember is that this just doesn’t have to be a Christmas thing!  We drink cocoa as many times as we can throughout the winter months.  This leaves more opportunities to have fun with this chocolate-filled idea!  As mentioned earlier, the goodies are endless that can be included in your setup.  Here are some fun ideas:

  1. Candy canes or peppermint sticks
  2. Crushed peppermint candies
  3. Marshmallows – plain, flavored or festive shaped
  4. M & Ms
  5. Malt Balls
  6. White mini Kit Kats
  7. Chocolate nonpareils
  8. Gingerbread cookies
  9. Graham Crackers
  10. Caramel candies
  11. White chocolate pretzel rods
  12. White chocolate chips
  13. Various candy Kisses
  14. Biscotti
  15. White chocolate covered Oreos

It was so much fun watching the kids create their specialty cocoas.  Addi even discovered a new favorite…she couldn’t get enough of the chocolate nonpareils (also known as sno-caps).   We used the disposable soup bowls for each person to create their own snack mix.   Each bowl started with a little popcorn and then they filled them to their heart’s content.

Hot Chocolate Bombs ~

Have you seen this new and totally fun idea for hot cocoa???  This is definitely something I will add to the snack board for next year.  But why wait????  You can make these all winter long!  They have gone viral on Tik-Tok and everyone is raving about them.  They are available in stores to buy or you can make your own.  I have saved several posts for reference, but I especially like the post by Gluesticksblog.com.  She gives great ideas and tips and also references a video of them if you have not yet seen how they work.  How to Make Hot Chocolate Bombs by Gluesticksblog.com.

We will definitely be making our own soon and will share our results once we have done so.  However, I am starting preparations for them now and ordered the silicone chocolate mold so I am ready to go.    After reading many reviews and scouring for the best prices, these are the chocolate molds I ordered.  These are the chocolate molds I ordered for Hot Chocolate Bombs!  From my research, I have discovered you need to pay close attention to size.  I also saw where many of the chocolate mold companies weren’t so good on delivery!

Marshamallows are obviously an important ingredient as well.   The dehydrated marshmallows work best as they are small and easier to work with when making hot chocolate bombs.  If you do not plan ahead, these can be very hard to find in the stores *voice of experience here!!!  Here are some handy and fun links to help out with that…

Dehydrated Marshamallows in 1-Pound Sealable Bag

Mini Marshmallows With Snowflake Sprinkles & Chocolate Jimmies

Off To View the Lights ~

Everyone gathered their hot cocoa and snack bowl and loaded into the car for the next step.  Unfortunately, I believe this will be the last year that we will all be in the same vehicle.  Fortunately, that means our family is growing…❤!  Next year we will have to use 2 cars….but you can be sure that won’t stop this family tradition!  We drive through neighborhoods to enjoy the festive decorations.  To those people who decorate every year…thank you!  Some of the displays are the same as they were when our kids were youngsters.  How cool is that?

Carry Out and Puzzles ~

The final part of the evening is Chinese take-out at the end of our Christmas light viewing.  We call ahead and pick it up on our way back home.  Our little Addi already asks for this when we start choosing the date for this night.  Those traditions obviously make a difference even at a young age.  This just melts my heart!

The other new activity we added this year is doing a Christmas puzzle.  Not a large one, as we want to be able to finish it the same night.  My suggestion is to stick with 100 pieces or choose one that is a “family” style puzzle with three different sizes of pieces.  Have you seen these kind?  They are truly so much fun when you are puzzling with a variety of ages.

(Frosty the Snowman 100 piece puzzle)

Here are a couple options of the family time puzzles.  Our family has had one since the kids were young and we would do that same one every year.  Now there are even more options.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse Family Time Puzzle  ~ The image Amazon includes here doesn’t show the different size pieces, but if you click on the link you will see that the Family Time puzzles have small, medium and large pieces for family puzzling.

Snoopy and Linus ice skating – Peanuts Family Time Puzzle ~ A super cute Family Time puzzle that also has small, medium and large pieces.

Christmas lights and cocoa has long been one of our kids’ favorite traditions of the many we try to do throughout the month of December.  I love watching our grown kids still juggle their schedules to make it all work.  Family time is oh so valuable and especially during this wonderful holiday of celebrating the birth of Christ!

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

 

Making Memories With Christmas Cookies

Christmas traditions are a very important part of the spirit of Christmas!  This year has made us all look back at years past and re-evaluate what truly is important.  It also has urged us to look forward, past 2020, and decide what we wish to carry with us for the coming years.  Spending time with loved ones is something I believe we can all agree is at top of the list.  How amazing is it that a small little cookie, decorated with sprinkles and festive colors can do just that?  Making memories with Christmas cookies is a tradition my mom started with us years ago.

We would sit in our cozy little kitchen at a fold up card table.  There was one gingerbread cookie sheet that was the moldable type.  I can still see my pudgy little fingers molding the soft cookie dough into the form until it was just right.  Mom would pop them in the oven and it didn’t take long for the sweet smell to fill the small kitchen.  Anticipation is what comes to mind!

Bowls of colorful icing would be brought to the table in preparation for the next step.  Once those cookies were done, we got the wonderful job of icing each gingerbread man and woman in an attempt to make the prettiest one.  Corn cob butter brushes were converted to paint brushes for the icing.  My heart still warms as I think back to these sweet memories.

Carrying On The Tradition ~

Fast forward to the 1990’s.  It was now time for me to start making memories with Christmas cookies with my own small children.  The cookie shapes and icing methods have changed a bit, but the family fun remains the same.  We switched to cookie cutters and small kid’s paint brushes for the icing.  (only because the corn cob butter brushes have become next to impossible to find!)

As the years progressed, the kids would each start inviting a couple of friends for the annual Christmas cookie decorating event.  The cookies were made ahead of time, which left the icing fun to them.  Back then we would add extra Christmas festivities to the day with Christmas Bingo and Christmas Scavenger Hunts.  It became a day they looked forward to each year.  Thus the Christmas tradition lives on.

Making Memories With Christmas Cookies~

Fast forward to 2020…the tradition lives on!  We just celebrated Year 15 with the same girls….and my son joins in each year to help with one or two.  These girls are now in their 20’s and 30’s and somehow we all manage to find one day each year for Christmas cookie fun!!!   We have also happily added my precious grandchildren.  Isn’t this what Christmas is all about?  Making memories with those that you hold dear to your heart!

Making memories with Christmas cookies is so much more than just decorating cookies.  It’s sharing stories and laughter while you all create your works of art.  It’s laughing and reminiscing about the year’s past.  It sharing dreams of the future.  It’s watching your children’s friends treat the new kiddos at the table with love.  It’s a whole lot of love wrapped up into one short night!

We have tried different cookie recipes and various icing recipes as well.  We have come to the conclusion that these are our favorites!  In fact, we love them so much that we can’t seem to get the cookies all decorated before we start enjoying our works of art.

Recipes ~

Perfect Printable Roll Out Cookie Recipe – No Need To Chill!

The BEST but oh so easy Cookie Icing Recipe can be printed right here!

Of course, I have to share with you some quick links to get you started on your Christmas cookie adventures.  We have found that we tend to add one or more new shapes each year, however, there are several that tend to be the tried and true favorites.  You have to have a good Santa, Christmas Tree, Reindeer and Candy Cane.  Get Christmas Tree, Reindeer, Santa and Candy Cane cookie cutters in one grouping!

We also have come to love the cute little penguin.  He is so fun to decorate!  You will definitely want to add the penguin cookie cutter to your collection!

Another favorite is the snow globe…this one has created a lot of imagination over the years!  The snow globe cookie cutter is a definite favorite of the whole cookie crew!

It is my biggest wish that each of these girls (and my son) carry this tradition on with their families.  That they too can have their hearts filled with happiness as mine is each year we all gather.  We continue to add new “things”  to our group each year…sometimes its gifts, aprons and ornaments we share with each other and other times it is even better because its a new “crew member.”  And just like that….we continue making memories with Christmas cookies!

Make Christmas Special

Whether you are creating your own Christmas cozy or you are shopping for that perfect gift, I have some great ideas for you!  Read on for some fun & unique ideas that you can order to make Christmas special!

I want to share with you some of the great companies I have partnered with.  By taking the time to research each company and then placing an order with them, my hope is to help take the guesswork out of it for you.  I pay close attention to the value of the product received as well as the shipping methods.  What is left are companies that I have come to love and feel very comfortable sharing them with you!

Decor Steals ~

I have absolutely fallen in love with this online-only company.  They offer affordable, timeless home decor pieces.  It is a daily deal site that offers three new products each and every day at 10 a.m.  The “steals” are available for 24 hours or until they sell out.  However, there are many other incredible items to shop as well.  In fact, I love their products so much that I signed up to get the daily email because their daily “steals” are gorgeous!

I have ordered several of their products and have been very happy with EVERYTHING!  *ps…I especially love the Love You More blanket!  They very clearly post in the description of each item how long it will take the product to leave their warehouse.  Every item has different shipping times, so pay attention to that!  Below is just a sampling of their vintage home decor:

Meddy Teddy ~

From previous posts, you all know how much we LOVE Meddy Teddy.  He is truly one of the best teddy bears out there!  Looking for that perfect gift for your child or grandchild?  This is it!!!  Seriously!  Not only is he fully poseable and huggable, but he also helps introduce yoga and meditation to children.

When you go to their site, you will see all of the cute little accessories as well.  Who doesn't love accessories???  While I cannot express enough how much my grandchildren love theirs, you will need to order soon to get this little guy in time for Christmas.

You will LOVE all the Meddy Teddy items!!!

ETSY ~

Please tell me you have ordered from Etsy.  In fact, if you have a favorite shop owner, please share it with me!  We all know the importance of shopping small business and this is your opportunity!  My girls and I LOVE so many UNIQUE items that we have ordered from this amazing site.

There are truly so many fabulous items to choose from so these following links break it down by section for you:

Check out this fabulous home decor--for gifting and of course to refresh your home decor as well! 😉
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Here are some great bath and beauty ideas for that special someone!
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Shop popular items on everyone's list!
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Because a girl can NEVER have too many accessories!
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Paper House ~

Are you tired of getting the same old stocking stuffers?  Then you MUST check out The Paper House.  What a fun company with loads of unique ideas!  This high quality company offers cards, magnets, papers, and clever gifts at great prices.  Some of the products include albums, bookmarks, bundles, paper crafting kits and washi tape.

Below is just a sample of what all they offer.....what are you waiting for????  You can click on any of the pics below or just go directly to their warehouse sale ➡➡➡Take me to the Paper House warehouse sale now!!!

Owl Post Books ~

There is truly NOTHING that tops the value of reading for kids!  We all know the many benefits of teaching the love of reading to kids at an early age.  Of course, it only gets better if they get to run out to the mailbox each month for their own personal subscription box.  Bonus...it comes in a fun box for them to color!

Owl Post Books offers different subscriptions for different age groups.  You can also choose for grab bags or book of the month club.  The craft that is included is icing on the cake.  Addi & Max get excited every time they get their subscription.  In fact, we have had to settle a fight or two over who gets what!

 

What could be better than finding unique products from companies you know you can depend on.  I hope that I can help you just a little bit in your Christmas preparations by bringing you some new stores to visit...online!  It is important to me that each and every follower knows how very much I appreciate them!  I will always work hard to find great values and share good ideas!  We are all in this together as we strive to make Christmas special...this year and every year!

 

 

Making Halloween Gingerbread Houses With Kids

Gingerbread house making and decorating has found its way into the month of October.  What a fun Halloween craft idea to do with kids!   Whether you choose to make everything from scratch or select from the fun Halloween gingerbread house kits in stores, it will be spooky fun!  You really can’t go wrong either way.  A fun day is ahead when you plan on making Halloween gingerbread houses with kids!!!

The Basics of Gingerbread Houses ~

You must first decide if you are going to make gingerbread cookies from scratch or use an alternative ingredient, such as graham crackers.  Either way you choose to go is great and may be dictated by what your family likes.  Obviously, if you are making gingerbread cookies, you will need to do that ahead of time.   Here is a GREAT gingerbread cookie recipe for you to print out!   Create some extra family fun by having the kids throw on their aprons and do the baking with you!

What You Will Need ~

Plan ahead on what toppings you want to have available.  You may already have some great ideas on what will be included, but if help is needed, here are some festive ideas:

  • gumdrops
  • candy corn
  • pumpkins or jelly pumpkins
  • candy eyeballs
  • baking chips in several flavors (chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch)
  • M & M’s (holiday ones are a plus!)
  • chocolate kisses
  • candy skeleton bones
  • various colors of icing in tubes or plastic bags
  • candy buttons

Here are some handy links to some of the items that are a bit harder to find in the stores:

The “Glue” ~

Next, you need to decide what you want to use for the “glue.”  Probably the most popular option is icing.  You can make your own or use store bought.  Be careful to not use a super creamy icing, as it is harder to make things stick!  Another option is burnt sugar.  I love Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s post on this, which includes the directions for burnt sugar.    Check out Mel’s Kitchen Cafe post on haunted houses using burnt sugar!  *Might I suggest you save this recipe from her post as well.

Plan Ahead for Making Gingerbread Houses ~

Plan ahead and have all of your ingredients set out in bowls for everyone to easily reach.  It also helps the kids get their creative juices flowing when they can see all of the items they have to work with out in front of them.  Of course, it makes it even more fun if you serve a fun Halloween drink in a festive cup to enjoy while they are building.

Remember, the idea is not perfection when you are making these works of art with your kids.  The fun is in letting them make decisions and then you all get to enjoy it together!  Just have FUN making Halloween gingerbread houses with your kids!

Halloween Zombie Carrot Cake

Wickedly delicious “zombies” are heading your way….and just in time for Halloween!  Creepy food ideas are running rampant right now so I got the creative juices flowing to try my hand at something new.  The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it is simple to make and yet still festive enough to share with company.  Most people love carrot cake….so they have to love Halloween Zombie Carrot Cake too then, right???

This idea unfolded when I received a wonderful delivery of Edible Beach Chocolate Rock Candy from A Southern Girl’s Needs.  They sent these wonderful chocolates to me to sample in return for a review of their product.  Well, let me tell you…I love them!  There was such care in the packaging and shipping that I was immediately impressed.  What a surprise I had after opening the box to find these cute little confections.  This is definitely a small business that cares about their customers.

These perfect little chocolates  look exactly like rocks.  There is a nice variety of color tones which gives them a very realistic look.  We all loved the nice crunchy outer shell filled with delicious chocolate yumminess.   I, of course, had to make these “beach” chocolate rock candies into “graveside” rocks to create a fun Halloween cake.  I shopped for a couple of extra toppings to help create a fun grave site effect.

Making the Halloween Zombie Carrot Cake~

This step was easy as I purchased a carrot cake mix and followed the directions on the box.  After mixing the cake mix, I divided the batter into 2 prepared 9″ round cake pans and baked according to the directions.

Cream Cheese Icing~

We prefer homemade icing…and a lot of it!  I used the following recipe, and increased all of the measurements by 1/2.  Many times I double recipes, but I felt a little less than double would suffice for this cake.  It turned out that I had a little left over.  I put the leftover icing in a large zip lock baggie to use for my next small project.

Ingredients:

1 stick butter – softened

8 oz cream cheese – softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

4 cups powdered sugar

*Reminder, I increased all ingredients by 1/2.  If you do not like a lot of icing, then the original amounts are sufficient!

Instructions:

  1. Mix softened butter and cream cheese in a bowl until creamy.
  2. Add vanilla extract and salt…continue to mix.
  3. Gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined

*If you need it to be a bit thicker you can add a small amount (tsp. or less) of cornstarch.

Assembling the Halloween Zombie Carrot Cake~

Once your cakes have finished baking, let them cool completely.  Carefully remove first cake from round cake pan and place on your desired serving dish.  I turn the cake “upside down” on the cake platter to have the smooth portion on top (which is the bottom of the cake).

Completely ice the sides and top of the first cake.  Repeat with the second cake…carefully placing it on top of the first layer.

You are now ready to decorate.

Other Ideas for the Edible Beach Chocolate Rock Candy~

  • Ice Cream Toppings
  • Displayed in Candy Dish as Graveyard Gravel Candy
  • Added in a Festive Fall Snack Mix
  • Packaged with a Gift and a label, such as “My Dad Rocks!”
  • Pudding Cup Dessert Topping such as Dirt Pudding
  • Dirt Topping for Flowerpot Cakes Made in Terra Cotta Pots
  • Gingerbread Houses
  • Bag of Coal Treat

Check out A Southern Girl’s Needs Website Here….

We still have plenty of time to enjoy this wonderful month of Halloween.  Get in that kitchen and create some spooky family delights!

 

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