Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Elf on the Shelf: Week Three

Day 15:  Making Lunch!

Day 16:  Dino Trouble

Day 17:  Jingle's Secret Identity

Day 18 : Jingle Riding the Train!
 Day 19:  Acme Rocket Fun

 Day 20:  Free Reindeer Poop

Day 21: Swinging!

2013 Elf on the Shelf: Week Two

Day Nine:  Acrobat Elf

Day Ten:  Solo Cup Tree

Day Eleven:  Making Brownies

Day Twelve:  Playing Nintendo

Day Thirteen:  Camping Out

Day Fourteen: Giving a Gift

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013 - Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles


This is my first year to participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I just loved it!  I knew immediately which recipe I wanted to make for the 3 other bloggers that were lucky to have me get their names:  Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles.  I've been making these cookies for years, because they are truly some of the best tasting cookies I've ever had, so of course I had to make them.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles
recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Yield:  3/12 doz. large or 5 doz. small

  • 2 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp each: ground cinnamon, grown ginger, and cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together sugar with all the spices in small bowl; remove 1/2 cup to a pie plate or small dish for dredging and place to the side.  Add cocoa to small bowl with sugar/spice mixture and stir to blend.
  3. Beat butter in an electric mixer bowl until fluffy.  Add the spiced cocoa mixture and beat until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla, then add the flour and baking powder at low speed until combined.
  4. Form tablespoon sized balls.  Roll them in the reserved sugar mixture and arrange 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Press cookies down slightly with your hand or the bottom of a glass.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes.  Cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.

I hope they were enjoyed by all who received...

...and, that everything arrived unbroken!

Goodies Received

The first dozen I received were some Chocolate Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies.  They were really cold when I got them, but I warmed a few up in the microwave, and boy were they good!  It was like eating a cup of hot cocoa!  Unfortunately, I seemed to have misplaced the card that came with them, so I don't know who sent them. =(  *I've recently been informed that it was Mary of Newtonienne Noshes, that made these delicious cookies.  So, thank you, Mary!

This was the 2nd batch I received, from Madeline of Munching In the Mitten.  These Peanut Butter cookies with PB and chocolate chips were in a word, amazing!  My son and I thoroughly enjoyed every single crumb!

Lastly, just yesterday night at 8pm, UPS delivered my 3rd parcel of goodness.  Quyen from Kitchen Runway sent me Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip cookies.
I'd never tasted cookie butter before, so this was a real treat!  The cookie butter added a richness to the cookie that normally isn't there with your typical chocolate chip.  So, thank you so much Quyen!
I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of the the swap for their wonderful contribution to the cause, and for the fantastic goodies that we received from them.  I can't wait to see what next year brings!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2013 Elf on the Shelf: Week One

It's that time again!  This is our 2nd year of doing the Elf on the Shelf thing, and I couldn't wait to get started!  Crazy.  I think I like it more than he does, although that will probably change, come day 25.

Day One: Jingle came flying in!

Day Two:  Jingle went for a ski!

Day Three:  Decorating Grandma & Grandpa's Christmas tree

This is our 2nd year of surprising grandma and grandpa with a decorated tree.  It's a lot of fun for my parents, and for me to see how long it takes them to notice!

This year I made all new ornaments for the event.  You can see all the ornaments and detailed instructions pictures here!

Day Four:  Making a Lego Christmas tree

Day Five: Superhero Elf

Day Six:  Climbing for Candy

Day Seven:  Bath Time!

Day Eight:  Playing Angry Birds

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Americana Christmas Ornaments

I had already decided to make my mom some new Christmas ornaments in an Americana theme for their tree this year, to continue the tradition of our Elf on the Shelf decorating their tree while they were away. 

After being inspired by some ideas on Pinterest, here's what I did. 

Fabric Wrapped Stars

I purchased several different designs of fabric in 1/2 yard increments.  I then cut that fabric into 1 1/2" strips, roughly (don't cut up the whole 1/2 yard!).  I didn't really measure, I just eyed it.  I then used some wire to make a star, and proceeded to wrap each wire frame with fabric.  (I used several different wires for this, basically because I only wanted to use what I
had on hand.  I tried a coat hanger, pipe cleaners, some other wire that I had from who knows what, and finally settled on some floral wire, that I doubled up.) I hot glued the ends, so that they wouldn't unravel.

Fabric Covered Ornaments

My next inspiration came from Good Housekeeping.  You can look at it here.  Mine are pretty similar.  I measured out (from the 1/2 yard fabrics I purchased) 13"x13" pieces for each ball.  Now, I'm not sure what type of circular object they used in their instructions for the actual ball, but after much scouring of Hobby Lobby and Walmart, I went with a 12-pack package of wiffle balls.  They were the perfect size and ended up being about $.62 each.  Not bad.

After wrapping the ball with the fabric, I tied a piece of ribbon around the top and tied it in a bow.  Pretty simple

I tried a few other decorations on the bow, like some white berries, but I ended up just sticking to the original bow.

 I had a few wiffle balls left over, so I used some of the scraps from my wire covered ornaments to cover these extra balls.  I would recommend cutting those fabric strips in half, to about 1/2"-3/4".  The smaller strips are easier to fold around the ball and make it less likely to have gaps.  For these fabric strip covered balls, I also simply finished them with some hot glue at the top, then I attached a ribbon hanger and a button on the top to complete it.  I thought they turned out very cute!

 I liked the look of those larger fabric strip covered balls so much, that I did some small ones too!  I had some small Styrofoam balls in my stash, so I used the same method and covered these balls as well.  I finished these off with some ribbon hangers and a pearl bead with a straight pin through the top.  It couldn't be easier.  You could hot glue these as well for added security, if you'd like.

Candy Canes

I got the idea for these candy canes here, but I didn't go into their actual post to see how it was made.  I simply used the same method I did with the wire star ornaments.  Cut your fabric of choice, preferably something with red in it, and wrap to your heart's content.  I wish now I had done the ends differently, but it's too late!
 USA wired ornament

The last wired ornament I made was in the shape of "USA".  I didn't do any more of these for several reasons, the most predominant one being that it was a pain.  Again, I doubled up on floral wire to make the shape, then used strips of fabric to cover it.  I hot glued the ends down, and attached a piece of ribbon from the U to the A as a hanger.
Denim and Corduroy Ornaments

I originally got the idea from here, but they didn't have a tutorial, which saddened me.

I used an old corduroy shirt for the red ones, and some of my son's jeans that had holes in them for the denim ones.  I simply cut a star pattern out and stitched them together on a sewing machine.  I only made a few of these, because they too were a major pain in the hiney.  I finished them off with some twine on the denim, and yarn on the corduroy.  Cute, but not worth it, if you ask me.

American Flag Ornaments

The last ornament type I did was to cut out 6 pockets from my son's old jeans that had holes in them.  I then proceeded to paint red and white stripes, and on some, I actually painted the blue behind the "stars".  I used a pencil eraser to paint on the "stars".  I had to do 2 coats of paint on each.  To finish, I hot glued the pockets shut, and inserted some twine into the pockets as a hanger.

Whew!  When I post it here, it seems like a lot of work, but it didn't feel that way when I was doing it.  It was just something that had to be done before our Elf antics!  I'll post the final tree decorated when I'm doing my recap on our Elf on the Shelf:  Week One.  Stay tuned!
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