Category Archives: Christmas Gifts

Merry Mail

OK, perhaps the timing of this post is a bit late, but the project was completed to fill a need in our home this holiday season.  I had made a clothes pin Christmas card wreath last year, but it got broken as the decorations were getting packed away.  So, as I realized that we now had no where to display our Christmas cards, I headed to Pinterest to find a new Christmas card display.

This is the one I chose.  First I gathered the supplies I needed:  a piece of wood 6″ tall x 24″ wide, red paint, white paint, green paint, silver paint, a black paint pen, 1″ wide Christmas ribbon, an electric stapler, 1/2″ wide glittered ribbon, clothes pins, colored chalk, a pen, my computer and printer.

When I had everything together, I sanded the board and base coated it in white paint.

base coating for merry mail

While that was drying I headed to the computer and made a sign on MS Word that read “Merry Mail” and printed it out.

photo 1 (2)

Then I cut the page in half and used colored chalk to cover the back of the lettering creating a transfer stencil.

making a chalk stencil

I set that aside and used pouncers (round sponge brushes of varying sizes) to make the polka dots on the sign.  I made several dots of each size in red, green and silver across the white back ground.  I decided to have a few of the dots overlap and others hang off the edges of the board.

making polka dots

When that was dry, I used the chalk stencil to transfer the words onto the front of the sign.  With the chalk on the back of the paper, I used a pen to trace around the letters on the front of the page.

photo 3 (2)

When I had the chalk outline to work with, I used a black paint pen to fill in the letters.

photo 4

I then set it aside to dry and cut the ribbons to length.  I used the 3 types of 1″ ribbon to hang from the bottom to attach the cards and the 1/2″ ribbon to hang the sign.

cutting the ribbon

Then I used an electric stapler to attach the ribbons.  I hung the 3 colored lengths from the bottom of the sign, spaced evenly across the board.

stapling the ribbon

This is the finished product, before I hung the cards on it and put it up in our dining room.

photo 4 (3)

How do you show off your holiday cards?


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Snapshot Saturday – Oh Christmas Tree!

This week’s picture is the first shot I took of our decorated Christmas tree in our new house!  I made a bunch of huge changes this year, and this is just one more to add to the list.  We went with an artificial tree instead of a live one.  I have never liked fake trees, but I really do like how this one looks.

photo 2 (11)

There were a hundred reasons we went with artificial, and I can honestly say I’m not disappointed with my choice.  How about you… Real or Fake?

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Putting our Puppy Prints on the Christmas Tree

Last week we talked about two ornaments we made for our Christmas tree, but those weren’t the only ones that were missing.  We needed to pay homage to all of the furry members of our family!  So, I went to check out Pinterest, and found this ornament and the directions on how to make it…

We decided that we liked the style of the ornament, but didn’t want to make the extra decorations.  This was our first time working with Sculpey clay and  making that bone & candy cane just seemed like it was out of reach.  (This time around…)

First we gathered our supplies:  3 colors of Sculpey clay (we have 3 dogs, so we needed 3 colors to be able to easily identify which paw print belongs to which dog), a nail, Sculpey glaze, ribbon, an oven, a cookie sheet covered in parchment, and a paintbrush.

photo 1 (4)

Once we had everything together, I preheated the oven to 275 degrees.  Then we assigned the colors to the appropriate dog (Paddy got blue, Murphy got purple and Harley got black) and started working the clay to get it malleable enough to make an impression of their paws.  The black clay was the hardest to soften.  Unlike the 1st House Ornament where we used 2 bars of the clay, we used all 4 bars for each of these.

working the blue clay

be careful it will stain your hands…

working the purple clay  working the black clay

Once it was soft enough, we formed a thick pancake like shape out of the clay, and made an imprint of each dog’s paw in their color  clay.

photo 3

Once the print was in the clay, we used a nail to make a hole for the ribbon to hang the ornament and to write the dog’s initials on their ornament.

puppy initials

Then we traced the paw print with the nail to make it more noticeable, because the color clay we used was so dark and it was hard to see the prints.

tracing the print

When all three were done, it was time to put them in the oven to bake.  The blue and purple ones took 15 minutes and the black one needed to stay in the oven for an extra 15 minutes (30 minutes total).

oven ready  baking away

When they were done, we took them out and let them cool over night, so that we could glaze them without an issue.

glazing murphy's ornament

We glazed each side of each ornament and let them dry for 30 minutes between coats.  When they were dry, it was time to thread the ribbon through to make the hanger for each.

making the hanger

Then it was time to put them all up on the tree.

Murphy's ornament  Harley's ornament  Paddy's ornament

What do you think?  What kind of ornament should we make next?


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Tasty Tuesday – Santa Hat Brownies

We have a Christmas party at work this week and I wanted to bring something fun and yummy, but it really needed to be simple.  You know how crazy it can get during the holidays, especially in the middle of remodeling a house and playing chauffeur to the masses.  So I head off to look for an idea.  First I checked my Disney Holiday cookbook, but while all of those ideas are fantastic I couldn’t see making a “Yule Log” ala the Yachtsman Steakhouse for a party in a local bar.  It needed to be more finger foodesque.  So I headed off to search, you guessed it, Pinterest.  That’s were I found the recipe for these:

Once I had the idea, and a vague idea of the recipe, I gathered all my supplies:  a boxed brownie mix (no I didn’t make them from scratch – hello? I needed something quick and easy) with the oil, water & eggs that it called for, a package of strawberries (man out of season fruit can be expensive), and a can of Redi-Whip.

santa hat brownie ingredients

Once I had all the stuff (most of which I had on hand, thankfully) I made the brownies.  Just a side note, this mix was on sale when I went grocery shopping, and now I know why – so not using this kind again.

add the water  crack the eggs  time to mix

Don’t forget to spray the bottom of the pan and pre-heat the oven…

spray the pan

When they are done according to the box, take them out and cool them completely.  No sneaking any, or rushing the cooling process.  They tend to crumble if you do that…  It sucks, I know.  After they are cool, you can cut out the circles.  You can use a cookie cutter, biscuit round, or trace anything circular with a knife.  That’s how we had to do it, because somehow in the move I cannot find my biscuit cutter, grumble.  We used a 1/3 cup measuring cup and a sharp knife to trace the circles in the pan of brownies.

missing my biscuit cutter

Once we had the bases cut out, I trimmed the strawberries and put them on top of the brownie circles.

trimming strawberries in december?  putting on the hats

Then it was time for some fun with spray on whipped cream!  I tend to have a heavy hand, so my hats had big fluffy rims and tops.

brownie santa hats!

They were a big hit at the party, and the perfect 2 bite snack!  What do you make for a holiday party dessert?

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Bringing our Tree to Life

This week’s craft projects came from Pinterest, as usual…  I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like I have an original idea ever, but with so much inspiration available what am I supposed to do?  I’m working on a holiday crafting theme, and when we put up our tree I noticed that there were a couple of things missing from it – something to honor the loss of my dad, something to commemorate our new home, and something to honor the newest members of our family.  This week I set about finding a way to remedy that situation…  I found these pins:

They both seemed like things I could do myself & that we had the supplies to make, so I decided I would try.  First I made the “Someone in Heaven” Ornament.

I found a clear glass ball, a paint marker and some ribbon.

someone in heaven supplies

Then I pulled up the exact wording:  “Because someone we love is in Heaven, there’s a little bit of Heaven in our home.”   Next I started writing with the paint pen on the glass ball.  (I made sure the surface of the glass was clean and dry before I did this, so the paint would go on nicely.)

writing on glass

I liked how the words came out, but don’t love it…  I’ll probably redo this one at some point when I have more time, because I want it to be perfect, but it works for now.

photo 3

When it was dry (about 5 minutes later). I tied a ribbon to the top metal loop.

photo 4

And hung it on the tree…

photo 5

Then I went back to the crafting table (in this case the coffee table in the living room), to start on my next homemade ornament – the one to honor our first house together.  Now, this isn’t our 1st home, apartment, property purchase or anything like that, but it is the 1st house we bought together and one of the things my dad wanted most for us.  So, even though I swore up and down for what seems like forever that I wasn’t ever going to own a house, I buckled and made the leap to honor his wishes.  (I can honestly say, that it was worth it most of the time.)

For this project I also gathered my supplies: some silver Sculpey III clay, my house key, a nail, Sculpey glaze, a paint brush, a parchment lined cookie sheet, and some ribbon.

1st house supplies

I started by preheating the oven to 275 degrees, then I opened the clay, broke off two strips and started kneading it to make it pliable.

kneading the clay

Once it was malleable, I made it into a pancake shaped disc about 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter.

sculpey pancake

Then I took the key and pressed it into the left side of the circle to make an impression.

key in clay

Once I was sure you could tell it was a key, I pulled it off the mold and was left with this:

key impression

I took a small nail and made a hole at the top of the disc to attach a ribbon to for hanging.  I also used the nail to write the words “Our 1st House” next to the impression of the key and the year underneath the words.

oven ready ornament

Then it was off to the oven for 15 minutes of baking.  I also let it cool over night, so that the glaze would set without any issues.  The next morning, I glazed both sides of the ornament (letting each side dry for 30 minutes).

drying glazed ornament

When it was dry I threaded a piece of ribbon through the hole in the top of the ornament and knotted it against the clay, leaving enough slack to create a loop and bow further down to use to hang it from.

1st house with ribbon

Then it was off to the tree with this one…

1st house ornament on the tree

What other ornaments should we make, get or put on our tree?  Do you have any that are really special to you?

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Tasty Tuesday – Salted Caramel Bark

This week’s kitchen experiment was a first for me…  You see, I’m not a big fan of sweets, but almost everyone around me is and it is the holiday season so we’ve been having more company than usual, which means I need to have a couple of desserts on hand.  So I went searching Pinterest for ideas for quick and easy snacky type stuff, and found this recipe for salted caramel bark.  (I also found a new blog to follow in the process!)  It was crazy simple!

First I gathered the supplies:  a jelly roll pan, parchment paper, a cup of brown sugar, 2 sticks of butter, a spatula, a medium saucepan, a bag of chocolate chips, sea salt, and about half a bag of mini pretzels.

bark supplies

Once the pan was covered in parchment, I put down a layer of pretzels across the bottom of the pan.  It works best if they are in a single layer, and not overlapping.

photo 3 (14)

Then I headed over to the stove and melted the butter and the brown sugar to make the caramel.  How ridiculously simple is that?  I’m never buying those stupid little wrapped caramels again!

making caramel

Once the butter and sugar were melted, and had come to a boil (which makes the mixture thicken) it got poured over the pretzels.  Don’t stress if not all the pretzels get covered, they caramel spreads in the oven.  Once the pretzels are covered, the whole thing goes into a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

caramel covered pretzels

After the longest 5 minutes ever, pull the pan out and spread out the bag of chocolate chips.  Then stick it back into the oven for another minute to melt the chips.  Once they are melty use a spatula to spread the chocolate out.

spread the melted chocolate

Then add a generous amount of sea salt.

photo 4 (14)

Then comes the hardest part of the whole process… waiting.  Let it set (and cool) on the counter for about 10 minutes before you stick it into the freezer for a couple of three hours.  Once it’s cool, break off some pieces and enjoy.  We broke up the rest and stored it in a cookie tin in our fridge for holiday visitors.

salted caramel pretzel bark

Who wants to try some?  We are looking forward to visitors, so just drop us a note and come on over!



Filed under check-it-off-the-list, Christmas Gifts, tasty tuesday

Snapshot Saturday – Holiday Decorations

It’s officially Christmas Season!  Thanksgiving and Black Friday have come and gone!  Today we break out our Christmas decorations, send out our Christmas Cards, and figure out what we still need in the way of Christmas gifts!  I love this time of year!!!  These are some of the ornaments that Gwen made!

funky snowmen

funky snowmen

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