Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From Our Family to Yours!

Christmas Tablescape idea

This was just a simple "detail" I made for our Christmas morning table....
I found these red and white Monogram Letters at JoAnn's. I  wrapped a chocolate bar in red paper and tied these to them.  What a cute placecard with a bonus ornament!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Popcorn and Cranberries Garland

We strung cranberries and popcorn to make a beautiful garland for our tree!

Button Wreath Ornament

This is a simple ornament we made.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Favorite Elf

What a fun "Gift Wrap Party Night"....My favorite elf helps with the wrapping.
We play Christmas Music real loud, sing and wrap gifts!
Music suggestions:

" The Best of Cool Yule " Rhino Records....wins  hands down!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yummy Christmas Cookie Time

Homemade Gingerbread Cookies!
So much work, but we had a special day baking chocolate chip cookies, Viennese Crescent Cookies(powder sugar with almonds), and gingerbread cookies.....yummy!
These are special times and I am so glad we had such a special day!

I will post the recipe  from Paula Deen, but, I just want to mention after cooking and cleaning all day, I just spoke to my sister in law and she forgot to tell me about the "pre-made just roll and bake" gingerbread cookies and the Wilton icing pens at Michaels's.  She said they taste good and are  easy!!!!!! (thanks for the tip for next year!)

Paula Deen's Gingerbread Cookies
For the Cookies:

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
3 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

for the icing:

2 cups confectioners sugar
4-6 tablespoons of milk

1. cream the butter, sugar, mix in eggs and molasses.
2. ad dry ingredients, make a ball with dough  and then wrap in plastic. place in fridge for about 1 hour.
3. preheat oven to 350, meanwhile let dough sit out for about 15 minutes.
Roll dough out using floured board and floured rolling pin. Roll to about 1/8 to 1/4 thick. Place cookies on parchment paper on cookie sheets.  Put cut out cookies in fridge for 20 minutes prior to baking.
4. bake cookies for 18-20 minutes, til brown around edges (I watched them and had to bake for only 10 minutes each)
5. let cool on wire rack.
6. Make frosting, just mix confectioners sugar and milk til the consistency is thick.
I used a plastic bag with the corner cut to pipe the eyes and decorations.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Teacher Gifts

This is what I made for the Teachers this year.
I used an old uniform, cut up and glued on a bulletin board.
You can use any uniform fabric, even hospital scrubs....note the buttons (I hot glued them to flat thumb tacks)!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ornament Idea

These ornaments are so cute and easy.
These are from Sabrina's pre-kindergarden class, they are glass ornaments with photos in them and then they are painted with the year, etc. with paint pens.
(look for the glass ornaments with a large makes it easier to arrange the photo)

My Daughter's Christmas Tree

We started this tradition when Sabrina was around 3 years old.
We got Sabrina her very own tree!
Every year she gets a new ornament and it is so much fun to decorate every year!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gift Idea for Teacher or Coach

This is just a great idea for coaches, teachers or anyone!!!!!

My daughter's swim team is putting together a gift basket of gift cards.
We asked anyone to donate any amount and gift cards from anywhere they choose!

some gift card ideas:
Visa/ Amex cards
Home Depot/Lowes
Barnes and Noble
Sports Authority

Wouldn't you love to get this gift?????

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

I found this cute Advent Calender  at Target!
I didn't want to put candy inside so I decided to write 24 things to do before Christmas!
I placed the slips inside each countdown day, and this is what we are doing.....

24 things to do before Christmas:

1. Decorate Tree
2. Decorate Yard
3. Drink Hot Cocoa
4. Read a Christmas Book
5. Make Rice Crispy treats (my daughter has never made them!!!!)
6. Go shopping for stocking stuffers
7. Get Christmas cards ready to send out
8. Enjoy a candy cane
9. Go for a walk around neighborhood and look at decorations
10. Make Handmade cards for family
11. Make a fire and roast marshmallows
12. Drive around in PJ's and look at lights
13. Sing Christmas Carols
14. Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn together
15. Make cookies and deliver them to the "Joe DiMaggio House" (children's hospital)
16. Get together items to donate to the Joe DiMaggio House
17. Go buy Conner (our Dog) a treat
18. Make Christmas cookies for friends and neighbors
19. Make care package for the "adopt a family" at school
20. Help plan Christmas Breakfast
21. wrap presents
22. Make a homemade ornament for the tree
23. string cranberries and popcorn for the tree
24.?????? (I will put a little surprise in the last box for my daughter!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Best Mac and Cheese

This is a great Mac and Cheese recipe!

I actually got the recipe from a great book, Trisha Yearwoods "Georgia cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen", (this book is worth buying or a great gift idea!)

this is my version:

1 pound macaroni (I used whole wheat penne)

cheese sauce:
6 tablespoons (1/2 stick) stick butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

grated Parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 350
butter a 2 quart casserole dish

cook noodles
while noodles are cooking, make the cheese sauce.
Melt butter in saucepan.  Using a wire whisk, stir in flour and salt.  Keep stirring until flour mixture turns pale brown, approx. 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in 1 cup of milk. Return to heat and and whisk in remaining 1 cup of milk.  continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. (Be patient!) add the cheese and stir until it melts.

Mix noodles in cheese sauce, pour into prepared pan.  top with Parmesan cheese and bake until crispy! (approx. 45 minutes)

Mini Photo Books

Here is a great inexpensive gift.  for the past couple of years, I put together my favorite photos of the past year and make a mini photo book.  They make great presents for grandparents, and I always make one for our family as well.  These are NOT the regular photo books, they are much more expensive!  These are the "mini photo books" and they are 5 x 7 photos that look great!  The cost starts at $6.99. Go to and don't forget to sign up with them, they send out discounts frequently by email!

Kids Gift Idea

This is a great  inexpensive gift....everybody loves NEW crayons and markers
(I love the smell of new crayons!)

Gift Card Idea...

This month I will be posting some random gift, decorating and simple party ideas...
With my party "budget" cut, I am on a party "hiatus" right now.....

so let's get creative together!

Here is an idea for a gift card....A Dunkin Donut gift card is great but make the presentation even better....ask for a "free" cup and put the gift card inside!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Exchange Party

Party Time!
We had a simple party that is a great money saving idea...a book swap!
You can do this with adults, kids or both together.
Easy to plan and a huge on
A bookmark to take home.
I will print the poem  at end of post, it was printed on regular paper and I glued it on some card stock.
This was the craft project we made.  We made bookmarks with black cord and 3 beads knotted on each end.  Easy, cheap and a fun way to keep the kids busy. I found these cute plastic dice beads at JoAnns.

Nothing fancy today, I did not have time so I bought donut holes, they were on sale buy 1 get 1 free!!!!
Of course I had to make little toppers that spell out "I heart Books"....

I made a "check in" table, said "Welcome to the Library", and used post it notes.  For every book they brought to trade, I gave them one post it page.  The way I organized the swap was for every book they brought was the amount of books they got to take home.  When they checked in, I asked them to choose one book that they liked best out of the ones they brought and had them talk about that book before we "shopped for the books" (book swap!).

We went around the room and talked about our favorite book we brought....

The Book Poem:

When Books Fall Open

When Books Fall Open
And You Fall In
A Great Adventure Will Begin.

A Princess, a Tiger,
A Flying Broom
A Magic Hat
A Pink Kangaroo.

Yes, When books Fall Open
And You Fall In,
A Great Adventure Will Begin.

A Knight and His Horse
A Trip to the Moon,
A Talking dog
A Big Red Balloon.

So Pick a Book
Crawl right In,
Then Your Journey
Shall Begin.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Graveyard Bash" Halloween Night

This sets the scene for our "Graveyard Bash".
After Trick or Treating we had some friends over for Appetizers and Desserts...Hope you aren't scared....Come on over and "dig" in!
This was a HUGE hit!
The "open casket dip"....That is a loaf of bread propped open with wooden skewers with spinach dip inside....of course the skeleton is an added addition!

The Pretty Butterfly and Helicopter Pilot ready for "Trick and Treating"
Our House, note the fire pit, it was a nice touch!
Other noteworthy ideas, we had Halloween Music, and coolers of water, etc for some of our friends passing by!
Happy Halloween!

Preparing for Halloween Night

Halloween cupcakes...used stickers on scrapbook paper as cupcake toppers, and some cool spider rings....yummy!
Easy Halloween "Dirt Cups"

layer chocolate pudding
smashed Oreos (dirt)
Peppridge Farms Milano Cookies with Wilton black piping gel (available at Michael's)
candy pumpkins

traditional pumpkin carving  time!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pretzel Hugs

These are so easy and so good!!!!
You can use any Holiday M and M's...
This recipe is from Becky Higgins.  I love it,  and have to share this with you!

Pretzel Hugs

1 bag pretzel squares
1 bag M and M's
1 package Hershey "hugs"

preheat oven to 200 degrees

Place pretzels on baking sheet (you can get a lot on one because they do not spread out).
Place a "hug" on each pretzel and bake for 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and quickly place 2  M&M's on each "hug", pressing into melted chocolate.
Allow to cool before serving, I place in refrigerator to cool off.