Monday, December 23, 2013

Glitter Ornaments

I love how easy these are to make, but also oh so pretty. You need only three things to make these.
  • Clear ornaments (glass or plastic) that the tops can be removed from (they have them at Michael's)
  • Liquid food coloring
  • Glitter
Remove the tops from your ornaments. Depending on the size and shape, put a drop or two of food coloring inside. You can coat all of ornament, or create a design by swirling it in specific ways. Because of the point in my ornaments, most of the coloring and glitter collected in the bottom and fanned out from there. You can pour any extra onto a paper towel or into another ornament.

Now add the glitter. You can create a funnel by snipping off the end of an envelope, or folding a piece of paper. Now shake the ornament, covering the hole, making sure it coats all the places where there is dye.
Let them dry, then put the tops back on.
 You can put ribbon or twine through the loop if you want. These make a great gift, and it's very easy to make lots of them at one time.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

These are addicting. They are crunchy, sweet, spicy and flavorful. My favorite combination of nuts is 1 cup each peanuts and walnuts, and 1/2 cup each pecans and almonds. Sometimes I reserve a little sugar for after they are out of the oven to give them more color and make them look more appetizing.
  • 4 cups mixed nuts
  • 1/4 packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg white
Preheat oven to 350. place nuts on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and reduce the oven to 325. In a small bowl, mix sugars and spices together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg white with 1 tsp. water until frothy. Mix in the nuts.

Add the spice and sugar mixture and place on a lined baking sheet.

Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove and let cool. When they are cool, separate with a fork. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hot Chocolate

I wait all year to sit by a fire with a cup of steaming hot cocoa. This recipe is very easy to make, and the flavor is great for such simple ingredients.
  • 3 quarts (16 cups) milk
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups chocolate chips
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

In a large pot, heat the milk over low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder.

Add the chocolate chips, making sure to incorporate all the melted chocolate into the milk and cocoa, scraping the bottom with the whisk to make sure you get all the chocolate. Bring to a low boil, then turn off the heat. Add the vanilla and salt. Serves 8.

That is simple it is. I often half this recipe, or even third it because the cocoa is so rich. it will be sweeter depending on what type of chocolate and cocoa you use. I like to use semisweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder, then add a bit of sugar if I feel it needs it. As a topping, you can freeze whipped cream, then cut it into shapes. My heart began to melt almost immediately  after I put it in my hot chocolate, but it will still be cold when you eat some. I saw this on Pinterest, and I encourage you to try it, as it tastes wonderful with the cocoa, and adds a bit of edible decoration.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cookie Tips

I love to eat cookies around the holidays, and I love to decorate them even more. Here are some simple tips for decorating delicious cookies.

This snowflake was created by placing a circle of frosting in the middle of the cookie, then dragging the frosting out in a snowflake shape and then covering it in white sugar to give it a glittery snow affect.

This is a lacey pattern. Create vertical lines on the cookie with frosting. Now you can drag some of the frosting out with a toothpick or use more frosting in a sloppy herringbone pattern, creating the feeling of lace. You must do this from one line to the next, angling them so as to avoid straight across lines.

This is one of my favorite patterns because it looks so hard, but is so simple. Do a base layer of frosting, coating the entire cookie. In a different color frosting, make lines that all go the same direction. Take a toothpick and drag from one end of the cookie to the other in any way you want. For mine I piped vertical lines, then drew the toothpick through horizontally.

Try adding a bit of vanilla or almond extract to your frosting recipe to add a depth of flavor. I am not a fan of super sweet frosting, so I like to add a bit of vanilla. To help balance out sweet frosting, the sweeter my frosting, the more savory cookie I use. You don't have to stick with the colors of food coloring in your box, or buy special colors. Mix your own, carful not to add to many colors to avoid that mucky brown color. It creates unique colors that give your cookies that extra little pop. Hope you enjoy decorating (and eating) your cookies!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Matchbox Advent Calendar

 DIY advent calendars are popular right now. I decided to do a matchbox advent. I filled mine with candies and little strips of paper I rolled up that have things to do each day. This is what you will need:
  • 25 matchboxes
  • Wrapping paper
  • Washi tape, or any other type of colored or patterned tape (you can get washi tape at target in their office sections and most craft stores such as Michael's)
  • Glue (school works perfectly fine)
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • Stamps and ink or markers
  • A brush
 First I covered the front of the boxes with washi tape. I did four of each pattern and a different pattern for box 25.

Number them next. I used stamps with black and gold ink and pressed against the inside of the matchbox to keep it from breaking. You can use markers as well, though I like the uniform look stamps provide.
Now glue them together. I stared by gluing them across in rows first, them gluing the rows on top of another. I used a moderately heavy book to help the drying and press the matchboxes down.

When it dries, trace the size on cardboard. I used an X-Acto knife, but the scissors will work just as well. You should have two side pieces, two pieces for the top and bottom, and a back piece.

 Glue the pieces to the calendar, creating a box. When you do the back, be carful not to glue the drawers of the matchbox to the back, you want to be able to pull them out :).

The final step is to cover the cardboard with wrapping paper. I chose a neutral music print, so it would not draw away from the patterns of the drawers. Measure and cut the wrapping paper, making sure to leave about 1/2 an inch for folding.

To glue the wrapping paper on, I added one part water to two parts glue and brushed it on. Pull the paper tight over the cardboard. When you fold the ends, take and fold half the left edge of one side down first in a triangle shape. Do this to the right edge then put glue on the inside of the fold, align it and push that part down. Once dry, trim anything that overhangs with scissors.

You are ready to fill it up with goodies for the month!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Welcome to My Blog

I have been wanting to start a blog for some time. Here it is! I love to cook (and eat!), craft, and take photos, hence the name of this blog. I have tons of ideas and thoughts that I will share with you. I am already planning a Christmas idea, and many more will follow!