Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Artichoke Dip

If you are looking for one more dip to add to your New Year's Eve festivities, then this is the dip for you. It is so easy and incredibly tasty! There are many variations out there, but I like to keep it simple. Just three ingredients! Really - just three. It's fool proof! 

Artichoke Dip 

1 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients together and bake for 35 minutes at 350 F. Serve with cubed French bread (my personal favorite), crackers or pita triangles.

Print this recipe {here}

Sandy Garrett Hot Bean Dip

This hot bean dip has been served as a fun New Year's appetizer for as long as I can remember.  Very quick and easy!

Mix the following together:

Sandy's Hot Bean Dip

1 can refried beans
1 can diced green chilies
1 can Hormel "no bean" chili
1 lb. cooked hamburger
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Pour bean mixture into an oven safe dish and top with another 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Serve hot with tortilla chips or Fritos to dip.  Enjoy!

Print this recipe {here}

Monday, December 29, 2014

Nuts and Bolts

Before you could buy bags of Chex Mix at the store, our mom would make "Nuts and Bolts".  A great snack and party mix.  We'll be munching on this for New Years Eve.  You'll need:
Nuts and Bolts

12  tsp butter
2 tsp season salt
8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups corn Chex cereal
2 cups rice Chex cereal
2 cups wheat Chex cereal
2 cups Cheerios
2 cups thin stick pretzels 
1 medium can mixed nuts

In a small bowl, melt butter and stir in season salt and Worcestershire sauce.  In a large bowel, mix all the dry ingredients.

Slowly stir the butter mixture over the dry ingredients until they are all well coated.  Spread out mix on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 250° for 45 minutes.  Making sure to stir the mix every 15 minutes.  

Open up a paper sack and pour the mix out on it.  (This is how it was done, "back in the day".) You can use paper towels too, just something absorbent.  Great snack for anytime and easy to make!

Print this recipe {here}

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Inspiration for the Week

Happy New Year Banner

Make this fun banner for the New Year.
You'll need:
3 pieces of scrapbook paper
3 pieces of card stock (I used glitter)
1 package of double fold bias tape
 (in the sewing section, very important to buy double fold)
sewing machine
Elmers glue

Cut your scrapbook paper to 8 1/2"x11 so it will fit in your printer.  
(just print pages 1-3 on your scrapbook paper first, then print page 4 on regular paper- this is your pattern for cutting the card stock) 

Print off the banner here:
New Year 15

Cut out your card stock pattern.  
Trace it on the back of your card stock. 
 You should be able to fit 4 on a 12x12 piece.  
Cut these out along with cutting the letter pieces.

Center your scrapbook letter piece on top of a card stock piece and trim off a little of the scrapbook paper at the top to match the card stock and trim a little of the card stock at the "v" point as shown in these pictures below.


 With Elmers, glue your scrapbook paper to card stock.  
Stack all your banner flag pieces in order. Measure 8" in on your bias tape and insert the "H" flag.

   Sew down the middle of the bias tape, Inserting each flag 1/4" from the last piece.
 I gave a 1/2" space after the words happy and new.   
After your last letter flag, the "R", measure 8" on the bias tape and cut. 
 Your done! Happy New Year!

Fabulous Finds

Here are some great finds for New Years:
gold star plates--dollar store
horns and clappers--dollar store
tinsel garland-- dollar store, part of their Christmas section, now just 50 cents!
poppers--Walmart for $1 package of 6
mercury glass cup (great for a votive candle)--Kmart sale $1.75

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Unwrapping game!

Have fun at your holiday party this year with this exciting game!  Wrap a large bag of candy like Christmas M&Ms in a box and tie on a ribbon.  Continue to wrap box after box with ribbon as many times as you can. Place the large box in the center of a circle.  Have everyone in the circle take a turn rolling two dice.  Once a double has been rolled, that person gets to start to unwrap the gift.  The dice, however, continue to be passed around the circle and rolled.  When another person rolls a double they get to take over the unwrapping of the gift.  Continue to do this until the bag of candy is reached - that is the winner 's prize!  To make it harder, we have only kids 5 or 6 and younger unwrap with their hands.  Everyone else 7 and older has to wear oven mitts to try to unwrap the gift!  Tie on more ribbon or add more boxes to make it harder and more fun.  It is such a fun game and full of excitement!!  

The Greatest Gift of All

Here is a fun game to help remember the "greatest gift of all" this Christmas time.  

Use a toy baby from a doll set or one that you can buy in the baby shower aisle at most craft stores.
This will be your baby Jesus.  Place the baby in a small box and wrap it.  Now place this wrapped box in another and wrap it-continue wrapping in larger and larger boxes.  Try to get as many sizes as you can!  We have had as many as 12 boxes used , the more used the better!

On your final box, add a tag that reads "Guess how many boxes must be unwrapped to get to the "greatest gift of all".  Fun for kids to guess the amount of boxes that must be opened and also to guess what could be the greatest gift. We play this guessing game every Christmas Eve and allow all the kids a chance to guess-it is really fun. Once we open the boxes and reveal the "Christ- child", we turn to the scriptures and read of Christ's birth and have a devotional about His life.  This is a great activity to include more of the "reason for the season" into your holiday celebrations.  Merry Christmas!  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Peppermint Snowballs

Christmas Peppermint Snowballs 

1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting (you may need more or less) 
2 peppermint candy canes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Cream the butter with 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and the vanilla. Mix in the flour, salt and pecans. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. 

Bake until bottoms are golden - about 10 minutes. While the cookies are baking, throw candy canes in a blender and pulse until you get a fine peppermint dust. Mix the peppermint dust with 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar. Once the cookies are out of the oven, roll them in the peppermint/confectioners' sugar dust. You want the cookies to be warm when you roll them. Then, place on a cooling rack to completely cool off. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Children's Craft Party Food

This year's (2014) craft party menu included:

 Kristin's Chocolate Chip cookie recipe (here)
Raspberry Brownies
Pretzels/ Caramel Corn

We just made boxed brownies but fancied them up with a dollop of whip cream and a raspberry on top.  This year we tried out the pizza bites which were so easy and a crowd "pleaser".  We also served our traditional Snowy Pink Punch, Pineapple Cheese Ball and bowls of pretzels and Carmel corn.

Pineapple Cheese Ball

It's a tradition to serve this cheese ball at our Kid's Craft party every year.  It is a mild cheese ball that suites the kid's tastes.  This is a family recipe from our mom and great to use anytime you need an appetizer.  You'll need:

Pineapple Cheese Ball

2 packages 8oz. cream cheese, softened
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained well 
(this is key, use paper towels to get out excess moisture)
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped fine
2 tsp onion, chopped fine
1 tsp season salt

Mix the cream cheese, pineapple, pepper, onion and season salt together.  Put your chopped nuts in a bowl.  Form the cheese mixture into a ball.  I like to make 2 small balls out of this. (can use it for 2 different kid parties!) Roll it around in the nuts.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge.  Serve with various crackers and holiday mini spreaders :)

Printable recipe {here}

Snowy Pink Punch

We serve this punch at our Kid's Holiday Craft Party each year.  Some of the girls love it so much, they have asked for the recipe so they can make it at home. Well, it is super easy and looks like cotton candy when you put it together. You'll just need 2 ingredients:
2 liter bottle of Sprite
1/2 gallon of strawberry ice-cream
Put the ice-cream in your punch bowl and cut it apart into little chunks with a knife.  Pour the Sprite over and stir.  Ready to serve. 

Print this recipe {here}

Pizza Bites

The kids loved these pizza bites! The recipe was a Pinterest find. You can see the original and get the recipe (here)
You'll need: 
tubes of crescent rolls
string cheese
marinara sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 375.  Take a triangle crescent roll dough and lay flat on a cutting board.  Cut a piece of string cheese in half and put at the top of the triangle.  Lay out 3-4 pepperonis on the triangle and roll up, starting with the cheese.  Pinch dough closed over the ends of cheese.  Lay out on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes or until browned.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Quick and Cute Gift for Friends and Neighbors

Our family loves root beer - especially my husband. So, when I saw this root beer idea, I knew this was the gift our family needed to share with our friends and neighbors this Christmas season. I made a tag which reads, "We're 'rooting' for you to have a wonderful holiday season." I then tied the tags with red and white baker's twine to a pack of bottled root beer. And, that was it! Easy, quick and cute! Here is the link where I found the idea. She has lots of other quick and cute holiday gift ideas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Craft Party

On a Saturday in December, we host a Christmas Children's Craft Party.  This has become an annual event for years and changes as the kids grow older.  For teens and tweens-- food, a craft and holiday movie.  For "little elves"-- crafts, games and treats.  This year our party goers were ages 8 to 11.  Our crafts included: peppermint heart lollipops, tree ornaments and mini nativity scenes.  

Peppermint Heart Lollipops

Visions of sugar plums will dance your head after you make these easy suckers.  You'll need:
mini candy canes
lollipop sticks
parchment paper, mini cellophane bags, ribbon
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Unwrap your candy and lay it out on the paper.  Peppermint on top of the stick and the candy canes forming a heart around it.

Write the name or initials of your guest by their lollipop so you know "who's is who's".  
Bake in a hot 350 oven for 6 minutes or until the candy has melted.  Let cool completely.  You'll be able to easily pick up your lollipop off the paper.  Place your cellophane bag around it and tie with a ribbon.  


Tree Ornament

You'll need:
thin  ribbon for hanging loop
punched out paper stars
colored popsicle sticks
hot glue gun, Takcy or Elmers glue
sequins, mini pop-poms, ribbon

Cut a few of the sticks in half for the tree trunk.  Help kids glue the sticks together in a tree shape with the glue gun.  Hot glue the ribbon loop on the top to hang.  Using the Elmers, have the kids decorate their tree with all your other shimmering trimmings.  

Mini Nativity Scene

The kids got really excited about this craft.  You'll need: 

nativity background (free download here) The manger was a little hard to put together and small, so I used another paper manger that looks like a box, will add link when I find it!
wood peg dolls (here) 
smaller size peg doll for baby (also sold at Hobby Lobby)
When I went to Hobby Lobby to get the wood people, they were sold out!! Moment of panic because it was 2 days before the party.  I just ended up buying thick dowels, cutting them to 1 1/2" tall and gluing a wood ball with flat side on top.  For the baby, I cut down a round head clothes pin.
The picture below shows the pieces I used to make our own wood people.

markers, scissors
rectangles pieces of fabric and 1/4" fabric strip 5" long
cut raffia for manger straw
bag, box or jar to hold pieces
glue gun

We just used a brown paper lunch sack, that we cut across the top with pinking sheers and glued on the nativity logo to use to hold all the pieces.  Cut and color your stable and animals.  This nativity set includes crowns for kings, staffs for shepherds and wings for an angel.  We had the kids take these pieces home to add to their nativity later.  With all the paper pieces in their bags, they painted Mary, Joseph and the babe.  When paint was dry, hot glue Mary's veil and wrap the fabric strip around the baby for swaddling clothes, hot gluing the end of strip. 

These nativities turned out sooo cute and the kids loved making them!  

Here's the link for the {Party Food} we served.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Inspiration for the Week

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Cup Butter softened
 1 Cup Sugar
 1 Cup Brown sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Cups Flour
2 tsp. Hot Water
1 tsp. baking Soda
1/2 tsp . Salt
2 Cups Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350.  Cream butter and sugars together.  Beat in eggs one at a time and vanilla.  Dissolve baking soda into hot water.  Add to batter along with salt.  Stir in flour and then chocolate chips.  Bake for about 8 minutes or until edges are brown.  Enjoy!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Books

 Time to read your favorite Christmas book, maybe right before bed or make a special evening of stories and treats.  If you are looking for a new Christmas book this year, here are just a few of our kid's favorites.

 A Christmas Dress for Ellen retold by Thomas S. Monson: This book beautifully depicts the true meaning of Christmas as relatives afar and neighbors close by give one needy family a Christmas they will never forget. It will help everyone remember what Christmas is truly about. I have read this book for years now, but I still tear up. (Carrie)  One of my favorites about the true meaning of Christmas.  How the service and sacrifice of others restore a young girls hope and dreams. (Kristin)

The Friendly Beasts a Traditional Carol  A sweet story about the gifts the sable animals give to the Savior at His birth. (Kristin)

Christmas In The Big Woods adapted from the Little House Books.  See what Christmas was like on the prairie with Laura, her family and even their good old bulldog, Jack. A great reminder of the simple things that make this holiday the best.  Love the illustrations. (Heidi)

Who Is Coming To Our House? by Joseph Slate: I love this book. It has such a reverence about it as the animals in the stable prepare to receive Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. The pictures have a humble, yet beautiful quality about them as they reflect Christ's birth. (Carrie)

Who Will Help Santa This Year? by Jerry Pallotta: This book is a lot of fun. Santa is overwhelmed and is looking for some help. He has many possibilities including mermaids, dragons, mummies and fairies. However, their skill sets don't quite match up. Then, the elves come and save the day. My kids laugh out loud with this book! (Carrie)

 Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry:  Wouldn't it be grand to have a Christmas tree like Mr. Willowby?  His tree this year is too tall.  After his butler cuts the top off to make it fit, see what happens to the tree top and how it brings joy to many others.  (Heidi)

Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki This is one of our favorite Christmas stories.  Santa tells the woodland animals that Christmas isn't really about him or presents, but about the story of an event that happened long ago in Bethlehem.  I love this book because it helps kids understand that even though Santa and gifts are a fun part of Christmas, the real story is about Christ's birth- even Santa knows that. (Heidi)
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