Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Burlap Ribbon Christmas Wreath

I wanted to make a Christmas wreath for our kitchen's pantry door and I, of course, thought of burlap! I'm in a bit of a burlap craze at the moment. I love how the wreath turned out and it is an easy, fun project!

Pick two colors of burlap ribbon. I love the green shade I found. It is almost an army green color. Love it! Originally, I was going to buy a wire wreath because they are cheaper than styrofoam. However, when I put the ribbon up to the wire in the store, I realized that you can see the wire through the ribbon. So, I quickly grabbed a styrofoam wreath frame. I bought 3 1/2 yards of the green burlap ribbon. You wouldn't think it, but these wreaths use a lot of ribbon. I bought 2 yards of the red ribbon for the bow.

To start, pin the ribbon to the back of the wreath. I used straight pins rather than hot glue because I thought it would hold better (which in this case it does). Also, it is less messy.

Then, begin wrapping the ribbon around the frame.

When you are done, pin the ribbon and cut off any excess ribbon. Because no one will see the back of my wreath, I didn't worry about covering up the pin heads. However, if the pin heads bother you, you could get your glue gun out and glue some ribbon over the heads.

Now, for making the bow. I tied just a regular bow to begin with, but then wanted to do something different. So, I decided to cut the loop of the bow so I had three equal parts of ribbon on one side. I then snipped the ends. Below you can see one side of my bow done with the other side ready for treatment.

Cutting that bow's loop.

Finally, pin the bow to your wreath (another good reason to go with a styrofoam wreath frame). You can tuck those straight pins in so no one can see them. Also, the pins hold the bow firmly and in good form. Here's the finished wreath! I love how it looks in our kitchen!

Mexican Rice

Here is a perfect side (served with the pulled pork taco recipe).  You will need:
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
1- 8oz can tomato sauce
1/4 chopped onion
1 tsp taco seasoning
cilantro to garnish
1 cove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic in oil.  Add the rice and cook for a minute.  Add chicken broth, tomato sauce and seasoning.  Cook as you would for rice.  Before serving, sprinkle a little cilantro on top.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Inspiration for the Week

Get Ready for Holiday Guests

The fun of the holidays brings house guests- make sure you are ready.  Along with the fresh linens, consider new soaps, extra toilet paper, having favorite foods in the home for your guests, extra blankets, water bottles, a vase of flowers, listing of tv channels if applicable, and information about your area.  We put together a basket for our guest room.  It includes often forgotten items such as toothpaste and mouthwash as well as make up removal pads, hair spray, a local treat (syrup!), favorite treats, a holiday surprise, and pictures from the kids.   Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shredded Pork Tacos

Here's a fast, crock pot dinner that is delish!  You'll need:

A small pork roast
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 can chopped green chilies
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 package of your favorite tortillas
Taco toppings

Put the first 5 ingredients in your crock pot.  

Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.  
When cooked, shred with a fork.  

Make up your tacos with cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa- all your favorite toppings.  Great for busy weekdays.  Possible sides, Mexican Rice, refried beans and fruit.  College Student Tip- save some of the pork in your fridge for left-overs tomorrow.  Freeze the rest and pull it out next week- dinner will be done :) 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Welcome the Christmas Season at Thanksgiving!

After we enjoy our Thanksgiving feast, our family likes to welcome the Christmas Season with a Christmas cake.   We serve the cake along with our traditional Thanksgiving pies.  This tradition is similar to a King's Cake or to an Argentine wedding cake.  It offers a fun way to get excited for Christmas.    Everyone can participate in pulling a ribbon from the cake to see who will receive the "first gift of Christmas".  We use the recipe below for a (Southern Living) Black Forest Pound Cake but you can use any family favorite.  Cakes that do not need to be fully frosted are easiest such as bundt cakes or pound cakes. 

Bake your cake as directed and allow to cool. 

Once cooled completely, cut the cake in half

Frost the bottom half with your frosting or whatever filling you choose-I used whipping cream.  Cut strips of ribbon all the same length and place them evenly around the cake.  Make sure you have at least one ribbon for  each of your guests; however,  a couple extra adds to the fun!  At the end of one of the ribbons, tie a flat ornament.  I am using a Santa ornament here but you can use whatever one you choose - just make sure that it is flat and is safe to place in food!

Place the other half of your cake on top and decorate and frost accordingly.  The Black Forest Pound Cake I use has a cherry sauce to pour over and some more whipping cream.  I top with chocolate shavings and chocolate waffers.  Now it is ready for the fun!  Allow each guest at your Thanksgiving table a chance to pull a ribbon.  We like to go from youngest to oldest. 

Keep pulling until you find your winner!  It is really so exciting!

Our winner usually gets a large chocolate Santa, but you can use any gift you like.  We also give all the children who participate a chocolate countdown calendar - a fun way to make everyone a winner and to start counting down the days to Christmas!   These countdown calendars are super cheap (around $2) and can be found at World Market or most grocery stores. 

Black Forest Pound Cake
By:  Southern Living

2/3 Cup Butter, softened
1 1/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
2/3 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract, divided
1 1/2 Cups Cake Flour
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 Cup Sour Cream
Cherry Sauce (recipe follows)
Whipping Cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Beat butter until creamy.  Gradually add sugar and dark brown sugar-beating until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla.   In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.   Add flour mixture to butter mixture a little at a time and alternating with adding your sour cream.  Pour batter into a 10 inch pan and bake for around 1 hour.   Once cooled, pour cherry sauce over and top with whip cream.  Sprinkle with chocolate shavings if you like.  Enjoy!

Cherry Sauce

2 packages frozen cherries
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Cold Water
3 tsp. Cornstarch
2 tsp. Cherry liqueur or cherry syrup
Pinch of Salt

Stir first 4 ingredients together in a saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat for 12 minutes, stirring often until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in cherry syrup and pinch of salt.  Allow to cool before pouring over cake.  Also delicious over ice cream, crepes,  or other desserts!

You can print this recipe and the tradition tips {here}

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stressed Out?

Here's something fun when you have a friend who is feeling a little stressed. 
 Just buy some of your favorite chocolates 
and attach the "stress relief tag". 
 It's sure to bring a smile to their face 
and give them something sweet to savor!  


Print your Stress  Relief Tags {here}

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fabulous Finds

Check out these fabulous finds I got at our local dollar store. 
 Zebra wrapping paper and plates, perfect for my daughter's birthday.  
Checked plates for a summer picnic
Pineapple scented Starburst candle- so fragrant
Lavender soap- perfect for guests
muted Metallic gold and silver gift bags- two sizes
Chevron Duct Tape- in turquoise, so excited about this one!
Each just $1 !

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Book for Kids

Thanksgiving Books
for Kids

Here are a few of our favorite books to learn about Thanksgiving.  


The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving is a classic. I remember reading this when I was a kid.  It simply talks about why the Pilgrims left England, traveling to the "new world", life in the colony, their friend Squanto and the first Thanksgiving.  If you can still find it, it's a great book.  Thanksgiving Day also talks about who the Pilgrims were, how they celebrated Thanksgiving and how we celebrate the holiday today.  (Heidi)

 If You Were At . . . The First Thanksgiving by: Anne Kamma    I bought this book because I realized I only knew or remembered the basics about Thanksgiving. When my kids started asking me deeper historical questions, I bought this book to brush up on my knowledge about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. This book is not a picture book. It is more of a brief history lesson with interesting facts for you and your children to learn.  (Carrie)

                                                                                                              Thanksgiving Is Here!   Follow a family as they get ready for thanksgiving.  Full of family and tradition with beautiful artwork.  (Kristin)  The Night Before Thanksgiving by: Natasha Wing    This book is a fun play on the Christmas classic, "T'was the Night Before Christmas." Reading this book will get you excited for the big feast as you anticipate sharing the day with family and friends filled with gratitude. My kids love it! (Carrie)

Some funny books with this holiday theme are:

Arthur's Thanksgiving,  who will play the part of the turkey in the school play?  Read the book to find out.  (Heidi)  10 Fat Turkeys is a silly story of 10 turkeys getting into some trouble. Enjoyable and simple and great for kids learning to count.  (Kristin)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Have fun reading together!  

Button Cuff Bracelets

First of all, I have to say that I think it is so funny that my sister and I both have buttons on our minds this week. Sister power I tell you!

So, a couple of weeks ago my daughter, who is learning how to sew, made this adorable button cuff bracelet. I loved it so much that I wanted to make one for myself. Here's her bracelet: 

I decided to make a more neutral cuff. I used a lot of browns. Along with buttons, Fall is on my mind. I bought two shades of brown felt. Felt is super cheap. Each piece of felt cost under 50 cents. I then picked out a few buttons. Again, the buttons weren't all that expensive either. 

I cut the felt to my wrist measurements. I decided to stitch one color on top of the other using embroidery thread. I love the dark stiches!

I then cut a small hole at one end. This is where you'll button your bracelet on. Remember to make the hole just big enough for your button. Just a small snip.

Finally, I arranged the buttons on my cuff. It was fun to figure out the presentation. Also, put one button at the other end of your cuff. This button will be the one you thread through the small hole you just cut. I used embroidery thread to sew my buttons on.

And, here are the finished bracelets! I ended up trimming my dark brown felt because it was too wide for my wrist. (I love my daughter's bracelet. It is so bright and cheery. I think my next bracelet will be more like hers so I can add a pop of color.) These bracelets are cheap, easy and quick to make. It is a great sewing project for beginner sewers. Also, with the holidays in full swing, these bracelets would make a fun activity at a kids' party. You could buy red, green and white felt with Christmas shaped buttons (trees, candy canes, stars, etc.) Have fun!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gratitude Game

We like to share our gratitude at Thanksgiving but make it a game to add a little fun!  
Find some fun buttons of all shapes and colors.  Glue varying amounts of buttons onto a ribbon.  One ribbon should have one button glued on it all the way up to...as many as you want!  Most of our ribbons have three buttons on them but one has only one button glued on and one has 10!  

 Place your ribbons in a bucket and allow each member of the family to pull only one ribbon out.  They then have to share one thing they are grateful for for each button they have on their ribbon.  Easy if you only have one-but a bit harder when you have the ribbon with ten!  We play this game during Thanksgiving dinner but it is also fun to play throughout the month of November during dinner.  Enjoy!

Veterans Day

Hang up your flag and thank our active and retired military!
“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” – Abraham Lincoln

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blessing Mix

A fun snack on Thanksgiving day as you are waiting for the "big dinner".  Each item in the mix represents something from the pilgrim's Thanksgiving or what we can remember during this season of gratitude.  You will need:

traditional looking pretzels (not the sticks)
(regular size bag -if you can find the caramel flavor, you're in for a treat and will be hooked!)
Hershey Kisses
Craisins (or another dried fruit)
Nuts or Seeds (one of my kids has a nut allergy so we go for sunflower seeds)
Candy Corn
Printed tags
Cellophane/ribbon or zip lock bags

In a large bowl, mix everything except for the Kisses and sunflower seeds. Grab some of the mix and put it in your cello or zip lock bag. Make sure you get some of each item in the bag.  Then drop in a few Kisses and sprinkle in a little sunflower seeds.  Zip closed and staple your tag on OR tie closed with a ribbon or tulle and punch a hole in your tag and tie on with some twine.  

Enjoy the blessings of Thanksgiving!

(tags below)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thanksgiving Care Package

I have a daughter serving a mission for our church. (What does a missionary do? click here) We wanted to send her a care package for Thanksgiving.  This would also be a great package to send a college student away from home.  My inspiration came from here.  

Include things for a Thanksgiving "feast".  Stuffing mix, Veggie Straws (for your vegetable), Craisins, mini graham cracker pie crusts and pudding mix (we included banana cream pudding- family favorite for this holiday and chocolate- you can never go wrong with chocolate), turkey gravy mix, instant potatoes, pumpkin muffin mix, "blessing snack mix" and turkey of course (well ours is a bobble head turkey).

Remove bags from their boxes and write the cooking directions on the outside.  This will save space when packing your box.

A fun thing to do with your boxes is to decorate the inside flaps.  Just an extra surprise when they open it :)  My youngest provided the art for these flaps.  We also included a talk on gratitude, that you can find here.  A happy Thanksgiving when you are away from home and family.

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