Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 5: Dried Citrus Ornaments

Hmm...Now that we made some ornaments for the birds, how about we make some for ourselves? After looking back on some of our past holiday projects, we came across the holiday garland we made a couple years ago. Loving the way the dried fruit looked on it, we thought that they would make wonderful ornaments! And we were right!

What You Need:
  • Various citrus fruits (we used limes, lemons, & oranges)
  • Knife
  • String

First, cut your fruit into 1/4" slices. Then arrange them on a cookie sheet (our original instructions advised lining your cookie sheet with parchment paper, but we were out of it and it still worked fine!) and pop them into a preheated 170 degree oven. Let them dry in the oven for about 6-8 hours, keeping the oven door slightly open using a wooden spoon to let out the moisture. Turn the fruit over every two hours.

Once the fruit was dry, take them out of the oven, let them cool, and pop string or ribbon through the hole in their centers (if a hole isn't there naturally, use a wooden skewer to make one).Then hang on your tree and see how pretty they look! We love the way the light shines through them like stained glass! Simple elegance!
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 4 - Birdseed Ornaments

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We want to wish you and your families a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

We thought this was a perfect project to post on Thanksgiving. Like many of you we have been talking about being thankful for all we have with our children. We like to find ways to have our boys do kind things for others. Here is an activity that you and your children can do to help feed the birds and squirrels in your neighborhood and look so cute!

We found this idea at Family Fun. We tried making a batch using their recipe, but they didn't turn out very well. They crumbled almost immediately. We read other peoples' reviews and saw that this was a common problem. We still loved the idea of these cute birdseed ornaments, so we experimented with adding more flour and water and came up with this great recipe. This time they worked perfectly. They look adorable in the trees and we know our bird friends will love them!

What you will need:

  • 3/4 cup of birdseed

  • 2 tablespoons of flour

  • 2 tablespoons of water

  • metal cookie cutters

  • straws

  • foil lined cookie sheet

  • cooking spray

  • ribbon
This recipe makes two or three ornaments. We quadrupled the recipe and made 9 fairly big ornaments.

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. First, place your cookie cutters on your cookie sheet. Spray your cookie sheet and cookie cutters with cooking spray.

Cut your straws into two inch pieces. They will make the hole in your biscuits.
Mix your flour and water together in a medium sized bowl.

Add the birdseed and mix.

Spoon mixture into the cookie cutters. Place a straw piece near the top of the cookie cutter. Press the birdseed mixture in well. We found that the back of our spoon worked well.

Bake for about an hour to an hour and a half if you are making a larger batch. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely. Remove the straws.

String each ornament with a pretty ribbon.

Hang outside in a favorite tree. You may want to make several batches, they won't last long!

The birds will thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 3: Homemade Eggnog

'Tis the season for tasty drinks and holiday cheer. And no seasonal drink gives you both quite like eggnog. You can buy it at the store, of course, but making it from scratch is so easy...not to mention delicious! The recipe we used can be found here on We made ours without alcohol so the kids could enjoy it as well, but feel free to add a splash of "something festive" to yours if you'd like!

What You Need:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1/3 pint heavy whipping cream
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt

First, beat your eggs then mix in the condensed milk, vanilla, milk, and salt. In a separate bowl beat your whipping cream until soft peaks form. Then fold it into your egg/milk mixture. Sprinkle with the nutmeg, serve, and feel merry!
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 2 - Ben's Snowflake Art

Ben was super excited to share this easy holiday project with all of you. He was inspired by a recent trip to Target. The store was decorated with beautiful decorations all made of snowflakes connected together. When we got home, Ben, his brother Jonah and cousin Jack got out paper and scissors and set to work.

They used white and colored printer paper, construction paper was to hard to cut. They also discovered that hole punchers made great details on the snowflakes.

They covered all the windows in snowflakes.

Then Ben set to work on making a Christmas tree out of snowflakes. He had everyone cut out lots of green snowflakes and one yellow one for the star on top.
Then he laid out the snowflakes in the shape he thought he would like.

Finally he taped them all together in a tree patern.

Ben and Jonah decided to make some paper presents (complete with snowflake bows). They wrote messages to Santa on each present. Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We had a great time cutting out snowflakes together!
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 1: Snow Globes!

Welcome to our second annual Twelve Days of Homemade Christmas! It's not even Thanksgiving, and yet we've already had some snow here. The kids were thrilled, we were less than thrilled. It did however get us in a snowy state of mind, so we decided to make some Homemade Snow Globes! Our kids love snow globes, and were excited to learn that they could make their own. There are a lot of tutorials out there, so we took what we liked from various ones and came up with our own version! It was so easy...the boys already have plans to make more!

What You Need:
  • Clean, empty jars
  • Small toys or figurines (not metal - they will rust)
  • Glitter, sequins, fake snow
  • Hot glue gun
  • paint, fabric. etc.
First, hot glue your toy or figurine to the inside of your jar lid (Feel free to paint your lids or cover them with fabric to pretty them up!). We were hoping to make more holiday-ish snow globes. Instead our kids wanted mountain lion, army guys, and Lego snow globes! If your item sits too far down in your jar and isn't going to be very visible, try having it sit on a small object to raise it up a bit (This site mentions using soda bottle caps for this purpose, but we used a small play-doh container).

Now fill your jar with the water and a bit of glitter then see if you like the amount of glitter. You can always add more! (This site reccommends using the clean, ground up shells from hard boiled eggs to make snow!)

Once you are happy with your snow-to-water ratio, add more hot glue around the threaded rim of your jar and to the inside of your jar lid.Now flip it over and let it snow!!
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Homemade Citrus Enzyme Cleaner - part 2

Starting next week, we will begin our 12 Days of Homemade Christmas. We will have 12 post dedicated to holiday foods, crafts, gifts and fun! So before that starts we wanted to catch you up with how the homemade citrus enzyme cleaner turned out.

Click here to see the recipe and uses for the enzyme cleaner made from fruit scrapes, brown sugar and water. As you may recall it takes 3 months to prepare. We actually have another week before is fully mature, but we didn't want to wait until after the holidays to share our results with you!

We decided to put the enzyme cleaner to the test. We poured a half cup of strained cleaner into a spray bottle and added twenty ounces of water to dilute. Then we hit the house! We were quite impressed with our results. The enzyme cleaner was fantastic in the kitchen and the bathroom. It cleaned the tile floors and the grout really well. It totally eliminated the odors in the plastic garbage cans. It even cleaned the mirrors. The most impressive results were when in cleaning around the toilet (we have little boys with bad aim). It removed all the unpleasant bathroom odors. The bathroom is super clean and smells fresh!

For once we were kind of excited when Rocky, the dog, had an accident in the house. Here was our chance to really give the enzyme cleaner a workout! Our cleaner came through with flying colors!

We totally recommend giving this recipe a try! We have already started another batch.

A Few Tips:

  • Keep the lid very loose. The first few weeks there is a lot of gas pressure.

  • Keep the cleaner somewhere you will see it so you will remember to shake it. (everyday for the first few weeks)

  • The cleaner should keep indefinitely

  • If you keep the fruit bits in your cleaner it will continue to get stronger.

  • Use diluted, but use more cleaner for tougher jobs

We recommend allowing the product to sit for about five minutes, more for tougher jobs
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Cups!

We love peanut butter cups! Favorite candy hands down! Our kids have finally figured out how good they are as well. They no longer share them with us from their Halloween stash. What's a homemade mama to do? Make her own of course!

Luckily we happened to pick up this Taste of Home magazine at the grocery store. It is full of fabulous ideas for the upcoming holidays. We were so tickled when we found a recipe for making homemade peanut butter cups. We actually made sunbutter cups (sunflower seed butter - taste almost like peanut butter). Jonah is allergic to peanuts. Poor guy, never has had a peanut butter cup. He was finally able to enjoy one!

Makes about 3 dozen.

What you need:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter divided

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 4 milk chocolate bars (1.55 ounces each) coarsely chopped

  • mini cupcake liners

  • colored sprinkles optional

In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup of peanut butter, salt, sugar, and butter. Mix until smooth. In a larger bowl, mix chocolate chips, chocolate bars and the other 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Melt in the microwave. We did this on medium power stirring occasionally. Cheesy grin optional.Already looks delicious!
Line a mini muffin cup pan with paper liners.

Top each liner with about a teaspoonful of chocolate. Using the back of the spoon, spread chocolate up the sides.

Top each with a scant teaspoonful of the peanut butter.

Cover top with more chocolate.

Decorate with sprinkles for extra fun! They would be really cute with red and green sprinkles for the holidays!

Place in the fridge for about an hour until set. Then enjoy!

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Paper Plate Basket!

We saw this project over the summer for making Paper Plate Baskets for fruit and stored it away for future crafting. But, as usual, it got buried and forgotten about...until today! And though now may not be the right time to think about making fruit baskets, we think these simple and adorable baskets would be perfect for holding all yummy little goodies that we will be whipping up over the holidays!

What You Need:
  • Paper Plate
  • Pencil
  • Scissors and/or Pinking Shears
  • Rubber Band
  • Paper Clips
  • Ribbon

Using your pinking shears (or any decorative scissors) cut roughly a 1/4" from around the edge of your plate. Our pinking shears have mysteriously disappeared, so we decided to just make a scalloped edge using regular scissors!

Now flip your plate over and with a pencil draw out "tic-tac-toe lines" on the back, with the center square approximately in the middle of your plate. You can be precise and use a ruler, but we just eyeballed it!

With your regular scissors, cut every other vertical line up to the edge of the center square.

Fold one side up at a time to form a basket shape, using the paper clips to hold the sides in place.

Once all four sides are up, place your rubber band around the outside of your basket and then remove the paper clips.

Then take your ribbon and cover the rubber band, tying a cute bow to finish it off!

Now you are ready to fill your basket with yummy sweet and savory treats (we filled ours with these No-Bake Cookies from Skip To My Lou)! These little baskets would make perfect gifts for neighbors, teachers, hostesses...or maybe just make one for yourself to enjoy!
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