Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 12: Fannie May Fudge!

Merry Christmas! Today is day 12 of our 12 Days of Homemade Christmas!

For the past few weeks Jonah and his class have been reading "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl. To celebrate the end of the book and the coming holidays, Jonah's amazing teacher made fudge with the kids. Each child got to help make the fudge and then bring home a box to share with their family. The recipe they made has been in their teacher's family for years and years. It's called Fannie May Fudge. I'm not sure if it is actually from Fannie May, or just tastes like it! Either way it's amazing - delicious and very easy to make!

The recipe:

4 cups of sugar
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of butter softened
1 tsp of vanilla
25 marshmallows
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate chips
13 oz. milk chocolate chips
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup of nuts or other add ins - optional
2 - 9x13 inch baking pans lightly greased

In a large pan, heat milk, sugar, butter and vanilla. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Add the chocolate ingredient one at a time until they are melted completely. Add nuts or other add ins. If the fudge gets too thick, heat on low for a little bit.pour into the 2 9x13 inch pans.

Jonah wanted to make his like he did at school. He added crushed up candy canes and sprinkles! He says he felt just like Willy Wonka!

How yummy does that look! We have enough to share with friends and family, as well as some left for us!

If you and the kiddos are looking for some sweet fun over winter break, grab a copy of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" then whip up a batch of this delicious fudge!

Happy Holidays everyone! Maggie and I are going to take a little break. We'll be back after the new year!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 11: Cinnamon-Scented Pine Cones

I love the smell of cinnamon! It just smells so Christmasy! I really like those pine cones that you can buy at the craft stores that are cinnamon-scented! But, typical me, I wanted to know if I could make them myself. After all, we live across the street from a park with TONS of different pine trees, all loaded with pine cones! Why pay for them if Mother Nature is giving them away so generously?  I was surprised to see so many tutorials out there for making scented pine cones, so I combined a few and came up with this version using all things I already had on hand. This was a fun project to do with the kids, who loved collecting the pine cones!

What You Need:
  • Pine cones
  • Ziplock bag
  • cinnamon oil
If you're using store-bought pine cones, you can skip ahead to the next part. However if you've collected your own this is probably the most important part. You must bake your pine cones!! If you don't you could have all sorts of creepy, crawly things escaping into your house and that is NOT festive! Spread out your pine cones onto a cookie sheet and bake them at 200 degrees for about 45 minutes (I think I did it for an hour, though, because I was NOT taking any chances!). Let them cool. An added bonus (you know...aside from making them bug-free) is that they open up and look so pretty!

Once cool, place them into your ziplock bag. I did this in two batches because I had so many. Then add a few drops of cinnamon oil and give it a good shake up. I read that you should keep the bag sealed up anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. I waited 2 days (maybe) because that's all the patience I have.

Put them in a pretty bowl or container and enjoy both their natural beauty and the festive holiday scent!

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 10: Our Christmas Wish

Like all of you, Maggie and I were devastated by the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday. Our hearts ache for the families who so senselessly lost loved ones. We both send our thoughts and prayers to all the people who are hurting tonight.
I wanted to make something that would remind my boys what the world really needs for Christmas - love, hope, joy and peace. These are gifts that we all can give to one another!

To make this sign, I took a scrap of wood that I found in the scrap container at Home Depot. I would recommend finding a piece of pine if possible. This wood was not as soft as pine, which made transferring the letters harder. Then I printed the words I wanted on my sign from my computer.

Then I measured the wood and figured out how I wanted the words spaced. i taped each word onto the wood.

I used this letter transferring technique to trace the letters onto the wood. I traced each letter with a ball point pen. I had to press pretty hard to etch the letters into this piece of wood. When I removed the paper I could see the letters pretty well. If you want, you could go over the etchings very lightly with a pencil.

Next I painted the letters. I used dark green acrylic paint.

I couldn't believe it when I stuck my hand in a freshly painted e. I took a little piece of sand paper and rubbed my mistake right off.

I wanted to give the sign a softer look. After the paint dried, I white washed the whole piece with some diluted white latex paint. Using a sponge brush, I painted small areas of the board, and then quickly wiped away the extra paint. The great thing about the white wash is that it hides any imperfections or mistakes in the lettering.

The sign dried quickly and I was able to place it in the living room. I was so pleased that my boys noticed the sign right away. We had a wonderful conversation about what people really need, and how they can make a positive difference in the world.

Wishing you and your family love, hope joy and peace this holiday season!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 9: Easy Recycled Artichoke Ornament

Cruising the Internet for crafty inspiration, I have seen various pictures of what I call "Artichoke Ornaments". I'm not sure if that's what they're really called, but it's what they look like to me! Most people use pretty papers, but being the Homemade Mama that I am, I knew I could whip one up using what I have on hand. So with the help of my mom's circle punch, a dollar store ornament, and an L.L. Bean catalog (have you seen how much plaid they have in that thing?? ) I was able to whip up this super-easy, super-quick, and super-festive Recycled Artichoke Ornament!

What You Need:

  •  Paper (any that suits your fancy)
  • Circle punch
  • Hot glue gun
  • Cheap-o ornament
First, punch a whole bunch of circles out of your paper.

Four-year-olds are great at this part (with supervision, of course)!

Now turn your ornament upside down and glue a circle to the bottom.

Make another row of circles around it, overlapping a bit.

Keep gluing rows of overlapping circles...

Until you get to the top. For a nice, clean look, make sure to fit your last row of circles tight to the nub-thing that you hang the ornament from (sorry- not sure what else to call that nub-thing! :) ).

As soon as it's dry you are ready to hang it form your tree! I actually would like to make a few more using old paintings the boys have done. They would be pretty little mementos of their craftiness!
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 8: Jonah's Reindeer Games!

Today's post is brought to you by seven year old Jonah. He has been very busy this week coming up with some fun Christmas games and activities. He came up with all these ideas all on his own. He thought other kids would like them and wanted to share them with you and your family!
First he made a memory game using Christmas stamps and index cards. If you don't stamps, you could draw pictures or use stickers. Jonah made it extra challenging by using 6 different snowflake stamps!

He used this reindeer punch to make dominoes! You could trace cookie cutters or stencils to make fun shaped dominoes.

Now, I gotta say that I was really impressed by these cute 3D paper presents he made. One night while I was getting dinner ready, he asked if he could make some Christmas decorations. I was so surprised when he showed these to me! Jonah got the idea in art class. They used a similar technique to make 3D pumpkins.

First he cut out 2 long strips of paper that were the same length. He folded each in half and then folded the ends in to the middle fold to make 2 square shaped strips of paper.

Then he taped the squares shut. Then he slipped one square inside the other and taped to secure. To make the ribbon, he curled another strip of paper around a pencil!

Such a clever kid!

Jonah and I hope you enjoyed his post. He's already planning another project for Thursday. Candy making! So I'm off with my shopping list. We'll let you know how it goes!
Thanks for reading!

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 7: Chewy Homemade Ginger Candy

Nothing makes the holidays complete like sweet treats, and homemade candy is always the best! But I usually prefer to be the candy eater, not the candy maker. Fiddling with thermometers and such does not interest me - I'm more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl.  However I came across this recipe for Homemade Ginger Candy and was happy to see that along with only three ingredients, there's no candy thermometer needed! Just eyeball it - it's very forgiving! My kind of recipe! And to top it off, this candy is so tasty! Hope you like it too!

What You Need:
  • 1/2 lb. fresh ginger (I think we had a little bit more than that)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plus extra for coating)
  • water
First, peel your ginger....

Then thinly slice it (about 1/8 inch). A mandolin is great for this part!

Next put your ginger in a small saucepan and cover it with about 2 cups of water. Put it on the stove and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for 40-50 minutes to allow it to soften up a bit, stirring occasionally. I found that our water evaporated pretty quickly, so I had to add some more as needed. This step will make your house smell heavenly!

Near the end of the cooking time, start a simple syrup. Add 1/2 cup of water and a 1/2 cup of sugar to another small saucepan (This didn't look like enough, since I was working with more ginger than was called for,  so I actually ended up doubling the syrup. See? Flying by the seat of my pants!). When your ginger is done boiling in the water, drain it and add it to your syrup. Bring t to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir constantly!

Soon your ginger will have absorbed almost all of the sugary, syrupy goodness, and will be soft and translucent. Remove it from the heat.

Pour some sugar in a bowl and add your prices of ginger a few at a time. This part was tricky for me because the syrupy ginger wanted stick to itself. Just take your time - a fork definitely helps to separate the pieces! Gently coat the pieces with your sugar....

...and then lay them on a tray to cool.

You now have Chewy Homemade Ginger Candy! Perfect as a spicy-sweet treat for you or as a delicious homemade gift for someone else! We plan on giving some in these cute little holiday teacups!  Enjoy!

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