Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reusing Christmas Cards

Do any of you have a hard time throwing away those pretty Christmas cards you get every year? I mean, some of them are really gorgeous, with the glitter and the embossing and all. But, if you're like me, you just don't have room to keep years and years worth of Christmas cards. Unless you've got some super awesome storage or display thing going on, most of those pretty cards are going in a drawer for a few years and then the trash...or straight to the garbage after the first of the year.







Well, the kids and I decided to do something fun with all of our pretty cards this year! Instead of throwing them out or storing them for who knows how long, we made Christmas Thank You cards!

This was a nice little morning project that all the children were able to participate in.

You need:

Card stock
Glue stick
Scissors
Pretty Christmas cards


First, figure out which part of the card you want to use. Then, I drew a circle around the area the kids chose so they could follow the line while cutting.

I drew a circle around the ornament part..but it's hard to see.

Next cut out the chosen portion of the card. Then, glue it onto the card stock anywhere you want.

Elijah is a very quick gluer :)
We also cut out some other parts of the cards and some Christmasy things from my Martha Stewart magazine and glued them on the inside of the card.

Then  Emma and I wrote a simple "Thank You" on the outside of the cards. And we're done!


Now you have cute little Christmas thank yous and you re-purposed those lovely Christmas cards! It's a win win! Enjoy your day!

Christmas

We had a lovely Christmas! Spending time with family and friends is always a sweet time...and celebrating our Savior's birth makes it even sweeter!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the Christmas season.....

You can follow us on Instagram @julia_reed6






We hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Happy New Year from our home to yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quick Hot Chocolate...with Red and Green Sparkles

I wanted to make my kids some hot chocolate today, but didn't have any packets or mix on hand. I whipped this little drink up on the fly, and it was pretty tasty indeed!

Quick Hot Chocolate

3 C milk
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C powdered sugar

Pour milk into a saucepan and begin to heat over medium. Once the milk is warmed, add the cocoa and sugars. Whisk together over heat until completely combined. Continue heating until desired temperature is achieved. Do not boil.

Pour into mugs and garnish with sprinkles if desired. Enjoy!

I like using powdered sugar and regular sugar...it gives a nice smooth consistency. But if you don't have powdered sugar, go ahead and use all regular!

Red and green sparkles make everything more festive! Perfect for a chilly day!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ Goodie Number 5

Merry almost Christmas! Here is our fifth, and final, Christmas goodie!

I just took my tried and true chocolate chip cookie recipe and swapped out vanilla for peppermint....and I'm so glad I did!! Enjoy!

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C butter, softened ( I used 1/2 C butter and 1/2 C coconut oil. Personally, I like my cookies better this way...but all butter is good too!)
3/4 C granulated sugar
3/4 C brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 C flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375*.

Beat butter, sugars, and peppermint extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy.  Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

I made these one night when the kids were in bed. The next day I gave them one and they were so surprised by the peppermint flavor...and, needless to say, they loved it! It's a very festive addition to a good old recipe!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Button Wreath Ornaments



Last year, the girls and I hosted a Christmas tea party for the girls and their little friends. It was a wonderful time of dainty foods, frilly dresses, and giggling girls! We also made these cute button ornaments. They are fairly simple to make with children 4 and older...they may need help twisting the wire and tying the ribbon at the end. 

What you will need:

 
Wire
Ribbon
Assorted buttons
scissors

Cut a 9 inch piece of wire. String on your choice of buttons. Leave about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch on each side to twist together.



Twist ends together, trim excess wire, and bend under the wreath.

Cut an 18 inch piece of ribbon and tie around the twisted part of wire, making a hanger, and covering the wire.




Cut a 6 inch piece of ribbon and tie a bow around the hanger ribbon.


And there you have it. A sweet button Christmas wreath ready to hang on your tree!



Almost the Last Minute Gift Ideas





I was thinking, earlier this evening, about making our neighbor with little children some homemade playdough using our recipe (FOUND HERE) for Christmas. Then I started spider webbing...which I typically do....and thought maybe I should compile a little round-up of sorts of some "almost the last minute" Christmas gift ideas from some of the tutorials and ideas that we have shared here on Crafts Cooking Curriculum. Just a couple of things that need a little forethought, but not much, and can come together quickly. So, here is my little compilation of gift ideas for those special little ones in your life! :)

Homemade Playdough



Again, you can find the recipe for our Peppermint Sparkle Playdough HERE. I was thinking of making some and putting it into a Mason jar and decorating the top with fabric and maybe some ribbon around the middle of the jar and a cute little label. I know my children would love to receive a gift of playdough!

Binder Cookbook



You could put together a little cookbook, like this one HERE. You could fill it with a few of your favorite recipes...or copy out some we have shared here on the blog. Here's a few to get you started:

Biscuits

Banana Cake

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Easy Guacamole

Caramel Apple Popcorn

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Peppermint Caramel Corn

Art Journal Kit 



Putting an art journal kit together for an older child would be a really easy and fun idea! Included in the kit could be a sketchbook, pencils, crayons, markers, watercolors, magazines (to cut pictures from), scissors, glue sticks, scrap book paper, stickers, etc. You could also include a list of art journal prompts and ideas...

Racecar Painting 

Initials Page 

Paper Mosaic 

Salt Dough Ornaments


We made some cute Stamped Salt Dough Ornaments, FOUND HERE . If you didn't want to make an ornament, you could make a plaque. Handprints, footprints, a special note, or a lovely stamp would be great! Salt dough is so easy to work with, especially for children.


Enjoy the last 12 crafting days before Christmas!!
   

Quick Mint Fudge ~ Goodie Number 4!

This is a crowd pleaser, to be sure...and I don't think you will ever find an easier fudge recipe out there! This is it folks! Three ingredients! Really!



Quick Mint Fudge

1 package Andes Mint pieces (if you can't find the pieces in the baking section you can always buy a package of the regular mints....we did this last year)
1 package chocolate chips...we used dark chocolate this year, but semi sweet is great too
1 can sweetened condensed milk*

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Melt together over medium heat. When it is all melted spread into a lightly buttered 9x13 pan and cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to the fridge. 


*You can make your own sweetened condensed milk if you want. I've done it before and successfully used it in an iced coffee recipe. I have yet to use it in any baking recipes. I like using the regular SCM because I know it'll work...and because it makes this recipe SO easy!


This fudge is great to let the kids help with...even Elijah, my three year old. There are three ingredients...I have three 'helping aged' kids...perfect! They dumped the ingredients into the pan, I stirred it up...bada bing, bada boom, we have fudge!



I love making fudge to give away during Christmas time. It makes a large pan and goes a long way!!


Yum!

Oh, and I have to share the aprons I made for the girls and I. We love baking at Christmas...and we love aprons...but we didn't have any Christmas aprons. Problem solved! :)


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finger Cookies ~ Goodie Number 3

Here is our third recipe in our Top 5 Christmas Goodies to Giveaway! These are another family tradition...once you make them, you'll see why we make them year after year after year.....

If you're a fan of brown sugar desserts, you will LOVE these little gems!


Finger Cookies

1 C butter, softened
2 1/4 C flour
3/4 C brown sugar
Chocolate chips (to be melted and dipped into)
chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350*. Cream butter and sugar well. Add flour, a little at a time. Blend carefully. When the dough is easy to handle, form it into 1-inch balls, then gently roll between your palms to make a 'finger' shape. *think making snakes with play-dough*

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Melt your chocolate of choice. I usually use semi sweet and milk chocolate chips. Dip the tips of the cookies into the chocolate, then roll the dipped tip into the nuts. Enjoy!!

Usually I have to make 2 or 3 batches of these cookies every year...they are that good!



These pictures are from our baking days last year. Our baking days for this year will be next week....we can't wait!

Christmastime Bible Reading

My husband and I really like to make sure to bring the focus from the hustle and bustle, and cookies and candies, and lights and presents of Christmas time back onto the greatest gift this world has ever known...Jesus. Now, we love all of the bustle and lights and goodies and such, and have them all, and enjoy them all!! It's important to grow family bonds and make sweet memories with our children. But it is also important to remember, truly remember, all year long, what this season is celebrated for. So, here are a couple of things we have found to bring our focus back onto our wonderful, gracious, merciful Savior.

My husband and I have been talking about what to go through during our family worship this Christmas time, and we found a book, through a friend's recommendation,  that we have been really enjoying so far. It is called Behold, the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey. So far we have really loved the daily readings. It is a little bit over the little ones comprehension, but my husband really does a great job at bringing the truths down to their level, and we go away feeling like they have learned a little bit more of the story of the Bible and Jesus' birth.


I also do a small devotion time in the mornings with the children. I found an advent daily Bible reading chart on Pinterest (I feel like I'm always saying that phrase!), and we have been going through that. It is really wonderful because the selections aren't too long, which is helpful with the younger children, but it is still something meaningful to start our day off with the right focus at this time of year. HERE IS A LINK to that Bible reading chart on my "Christmas time is here..." pinboard.

We also like to play with a small nativity set and act out the different things that happened...the angel coming to Mary, the couple coming to the stable, the shepherds coming to worship, the wisemen searching for the babe. That is a great interactive way to bring the story of Jesus' birth to life for the little ones.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you. Enjoy this season and the true Reason for it! 

Snowflake Garland

SNOW! Who doesn't like snow at Christmas time? It's sparkly...it's chilly, forcing you to cozy in at night with some hot cocoa....it covers the world in a blanket of quiet and wonder. Aaahhh, I sure love a good snowfall. But, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we don't have any white Christmases...unless we drive to the mountains. It gets chilly enough...but the hush and awe of snow is just not around.

So! We make our own snow! Or flakes of it, at least!



This is an easy, nostalgic (for mama!), and fun project to do with your kids during the Christmas season.

What you need:
Scissors
White paper or circular coffee filters
Yarn

If you are not using circular coffee filters, you will need to cut your paper into a circle shape. This is how I did that.

This was my "Mommy Prep Project" for the evening after all the littles went to bed. No one wants to wait around while I cut out tons of circles in the morning...they just want to get on with the project. And it was a relaxing thing for me to do in the evening...listening to Christmas music...drinking hot cocoa....getting excited about our snowflake fun for the next day....


I saw a pin on Pinterest with pictures of tons of gorgeous snowflakes. It also showed the patterns you needed to cut to achieve those types of snowflakes.



Don't you love my phone screen shot?! Gotta love the Pinterest app! Anyway, I thought I might be able to scale some of these patterns down for the children to be able to follow on their own snowflakes. It worked out really well for Emma...but then again, she is almost 8 years old and has really great cutting skill. Sophia had a hard time following the designs, and it ended up being frustrating for her. Also, I knew Elijah wouldn't be able to follow a pattern on his own, so I just drew some easy-to-follow lines onto his snowflakes and helped him cut it out.



 
In the end, everyone had a much better time just cutting out the snowflakes free style!
This was Emma's...it looks like a sand dollar!


  I'll just remember those patterns pictures for when I want to do my own snowflake project. The few that I followed and cut out turned out really pretty...but I think, for kids, being able to just create your own thing is what makes projects so enjoyable sometimes!

Little brother enjoyed walking around the table watching us work...and trying to eat our paper scraps.
So, after you have all your snowflakes cut out, string them onto some yarn. I would suggest stringing them through a hole near the top of the flake..if you put the yarn right through the middle, the snowflake tends to droop over...so just play with it and see what works for you.


This one drooped, so we ended up putting the string through one of the upper holes.
Then hang up, sit back, and admire your winter snowflake-storm!