Baked Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments/ H turns 4 months!

Wow!  Where did the time go this year?!?!  Seems like it’s only been a few weeks since we were celebrating July 4th and awaiting the birth of our baby girl.  I guess time seems to have really sped up for me with having four little ones to care for instead of three. 🙂  It’s a good busy but busy all the same.

Everyone was in the Christmas spirit since the temperatures outside dropped into the mid 20s leaving a blanket of frost covering the ground well into the late morning hours.  It looked like we had snow!  With the beautiful view outside the windows and a warm fire in the fire place, it just set the mood for some Christmas decorating.  We started our Christmas adventure in the kitchen then moved to the living room to do some decorating.

I specifically wanted to find a cinnamon ornament recipe that didn’t have to set for 3-4 days but instead could be baked.  No telling what would happen during that window of time if I had to let all the ornaments set out on the counter.  My “twins” would more than likely try eating half of them every time I would turn my back. Ugh!  This particular recipe doesn’t have glue in it so that it is actually safe to eat (albeit nasty tasting!) and quick drying.

Mix together:

  • 1 C. apple sauce
  • 1-1/4 C. cinnamon
  • 1 T. ginger or cloves

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to form a dough.  If it is too moist, add more spices.  Too dry, add more apple sauce.  Sprinkle cinnamon on a flat surface like you would with flour and roll out your dough to about 1/4″ thickness.  Cut out your shapes and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Use a straw or chopstick to poke holes in the tops for running a ribbon or piece of thread through for hanging.  Bake in a preheated oven of 200 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours (or until rock hard).

My three happy little helpers.  Had to keep on eye on I because he kept trying to eat the little pieces of dough left on the table.  Gross!

Don’t have a Christmas tree yet since our old one would take up about a 1/4 of the free space in the room if we set it up.  Haha!  I always envision the scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when Clark Grisswald cuts the rope on the tree and branches/limbs go springing everywhere breaking the living rooms windows.  Yep, that’s what would happen if we set up the old beast.  The plan is to pull it down for the attic in the coming week and sell on Craigslist then use the money to purchase a smaller, more size-appropriate tree for the living room.  I’ve been keeping my eye on a few pre-lit “pencil” trees that would fit perfect in certain parts of the room.  Just waiting for a good sale and to sell the old tree.

While setting up the stockings and some lights around the doorways, E pulled out the Wish List catalog from Toys R Us and began showing me all the toys he wants.  I don’t mind him showing me what he likes, but it was beginning to drive me crazy with his constant, “Mama, can I have this one for Christmas?” or “Mama, I’ve GOT to get this one for Christmas!”  Instead of getting upset with him, I realized it was my responsibility and joy to explain what makes Christmas so special and it had nothing to do with GETTING brightly wrapped presents.

While the three youngest were either asleep or playing quietly on the floor with a toy, E and I sat down together and discussed why we celebrate Christmas and give gifts.  As simply as possible I tried to explain that we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday when we celebrate Christmas.  Jesus was God’s gift to mankind.  He was the GREATEST gift ever, the Messiah, the Light sent into a dark world.  Because of Jesus and what he did on the cross, we have hope of eternal salvation.  We give gifts to others as a way of remembering the gift that God gave to us.  It is NOT about GETTING; it is about GIVING.

It wasn’t an immediate cure for the “gimmies” but at least E is thinking about things a little differently and has started asking more questions about “giving.”

…Before I forget… Happy 4 months H!!!!! 🙂

As you can see, she wouldn’t look at the camera because she was too distracted by her brothers standing on either side of me trying to get her to smile or talk. 🙂

Lemon-filled Olive Oil Lanterns

After a recent conversation with Tim regarding our winter preparations, I started doing some research on inexpensive types of homemade candles or lamps.  Last year we had a horrible snow and ice storm dumping over a foot of snow on the roads and power lines.  Our property is at the end of the line, so any power outages means that we will be the last ones to have our power restored.  This all boils down to us needing to be more prepared for a long power outage.

While Tim works on solving the water and heating problems including installing some different insulation strategies and hand pump, I’m working on lighting and cooking.  Thankfully we have a wood-burning stove and some cast iron skillets so cooking won’t be too difficult. 🙂  The lighting was tricky because we are doing all of our updates on a tight budget.  Hense the idea of making my own candles.

Using what I already had inside the house along with some lemons given to me at church this past Sunday, I was able to spend just a few dollars on some very economical (and pretty) oil lanterns.  Yippee!

For this project you will need:

  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • Lantern wicks
  • Floral wire (or paper clip)
  • Container
  • Lid (optional)
  • Fruit or herb filler

Loosely twist your wire around the wick leaving a small portion at the top in order to light on fire.

Center your wick inside your container then bend the wire over the side to anchor it into place.  You can buy special oil lantern wicks specifically to use with converting canning jars into lanterns, but this way is WAY cheaper. 🙂

Next, slice your lemons to your desired thickness and place them inside your container arranging them in a way to cover the sides without taking up the bulk of room inside the container.  You want to fill it with as much oil as possible.

After you’ve arranged your lemon slices the way you want, carefully fill the container with your oil.  Not only are the lemons pretty but they also help scent the oil so it will give off a soft lemon fragrance the longer they soak in the oil.

Let your wick soak up the oil for at least 15 minutes before you attempt to light it.

The great thing about these little lamps is that they can burn smoke-free for many, many hours.  If the oil starts to get low, just refill.  Also, you can continue to reuse the container and just add a new wick.

Stay tuned for my candle-making experiment!  I’m going to attempt to make some medicinal candles using Eucalyptus Oil and Tea Tree Oil and possibly a bug repellant peppermint candle.  We’ll see…. 🙂

Fabric Dollhouse

First off let me reiterate that I am NOT the best seamstress in the world.  I believe I would rank myself in the range of extreme beginner when it comes to reading patterns and putting all the pieces together so they fit properly.  Haha!  Well, practice makes perfect so I am just going to keep on practicing. 🙂

I hope you enjoy this little creation I found over at UK Lass in US.  What a fun craft and oh the abundance of different projects you could do with this one idea!  She has printable step-by-step instructions available on her site.

Although mine didn’t turn out like the creator’s doll house, I still believe a certain special little lady is going to enjoy playing with it especially when it will be filled with little fabric dolls. 🙂  Can’t wait to see her expression!

Safari Baby Shower for Baby Bean

So excited to welcome my friend’s first baby!!!  It was a great time to get creative and practice lots of new crafty ideas for gifts while helping to put together the baby shower. 

For starters I finished up a baby afghan and nursing cape with a monogram on the bottom corner.  Then I tried my hand out on an onesie applique to be used as a door prize at the shower.

Part of the decorations included a diaper cake.  This was my first diaper cake to experiment with and all I can say about the experiences was IT WAS FUN. 🙂  I ended staying up until past 2 a.m. finishing all the little details because I couldn’t stand the thought of going to bed and not being able to see the finished result.  On top of that, I was getting so much more accomplished without my three boys interrupting me every five minutes.  Haha!

 

(Sorry about all the glue strings in the picture!  It was VERY late and I didn’t notice them at the time I was taking pics.)

Decorations at the church…

 

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

I just have to say, I LOVE these cookies!!!!  Chocolate chip cookies are always a favorite in this house, but when I started making this new recipe with the added lovely ingredient of coconut, oh my, WOW!

Since they are such a delightful treat to eat and I have absolutely NO will power to resist stuffing one in my mouth every time I just happen to walk by the counter where a batch is cooling, I decided to try something different today.  Today I made my freezer be my self-discipline.  One batch makes 48 cookies that just HAVE to be eaten in less than a week otherwise you have to throw them away.  Sniff, sniff… You just CAN’T throw these cookies away! 

Well, instead of using that as my excuse to down as many as my belly can humanly hold, I only baked one dozen and froze the rest.  This will help cut down on the need to eat every single cookie in site.  Plus it saves on those last-minute cookie splurges at the store when I need to have a handy dessert for an event and I don’t have time to mess around with baking an entire batch at that moment.  I love the fact that I can now pull out however many I need so there are no more tempting leftovers. 🙂

Another great thing about freezing cookie dough is that it makes wonderful gifts for any occasion.  I think I am going to incorporate this idea into my Christmas baking this year because it is such a simple yet extremely practical idea.  So you don’t add more sugar to your friends’ or families’ plates during the holiday, give them the cookie dough frozen so they can bake at a later time when they are in need of a sweet treat.  They will thank you for it down the road!  Plus you won’t be spending as much time slaving over a hot stove during the holiday season. 🙂  That’s always a plus in my book!!

Cream 2 sticks butter (at room temperature) with 1/2 C. sugar and 1 1/2 C. brown sugar until light and fluffy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add 2 eggs one and at a time ensuring that each eggs in incorporated before adding the next.  Next add in 2 tsp. vanilla.

 

 

 

 

 

Combine 3 C. flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 3/4 tsp. salt in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour.  Mix until just combined, taking care not to over mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using a spatula, fold in 1 pkg. chocolate chips and 3 C. coconut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop by the teaspoon full onto a well-greased cookie sheet or parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes.  They should be lightly golden on the outside but still look gooey on the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If freezing dough, drop spoonfulls of dough close together on a greased cookie sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover and place inside freezer for approximately 2 hours or until completely solid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Store frozen dough balls inside a freezer zipper bag inside the freezer until ready to bake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To give as a gift, package the frozen dough balls in a sealed container or zipper bag inside a decorative bag or box with the instructions written on a tag.

Frozen cookies should be removed from the freezer and placed on a greased cookie sheet to rest for 2-3 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake cookies for approx. 14-16 minutes.

 

 

 

Finally Got to Use My Birthday Present!

My mom surprised me this past December with a brand new sewing machine for my birthday present.  Talk about being surprised!!! 🙂  I’ve always wanted a sewing machine of my own, but could never justify purchasing one myself since I’m not a very good seamstress.  If I had a sewing project in the past, I would simply go over to my sister’s house and use her machine.

Even though I’ve been the proud owner of such a fancy contraption now for almost half a year, I am just now putting it to good use.  I haven’t had the time to run off to the fabric store to find material and then my sister wanted to borrow my machine to use the fancy stitching patterns on her felt birthday crowns she was making for all her nephews.

My mom gave me some of her leftover material scraps to experiment with earlier this week, so last night after cleaning up the kitchen, I sat down to see what I could come up with. 🙂

I’ve been wanting a kitchen apron to wear when I cook/bake so I will stop messing up all my shirts with flour or grease spots.  Thankfully some fo the material my mom gave me was a light-weight canvas.  Even though my project didn’t turn out perfect, I’m very pleased with the end result especially considering the fact that I didn’t have a pattern or anything to use.

Getting all set up and ready to “create!”

 

 My birthday present from my parents.

 Love the cute flower pattern the machine can stitch!

The best part is the apron is reversible!  Yay for me!!! 🙂

Handprint Tree Project

I got this idea last week while sitting in the lobby of Easter Seals.  They are having an auction on crafts and paintings done by students and faculty, and inspiration hit me while viewing all the paintings sitting out on display.  I believe an entire class used their handprints to make the tree.  Since Mother’s Day is just around the corner, I began thinking about ways that I could incorporate this idea into something simple the boys could help me with at home to use for future gifts.

I was doubly excited because all the supplies were on sale this week at Michaels.  Yay for me!  Anyway, we ended up making two pictures.  Eli had a lot of fun helping me paint and would constantly beg me to paint more while we had to wait for a layer of paint to dry.  Haha!