Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Goodies

You might say I'm on a sort of cute holiday treat kick lately. For the last several years, my family and I always bake and decorate individual bunny cakes for Easter dessert. Then recently I discovered the cute turkey cupcakes that I made for Thanksgiving. And now, we're on to Christmas and there are so many ideas for cute holiday goodies. This past weekend I made about 80 pretzel snowmen for my neighborhood cookie/candy exchange. John and I stayed up late two nights in a row dipping pretzels and decorating them. We had fun doing it and I can only imagine the fun (and mess) once Stella is old enough to join us.

Directions for pretzel snowman: Dip a large pretzel rod in melted white chocolate. You'll need a spoon or knife to spread the chocolate about two-thirds of the way down. Lay the coated pretzel on wax paper, then add mini chocolate chips for eyes and buttons. Using a kitchen shears, cut a small carrot-shaped piece from a candy orange slice for the nose. When the chocolate is dry finish the snowman off with a couple pieces of Twizzlers Pull-and-Peel Strawberry Licorice for a scarf.
Also, check out more cute treats that showed up at the cookie exchange. I think they're all adorable and I can't wait to try making them. The first is a little mouse. I don't have detailed directions for making it, but I can give you the ingredient list: the bottom is half of a Double-stuffed Oreo, the body is a chocolate covered cherry, the head is a Hershey's kiss and the ears are slivered almonds. Melted chocolate holds everything in place and red and green decorating gel add the finishing touches of eyes and a little holly leaf.
The santas, snowmen and reindeer below are way too cute! I will post the ingredients/instructions for them as soon as I have them. These are all great projects for an assembly line so it's fun to involve more than one person. Kids will not only love to make them, but to eat them too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A New Way to Wrap Christmas Gifts

Last month I mentioned in a post that I overheard a lady in the fabric store talking about sewing Christmas-themed pillowcases to wrap her grandchildren's gifts. I loved the idea, not only is a pillowcase perfect for wrapping odd-shaped gifts, but it's also practical. Since I don't have a sewing machine (yet), I can't sew pillowcases, but I can buy them and decorate them, right? Right! I found some cheap white pillowcases at Target (two for $5.99) and used some of my trusty fabric paint from my Thanksgiving handprint turkey project. I found a cool (and free!) Christmas tree light font online and printed out each child's name on regular printer paper in a giant-size font. I taped all the pieces together and inserted them into the pillowcase along with the words "Merry Christmas". The black ink on the paper was clearly visible through the pillowcase so I could use it as a guide for painting. I let the paint dry overnight, dropped in the gift, and used a ribbon to tie it closed. It's a fun and easy project and a cute way to add a little Christmas touch to any bedroom once the gift is unwrapped. It's likely this Christmas will not be the end of my pillowcase wrapping, I'd venture to guess it might just become a tradition!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

New Thanksgiving Traditions

I mentioned earlier that I was going to start a new family tradition and make a Thanksgiving apron with turkey handprints. As it turns out, I decided to upgrade the gifts for each Grandma to a tabler runner. I thought their aprons might fill up with handprint turkeys rather fast (given the number of grandchildren) so we needed something larger to work with. I had to run to a lot of stores to find table runners that would work, but after lots of shopping, I found plain (on both sides) gold table runners at Target that were perfect. I bought one for each Grandma. 

On Thanksgiving morning we painted up Stella's hand and attempted to make a handprint turkey for Grandma C's table runner. Needless to say, keeping a 4 month old's hand open is kind of tricky. The colored feathers all blurred together and the turkey resembles a kind of brown blob (sorry no pictures). Oh well, that will bring back memories each year of her little clenched hand covered in paint. We're still waiting for Ruby to come to Madison for Christmas so she can add her handprint to the runner.
A few days after Thanksgiving we celebrated the holiday at my parents house and with five grandchildren there, we were able to add five handprints to Grandma G's table runner. I have to say, the second time around went more smoothly for Stella's handprint. (One adult holding the fingers open, one applying the paint and a third to assist with any squirming.) All the other handprints turned out great too! I can't wait to see how it looks in a few years after we've added more turkeys. I think it will be a fun addition to our family Thanksgiving celebration.

I also made a whole rafter (yes, that's the proper term for a group of turkeys) of turkey cupcakes. They turned out cute and yummy too! I took the short cut and used a mix and pre-made frosting. I made German chocolate cupcakes with coconut pecan frosting. I used toasted-coconut marshmallows from Jet-Puffed for the head, a gummy fish for the beak, two chocolate sprinkles for eyes and candy corns for tail feathers. The turkey cupcakes are a great alternative to pumpkin pie for those of us that think that the best dessert is a chocolate dessert!