Salt Dough Ornaments
There is a recipe/project floating around Pinterest for these Santa hand salt dough ornaments. I had all the ingredients and thought it would be a fun project for me and the boys to tackle while I was on vacation. Not only were these completely easy to do, but they were fun. We gave them as gifts to my in-laws and Jason's grandmother and they were a huge hit. Because my kids have fairly large hands, they are more like wall hangings than ornaments though.
Painting in progress:
Here is the Pin from Pinterest if you are interested. You could use the same recipe to make any kind of ornament using cookie cutters too.
Cal is obsessed with the show Yo Gabba Gabba. I was at the fabric store picking up some knitting supplies and wanted to see if they had any fleece in the YGG print. I knew it was a long shot, but I figure, I could buy a piece of fleece and call it a blanket. Easy gift! They didn't have fleece but they happened to have a piece of flannel. I couldn't believe it! It was on clearance so I bought what was left: The perfect size for a blanket. To make it extra soft, I got a piece of fleece to sew onto the back of it.
I am not a sewer by any stretch of the imagination but I knew I could at least sew four straight lines. I borrowed my mother-in-law's sewing machine and here is the result. A super soft blankie. Cal is in love with it. He asks for it for nap, and when he goes to bed. And when he wakes up, he likes to snuggle on the couch with a blankie. This one is a hit! At less than $10 for the materials, it was a fun and easy Christmas gift.
Jason's Mamo is notoriously hard to buy gifts for. Every year we struggle. This year? Easy! I made a huge batch of freezer meals for her and her friend. She is elderly and takes care of her friend full time so she needs simple meals to prepare. It's hard for her to cook so I took the work out of dinner for her.
I made the following meals for her:
Million Dollar Casserole
Old Fashioned Beef Stew
Sweet Barbeque Chicken
I also made a double batch of blueberry muffins that they can eat for breakfast or a quick snack.
The recipes were all very easy and will serve them for at least two meals. This was a huge hit and Mamo was very excited to have dinner all planned out for the next couple of weeks.
This beef stew smelled amazing by the way. I have bookmarked the recipe to make for my family!
I made my sister this lovely hat as a Christmas present. I have the same hat actually, and I love it. I made mine in a different color and a single button. I hope she likes it!
Here is the pattern I used. Yarn credit: Berocco Vintage in Elderberry
My dad is a simple guy so he got a super simple hat. I didn't even use a pattern; I just cast on the standard number of stitches for a men's hat and went to town. Yarn credit: Berocco Vintage in Smoke
This is SUCH a fun project to knit. It goes super fast and it uses up leftover yarn. I have actually made three pairs so far. A pair for my cousin for Christmas, a pair for my sister using leftover yarn from her Christmas hat and a pair for myself using leftover yarn from my scarf. I already have my aunt asking me to knit her a pair!
The pair shown above is slightly different than the pattern. I wanted a longer cuff for the wrists so I added a few extra rows.
Pattern here. I used Lamb's Pride yarn for the pair for my cousin.
Hodge Podge hat
This is the best way to use up extra yarn. I save all the ends (as long as there is a good amount) from my projects and they do come in handy. In this case, a hat for Jack! I will be adding a pom pom to it and will also make a hat for Cal. After all, Cal gets a little jealous if he doesn't have the same exact thing as his brother.
Once again, I didn't use a pattern. I just cast on the number of stitches for a child's hat and made the stripes in varying widths.
I don't have a pattern for this since it was my aunt Laurie's pattern. I believe she actually created this pattern. I went to a lady's craft event at church a few weeks ago and she had packaged up this pattern along with all the supplies needed to make it. I made this one for Lynn and have a red one for myself to knit up. These would make awesome gifts since it takes less than an hour to make it. I love that I can say that I knit a sweater in less than an hour!
Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
When I think of winter and fall, I immediately think of peppermint, chocolate, pumpkin and spices. This recipe is actually a pumpkin bar, but it was so moist that I am calling it a cake.
Cake recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Squares/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Thumb&e11=pumpkin%20squares&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page
Frosting recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cream-Cheese-Frosting-I-2/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Thumb&e11=cream%20cheese%20frosting&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe
Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
I have made this before and the recipe is posted on my old cooking blog. This is one of those recipes that you kind of question because it sounds weird. Buffalo chicken? Lasagna? Together? But it works.
Of course, any lasagna done in the crockpot looks pretty gross in pictures but trust me when I say it was amazing.
Recipe here. By the way, if you want an awesome blog for crockpot recipes, that one is highly recommended.
I do not have a recipe for this. It's one of those things that I just throw together when I need an easy meal. The only special planning is how I marinate the meat. I usually cut up the chicken into strips and put them in a freezer bag. To that, I add salt and pepper, whatever spices you choose (garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, etc.) and some sort of citrus. I usually use orange or lemon juice.
Once the chicken has marinated, I cook it in a skillet over medium high heat. While that is cooking, I slice up an onion and three peppers in whatever color I have on hand. When the chicken is done, I remove it, add some extra oil to the pan and saute the veggies.
Done! Add whatever topping you prefer. In my case, it's usually a little bit of cheese and a ton of cilantro.
Candy Cane Chocolate Tart
I wanted to bring a dessert to our Christmas Eve dinner - after all, any excuse to bake, and I immediately wanted to make this. I saw it in the holiday Food Network Magazine. Sold! Peppermint and chocolate. What else is more Christmasy?
I don't have a tart pan, so let's just call this a pie. Oh.My.Gosh. Amazing!
Here it is before the whipped cream:
Recipe credit: Food Network Magazine. Link.
I have never made pudding from scratch, but I am guessing it's very similar to how I made this. Everyone raved about how good this was. I added the whipped cream and a layer of red and green sanding sugar to the top to make it festive.
Every year, my sister and I spend a day and go on a baking extravaganza. This year we made five different types of cookies. I insisted she make her same two from last year because they are awesome. And I picked my two. Than we come up with a fifth cookie to round everything out.
Want to see the result?
This wasn't all the cookies either. There were some more on her counter.
We made the following (links provided as well):
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Brownie Peppermint Cookies
Red Velvet While Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hot Chocolate Cookies
Reusable Snack Bags
I saved my best project for last.
For our extended family's Christmas, we exchange gift baskets. Instead of buying 50 plus gifts for people, a few years ago we decided to make or buy several of the same thing. Each family brings a basket and the gifts that people bring are placed in the family's basket. In years past, I have made batches of brownies and put them in Rubbermaid tubs for each family. One year, I bought mason jars and layered ingredients for cocoa. Some people will sew things, or knit things or simply buy things. The rule this year was no perishable or food items. That pretty much ruled out all the things I had planned since I love to bake.
I went on the hunt for something easy that I could make that wouldn't break the bank. I didn't want to knit dish cloths, or knit anything really. I came across this blog:
In there is a very easy pattern for reusable snack bags. I have limited sewing skills but even this pattern was something I could do!
I made one modification. Instead of the fusible vinyl, I bought oilcloth. It was much more economical at $7.99 a yard versus buying more fabric and a box of the fusible vinyl at $9.99 a box.
I got all the supplies I needed at the fabric store for $85.00. Before you scoff at that total, it included a rotary cutter and a cutting mat which will be used for other projects. If you take off those items, it was really closer to $48 for my supplies. I bought enough for 30 bags.
Since I don't own a sewing machine, I borrowed my mother-in-laws. All total, I spent about 10 hours on this project which includes cutting, pinning, sewing and finishing.
I LOVE THEM.
Thankfully, you can't see my not very straight sewing lines. I guess they were quite the hit at the gathering. I didn't go because I am sick at the moment. I already have requests to make more! I plan on hitting up the fabric store in the next couple of weeks to make another batch of these.
Phew! That was a long post. I am really proud of all the things I made this holiday season. Of course, this post doesn't include all the dinners I have been making regularly or some other knitting projects I have going on right now. This was just the tip of the iceberg.
I am channeling my inner crafty-ness and I really like it.