Friday, December 31, 2010

What's Old Is New Again

I find it interesting to watch my daughters as adults.  I know they were both raised under the same roof, with the same parenting, and the same opportunities...yet there are some striking differences between the two.

Chelsea is typically on the cutting edge of everything fashionable and trendy.  As you look through a current fashion magazine, you might see what some of her current outfits look like.  She loves shopping at high end department stores, boutiques, and, of course, Target...because doesn't everyone shop there?

Courtney, on the other hand, is more traditional and classic.  She's not super trendy...or spendy.  When it comes to toys and furniture, she loves old things.  If she has money burning a whole in her pocket, you can usually find her scouring antique and junk stores for a hidden treasure.  She loves the idea that something had a whole other life before it got to her and that it's getting to live another one with her.  She's also quite sentimental and loves quality heirloom pieces from our own family.  This became increasingly evident as she started putting toys together for Heidi Sage.

I had a couple of "hidden treasures" tucked away that I decided to fix up and give to Heidi Sage for Christmas.  I was certain Heidi Sage would love it and I knew Courtney would appreciate it.

The girls each had a Cabbage Patch doll when they were little along with a bunch of handmade clothes their Grammy and I had made for them.  I held onto these hoping there might one day be some granddaughters to enjoy them.

Courtney's doll had definitely suffered some wear and tear love.  :-)  This required some washing and restitching...

It wasn't long before our little baby doll was looking new again.

I was also able to wash and repair the old outfits for the doll.

As I was working on this, Courtney called one day very excited about a new "hidden treasure" she had found at one of her favorite antique stores.  She was wanting to get Heidi Sage a stroller, but couldn't find one that coordinated with her bedroom and play kitchen....have I mentioned how much Courtney likes things to coordinate???

While making one of her routine stops, she came across this carriage.  The lady who owned the booth happened to be there working that day.  Her and Courtney started talking about what it would be used for and the lady was so touched by Courtney's love for everything old that she told her she could take 20% off the price...and if you know Courtney, you know she's a sucker for a sale...or a discount.  Just ask Rodney.

So, with 20% off, a "classic" look, an untold story, and a paint color that nearly perfectly matched the walls in Heidi Sage's room, Courtney couldn't walk away without it.  I decided I would buy it from Courtney, fix it up, and make it part of Heidi Sage's Christmas gift with her doll and clothes.

I started by making a bumper pad to go around the inside with some leftover fabric I had from another project.

Nothing beats a custom fit.  :-)

Then I made a flat pillow to go in the bottom using the same fabric.

To finish it off, I made a small blanket.  Heidi Sage believes every little girl should have a special blanket, and this blanket has not left this baby since she got it.  :-)

Do you have a "hidden treasure" that just needs a little love to be new again?   Start looking around, you might be surprised what you will find....and how much someone will love it!

Treasuring Memories,

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Keeping It Simple

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Don't Throw Out Your Christmas Cards!

I tried something this year that turned out to be a great idea.  I didn't want to blog about it until I knew for sure, but now I know...

While you're putting away your Christmas decor (as I have been working on for the past two days!), don't throw out those cards your friends and family have so lovingly picked out, signed, and sent to you. Instead, just put them away with your Christmas decorations.  Rubber band them together and put a sticky note on them that says, 

"Visit for a reminder of what to do with these."  :-)  

We'll do a more in-depth "how-to" next November.

I used them to decorate my Christmas packages.  There are two different ways you can go here. 

You can use die cuts, as you see below.  OR you can find some that have cute graphics that are easy to cut out and use those.  This is a great way to "recycle", but also a way to save some moo-lah next year when you start purchasing gift wrapping supplies.

I have a couple of rules about Christmas wrapping.  First, ALL gifts must coordinate.  Some call it OCD, others (...and by "others", I mean BRILLIANT people) think it makes for an amazing looking present presentation.  Second, I wrap all my gifts in brown craft paper.  Again, this could be seen as OCD, but I like it because I like my decorations to stand out...and again, it helps make them all coordinate.  When other people start mailing in packages or bringing them in, I can sometimes take a deep breath and allow a different paper under my tree...but I've also been known to rewrap other people's gifts...of course, that was back in the day before I had three children under the age of 4.  :-D

Below is a picture from this year's Christmas tree...if you click the picture it will enlarge it so you can see how I decorated with my old Christmas cards.  Not gonna lie...this year was quick and simple.  I went ahead and posted more pictures below from past years to show you how you can elaborate on the idea...

2007 - You could use your Christmas card cutouts as accent pieces as I did with the stars.

2008 - Not a great picture...didn't have many from this year...must have been pregnant.  It also appears that a one-year-old did most of the stickers...

2009 - Not preggers again quite yet, and look how awesome I did with my decorating!  :-)  Again, Christmas card die cuts would make great accents in place of some of the foam stickers I used.  And yes, those are foam alphabet stickers that I used to put everyone's name on their package.  A wee bit crazy, but oh so cute.

So...this isn't really a tutorial.  It's more of a "see what I did?" and a little heads up on what you can do, too!  (If you save your cards!)

Holiday'd Out!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hope Yours Was Merry!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Yummy in My Tummy Gifts

I had some really big plans this year for some edible gifts for our teachers.  I was thinking outside the box.  I was planning it out over the course of several days.  And I was really excited about seeing it all come together.

Then life happened--a new baby arrived a few days early, the baby required daily blood work, our family was blind sided by a sudden death, and I had COMPLETELY underestimated the ramifications of having 3 children under 4.  :-)

Since I didn't want to show up empty handed, I resorted to some old favorites.  Chocolate dipped pretzels and hot chocolate.  If you haven't made chocolate dipped pretzels before, I would be completely shocked.  Maybe it's just where I grew up, but these were a must have favorite around the holidays...and they are too easy!  All you need are some Pretzel Rods, dipping chocolate (almond bark, chocolate bark, or candy melts), and sprinkles....oh, and I bought this little chocolate melter at JoAnn''s awesome.

I got the two tubs of sprinkles on the left out of the dollar bin at Target.  I got the Wilton sprinkles canister at Joann's.

I used both green candy melts and white almond bark...separately.  

And then it's nothing more than dipping the pretzel in the chocolate and sprinkling them with festive sprinkles.  I laid mine on parchment paper to set.  Once they were ready, I bagged them up in Wilton pretzel bags.

While the hot chocolate is just as simple, it didn't go as smoothly in my house.  Clinton was a big helper. Heidi Sage was a big mess maker.  (Full recipes posted below.)

At the suggestion of Deborah I ran all my ingredients through the Food Processor.  It made this...

...look like this.  Probably a little more conducive to dissolving quickly and without lumps.

I had this big guy helping me every step of the way.

Here's Clinton stirring it all up.

This is my kitchen wishing I would get a housekeeper.  :-(

These are my kids wondering what in the world we're doing with giant marshmallows on sticks.  And in case you're wondering why they are missing their clothes--well, they're messy helpers as my kitchen (pictured above) will attest to--and I like to keep their cute clothes looking cute.

So the giant marshmallows were to make hot chocolate stirrers.  You should definitely use coffee stirrers for the handle.  I used cocktail stirrers, and they are clearly made for iced beverages...not hot ones.

We melted some chocolate in our handy dandy Chocolate Melter.

And we used some peppermint candies for an extra touch...

...but first we had to run them through the food processor for a minute.

Once our chocolate was melted and our candies pelted, we were ready to go!

 We dipped.

...and dipped again.

And came up with these.

I used small Wilton treat bags to bag up the marshmallows, and larger ones to bag up the hot chocolate.  I also typed up, printed, cut out, and taped on the instructions on how to make the hot chocolate using our mix.

Then we bagged up the pretzels and the hot chocolate mixes into the Christmas Tree bags.  I included one of our Christmas cards and we were all set.

Maybe next year we'll be on better ground and I can plan out my awesome Gift Basket a little better.  But let's be very clear...NO ONE complained about these treats.  So if you're looking for something yummy to whip up for the neighbors or Sunday School class or whoever you like to share things with, then these are definitely worth a try.

And for the Hot Chocolate recipes...

Gourmet Hot Chocolate Mix
1 1/2 C. plus 1 T. powdered instant dry milk
1 C. powdered coffee creamer
1 C. powdered chocolate flavored drink mix
3/4 C. powdered chocolate malted milk flavored drink mix
1/2 C. powdered sugar

In a large bowl, combine the above ingredients and stir until the mixture is well blended.  Place mixture in serving containers as desired.  Attach a tag with the following instructions:

Gourmet Hot Chocolate Mix
To make one serving:
3 T. Gourmet Hot Chocolate Mix
8 oz. (1 C.) boiling water
Marshmallows or whipped cream, optional

Place the Gourmet Hot Chocolate Mix in a mug.  Pour boiling water over the mixture.  Stir until the mix is completely dissolved.  If desired, garnish with marshmallows or whipped cream.

And for the other one...

Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
2/3 C. powdered coffee creamer
2/3 C. milk chocolate chips
2/3 C. powdered sugar
2/3 C. powdered chocolate flavored drink mix
2/3 C. powdered instant dry milk
1 1/3 C. miniature marshmallows

In a large bowl, combine the above ingredients and stir until the mixture is well blended.  Place mixture in serving containers as desired.  Attach a tag with the following instructions:

Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa
To make one serving:
2 T. Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
8 oz. (1 C.) boiling water
Marshmallows, optional

Place the Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix in a mug.  Pour boiling water over the mixture.  Stir until the mix is completely dissolved.  If desired, garnish with additional marshmallows.

Source for Hot Chocolate Recipes:  Gifts in a Jar: Cocoas, Cappuccinos, Coffees & Teas

Hope your Holiday is Tasty!

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