Christmas

Handmade Snowman Ornament..3 Days ‘Till Christmas!

I cannot believe there are only three more days until Christmas! I feel like I have so much to do, read more but slowly people’s presents are coming together and I will start wrapping this evening. I love giving presents :)

I also love making Christmas crafts. Here are some step by step instructions for how to make this precious little snowman ornament. All you need is some felt (2 colors), some thread, a little bit of stuffing, tiny piece of yarn, and sequins/buttons. I found a picture of these ornaments on Pinterest and knew that I had to make them. I’m no expert when it comes to sewing or crafting, so I just did this the best way I could see how. It was easy and turned out great :) I might make some more if I have time. I’m thinking it’d be really cute to give him a hat if I can figure out how. I hope all of you guys are having a wonderful holiday season!

Materials:

White Felt (I used less than 1/4 of a 8.5 by 11 piece of felt…it just depends on how big you make your snowman)

Colored Felt (This is just for the scarf so you don’t need much at all)

Thread (Dark Blue or Black for the eyes, Orange for the nose, and Light Blue to sew up the snowman)

Stuffing (Very little needed)

Small piece of yarn (to hang the ornament)

Extras- small buttons, sequins

Directions:

Start by cutting out two identical snowman bodies. On one of them, use the dark blue/black thread to stitch the eyes and orange thread to make the nose. The one I saw on Pinterest didn’t have a mouth, but I wanted mine to have one so I stitched on a little smile.

Next, either sew on little buttons or use some hot glue to attach sequins for the snowman’s buttons. Next, tie the yarn into a loop and then, on the body piece that doesn’t have the face on it, hot glue on the yarn towards the top of the snowman’s body.

Now it’s time to start sewing him up! Use the light blue thread to sew around the snowman’s body (making sure that the knot of the yarn is on the inside of the snowman), leaving a gap at the bottom so you can put the stuffing in. When you only have a small opening left, stuff the snowman. Then finish sewing him up.

The final thing is to add the scarf. Cut two thin pieces of felt. One of the pieces will be glued around the snowman’s neck, and the other will be the part that hangs down. That sounds confusing…it’s really not. Just look at the pictures :)

Glue that final scarf piece down and you’re done!


I hope those instructions made sense. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, and I’d love to see pictures if you end up making this ornament!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies and the Best Christmas Present You Could Give

Recently I posted a list of ideas for Christmas presents. I love giving Christmas presents and think it’s wonderful to give people things that they’ll love. But I also think that it is very important to remember what the real meaning of Christmas is, information pills the real reason we celebrate. Here are some Christmas present ideas that are very meaningful, and will help many people in need this holiday season.

1. Compassion Sponsorship

Compassion International is an amazing organization. Several people in our church work for Compassion and have seen first hand what they do for children living in third world countries. Sponsoring a child costs $38 dollars a month and provides them with food, clothes, education, and spiritual foundation. About a year and a half ago, I started sponsoring a girl who lives in Kenya. She is almost exactly my age and her name is Fresiah. I get letters from her and write her letters. Several times a year (birthdays, Christmas) you can give a little extra to pay for presents. Last year, Fresiah wrote to me, telling me what she bought with the money I sent her. She bought things like clothes, cooking oil, wheat, matches. It was pretty eye-opening to see what she got for Christmas, compared to what I ask for. I would encourage everyone to consider sponsoring a child.

2. Compassion Gift Catalog/Baby Survival Gift

If sponsorship isn’t for you, or you just want to give a one time gift, you can go onto the Compassion website and give a one time donation that will provide prental care, ongoing health care, infant survival training, the support of a local church, and much more for moms and babies. This is an incredible way to help save the lives of both moms and their babies. You can also check out their gift catalog and buy things like vaccinations, African Drought Survival, or a gift that will help a child live until age 5. These are amazing, life-changing gifts.

3. World Vision Gift Catalog

There are many organizations that allow you to buy gifts for families around the world such as goats, chickens, cows, etc. World Vision has a lot of options for giving, all at different prices. You can buy a rabbit, a small gift that will provide a family with food, all the way up to a dairy cow for a woman, a gift that will keep her independent and out of the sex trade. I thought for a long time on what gift I wanted to give and decided on a gift that offers hope for sexually exploited girls. When you give, you can give in honor of someone else and World Vision will send them a card, telling them about the gift. But even cooler than that, you can buy someone you love a present like a bracelet, necklace, silk scarf, or travel mug and coffee, and the money you spend on that gift will go towards helping others in need! Seriously awesome. Go here to check out all the things you can buy :)

4. Northwest Haiti Christian Mission

As many of you know, I went to Haiti last summer on a mission trip (you can read about my experience here, here, here, and here :) I had an incredible time and it really was a life-changing experience. I went to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission and saw first hand the amazing work they do for children and adults. Right now, they are trying to raise enough money to send one million meals to Haiti for the holidays! One meal only costs 5 cents which is crazy. I can personally speak to the work and authenticity of this organization as I have seen it first hand. I would really encourage you to give to help feel people in Haiti. And as an added bonus, anyone who gives enough money to pay for 400 meals (only $20!) will be entered into a drawing for an iPad 2! :)

I hope you guys consider giving to one of these amazing organizations!

You can also make many people happy by giving them these chocolate chip cookie dough cookies :)

I couldn’t decide which mug I liked better so I used this pink one and the red one..what do you think?

These are cookies that taste like cookie dough. Cookie outside, cookie dough inside. Umm yeah. Pretty amazing. These are different than if you make regular chocolate chip cookies and just underbake them a lot. The outside is firm like a regular cookie, but the inside stays gooey and raw. The flavor was delicious and they stay good for several days (just heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds and you have yourself a nice tasty cookie dough cookie!).

I hope you’re having a wonderful week and get to spend a lot of time with loved ones :) Do you have any plans? Any special Christmas traditions? I’d love to hear them! I’ll be sharing more of my Christmas preparations and traditions soon.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. I used my hand to mix it all together.
  5. Gently fold chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before using a small cookie scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. You can use a thermometer to make sure the centers are 160 degrees F, or you can be daring and dangerous like me.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes. Or not ;)

Source: The Chic Life
Enjoy!

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Minty Kiss Brownie Bites and Christmas Present Ideas

Can you believe Christmas is less than 2 weeks away??? I can’t! I’m feeling a little overwhelmed (I don’t have a lot of my presents ready), bulimics but I am feeling better today and am out of school (ahh!) meaning that I’m going to have a lot of time to plan presents, bake, and shop! Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I plan on enjoying every minute of it :)

I compiled this list incase you’re needing some ideas of what to get people on your Christmas list. Or you can send your boyfriend/husband a link to this post if he needs a hint. Or if you need ideas on what to buy yourself ;)

1. Books– I love reading, and maybe someone on your list does, too! Here are some of my favorites/book I’m wanting:

  • Kindle– They’re getting cheaper and cheaper! The new Kindle Fire is out, which seems pretty snazzy, but I have a basic Kindle and love it! It’s going to be especially awesome when I go to college next year. You can get it for $79 which is pretty awesome!
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins- These sci-fi/fantasy books are good for guys and girls of all ages (although I would recommend 10 and up). They’re really compelling, with their intriguing storyline and captivating characters, and filled with action and a little bit of romance.
  • The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini- The books in the series are Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance. I’ve read the first three and loved them, and am looking forward to reading the newly released fourth book. These fantasy books are long but have a really gripping storyline. Great for guys and girls of all ages.
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver- This book is great for teens and adults. It is about a missionary family that moves to the Congo in order to evangalize the community. It’s, at times, a dark story but is incredibly written and tells an important story. One of my all-time favorite books. I also love The Bean Trees by Kingsolver.
  • Black Heals to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond- This book, written by the famous Pioneer Woman, is amazing. It’s the [true] love story between Ree and her husband, Marlboro Man. I read this book in one night…I couldn’t put it down! Great for all fans of The Pioneer Woman, and any woman in general :)

2. Cooking/Baking Supplies– Things I love and use all the time, and things I would love to have!

  • Kitchenaid Mixer– I’ll just start with the big one. Ahhh I wish I had one of these! Life goes on without one, but I’m sure it makes baking a lot easier. Plus, they’re so shiny and pretty!
  • Donut Pan– There are so many recipes out there for baked donuts! I bought a donut pan recently. I haven’t gotten the change to use it yet, but plan on doing so really soon! I got mine on sale for $6.
  • Decorating Tips– I want to get a kit like this for when I make cupcakes or cakes to make them all pretty!
  • Other small things: Cute cupcake liners, spatula (in a pretty color :), cute coffee thermos, cookie cutters, cute apron like this or this (I want one of these!)

3. Makeup/Lotion/Cosmetic Stuff– These make good stocking stuffers for girlfriends, wives, sisters, cousins, nieces, friends, or your gay nephew ;)

  • Maybelline Lasting Drama Eyeliner– I seriously love this stuff! I could never find an eyeliner that would stay on without smudging, or would let me draw a finer line. This eyeliner is easy to apply (once you get used to it), stays on, lets you choose how thick/thin the line is, and the little container lasts several months!
  • Bath and Body Works– Seriously, anything from this store is amazing. I love their scented hand sanitizers and hand lotions. I can’t use their body lotions (my skin is too sensitive) but everything smells so good!

Other Stuff: Just because it doesn’t have a cool category name, doesn’t mean it’s not cool.

  • Poster of a neat quote, favorite movie/band/actor, etc.
  • Jewelry– Earrings, bracelet, necklace. I think this necklace from Etsy is really cute!
  • Watch– for a guy or girl.
  • Laptop Sleeve- I bought this one from Etsy and LOVE it!
  • Cute PJs– I love Target’s PJ selection around Christmas!
  • Framed Photo– I give these to all sorts of people. Great for girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, grandparents, parents, siblings, friends. It’s easy but also shows you care.
  • Candy or baked goods– how could you go wrong with this one? (Just make sure you don’t give this to your friend with peanut allergies. That’s how that one could go wrong).
  • Nutella– For anyone. This stuff is AMAZING. You can’t go wrong with Nutella (unless, of course, the person is allergic to hazelnuts). Or you can make them some Nutella Cookies!
  • Crazy Socks– they’re fun.
  • USB flash drives– practical, and they come in all sorts of shapes and colors!
  • A knitted hat or scarf– homemade or otherwise.
  • Coffee mug- There are so many cute coffee mugs, especially this time of year. I got this cute guy from Goodwill for 50 cents!
  • Silly Putty- We usually get this in our Christmas stockings. It’s so fun to play with!

So yeah! I hope you’re getting excited and geared-up for Christmas! Or the holiday season in general if you don’t celebrate Christmas :)

Here are some brownie bites I made to take into school the other day. The other brownie bites I’ve shared on this blog have been so popular, especially the Nutella Swirl Brownie Bites, so I thought I would share this super easy holiday recipe! These are fudgey, yummy brownies topped with mint truffle kisses! You can top them with any kind of kiss you want, or just eat them plain :)

Minty Kiss Nutella Brownie Bites

Ingredients:

1 family-size box of your favorite brownie mix (I use Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix)

The Eggs, Oil, and Water needed to make the brownie mix

36 Hershey’s kisses, whatever flavor you desire!

36 mini muffin liners

Directions:

  1. Prepare the brownie mix according to box instructions.
  2. Line 36 mini muffin holes with muffin liners (I had to make this in two batches because I only have one mini muffin tin)
  3. Use a small cookie scoop to put the batter into the muffin liners.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few fudgey crumbs.
  5. Cool the brownies in the tins until cool enough to handle, then move them to a cooling wrack.
  6. Press the (unwrapped) kisses gently onto the brownies.

Note: These can be made in regular muffin tins, but I am not sure what the cooking time for those would be.

Enjoy!

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The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

I can’t believe I haven’t talked about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap before now! I found out about it from reading Love and Olive Oil, pilule and knew immediately that I wanted to participate.

The swap was created and hosted by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. This is the description of the swap: After you sign up, you receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. You then send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies, and then you receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers.

Umm how awesome is that??? Supremely awesome! I’ve never gotten cookies in the mail, or sent them for that matter. Most of the mail I get nowadays is from colleges (one college sent me gloves. I mean seriously. I know I’m awesome but I don’t want to go to your school. I will probably use the gloves, though! ;)

It took me a long time to figure out what cookie I wanted to send…there are so many awesome options! But after I saw a recipe for chocolate chip cookie bars with pretzel crust, I knew I had to make them. Baking the bars was really fun. I packaged them up and sent them off to Joanna from Go Ahead and Snicker, Nicki from Nick-Stirs, and Stephanie from Life Tastes Like Food.

It was really exciting when I started receiving cookies! I got two packages in one day! The first one I opened was from Renee at Casa del Kuchen. She sent me Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies that tasted so good, especially when I put them in the microwave! Look how pretty the packaging was :)

I looovvee chocolate cookies. Now I want to make some of my own!

The second package I opened was from Amy at Fearless Homemaker. She sent me Chai Snickerdoodles. I’d never had cookies like this before and they were yummy with an interesting flavor!

The third package I got came several days later from Erin at Big Fat Baker. She sent me Chocolate Rolo Cookies that were really yummy. I warmed them up and the caramel got all gooey and tasty.

I was left with so many wonderful cookies that I ended up bringing some of them in to school and sharing them with my friends :)

Here are the packages that I sent off!

I’d never sent cookies in the mail before, so hopefully they held up ok!

These are the bars I made. Mmmmm! Seriously these were super delicious. The chocolate chip cookie dough part was gooey and soft, and the buttery pretzel crust was amazing. I think my favorite part of the whole thing was eating the pretzel bits that fell off the bars! I made a double batch of bars to make sure I had enough to send out, but I ended up with tons of leftovers. My family ate some and then I brought some in for my English class…everyone loved them!

I would absolutely recommend that you make these bars for upcoming Christmas parties, or any time of the year! I know I’ll be making them again for sure. Here’s how you make them:

My littlest sister helped me make the bars. She started by helping me crush the pretzels into small pieces.

Here are the pretzel pieces with butter mixed in. Seriously I think this is the only way to eat pretzels haha :)

I have two pans because I made a double batch. Put the pretzel pieces in a 9 by 13 baking pan (lined with parchment paper) and bake for 8 minutes.

After that you make the cookie dough and gently press it on top of the pretzel crust. Bake for 20-24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.

This is what the bars looked like when I took them out after 10 minutes to rotate them. I almost wanted to just eat it like this…but I resisted :)

Here are the finished bars! The cookie dough was still soft and gooey, and the pretzel crust was just incredible!

Don’t those just look so good???

You might remember this cute snowman from this post. I just love him! I have a lot of new Christmas props I’m going to be using in coming posts.

Now I know some of you are probably bummed that you didn’t get to participate in the swap this year. But don’t worry, you can go to this website to sign  up to get email notifications of next year’s swap http://eepurl.com/hsS-Y.

I want to thank all the people who sent me cookies, all the bloggers who particiated in this swap, and especially Lindsay and Julie from Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for putting so much time and effort into making this happen! This was such a fun experience for me and I’m sure for everyone else who participated! It was estimated that over 22,000 cookies were sent around the world in this swap which I think that is just incredible. This was the perfect way to kick-off my Christmas baking…there will be much more to come!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Pretzel Crust

Ingredients for the Cookie Dough:

  • ¾ cups Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
  • ¾ cups Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ cups Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • 1-½ teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract
  • 2-¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¾ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 bag (11 Oz. Size) Semi-Sweet or Milk Chocolate Chips

Ingredients for the Crust:

  • 3-½ cups Pretzel Sticks, Crushed Into Tiny Pieces
  • ¾ cups Unsalted Butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Start by making the crust. Crush pretzel pieces either in a large ziplock bag and a mallet, or by using a food processor, until you have coarse pieces. Combine pretzel pieces with the melted butter, stirring to combine.
  3. Spread the pretzel mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 8 minutes.
  4. While that’s baking, start on the cookie dough. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until creamy. Add eggs and the vanilla, beating until just blended.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar/egg mixture, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  6. Drop large spoonfuls of the cookie dough and scatter it over the pretzel crust. Carefully and evenly spread the batter over the warm pretzels, gently pressing the dough down with your fingers.
  7. But the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20-24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time.
  8. Remove the pan wihen the bars are golden brown.
  9. When the bars have cooled completely, remove the bars from the pan by lifting up the parchment paper. Cut into bars and enjoy!

The original recipe says this makes 15 bars, but you could easily make double that, depending on what size you make the bars.

Source: Simply Scratch :)

Have a great week and happy baking! :)

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Pumpkin Deliciousness Cake

I have several enemy foods- foods I just do not like and do not intend to ever like. One of those things is Chicken Pot Pie. Before you yell at me, erectile let me say that I don’t know why I don’t like Chicken Pot Pie. I like chicken and I like pie…but somehow all together it all turns icky. Like really icky. (And don’t tell me I haven’t had a “good” chicken pot pie. No such thing exists).

I remember one day when I was young (7 or 8) and my mom bought a Chicken Pot Pie for dinner. But she also bought Boston Cream Pie. And Boston Cream Pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts ever- I used to have it for my birthday cake every year. So anyway, that night I sat at the table for probably an hour (or more) trying to choke down that horrible horrible dinner. And you know what? I did it! And I got boston cream pie for dessert! Ahh good times :)

My mom has a dish that she makes called like Harvest Vegetable Pot Pie (or something like that) and my sister and I love it! But we refuse to call it “pot pie” so we renamed it “Pre-Spring Deliciousness.” Likewise, this cake is really good, but its given name is Pumpkin Dump Cake. Dump cake? That does not sound appealing at all! So I am presenting you with Pumpkin Deliciousness Cake :) This cake is seriously good. I can’t even tell you how good it is, you’ll just have to make it yourself! It’s also really easy to make. But I was having serious issues the afternoon I made it and kept being totally spacey! I’m so glad it turned out good :)

You start by mixing together a can of pumpkin puree, a can of evaporated milk, a cup of brown sugar, 3 eggs, and 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice and just whisk it all together!

Here’s the first place I went wrong. See that nice action shot of the box cake mix pouring in the batter? I thought it was a pretty nice picture. Too bad it was the wrong thing to do! Here’s what you should do: pour the batter into a 9 by 13 cake pan and sprinkle the cake mix on top. I realized my mistake before I mixed the whole box mix in, though, so I was able to salvage it.

It still looks pretty good! So I put it in the oven. Ohhhh mistake number 2. Geez! Airhead much, girl? I forgot to pour melted butter over the whole thing.

I realized before too much time had passed and pulled it out. I poured the melted butter (2 sticks) over the batter. Then I put it back in the oven and baked it.

It fluffed up nicely in the oven! And oh my goodness does it taste good. I think I already said that but seriously, this deliciousness cake is delicious!

Mmm cut yourself a nice piece and take a bite.

Oh wait, that’s better! So after you add some whipped cream do this:

I tried this cake with vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, and whipped cream and thought it was best with whipped cream (see the things I do for you???)

Oh this looks so good…so good in fact that I might have to take another bite. Just one…

Wait??? How did that happen??? Look at the sacrifices I make for you guys. I’ve probably tried this cake a good dozen times, just to make sure it was acceptable to post ;)

Pumpkin Deliciousness Cake

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz) can Pumpkin Puree
1 (10 oz) can Evaporated Milk
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter melted
1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers or pecans
1/2 cup toffee bits (optional) <– I didn’t do this but it sounds seriously good!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 9 by 13 cake pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine.
  3. Pour into your prepared pan.
  4. Sprinkle your entire box of cake mix on top, followed by your nuts or graham crackers and toffee chips.
  5. Pour your melted butter evenly on top.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes until center is set and edges are lightly browned.

Enjoy with whipped cream! (or vanilla ice cream or chocolate ice cream or more cake)

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