Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent Calendar (sort of)

I adapted this idea from the Skip To My Lou website. There are some fun ideas over there! They did this originally for Valentines Day and Halloween so I thought it would be fun to do it for Christmas as sort of an Advent Calendar type thing.
Here's how to do it (or just skip over to Skip To My Lou for a great tutorial):

You need
25 half sheets of cardstock in red, green and white
stamps, stickers or markers
double stick tape
crimper (from craft stores)

First, stamp, color or put stickers on each piece of cardstock. Write a number (1 - 25) in the middle of each piece.

Create a tube by putting double stick tape on one short side of the cardstock and taping to the other short end.

Use double stick tape again and seal up one end of the tube.

Put one small piece of candy for each member of your family (or at least the kids) in each container.
Seal up the other end with the tape, only in the opposite direction so it looks like one of those sour cream containers or those triangle ice pops in school lunches. ☺

Use the crimper to crimp each end so it really looks like a sour cream container.

When you finish, you will have 25 numbered containers. One to open each day of December to have a little treat. We decided to add a fun 'To Do' item on the inside of each day, like a craft or a walk to the local ice-cream store for a hot chocolate or drop off treats to friends and neighbors.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

But hot chocolate is so delightful!!

Hot Chocolate Mix

Whip 1 pint whipping cream until very soft.
Mix together and add slowly to the whipped cream:
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cocoa
Whip together until well mixed. It will be the consistency of a thick pudding.
Add 1 large spoonful to 1 cup steaming milk.
Add marshmallows or stir with a candy cane.
Store covered in the refrigerator.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Before And After

When we moved into our 1970's house more than 5 years ago, one of the first things we did was paint the kitchen cabinets.

Here's why:

All we did was remove the doors (numbered them using masking tape with their coordinating cabinet, like #1 door goes with #1 cabinet) and all the hardware. Then we washed the doors really well and lightly sanded them to rough up the surface a little (they're laminate). We primed them with a high quality primer and painted them with a high quality gloss paint from Lowes. We even recycled the old hinges and painted them black, but we put on new handles.

On a fresh out of grad school budget, we also painted some of our appliances. We bought high heat resistant appliance paint and painted our oven, stove and dishwasher. I think we used Rustoleum brand and it left a nice factory finish.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Okay, it's been a very long day that started at 5 am so here's today's recipe - finally.

I really just wanted to get this Pumpkin Bread recipe out there because it's that time of year and it's so good. Bake it as 2 loaves or make muffins or mini-muffins for the kids lunches.
This was the first time I added the chocolate chips and I wasn't disappointed. I like the pumpkin/chocolate combo and this was a good recipe for it. It is more chocolatey than pumpkiny. I hope you like it!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(or just leave out the chocolate chips for the best Pumpkin Bread you'll ever taste! ☺)

3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 small can pumpkin
2/3 cup water
1 cup corn (canola) oil
4 eggs
Around a 1/2 bag milk chocolate chips (optional)

Grease and flour loaf pans or muffin tins (or use paper muffin cups). Sift in a large bowl the dry ingredients. Stir together in another bowl the pumpkin, oil, water and eggs (adding eggs one at a time).
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add pumpkin mixture and stir until flour is moist. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.
Pour into loaf or muffin tins and bake at 350°. The loaf pans bake for 1 hour. Muffins bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before taking out of pan.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

I like to use this 'doctored' cake mix recipe for a very moist cake.

Black Forest Cake

1 chocolate cake mix (or Devil's Food, chocolate fudge, etc.)
1 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 small box instant chocolate pudding

Blend all together and pour into two 8-inch round pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool completely and frost each layer generously with cream cheese frosting. Just before serving, spread a can of cherry pie filling over top.

You can cheat simplify and use canned frosting, or try this one:

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 box powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1 block cream cheese

Blend all together until smooth.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scrub A Dub Dub

Try making these fun little soaps. Your little kiddies will love them.

You will need:
clear glycerin soap
soap fragrance
soap dye (I think you could get away with using a drop or 2 of food coloring)
soap glitter
little toys, rings, bouncy balls, etc.
silicone muffin pans
*You can get all the soap stuff at craft stores and the dye, glitter and fragrance are totally optional.

Melt the soap in the microwave according to the package directions (usually in 30-60 second intervals). Once it is melted, add the dye, fragrance and glitter to your preference.
Place a toy in each muffin cup. Frogs or marine animals are really cute, especially when they look like they are jumping out of the soap.
Pour enough of the melted soap over each toy to fill up the cup and cover the toy, unless you want to leave some uncovered.
It hardens pretty fast; easily within an hour.

These make great stocking stuffers or party favors. My kids have given heart-shaped ones to their friends for Valentines Day in a clear plastic bag tied up with a ribbon.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies by Bridget
1 chocolate cake mix
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 eggs

Mix cake mix, peanut butter and eggs together. Roll dough into balls, roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet lined with foil, press down with fork making a criss-cross pattern. Bake at 375° for 7-8 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.