From Christmas

Christmas buffet centerpiece

It’s Dare to DIY week number two and I’m doing my best to keep the pace.  This week’s challenge was to make something for your holiday table with entertaining in mind.  We generally entertain at least once during the Christmas season and, when we do, it rarely involves a seated dinner.  Due to the layout of our house and the size of the group, we generally set the food out in more of a buffet style.

So, I pulled together a centerpiece that could work for a proper table setting or a buffet.  And since I’m working a bit last minute on this challenge, I used only supplies that I already had on hand.

As I perused my house for inspiration, I spotted my glass hurricane candle holder that has only ever been used with a candle inside and decided to turn in into a cloche of sorts for a mini winter scene.

Inside you’ll find a couple of bottle brush trees, pinecones, blue glass ornaments and some pillow stuffing.

Yes, I remove stuffing from pillows for my craft projects.  You’ll understand why my pillows are a bit flat the next time you come over, right?

I was really wishing I had some mini woodland animals to insert into my display, or a snowman. I couldn’t come up with anything with what I had on hand, but you can imagine that the possibilities are endless.

So, there you have it—a quick, easy and inexpensive way to change up your holiday table decor.  If you’re entertaining this holiday season, be sure to check out the other inspiring Dare to DIY projects (hosted this week by Decor and the Dog)!  And feel free to check out my full buffet vignette  from 2012.

Happy holiday decorating!

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Our stockings are hung

Sometimes it really hits me that I have two children.  I mean, obviously I know we have them, but there are times when I wonder how and when, exactly, we got to this place.  Seeing our four stockings hanging in a row was one of those moments.  Holy cow.

Of course, we can’t forget Frankie the dog’s stocking, which will be hung out of reach of his sniffing nose (it’s too easy for him to sniff going up the stairs!).  But seeing our stockings alongside those of our two boys is just crazy.

It’s been fun making these stockings as our family grows.  I’ve been saving this one long piece of red satin over the years to use for the hanging loop for all the different stockings as they come.  It ties all of the stockings together since otherwise they don’t really match.

Somehow I’ve developed a taste for stockings that aren’t made with overt Christmas patterns.  I’m not sure why.  So this year I made a new stocking for Chris to replace the red and green velvet one I made for him the first year we were dating.  Ike came with me to our local fabric store and he picked out the moon and stars fabric, so now Chris’ stocking has even more sentimental charm.

And it’s Lincoln’s first Christmas, so we picked out fabric for his stocking, too.

I also took the opportunity to embellish the stocking I made for Ike two years ago with some gold ric-rac.  (BTW, ask a nearly-three-year-old to say ric-rac and you will be overwhelmed by the cuteness.)

And I gave my stocking some pom-poms.  Because I’m the mom and I wanted pom-poms.  Someone has to add a little femininity around this house of boys, right?

So, let’s now talk stockings.  What are the traditions in your house?  Do you wrap items that go into the stocking, or leave them unwrapped?  Do the stockings hide until Christmas Eve?  Or are you like us and display them throughout the month? Spill it.

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Candy Coated Christmas Shelves

It’s that time of year when most bloggers are showing off their festive mantels and I’m all like, “Hey!  I don’t have a mantel to decorate but I have styled shelves!”  You have to work with what you’ve got, right?

This year I’ve opted for a sweet pink and green theme for our three hallway shelves, featuring bright green ornaments, pink wrapped gifts and a little tassel and burlap garland that I whipped up (and will formally share on the blog another time).

I really like traditional Christmas decorations and colors for the majority of our house, so it’s fun to have this one small area to play with a different theme.

Poor Ike was a little dismayed and confused to learn the wrapped presents were empty.  A few more years of watching me decorate and he’ll no longer ask questions, I’m sure.  (“Just ignore my crazy mother,” he’ll say.)

Need some other mantle or faux mantel ideas?  Head on over to Our Fifth House or  Ten June to see other bloggers who are participating in the Holiday Cheer in the Blogosphere Mantel Party!

Hope you’re enjoying the start of the holiday cheer!

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Elf Hack: Make your Elf on a Shelf Bendable

Felix the Elf on the Shelf is back in the house!

I’ll be honest.  I’m a total sucker for the Elf on the Shelf.  It is so much fun for the kids me.  And the kids.  Luckily Ike is still young enough that just moving the elf to a new spot each day is enough excitement, but this year I wanted Felix to be able to hang like all the cool elves I see in fancy pictures on Pinterest.

So, I hacked him.  A little bit of surgery, if you will.  Which you will once you see how easy this is.

If you’re new to the Elf on the Shelf like I was last year, you might be disappointed when you try to set up your elf in lots of fun poses.  The doll on its own flops around and doesn’t do more than, well, sit on shelves.  But, with a little bit of wire and trickery, our Felix the elf was climbing the curtains in no time.

(By the way, I saw about 100 tutorials for this online, so please don’t think I am creative enough to have thought of this myself. I just wanted to be sure that tutorial #101 got posted.  You’re welcome.)

Step one is gathering some simple tools:

  1. Wire (I purchased some beading wire at A.C. Moore)
  2. Scissors to cut the wire
  3. A seam ripper or small scissors to make your incision (scalpel, please)
  4. Your elf

Next, pull out two or three stitches in the hands and feet of the elf.  The wire is skinny, so just make enough space for the wire to slip in.

Then cut pieces of wire that are as long as the arms and legs, creating a small loop at the end so it doesn’t poke through the fabric.  Push the wire in until it is completely hidden by the fabric.

At this point you could sew the seam back together, but I left mine and you can’t really tell.  Call me lazy, but since the kids aren’t supposed to touch the elf, they’ll never know the difference.

Now our Felix the elf is hanging all over the place.

You’d never know he just had wire surgery, right?

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Tasty Tuesday: Turtle Cookies

Despite my lack of food posts around these parts lately, I have been baking and cooking up a storm.  Last week we had my immediate co-workers for a holiday open house (more to come on that), this week we are hosting Chris’ co-workers, and I’ve contributed baked goods to our daycare and office Christmas parties.  Among all the items I’ve made, I think these are the most beautiful.  Behold…

Yes, these are indeed things of beauty.  Chocolate cookies, rolled in pecans and covered in caramel with a chocolate drizzle.  And, really, they aren’t even that hard to make!

If you think you’re interested in making these, read no further and head on over to get the full recipe with beautiful pictures.  Everything you need is there. If you need a bit more convincing, then please follow along with the pictures!

As most cookie recipes start, this one begins by combining dry ingredients (cocoa, flour and salt) and setting them off to the side.

Next you cream the butter with the sugar and add in milk, egg yolk and vanilla.

Combine the butter mixture and the dry ingredients and then taste some of the best chocolate cookie dough in the world.  For real.

The recipe called for chilling the dough for an hour, so I took a nap.  It’s true.  Then I got back to business.  (When I made these a second time I didn’t chill the dough and it worked just as well.  Shortcut!)

Here is where things get a bit messy.  You take your reserved egg whites in one bowl and chopped pecans in another bowl, and then you dip balls of cookie dough into each.  I placed mine on a parchment lined cookie sheet because I am lazy when it comes to clean up.

Before baking, you make a cute little indent in each cookie.  I used a teaspoon.  Then I baked these for about 10 minutes at 350.

The last (and most fun steps) involve melting caramels with heavy cream and filling in the centers.  Then you melt some chocolate chips in a small bag and drizzle chocolate over the top.  Because it looks pretty!

I needed to save my cookies for a party, so I popped them into the freezer for an hour or so before stacking them between waxed paper and storing them in the fridge.  I do recommend eating them still warm, though…my taste test was quite good!

The whole recipe in full detail can be found here, so please do yourself a favor and go make some now!

Oh, and if you’re looking for more holiday baking ideas, may I recommend coconut snowball cookies, chocolate mint wafers, chocolate peppermint chip cookies, or peanut butter chocolate chunk brownies?

What have you been baking this holiday season.  Any good recipes to share?