Thursday

DIY Winter Forest Village

At Christmas time I love my home to be filled with lots of Christmas trees and one of my favorites are the simple Swedish Trees.  If you're lucky enough to find them this time of year...let's just say they cost more than they should.  


I found an easy and inexpensive way to make your own little forest of Christmas trees...and it is a fun family project too.  I found the materials for this project in my canning cupboard and at my local Hobby Lobby.


Materials

Small Jelly Jars
Styrofoam Block
Wood Dowels the Size of a Small Pencil
Colored Stain
Hot Glue Gun
Make It Christmas - Tree Branches ($2.99 per pack)
Make It Christmas - Snowballs ($1.99 per bag)
Wire Snips



1.  Cut a small piece of Styrofoam off the block and hot glue it into the bottom of your jelly jar.  (Make sure the piece is small enough that you will have side room for your snowballs.)

2.  Cut your wood dowels into 8 to 10" pieces.  Run one end through a pencil sharpener to make a point for the top of the tree.   Stain dowels with your favorite stain color.  I used weathered oak for mine.  Let dry.


3.  Take the center of a piece of the Make It Christmas tree branches and wrap around the tree twice.  Straighten out flat.  Repeat five times up the trunk.



4.  Use your wire snips to trim the ends of the trees.  Go from large at the bottom to small at the top.  Straighten your branches again.

5.  Push your trunk straight into the Styrofoam piece so the trunk stands tall.  Pull out and squirt a bit of hot glue into the hole and push the trunk back into the hole. Hold in place until cool and firm.  


6.  Fill your jelly cups with the Make It Christmas snowballs and your Swedish Trees are done!




I LOVE these little trees.   I placed two of these in each window of my house along with our Light of Christ candles.  They look so traditional and give a little Christmas cheer to a usually un-decorated place in my house.  I'm making a few more this weekend to give to friends and family. 




Tuesday

Grandma’s Sugar Cream Cookies

Today's gift in the Twelve Days of Giving is our most requested recipe, which happens to be my Grandmother's Sugar Cream Cookie Recipe!  I am not exaggerating when I say it is the best roll out sugar cookie recipe in the land.  Perfectly soft, yet able to handle frosting and all the decorating you want to add.  It is sweet, but not too sweet which pairs perfectly with butter cream frosting. The best frosting for good sugar cookies!

 
Some cookies look pretty, but don't taste so great...and there are those that are so yummy you can't forget them.  Which is why this is the most requested recipe I have.  Anyone who has joined us for Christmas and participated in our decorating party on Christmas Eve has wanted this recipe and a tray of cookies to go home with.  Thank heavens for Grandma's who knew how to make everything sooo yum!  The secret is in the cream...shh!

Grandma's Sugar Cream Cookies

2 Eggs
2 Cups of White Sugar
1 Cup of Melted Butter

Mix the eggs and sugar in a mixer and slowly add the melted butter.

1 Cup of Sour Cream
1 Tsp. Baking Soda

Mix the sour cream and the baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside for five minutes.  The baking soda will puff the sour cream making it super fluffy. (Best secret grandma ever shared!)

1/2 Teas. Salt
2 Teas. Real Vanilla

Add to egg/butter mixture and mix until incorporated.  Add the sour cream and fold in.  

3 to 4 - ish Cups of Flour

Add the flour to this mixture one cup at a time.  You want the dough to hold together and feel like soft and slightly sticky.  Too much flour and the cookies will be "bready".  Too little and they will be flat.  I've made these cookies my whole life in cities all across the country and the amounts of flour vary depending on humidity and what ever magic in in the air.  So add one cup at a time until it is perfect.  Refrigerate for one hour.  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment baking sheets.  Lightly flour your counter surface.  Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness.  Cut lots of fun shapes and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, watching for slight browning on the edges.  

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack until room temperature for frosting!

Grandma's Butter Cream Frosting

1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Butter Flavored Crisco
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
4 ish Cups of Powdered Sugar
4 Tbs. Milk

Cream butter and shortening with an electric mixer.  Add vanilla.  Gradually add sugar one cup at a time beating well on medium speed.  Scrape sides of bottom of the bowl often.  When all the sugar has been mixed the icing will appear to be dry.  Then it is time to add the milk, beating on high until light and fluffy.  

Keep frosting covered with a damp cloth until you are ready to decorate.  Frosting will keep in the fridge.  Re-whip before using again to get extra fluff.  Frost cookies and sprinkle to your hearts content!

(For cakes use two extra teas. of milk for a thinner consistency.)

This recipe has been our family's tradition since I was a child and we only make them once a year for this reason.  I love the shortbread style sugar cookies on the blogs for sure, but this rolled out cookie and it's frosting heaped with sprinkles is one of the best gifts Christmas has to give.  

Merry Christmas 
xoxo

Saturday

Twelve Days of Giving - Christmas Eve Delivery

The best part of the holidays is the gift of giving & we have been so blessed this year by all of you that we wanted to give each of you a gift.  If you are following me on Facebook or Instagram you know we have been giving away one gift each day, but today's gift is for everyone!  I wanted to share the free download for our Christmas Eve Delivery Pillow which also comes with the template for our Holly and Ivy Pillow.  We wish you the happiest of holidays and happy stitching! 

It's time to begin decking the halls and one of my favorite quick projects for adding a big pop of color and warmth are wool appliqued pillows.  If you can cut, glue and go up and down with a needle you can make these!  I have three patterns for you, Swiss Cross, Holly and Ivy, and Christmas Eve Special Delivery.



DIY Wool Christmas Pillows

I have three patterns for you to choose from...or you can make all three!  For these pillows you will need - 
  • 1 yard of wool felt per pillow
  • 16 " pillow form
  • scraps of wool 
  • pom poms for the wreath pillow
  • needle and embroidery hoop
  • scissors
  • fabric marker for tracing
  • embroidery floss to match your wool
  • Aleen's No-Sew Fabric Glue
  • free downloadable pattern from TD Christmas Wool Pillow Pattern Templates

Christmas Eve Delivery Wool Applique Pillow

The first step to making these pillows is of course to gather your wool scraps and cut out the pieces.  I use a fabric marker to trace out my pattern on the wool.  If you are tracing a directional piece such as the truck you will need to trace it in reverse so the most colorful side of the wool shows.  To get the template pieces for these three pillows click on the link above.

Once your templates are cut out you need to place them on the pillow cover.  To make the pillow cover cut a wide strip of the wool 17" wide by 36" long.  This will make a envelope style pillow cover with no need for a zipper or button.  This type of pillow cover works especially great for heavy fabrics such as wool.  Lay your pillow form in the middle of the strip to see where your front borders will be and mark with pins. 


Now it's time to adhere your wool scraps to the pillow front.  Turn your pillow cover right side up and center your design pieces in the marked off front square according to the pattern.  Turn the pieces wrong side up and glue a small strip of Aleene's No-Sew Fabric Glue about 1/4" from the edges and glue onto the pillow background where it belongs. Lightly press into the fabric and let dry.  Continue with the rest of the pieces.


To stitch down the edges of the wool felt pieces, you take a coordinating embroidery floss and stitch a simple tack stitch all the way around.  Your stitches should be about a half inch apart.  Tack down all the edges.  Now let's make the pillow....


To make the pillow cover cut a wide strip of the wool 17" wide by 36" long.  This will make a envelope style pillow cover with no need for a zipper or button.  This type of pillow cover works especially great for heavy fabrics such as wool.  



Fold the left over fabric over the back and pin or clip down wrong sides out.  You can either hand-stitch the sides together or use your trusty sewing machine to make a running stitch up the sides about a 1/4 inch from the edge.  Sew all the way up both sides and turn right side out.  Your pillow cover is now done!  Stuff with your pillow form and fluff.


To make the wreath pillow you will need a 1/4 yard of two different green wool scraps to give a contrast.  Once the front square of my pillow cover was marked, I found a small round salad plate and marked a circle to use as a template for my leaves.  After cutting all of the leaves out, I took them to my sewing machine and using a bright green thread, I stitched a vein into each one.  Then I layered them in different directions and glued them down.  I glued the pom-poms on with Aileen's Fabric Glue as well.


In total these three pillows (Swiss Cross, Holly and Ivy, and Christmas Eve Delivery) took about two hours to put together.  I had my kiddos help glue the pieces on and stitch down the edges.  I like getting them involved with decorating for the holidays.  If you have any questions about these pillows, send me an email and I'll be happy to answer them!  

I hope you have a fun stitching these together and go follow the Twelve Days of Giving on Instagram and Facebook for even more fun and giveaways.  Happy Holidays!!!



Thursday

Happy National Hot Cocoa Day

A few years ago I had a winter wedding for my son and you can't have a winter wedding without a hot cocoa bar.  As I was searching for something fun to add to the bar,  I found a recipe for a rich fudgy treat called Hot-Cocoa on a Stick.  Turns out it was so easy to make and made the richest hot chocolate I'd ever had.  (Ok...I admit I added more than one "stick" to my cup, but that's how I like it!) 

It's basically a thick rich square of chocolate, like a piece of smooth rich fudge and after playing around with several different kinds of recipes...I have found my favorite. I love the plain chocolate, but you can change it up by adding different flavorings such as hazelnut, mint, or irish cream.  However you like your hot cocoa...there is a Hot Cocoa on a Stick for you!


Hot Cocoa on a Stick

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
One 14 ounce Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 Cups of Dark or Milk Chocolate Chips
4 Ounce Bar of Unsweetened Chocolate , Shaved
Vanilla or Flavoring of Choice
Wooden Sticks or Lollipop Sticks
8" x 8" Pan Lined with Parchment Paper

Heat the cream and sweetened condensed milk in a pan over medium heat stirring occasionally until it begins steaming.  Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes, then place back on the medium to low heat and whisk until the chocolate is completely smooth and silky.  Add flavoring of your choice.

Pour chocolate into parchment lined pan.  Spread as level as possible and let sit for 10 to 12 hours.

Remove chocolate from pan and place upside down on a cutting board.  Using a long thin knife cut the chocolate blocks into 1" square pieces.  Tip - Heat the knife in hot water and dry before every few cuts to get a smooth line.  

To finish off your Hot Cocoa on a Stick, add marshmallows, Swedish pearl sugar, crushed peppermints, candies or any other treat you like in your cocoa.  Add a stick or wooden spoon to the top and dust the bottom of each piece with a little cocoa powder.   I like to place the squares in mini-cupcake wrappers to keep them protected. 

These Hot Cocoa on a Stick squares make great gifts too.  Just wrap them in cellophane bags and tie off with a ribbon and they are ready to go.  This recipe makes 36 squares.

To use your hot cocoa on a stick, heat warm milk and cream at a ratio of 3 to 1 and stir until melted!  One stick will be good for 6 to 8 ounces of hot cocoa. You can make these treats ahead of time and refrigerate for up to two weeks.  

To top off the perfect cup of cocoa you have to have whipped cream and marshmallows and why settle for store bought marshmallows when you can make your own.  There are a lot of things I skimp on but homemade marshmallows are too easy and yummy...and fun to make with kids.  I am sharing the Barefoot Contessa Homemade Marshmallows recipe.  I promise they are worth it!


May your holiday be cups be overflowing with chocolate cheer!!!

 
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