Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 13 of 2013

What a great year 2013 has been.
Neither of us moved, which is a first in a while, so we are feeling more stable. We've enjoyed meeting new friends and neighbors, growing gardens and of course crafting whenever we get the chance. 

Here are our top 13 posts posted in 2013 (based on viewership).

As you can see, we've been eating well, playing smart, decorating creatively and dressing for joy around here! We hope your 2013 treated you well and that 2014 will be even better. And of course, we hope that your days are full of everyday art. 


Friday, December 20, 2013

Gingerbread House Idea: Healthy Gingerbread House!

I know, I know, you are thinking, "a healthy gingerbread house? What kind of weirdo are you?"
Well, I think it is adorable and I must say, I needed a sugar break. :) 
I first saw an idea similar to this when my oldest was just a toddler and have liked the idea ever since.

I don't really know why, but I truly LOVE making gingerbread houses and do it several times a year if I can get away with it. I also love all the Christmas baking: cookies, cookies and more cookies, candies, chocolates, etc. But we certainly shouldn't eat that much sugar and there really is only so much a person can handle without getting a belly ache.  So, this year, for one of the times we did gingerbread houses, we went a little bit healthier. My 6-year-old was on board with it and said several times, in a cute little awed voice, "ooo, it looks like a little cottage!"

So, it's great for all ages, all taste buds, and all styles, but I think it is particularly great for parents of young kids who have not yet been inundated with sugar mania that you get around the holidays. 
Yes, I was one of those parents: my oldest got berries in her Easter eggs and freeze-dried fruit in her Christmas stocking. There comes a time when that isn't fun for them anymore though, so we've moved past that, but clearly I still harbor a little spot for it in my heart. 

You can see from the picture what we used.
strawberry frosted mini wheats (not the healthiest, I realize, but whatever)
dried cranberries
dried apricots
sliced almonds
frosting (I toyed with the idea of using peanut butter to make everything stick, but in the end decided that it wouldn't harden and everything would slowly melt off of the gingerbread house)

 Have fun with your gingerbread house making!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Chalkboard Quote

I sure have enjoyed having my chalkboard. It has been pleasant to have an inspirational quote or theme up from time to time on the chalkboard--reminding us to be thankful, to speak kindly to each other, or as in this case, to remember the reason for the season.

Typically, I hunt for the perfect quote and stylize the type how I want it, but this month I was lucky enough to find one that I already liked. I used this free Christmas printable from Everyday Kylee &Shay as inspiration. You should go check out their post--they have a handful of really cute Christmas quotes and printables.

Wishing you lots of joy and happiness this Christmas.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Neighbor Gifts- Gift Box Cookies

Last year I found a bunch of new cookie recipes I wanted to try, and since I couldn't decide on which ones to make, I made them all and gave them out as neighbor gifts for Christmas.... well, most of them. We had to sample a few just to make sure they were good. And yes they were. So we sampled a few more and thanks to my indecisiveness and over-baking we still had plenty for friends.

However, I needed a cute, fun, festive, and most importantly inexpensive way to package these cookies. 
Some were for couples, some were for families of 7, and anywhere in between 
so one-size fits all wasn't going to work either. 
Enter Gift Boxes. 
Shirt boxes to be exacts. You know, the ones you get with tissue paper and a new sweater inside. And then you save them thinking you'll use them for presents later. But your kids really don't want clothes as a gift and in the end a gift bag is usually faster so they just sit in your basement. Those boxes.
I just cut them down to size, taped them back together, and filled them up. Once full I wrapped the outsides with strips of scrapbook paper, twine, hemp, ribbon, whatever was handy, and tied on a tag. Wha-la!

No matter how cute the outside is, its still what's on the inside that counts. 
Here's what was in mine...
Lots and lots of cookies and marshmallows to fill in the spaces. The marshmallows make great 'packing peanuts' and keep the cookies from sliding around. 

I have to say these were some of the best cookies ever!!!
 and most of them freeze really well so they are perfect to make ahead for Christmas gifts. 
Okay, here are links to the recipes...

(I think I used dark chocolate instead of white chips in this last recipe, but either way, delicious).

Happy Baking!
....and Gifting