To celebrate the holidays the past couple of years my friends and I have gotten together for a cookie party. I usually like to try new recipes along with old favorites and also make enough for my family too. This year the new additions are Fleur de Sel caramels (not really a cookie but still a sweet!) and Turtle cookies. The caramels I had made before as wedding favors and the Turtle cookies just looked delicious so I had to give them a try! I made the caramels first using a recipe on Epicurious as the Turtle cookies called for caramels.
The tricky part of the caramel making is to wait until the sugar browns before adding the cream mixture. In one of my previous attempts I added the cream too early and the resulting caramels were a light tan color rather than a deep caramel color. This time I had success, and after cooling, cut them into bite size pieces.
I sprinkled half of the caramels with Fleur de Sel to make them look fancy:
The other half I coated in semi-sweet chocolate I melted with heavy whipping cream and then sprinkled with Fleur de Sel:
I then wrapped each individual caramel in wax paper and they are ready to enjoy :o)
For the Turtle cookies I followed the recipe on The Kitchen is my Playground blog. These cookies may be my new favorite, they are DELICIOUS!!!! I had to hide them away or they might not have made it until Christmas. I can't wait to share them with friends and family!
I also made sugar cookies and plan to make some pecan ball cookies with recipes found here on a previous post.
I thought it would be fun to make some sort of ornament with Emma for the Christmas tree this year. Knowing she's not too coordinated and wouldn't understand my instructions I needed something easy! I found a pin on Pinterest for salt dough ornaments that I thought just might fit the bill. The dough was simple enough to make, the tricky part would be to get Emma to spread out her hand for me to make an impression of it in the dough. But she did a great job and we ended up getting some ornaments!
For the dough:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
Mix the ingredients together, adding enough water to form a dough. Knead by hand for several minutes to make sure it is well mixed. If the dough is too sticky to work with add more flour, if too dry add more water.
Then roll out the dough pretty thin and make your hand (or feet) impressions and cut out using either a large cookie cutter or glass.
I also used my metal punch set to stamp in Emma's name and the year. And make sure to use a straw or some other sort of instrument to make a hole to string ribbon through your ornament for hanging!
The first round I rolled the dough out too thick and when I dried them in the oven they puffed up a lot as you can see here, the one on the right puffed up deforming the hand shape a little :
So I started over and rolled the next round a lot thinner and it worked better as you can see from the hand print on the left. I also made sure to prick the dough over the entire surface with a pin before baking. To harden the ornaments bake at 200F for 3 hours.
I painted the dried ornaments with craft paint and glitter glue to outline the hand prints, as you can see from the dough picture above, the impression was not that visible but painting helps to define the print. And I used a sharpie to help define the name and year stamp.
I then sprayed both sides of the ornament with gloss spray paint, strung some ribbon through the hole, and hung them on the tree!
I had some left over dough so I used cookie cutters to cut out some shapes and let Emma have some fun finger painting (which consisted mostly of me putting paint on her hands and letting her grab the ornaments). I thought these would be cute little gifts for family from Emma :o)
We DIY'd our Christmas card this year since we had a cute little family addition. A little after Halloween we took family pictures in the backyard. I knit Emma a red and white striped beanie and put some red overalls on her and we were all set. It's really difficult to get a good picture of everyone when one person hates being in photos (me) and you have a baby interested in everything around her. We did get a few good shots, and most importantly a cute one of Emma!
I ordered through Shutterfly online which I've used for photobooks before. I chose a card template, uploaded our pictures and it was as easy as that. Within a couple weeks we had our cards ready to send out to friends and family :o)
Since this is Emma's first Christmas I thought it would be fun to start traditions that we could continue each Christmas. A while back either on a blog or maybe Pinterest I came across the idea of gifting the kids pajamas on Christmas Eve so they can wear them to bed that night and wake up Christmas morning in new pajamas. I thought that was a fun idea and I even remembered to do it this year which is a miracle considering that I have been operating on little sleep the last 6 months! I don't know if kids will find this as exciting but I thought it sounded fun!
So a few weeks back there was a sale on pajamas on Carter's website so I ordered Emma cute red and white striped footsy pajamas. They have a Santa face on the backside and little Santa faces on the feet. Emma actually wore them a little early as our local baby store had Santa pictures last weekend and the kids were supposed to wear pajamas.
Since Emma will have on her new pajamas on Christmas Eve when Santa will actually be stopping by I figured for her Santa pictures she should be wearing them too, to keep things real you know, haha. Brian actually got to dress up as Santa for the pictures although his face won't be visible. The photographers came up with the idea to have a parent dress as Santa to get a Santa picture without tears for younger kids. So Brian put on the Santa outfit and I tried to get her to smile so hopefully we have a few good photos to share soon!
I also thought it would be nice if we read a story on Christmas Eve with Emma in her new pajamas and what better story than "The Night Before Christmas!". I found a really nice copy with beautiful pictures on the Barnes and Noble website on sale. When it arrived I wrote a short inscription inside the front cover and wrapped it up with the pajamas.
Here are her cute pajamas, they say "My 1st Christmas" on the front :o):
And "The Night Before Christmas":
And I wrapped the arms around the book in a hug :o)
The book will be something we can read every Christmas Eve. I also thought it might be fun to take a picture each year reading the book as new kiddos join the group and include those inside the cover. Christmas will be so exciting now with a new little one to celebrate with!
As this year will be Emma's first Christmas I decided to try my hand at sewing her a Christmas stocking. I initially bought fabric at Joann's I thought was fun and something that she would enjoy as she grew up, i.e. nothing too childish since I wanted her stocking to be something she used for many years. After making the stocking I decided I wanted it to be slightly larger so it was back to the drawing board. But instead of beginning again with what was left over of the fabric Brian claimed that stocking as his own so I had to find new fabric for Emma's stocking AND now I had to make stockings for the WHOLE family. But it all worked out because I found really cute Christmas bird fabric I liked even better for Emma on QuiltHome.com. For some reason birds make me think of Emma, like Snow White or something :o)
And here you can see how all our stockings turned out. Most of the fabric I bought at Joann's but the fabric for Emma's and the cuff on Bailey the cat's came from QuiltHome.com. And since we don't have a mantel, the knobs on my desk will have to do for hanging.
To make the stockings I found a tutorial online along with a pattern on the Fabric Worm blog. The following photos are of the initial stocking that is now Brian's. I printed and cut out the pattern and then laid it out the in the approximate size I wanted.
Then I filled in the gap with a sheet of paper:
And then cut the addition to follow the curve of the stocking, making the top piece a little wider than the original pattern:
For Emma's stocking I not only made it longer as shown in the pictures above but also about an inch wider on each side.
Here is a picture of the fabrics I used. The batting I had on hand from another project I never got around to and an off-white muslin for the lining (I forgot to add the muslin for the picture, but it's just a plain fabric).
I then cut two stocking shapes out of each of following: the red and green Christmas fabric (so the two good sides would have toes pointing in opposite directions), the muslin lining, and the batting.
I then sandwiched the Christmas fabric, right sides together, between two batting pieces and pinned everything into place. Next I sewed the pieces together with a 1/2 inch seem allowance leaving the top of the stocking open.
After I finished sewing the batting to the Christmas fabric I trimmed some of the excess batting around the toe and heel for easier turning of the stocking right-side out. Then I pinned the lining pieces together and sewed them with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Brian took an action-shot of me actually sewing the lining together at this point.
Leaving the seam on the outside of the lining (no turning inside out), I then stuffed the lining into the stocking between the two pieces of batting (so the seam is now hidden).
For the cuff, I wanted it to be a little longer than what the tutorial called for so I measured the fabric to the desired length.
I then cut batting to that length and followed the instructions on the Fabric Worm tutorial by sewing the short sides of the dot fabric together with the batting along half.
I then folded the dot fabric down around the batting so the batting was sandwiched between the folded dot fabric. (The Fabric Worm tutorial explains this a bit more clearly with pictures.) The cuff was then stuffed into the stocking with the raw edges of all fabric, lining, batting at the top. I had to adjust the seam allowance on the cuff a couple times before it would fit flat in the stocking without any bulges. I also added a loop of green ribbon for hanging, placing the ribbon loop-side in to the stocking between the lining and cuff fabrics along the back seam of the stocking.
I then sewed all the pieces together. At this point the stocking was very thick so make sure you are using a sharp needle on your sewing machine. My needle was a bit old so had a hard time piercing all layers of the fabric (the needle actually bent and I had to replace it!). After everything is sewn together, flip the cuff out and fold it over the stocking and it is ready for hanging.
I bought some iron-on embroidered letters to add names to all our stockings. The larger letters for Emma's name were individually purchased from Joann's and the smaller letters for "Mom", "Dad", and "Bailey" came from Michael's on an alphabet sheet of letters.