Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

(fun summer dress: Flourish Boutique)

Are you looking for a unique hostess gift to share for those summer barbecues? Today I am showing how to make DIY Citronella Candles for a fun hostess gift on the Kenmore Blog. Making candles sounds like something an advanced crafter might tackle, but it is one of the easiest projects I have ever done, thanks to my slow cooker. I purchased the supplies in bulk online for this project, but you could also try this on a smaller scale and purchase the supplies for these at your local craft store.

To complete the candle, grab my FREE “Thanks For Letting Us Bug You Printable” to tie on each candle as a thank you for a fun-filled evening.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog today to get instructions on how you can make these DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles with your Kenmore Slow Cooker today!

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Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

As my children grow older, I strive to find more meaningful ways to celebrate holidays. The 4th of July has always been a burst of red, white, & blue through our home, but I can’t say that we have ever spent time together discussing the importance of this day and getting to know the heroes behind what makes the 4th of July so special. Today I want to share with you a fun way you can share about the 4th of July Heroes in your home and a fun way to incorporate their images in your home to make the day more meaningful and festive.

I partnered with Walmart on this project and all the materials you need for this can be found at their store.

To begin, you can select your 4th of July Heroes that you want to talk about. I found this great list for kids that I used to select our heroes to focus upon. I then headed to Wikipedia and found images of each of our heroes and converted them to black & white and saved them on my computer. If you would like to use the same heroes as us, here are the heroes we selected for our project.

George Washington

George Washington

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

John Hancock

John Hancock

Crispus Attucks

Crispus Attucks

John Adams

John Adams

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Once you have your heroes selected, head to the Walmart Photo Site and upload the images there. In addition to having 1 of each image printed in 4×6, also add 1 set of wallets for each person.  If you send these to the one-hour lab, it will be less than $6 for all of them. While you are there, you can also pick up a package of mini-clothespins, a set of notecards for your kids to write on, supplies for this easy flag bunting, and this burlap wreath to decorate with. Since I already had these things in our home, it helps cut down on cost and storage for us this year.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Once you have your images, have kids select which person they are interested in discovering and have them find information about their 4th of July heroes. I challenged my kids to find one or two facts about each hero.  We also read about the first 4th of July and how different is from how we celebrate today.

I am embarrassed to say that I was learning right along with my children and soaking it all in as much as they were. Abigail Adams, for example, was one of our favorite people we learned about. Did you know that she had five kids that she cared for and homeschooled while her husband was away serving his country?  Not only was she passionate about women’s rights, but she was also passionate about equality for all people, whether they were black or white. She helped care for the soldiers in her home (feeding them and treating their injuries), and she even learned how to make her own gunpowder. Emily and I are big fans of Abigail Adams now and all she did for our country.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Likewise, my son loved John Adams and his fun fact was that he thought his teachers, “held him back.” Despite being held back from his true potential in grade school, he passed his entrance exams to Harvard and his parents, who were farmers, gave up several acres of their own farm land to pay for John’s schooling. And, boy, did that pay off! John Adams strongly supported independence from Britain, signed the Declaration of Independence, and negotiated the treaty ending the Revolutionary War. He later became the nation’s first vice president and second president.  This led to a great discussion about recognizing our true potential when sometimes others do not.

Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King referenced Crispus Attucks in one of his speeches? He held him up as an example of black patriotism at the beginning of our nation’s history. Yet, we never knew anything about what he did for our country. I’m so glad we know now.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids
Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

If you have smaller kids, you can share simple facts and have them draw pictures. Clearly, the fact that Abigail Adams rocked it as a mom and had five kids was worthy of a picture. Make this time fun for your kids while acknowledging the sacrifices that so many gave up for our freedom.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Once we were done discussing our heroes, I incorporated these pictures into our holiday decor. I pulled some of the flags off of our bunting and switched them with pictures of our heroes.  I took the items off of my burlap wreath and clipped the wallet images with mini clothespins on the wreath. I hung this in the center of our mirror and added the flag & hero bunting around the frame of the mirror.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

I love these touches to our 4th of July decorating, but I love even more that my kids know about these patriotic heroes.  I hope this idea inspires you to learn more about this holiday and the heroes who made this day possible for all of us.

Happy 4th of July, friends!

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DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster

Friday, May 30th, 2014

DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster Father’s Day is just around the corner and when Kenmore asked me what I could create for a fun Father’s Day gift, I immediately knew that making some delicious grill seasoning mixes would be the perfect gift for this Father’s Day.  Today I wanted to share with you two easy DIY grilling seasoning mixes you can make and package up for your favorite dads!  DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster DIY Grilling Seasoning Mixes #grillmaster We have created these beautiful printable grill seasoning jar labels for your Dad and you can snag all the recipes and details on how to create this fast gift on the Kenmore Blog today! I hope you love this fun food craft as much as I love sharing it with you!

Grab your FREE printable BBQ labels on our blog (just click that link to open). Head to the Kenmore Blog to grab our recipes for these delicious seasoning mixes!

 

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Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I am so excited to share a delicious Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake recipe that you can make using a simple boxed mix, a little food coloring, and a few odds & ends from your pantry. This Rainbow Cake is made in a tube pan, versus a layered cake, and is a fun addition to your St. Patrick’s Day spread.

Walmart challenged me to share a St. Patrick’s Day project that you could create out of items from their store. You may remember my rainbow cakes in a jar that I created a couple of years ago. Now that I am eating gluten-free, I wanted to replicate the idea of a rainbow cake, but I wanted to do it in one pan and I wanted to make it a quicker process by using a cake mix.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

To make a vibrantly colored cake, I want to point out that it is really important to use good icing colors to achieve your rainbow cake colors. Over by the party supplies, you will find professional cake decorating supplies at Walmart. You want to purchase the Wilton Icing Colors. These concentrated gels offer a much brighter color than what you will find over in the baking section of the grocery section. I just use a toothpick to dip in the gel and then swirl it through my cake batter. You may need to do this a couple of times to achieve this level of brightness, but it still will take a lot less than the other brands of food coloring.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

When I decided I wanted to make this cake, I went through tons of tons of cake recipes to figure out how to layer the batter. My inspiration for creating my rainbow arch was from not martha and her Leprechaun Trap Cake that she created a few years ago. Her arch is so much more beautiful than mine. I highly encourage you to read her tutorial for a perfect arch and read mine for a just meh arch. That being said, do prepare this in a tube pan versus a bundt pan to achieve the best arch. 

Do you have a digital scale? I highly recommend purchasing one because it will make projects like this a million times easier. I have had mine for many years and I use it for both weighing packages and as a food scale! Be sure to tare it with the bowl on top to begin your measurements each time.

I used the measurements outlined by not martha for measurements for my batter:

  • 6 ounces – red
  • 5 ounces – orange
  • 4 ounces – yellow
  • 3 ounces – green
  • 2 ounces – blue
  • 1 ounce – purple
  • The remainder of the rest of the batter, leave it white.

To scoop batter into the bowls, I relied upon an ice cream scoop to scoop it into the bowls on the scale. To make pouring the batter easier, place the cake batter in a baggie in a tall glass and hang the opening over the sides of your glass. Pour your batter in and then seal the baggie. Just snip a corner of the baggie to begin pouring your batter into the pan.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

Gluten-free cakes tend to be more delicate so you definitely want to let this fully cool before trying to work with it. The side that has all the beautiful vibrant colors is not the top of the cake. It is the bottom of the cake. I accidentally iced this side so don’t make my mistake. If you find that your cake is puffy on the bottom, use a serrated knife to even it up a bit so your cake is not lopsided.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I posted a picture of this cake as I was glazing it on Instagram. To quote myself, “I never go easy on the sprinkles. I consider them the jazz hands on my desserts.”

Who quotes themselves? Sorry about that!

Glaze and sprinkle this cake liberally!

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I was disappointed that I had iced the wrong side and that my purple didn’t get perfectly centered. I think it is one of those cakes that might take a little more practice. My friends didn’t seem to notice or mind my errors though because this was one yummy cake! I doubt your kids would notice or care either. It might be a fun one to try together!

I hope you love it as much as we did and I hope this tutorial helps you while you make your own gluten-free rainbow cake!

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free rainbow cake perfect for celebrating St. Patrick's Day
Ingredients
  • 1 Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (over by the gluten-free ingredients in the candy aisle of your store, not in the baking aisle)
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 package of Wilton Gel Food Colorings
  • 1½ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons milk (or milk substitute)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Rainbow Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan liberally with cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add cake mix and blend completely.
  3. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and beat until completely blended. The batter will be thick.
  4. Divide your batter into eight bowls using the measurements in this post and tint accordingly.
  5. First pour the larger amount of white batter into the pan. Then pour the red batter in, making it a wide ring of batter. Then pour the orange over that, keeping it inside the red. Pour in each color, creating smaller and smaller rings.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, testing with a toothpick to check when the cake is done.
  7. Once the cake is cooled, prepare your icing.
  8. Melt the butter and add to rest of ingredients. Mix until creamy.
  9. Spoon the glaze over your cake and finish with rainbow sprinkles.

Enjoy this tasty treat with a DIY Shamrock Shake and our free St. Patrick’s Day straw printable!

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Our Favorite Hot Cocoa Mix

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Hot Cocoa Mix

4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4 ounce) package instant chocolate fudge pudding

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. If a finer consistency is desired, you can pour the mix into a blender or food processor and run it through that. Store in an airtight container. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup (depending on your cocoa preference) of the mix to an 8 ounce mug of boiling water.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Mix in walnuts, if desired.

Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

A Shift Towards Holiday Traditions

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

With the economy in crisis, I have been getting a lot of questions on how families can celebrate the holidays when they don’t have the money to have the Christmas that they have been dreaming of. It can be stressful as a parent to not be able to have the holiday that you envision for your children, but a change in perception for the holidays can go a long way. You see, regardless of the economic turmoil, the holidays will never change for our family because our focus has turned to traditions rather than gifts.

When you make the switch to focusing on family traditions, there is a lot less stress in your life worrying about the gifts under the tree. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about? For me, it is all about family, about creating memories for my children that they will never forget, and it is about the love that they feel from us as parents.

Here are some of the ways we have made traditions more important than presents:

Special Holiday Meals

For me, the holidays are when I get to spend oodles of time in the kitchen with my children. We do special holiday meals that the kids can really look forward to and enjoy participating in.  We go to lots of holiday gatherings and do our own holiday food traditions where we center our time around activities in the kitchen rather than time spent in the stores. My hope is that my children will remember getting to be a part of this time spent preparing food together, just as I remember spending time in my grandmother’s kitchen making her Christmas cookies.

In our family, each Friday night in December, we make a homemade pizza and bundle our children up for an evening of looking at the holiday lights in the neighborhoods. We blast the Christmas carols on the radio and bring along popcorn for them to snack on while they enjoy all the beauty of the Christmas lights. To make it more fun, we let them pick their favorite pajamas to wear and they think this is hilarious to get to wear their pajamas in the car.

On Christmas morning, I make cocoa and gingerbread waffles for the kids. As a special treat, I shape the tubes of store-bought cinnamon rolls into a Christmas tree shape and tint the icing green for the tree. We eat this together after we open the presents and the kids look forward to it each year.

While these traditions might not sound like much, our children look forward to them each year and we get just as excited as them for these special meals.

Caring for Others

Instead of focusing on ourselves, we try to do things for others around the holidays. We are gathering items for a donation to our shelter and we plan to bring the children there to help be a part of the giving. We are trying to teach them just how good giving feels and how fortunate we are to have what we have. Growing up, we used to donate our time to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate and I have never forgotten this. The gratefulness in these people’s eyes and the rush of euphoria I felt when I could do something for someone else has always stuck with me. I want my children to experience this just like I did and realize how much better it is to give than to receive.

We also do boxes of treats for people who have been good to our family or cared for us in some way- our teachers & staff, our extended family, and even service workers.

I highly recommend, if you have little children, taking the time to visit your fire station with a box full of goodies. First of all, seeing the faces of the firefighters light up when they see all of your treats is a treat in itself. More importantly though, is the light in your children’s eyes when they take them around to show them the fire engines. This is one of the best days of playing Santa I have every year.

Filling the Stockings with Love

On the first day of December, I try to set out a basket and small slips of paper. Each person in the family is supposed to write something about someone else in the family that they appreciate about them and stick it in each other’s stockings. On Christmas morning, we have something fun to look forward to opening, which centers on family rather than gifts. If you have smaller children, have them draw pictures for each family member and jot down the sweet things they say about their family members. It is truly a highlight of my Christmas morning and brings us all closer together.

Countdown to Christmas

Each year, I collect Little Golden books all year long for a countdown to Christmas for the children. I wrap them in newspaper with ribbon and we open one for each day of December. The books are bought at the thrift store for a quarter each and we read them each day until Christmas. Similarly, you could do a countdown to Christmas with a small treat or candy, an Advent calendar countdown, or another small token to let the kids know when Christmas is coming.

We also do a Christmas jar of fun activities for each day of December. We fill it with fun and free activities- making a snowman, watching a holiday show on television, making a holiday ornament- anything that is inexpensive and fun for us to do together as a family.

These are just suggestions for ways to make the holiday more special and more focused on your family rather than a store-bought Christmas tied up with an expensive bow.  Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to document these memories in some way so you can share them with your children. I started a holiday journal for the children and tucked in a copy of their sweet letters to Santa, their favorite holiday recipes, our holiday photo each year, and jotted down their favorite memories from the year.

My goal is to only leave my children a legacy of holiday memories, not a legacy of stuff under the tree.

Gingerbread Waffles

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some to butter the iron
  • Syrup, whipped cream or fresh fruits for topping, to pass at table

Preheat waffles iron. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in pumpkin, milk, molasses and melted butter. Stir the wet into dry until just moist. Do not overstir the waffle batter. Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook 4 waffles, 4 sections each. Serve with toppings of choice.

Becoming a (Gift) Wrap Superstar

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

There have been times in my life where I have relied on a gigantic roll of pretty wrapping paper and sticky bows to complete my wrapping, but those days are long gone now. I find wrapping gifts to be a fun and inexpensive challenge! There are so many unique ways that you can wrap your gifts and none of them have to cost a lot to accomplish.

Here are some budget-friendly ways to wrap those gifts and make you look like a total wrap superstar:

  • I love to hunt for wallpaper when I do my thrift shopping because it is such a beautiful (and durable) way to wrap your gifts. Hunt for patterns that can double for your holiday wrapping and for all of those other special occasions. I can usually find huge rolls of wallpaper for a dollar or less and it lasts me forever. You can make each gift unique by switching the colors and styles of your bows and use this paper for years to come.
  • Wallpaper borders are also a wonderful way to wrap your gifts, particularly for the small jewelry boxes or for recovering small gift tins. This size is perfect and is much easier to handle when wrapping these tiny packages.
  • Maps can be a really unique way to wrap those gifts. When visiting in different cities and areas, be sure to pick up some maps from the visitor’s bureau and save them for wrapping your presents. To make gifts more personal, save maps from your special trips or places that you would like to remember. Likewise, you can save maps from the recipient’s local area and wrap them in that. Maps can also be printed for free from places like Google Maps or MapQuest.
  • Save your paper grocery bags and use these to wrap your gifts. You can leave the packages plain or use rubberstamps and stamp up the paper with the holiday theme.  I find loads of great stamps from local yard sales and you can also find these cute stamps in the dollar section of craft stores.  Tie the gift with jute twine or with some raffia to make the gift look complete.
  • Newspaper is a great way to wrap gifts and can also be tailored to the recipient. For example, I love to wrap children’s gifts in the comics section of the paper.  This is a fun and frugal way to wrap their gifts and, let’s face it; kids do not care about the expensive gift wrap anyway. Likewise, you can use different sections of the paper to go along with that person’s particular interests.  For my favorite finance guy, I love to wrap the gifts in the Business section and add a Monopoly Money gift tag. Similarly, a foodie might enjoy a gift wrapped in the Food section and a whisk tied to her gift. Go nuts with the themes- it makes your gifts completely unique and more interesting to open.
  • If you have children, have them get in on the decorating fun. Let them decorate computer paper or large sheets of construction paper to wrap your gifts in. Have them help make a cute gift tag to go along with the gift. These are fun for grandparents and make them feel even more special when they receive a gift like this. Sometimes little things like this show more of the involvement from the entire family, then just the adult handing them a gift. Consider it your child’s contribution and bask in the grandparent’s glowing compliments!
  • A deck of cards are great for making cute gift tags. Is your dad the prankster in the family? Give him the Joker card! Does your mom think she is the queen of the castle? Give her the Queen card!  Take a hole punch and loop the tag through some ribbon to attach it. These are much more fun than a premade tag and can be fashioned to your family member’s personalities.
  • Save the greeting cards that you receive and make new gift tags out of them. I save cards that I receive that have interesting pictures on them for these kinds of occasions. You can hole punch them and loop them through with ribbon or mount them to cardstock and add an extra layer with stamps around it.
  • Gift tags can also just be handmade with a pair of jagged scissors and cardstock. Use different stamps and colored markers to make your messages.  These are much cheaper than buying those sticky gift tags and make your gifts stand out a little bit from the rest.
  • Gifts can also be wrapped in fabric that you might have lying around or can be purchased from the thrift store for mere quarters.  You can easily make a no-sew bag using hot glue and the fabric. Leave the top of the bag open and tie it up with a little bit of ribbon. This would be a great way to wrap items that tend to be more difficult to wrap because of their odd shapes.
  • Don’t forget that your gift itself can also be used to wrap your present. For example, a pretty scarf can be used to wrap a new pair of gloves or an apron can used to wrap a new dishtowel set.  Look at your gifts as wrapping elements and see how you can use them.
  • Add a special element to finish off your gift that you have found when doing your thrift shopping or when you visit the dollar store. For Christmas, I love to find mini-ornaments to use to decorate my gifts. For other occasions, you can tie something little that goes along with the theme of the party. Be creative and it can add another dimension to your gift. Binkies and rattles, for example, can be a cute on the outside of the gift, and can double as an additional present.

There are so many great and fun ways that you can wrap your gifts and once you learn to become more creative with your wrapping, the possibilities are endless!

Honey Butter

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Source: Recipezaar.com

This is great smeared all over everything! It has been a wonderful addition to my recipe collection!

Honey Butter

3/4       cup   honey
3/4     cup powdered sugar
3/4     cup butter or margarine, softened
1     teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all ingredients together and store in the refrigerator.

Pine Cone Cheese Ball

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

This is a recipe for the holidays. I have provided make-ahead instructions and instructions for serving day.

Pine Cone Cheese Ball

1 package cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Do-Ahead: Mix cream cheese, shredded cheese, and Dijon mustard in a food processor until blended. Shape into a ball and store in your freezer.

Thanksgiving Day: The day before- remove from freezer and allow it to thaw. Shape cheese into a pine cone shape. Stick almond slivers into the cone-shaped cheese in rows, until the ball is completely covered. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with crackers.