Archive for the ‘Printables’ Category

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

I love to create new holiday traditions with my family and today’s project is in honor of the Chinese New Year!  To celebrate, I am sharing a tutorial on how to make felt fortune cookies and a free printable that can be placed on a jar for a special Chinese New Year tradition.

I have partnered with Walmart on this project to showcase a fun project that you can do in honor of the holiday. All supplies for this project can be found at their store!

What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.  The Chinese year 4712 begins on Jan. 31, 2014. A fun fact for this year is that this is the year of the horse.

New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year. Can you just imagine?

According to the Chinese legend,  Buddha arranged a meeting and asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve animals came and Buddha named a year after each one. If you were born in certain years, your personality is supposedly aligned with your animal. Those born in horse years are cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and good with their hands. Since this is the year of the horse, if you have a child born this year, it sounds like you will have quite a talented and delightful child.

There are many great traditions around this holiday that include wearing red clothes which symbolizes fire and drives away bad luck, and a lantern festival, and one thing that Americans really seem to get behind is…

The  FEASTING.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

We are a Fortunate Family

Since the Chinese New Year is about feasting and family, I wanted to create a craft that would work for these two elements of the holiday. I love that many elements of this holiday focus on luck & good fortune. Incorporating this element, today we are making felt fortune cookies, but instead of filling them with predicted fortunes, we are going to fill them with all we are so fortunate for.

Because we are a FORTUNATE family. 

I love gratitude projects and thankfulness for all we have around the dinner table is definitely a tradition that I want my family to embrace.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed

(All Available at Walmart)

Felt Sheets (any color)

3/8″ grosgrain ribbon

Floral Wire

Wire Clippers

Large Mason Jar

Scissors

Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks

1 piece of heavy cardstock

1 piece of white paper & pencil

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make Felt Fortune Cookies

1. Using your ribbon spool or the bottom of your mason jar, trace a circle with a pencil or marker. Cut out your circle.

2. Snip a piece of floral wire, approximately the length of your circle, with your wire cutters. Add a line of hot glue, and place the wire in the center of the glue.

3. Snip grosgrain ribbon the approximate length of your circle and then secure over the wire with a little additional glue.

Felt_Fortune_Cookies_Tutorial-12

4. Fold your circle in half and then bend like a fortune cookie. Repeat the process until you have a jar full of fortune cookies.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

You can enlist your helpers to help make your fortune cookies. Since we have had UNLIMITED SNOW DAYS THAT NEVER END, I have many helping hands. Ahem.

The best part though, is involving them in the gratitude portion of this project. Using the writing prompt,

“I’m Fortunate For…”

Have children write down all the things that make their family special.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Emily said, “I’m Fortunate For…that my family are GRATE dancers.”

What can I say? She comes from a long lineage of family members that just BRING IT on the dance floor!

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Mom & Dad can get in on the fortune cookie writing prompt too. Hopefully your husband doesn’t read this aloud and then ELABORATE endlessly on his AMAZINGNESS.

Awkward.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com. Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

My husband designed this fantastic printable that you can attach to a jar. I just dabbed a little glue on my jar and attached this side. You could also print this on label paper or attach with a little double-sided tape to finish your project. (Grab the printable at the bottom of this post!)

If you are looking for dinner options, here are couple of great ones that I can recommend!

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken

This delicious gluten-free orange chicken would make a fantastic meal!

Peanut Ginger Chicken Noodles

These Peanut Ginger Chicken Noodles are always a big hit!

Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein

And this Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein is fast & easy to prepare!

However you celebrate this holiday, I hope this post offers some inspiration for fun ways to celebrate with your family.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Grab Our FREE “We Are a Fortunate Family,” printable.

walmart_mom_disclaimer

Pin It

A Monster of a Father’s Day Gift: Monster Cookie Bars & Monster Printable Cards For Dad

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Father’s Day is just around the corner & today we wanted to share a monster of a Father’s Day gift with a cute spin on the monster theme with easy monster cookie bars and printable monster cards for a special Dad in your life.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

This week’s challenge from Walmart was to create an inexpensive Father’s Day gift that would wow your Dad. Well, if your dad is anything like our Dad, he is certainly wowed with homemade treats and funny cards with a great sense of humor. Our idea was to mix up a batch of thick and delicious Monster Cookie Bars made with rolled oats, peanut butter, mini M&M’s (found over in their candy aisle), and chocolate chips.

Monster Cookies can be a bit of a monster to create as a drop cookie because of their monster size. I choose to echo the words of an amazing woman I once heard speak these wise words…

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Wise, right?

Bar cookies get a big fist pump from this busy mom and if a celebration requires a cookie, I often rely on these chocolate chip cookie bars to get us through whatever baking requirements are made for those occasions. These Monster Cookie Bars are equally delicious and offer that crusty exterior with that soft interior that makes, in my humble opinion, the perfect cookie.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

What Father’s Day would be complete without a card to accompany your sweet gift? We are so excited to debut these adorable Monster cards that you can print out to attach with your Monster Cookie Bars for your favorite Dad. We have included three fun printable cards for Father’s Day and then 1 that could be used for any occasion to accompany your sweet treat. Print these printables out on white card stock  and you will be all set for this Father’s Day!

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.



Printable Monster Cards from MomAdvice.com.

Download Your FREE Monster Card Printables HERE:

Happy Father’s Day From Your Monster FREE printable card

Your Gift is a Monster! FREE printable card

Eat All the Cookies FREE printable card

We Are Your Spawn FREE printable card

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

I can admit that this family has had Monsters on our brain after getting a sneak peek at the Monsters University movie that is set to hit theaters on June 21st. While our family was at the Disney Social Media Moms conference, we got an exclusive sneak peek at the film. It is FANTASTIC, and dare I say it, even funnier than the first one. I have no doubt that your family will love it!

Our Monster Cookie Bars would really pull together a fun family night out to see this fantastic film and you can find loads of fun Monsters supplies in the party favors aisle of your Walmart store including fun cups, plates, and other party favors for an inexpensive night to enjoy while tackling your summer bucket list or our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest Board.

Now that you have the printables, here is the deliciously easy and tasty recipe for these Monster Cookie Bars. We recommend preparing these in a metal 9×13 pan for best results!

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Monster Cookie Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 15
 
Monster cookies made easy in a bar cookie. Be sure to pair these easy cookies with our free Monster printables.
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups creamy peanut buter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini M&M's (approximately half a bag)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until blended. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Mix in oats until well combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and mini M&M's
  7. Press dough evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown and set in the middle. Let cool completely in baking dish then cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

 Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dad readers (I know you’re out there!) and here’s hoping you get spoiled by a few of your favorite monsters!

Be sure to check back this week for more great Father’s Day gifts on a budget!

 

walmart_mom_disclaimer

Pin It

DIY Book Page Flower Tutorial (With Free Printable)

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

If there is one thing our family loves to do it is spoil our teachers. Today I am sharing how to make book page flowers out of old books to brighten a teacher’s day. I hope you will enjoy this book page flower tutorial and be able to use our free printable to create your book page flowers.

As you know, book page crafts are something that I have recently grown fond of and I wanted to create a bouquet of book page posies that you could share with a favorite teacher. A great way to build upon this thrifty gift is to pair it with a gift card to a favorite local bookstore for your teacher.

Supplies Needed:

1 old book/textbook (I picked one up at Goodwill for $.50- it was WELL loved with loads of notes, yellowed edges, and bent corners.)
Jar or Vase
Grilling skewers
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks
Book Page Flowers Template

Directions:

1. Cut out your five flower petals from the provided flower petal template

2. Begin by pulling out five pages of your book and leave them stacked. Using one of your flower petal templates as a guide, cut out your first petals. Since you are cutting through the stack of papers, you should have five petals cut. Repeat this process with the other four petal templates until you have five of each kind.

3. Using your grill skewer as a paper shaper, roll each of the petals to create curving of the petals around it. I simply rolled these around the skewer, then released them.

4. Pull out another page from your book and tear a strip lengthwise from the book. Just as you would with floral tape wrap, pulling down gently, the skewer with the strip from your page. You may need two strips to cover the entire length. (pictured above).

5. Tear another strip lengthwise and roll this at the top of your skewer to create the center of your flower (just ignore that bare stem!).  I just add a bit of glue at the beginning and then a bit of glue at the end to hold it together. Now you are ready to start adding your petals.

6.  Add a drop of glue almost at the edge of the bottom of your petal and begin with the smallest layer. Add these petals all around the flower center. Repeat this process with the petals the next size up. Repeat again, again, and again until all of the petals are attached to your flower. If the base feels loose at all, add a little dab of hot glue around the bottom of the flower with your hot glue gun.

DIY Book Page Flower Tutorial
7. Finish by placing them in a thrifted jar or vase and spread and fluff the petals of your flowers. Give these to your favorite teacher with a gift card to their favorite bookstore.

Be sure to check back this week for more fun teacher gift ideas!

Pin It

How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity this month as well! 

One more thing, did you know today just so happens to be GIVING TUESDAY? It is the perfect day to start a giving project with your family! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

 

How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

Pin It

St. Patrick’s Day Straw Tags (Free Printable)

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here! Today I wanted to share with you an easy craft that you can do for your kids for a fun St. Patrick’s Day snack. Nothing could be cuter and more festive than these adorable St. Patrick’s Day straw tags that you can add to a twisty straw for the holiday.

This month I have the honor of being the moderator for the new Walmart Crafts Facebook Group. In this group, you can share pictures of the crafts you are working on, ask questions about crafts you might be tackling, and gain inspiration from the other members.  Anyone can join in on the fun and I would love to chat with you over there! Just imagine surrounding yourself with people who are just enthusiastic as you about crafting!

For this week’s project I am sharing with you a way to dress up a St. Patrick’s Day snack for your kids. If you aren’t feeling ambitious enough to tackle my Rainbow Cakes in a Jar, this craft is just as fun and something you can whip up very quickly.

Supplies Needed (Available at Walmart)

Sticko Leprechaun Riches Stickers
Sticko Large Shamrocks
Cardstock (white or green)
Hole Punch
Ribbon (any color)
Twisty Straws

Directions

1. Print out our free St. Patrick’s Day printable (link provided below) on heavy duty cardstock.

2. Cut out your straw tags.

3. Adorn your straw tags with cute shamrocks and/or leprechaun stickers.

4. Slide your gift tag on your straw and tie a little ribbon on top.

5. Place in a glass of milk tinted with green food coloring and serve these up with a big plate of festive cookies.

Grab your FREE St Patrick’s Day Printables here!

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

Pin It

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

I am so excited to begin sharing some new gift ideas for all the people in your life. Of course, if there is one trend that is hot right now it is mustaches. We wanted to jump on the mustache-loving trend and share with you some free mustache templates that can be used to adorn any mug and a free mustache printable for your favorite teachers.

Mustaches can adorn anything from a fun glass beer mug for a great guy gift, to a cute little shaving set for your favorite dad, to a fun mug for your best friend.

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

To begin, there are many ideas for paint that you can use with your mug. You can buy a fine tipped painter’s marker at the craft store and outline and paint your mustache with this and/or you can buy a porcelain paint set (that requires not heat setting), or a porcelain paint that needs to be baked.

With the type of paints that don’t require heat, you are looking for one that has a conditioner, the black paint, and then the gloss. These do not need to be heat set, but do require ten days to set up.

I used a combination of the two. I applied the conditioner, used the paint marker and filled a bit with the black paint, and then applied the glaze to set the paint. I have had great success with the non-heat setting variety, but you can choose whichever type works best for your budget, is already in your craft supplies, or whichever is on sale.

You will also need a beautiful mug for your project. I found these large white mugs for a little over $2 at Walmart. Feel free to visit the dollar store or thrift shop for an inexpensive mug of your choice!

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Begin by applying the conditioner to your mugs and let them dry. This should only take about ten or fifteen minutes.

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Cut, secure with a little tape underneath, trace with your painter’s pen, and fill in your mustache of choice. We have three different options available so you can choose your favorite for your mug.

Let it dry overnight and then apply the glaze over your piece.

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Of course, what fun is a mustache mug without a great printable go along with it? This mustache printable is the perfect sign to adorn any teachers desk.

“Raise Your Hand If You Must Ask (Mustache) a Question,” is a great motto for class. I placed this fun printable in an inexpensive frame that I spray painted red. The mug is filled with a small denominator Starbucks gift card to round out this budget-friendly gift for your favorite teacher.

Get Printing:

Raise Your Hand if You Moustache a Question Free Printable

Printable Dimensions: 8 1/2 x 11″ (can be trimmed for an 8×10 frame)

Print on Heavy-Duty White Cardstock

 

Three Free Mustache Templates

Printable Dimensions: These mustaches are 3″ long

Print On Standard Computer Paper for Tracing

 

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Happy mustache mug making!

What holiday craft projects have you been working on?  Feel free to share any links to what you are working on! Access all of our craft fun on MomAdvice by visiting our Craft Section. Happy crafting, friends!

Pin It

Homemade Peppermint Bath Salts & Oatmeal Cookie Bath Soak (With Free Printable)

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

I was so excited to share this tutorial last year for creating these peppermint bath salts and oatmeal cookie bath for the gift-giving season. These are fabulous little “just because” gifts or a fun pick-me-up for a tired co-worker, friend, or teacher. I even have a cute little printable tag that you can use for decorating these!

Making bath salts and soaks are easy and require little effort on your part. I love to make a giant batch of these and keep them on hand for unexpected holiday occasions like hostess gifts or as a return gift for someone that may have been forgotten on the holiday gift-giving list. These are a thoughtful gift just perfect for a friend that needs a little rest and relaxation during the busy holiday season.

Today I wanted to share with you my favorite homemade oatmeal bath. I call it Oatmeal Cookies & Milk because it blends together the ingredients of an oatmeal cookie with powdered milk to make a soft & soothing bath for anyone who has sensitive skin.

****************
Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath

1 cup cornstarch
2 cups powdered milk
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until it is a fine powder. Just add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your bathwater for a soothing bath.

****************

Once the oatmeal mixture is ground up, it will look just like this. I dumped the entire amount into one jar and it filled it to the top, with just a little leftover.

This homemade oatmeal bath can be packaged with a spoon, purchased from your local thrift store, and a little holiday ribbon. How easy and simple is that?

****************

The next gift I want to showcase is a very festive jar of Peppermint Bath Salts. I took a picture of all of the ingredients needed so you can see exactly what they look like when you go to the store. Don’t you hate it when you can’t picture what you should be looking for?

The kosher salt is over in the baking aisle with the regular salt, the Epsom Salts should be over in the first aid supplies of your superstore or drugstore, and the glycerin will be behind the drugstore counter where you pick up your prescriptions (and can also be used for your giant bubbles in the summer).

Now head to your craft store and go into the aisle where the soap making and candle making supplies are. There you will find colorants to dye your bath salts (you need the package with red in it) and the essential oils needed (for this craft it will be the eucalyptus mint). The last thing you can buy is some peppermint striped ribbon or whatever is on sale and festive will totally do the job!

As for jars, I found those at Big Lots and you can get a dozen of them for $6.50 or check the canning supplies section of Walmart (our store was out). I hope that helps with your shopping list and helps with the visuals for what to look for!

You will need two big bowls for this and a giant spoon to mix with. Don’t you love crafts that don’t require a lot of equipment? Now, empty one bag of Epsom Salts into one bowl. Next add 3 cups of your kosher salt, and stir well. Then stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of your eucalyptus essential oil. Mix well.

In your second large mixing bowl, empty one bag of Epsom Salts and add 3 cups of your kosher salt. Stir well. Next stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of your eucalyptus essential oil. To this bowl, you will add fifteen drops of your red colorant. This will give you a pale and pretty pink bowl of salts. Mix this side really well to incorporate the coloring throughout this batch.

Now grab a 1/2 cup measuring cup and start doing layers to create the peppermint candy look in the jar- a layer of white, a layer of pink, a layer of white, and then a layer of pink. I would recommend filling them on a cookie sheet to catch any runaway salts and to make clean-up a little bit easier. Once everything is filled, you should have 12 jars full and even a little leftover for yourself.

Now tie your gift up with a little festive ribbon and a beautiful gift tag instructing the recipient to put three tablespoons of salts in the bathtub to enjoy a relaxing holiday bath.

****************

Candy Cane Bath Salts

12 tall jelly (12-ounce) canning jars with lid and rings
2 bags of Epsom Salts, 4 pounds each (approximately 16 cups)
4 lb kosher salt (approximately 6 cups is needed, buy two boxes and cook with the rest)
1⁄2 teaspoon glycerin, divided
16 drops eucalyptus peppermint essential oil
15 drops red colorant

Empty one bag of Epsom Salts into large mixing bowl. Add 3 cups kosher salt, stir well. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and eight drops of eucalyptus
essential oil. Mix well. In second large mixing bowl, empty one bag of Epsom Salts, and add 3 cups kosher salt. Stir well. Add 1/4 teaspoon glycerin, eight drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and red colorant. Stir until completely blended. Color should be even. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill canning jars at an angle, layer salts in jars, alternating white and colored mixtures.

****************
Just to make your gifts a tad more festive and to ease the burden of making those gifts, we have included free gift tags to download and print for the holiday season!

Printable Gift Tags

Luckily for you, there will be just a tad too much of both of these bath mixtures to fit into the jars and you will be forced to partake of your efforts. Throw whatever is left in that food processor or bowl and put it into your bath. Now fix yourself a cup of vanilla chai tea, light a candle, and smuggle in a good book or magazine. Promptly, lock the door and pretend like you have no idea how that happened when everyone starts knocking. Enjoy a moment to yourself and relax, you deserve it!

What are some of your favorite gifts to keep on hand as impromptu gifts for the holidays? Please share your ideas and links here!

Gifts You Can Make: Elegant Quick Breads With Printable Gift Tags

Monday, November 30th, 2009


I hope you have been enjoying our Gifts You Can Make series. My hope is that we can offer some fabulously easy gifts that you can make to share with those you love. In case you have missed the past tutorials, we have shared hot drink mixes you can make, homemade bath salts & soaks for gift-giving, and hand painted mugs that you can create with your children.

Today we are continuing the series with elegant quick breads that can be given for the holiday season. There are three things that make this gift a total winner in my book. The first is that they can be frozen ahead of time and stored in your freezer for last minute gifts. The second element that I love about these gifts is that they are quick and you don’t need to be a fantastic baker to achieve success with these recipes. The third, of course, is that they can be multiplied to make several gifts for the holiday season in one afternoon.

Quick breads can be thrown together in a bowl, beaten with a wooden spoon, and made in a matter of ten minutes. Don’t believe me? I timed myself in the kitchen to see how long my hands-on time with these were. In ten minutes, I was sliding two loaves of pumpkin bread in the oven and could tackle other holiday chores around the house. You can’t beat that!


First, you need to choose what type of loaf pan you will be using for your gift-giving. I prefer the disposable loaf pans because it makes it easier to package and place in your freezer and because of the affordability factor. This was a three pack of loaf pans purchased at Walmart (over by the plastic containers in the housewares, not in the baking aisle) and it was $1.56 for the three. You could also check at your local dollar store to see if they have these. I happened to buy them there because I needed milk that day!

With these, the key to keeping things mess-free in your oven is to assemble your loaves on a cookie sheet. Because they are made from a flimsy material, it can lead to a major catastrophe in your oven. If you overfill a loaf pan, the cookie sheet can catch the excess batter and will save you from that horrible burning smell in your oven. Not that this has ever happened to me…nope, not ever!

Other options are those cute mini-loaf pans that you can find for $1 at Michael’s in festive holiday colors. You would need to reduce the length of baking time to adjust for these, but they can be a cute way to package those gifts.

I want to start with my favorite loaf of bread to whip up for the holidays and that is my Spiced Pumpkin Bread. I keep cans of pumpkin on hand all year round to make this bread because it is such a favorite in our house. It comes out perfectly every single time and is a favorite even with those weird pumpkin-haters in the family. To date, I have already made eight loaves of pumpkin bread this month and I think our family has ate six of them. It just goes to show that this recipe is a true winner for the holidays! It also goes to show why my New Year’s resolution will be to starting working out more.

****************
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.

****************


For a different spin on quick breads, I adore making a loaf of Cinnamon Delight Bread for the holidays. The unique thing about this bread is that sprinkled on the bottom of the bread is a cinnamon and sugar coating to line the bottom of the loaf. This is a sweet little surprise at the bottom that makes a deliciously yummy bottom cinnamon crust. While I will be the first to admit that this loaf isn’t the most amazing looking loaf, one slice of it and people will be begging for the recipe. Enjoy showing off your cooking skills with this delicious treat!

****************
Cinnamon Bread Delight

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 large package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt 2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Grease 2 5×9 loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Sprinkle the bottoms of the pans with cinnamon sugar and divide the batter between the 2 pans. Bake 1hr or until a toothpick comes out clean.

****************

My new favorite bread this year is our Light Banana Oat Bread. What makes this bread special enough for the holidays is the beautiful oats that decorate the top of the loaf. It is the perfect way to use up those ripe bananas and make a gift in the process. Banana bread is always a favorite in our house because it is a thrifty treat that is loved by just about everyone!

****************

Deliciously Light Banana Oat Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mashed banana (approximately 2 1/2 per loaf)
1/3 cup buttermilk (I substituted with half & half with 2 tsp of vinegar to sour)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine banana, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a small bowl or measuring cup. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, in the pan, for about 15 minutes (I left mine in longer and it was fine). Remove the bread from the pan after 15 minutes and cool thoroughly on the rack.

****************

Packaging your bread for gift-giving is super easy. I love to find ribbon with some wiring in it to get a beautiful bow that will stand to attention. One note about selecting ribbon is to look for ribbon that isn’t glittery, if you plan to leave your loaves exposed instead of wrapping and freezing them. Glitter from the ribbon can come loose and scatter across the top of your loaf. Again, this has never happened to me…nope, not ever!

For packaging, cover the bread with a little plastic and wrap your ribbon around the outside. To make packaging even easier, we are including a free download today for beautiful (and did I mention free?) gift tags that you can add to label these loaves.

Free Gift Tags for Quick Breads

Isn’t it great when one day can easily yield ten beautiful gifts to give! Share these quick breads at your next holiday potluck, as a hostess gift, a sweet teacher gift, or for all of life’s little helpers (hairdressers, newspaper boy, postal worker, neighbor, bus driver, etc…) Trust me, they won’t stay in the freezer long and everyone will remember your delicious handmade gift!

****************

Quick Freezing Guidelines For Quick Breads

– Make sure your bread is completely cool before wrapping it or putting it in the freezer. To freeze, wrap securely in aluminum foil, freezer wrap or place in freezer bags. Label all packages with the name of the recipe and date. Use within the recommended storage time (up to 3 months) for the best flavor and texture.

****************

Do you have a favorite quick bread recipe to share or a secret to great packaging? Please share here!

Pin It

New Printable: Weekly Menu Planning Sheet

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009


I am so excited to share with you that we have a new printable available for you to use on our site. It is a Weekly Menu Planner that you can use to jot down your meals for the week and even has some room for snacks, lunches, and breakfast. I hope it will help make menu planning easier.

If you have other ideas for printables that you would like to see on here, please let us know. My web designer (also known as my husband) might be able to squeeze in a few more here and there!

If you need more ideas for menu planning be sure to visit the resources list and check out the podcast for more discussions on simplifying our home management routines!