Kids Christmas Party

Wow — December slow it down! Between going back to work and just the normal holiday hustle and bustle, my blog is getting neglected. I’m missing it!! So hello friends — I hope everyone is enjoy the season and slowing down to make some amazing memories. We have watched a lot of holiday movies this week. I love the snuggle time.

By the way, where do people come from this time of year? It seems every road, parking lot and store is packed full of people. Then come January the world feels a lot quieter. It’s crazy! Six weeks of crazy I tell ya!

I love the kids parties at school. When the new school year rolls around and the sign ups come out I am all over it. This year I was able to sign up to run the Christmas party for my youngest and Valentine’s for my oldest. Christmas is around the corner so I have created a Pinterest Board to help compile fabulous crafty ideas. Some are arts and crafts and others are cute food ideas. Some of you might be planning holiday parties as well so I wanted to share some of my fun finds with you! I should mention that the other person helping me run this pretty much said she didn’t have ideas and would love to hear mine. Um ok!! 😉 I can handle that! Here are a few fab crafty ideas that I am hoping to do this season — either in the classroom or out. Also, my son is in second grade so I am gearing it towards that age group.

 

  1. I love this Christmas cheese platter. It’s filled with tomatoes and cheese with pretzels as the stem. Of course you could serve more pretzels on the side.
  2. Of course snack time wouldn’t be complete without these sweet sandwiches.
  3. This idea for Grinch Floats using green {guessing lime} sherbet and sprite is so fun!! I can’t find the original source though — if you know of it, please do share. I’d like to give the credit where it belongs.
  4. These reindeer munchies are giving me the munchies!!
  5. Kids love cupcakes and these wreath cupcakes also have candy. Yum!
  6. I love this chocolate donut reindeer. They are simple yet so cute!

 

I love crafts. I think it is super sweet to make them nostalgic so little projects that involves handprints melt my heart. Kids grow so fast .

  1. These cute reindeer handprints are on the top of my to do list..
  2. If you have some scraps of fabric {I do!}, just add cinnamon sticks and you have these cute lil’ trees. Plus they will smell yummy!
  3. Another great craft using up old fabric or even some ribbon are these snowman clothespins. You could add a magnet to the back to make it easy to display {and hold stuff like letters from Santa or Christmas Lists!}
  4. I love these beautiful swirled paint ornaments. I happened to pick up some glass bulbs at a great price at Michaels last week. Just in case it’s a project we decide to do.
  5. For something pretty easy and with very little supplies needed, how about a pom pom pinecone? All of a sudden you’ve created a mini tree
  6. Reindeer Food is a must in our house. I adore these sweet little tags to go along with them. Hint: These also make fun gifts for the neighborhood kiddies!

If you are on Pinterest, pop on over and check out my Kids Christmas Party board. I have a whole bunch of other goodies on there that I didn’t share in this post.

Do you have any must do crafts for the season? How about must eat treats? I’d love to hear about them 🙂

 

Day 13: 31 Days of Being Present

Today is a ‘marathon day’. Nope, I do not run. Only if someone was chasing me would that be happening 😉 What it means is we are running from one event to the next. First Starbucks {mama needs her fuel}, then soccer, home for a short while, off to drop off raffle tickets for the kids school Fall Festival, home to pick up my dad and sister and then we are off to see my hubby get his badge pinning for his recent Captain Promotion {yeah Hubby!!}. Of course that will be followed by an early dinner and then the drive home. Did I mention that he works an hour away? Anyway – It’s days like this where it is so hard to be present cause I am in go mode. Already thinking of the next thing to do.

Guess what? I don’t think it matters what I am doing or what is happening in my busy, overloaded little brain today. What matters is my husband and his big achievement. This afternoon is all about him and how hard he works, not only for our family but also at his job. He is a dedicated man and he deserves for me to be 100% present to celebrate HIM. So today I shall be present for my man.

Boo!! Did I Scare You?

I’m a big fan of Booing!! my neighbors. It’s a fun Halloween Tradition that we all get on board for. Have you participated in this tradition? It’s easy and fun.

What you do is pick two neighbors, friends or family to Boo. It doesn’t have to be in your neighborhood although it is fun to see how far it travels. Choose a way to present your Boo. This can be anything you want. I typically use fun Halloween gift bags with matching tissue. Yes, I stay with a theme. It’s the Type A in me!! 🙂 I saw Boo tins in the bargain section at Target today. You could also use a colored bucket which I have seen at Target, Michaels and even Wal-Mart. You could probably even utilize the  Dollar Store for Boo goodies. Now you want to add some treats. This can be sure bought or homemade. It really depends on what you feel like doing. I typically buy items for each child that lives at the house I choose.

Ideas:

  • Candy
  • Pencils
  • Stickers
  • Homemade treats {be aware of allergies though …}
  • I love the Bargain bin at Target. I picked up some glow sticks and funky sunglasses to add to our bags.

It really is up to you to make it fun and creative. Again, this can be as simple or complicated as you’d like.

You also want to add a Boo sign for the recipient to hang on their front door so that everyone knows they have been booed. You also include a note with directions on how continue on the booing. I have created my own in the past but this year I came across a few super cute pre-made ones on the web. I am sharing my finds with you to start your own Boo!

These are what we are using this year. They are from TomKat Studios. I love the funny little monster.

I also found these over at AndersRuff.

This is also a super cute one from Peaches & Mint. You have to request the actual file from her but it’s worth it.

Blog Lovin

Just doing a little networking over at Blog Lovin.

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4062097/?claim=pyrnrgse2ry”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Snickerdoodles

This recipe has been a hit time and time again. At the request of a sweet friend, I am sharing it with you. I made these last week for my son’s birthday treat. He took them to school and the teacher said they are better then a bakeries. Wow, how flattering!! So here ya go — my go to recipe for Snickerdoodles!!!

Snickerdoodles – recipe from cooks.com

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Mix butter, sugar and eggs. Add remaining ingredients. Roll into balls the size of walnuts. Roll in a mixture of 2 tbsp. sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes in 400 degree oven.

Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops with Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions

I made this meal for some sweet house-guests over the weekend {a big thank you for being my guinea pigs :)} It turned out to be a great meal. So many flavors come together to create a mix of savory and sweet. I will say that I used boneless pork chops so my presentation is not quite that of Emeril’s BUT the flavors were great. Read on for a comfort dish to serve your house-guests in the upcoming holiday season.

Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops with Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions

Ingredients

  • 2 cups root beer
  • 2 cups reduced veal stock
  • 4 (16-ounce) double-cut bone-in pork chops
  • 4 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 recipe Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes, recipe follows
  • 1 recipe Caramelized Onions, recipe follows
  • Parsley leaves, for garnish
  • Directions

    To make the glaze, combine the root beer and stock in a medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to a thick syrup, about 1 cup, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the heat.

    Preheat a grill to medium-high. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    Season each chop on both sides with 1 teaspoon of the Essence. Grill for 3 minutes. Turn each chop 1/4 turn to make grill marks and cook an additional 2 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side for 5 minutes.

    Transfer to a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over each chop. Roast until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reaches 150 degrees F, 12 to 15 minutes.

    Place the chops on 4 serving plates and drizzle with the glaze. Spoon the Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions onto the plates, garnish with parsley leaves, and serve.

    Throw a Fall Harvest Party

    OK so this is something I would LOVE to do. I mean really, really, really want to do. Fall obsession happening over here 😉 The house is almost completely “Fallified” {yes, I did just make that word up!!} BH&G just shared a fun little bit on how to throw such an event. Mostly lots of pumpkins and yummy food are needed for this. Having a little bit cooler weather would also be very helpful.

    Source

    Some items needed for a Fall Harvest Party:

    • Crisp weather
    • Falling leaves and lots of them on the ground {leaf angels or jumping into piles of leaves is SO fun for kiddos}.
    • Twinkly lights {for outside}
    • An abundance of gourds and pumpkins for decor.
    • A warm stew or chili
    • Apple cider or this autumn punch
    • Pumpkin and apple treats to share
    • Hay bails as seats — covered with fun plaid blankets {hello thrift store finds!}

    How about this relaxed mismatched table setting?

    Source

    I love the idea of personalizing pumpkins for place settings.

    Source

    You can keep the kids busy with a pumpkin painting station.

    Source

    Have you ever hosted a Fall party??

    Delish Gift Ideas

    I can not say that I have made all of these — I can say that I’d like to though! They all look yummy-delicious! We are slowly rapidly approaching Christmas and what else could be as fun to receive as sweet goodness? I delivered my 1st batch of treats to the neighbors over the past two days. I say 1st batch as I have to deliver to more neighbors but a girl can only get so much done at a time. The way I was taking over the kitchen in my apron with utensils flying and ingredients disappearing was alarming my hubby {OK thing weren’t really flying but I was bustling about at top speeds with mass amounts of cookie sheets, flour, sugar, bowls, etc. and my hubby DID say that I was crazy!} But I know that he likes that holiday craziness that comes over me because he gets to eat lots of fun treats!

    This is what I delivered to 4 of my neighbors and their kiddos. I included lots of goodies, hot cocoa mix with LOTS of marshmallows and of course reindeer food 🙂 Don’t worry — round 2 is coming SOON! No one will be forgotten (should you be reading this post!)

    So a couple of yummy items that I included in my deliveries?

    Yummy item #1: Pretzel Goodies, I shared these previously but oh yum! You can find them here at Family Fun.

    Ingredients
    • Bite-size, waffle-shaped pretzels
    • Hershey’s Kiss or Hershey’s Hug
    • M&M’s candy
    Instructions
    1. Heat the oven to 170F. Set a number of bite-size, waffle-shaped pretzels (one for each treat) in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, then top each pretzel with an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss or Hershey’s Hug.
    2. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes (the white chocolate will melt more quickly), until the chocolates feel soft when touched with a wooden spoon. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and quickly press an M&M’s candy into the center of each Kiss.
    3. Allow the treats to cool for a few minutes, then place them in the refrigerator to set, about 10 minutes. Place handfuls of the candies in clear plastic bags and tie on colorful ribbons.

    Yummy item #2: The first time I made these was for Thanksgiving. WOWZERS! They are seriously delish!! I think they would be really yummy served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I dare you to try it! I found these one day when I Googled “Oreo recipes”. Thank God I did too. They are called Oreo Bar Cookies.I did not add the white chocolate and felt that they were A-OK. Check out Knead to be Loaved for the full story on how these came to be.

    The Ingredients:

    1 18 oz. package of Oreo cookies
    1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
    1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
    1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
    1 cup white chocolate chips, melted

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 325F.  Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil (shiny side down) and give it a good coating of non-stick spray.

    2. Set aside 8 Oreo cookies, and then put the rest in a large food processor. You can use the plastic bag – rolling pin method for turning them into crumbs, too, but you’ll want this as fine as possible, so a food processor helps A LOT. Add the salt to the crumbs and then stir to combine.

    3. Melt the butter and gently stir into the cookie crumbs.  Then, dump the crumbs into the foil-lined pan and press them to the bottom to form an Oreo cookie crust.

    4. In the microwave (or a double boiler) melt the 1 cup of chocolate chunks and the milk chocolate, along with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  Make sure that if you use the microwave, you stop and stir in various intervals to keep the chocolate from burning.

    5. Stir the chocolate mixture frequently until smooth and spread evenly over the prepared cookie crust.

    6. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and the Oreo cookies chunks over the top of the filling. Press down gently into the chocolate topping. Bake for 20-22 minutes oven. I also added a sprinkling of additional semi-sweet chunks, so it looks chunky and chocolatey.

    7.  Take the reserved Oreo cookies and break into large chunks.  Sprinkle over the top of the bar cookies.

    8. Allow the Oreo cookie bars to cool for one hour, then melt the white chocolate chips.  Drizzle the white chocolate over the top of the bars, adding another dose of heavenly chocolate to the  top.

    9. Chill until firm and then enjoy.  These are much easier to eat when they are thoroughly cooled, though I will say that they are also delicious warmed and on top of vanilla ice cream, too.

    Yummy item #3: These goodies from Picky Palate — I used the Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Jo-Jo’s. Now, I am sharing her photo as they look perfect. Mine were a little less pretty but still share worthy 🙂 Please note her pan recommendation. This might be what made the difference between her goodies and mine. I used the pan that I own which is so old, I couldn’t even tell you what the brand is!

    Brownie Covered Oreos

    1 Brownie mix (or use your own brownie recipe)

    1 package Oreos, I used the Holiday ones

    White chocolate, melted for drizzle, or Wilton White frosting pen works great

    White nonpariels Sprinkles

    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare brownie batter according to package directions.  Leave in mixing bowl.  Dip Oreos in brownie batter then place in bottom of cupcake tins that have been generously sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until brownies are cooked through (doesn’t take long).  As soon as you remove, take a plastic knife and run along edges, (this is VERY important so you get the cookie out with brownies not stuck to pan :)

    2.  Let cool for 5 minutes, remove drizzle with melted white chocolate or the Wilton White icing pen, sprinkle with nonpariels and EAT!  Enjoy :)

    Makes entire package of Oreos**Some are having a hard time getting theirs to look just like mine, so here is the exact muffin pan I used.  Apparently all muffin pans are shaped different!!

    Yummy item #4: Hot Cocoa Mix — One of my personal fave things to drink in the winter is Hot Cocoa (hold on — I am gonna make myself a warm mug really quick before I continue}. OK, I am back now 🙂

    Best Hot Cocoa Mix — Family Fun
    Ingredients
    • 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
    • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    Instructions
    1. Measure all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk them until they are evenly blended.
    2. Store the mix in a tightly covered container at room temperature until you’re ready to package it. Makes about 4 cups of mix.
    3. Wrap each filled gift cup in cellophane and don’t forget to include a tag with the following instructions: “Spoon 3 or 4 generous tablespoons of cocoa mix into your cup (depending on the size), add boiling water, and stir well.”
    OK — Now for a couple of items that are on my immediate holiday baking list. And yes, I do like Oreo’s. Obviously 🙂
    Once again Picky Palate makes me drool with these Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookie

    Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

    1 stick softened butter
    6 Tablespoons sugar
    6 Tablespoons brown sugar
    1 egg
    ½ teaspoon vanilla
    1 ¼ Cup flour
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    ½ teaspoon salt
    8 broken pieces Oreo Cookies
    1 Cup chocolate chips

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, and sugars until well combined. Add egg and vanilla until mixed well.

    2. Place flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl, stir to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients then stir in oreos and chocolate chips until just combined.

    3. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until cooked, but still soft. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

    I also HAVE TO make some cranberry almond bark. Bark is such an easy thing to make. I love that it can be broken up and does not have to look perfect.I came across this recipe on All You.

    Ingredients

    • 1  cup  almonds, pecans or walnuts
    • 1  pound  chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1  cup  dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins or sour cherries

    Preparation

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts evenly on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 10 minutes. Coarsely chop nuts and set aside.

    Line same baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place half of chocolate in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat, add remaining chocolate and stir occasionally until smooth.

    Stir nuts and fruit into chocolate and then pour mixture onto paper on baking sheet, spreading 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Let cool at room temperature until set, about 2 hours. (You can refrigerate chocolate to speed process, but chocolate may discolor.)

    Break bark into large, jagged pieces and wrap in cellophane or pack in boxes.

    OK, OK one more!! Then I will leave you to making lists, shopping and getting your kitchen dirty 🙂

    I have always wanted to make meringue cookies but have yet to check that off my bucket list {ha ha ha}. So here is a yummy recipe that I am going to attempt. Wish me luck!

    Double Chocolate Meringue Cookies courtesy of Cooking Light

    Ingredients

    • 1/2  cup  powdered sugar
    • 1/3  cup  unsweetened cocoa
    • 5  large egg whites
    • 1/4  teaspoon  cream of tartar
    • 2/3  cup  granulated sugar
    • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
    • 1/4  cup  semisweet chocolate minichips
    • 1  tablespoon  powdered sugar

    Preparation

    Preheat oven to 300º.

    Cover 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper; secure with masking tape. Sift together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and cocoa.

    Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar and then cocoa mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla; beat until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

    Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets to form 36 mounds. Bake at 300º for 30 minutes, rotating racks after 15 minutes. Turn oven off; cool meringues in closed oven 1 1/2 hours or until dry. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Carefully remove cookies from paper.

    Note: Store cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

    Whatever you might be cooking up this holiday season, do it with love. Happy baking friends!

    The Pirates Are Coming ~ To El Dorado Hills

    Looking for a fun little something to do this weekend? Well I think I might have just the thing! This Saturday, September 18th there will be a very special event happening here in EDH. The El Dorado Hills Library is putting on their 4th Annual Pirate Event at the Library. The event runs from 10am-4pm. There will be a Pirate Village with activities for all ages. You can tour the ship and learn about life on the sea 300 years ago. They also have face painting and you can even utilize that Pirate Halloween costume early. So come on you swashbucklers, join in on the fun! It’s sure to be a great event. Entrance is FREE with your library card.

    Five ways to save a buck

    Are you looking for simple ways to save a little bit of money? Well here are a few little things you can do:

    • Set your thermostat to at least one degree cooler or hotter.
    • Coupons – you can find them in the local papers or check these sites for even more deals:

    http://www.domesticfrugalista.blogspot.com/
    http://myfrugaladventures.com/
    http://www.groupon.com/sacramento/
    http://www.coupons.com

    • Cut back on your cable — do you really need 562 channels? 🙂
    • Reduce: Think about it, is it a need or a want?
    • Cut back on your Latte habit, I know – this one is tough but even a couple less a week adds up to big savings over the course of a year.

    These are a just a few of the simple ways to make some money changing habits and put a little more green in your pocket.

    How do you save money?