Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Wrapup

I honestly can't believe it's the last day of 2013. This year went by faster than any other. I'm not even sure how I feel about it just yet, and I certainly haven't had time to do an entire wrapup post like all the other bloggers out there who are evidently 100 times more organized and prepared than I am. For this and similar reasons, I have a lot of changes in mind for 2014, but I'll get into that in a later post. For now, here's a typical monthly wrapup post.

Lately I've been:
  • cleaning up the after-holiday mess around my house
  • trying out all of my new kitchen gadgets I got for Christmas
  • planning lots of new things for 2014

Goals for January:
  • make more food at home so I spend less money at McDonald's -__-
  • get completely organized for the new year
  • read more books

Favorite posts from December:

What have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Easy M&M Holiday Bark

This is a new thing I tried making this year. I usually do some kind of candy bark, so this year I decided to use red and green M&M's for a little festive look. It's so easy that it's almost not even fair.

What you need:
  • 1 package dark chocolate chips
  • 1 package vanilla chips
  • 1/2 package holiday M&M's
  • red and green candy coating

Start by melting the dark chocolate and then coat the bottom of a cake pan or cookie sheet with edges. Do the same with the vanilla and pour it over top of the dark chocolate. Before it dries, sprinkle the M&M's over the top of the vanilla. Melt the candy coating and spoon it over the bark in whatever kind of design you want. Put it in the fridge to cool overnight. Then break it up with a knife or a mallet or whatever. (that part is really fun)

It's super rich but it looks awesome on cookie trays and let's be real who doesn't want chocolate on chocolate on chocolate at Christmastime?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Home Alone Embroidery

This is my last holiday project of the year I think. Probably. Maybe. I don't know. It's not a DIY project, because I don't really know how to embroider that well myself, much less explain it to other people. But despite the utter sloppiness of this project, I'm pretty proud of it and just wanted to share it. So here you go.

Now when people leave my house, this will be their goodbye. Now I'm going to watch Home Alone for the fifth time this season. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Corn Flake Wreaths

This week, I got together with my mom for our annual baking marathon. The goal is to make as many cookies and other sweets as possible and try not to eat all of them ourselves before Christmas. This is the first of a few recipe/tutorial posts stemming from our baking marathon, and it's one of my favorite treats we make pretty much every year.

What you need:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 package of marshmallows
  • green food coloring
  • almond extract
  • about 5 cups of corn flakes
  • sprinkles for decorating

As you can probably tell, all of the measurements in this are approximate, since we've been making these for so long and don't actually do much measuring. But they're pretty hard to mess up so you can definitely make them work for you.

Anyway, the concept is pretty similar to that of rice krispy treats. Start by melting the butter in a large pot, then add your marshmallows and stir until melted. Add a small splash of almond extract for added flavor, and then add a few splashes of green food coloring until the mixture is a medium/dark green. Slowly add the corn flakes and stir until they are completely coated with the marshmallow mixture. Add more corn flakes if there is any extra marshmallow mixture.

Take a small spoon and put little mounds of corn flakes onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Shape them into little wreaths, but you may need to cover your fingertips or tools in a little bit of margarine first so that they don't stick too much. Decorate them with sprinkles or red hots or whatever else right away. Then put them in the fridge to cool. They look really festive and are really delicious!

Do you have any favorite holiday recipes you make every year?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

DIY Let It Snow Garland

I keep saying I'm done decorating for Christmas but then I just keep going. So here's my latest project, which is kind of similar to this earlier felt letters garland, but a little different.

What you need:
  • white felt
  • scissors
  • hot glue
  • blue embroidery thread and needle
  • white pom poms

Cut your white felt into nine small white flags. Mine are about two inches tall. Then start cutting letters out of the center of each one. You can use a template if you have one, but I just eyeballed each one. Make sure you leave at lease a half inch at the top of each flag. Then you'll need to fold over a small portion of the top and glue it to itself as shown. Take your embroidery thread and string it through half of your pom poms first, and then through the top of each letter. Then string it through the other half of the pom poms. Hang it on your mantle or a photo like this one. That's it!

Do you have any holiday decoration projects you're still working on?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Decor DIY Roundup

I've been having a lot of fun decorating my house for Christmas over the past few weeks. It's always really fun to get out decorations and remember the stories behind each one. I was surprised by how many I had actually made myself over the years. Here's a roundup of some of them:

holly hairpin // cardboard gingerbread houses // styrofoam snowmen // deer to reindeer // simple yarn wreath // felt letters garland // holiday memory jar // tree advent calendar // jar snowglobe // joy garland sign // felt circles tree

Monday, December 2, 2013

Friendsgiving With Budweiser Project 12

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millenial Central and for Budweiser. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating. 

This past weekend, my friends and I got together for a Friendsgiving party. There was food, games, drinks, and obviously great people. I ate so much stuffing and cheesy potatoes that I could barely walk. But isn't that the only way to really do a Friendsgiving celebration? On top of all that, the fine folks at Budweiser were kind enough to send us some of their new Project 12 beers to sample. How does one say no to that?

I'm not a beer snob, like at all, but I don't exactly drink a lot of regular old Budweiser. I love sampling new types of beer and learning about different flavors. So I was pretty interested in trying out the new Project 12 flavors and seeing how they stacked up against my favorite local and craft beers. We poured each different type of beer into little sample glasses so that different people could try each different type.

I received three different varieties to try: Beechwood Bock, Vanilla Bourbon Cask, and North Pacific Style Lager. The North Pacific Style Lager was definitely my favorite. It had a lot of flavor for how light it felt. The other two were pretty sweet, with vanilla and chocolate and caramel flavors. I'm not super into sweet beers, but I would definitely keep these around for some of my relatives during the holidays. I think they'd go well with all the baked goods I keep around for such occasions. And since I know some of them normally prefer sweeter drinks, it could be a pretty perfect solution.

Those aren't the only flavors available. You can learn more about the rest of them here and even find out where to get your own variety pack. 

So that was my experience with Friendsgiving and Budweiser Project 12. Have you tried any new drinks lately? What do you plan to have on hand for the holidays?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November Wrapup

Lately I've been:
  • baking (mostly) new things about once a week
  • finishing up decorating my house for Christmas
  • watching all of the Christmas movies
  • completing all of my gift shopping over the course of one weekend, pretty much! (I found some really great Etsy shops to buy lots of my gifts!!)

Goals for December:
  • Do yoga at least three times per week 
  • Create an editorial blog calendar for next year
  • Try some new Christmas recipes in addition to old favorites

Favorite Posts from November:

Other Links:

What have you been up to lately?

Friday, November 29, 2013

DIY Leaf Collage

Well, it's now officially Christmas season according to most people. But I'm still not quite over fall just yet. A few weeks ago, I pressed some leaves that I picked up on a walk, and they're finally done and ready to use!

So I decided to make a little leaf collage with them. It's a pretty self explanatory idea. But you really just need some pressed leaves, a canvas, some scissors, and mod podge. Arrange the leaves on your canvas - some of them might go off the edge a little. Secure them with Mod Podge. Then cut along the edges of your canvas to remove any leaves hanging over. That's all there is to it! And I don't know about where you are, but there are still so many leaves on the ground here. So this is a perfect project to do right now and then just save it to use as fall decor next year!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

DIY Cardboard Gingerbread Houses

I really love craft projects where I can use old things like cardboard boxes. This isn't just because they're usually cheap and it's good to recycle, but also because I have a bit of a hoarding problem and any project where I can get rid of some junk is a good project. So here are some cardboard gingerbread houses.

What you need:
  • 1 large cardboard box
  • scissors/exacto knife
  • white and red acrylic paint
  • hot glue
  • flameless candles

Start by cutting your cardboard into little house shapes, leaving enough extra cardboard on each side of the house so that you can fold the sides back and make a little triangle. Use an exacto knife to cut out doors and windows. Then use some white and red acrylic paint to decorate the houses. I like the look of textured paint, so I just skipped the paintbrush and used the bottle itself to apply the paint to the cardboard.

Once the paint is dry, fold the sides of the house back and glue them to each other so that the house can stand on its own. Put a flameless candle in the middle so that it glows, and you're done! Now you have a cool light up Christmas decoration instead of an old box. Win/win.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lemon Ginger Hot Toddy

It's really cold and I've been feeling a little under the weather lately. So what does that mean? Time for a hot toddy, obviously.

This is a lemon ginger hot toddy, which is still incredibly easy. Start by brewing a cup of lemon ginger tea. If you only have either lemon or ginger tea, simply use a lemon slice or some ground ginger to add the other flavor. Add a teaspoon of honey, a shot of whiskey, and a cinnamon stick or some ground cinnamon. Done! It makes the cold a little more bearable, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Deer to Reindeer DIY

I'm in complete holiday mode over here, so much that I've even started turning some of my non-holiday decorations into holiday ones. Case in point: this deer. Her name is Farrah Fawncett and I got her at a garage sale years ago. She's really cute but her head has fallen off and been glued on a few times. But for the next couple of months she is no longer a plain old deer, but a magic reindeer.

This isn't much of a DIY. But if you want to do it yourself you basically need a brown pipe cleaner, a red pom pom, and a tiny piece of tape. Voila. Deer to reindeer in about 30 seconds.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

DIY Felt Letters Garland

This is probably my favorite holiday project I've worked on so far. And I've been doing A LOT of them lately. But it's really cheerful looking and simple and really easily customized.

What you need:
  • felt in a few different colors
  • embroidery thread and needle
  • pom poms

The first step is to cut out all of the letters. To do this, you'll either need some stencils, or you can just cut out squares of the same size so that all your letters are to scale. Once all of your letters are cut out, use your embroidery thread and needle to string them all together. Add some pom poms to each side and that's it! If you want to do the same sequence of words, or any phrase that is multiple words, you can do each one on a different strand and just tie the ends together like this one. Or you could just do one long strand if you prefer.

And of course, you can use this tutorial to make basically any words or phrases you want - it doesn't have to be holiday themed. what would you make yours say?

Monday, November 18, 2013

DIY Gift Ideas Roundup

Handmade gifts are a great way to save money and come up with perfect and one-of-a-kind items. I've posted a lot of projects here over the years that could definitely be used as gifts for the various people in your life. Here's a little roundup of them.

Gifts for kids and teens: skeleton sweatshirt // pinwheel headband // embroidered flower shoes // chalkboard necklace // deathly hallows photo display // cardboard bow and arrows // mockingjay necklace // heart shoe clips // minnie mouse headband 

Gifts for friends: braided wire ring // coffee lip exfoliator // crop top // compliment jar // less than three necklace // friendship bracelet headband // birds nest bowl // cat shoes // wine photo lamp

Gifts for moms, aunts, and grandmas: pom pom wall art // soy candles // cardboard shadow box // lace painted candle holders // embroidery hoop photo display // cardigan clips // salt scrub // flower cardigan // photo transfer pouch

Sunday, November 17, 2013

DIY Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

So the other day I posted a few ideas for DIY mini Christmas trees and mentioned that I had a bigger project I was using them for... and here it is!

When I was a kid we used to have those little Advent calendars that had either candy or some kind of activity to go along with each day leading up to Christmas. I decided to make one with these little trees. I just bought some little boxes at the craft store and attached the trees to the top of each one. Then, because there aren't as many kid-less Christmas activities as you might think, I just wrote down some favorite holiday movies to watch and put them in each of the boxes.

Whether we'll actually stick to this or not remains to be seen (we won't). But they look cool so that's half the battle, I'd say.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DIY Christmas Trees: 5 Ways

Here's another super easy project to help get your home ready for the holidays. Little Christmas trees are a popular decoration, and there are so many ways to make them - here are five ideas.

Felt Christmas Tree - Take a piece of sturdy felt (preferably one with a little pattern or design so it isn't too boring) and cut out a quarter circle. Make it into a cone shape and glue the two edges together.

Garland Christmas Tree - Use a garland with some wire in it so that it is able to be shaped. Use any kind of a cone shape as a mold and create a spiral up the length of the cone.

Layered Christmas Tree - For this one, you'll need to make a couple of different cone shapes in the same way as the felt tree above using nice scrapbook paper. Then simply layer two or three of them on top of one another.

Feather Christmas Tree - Make a cone shape out of paper or cardboard and then use a hot glue gun to attach layers of feathers around it, starting at the bottom and moving up to the top.

Ribbon Christmas Tree - Start with another cone made out of paper or cardboard, and then attach some ribbon going around the tree from top to bottom.

There are so many ways to make these little trees. I have a bigger project that I'm working on that incorporates all of these. I'll share it tomorrow, so check back and see what it is!
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