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2013 Christmas

  • Holiday Cards ~ Unique or Traditional?

    The holiday cards are coming in by the droves these days, and I love all of them...every last one. Some are so unique and others traditional, but mostly what I like about them is that I get to seefrechette the personalities of my friends displayed in what kind of card they decided upon.  If I were to pick a favorite style of card, it would have to be the ones that include photos.

    I'm sitting here at my desk, looking at a card from a good friend who, up until this year, has always sent a card with just her daughter's photo. But, this year, the whole family was in the shot, and instead of dressing all up in fancy, matchy matchy clothes (nothing wrong with that for sure), they were at a Minnesota Twins game ~ Mom, Dad, and daughter, all sporting their own brand of a Twins t-shirts, sitting out in the sunshine clearly having a great family time. On the inside were 3 more pictures of the same kind!  Love love love this card!

    doggyOthers I've seen are very pet focused. Have you noticed this trend, the folks who perhaps don't have children or children at home anymore take adorable shots of their dog or cat? I think it's a wonderful trend and I hope it never stops! I don't think there's a person alive who doesn't enjoy a cute animal photo, so those cards are quickly becoming very popular.

    Then still others are classic and traditional, and those are just comforting to receive, aren't they? To know that some things stay the same and still look amazing and evoke the  warm fuzzies in  me is one of the best feelings there is.

    Although time is running short, if you are looking for a great holiday card that gives you the freedom to express yourself, check out what we've got on our website. Just go here, and look under the Accessories tab on the far right. We've partnered with a very fun vendor, and you won't be disappointed. Promise.

    I have often sent my cards after Christmas, making them more of a New Year's card and pretend it was on purpose. Haha, don't tell anyone. :)

    Photo courtesy

  • Christmas Shopping

    13-days-until-christmasThe countdown continues! How's your shopping coming along? If you're anything like us, the list of people to buy a little something for grows every year.  But, the first order of business is to plow through and purchase or finish making gifts for all of our out-of-town family and friends. And, the deadline for that is this coming Monday! Gotta get those packages in the mail so they make it to their eager destinations before the big day.

    Are you a person who makes and buys Christmas gifts all year long? We here at Merry Stockings encourage this by offering you year round content here on the blog. It doesn't matter if it's March, July or September, Christmas is never out of season as far as we're concerned!

    I invite you to take a look back at some of the things we've shared over the last many months:

    Getting Organized with a Christmas Notebook

    Gifts Ideas for the Postman

    Green Wrapping Paper

    A Series on Saving Money to Give

    This is just a small sampling of some of the year round content that we faithfully put together for you so that when the mood strikes, the ideas and how to's will be here for you! Browse through the blog today ~ there are oodles of posts on decorations, cookies and other goodies, gift ideas and so much more.

    On our website you'll find many Bucilla stocking kits that you can't find anywhere else too. There are Christmas Tree Skirts, Stockings (of course!), Ornaments, Decorations and so much more ~ it's all there year round for you! There's usually some kind of deal going on there also that' ll give you a discount. Because, to us, Christmas is never ever out of season.

    13 days!

     

     

    photo courtesy

  • Cyber Monday Happiness

    cyber mondayI remember the first year that I bought all of my Christmas gifts online...it was before the term "Cyber Monday" was coined, but wow, it was so easy and fast! I had my list made, my budget in mind and my credit card out. In a matter of about 90 minutes I was completely done!  So, there's no doubt that this day can really be a life saver, right?

    While some of us may still be recovering a bit from Thanksgiving combined with getting back into our work routines, thoughts of all there is to do in, really, 3 short weeks can be overwhelming. Still, isn't it fun and just part of the season to:

    • Enter into all the shopping madness at least once, the hustle and bustle can really get you in the Christmas spirit if you're struggling.
    • People watch . . . the energy and effort, and then the excitement when just the right gift is found.
    • Sing along with the Christmas music on every radio station and in every store.
    • Witness families cutting down their tree and mounting it precariously on top of the family car.
    • And, the Christmas light displays, driving around and seeing colorful lights that help brighten the cold, dark December nights.

    Of course, all of this is MOST enjoyed when some, if not all, of your shopping is done!!

    So to that end, Merry Stockings wants in on some of that! Shop today at www.MerryStockings.com, and you can take 15% off your entire order by using the promo code "CYBER" at checkout. There are all manner of Bucilla Christmas Stockings kits available, ornaments, tree skirts and other decorations waiting to be delivered to your front door.

     

    Photo courtesy:  www.timeanddate.com

     

  • Black Friday Sale!

    black friday saleThe fun and food and festivities of Thanksgiving 2013 have come to a close, and you know what that means. With just 27 short days until Christmas, it is time to get busy sewing, crafting, baking and of course shopping.

    Thanksgiving was a quiet one in our house this year, so I did the unthinkable....I went out at 4pm to the craft store and took advantage of one of their door buster sales. I actually felt kinda guilty! I was the first customer in the store, and when I walked in the staff were all huddled in a meeting. They turned to me with big smiles and asked if I wanted a donut! I guess being the first customer on Thanksgiving Day deserves some respect after all. :)

    Good news....for Merry Stockings Black Friday sale, you don't have to fight for a good parking spot or stand in line for hours. All you need to do is hop on over to our website. Everything from wool Christmas stockings and Bucilla Felt Stocking Kits to photo ornaments, embroidered tree skirts and even holiday cards is there, and you can take 15% off your order when you use discount code "blackfriday".  This discount CAN be used in conjunction with previously discounted prices too. It's quite the deal.

    Don't miss out, head on over to the Merry Stockings website by clicking here.

     

     

  • Make Candy in the Crock Pot!

    make candy in the crockpotWhenever I think about making candy, I get an instant headache. Seriously! I think about the candy thermometer and getting the temp just right, and have listened enough times to Martha Stewart talk about making candy to know that it is a real art. But, not today's recipe. It will still taste like you spent all that time and energy over the steaming pot, but instead you'll be letting your crockpot do all the work.

    I really love this idea, and not just for Christmas....oh yeah, Valentine's Day too, birthday's, anytime a box of candy is in order. The original recipe only calls for peanuts as an addition to all the chocolate goodness, but I'm imagining other types of nuts and coconut flakes inside and a gorgeous drizzling of caramel sauce on top! But, let's get to the standard recipe first:

    • 2# Salted Dry Roasted Peanuts
    • 12 oz bag milk chocolate morsels
    • 4 oz package Bakers German Sweet Chocolate
    • 24 ox package Almond Bark
    1. Throw all the goodies in the crock pot, and cook for 3 hours on low.
    2. Stir and spoon into paper cupcake liners and let cool.
    3. That's it. Seriously!

    Should you desire to embellish these sweet treats, I highly recommend using just 1# of the peanuts and adding in 1# of pecans, sweetened flaked coconut and topping with a drizzle of caramel sauce. You'll have your very own, easily made, highly impressive, are you ready.........Turtles!

    Merry Candy Making!

     

    Photo courtesy and recipe adapted from:  www.facebook.com/vbrearley

     

  • Kiss Pies, O My!

    Kiss-Pies-6There is a cookie exchange party running through my brain, I'm even dreaming about it at night! I know lots of people have heirloom cookie recipes that have been passed down through the generations, secret recipes for the most delectable goodies. I love doing the cookie exchange thing, one where there's about 6 people participating. That way I end up with 6 different varieties while only contributing the work of 1. I think they call that leveraging your friends, but shhh, don't tell anyone I said that. :)

    These cute little Kiss Pies will be a huge hit this year. Best part? You don't have to make the dough yourself! Using the ready-made pie crust from the refrigerated section of your grocery store, you're going to truly love this unique but super easy cookie, err pie, recipe!

    Here's what you'll need:
    1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
    14 Hershey Kisses of choice, Mint Truffle is pictured
    1 egg white whisked with 1 Tbsp water
    Powdered sugar for dusting

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Unroll pie dough onto a lightly floured counter top, and let set for about 20 minutes to allow the dough to come to room temperature.
    3. Place 10 kisses around the edges of pie dough, about 2 1/2-3"  apart
    4. Cut out the dough with a juice glass around each kiss.
    5. Fold half of the circle around top of the kiss and seal by pinching closed.
    6. Now fold up the other sides to the tip of the kiss, and press the edges together, forming an x.
    7. Brush the cookie pies with egg white, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
    8. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
    9. DONE!

    Talk about the perfect cookie exchange recipe, this one is fun and festive and easy. These would also be great served at a Christmas party or as dessert for Christmas dinner. The possibilities are endless. :) What's your favorite cookie exchange recipe?

    Merry cookie baking!

     

    Photo and recipe source:  picky-palate.com

  • Grinch Kabobs!

    Grinch KabobsI can think of nothing more effective in chasing away the Grinch-like attitudes around the holidays than bright, cheery food. And, if that food can be healthy, all the better, right? These Grinch Kabobs will make even the most grumpy, Christmas-spiritless person smile or at least get a little healthier while remaining in their grouchy world. :)

    Pretty easy stuff here today....all you need to make these are:

    • Strawberries
    • Green grapes
    • Bananas
    • Mini marshmallows
    • Wooden skewers

    The only real instructions you need are to make sure you immerse the banana slices in some kind of citrus. Pineapple juice works just as well as lemon juice and tastes better I think.

    These would make really fun little treats for the kids after school, for those last minute treats for the school party that you find out about the night before, or for any other holiday gathering for that matter. They'd also be fabulous on the Christmas Dinner table either as dessert or as a sweet appetizer. Very versatile. Very easy. Very good.

    Take that Mr. Grinch.

     

    Photo courtesy:  www.facebook.com/CookingWithMissy/photos_stream

  • O Christmas Tree

    issuu.comO Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
    How lovely are your branches!
    O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
    How lovely are your branches!
    In beauty green will always grow
    Through summer sun and winter snow.
    O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
    How lovely are your branches!

    I've already shared with you how I was always that girl who wanted the tallest, widest, biggest tree on the lot only to get it  home and have to have the boys cut off an inch or two (okay, a foot) just to get it in the door. When we lived for a brief time in a condominium that disallowed real trees, I purchased my first ever artificial tree. It was a sad day indeed!

    But, that artificy was small and slender and not messy, lending it at least a little saving grace (emphasis on little). What if we could combine the real smell of pine with a small size AND be kind to the environment? ENTER: the live Christmas tree! Just like the infamous Christmas carol sings, "In beauty green will always grow through summer sun and winter snow..." You really can have it all!

    Whether you grow this live Christmas tree yourself or purchase it from a grower, there are a few things to know that differ from trees that are cut down.

    • If you live in a cool/cold climate, introduce your live tree slowly to the warmer environment of your home by putting it in  your unheated garage or porch for a few days. If you bring it the house straight away, it will signal it to start growing which isn't a problem in the short run, but if you plan to plant the tree in your yard after the season (and this is such a fantastic idea on so many levels), that burst of growth will not be a good thing.
    • While it's in the garage, check it for insects, critters, eggs. Needless to say, you don't want to skip this step. :)
    • Place the tree ball in a large galvanized tub and locate it in the coolest room of the house so that it retains as much moisture as possible.
    • Use rocks and/or bricks to stabilize the tree so that it stands upright securely.
    • Decorate as you normally would, and water the tree regularly so as to keep the roots/burlap ball moist but not soaking wet.
    • When it's time to introduce it back outside, reverse the process by placing the de-decorated tree in the garage for a few days. And, then plant it!

    It's best to limit the tree's indoor time to no more than 10 days. With three tree likely appearing last on the scene, going this route might require an adjustment to your normal way of decorating for the holidays. But, I really really like this idea....it gives everyone the opportunity to anticipate the tree while enjoying all the other activities that go with the season.

    Check out some of the decorations that Merry Stockings has on the website, too. There are stocking kits, ornaments, Christmas Tree skirts and more! Shop early for the best pricing. :)

     

    Photo credit:  issuu.com

  • Wine Glass Christmas Centerpiece

    Wine Glass CenterpieceIn a perfect world, we would all have created a Christmas Notebook back in July, we would have been gathering ideas all year long and filling said notebook and all its various categories and sections. AND, we would have been busy creating all kind of handcrafted beauties for the people we care about and want to give to so that when the day after Thanksgiving rolls around, we can smile with confidence knowing we've got it all under control. Even the Christmas Day meal would already be organized, invites would go out early, lists would be made and cross referenced with other lists. Is it like this at your house too?

    Wait, who are we kidding?! My world is not perfect and I suspect that unless you are Martha Stewart yours isn't either. But, that doesn't mean we have to sacrifice elegance and charm, especially when it comes to the centerpiece for Christmas Dinner.

    I so so so love this idea. And, one of the best parts is that this is not just for Christmas. By switching out the color of the bulbs, this elegant centerpiece can be used many times over for New Years Day, Valentines Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving! Even for birthdays and anniversary parties, all you have to do is choose a favorite color of the one you're honoring and you've got such a gorgeous display.

    Simple. Easy. That's how we roll around here.

    Merry entertaining!

    Photo credit:  http://www.pinterest.com/pin/543106036284489651/

  • Santa Cake

    santa cakeAs much as we talk around here about keeping things simple and quick, sometimes spending a bit more time is just really nice, and ever so appreciated. A couple of years back when the two girls were just finishing up school and starting out (read: no money), they made a suggestion for Christmas gifts. The suggestion was that we exchange hand-made gifts that year, and the "rule" was that all the supplies to make said gifts could total no more than $10 each. It was challenging, but I gotta say that it was one of the best, most meaningful Christmases for us. There was more anticipation when opening the gifts that year maybe because we DID spend more time and had more personally invested! Lotsa smiles 'round the tree that year.

    So it is with today's Christmas dessert idea, one that will take a bit more time but be totally worth it.  Just to look at this Santa Cake makes me smile, and I'm guessing it does that for you too.  You can pass the tedium of slicing the heads, err hats, off of the strawberries with Christmas music, no? :)  And, yes there is a cake underneath all that cuteness, but I'm going to assume that we all know how to make a basic cake mix and frost it. :) Here's the deats for this adorable Santa Cake:

    • 1 lb large strawberries
    • 1 package cream cheese
    • 4 Tablespoons powdered sugar (or sugar substitute - to taste)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Cut the strawberries in half, creating the hat from the top.
    2. Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together until creamy.
    3. Using a piping bag (or Ziploc with the corner snipped off), fill the bottom half of the strawberries.
    4. Top with the hats and decorate!

     

     

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