• Christmas Morning Pancakes

    christmas pancakesIf you told your kids (okay, your husband too) that there would be cookie-like fare for Christmas morning breakfast, what do you think they'd say?

    "Mom, we can't have cookies for breakfast, it's just not right."

    "Are you sick?"

    "You mean we don't have to eat eggs?"

    Yeah, right!! They may think it, but they aren't going to be saying anything that might make mom come to her senses!

    Now you can surprise your family with regular ol' pancakes, even healthy ones, and make them look like Christmas Coookies by using your cookie cutters. Just prepare your batter as you normally would, place your cookie cutters in the skillet and fill. The trick is to cook them on a lower heat so they have more time to set before removing the cookie cutter to flip.

    Decorate with mini chocolate chips, and serve sausage on the side. Yummy. Your kids will think, no, they will KNOW you are the best mom on the block. Cookies, er, pancake cookies for Christmas morning breakfast. Genius.


    Photo courtesy:

  • Red Velvet Snowball Cookies

    red velvet cookiesThis week we're focusing on all things snow! For those of us that live in the northern parts, we are bracing ourselves. And, for the rest of you who regularly dream of snow at least once a year, feel free to enjoy your snow(ball cookies) as you sit out in the sun. We are jealous, yes. :)

    Oh, the drama of it all! Who doesn't love Red Velvet Cake with it's brilliant pop of color and familiar hint of cocoa? There is simply nothing to not like. There are rumors that making red velvet cake requires much skill, but I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to. These cookies replace the ubiquitous buttermilk with butter to make a deliciously easy cookie that still delivers on all the drama. You will be the rock star at the cookie exchange with this one. And, for the record, you can never go wrong with any cookie that has chocolate.

    Another thing I love about these cookies is that they aren't too sweet. True, the confectioners' sugar that they are covered in is, well, sweet, but the dough itself is just delightful. Let's get started.

    • 1 1/2 cups butter
    • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon (or more if you want them REALLY dramatic) red food coloring
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
    • extra confectioners’ sugar, for rolling 'em around
    1. Preheat your over to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Beat together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until creamy.
    3. Beat in cocoa powder and red food coloring until you have a solidly bright red batter.
    4. Gradually add the flour and almond meal until thoroughly combined.
    5. Shape the batter/dough into 1 inch balls and bake until lightly browned, about 10--12 minutes.
    6. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
    7. When cookies are completely cooked, roll 'em in the powdered sugar. Do it more than once if you have to. They are snowballs. :)
    8. These girls (red velvet cannot be a boy, no way) store well when in an airtight container or bag.

    This will make about 4 dozen snowballs! Red Velvet Snowballs!!!


    Photo and recipe courtesy of:

  • Snowman Ornaments

    snowman ornamentsWe are continuing with our SNOW theme in honor of the first measurable snowfall that is due in the next few days here in Minneapolis. I don't think there's a single Minnesotan that really expects the snow to hold off for much longer. These cute li'l snowman head ornaments turned-diy-garland will make you smile even if the weather outside doesn't. Promise.

    What is so great about this idea is that you can get the kiddos involved. Picture it ~ they are happy, no, ecstatic that school was cancelled today and they've been out playing in it ever since . . . sliding down hills, throwing snowballs and building their first snowman of the season. They come in from the cold, and you've got tomato soup and grilled cheese ready to warm them up just like the quintessential soup commercial, right?!  With lunch over in a flash, now what? Thankfully you saw this post and picked up the supplies one day after work in preparation for this day. No wonder your kids think you're a are!

    • 10 small foam balls
    • air dry clay (5# tub is less than $10 at Target)
    • black beads
    • black paint
    • cosmetic blush
    • 1/4" ribbon
    • Florists wire
    1.  Cover the foam balls with the air dry clay, adding extra to form the nose.
    2. The clay will dry quickly, so go ahead and wet the areas where you want the eyes, then attach black beads.
    3. Using your imagination and a toothpick dipped in black paint, draw the mouth and other facial features.
    4. Apply rouge to the cheeks. Awww!
    5. Cut 10 2" pieces from the florist wire, bend each one at the center and push into ball
    6. String your ribbon through and hang wherever you want.....the tree, over a door, in the window, etc.


    Photo and Design courtesy:


  • Snowball Candle Holders

    snowball candel holdersI don't know about you, but I'm really drawn to the unique. I like to mix the traditional with the modern and come up with one-of-a-kind furnishings, decorations and gifts. Today's decoration idea starts with simple and humble items, and transforms them into a real thing of beauty. Whenever I see an idea like this, I think about that HGTV cooking show, Chopped, where the chefs are given a basket of ingredients. Their challenge is to take each one and transform it and somehow still come out with not just a meal that makes sense, but one that looks beautiful and tastes amazing.

    These candle holders are just like that. You start with the simple, clear glass votive candle holders from the craft store and end up with a sparkly, even elegant display that will make even a battery powered candle glow with romanticism and warmth. I love that.

    • Votive glass candle holders
    • Mod Podge
    • Epsom Salt (Seriously, I know, right?)
    • Tea Light candles (wax or battery powered)
    1. Paint the mod podge onto the outside of the candle holder and roll in a flat bed of Epsom salt.
    2. After it dries, repeat step one.
    3. Let it dry again, and that's it!

    Look at how they glow!

    snowball candle 1

  • Alternative Christmas Tree

    2009 Christmas TreeIt is true that I love my big and wide and real Christmas trees for the holidays. In fact I kind of love bringing the outdoors in all year long, and I bet many of you are like that too. If I could find a way to live outside all year long and stay warm, dry and comfortable, I'd be all over that. Okay, maybe not, but we are one of those families that does leave the window cracked open in the winter for the fresh air, so there's that. :)

    Today's post highlights just that...bringing the outdoors in and using a bit of creativity to do it. We just spent the afternoon putting our vegetable garden to bed for the winter, so now the garage is full of gardening paraphernalia. The tomato cages caught my eye as we were stacking them in the corner, and my imagination began twirling . . . hmm,  what could I do to transform those wiry things into something useful, pretty, festive. And, apparently I'm not the only one to have those thoughts.

    I love love LOVE this idea for decorating the deck and even the big window flower boxes we've got outside our living room window.  We had a stray cat last winter that decided to use those window boxes as her litter box, ugh! So we've got plans to put something in there this year, and this is just perfect! Simply invert those tomato cages, wrap with some weather-proof garland and lights, and wow, what a fabulous view both from the inside and out!

    But, that's not all! Bring 'em inside, put one in the corner of the bathroom, another in the kitchen, scatter them around the easy and so creative! And, honestly, what could be better than a tree in every single room? Nothing, I dare say, absolutely nothing.


    Photo credit:


  • 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:


  • 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:

  • 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:

  • 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 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:

  • 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!

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