Tag Archives: Holidays

Sweet Valentine’s Day Books for Kids

If your house looks like ours, you could probably give Barnes and Noble a run for their money. But if there’s ever anything I will encourage my daughter to want more of, it’s books! At some point (probably around the 10th or 12th time you’ve read The Napping House), you start getting new books for yourself as much as for your kids. Hey, sanity is worth something in this crazy world. Here are a few cute (and, bonus, non-sugary!) books to give your little one this Valentine’s Day.

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton

Elmo Loves You

Love, Splat by Rob Scotton

Henry in Love by Peter McCarty

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli

The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever by Brenda Ferber, Illustrated by Tedd Arnold

Cranberry Valentine by Wende and Harry Devlin

The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond

 


What’s for {Christmas} dinner?

This is my first year hosting Christmas, and I am feeling the (purely self-imposed) pressure to make it perfect. I’ve been thinking about Christmas dinner and what I will serve for about two months now, trying to figure out how I’ll get it all made and when. After a lot of rough drafts, I have narrowed down my ideas to arrive at my final menu. . . TA DA!

*Yes, I’m totally going to print this out and have it at each place setting. I did all the work to create it after all!

And now for the real magic. . . I only really have to worry about making TWO of these dishes on the day (and one of those can be made ahead of time if I really want to)! So not only will my Christmas feast be delicious, I will actually get to ENJOY it.

The festive  cocktail, which is really a sangria made with champagne, can be made the day before- all the better to let the flavors really meld together. The fig and goat cheese angels are my take on the Cooking Light recipe for Apricot-Blue Cheese Angels from the November 2012 issue. Considering these are a puff pastry, I’m going to make them the day of for the best result. I’ll make the fresh cranberry bruschetta (a mash up of several different recipes) a day or two ahead to help cut the tartness of the cranberries.

I decided to go with ham for dinner since I can buy one completely cooked and ready from the grocery store. BOOM. Done. The stuffing recipe belongs to my friend Dori. Her mom makes this every year, and when she blogged about it a few weeks ago, I was sold. Plus, she said you can make it ahead of time and freeze it if you want to. I think I’ll make it the day of only because I’ll have the time. For my brussels, I drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper before popping them into the oven at 400° for 30-40 minutes. Easiest thing ever. I’m even going easy for my rolls and getting Parkerhouse rolls or just buying some from the bakery.

The real genius of this meal is the dessert. Seriously, how amazing does it sound?! It’s even more amazing when you find out it’s made in the crock pot! My friend Brooke made this for New Year’s Eve last year, and I couldn’t get enough. She used this recipe as a base but, instead of following the cooking instructions, she just threw everything in a crock pot and let it do all the work. Brilliant!

So there you have it, my Christmas menu. What are YOU making for the holidays this year?


White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Update: Since I bake these bad boys every year, and my photography skills have greatly improved over the past 12 months, I figured I’d give this post an upgrade. Same amazing recipe. . . WAY better pictures.

Ok, I am admittedly not a big cookie baker—I don’t even eat cookies very often. In fact, these cookies are the only ones I have ever made that weren’t cut from a log or broken off in a neat little square from a block. But they are, by far, the best cookies I have ever had. The tartness of the cranberries with the sweetness of the chocolate chips and the moist chewiness of the oatmeal—they are pure heaven!

 

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
(Makes 36 cookies, technically, but I usually manage to get about 48- maybe I make them on the smaller side) 

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter , softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar , firmly packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups quick-cooking oats

6 oz white chocolate morsels

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 350°. Whisk together the first four ingredients and set aside. Cream together the wet ingredients (butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla) using a hand mixer on low speed. Slowly increase the speed until the mixture lightens in color. Gradually add in the dry ingredient mixture until it is all completely absorbed and combined. Try not to over mix, as that can result in a tough cookie. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips and cranberries.

Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Using a cookie scoop or a small spoon, drop cookies 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden and just set (the cookies will still look slightly moist on top). Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before moving to a wire cooling rack.


How to DIY a Holly Berry Monogram

I saw this holly berry monogram wreath on the blog Our Unexpected Journey and figured I’d give it a shot. It took a little longer to complete than I expected, but I think it turned out pretty good!

What you’ll need:

Large wooden craft letter

Fake holly berries (I couldn’t find stems of these at Michael’s so I bought holly berry garland and snipped the berry clusters off with wire cutters- this is probably why this project took me a while, ha)

Hot glue and glue sticks

Cranberry-colored acrylic craft paint

Ribbon (I used burlap ribbon from Michael’s)
If your letter is natural wood or white, I recommend painting the entire thing (both sides) with the craft paint before attaching the berries. That way, any small spots that aren’t covered by the berries won’t show so bad. Once the paint has dried completely, glue the berries on using the hot glue. Be sure to cover the sides and inside of the letter.

Once the glue has hardened, string your ribbon through the letter and knot it at the top to hang it. For a little extra embellishment, use another piece of ribbon to tie a bow around your original loop. If your letter isn’t one that you can string ribbon through, like a W, use the hot glue to glue two pieces of ribbon to either side. Tie them together in a bow at the top for hanging.


Holiday Tipping for Child Care

 

This post is from the archives but still very relevant. Last year was our first year tipping our daycare providers, and we wanted to be sure we got it right. After all, these people take care of the most important thing in the world to us (and by now, they are like family). Hope this helps other new parents who are asking the same question we did- what’s an appropriate child care tip?

As this is my first Christmas with a child in day care, I’ve been thinking about what’s appropriate in terms of a holiday tip or bonus. I’ve done some research online and found that suggestions range from a handmade gift from the child to two weeks’ pay, quite the chasm.  Shockingly, some holiday tipping guides leave out childcare providers altogether, which just baffles my mind. Let me get this straight—I should tip the person who cuts my hair but NOT the person to whom I entrust the most precious thing in my life on a daily basis? Riiiight.

I found several helpful guides online, including:

CNBC’s Holiday Tipping Guide: 2011

Emily Post’s Holiday Tipping is Really Holiday Thanking

Kiplinger’s Holiday Tipping Tip Sheet

Real Simple’s Holiday Tipping Checklist

After some thought, we settled on one week’s pay for our day care provider, half a week’s pay for her assistant and a small gift from our daughter for each of them.

But I’m curious, what’s the norm? Especially in metro areas like Washington, D.C., where do others fall on the tipping spectrum?


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Pinterest!

After we had our downstairs painted this summer, we put up floating shelves in our dining room, which means that this Christmas, I had two new spaces to decorate with holiday cheer! So naturally, I hopped on Pinterest to see what DIY hijinks I could get up to.

Voilà, the finished product!

For my first attempt decorating a mantle-type thing for Christmas (we don’t have a fireplace), I thought it turned out pretty good. I framed last year’s Christmas pictures of Olivia for an extra festive touch.

The centerpiece on the table is made of fraser fir Christmas tree clippings. Oh, and Christmas tree clippings are FREE at Home Depot. Woot woot!

The white tree on the top shelf is made of a styrofoam cone, white felt, and straight pins. I got the idea for this DIY project from this post from Scissor Variations.

The jar of Christmas tree clippings on the bottom shelf is a mason jar painted white on the inside. Just pour in acrylic craft paint, swirl it around to coat the entire inside, and let it dry. So easy!

Have you done any DIY decorating? I would love to see how you decorated for Christmas! Post your pics on our Facebook page!


Six Unique Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

A hostess gift is a great way to thank someone for inviting you into their home. It doesn’t have to be big or crazy expensive; this is one of those times where it truly is the thought that counts. The traditional bottle of wine is never a bad idea (is wine really ever a bad idea?!), but these great hostess gifts will put you at the top of everyone’s guest list this holiday season!

1. Give the gift of a happier morning after! As the one time recipient of such a gift, I can tell you your host will thank you. This adorable basket from Everyday Occasions includes banana bread, coffee, and honey butter, but you could include any combination of your favorite breakfast treats.

Breakfast basket from Everyday Occasions

2. A rosemary tree is both festive and practical—it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Rosemary Tree from Lowes, $12.98

3. This colorful salt crock will quickly become your host’s favorite kitchen accessory. Its design ensures that the salt stays accessible while cooking but protected from drips and splashes. Plus, it’s super cute!

Salt Crock from Le Creuset, $30

4. Infused with spices like Indian curry, Hungarian paprika, and ginger, these truffles are a uniquely decadent treat. You can also pick up a few of their delicious chocolate bars while you’re at it (the Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar is AMAZING!).

Exotic Truffle Collection from Vosges, $10.50

5. This painted spoon rest is so pretty, who wouldn’t want it sitting in their kitchen? It’s just so happy!

Amaryllis Spoon Rest from Anthropologie, $10

6. Grab some Weck jars and some rosemary sprigs, and you can make your own infused sea salt.

Rosemary Sea Salt from Martha Stewart

 


Thanksgiving Treats

This is an oldie, but a goodie—everyone have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

I’m kind of into the holidays. And when I say “kind of,” I really mean ridiculously, enthusiastically into them. But I just can’t help myself. I have such great memories of my family’s holiday traditions, and I can’t wait to pass some of them on to and start our own with my little one. And since I love food, I figured what better way to kick off the first of what will surely be many holiday-themed posts, than with some fun Thanksgiving treats! Try making some of these with or for your little ones to get everyone in the holiday spirit!

Turkey Sandwich via http://meetthedubiens.blogspot.com

Fun Pilgrim hats via www.ourbestbites.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Topping via http://annies-eats.net

Rice Krispie Treat Turkey Pops via www.ricekrispies.com

Pilgrim Cookies via www.womansday.com


Happy Holidays!!

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! My posting might be a bit random and spotty over the next few days as we travel and celebrate Christmas with family, but be sure to check back next week for more mommy fun! (And a quick shout out to Better By Design for designing our lovely Christmas cards this year!)

 

No Comments
POSTED IN:


DIY Decoupage Ornament

My friend and coworker, Stephanie, is just so creative and crafty! She saw this picture of a Christmas ornament on Pinterest from the blog Flea Market Style and decided to make each of us at work a decoupage ornament for Christmas. Katie and I (the editors) got book print (Pride and Prejudice to be exact!), Brandi and Ariana (our web ladies) got fun origami paper, and Stacy (our resident insane Duke fan) got a Duke ornament. How cute are these?! It’s hard to tell in our lovely fluorescent office lighting, but they’re each covered in glitter and twinkle in the lights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the original inspiration image was just a picture of an ornament from a store, Stephanie has very graciously shared with me her DIY tutorial, which I now happily share with you. You can use any type of paper (books, scrapbook paper, etc.), so if you decide to do this project with or for your kids, the possibilities are endless!

DIY Decoupage Ornament
(By Stephanie Patterson) 

  • Any size clear glass or plastic ornament (I used 3-inch plastic ornaments)
  • Mod Podge® or any decoupage medium
  • Paint brush (I used a small sponge brush)
  • New/old/recycled book pages or scrapbook paper
  • Crystal glitter
  • Yarn or string (I used Martha Stewart Eyelash yarn)
  • Glitter card stock for the letter or you could really use anything that you want to use as tag-like adornment
  1. Tear book pages into 1- to 2-inch pieces.
  2. Remove the silver cap on the top of the ornament.
  3. Using the Mod Podge as glue, paint some onto the ornament and then place the paper down on top.
  4. Apply more Mod Podge over the paper to moisten it and flatten over the rounded surface.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with overlapping pieces of paper until the ornament is completely covered.
  6. Let dry for approximately one hour.
  7. Apply another coat of Mod Podge over the whole ornament and pour glitter over it, turning the ornament to coat the entire thing. Shake it to remove any excess glitter.
  8. Let dry overnight.
  9. Wrap the neck of ornament with yarn and add any adornments (to create the letter tag, I used my Cricut® Cutting Machine with glitter card stock and punched a small hole to thread the yarn through).
  10. Replace the silver cap on the top of the ornament.
  11. Use another bit of yarn to create a loop for hanging the ornament.