Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas Project #12: Festive Attire

 Last month, you may have read about me talking about Nano's on my writing blog here. I guess you could say that today's project is one of those nano's - something I've meant to do and have over looked or forgotten. Like making this shirt. Believe it or not, I bought this pattern and the fabric back in the B.C. age (Before Children).

Instead of buying a new outfit for the wearing out for Holiday parties and Christmas Eve services, I decided it was time to finish this project - or I guess I'd have to start it first. So I cut it out, careful to make sure I got my measurements right.

 Then started the task of sewing it together.

 I added some trim I found stashed in one of my sewing drawers. It's not very festive with it being brown, but I thought it looked nice for wearing in the fall time, too. I can get more wear out of it this way.
 And after five hours of measuring, cutting, and sewing... one festive holiday shirt for the wearing.
 Once I got it on, I realized this shirt style was a little too low cut for my personal preference, so I added an extra piece across the bust. As I hoped to wear it this evening to Christmas Eve services at our church, it doesn't look like we're going to make it this year. :(  Mr. Chad T. got home from work late and Grandma Linda's car broke down. So the kids and I had a wonderful talk about Christmas and the celebration of Jesus's birth before I tucked them into bed.

In the morning, not only will Santa have come, but Grandma Linda will have arrived as well.

As you all prepare for your traditional Christmas Eve gatherings and bedtime routines, I want to thank you for hanging out with me this month through the Twelve days of Christmas and wish you all a blessed Christmas day.

I hope you continue to come back and join me through 2014, too.

Merry Christmas!
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas Project #11 : Snow Angels

The kiddos are officially off school this coming week for the holiday. We have snow this year for Christmas! This year is one of those special years, there have been a lot of years in the past where the only thing Mr. Chad has wanted for Christmas was snow, and well... we have it, so his Christmas wish has come true yet another year. And yes, he can have the pleasure of shoveling it all out of the driveway and the sidewalks. :)

But for the kids, it means fun times and snow angels! They dropped right down in the yard on their way home from school on Friday and made me these lovely snow angel impressions in front of the house.

It'll make me sad as the weather warms back up again to see these beautiful snow angels melt away, but I know as soon as it snows, they'll drop right back there will be more.

Today, find a snowy spot and make a snow angel. You're never too old to have some snowy fun. Perhaps you can do it in place that you can see it from inside the house and glance at it every once in a while, just to make you smile.

It's almost Christmas, soon we will be preparing for Christmas Eve services and dinners with the family. What is your Christmas wish this year?

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Biscotti Recipe

Since a lot of you have requested the recipe for the Biscotti for Project #2 of the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

I've decided to post it here. Please know this is a general recipe then we added different nuts and extracts to make the different flavors we wanted.


2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tbsp Amaretto
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup of nuts
2/3 cup of chocolate chips

In mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and amaretto. Next add flower, baking powder, and salt. Mix until blended. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Divide dough in half and create two logs, spacing them slightly apart on the baking sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes (It may take longer depending on your oven.)  or until lightly brown. Let cool for 5 minutes. With a knife, cut in diagonally slices and seperate pieces on baking sheet. Place back in oven and back for 8-10 minutes or longer to dry.

Place on rack to cool. Store in a tightly covered container.

Makes about 4 dozen.

To make the Peppermint Cranberry Biscotti replace the vanilla extract with peppermint and the chocolate chips with dried cranberry. Almonds or Walnuts for the nuts.

You can also add an extra touch by dipping in chocolate or drizzling with chocolate.

post signatureHappy Baking!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Project #10 Christmas Cupcakes

Christmas is a time of celebration and what would a party be without the cake? Or today, we're making Christmas cupcakes.

Boy stuffed the tin with green cupcake wrappers and we filled them with confetti cake mix. I'm not a big fan of the red icing. It stains little faces and clothes, so we decided to go with blue and clear sprinkles for a winter wonderland kind of feel.

Plus, Boy got to mark off two more achievements in his Bear book for cub scouts. He prepared a dessert for his family and baked for his pack meeting.

Tonight, we're off to visit the residents of one of the nearby elder care facilities to share some festive cheer, sing carols, and have snacks. It is both a fun time and a sad time for the boys this Christmas.

I'll share more in the weeks to come, but for now we will remain cheery and celebrate the season of Christ's birth.

What are you baking this holiday season?
Are you listening to carols while you prepare?

A friend of mine is blogging today about her favorite Christmas music, you may want to stop in and check out if you have any favorites in common.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Project #9 Christmas Tree Card

Today we celebrate the 9th day of Christmas with this Christmas Tree Card project. 

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree..... I've been humming this song ever since I made this card.

I've got all the fixings ready for this project. I cut everything, again, from my Art Philophsopy Cricut Cartridge from CTMH.

The card is cut at 5.5" - I used parchment card stock, I like the vintage look of it, but you can also use light tan colored card stock. You'll want to use the "card" setting on your cartridge

The decorative layer is cut at 4"  I used a designer green from a large 180 DCWV 12" x 12" pack.

The oval layer is cut at 3.5" it's a sienna colored card stock from DCWV textured card stock 12 x 12 pack.

You'll need a piece of Navy ribbon and a brad (either silver or bronze works best.)


Attach your decorative layer on to a solid piece of 4" x 5.5 card stock. (I used olive and a brighter green for the decorative layer to make it "pop"). Then attack to the back front of card so the decorative side shows through the cut outs. 

Next, place your ribbon about 1/4" from the bottom of the card.

Take a piece of hemp or ivory embordery thread and tie around the left end of the oval cut out.

Attach Oval cut out around the trees, positing it best to the center.

Insert Brad about 1/2 inch from the end off the right side of the ribbon band.
Tie a piece of tread around the ribbon by the brad.

Take a 3/4" x 3" piece of white card stock and stamp with a warm greeting. Cut the end to make it appear like a banner and attach to card over the ribbon and oval cut out.

A warm and festive card for the season!

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The tree is up, the packages wrapped and tagged, and the stockings hung. What's next for you in preparing for Christmas? 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Project #8 DIY Santa Gift Tags

 It's almost that time, you know, when you realize you've gotten all your shopping done, but now you have to wrap it all!

Today's Twelve Days of Christmas Project is a simple one.  It's time for some DIY Christmas tags.

 I picked up some pretty blue rhinestones, silver mini ink pad, and these glitter cloth stickers from the craft bins at Jo Ann's last month. I used a snowflake stamp from my Winter Holiday Stamp Set from CTMH for the snowflake tags above.

 To make your own Christmas tags, you'll need to cut pieces of card stock 2" x 4", clip the corners off the top, and punch a hole in the center.

I had a ton of gray and red card stock strips laying in my craft room from some recent book projects. So I cut them up and Bug and I made tags. The star designed stamped on these blue Christmas star tags came from a Halloween mini stamp set I picked up, also, at Jo Ann's.

 I added some of the cloth glitter stickers and voila! Beautiful tags for Christmas packages or other occasions. And, in the photo below, I took the red and Bug stamped Santa on these tags. I was so thrilled to see how they came out, but disappointed Bug not only knew about them, but helped create them, now Santa can't put them on the Lower children's presents.

Don't you think these would make cute Christmas gift tags for Santa packages?

This Santa stamp came from a Christmas gnome stamp set I got from oriental trading last year.  

What are you wishing for Santa to bring you this year?

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tweleve Days of Christmas: Project #7 Christmas Coupon Books

A couple of years ago, a friend game me a coupon book for Christmas. I loved it! Inside were coupons for babysitting, lunch, a chi tea from Dunkin Donuts, and several other great gifts of services. 

It reminded me that, sometimes, we don't always need to give a monetary gift, that service is a gift, too!

Bug helped me put together these cute little coupon books. The inside coupons are a pdf provided from Split Coast Stampers. You can download them here  and see the instructions to make your own coupon book.

I put twelve coupons in each of my coupon books. If you're not crafty and would like to have some coupon books (they make a great stocking stuffer) you can find them in my etsy shop. I used some K&C Christmas paper I purchased from Wal-Mart.

Can you think of twelve things you would write on your coupons to give someone else?

Leave a comment here or jump over on my Facebook page today and share. You never know, I may pick your comment randomly for a free coupon book!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Project #6 Gift Card Tags

Today's project as part of the Twelve Days of Christmas Series are these ornament gift holder tags. 

 If you some people on your list for giving gift cards this year, but don't want a traditional gift card holder or card or box, these ornament style gift card holder tags are perfect!

I made these using my Art Philosophy Cartridge from CTMH. I've had this cartridge for a few years now from my former CTMH consulting days, and I'm still finding that there are so many uses for it! Go CTMH!

Here is the recipe for today's project:

Art Philosophy Cartridge
photo punch
2 sheets of card stock of your choice.

Step One: cut card using the "card" feature and the ornament card template button.  You will want to select 5.5" for your size.

Step Two: cut decorative layer for on your card.

Step Three: cut a piece off 3" x 4" piece of card stock (this will be your card holder)

Step Four: Punch the lower corner and opposite top corner of the 3" x 4" piece of card stock using the photo punch.

Step Five: Assemble Card. Place decorative layer on front of card. Decorate as desired.

Inside card, place 3" x 4" piece of punched card stock inside center of card. Glue, be sure not to glue the piece where the card slides up through! Trim around the card holder piece to smooth out any edges sticking out from the round card.

Wait until glue has dried.

Now you're ready to insert your gift card inside, write your message and attach to a package or hang on the tree.

I'd love to see how your card came out, feel free to share over on my facebook page or send me a photo of your finished project!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Project #5 Canned Jelly

 One of the biggest staples in the Lower household is our peanut butter and jelly stock. The kids love pb&j.

Recently, a friend brought me a gift. She taught me to make jelly. It was like stirring up a pot of sugary goodness in my own kitchen. I can't tell you how wonder the sound of canning jar lids "popping" sounds for the first time.

The recipe came with the pectin (an ingredient needed to make the jelly) and it was a little confusing to follow if you didn't know where to look. As a writer, I am tempted to re-write the instructions and send it back to the company so that people like me don't get so confused having to jump from the front side to the back side of the paper.

As we got these all canned and I was placing them in my cupboard, I remembered the delious blackberry jam I had gotten years ago in a family exchange during Christmas. A jar of jelly with or without a small loaf of fresh baked bread can make a great gift around the holidays, too.

All you need is some canning jars, pectin, fruit, sugar, and time.

Oh, and jelly is also good on those Christmas morning pancakes!

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Project #4 Salt Dough Ornaments

For the past few months, the kiddos have been learning about what it means to do a random act of kindness. A friend of ours, is in charge of her church's advent readings this year. As part of advent, her church is handing out stars each week.

I sat with her a while and helped tie ribbons on some paper stars, and her mother made some beautiful crochet stars that you can check out here.

She mentioned making salt dough stars, and I knew that was right up our alley, so I was happy to volunteer. The kids and I had fun cutting them and painting them. And when Boy asked, "is this a random act of kindness?" I said, "Absolutely!"

 I took one of my clear stamps with a design and stamped the salt dough after it was all rolled out.
 Then Bug helped cut out the stars and lay them on parchment paper on the baking sheet.
 Bell, helped paint them, and decided it was best to do both sides so you couldn't see the "cookie" part.
 We took some red and white baker's twine and tied through them for hanging.
 They're so pretty on the tree.
 And we made quite a few of them.

Salt dough is a pretty simple recipe that the kids can have a lot of fun with. The best thing I like about salt dough ornaments is if they break they're just dough -- no one gets hurt and they're inexpensive. 

Salt Dough Recipe:

4 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1.5 cups of water

Roll it out just like you're making sugar cookies. Bake them at 200 F or less for an hour then flip them and an hour more. (or you can just let them sit out for a day or two to get hard). Just remember, they're salt. I wouldn't advise a taste test when your done.
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that there is no Santa Claus. Papa says "If you see it in the Sun, it is so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?


Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to our life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your Papa to hire men to watch all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, or even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond.

Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else as real and abiding.

No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, maybe 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the hearts of children.

Written by Francis P. Church in 1897 
Photo credit:  http://theswingmood.blogspot.com/2011/12/miracle-on-34th-street-1947.html

Friday, December 6, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Project #3 Homemade Kahlua

 Today's project for the Twelve Days of Christmas is homemade Kahlua. It's one of the rare drinks I like and his very popular amongst family members. It taste great in milk and ice or in a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night.

Homemade Kahlua Recipe


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups instant coffee crystals
  • 4 1/2 cups 100 proof vodka
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans


Mix water, sugar and coffee crystals. Heat and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Add vodka. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into 6, 12.5 oz. bottles. Cut each vanilla bean into thirds and drop bean into each bottle. Cap. After 2-3 weeks strain, remove beans and rebottle.
Makes the perfect gift!
- See more at: http://www.beanilla.com/blog/homemade-kahlua-recipe#sthash.D9NhzTqn.dpuf


4 cups of water
1 1/2 cups instant coffee crystals
4 1/2 cups 100 proof vodka
8 cups of sugar
2 vanilla beans

Add water and coffee crystals in large pot. Heat and stir until dissolved. Cool at room temperature, add vodka.  Pour into decorative bottles. Cut your beans in thirds. Place a bean in each bottle. Cap (or cork like we did) and let sit for 2-3 weeks. Then strain and remove bean and put back in bottle.

This is an inexpensive and creative gift to give your family and friends this holiday season.

Don't forgot to include some biscotti!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Project #2 continued - Packaged Biscotti

 Yesterday, I shared how Jen, Trash To Treasure Diva, and I did a little baking for holiday gifts. Today, I wanted to share with you the finished result. You saw the yummy Biscotti we baked, now it's time to pull out some card stock and plastic candy bags and do some packaging.

These green and silver pieces came from a DCWV mini stack. The pages measured 4.5" x 6.5" so we cut them in half and folded them to create the flaps of the packages.

Jen, has much better handwriting then I do, so I offered to do the bag filling if she did the writing. We make a great creative team when we work together. All that Biscotti, and right now it's on top of my fridge away from temptation, else it may  not make it to the teachers, clients, and co-workers it was intended for!

Now that is a lot of biscotti! We made up small boxes for the kids' teachers and brown sacks filled with biscotti for family members.

These most definately are the right size for stocking stuffers or just making someone's day this holiday season.

Don't go away, Tomorrow we're heading into the third day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and I think you'll find what we're brewing up to be just as delicious as this yummy bicotti.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?


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