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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday December 2014

The Christmas season is upon us and I've rounded up some of the best ways to make your Christmas as merry as possible. This month I've included several crafts and DIY gifts, a couple of drinks to keep you warm, a few cookie recipes, and more.

I think I'll start with the drinks.

A Wish for a Warm Belly:

Salted caramel and chocolate long ago surpassed peanut butter and chocolate for my favorite flavor combination. The salt brings out the buttery flavor of the caramel and makes it taste even more rich. I also love that this is made in the crock pot, a huge warm pot of love for your friends and family. This would be perfect to serve on Christmas morning or at a party.
When I mix my morning coffee I love to add a spoonful or two of hot chocolate mix to it. This works great for a few reasons. Hot chocolate mix has powdered milk in it which makes it creamy, it's already sweetened so I don't have to add extra sugar, and with this particular mix I could leave out my Starbucks Peppermint Syrup. This makes a large batch of mix that you can portion into containers and give out as gifts (or stockpile it like you would those delicious home canned vegetables).

A Wish for Gorgeous Mugs:

My Aunt brought one of these home from a Christmas party recently and said that they made them as a party activity! How cool is that?! I love this idea and you don't have to do monograms. You could use any kind of stickers you like. This is an inexpensive craft that would be super cute paired with a jar of that hot chocolate mix as a gift. Have I mentioned how much I love negative space art? I feel like it's forcing my brain to work in a different way when I look at it. 

A Wish for the Perfect Gift for the Grillmaster:

This one is a three for one. There are three recipes, a pork rub, a beef rub, and a chicken rub, that can be portioned into jars and handed out as gifts. If you know a guy who's difficult to shop for but loves to grill this is perfect for him! I'm actually thinking of making these for a few people I know (who might read the blog so I'm not naming names). Heck, I might even make a batch of these for myself!

A Wish for Functional but Fetching Organization:

This isn't exactly Christmas-y unless you have someone on your gift list (like myself) who is obsessed with planning. This can be made in a couple of hours at the most and all you need is a collage photo frame, scrapbook paper and letters, and a dry erase marker. I would totally use something like this to keep track of our menus and appointments each week, and that is in no way a hint to anyone I know as to what to give me for Christmas *wink wink*.

A Wish for Silky Smooth Skin:

For those of you who don't know, peppermint is pretty amazing. When used on the skin, peppermint oil cools and calms the skin and can alleviate sore muscles, it has antimicrobial properties which can help with bad breath and tummy troubles (especially nausea), and the scent stimulates brain activity. I used to suck peppermints when I had morning sickness to ease the nausea and in school when I was studying for and taking exams to help me think. Sugar scrubs are ideal for exfoliation because the coarse sugar sloughs off dead skin but unlike pumice and those little microbeads in all the facial scrubs it dissolves in the water as you wash it off your skin so it doesn't harm the environment. (I read an article about how damaging those microbeads are to the environment awhile back, just something someone had shared on Facebook.) And, as if you needed another reason to make this stuff for all of your friends, how flipping cute is that little bottle of homemade pampering? If you're gonna DIY your gifts this year I think this is the way to go.

A Wish for Holiday Cookies:

Peppermint Meltaway Cookies from Silver Boxes
Doesn't peppermint just scream Christmas? I guess it's because of the candy canes everyone hands out for Christmas. These cookies are light and fluffy, and so is the frosting. According to Stephanie from Silver Boxes they melt in your mouth and with peppermint in both the cookie and the frosting they're sure to pack a big peppermint punch. I'm making these for Yaya's cookie swap and hopefully I'll get to taste one before I hand them over.

Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies from Handle the Heat
These cookies have my favorite flavor combination, salted caramel and chocolate, and they're particularly interesting because they are the first cookies I've ever seen to use bread flour. I'm not sure how the bread flour changes the texture but I imagine they're probably very chewy. The chocolate chip cookie dough is wrapped around caramel squares so the middle is gooey with caramel and then they're sprinkled with fine sea salt to bring out that caramel flavor. This is Yaya's other cookie swap recipe and I'm definitely making a second batch for Santa this year. I  may not have one left by the time Santa gets here though.

A Wish for Adorable Holiday Cookie Packaging:

Creative Packaging for Cookies from A Baker's House
Such a simple idea with amazing results. All you need is holiday wrapping paper, ribbon, glue, and some empty Pringles cans. This easy craft is an excellent way to share all of your holiday cookies with friends and family. The cookies stack easily in the tube and stay fresh thanks to the included lid. I may just have to make a few of these to deliver cookies to the neighbors. Heaven knows we have plenty of old Pringles cans lying around here. I always buy Pringles when they're on sale at the store and Bailey loves playing with the empty cans so we always save them.

A Wish for No-Fuss Christmas Morning Breakfast:

Overnight French Toast with Pecan Praline Topping from Simmworks Family
Do you have a Christmas morning breakfast tradition? In my family the tradition is omelets. Admiral makes some of the best omelets. He makes every omelet to order and has about twenty choices of toppings from different cheeses to sauteed onions, mushrooms, and peppers and even some bits of ham, turkey, and bacon. It's a fun tradition but it does mean that Admiral spends most of Christmas morning in the kitchen cooking for the 15+ family members we have visiting for Christmas. Recipes like this French toast dish are a great way to make sure you get to spend plenty of time with your family (in other words, not in the kitchen) on Christmas morning. The French toast soaks in the egg mixture overnight so all you have to do in the morning is mix up the pecan praline topping and put it in the oven. Plus, Danielle has a secret ingredient in her egg mixture. Click the link to find out what it is!

A Wish for Attractive and Tasty Holiday Party Appetizers:

Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites from Yummy Mummy Kitchen
Brie always seems fancy to me but it's easy to work with and makes some impressive appetizers. The sugared cranberries on top look like they're frosted with ice and the brie pairs well with the cranberry relish. These are so easy to make it's almost embarrassing but like I said, brie and frosted, sugared cranberries look so elegant. So shhhhh... Don't tell anyone how easy they are and all of your guests will be dazzled!

A Wish for Anything Rosemary:

Roasted Maple Rosemary Carrots from A Bird and A Bean
I never used to like cooked carrots. I think it might have been the texture. Every time I ate cooked carrots they were mushy and overcooked and had very little flavor. But that was before I discovered roasted carrots! The difference between steaming carrots and roasting carrots (or any vegetable, really) is that steaming leeches flavor out while roasting concentrates and adds flavor. I'm a sucker for anything with rosemary whether it's pork roast or potatoes or bread, and these carrots sound so amazing with the sugary maple glaze on them. I'd love to serve them alongside a juicy steak but they'd also go well with any holiday meal, especially one including turkey or glazed ham.

A Wish for Homemade Ornaments:

Cinnamon Applesauce Heart Ornaments from Katy Elliott
These easy to make, scented ornaments are the perfect craft to do with kids. The only drawback is that the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of ground cinnamon but Katy says you can order it in bulk from Amazon pretty cheap. The cinnamon and cloves make the house smell amazing and you could do other shapes depending on what cookie cutters you have. I would probably do Christmas trees and stars and angels.

Kids Hand Print Snowman Ornaments from Instructables
These have been recommended to me by several of my Facebook friends. They are just too cute! They remind me of the handimals we had done at Dollywood. Bailey will enjoy making these ornaments slightly less than she will the cinnamon cut-outs (because she hates having her hands dirty and she thinks paint is dirty, who would have guessed I'd have a kid who hates finger painting?) but once she sees how cute the little snowmen are she'll love the ornaments!

And that's all I have the energy for this month. Good luck with all of your holiday crafting, creating, baking, cooking, and gifting! Enjoy the season!

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