Monday, November 28, 2011

Borax Snowflakes and Icicles

Have you ever made borax snowflakes? Why the heck not??!! These are some of the prettiest decorations to make. We made 2 types, snowflakes and icicles. Both use the same technique and the same materials, they just require a little different shaping to the pipe cleaners.

What you will need:

Pipe cleaners (we used white)
Boiling water
Blue food coloring
Cup or Jar

To make a snowflake or icicle, bend your pipe cleaners into your desired snowflake shapes. Tie your snowflake to a pencil and suspend it in a cup or bowl being careful not to touch the sides or bottom. Mix 3 tablespoons borax into 1 cup boiling water, dissolve. Add 1 drop blue food coloring. Pour into the cup or bowl until it covers the snowflake. Make more solution and add it if the 1st cup doesn't cover it. Leave it sit in the solution for 24 hours. Take it out and let it drip dry, hang it on your tree or in your window and enjoy :)

Take a look at those crystals! This made a great science experiment for the kids in addition to it being a really fun project.

To make an icicle, we just twisted the pipe cleaners like so and stuck them into the solution.

I'm going to share our handmade/homemade Christmas ideas as we make them this year. I hope some of you will find an idea or project that inspires you to put a little homemade into your holiday this year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Stress Relief

Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays. I love making the special food for my family and friends. I love how holidays seem to be a little brighter, a little clearer, a little more special than all the other days. I like all the build-up and the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of my labor enjoyed. I love almost everything about it.


Except for the stress. I'm not a perfectionist. My house will not be in tip-top shape for Thanksgiving and anyone who knows me knows that. We probably won't get dressed until we have to leave our house to milk in the evening. We'll eat too much, watch too much tv and likely take a nap.

And yet I've still felt stress. What if it's not good enough? What if I burn the tasty turkey? What if someone unexpected drops by?

This year I've decided to let go of the anxiety. If I mess u the food this will become the year that mom burnt the turkey, or the stuffing was dry or the potatoes never got done, or the gravy was forgotten on the stove. It will become a family joke in the years to come, "Uh-oh better watch mom, remember the year she burnt the turkey?" It's fine. It's fine because it's not about how good the food is (although it is my pride and joy to set a delicious and bountiful table).

It's not about the cost, the gifts, the fancy place settings, dressing up.

It's about having a place to live, a warm place to lay our heads at night, a full belly at days end. It's about being together, because lets face it....we don't know that we will all be together tomorrow, and just BEING there.

It's about counting your blessings that the Lord has sent you and taking stock of how you have accepted them. Reflection. Resolution. Not letting one minute pass without being thankful.

It's remembering to be thankful and joyous ALL the days of the year and not just when you are expected to be.

It's about love~ and I love each and every one of you who read this, who pass this on and who take the time to visit this blog all year.

I'm thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from all of us :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rolls Can Come In So Many Shapes!

Since we talked about making your dinner rolls in advance last time, I wanted to share some of the very easy shapes you can make your dough into. These are 4 of my most favorite ways to take an ordinary dinner roll and turn it into something different and special.

#1~ The Cloverleaf Roll

Take the amount of dough that you would use for 1 dinner roll and roll it into 3 evenly-sized balls:

Place them together so that they make a clover shape:

And pop them into a muffin tin:

Let it rise normally and bake like usual.

#2~ Easy Cloverleaf Rolls

Roll your dough into roll shaped balls, put it into a muffin tin and cut across one side to make a slice in the top:

Then cut the other way so that you end up with 4 pieces sticking up. Flatten them down slightly and you should have something that looks like this:

Let rise and bake as usual.

#3~ Bowknot Rolls

Pull off as much dough as you would for 1 roll, and roll into a long (6-8 inch) snake. Think play dough snakes lol. Simply tie it into a knot and place it on a greased cookie sheet:

(Sorry for the blurry picture, I had dough and flour all over my hands and didn't want to get my camera filthy)

Let rise and bake!

#4~ Mock Croissants

Roll out your bread dough into a circle and cut into an even amount of pieces:

Roll them up, starting from the largest side and rolling towards the point:

And then....well, you know. Same drill. Rise and bake.

A couple things about these rolls~ they aren't any special recipe. They can be made with homemade dough or store-bought dough. I just think that it kind be fin and kind of special to have your roll take on a different shape from the standard dome top.

Also, this is a great time to get your kids in the kitchen with you. Clean little hands can roll the balls out for traditional cloverleaf rolls, older kids can make bowknots and mock croissants with ease. Since you'll be making them in advance (because you ARE making them in advance right?), you can take a little more time and let the littles have a hand in the meal too. Fun will be had by all!

Tomorrow: How to perk up your rolls with flavorful additions and toppings :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Idea #1

This month, leading up to Thanksgiving, I'm going to share with you some very easy tips and tricks to make your meal extra special.

Today I'm going to focus on butter. Simple, humble can add that something to your meal to make it above and beyond.

Rubbing under the skin of your turkey with butter has been touted by chefs for a couple years now. But, I think butter mixed with herbs and spices is even better. Here are a few recipes for compound butter that I think would be great with turkey:

  Herb Butter

1 stick butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

Spiked Butter Rub

1 stick of butter
1Tablespoon rum
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup toasted pecans

Fresh Herb Butter

1 stick of butter
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon thyme

Finely chop the herbs and mix with the butter.

The herb butters above would be great with whatever kind of bread you chose to serve with your Thanksgiving meal. I have one more suggestion though~

Honey Butter

1 stick of butter
2-3 Tablespoons honey (more or less to taste)

Having both an herb butter and a honey butter on your table would be a nice addition, don't you think?

All of these butter combinations can be made now and frozen until you need them. Check something off your Thanksgiving plan now and have special butters with your meal this year!

Stay tuned for more ideas....I've got some good ones :)