Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Very Small Announcement

I have decided to take a very small break from blogging and return after the first of the New Year. I'm not quitting or anything like that, I just have a few things I want to take care of I want to be able to focus my attention on them fully. 

I'm going to be laying out some goals for this blog, personal and family goals, make a hug to-do list for the year and a couple other things. I need to take stock of my pantry and see what needs added/re-stocked. We are going to do a HUGE freezer clean out and take stock of that as well. You know, *stuff* that needs done. 

I'll look so forward to seeing you all back here in 2013 and I so look forward to taking my mini vacation to come up with some new and fun ideas for you all. The house cleaning I could do without though.....

Happy New Year~ See ya on the flipside!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peace, Love and Joy


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I don’t know how much I’ll be updating before Christmas and I wanted to be sure to wish each one of you a very Merry Christmas. To be safe, be loving, be together and be happy- that is my wish for you.

The horribly things going on in our country in last few days have rattled me. They have shaken me to my core and made me look at how I live my life and how I treat the ones around me. I’m very conflicted. I’m focusing on my little girls, my husband, my family and my God right now. I’m praying. I’m weeping and I’m being a wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend. I’m doing my best to BE my best right now and feeling guilty when I’m not. When I snap at my little kids, or yell at them for not cleaning their room, or am short with my husband for not making sure I had firewood in the house.

I’ll have a few updates this week, I’m sure, as I go about my holiday baking. May your Christmas be blessed and filled with love. ~ Charley

Friday, December 14, 2012

Snow!


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We had our first snow sprinkle last night! Just a dusting but enough to make the girls really excited and beg for hot cocoa. Snow + hot cocoa = TrueLuv4Ever. I’m busy crocheting my little hands off trying to get some Christmas gifts finished, but I wanted to share pictures of our very pathetic snowfall. Pathetic or not, it makes me happy and it just feels a little more like Christmas!

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Brrr! Looks chilly! Glad I’m snug inside my house and not tramping through the woods today.

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Probably time to pack up the old CharFlame, not much BBQ going on this time of year.

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Behind our house. So, like I said just a skiff of snow, but enough to kick the Holiday spirit into overdrive!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quick Crochet Projects Just In Time For Christmas Giving!


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These owl hats are so, so, so cute and incredibly easy! They work up in a flash and are just the cutest things you have ever seen. I made one for each of my girls, made a few for friends and I even sold a couple to people who wanted to give them as gifts. I found the pattern on Repeat Crafter Me and let me tell you, this gal has about a TON of super cute patterns that she offers for free! I love a free deal and I wanted to pass this amazing website on to you as well. She has patterns for snowmen and snowwomen hats, sock monkey hats, reindeer hats and so much more. Sizes from newborn to adult, there is something there for everyone. You still have time to whip some of these cute hats to give as gifts.

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The next project I wanted to share were these adorable little crochet stars. These are quick and easy (one star takes me about 7 minutes) and they look great as ornaments or to tie onto gifts. I made some in solid red for an ornament exchange and I love them so much that I made a dozen for my own tree. I’m planning on making a dozen more in white and a dozen in green to add to my packages this year. This pattern I found on Ravelry and it is a keeper for sure.

That’s it for today, but I wanted to share these quick and easy ideas for some really nice Christmas gifts. Let me know if you make one of these and how you liked them Smile

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gingerbread Loaf


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I’ve made gingerbread cake before, but never a loaf like this. I have it on high authority that this is the way to go because the inside is more steamed pudding-like than a cake is. All I know is that it is spicy, rich and delicious. I doubled this recipe and made 2 loaves- 1 to eat for dessert with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce and 1 to freeze for closer to Christmas. That second one might not make it very long and that’s ok because this is really easy to whip up and make.

I’m kicking myself for not making this recipe earlier in my life. Why have I waited so long? Don’t make my mistakes! If you enjoy ginger flavor, then you will love this dense loaf. Another plus? Your house will smell amazing and your family will ask you 500 times what’s cooking because it smells so divine. This brought my girls out of their room, away from the little people and Barbie commune they have built up there, just so they could ask what it was and when they could eat some of it.

Gingerbread Loaf
this is a recipe clipped from a magazine. I don’t know which one, or what year, or even if it was one I clipped or if it’s one I was given. If I find the source, I’ll update this!
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup hot water
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the molasses. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Mix in the hot water. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting to avoid crumbling. Serve warm with ice cream, custard or hard sauce. Serve cool with butter, cream cheese or lemon curd.

Make some and enjoy it! Give some away. Fill your house with the special scent of Gingerbread and know that Christmas is almost here. Now that I’ve baked it, I know why people associate gingerbread and it’s scent with Christmas- they just go together!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How To Package Cookie Dough For Gifts


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We’ve made the cookies, we’ve frozen them and now we’re ready to give them out. But how exactly do you pass out frozen blobs of cookie dough? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

This is really, really simple and can be done in no time. It’s also very inexpensive, and let’s be honest- who can’t use a few inexpensive Christmas ideas, right? Let’s jump right in and you can really see how fast and easy these are to put together and send out the door.

First, you need to take a paper punch and punch along the top edge of a plain brown lunch sack. The paper punches that are longer (I think they are for doing one side of a card, or the edge of a piece of paper for scrapbooking but I’m not a scrapbooker so I don’t know that for sure) are probably going to work the best. Alternately, you could cut a scallop or other design along the top with a pair of shaped scrapbooking scissors. You’re also going to punch 2 holes with a hole punch at the top, like this:

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Next, you’re going to thread a piece of ribbon through the holes…..

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And attach your tag. Write your baking directions on the back of the tag and put something cute on the front.

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This bag will hold 1 dozen cookie frozen cookie dough balls in a quart sized ziplock bag. Put the bag inside and stand the bag up. You’re going to want to glue the very edges together on each side so they stay shut a little better. Here is a picture of the area I’m talking about:

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So, put your cookie dough in, glue the edges shut and here is your cheap and cheerful package of cookies you can pass out. For the people I am giving multiple dozens of cookies to, I’ll be putting the bags onto a cute Christmas serving tray and wrapping it all up with clear cello wrap and a bow.

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Aren’t they cute? Obviously you have to plan out when you want to give these out as gifts, because they are frozen and need to stay frozen. I really can’t wait to pass these out to friends and family and see how they go over. I think it’s such a nice idea for making the season last a little longer. Or, for people whoa re just tired of sweets, they can pull them out when they feel like a little snack and have an easy dozen cookies in no time flat!

I hope you have enjoyed the frozen cookie dough project and this packaging idea. It’s been really fun to think about gifts that are outside the box (or box store!) for this Christmas season.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Soft Sugar Cookies with Icing

This is a re-post from December of last year, but it is the last cookie that I made for my Cookie Dough project. I've updated it to detail how I make and freeze these to get them ready for gift giving!


Milk and cookies. Perfect for an after school snack, leaving for Santa, eating at 3 am or just whenever. These sugar cookies are a family favorite. I make them on all the major holidays, and sometimes in between too, but at Christmas time I make batches and batches of them. Kevin, the girls and I will make a big batch and ice them as one of our 25 days of Christmas (we do something "Christmas-y every night starting Dec 1st).

We leave them for Santa and he ALWAYS cleans his plate ;)

This is a soft sugar cookie, although if you roll them thin and bake them longer you will get a crispy one. Today I made a batch and made half of them to hang on our tree, I'll show those to you when I get them done. To do that, poke a hole in the tops of your cookies before you bake them. Bake like usual and then poke through the holes again when they come out of the oven. You can paint them with glue and sprinkle on glitter, paint with puffy paint, leave them lain or even decorate them with royal icing if you want.

Ok, on to the recipe. This is another one out of my Mennonite Cookbook. My mom made it, I make it and I'm pretty sure my grandma uses the same recipe. It's a keeper :)

Soft Sugar Cookies

1 cup shortening (1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter makes a good flavor)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Approx. 5 cups flour (do NOT add it all at once)
1/4 cup milk

Mix shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix well. Add the flour alternately with the milk until the dough is soft but not sticky. (It may not use all 5 cups)
Roll the dough out on a floured surface about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutter and bake on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. It's very important that the cookies are just starting to brown on the bottoms when you take them out of the oven. They will stay nice and soft this way. Let cool and frost with Sugar Cookie Icing.

To Freeze- Line cookie sheets with parchment or freezer paper. Roll out the cookie dough right onto the paper on the cookie sheet and cut out your shapes. Pop the cookie sheet (paper, cookie dough and all) into the freezer and leave it there until the cookie shapes are absolutely rock hard. Remove the cookie sheets from the freezer and stack the cookie shapes, with pieces of parchment or wax paper in between, into zip top freezer bags. Label the bags with the name and baking instructions and return to the freezer.

Sugar Cookie Icing

1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons-1/4 cup milk

Beat the butter until fluffy. 1/2 the powdered sugar and begin adding more sugar gradually. When it gets too stiff to beat, add a little milk. When you are happy with the consistency (it should be thick) add food coloring and frost you cookies. Let the cookies air dry for several hours and you will be able to stack them without them sticking.



They are so good, it's hard to sit still while mom takes a picture! But, waiting has it's own rewards and these cookies are worth the wait.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Candy Cane Crunch Cookies

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Our next to last cookie I’m making for my Project Cookie Dough gifts is this Candy Cane Crunch Cookie. These are really simple and actually don’t require you to crush up candy canes! Andes (as in the mints), has a peppermint candy cane baking bits out this year in my area that I have never seen before. Of course I had to try them out and I love them! The thing that always turns me off about using crushed candy canes in baking is that when you freeze the dough or leave the baked product sit out over night, they tend to get sticky. Yuck!

Not when you use these baking bits. They are crushed candy canes ensconced in white chocolate. Oh, and for the record….they are delicious. Very, very delicious. Like maybe stir them into hot cocoa delicious. Seriously. They don’t get all sticky and gross and I think I’m in love with them.

Obviously I have issues with food….

I added some chocolate chips and colored sugar to these to make them extra special, but I can assure you that they are just as tasty without the dressing up.

Candy Cane Crunch Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup candy cane crunch baking bits
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Mix together the butter, sugars and egg. Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt. Combine well. Fold in the candy cane crunch bits and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and dust with red colored sugar if desired. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges. Let cool on a wire rack. Makes approximately 3 1/2 dozen.

To Freeze: Mix as directed and drop onto a greased cookie sheet by rounded tablespoon. Freeze until completely firm and then transfer to a zip top plastic bag. Label with name of cookie, baking time and oven temperature.

This is the next to last cookie recipe I’m going to be making for my freezer. One more recipe and then the cute ideas I have for dressing up the bags of frozen dough. This week!!!!! We’ll be done this week Smile Yay! I’m so excited to have this done so early in December. I can breathe a huge sigh and relax now….my gifts are ready to go!