Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Tasty Pretzel Wreaths

December 19, 2009

Here’s an idea for some quick, easy holiday treats that your kids will love to make and you will all love to eat.  You’ll  just need circular pretzels (they have them at most grocery stores this time of year), almond bark or white chocolate, and green sprinkles.  I found some sprinkles at our local grocery store (Byerly’s) that looked like holly leave and berries and looked great on the little wreaths.

Melt the chocolate or almond bark in the microwave.  Have your child drop the pretzels in the melted goo and fish them out with tongs or a chopstick, shaking off the excess.  Lay them on some waxed paper or a cookies sheet and , before they dry, sprinkle them with whatever you want.  We put some sprinkles on the waxed paper before we put the pretzels on so there would be green on both sides of the wreaths. 

Voila!  Enjoy!

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Graham Cracker Cottages

December 9, 2009

There is an ideal way to do things, and then there is the way you actually end up doing them.

I’ve been doing this project with my kids for years.  Usually I do it right, mixing up frosting and gluing the little houses together ahead of time so that the kids can decorate them later, when they’re dry and sturdy.  This year, friends came over and I didn’t have any frosting mixed up, so I let the kids put the houses together with spray-can frosting and decorate them an hour or so later.  There was lots of shoddy construction and many walls collapsed and had to be pushed back up and reinforced with candy canes, but it didn’t really matter.   The kids loved it as much as ever.

To make graham cracker cottages, you will need graham crackers, paper plates, spray-on frosting in cans (the kind that comes with plastic decorating tips) and lots of candy to decorate with.  Making your own frosting is simple too.  I’ll include the recipes at the end of this post! For the hard frosting used to glue the crackers together, you’ll need powdered sugar, egg whites (I’d recommend pasteurized eggs), and cream of tartar. For the softer decorating frosting, you’ll need powdered sugar, butter, and a little milk.  If you make your own frosting, don’t forget to have a pastry tube and decorating tips for applying the frosting to the graham crackers!

Building the cottages:  First, break the graham crackers into squares.  Put a dab of frosting (spray-can or egg-white frosting)  on a paper plate and stick a square to the frosting.  Then, pipe frosting around the square (on the plate) and put up four square walls by sort of leaning the crackers together.  Pipe frosting between the cracks to hold the walls together.  Now, pipe frosting around the tops of the walls and lean two graham cracker squares together to form a roof for your cottage. Pipe more frosting at the top of the roof and onto any exposed graham cracker edges to make it look pretty.  If possible, allow the cottage(s) to dry until the frosting is hard.

Decorating the cottages: Have your child pipe spray-can or soft frosting onto the cottage and stick pieces of candy and cookies onto the frosting to decorate the them.  Younger children may need help applying the frosting, but they like to do it themselves, so let them try, even if it doesn’t look perfect!  I always make a cottage that I can decorate too, so I don’t try to take over my kids’ projects.  After all, why should  kids have all the fun?

Royal Icing (for gluing cottage together): To one pound powdered sugar, add three egg whites and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar.  Beat until firm.  (The more you stir this icing, the firmer it will get.) Cover with a moist cloth until use.

Butter Icing (for decorating): Cream 4 Tbs. butter until very soft.  Add two cups powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.  Add a drop or two of milk at a time if the mixture is too stiff to pipe through your decorating tube.  You want to make it soft enough for your kids to push out easily, but not so runny that it won’t hold its shape.  Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out and it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Cranberry garlands

November 20, 2008

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Before I had children, I would buy wire frames and painstakingly weave lovely evergreens to them to create Martha Stewart-like wreaths.  I also designed and hand-made our Christmas Cards every year.  Now, I struggle to get my photo cards in the mail and I buy my wreaths at Costco.  I sometimes mourn the loss of my lovely adult arts and crafts.  However, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m blessed with three children who fill our holidays with more joy and beauty than any decoration could ever bring.  I’d trade anything for a handprint turkey made by my two year old!

This year, I decided that we would make cranberry garlands.  They’re pretty, environmentally friendly, and will look nice for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, assuming they age well.  (I’m not sure that they will, but I’ll take the risk.) 

You will need fresh cranberries, fishing line and a yarn needle.  Yarn needles are plastic, not too sharp and can be purchased at craft and fabric stores.  I bought 7cm needles. (Susan Bates brand to be exact.) Make sure the eye isn’t too big, or it will ruin the cranberries.

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I simply pulled a yard or so of fishing line out from the spool and taped it to the spool so that no more could unwind.  Then, I knotted the free end of the fishing line to the needle so it wouldn’t pull off and had my kids start stringing.  It was a little challenging for our two-year old, but she could do it with help!

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You can make the garlands as long as you like.  Just tie them off when they are the length you want.  I’m going to string them on the chandelier in our dining room for Thanksgiving.  We may make a few strings for our Christmas tree too.  It would be a great project for people sitting around watching football, assuming they’re not on a white couch!  When the cranberries are ready to be tossed, I’ll just cut the string and slide them into my compost!

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Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the people you love!