November 25, 2011

After the Workshop I helped plan last month I promised to give you more details on the crafts we did. Today I'm going to show you the cookies in a jar.

Cookies in a Jar

Unfortunately, this activity was too far from Christmas so the only way to purchase Christmas M&M's was online. That was just way to expensive so I purchased the colored ones from Costco and sorted them out! It was a lot of work sorting out 4 bags (56oz each) of M&M's but the price was way better! I mixed the Red and Green, then also used solid blue and solid yellow. Matching those with a coordinating Christmas fabric on top made the colors work! All I had left over were Orange and Brown M&M's. So I used those to make Thank-you jars for the teachers of the workshop. My son's pre-school teacher happens to be getting one as well.

The recipe I found and used was the Cowgirl Cookies from Bakerella. I liked the look of these jars because there are more layers and texture than others have. Seeing as there is no need to post the recipe twice just click on the link to get it and follow her instructions to the letter. The only change is the first time we made the recipe it was really dry so we added another 1/4 cup of melted butter. The next times we made it we didn't need the extra butter?! They are awesome cookies! Below I'll fill you in on some other tips.

Cookies in a Jar Tips

The Jars
I could not find the smooth jars (Ball 62500) locally so I purchased Kerr 0505 for a really great price and because it only has the marking on one side I put the labels on the smooth side!

Buying Bulk
If you are making a large amount of these the amount of supplies needed were pretty easy to figure out. Measure each item out, weigh it and multiply that by the amount you want to make. Almost everything you purchase has a weight on it, so you can get pretty close to the size you want.

The Funnel
Dumping the flour into a jar is not the easiest task. Especially when you're not using the wide-mouth jars. I pulled out my Canning Funnel for the job. It has a much wider mouth than your usual funnel and makes things much easier. If you don't have one, you can also make a paper funnel or make one with a slightly wider mouth from a plastic bottle. (You'll want to have a few if you're making this as an activity.)

Canning Funnel

The Packing
When the directions say to pack it in tightly, it's not just a tap the bottom of the jar kind of pack. It's push it all down as tight as you can tight. It won't all fit unless you pack it really tight - and for this you will need something to stick in the jar to press down on each layer. The only thing I had on hand was a spray bottle with a flat circular bottom (about 2-3" around). A pestle would have been perfect but I don't have one, and most aren't long enough to get that first layer packed tight. Look around at what you have. A narrow bottle, tall spice jar, vinegar bottle, etc. I also noticed after finishing all of them that the Delta Creative 8 oz. Acrylic paint bottles are the perfect size around as well. Whatever you use, just wash the bottom before using it!

Packing Tight

The Labels
I made in Silhouette Studio and did print and cut on the Silhouette. I used White Shipping Labels by Avery (8165) so they would be like stickers instead of having to stick paper on. We did "Cookies for Santa" labels on the Workshop jars and then on these ones I just put "Thanks". I wanted it simple, and it is perfect timing to hand them out with Orange and Brown M&M's for Thanksgiving! I loved the Christmas ones, but I think these Thanksgiving versions are even more cute!
*For those Silhouette users interested in these labels - I will have a tutorial showing you exactly how to make them soon!

Silhouette Label

The Fabric
Just in case you were wondering - the beautiful fabric on the Thanksgiving Jars is Tranquil Orange from Moda's Arcadia line.

Cookies in a Jar

These make really cute gifts year round. I confess we've used two of the jars for the cookies since I made them. It's so much easier to use than mixing the whole thing. (As a side note, I'm not sure if it was the fact that my husband used a mixer, or that blue M&M's just run easily, but the dough for those cookies was not pretty.)

November 24, 2011

We had a great week. I've completely slacked off on my blog this holiday. I had a lot of ideas to share with you, and just didn't have the time. Time has been well spent organizing and sorting things in my house. I've got to make room for Christmas.

This week my son's preschool had a Thanksgiving Feast. We were all asked to bring something to share. I looked online for something cute that he could help make. On Monday night for our Family Night activity we made these adorable acorn doughnut holes. You can find the simple instructions for these here from Six in the Suburbs. The kids loved making them.

Acorn Doughnut Holes

This week my parents visited. I think it's ironic that we had Americans over for Canadian Thanksgiving last month and this month we had Canadians over for American Thanksgiving. It's so cute to watch our kids with their grandparents and how enraptured they are with them. I especially enjoyed singing the kids to sleep with my Dad. It was special to sing some of the songs (that are my kids favorites) and think of how my Grandma sang them to my Dad, and how things that we love can span generations. I also enjoyed a night out shopping with my Mom. She got her hair cut, and we had some fun chats. I think we both needed that time together.

This morning - knowing that I would have to spend a few hours cooking in the kitchen we brought out the ultimate distraction. I've decided to make it a tradition every Thanksgiving. In January Target was having their Christmas Clearance sale. It was the last day of the sale, everything was marked 75% off and I worried there might not be much left. I scored big time - but I nearly squealed when I saw this toy on the shelf:

That's right, a Remote Controlled Polar Express Train! Original price: $59.99, purchased for $14.99! I grabbed it (last one on the shelf) and practically ran from the store after purchasing it. It's been tucked away all year long, waiting for Christmas to come. This morning we brought it out. The boys still haven't stopped playing with it. (Although sharing is a little bit of an issue.) Every year on Thanksgiving the train is coming out. It was truly magical to see them play with it, jump for joy and squeal "It's working! It's working!" when it finally started.

We had an awesome dinner with lots of yummy food. With a table surrounded by family and all sorts of fun to be had I have to say it was a great Holiday!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Love, Laughter, and of course, good food! Happy Holidays everyone!
Have any of you heard rumors of the Cameo going on sale for Black Friday?! No one knows what the price will be until tomorrow morning. They are also having a sale in their store you can get up to 40% off in their store (excluding the Cameo and Download and Gift Cards). Check out more information on the Silhouette Black Friday Sale over at Today's Creative Blog. Trust me - if you've been wanting a CAMEO this will probably be the BEST time to buy! And when the store is 40% off what's holding you back from stocking up on a few supplies too?

November 23, 2011

My husband came upstairs to ask me a quick question. "There's a package at the door from Expressions Vinyl, is that the company you bought the Cameo from?"

Cameo Arrived!

Eep. I have barely had time to unpack it, but I'm thrilled to welcome a Silhouette Cameo to my list of crafting tools!

Question is - will the Cameo be more fun for me than it's box will be for my son?!

Box from the Cameo

November 14, 2011

Alternate Title: How I saved a ton of money this year on my Christmas Cards. 

Guess what? I'm part way through my Christmas shopping already! And one of the first things I bought early in October were my Christmas Cards. I decided that THIS year, I am going to actually send all of my cards out. I usually get half of them sent and then there's a pile left over, sitting around the house somewhere for months years. NOT this year though.

(Similar to the card we used last year.)

Last year I had them printed by Shutterfly and they were amazing! I was so pleased with the quality and the look. They were so awesome and the paper was amazing. Seriously, if you're at all considering Shutterfly - I could not have been happier.

(This year's card.)

This year, because I already had a Groupon that needed to be used, I chose Mixbook for my Christmas Cards. I am happy to say I am equally pleased with the results. They are beautiful. I was so excited that I could customize the front AND back of the card and have photos on both sides for no extra cost! I can't wait to show you them. I paid $15 for 100 Double Sided Christmas Cards! I highly recommend watching Groupon for deals at printers for your Christmas cards. I was able to purchase way more cards that way.

Can't find the look you're going for? If you have Photoshop or Elements you can always make your own and print them at home or have them printed through most online companies.

Becky Higgins has beautiful Free Holiday Cards (found in the side-bar of her free stuff page).

PSHero has some nice Holiday Cards available for free.

Memory Makers Magazine has a three free Holiday Card templates.

EW Couture has some free Holiday Cards for you too.

*UPDATE*: Jenn at My Delicious Ambiguity has another large list of free printable cards. Some of them are the same as here, but there's a lot more to check out.

November 7, 2011

This coming November 11th is Veteran's Day for those of us here in the U.S. It's a day we honor military veterans. It's a day we remember them, show gratitude to them, and honor their heritage. For Canadians this day is called Remembrance Day. While we honor all veterans it is a special time to remember and honor those that have died in the line of duty since World War I. The date was chosen because it is the official date of the end of World War I in 1918.

This national holiday in Canada is similar to Memorial Day for American's and it seemed to be one of the holidays where true patriotism shone through for Canadians. Assemblies leading up to the day, a moment of silence at 11:00 on the holiday, and all sorts of memories come back as I think about this time.

As a child though, I had little understanding of Freedom. It's a hard concept to understand when you live in a free country and a happy home. I knew my Grandpa fought in a war, I understood war was bad and killed people, but since then I have learned to appreciate and understand true Freedom on a much deeper level. I am so grateful for the freedom I have and I am especially grateful to those who have defended and continue to defend it.

One tradition that I loved was the wearing of poppies (fake ones). They are seen all over on everyone around this holiday. Poppies became a symbol of remembrance because of the poem, "In Flanders Fields" believed to be written by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian physician after he witnessed the death of his friend. The poppies grew in profusion in the disturbed battlefields and cemeteries of Flanders and their bright red color make a perfect reminder of the blood shed for freedom.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

                             -Ly. Col. John McCrae

This poem is one I heard every year as a child, we often memorized it, repeated it, and heard it during assemblies. It is a beautiful reminder to me now of my freedom, of my heritage, of how I came to have the freedom, and of my duty to work hard and have faith in freedom.

In honor of Remembrance Day this year I made a printable to share with everyone. It's my text version of the poem. I wanted the first part of the poem to feel broken up as a reminder of what War is like. The challenge to us, though I wanted solid and clearly defined - showing our firm resolve to fight for and maintain our freedom.

In Flanders Field Poster

Remembrance Day Artwork

These are both 8x10" only and as with all my free shared files, these are for Personal Use Only. Please share photos of your projects made from these files in my Flickr Pool: Maggie Muggins Designs In Action.