Category: Holidays

Grandma’s “Super Secret” Fudge

HolidaysRecipes

So, I think that before Pinterest and the Internet, our parents and grandparents stole other families’ recipes and tried to claim them as their own.  About 6 years ago I e-mailed my Grandma to get her fudge recipe. We did not get this treat often, so it was always so special and just delicious.

Anyway, I got her recipe and each time I make it the fudge is a hit. People rave about it and I proudly report that it’s my Grandma’s recipe. This year I was gathering all the ingredients for the fudge and when I grabbed the marshmallow creme, I was disappointed. Good job Grandma, apparently Jet Puffed has been using your fudge recipe for years. Or the more realistic situation is that she stole this recipe and has been claiming it as her own for years! I bet she would be mortified if she found out that we know she’s a fraud! A delicious fudge making fraud! Regardless of where the recipe originated doesn’t matter. It’s amazing. Now that you have the fudge back story, here is my Grandma’s “secret” recipe. Or you can also get it on the back of the Jet Puffed Marshmallow Creme jar. Totally your call.

Here’s what you will need:

* Margarine or butter (I used unsalted butter)

* Sugar

* Evaporated milk (Do NOT use sweetened condensed milk like I tried to use, it will not turn out and will need to make another trip to the grocery store)

* Chocolate chips (12 oz.)

* Marshmallow Creme (the small jar is the correct size)

* Nuts (I used Walnuts)

* Vanilla

Start by preparing a 9 by 13 inch Pyrex for putting the fudge in. Grease your pan. Then place foil or wax paper inside the pan, enough to overflow over the sides. Then spray your paper before putting fudge into the pan. Remember to spray your pan and the paper. Super important. Learn from my mistakes, they still tasted perfect, but it was not beautiful or easy to get out of the pan.

* Add together 1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine

* 3 cups sugar

* 2/3 cup evaporated milk

Stir well and bring to boil. Cook on medium heat — NO HIGHER as it will scorch — stirring constantly until it boils. When it comes to a boil start timing – time for EXACTLY 5 minutes.

Take off of the stove and add:
* 12 oz. chocolate chips
* 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme 
* 1 cup nuts
* 1 tsp vanilla

Mix well and pour into the Pyrex pan. Cool to harden.

Then enjoy.

Christmas Traditions

Holidays

It’s always fun to have little family traditions to help make the holidays seem jolly. It’s something people can count on and look forward to. My best friend shared with me one of her family traditions. She said that each year she asked her children to pick out their own wrapping paper. All their gifts will be wrapped in the paper they picked out. She keeps extra paper and puts it on an ornament so that each year there is a captured memory to be placed on their tree. I think this is such a lovely idea and am going to start making this a tradition in my house.

Another yearly tradition that I enjoy happens at my church. Every year for our Christmas service the congregation sings “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” They have all the men, young and old, come up to the front of the church and they sing this song to the women. It sounds simple, but it’s so sweet. Of course my husband makes a beeline for the back of the crowd so no one can see him.

If anyone reading this has a favorite Christmas tradition, please feel free to comment on yours. So I can possibly copy some other lovely traditions!

Ornament Decorating Party

DecoratingEntertainingHolidays

There are so many party ideas that you can throw during the holiday season. I don’t want to gain 3 million pounds by having tons of baking parties so I thought it would be fun to do a craft. There was food there, and not super healthy, but delicious. And I was more focused on decorating than eating. One of my best friends invited some of her co-workers and our former co-workers over. We had a group of 7 adults and we also had a white elephant gift exchange.

For holiday get-togethers you don’t need a heavy spread. We just served light appetizers. We had cookies, baby cupcakes, spinach artichoke dip, homemade bread, cheese, carrots and celery. For the ornaments I got my supplies at Hobby Lobby. I bought clear ornaments. Then I got glitter, sequins, spray glue, glue pens, some holiday themed cut-outs, puff paint, and random decorations that could be put into the ornaments.

Pinterest ideas can be extremely misleading. Putting glitter inside the ornaments was more difficult than it should have been. We put the spray glue inside the ornaments and swirled it around, then put glitter inside and shook that around until it coated the entire ornament. Not easy. This took a long time and several layers to get the glitter to look the way I wanted it too. Sticking sequins on the outside of the ornaments just became this big ‘ol mess. Plus, I am not artistic enough for that. It did not look good. If you are artistic and have a steady hand go right along and decorate those ornaments. My vision in my head for decorations did not go past my head.

The process wasn’t clean. How I wanted to decorate them didn’t turn out. But I had fun. It appeared that everyone else was having a good time as well. There was lots of laughter and good company. Plus, everyone got to take home their ornaments. So you get an activity and party favor all in one! I’m happy with the 4 I did make. I’d call the party a success. You can also do this with little ones, but I used glass ornaments so I needed to assist and supervise my 2 year old. But she was pleased with herself for helping.

Gift Guide Day #5

Gift GuideHolidays

I have been fortunate to grow up in a family that traveled. While I’ve barely been overseas, I have been to all 50 states. My mom and dad have as well. My sister is still missing 2 states. Since my husband and I started dating we have been to 16 states together. My husband and my father are extremely difficult to shop for. Every year for my dad (for Christmas, Birthdays, and Father’s Day) we get him a gift card to Barnes and Nobel or REI. It is SOOO boring. And I’m usually at a loss for my hubby. Last year I thought it would be fun to get them gifts that had meaning. So I got my husband a scratch map of the US and scratched the states we have been to together. I bought a frame from Michaels and that was the gift.

(PC: Uncommon Goods – $28.95)

The picture above is from Uncommon Goods where I purchased the map. I quite enjoyed scratching the states that we’ve been to together. It took me a lot longer than I care to admit. Also, not quite as fun as scratch tickets when you win, so there’s that.

(PC: Uncommon Goods – $28.95)

(PC: Uncommon Goods – $35.95)

I bought the bottom world map for my dad. It’s the deluxe map. Not sure what the differences are between both world maps. My dad travels internationally frequently for work. He has been to every continent with the exception of Antarctica. I thought it would be fun to scratch off all the places he has been and so he could have a visual of where he has traveled. I am grateful he hasn’t been to Russia yet. When or if he ever goes he can scratch that himself. That did take me a very long time. I put it in a nice frame and my parents put it in their office. I think it was a hit. Don’t worry, I also got him the same old boring Barnes and Nobel gift card. I love books, but the same gift for every holiday for the past 20-25 years gets old.

Gifts don’t always need to be pricey to be a great gift. The gifts that have meaning are the ones that are treasured. For me, it was fun seeing all the places my dad has been and learned that he has been more places than I realized. It’s also fun to see the places my husband and I have been to together. I am thinking about getting a second USA map to mark all the places my husband, daughter and I have been together.

Gift Guide Day #4

Gift GuideHolidays

There are 2 ways I like to do this gift. You can mix it up to your personal preferences. I like to give this to guys typically. They are so difficult to buy for, so I put together something fun and that they would actually like. I got the popcorn holders at Target as well as the movies. I think the movies were $5 a piece. I got the popcorn book and kernels from Crate & Barrel. There is also a little tea towel that has a popcorn design on it, which I think pulls it all together and is super cute. This is a stay at home, movie night gift. You can add the old fashioned soda bottles and/or include some yummy snacks.

Another way you could gift a movie night, is by getting some goodies that you can take to the movies and actual movie tickets or a movie gift card. I got the movie tickets at Costco, since they are less expensive. I got these popcorn holders at Target as well. Then I filled the popcorn containers with lots of candy and added some boxes of candy. Since snacks are pricey, we like to get boxes of candy before going to the theatre. Bring the big purse ladies! $4 for a teeny tiny box of candy is not right!

Once again, these gifts can be mixed up to what you think the present receiver will like. You can add some nail polish, magazines and Rom Com’s if you are giving this to one of your girlfriends when she is sick or sad. I feel like whichever fun treats you want to include in this gift will always be greatly appreciated!

Gift Guide Day #3

Gift GuideHolidays

Once again I stock up on goodies throughout the year so that I always have a gift on hand. My mom has done this ever since I can remember and I think it’s great to be prepared. You never know when you’ll get a last minute invite to a party, or if you remembered it’s your friends birthday..on their birthday!

This gift includes: soap, lotion, a necklace, a matching bracelet and a grey scarf. I stock up on lotion and soap when I’m checking out at Michaels. I always get several lotions and bubble baths when there is a sale at Bath & Body Works when you can get each one for $3 each. I love a yummy scented lotion. Zulily usually has great deals on jewelry and scarves. You can find cute bracelets for $6-$7. I get necklaces for around $10 and the scarves usually are under $10. I don’t feel like I’m cheap, rather I’m thrifty. My mom also taught me not to pay full price for things. I completely agree.

The best times to stock up on items if after the holidays. People are wanting to get rid of everything and move onto the next season, this is when you can get a good bargain. You’ll have to really look at some places, but it can be worth it. Especially if it is holiday themed, but an item that doesn’t expire. I usually give this gift or something very similar to my girlfriends for birthdays and Christmas. I don’t always try and match up the jewelry with the lotion, but it worked out well in this case.

Gift Guide Day #2

Gift GuideHolidays

I stock up on things that I think could be used for gifts throughout the year. Some of my favorite places to shop from are Zulily and Target. Both have fantastic sales, so that makes stocking up easy and doesn’t break the bank.

Adult coloring books are popular right now. I got several on Zulily and Amazon. There were some on Zulily that were fancier and for calming or relaxation and ranged between $7-$10 per book. I got several on Amazon for $4-$6 per book. For the Amazon price I bought about 15 books that I can give throughout the year when I need a quick, but cute gift. I got the markers and colored pencils from Hobby Lobby and were around $4 a piece. I have also stocked up on colored pencils from Target and Michaels. You can add soaps or lotions to the gift if you think it’s too simple. So far, the friends that I’ve given the coloring books to seem to love them.

Just grab some tissue paper and a cute gift bag and you’re all set. I am not a gifted present wrapper, so gift bags are easy and difficult to mess up. You could even wrap the Coloring books and then take the colored pencils out of the box and tie them on top with a pretty bow.

Gift Guide Day #1

Gift GuideHolidays

My mom puts together gifts for her Bible study friends throughout the year. I can’t remember the exact number, but I think there are approximately 12 ladies in the group. So when you have a large group of friends that you want to give gifts to, you don’t want to break the bank, while still having something cute to give.

For this gift, she put together a Christmas themed bowl, a dip mix, a spreader for the dip, and a holiday wrapped hot chocolate mix. This is so fun and cute. You can make the dip, serve it in the dish you got and then have a cup of hot chocolate while getting ready to enjoy the holidays with your own family.

Wrap everything up and place it in a Christmas or winter themed gift bag and you’re good to go! I will be posting gift ideas for the next several days. Be sure to check in!

Ways to get into the Winter Spirit

Holidays

It almost hit 70 degrees here today. Not very wintery if you ask me. While it is nice to have such gorgeous weather; it doesn’t help to get me into the Christmas spirit. No matter where you live there are some fun ways to get into the Winter/Christmas Spirit.

(PC: The Berry)

One of my favorite ways to get excited for the holidays is to watch my favorite Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music. So blast the Christmas tunes while getting ready for work or while doing chores. If you have a minute to yourself, put on Christmas Vacation, Elf, or White Christmas! Cover yourself with a fluffy blanket, sip some hot chocolate, and turn on the fireplace.

(PC: Love This Pic)

Since the days are shorter, pack the kiddos in the car, once again grab some hot chocolate or apple cider, listen to Christmas music or sing carols and drive around neighborhoods admiring all the pretty lights.

This time of year can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. It supposed to be about family, the birth of Jesus and appreciating what we already have. Instead of stressing about making a bazillion cookies for the entire neighborhood do something that brings a smile to your face. It doesn’t have to cost a thing.

Speaking of appreciating what we already have, I will be posting gift ideas for the next several days. Yes we should appreciate what we already have, and I do. I love giving gifts, so does my mom and we are going to share some of our gift ideas with you!

Beautiful Christmas Decorations

DecoratingHolidays

My mom should have a decorating book or magazine. Since she doesn’t I get to share her impeccably gorgeous and festive house. As I’ve said and will always say, she is so stylish and creative. This is where I get my mom inspiration from.

You can add little touches of Christmas cheer by placing Santa’s or Christmas trees on side tables, chests, on top of a chair that is mainly there for decoration or on a coffee table. It doesn’t have to be over the top, but adding a few holiday specific decorations throughout your house can pull everything together.

Try and group your decorations in odd numbers. Odd number groupings appear to look more appealing. When things are in odd numbers it ends up looking more professional.

If you have a specific theme you want to follow for your decorations, tend to keep similar things together. Christmas trees should be grouped with other Christmas trees. The Santa’s should be grouped with the Santa’s, etc. Do this if you have a collection. If you just have a few Santa items, than you can mix them up with other decorations.

As seen in the above photo, there is a table that is designated for Christmas tree decorations. In the butlers pantry there is a mixture of Christmas trees, a santa, and pinecones and holly.

Above the fireplace the Byers Carolers are displayed. This room looks like it could be in a magazine, or on the cover of one. It’s also good to have special collectables up high, especially if you have little children or little grandchildren.

You can get a few large Santa’s or trees and place them around the house. Or you can also get miniature pre-lit Christmas trees and place them around the house on side tables for a quick and easy way to decorate.

Another quick and simple way to decorate for the holidays, while still making your house look regal is placing ornaments into a glass bowl. You can place these all over the house or on the middle of coffee tables for a little pop of color. If you have space in your kitchen for a small tree you can put all kitchen related ornaments on the tree. My mom’s tree in the kitchen has colander ornaments, little gingerbread men, and Starbuck cups; which is a cute way to tie in your kitchen and Christmas.

There is no right or wrong way to decorate your house for the holidays. You can decorate in themes, have an eclectic variety of decorations, or very minimalistic. Your house should make you feel welcomed and at home. I like to decorate most of my house simply because it reminds me of my childhood. Decorating should be fun and not feel stressful or overwhelming; if it does then you probably need to simplify. Or pay someone to do it for you! Happy Holidays!

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