I love a home that smells good! There is something so wonderful about walking in, and being greeted with the fresh smells of the season. The herbs are in abundance from the garden, and while I use them fresh, and I dry some, I thought why not use a few in a stovetop simmer? Just a few ingredients from the garden. a few lemons, a splash of vanilla and some water will have your home smelling amazing as well.
Creating Christmas traditions with my children is one of my favorite passions. I always enjoy working in the kitchen with them and Christmas time is no different. I recently came across an old recipe from Tasha Tudor and knew I had to try it. I do believe that we will be adding these to our yearly Christmas baking tradition.
I am often inspired by those who live a simple life and have a deep love for home and family. Tasha Tudor lived that kind of life and I love her story. She was an author and illustrator, an amazing gardener and lived a life of simplicity. She made incredibly beautiful gingerbread and while ours aren't as decorated and beautiful, they are still incredibly delightful to make and my children loved eating them.
This recipe was so easy to make and making it with children made it more enjoyable. From mixing the ingredients to rolling out the dough, cutting out their design and placing them on the baking sheet, they could do it all.
Christmas Tree Gingerbread Recipe
1 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 cup light brown sugar (I used sucanat)
3 farm-fresh eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups molasses
6 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and add the brown suwe gar, eggs, and molasses. Sift together all the dry ingredients and add them to the butter mixture. Mix thoroughly and chill well before rolling out on a floured slab.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a cookie sheet.
3. Place them on the greased cookie sheet and bake them in the preheated oven. Bake until dry but not crisp.
We all found them very tasty. My tip would be to just not cook them for very long. They puff up nicely and stay soft. None of our gingerbread stayed in the bowl very long nor did they stay on the tree.
Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you all are enjoying the season and are able to find some simplicity during this time of the year. Don't forget to join me over on my other social spaces to stay in touch!
The comfort of home is what I love. The smell, the cozy feel, the lighting, the wood burning stove. Add all those together this time of the year with Christmas lights twinkling in the home and I rarely want to leave.
I really love to use candles in our home but I have been trying to be much more aware of what we use in our home. Many candles are made with ingredients that I don't want burning in our home. This year we have been making our own holiday potpourri and allowing it to simmer on our wood burning stove. It smells amazing!
For this recipe I used dried oranges and dried cranberries. You can find the details on drying both of those on the blog and I have a Youtube video for drying cranberries as well. If you don't have dried, you can use fresh orange slices or even the rind for this recipe. You can also use fresh cranberries.
Holiday Stove Top Simmering Potpourri
Dried Cranberries or fresh
Dried Orange Slices or you can use the rind or even fresh slices
Cinnamon chips (optional)
Place water in pan and add the ingredients. I never measure mine out and just use a little of each one. You can be very creative with this process and add in other spices if you so choose. Sometimes I will add in Anise and that gives a wonderful scent as well. This recipe is very versatile.
Have you ever made homemade potpourri? What are your favorite spices to use? I would love to hear from you!
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Do you love using fresh greenery during the holiday season? Adding greenery instantly brings the outdoors in and creates a warmth to the home during the season. Add some lights to your greenery and you instantly have a festive arrangement.
White lights and fresh greenery are just two of the things I love to when putting together decorations for our home. However, I dislike having all the crumbling, dried needles falling all over the place. So, I went in search of an answer to my problem and I think I found one.
The answer is Glycerin. I was doing some reading and found that it is most often used to preserve boxwood. I decided to try it with Christmas greenery and so far I have had great success.
Fresh greenery clippings
1. Mix 1 part Glycerin to 2 parts water in a container of your choice. You can also do 1 part Glycerin and 1 part water if you wish but I have had success with the 2 to 1 ratio.
2. Add your freshly clipped greenery and allow it to sit in the mixture for at least 24 hours. You can then remove it, dry the ends and use to decorate.
I have had my greenery out for almost a week now and have no brittle pieces. I can move the greenery around and not have the needles falling all over the place. This is my first time ever trying this and so far I am impressed with the results.
It's the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I am sitting here with the sun streaming in and the windows open. This is rather unusual for the last days of November but I won't complain much. Children are scattered on the couches, curled up with a good book and Christmas music is playing in the background. I have three real trees up in the house and I have one partially decorated. The other two are waiting their turn but in the meantime I am enjoying them just the way they are. I am working towards creating a more slow and meaningful holiday season with my family and so I am doing several different homemade holiday ornaments. I recently shared how to dry oranges and how to use those dried oranges for a holiday garland. Yesterday I took the time to dry cranberries, which took much longer than I thought, but I really like them.
Step 1: Put a large pot on the stove with enough water to cover the cranberries. Bring the water to a boil. Put the washed cranberries in a bowl. Then pour the boiling water over the cranberries. Leave the bowl in a safe place, and let the cranberries sit. You will hear the skins pops, don't leave the berries in the water for more than 5 to 10 minutes, the berries will then be ready.
Step 2: Drain the water and spread the cranberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then put them in the freezer for two hours. The freezing process helps the berries dry faster.
Step 3: Place the drained berries on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Turn on your oven to the lowest possible temperature. Put your cranberries in the oven and allow them to dry which can take 5 to 7 hours. Take the time to turn them every 30 minutes to help the drying process. There will be some that get a little darker than others and some that you will have to pull apart after they dry.
And that is how I found to dry cranberries without a dehydrator. These are wonderful to string on a garland or for simmering on the stove with a mixture of cloves, cinnamon sticks, dried oranges and rosemary. I will soon be showing you how to use them for a beautiful potpourri gift giving idea.
I created a video for drying cranberries and I would love for you to check it out and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter for all the latest information.
My youngest daughter and I spent the day together hanging around the house. The rest of the family was all scattered in different locations and so her and I made some air dry clay ornaments for one of our Christmas trees.
We are limited on floor space in our home and so I choose to purchase table top trees to put throughout our home. This year I purchased three of them and today we almost finished decorating this one.
This tree is located in our dining room just behind the dining room table. I placed the tree into an old crock that still holds water. The crock and tree sit on top of an old hutch piece that I just recently purchased. I hung a mirror above the hutch piece and the tree is just to the right of the mirror.
Making air dry clay star ornaments is really easy. You could actually do whatever shape you wanted but I love stars at Christmas time and so that is what I chose to go with.
Roll out your air dry clay and use the cookie cutter to make your shape. Use a skewer or another object to create a hole for your string to go through. Allow the clay to dry for 2-3 days and then you are able to hang the stars. I didn't put a hole in several of my stars since I knew I would use them in other places for the Christmas season.
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I was strolling through the craft store the other day with the children in tow. I was looking for some activities that would keep them entertained during the longer days of the upcoming months. With darkness rolling in around 5:30, the days can feel long and dreary and it can be hard to keep children entertained for long hours. Air dry clay was one of the items I picked up and placed in my cart. Then an idea came to mind....
Unique and one of kind clay tags or even ornaments were the perfect craft to work on with the children. With just a few simple supplies you can easily make these as well.
White air dry clay
Skewer or something else that you can use to poke a hole in the clay
Canning jar ring or other shape to cut out the clay
Dried leaves, wildflowers, stamps or even cookie cutters - whatever you can dream up to create a design.
Small rolling pin
Start with a clump of air dry clay and begin to flatten it out with a little rolling pin. I suggest that you work to make your clay about 1/4 inch thick. If you roll it out really thin it is much more fragile. Then I used a canning jar ring to cut out my circle but you can choose any shape that you like. Then simply peel away the excess clay and put it back in the container to keep it from drying out. Your now ready to work with your clay piece.
Using a skewer or other object, make a small hole in the clay piece. This is what you will use to thread the twine or ribbon through to hang your clay tag or ornament. Next, choose your object to create a design. You can get as creative as you like with this step. I chose some dried wildflowers but you could also draw a design or use another object. The last step is to allow the clay to air dry. This can take 2-3 days.
You can choose to leave the ornament plain or you can paint it. I chose to paint mine by taking a tiny bit of craft paint and mix it with water. I used a 50/50 ratio of paint and water. I painted it on and then immediately wiped off the excess. This allowed the paint to get down into the grooves and leave a darker impression on the details. The paint will dry very quickly and your newly made piece is ready to enjoy. If the edges of your piece are rough, take a finger nail file and lightly file the edges to make them smooth. The paint will dry very quickly and your newly made piece is ready to enjoy.
This is a very simple project that has a wide variety of possibilities. These would make the perfect homemade Christmas ornament. Have a question? Leave it in the comments and I will be sure to answer.
Are you in need of a last minute holiday table napkin holder? I recently created this super easy idea and the supplies you need are very few. It will add a rustic element to your table this holiday season and it takes less than 10 minutes to create.
Step 1: Figure out how long you need your burlap ribbon to be and cut it to size. You will need enough ribbon to wrap around the front of the napkin and the back. Then leave a little over so that you can hot glue one side of the ribbon to the other. I have included a video below to show how this is done.
Step 2: Hot glue the ribbon together on the back of the ribbon.
Step 3: Hot glue the back side of the Anise Star and glue it to the front side of the burlap ribbon.
Step 4: Slip it over your napkin. Insert silverware.
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How do the holidays leave you feeling? Are you rushed and stressed looking for that last minute gift or trying to create the perfect meal for family? Are you frantically cleaning the home for guests that will be arriving soon? Well, that was me several years ago before I decided to slow down and enjoy the season for all that it was. For the past several years I have been trying to get away from the commercialism of the holidays. I found the holidays to be stressful and rushed which always left me feeling tired and exhausted at the end of the season. The holidays had become more about decorating and shopping and less about traditions and time with family. This year my family is on a mission to create a homemade holiday and I would love for you to join me today as I show you how to make a gorgeous garland from items in the kitchen.