What To Do With All Those Christmas Cards?

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Over New Year’s and the weekend, we took down our Christmas decorations and I took down our Christmas cards.   I always put the photo cards in my scrapbook…but I was also looking at the other cards and thinking “What can I do with these?”

A few years ago, I cut everyone’s signatures out of their cards and put them into a scrapbook layout.  I thought it was a fun way to capture people’s writing, especially in the Intenet Age, where almost NO ONE writes letters anymore!

This year, I decided that I was going to take some of my punches, and punch some shapes out of the cards.  I looked through my punches, and decided to use my square maker to make some punch-outs:

I used these squares to decorate my scrapbook pages with the photo cards on them.  Great, easy decorations for a scrapbook page!  Sorry, I won’t be posting the scrap layouts here, as I want to keep my family, friends and especially their children’s faces “anonymous.”

Another thing I did was to punch out some tags:

Just make sure that the section of card that you are punching out is blank on the back; so you can use the back side to write who the gifts are “to” and “from.”  The Creative Memories tag maker that I used also has the option to punch a hole on the top of the tag.  You can then tie it to a package with ribbon.  Save these tags for next Christmas!

Another option for Christmas cards is to send them to the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. This is an organization that helps neglected children.  Children and volunteers cut off the fronts of cards, then attach them to new white or ivory cards, and sell the cards to raise funds for their organization.  Very cool!  They accept cards other than Christmas cards, as well.   It says on the site that cards will be accepted this year until February 28, 2010.

What do you do with your Christmas cards?  Toss ’em? Recycle them somehow?  Share your ideas here!

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Wicked Simple Christmas Decorations

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It turns out that I have a very Crafty Sister-in-Law!  Magdalena is Crafty in different ways than I am: she can sew for one; I can’t even sew a button on straight!  I KNEW she would love scrapbooking, and I showed her how to scrapbook.  Her scrapbooks are great, too!

Magdalena decorated her home for Christmas in some very Crafty and inexpensive ways.   I know it’s after Christmas now, but you could also use these ideas for winter decorating as well.

My sister-in-law and her family have a Christmas tree and a Nativity set up for Christmas, but I loved the other simple decorations she made.  She used some pine branches, a ribbon, a votive and some pine cones from our yard to make an arrangement on the dresser in their entryway:

More pine branches in a simple vase she already had, in the guest bathroom:

A simple votive holder, inside a little glass dish with little red decorative stones from a discount store:

Cute, huh?  I have pine trees all around our house, yet I never thought to use them this way.  Have you made any home made decorations using nature?

Merry Day After Christmas

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Or, Merry “Christmas Hangover” Day, as I like to call it.  After all of the prep work, the shopping, wrapping, baking, the present opening, etc…it feels like I have a Holiday Hangover today, and I don’t even drink alcohol! 

Toys are everywhere…wrapping paper is everywhere…I just cleaned some things up today, since I couldn’t stand it anymore!  But, there’s more…oh well, it will still be there tomorrow, right?

One year ago today, we started a BIG renovation project: our kitchen!! Yes, Handy Man took some days off between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and we GUTTED the kitchen.  We spent over a week ripping out the old cabinets, putting them into new places, putting in new wood floors, installing a new sink and new counter tops.  WHEW! 

Seriously, who DOES something like that right after Christmas?  Apparently, we do.  Right now, I am getting ready to scrapbook and Handy Man is reading.  We are enjoying doing NOTHING this weekend, ahhhh! 

Soon I will put up our before and after kitchen photos for you to check out.  We have lots of small and medium-sized projects planned for 2010, so don’t worry, there will be more Handy Man projects to show you!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

1 18 ounce jar creamy peanut butter
1 stick + 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 pound package confectioners sugar
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips (other kinds of chocolate don’t work as well for this, semi-sweet is best.)
2 tablespoons shortening, optional

Mix peanut butter, margarine and sugar until well blended. Add Rice Krispies last. Roll mixture into 1″ balls. Put balls into fridge for a few hours so they become firm. We use a double boiler to melt the chocolate.

You can add 2 tablespoons of shortening to the melted chocolate for shine. You can use a cake tester, or toothpicks to dip the balls into the chocolate. Transfer to a plate or baking sheet covered in wax paper. There will be spots where the toothpicks are showing; but after the chocolate firms up a bit, you can dip a spoon into the chocolate to touch up those spots and make them look all purty.

Store these in the fridge or in a cool place. Use a plastic bag over your hand to avoid getting fingerprints all over the chocolate when putting them into containers. They look especially cute in those mini-cupcake paper cups.

The Best Christmas Cookie EVAH

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These are the best Christmas cookies EVAH!  I make about a billion-and-one of these at Christmas time, because everyone gobbles them down.

WARNING, PLEASE READ THIS: These cookies are pretty high-maintenance; the dough is heavy to mix, it needs to be refridgerated for several hours before baking; and these cookies are best eaten the day they are made, or the day after; so plan ahead!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa (make sure your cocoa is as FRESH as possible!)
4 eggs (yes, 4, and make sure they are as FRESH as possible)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
powdered sugar

In a large bowl, stir together granulated sugar and oil, add cocoa, blending well. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Your dough will look very dark and wet, like this:

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; add to cocoa mixture, blending well. Cover, refridgerate until dough is firm, usually at least 6 hours. Once all the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together, it will be VERY heavy and dense, like this:

Its best to use a big Kitchen Aid mixer if you have one; your arms will thank you for it; this dough is hard to mix!

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease cookie sheet.  (I use a Silpat silicone baking sheet.)  Roll dough into 1″ balls, roll in powdered sugar to coat.  Place balls 2″ apart on sheet, and bake 12 to 14 minutes or until tops are crackled.

Note: When you take these out of the oven, the chocolate parts of the cookie may look slightly wet; DO NOT PUT THEM BACK IN THE OVEN THINKING THEY AREN’T DONE, or you will OVERBAKE THEM!!

Let them cool, and watch everyone devour them. Storage note: when cool, put into an air-tight container, as these cookies will go STALE very quickly. Do NOT leave them in the open air; they are best eaten within a day or two of baking. Using FRESH cocoa and the FRESHEST eggs possible will help a bit, but they get stale and tasteless rather quickly; so be sure to devour ASAP!

This is usually not a problem, as these cookies are WICKED good! You can also make the dough ahead of time, and keep it in a bowl, covered, in the fridge, for several days. Just take out some dough to roll and bake them a little at a time if you don’t have the time to bake them all at once; or if they won’t be eaten very quickly.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa (make sure your cocoa is as FRESH as possible!)
4 eggs (yes, 4, and make sure they are as FRESH as possible)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
powdered sugar

In a large bowl, stir together granulated sugar and oil, add cocoa, blending well. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; add to cocoa mixture, blending well. Cover, refridgerate until dough is firm, usually at least 6 hours

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. (I use a Silpat silicone baking sheet.) Roll dough into 1″ balls, roll in powdered sugar to coat. Place balls 2″ apart on sheet, and bake 12 to 14 minutes or until tops are crackled.

Note: When you take these out of the oven, the chocolate parts of the cookie may look slightly wet; DO NOT PUT THEM BACK IN THE OVEN THINKING THEY AREN’T DONE, or you will OVERBAKE THEM!!

Storage note: when cool, put into an air-tight container, as these cookies will go STALE very quickly. Do NOT leave them in the open air; they are best eaten within a day or two of baking.

Wicked Easy Christmas Ornaments

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Today’s post is from my first Guest Blogger, Danielle!  Danielle is a “Wicked” Crafty Girl, she is way more crafty than I am.  Her scrapbook pages are incredible; and she also makes crafty, home made decorations.  Here are some cute, easy Christmas ornaments that she recently made.  When I saw them, I told her that I had to show these on my blog.  You can make these with children, as long as they are old enough to be careful with the glass.

Supplies:
– 1 clear glass ornament
– paper strips (I make them about 1 in x 6 in)
– ribbon to match

Start by rolling each paper strip into as tight of a ball you can. (I pull the strip as I’m rolling it to keep it really tight). Drop each piece into the glass ornament and continue to roll each piece until they reach the top, leaving a bit of room to get the top of the ornament back in.

Add a ribbon to the top so you can hang it on the tree, and add whatever “bling” you may want to use. I kept this one simple because I am going to personalize it for a family member with a white pen. Simple, but different and elegant. You can also add self-adhesive jewels to the outside of the glass, or glitter on the inside for a little pizazz!

Thanks, Danielle!

O Christmas Tree

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Here’s a photo of our Christmas tree.  Handy Man took it with a tripod; its hard to get a good photo of a tree with lights on it!  This was the best one; although I think we’ll try again another time.  Anyway, we bought some of those new LED lights for the tree; they are very bright, use a lot less electricity and don’t go out easily like the “old” lights do.  (You know, when one goes out they ALL go out?)

The tree is a real tree from a local tree farm.  Do you have your Christmas tree up yet? If not, when will you put it up?

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