Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crafty Christmas Ideas

I have been thinking about what I will do for this year's Crafty Christmas at the Powell House.  I have seen some really fun crafts in my holiday crafts research.  I thought I would help you this year if you are planning to make your Christmas time crafty.  Crafts don't have to be time consuming or even need too many supplies.  Some of the ideas utilize stuff you have either in your pantry, your office or your kitchen.  I hope you find a craft to do and make it a tradition in your house. 

DIY Sweater Wreath:
I saw this idea on The Today Show and thought this was a really good idea especially if you have any old sweaters in your closet.  You can also go to Goodwill and try to find wool sweaters to use for this project.  You can also cut the sweater in long strips and tie it around a small foam wreath. 

Button Wreath Ornament:  This ornament is compliments of Martha Stewart.  You can buy a bunch of buttons and the color schemes are endless.  This is a great craft for young kids with some assistance.  I definitely think this one is on my Craft list.

Now for the Crafts that come from your kitchen...

Cookie Puzzle:  Many of us will make cookies this Christmas.  So what better to do with the cookies than to make a cookie puzzle!  This creative idea is a great gift for that puzzle lover in your life.  This craft can also double as a game and a snack!

Gingerbread Reindeer Cookies:  Now this cookie is great for using that gingerbread cookie cutter!  I absolutely like this idea.  Each person can get 2 cookies and enjoy decorating them two different ways.  Genius! 

Another craft goes on the list for me!

And for Peppermint Lovers everywhere...

Peppermint Ornament:

Peppermint OrnamentsI don't know about peppermints in your house, but they don't last at all in my house.  But, this craft idea gives you something to do with those round peppermint candies.  The ideas are never end with this craft, so go crazy with the decorations!

I love all these ideas!  I may need 2 days of Crafty Christmas this year!

More great ideas to come, so look for Crafty Christmas Ideas Part 2!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crafty Christmas

I always have Crafty Christmas for my children.  It is a day we set aside and do crafts the entire day.  And I do mean the entire day.  We usually do 3-5 crafts depending on the difficulty of the craft and end with the traditional gingerbread house.  Of course in between we enjoy snacks and festive drinks like hot chocolate with marshmallows as well as some lunch.  I have found that my kids are pretty crafty.  You will be surprised that one child will shine in one craft and struggle on the next...discovering what they do best is what they learn.  Some are better at fine details as others are good at color schemes and then you have one child who just makes a mess!  Crafty Christmas is a time for family, fun, and festive memories.  Isn't that what the holiday is all about?
I wanted to take this time to share past Crafty Christmas projects my kids and I have done.  I was looking at the ornaments on the tree as I took pictures for my blog and began to reminisce about our Crafty Christmas days.  The ornaments speak for themselves as some are dated back to 2003.  I always have my children write their names and the year on the ornament so we can remember how old they were when they made it.  It is really cute to see their how they write their names especially when they are 5 and 6 years old.  I even make the ornaments and do the crafts to help release that Crafty Queen inside of me. 

So, now for the past creations from the Powell's Crafty Christmas Days:

This ornament was made from a clothespin, festive pipe straws, and YES!...Cupcake liners!!!  

These two yarn ornaments are from when I was knitting/crocheting and had tons of yarn left over and needed something to do with it.  So, we made angels and snowmen ornaments.  The angel is my favorite. 

And then you have all the painted ornaments that you can get in kits at Michaels Craft Store.  Lots of fun to sit and paint like an real artist!

 Remember to have them put their names on the back and the year!

How cute is it when you see their name and year on the ornament.  These ornaments are 5 and 8 years old!  WOW!

And you have to love the ornaments made from ingredients in your kitchen that to this day after 8 years, still smell like cinnamon!

Still smells like cinnamon!

 I enjoy spending this time with my kids making these crafts/ornaments that one day I hope they may do with their children.  I have great crafts for this year.  Now that they are older, we can really get Crafty!!!

Moral:  Make Memories for the Holidays that will last a Lifetime!

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Salty Sweet Craving

I was listening to the rain outside as I enjoyed my coffee this morning.  I got to thinking about none other than cupcakes.  I always like good old vanilla with vanilla frosting or even a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting as well.  But my taste buds wanted something different.  They wanted to be taken to a higher, more sophisticated level of taste.  I wanted to taste something that I would never think of tasting.  My mind went back to when I was a little girl and would go to the church functions with my parents.  I remember the little old ladies in church would bring homemade cakes such as coconut, chocolate and even caramel.  Yes, that's it!  Caramel!  I decided to make salted caramel cupcakes today and make my taste buds happy.  I ended up making Salted Caramel Cupcakes to give that salty/sweet appeal like eating chocolate covered pretzels.  You get that subtle hint of salt but the sweetness from the caramel balances all the flavors out perfectly.  So, with that said, I share the recipe I came up with today.  Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Cupcakes: (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp caramel sauce (recipe to follow)

  Combine flour, baking powder, salt in separate bowl.  Cream butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla then add eggs one at a time until well incorporated.  Add dry ingredients in 3 batches alternating with buttermilk and caramel sauce, ending with dry ingredients.  Line 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and fill each cup with batter.  Bake about 13-15 minutes at 350 F.  Remove and allow to cool completely on wire cooling rack. 

Caramel Sauce: Check out recipe and great pictures to make sauce here.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

16 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup caramel sauce plus extra for drizzling
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

Combine all ingredients in a bowl of a stand mixer or use a handheld electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Frost each cupcake and drizzle with extra caramel sauce.

The way I see it, challenge yourself and explore new taste like Salted Caramel Cupcakes...your taste buds will thank you!
I know mine did!
Salted Caramel Cupcakes


Santa Wants Cupcakes!

I love the tradition of making cookies for Santa.  We bake chocolate chip cookies or gingerbread men or woman (or boys/girls) to decorate, or even those reliable sugar cookies to frost and create masterpieces for Santa to eat.  My advise to all, make cookies that you will eat so when the kids go to bed and your up half the night wrapping presents or putting them under the tree, you'll have something to snack on.  Smart move, huh?  I think this year in my house the tradition is going to change. 

I think instead of cookies, we will leave cupcakes for Santa.  We will bake mini cupcakes which will help Santa with his weight issue.  This is a perfect portion and easy to grab, pop in his mouth, and Go!  I also think these cupcakes will be a good foundation to our traditional Crafty Christmas. Red Velvet cupcakes are very popular at Christmas.  The bright red color represents the color we most associate with the holidays.  The hint of chocolate you get with the smooth tangy cream cheese frosting is just divine.  I officially think this is my new favorite cupcake flavor.  And I think Santa will love the Red and White themed cupcakes, instead of those cold, hard, ugly cookies that he tends to leave behind anyway, right?


Moral:  Make Cupcakes for Santa, not Cookies!