Christmas Ornaments

Growing up with 8 siblings required our family to be a little creative when it came to finances. One thing my mother did was make our Christmas ornaments. I really enjoy having a very beautifully decorated tree (that matches) and looks gorgeous but sometimes it is fun to have a very personalized Christmas tree. The great thing about looking at a very homemade Christmas decorated tree is that floods of memories and good times come back when you look at it every year. So for this post I'll be showing you how to make your own group of choir singers from soda pop cans. The other cool thing about this particular ornament is you can make each individual choir member look like each member of the family. I didn't think of that until after I made these so they don't really look like anyone I know-they're just and interesting group of people!
I started with a 6 pack of sodas. The easy part-drink them. They must be empty. Then rinse them out.
Then, step on them sideways like this. (above) They work best if you can manage to get the bottom of the can to not be seen but I really can't give any tips on how to get them to turn out any specific way (as you can see...)
Then I painted them a solid color. If you want the choir to match that is fine. I went with Orange, black, green and brown. I painted the faces peachy color for skin.
Then using a sharpie I drew in facial expressions. I also colored hole that you drink out of pink (or red) to mimic the inside of the mouth.
Then I added hair (all brown yarn). You can use whatever color you choose for hair.
A last detail I added was choir books complete with a song and notes.
I planned to give these to some friends so I wrote 'Merry Christmas from our family to yours, Dec. 2011' on the outside of the choir book.
I also used green felt to cut out circles for their hands (they are wearing green mittens)
This is a fun project, I let my 3 yr old paint her own but the older kids get the more creative they get with their details. It would make a fun night of family time! I hope you enjoy. Happy Holidays!


Pumpkin Streusel Pie

Well I am gearing up to make pies for Thanksgiving this year. Over the weekend I practiced making a new crust and a new Pumpkin pie recipe. First, you must start with the crust. This is a delicious, no-trans-fat recipe that will melt in your mouth. I got the crust recipe from a friend at work--thanks Ruth. The pumpkin streusel I found at this website.

2 2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup OLIVE OIL (regular, not light tasting or extra virgin)
4-5 TB ice cold water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir to incorporate. Then add your oil and 4 TB water. Mix to incorporate. Try not to overmix or it will make your dough dry and less flaky once cooked. If your dough looks dry, add UP TO 1 TB more water. Once everything is mixed in, cut ball of dough in half. Roll out one half between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, flip crust into pie pan. If you need a pre-baked crust (such as for a cream pie), bake at 475 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Pumpkin Streusel Pie
1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin, or 2 cups puree
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400°. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices, and salt; blend well.

Pecan Streusel Topping
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firm butter (I thought this was too much, my mixture never got crumbly so I would suggest starting with 1/3 c butter)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup macadamia nuts chopped
1/2 cup coconut (sweetened flaked shredded)

Streusel topping: Combine brown and white sugars, vanilla, and flour; cut in the butter until crumbly. Stir in chopped pecans, macadamia nuts, and coconut. Set aside. (I used chopped walnuts and almonds and it was still yummy).

Pour pumpkin mixture into the unbaked pastry shell. Place a rack in the middle of your oven and one a step or two higher. You want the pie to fit on either rack because you are going to move it to the top rack at the end of baking.

Bake for 15 minutes on middle rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Bake for 25 minutes longer.

Next sprinkle streusel topping over pie. Move to higher rack and continue baking at 350° for about 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until golden brown and the filling is set.

I had several people who are not Pumpkin pie lovers tell me this pie was not too pumpkiny. They really enjoyed it. Delicious with ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!


Organizing Our Home: The Linen Closet

The Linen Closet is really a multi-purpose closet at our house. The sheets live here, as well as tableclothes, my coupon file, candles, and our family games. (Sometimes extra toilet paper, as you can see). But on my quest to be more organized, I had to tackle this closet and to tell you the truth I usually just close it and walk away.

I will make a confession, I hate folding sheets! The fitted sheets never turn out the same size as the matching flat sheet and they never look nicely folded. And then when someone goes looking for something (or climbs the shelves to try and get to the games) and sheets come falling out or they get stuffed back onto the shelf! Ugh, I just hated this closet!

So here is the BEFORE picture. EEK! How embarrassing!
 And the AFTER! Much better. So here is what I did. I first got this idea from here, which I found via Pinterest and then I have tweeked it to my own needs. The blue baskets are from Dollar Tree, yes the dollar store! Our store had a couple other colors, but I like the blue/turquoise best.
 I actually rolled on the sheets and pillowcases so that they fit into the round baskets and looked nice and neat. 
The labels were made with white cardstock, a $1 stamp set from Walmart, $1 ink from Walmart, and Jute Twine that I actually got for another project for Christmas (I'll share it later, of course if it works). I didn't want my tags to be too perfect and so I just stamped and inked the edges, then tied them on.
 Here is a close up. And these are the supplies from Walmart. 

I hope this inspires you to tackle your linen closet too. What is your secret for keeping a linen closet organized?


Baby shower gifts

I don't know if you've heard of Pinterest but when I heard about it my original thoughts were that it was another Facebook social network that I did not want to get involved in. (I currently face a Facebook addiction) However, I did take a look and was instantly hooked. A couple days into looking around on Pinterest I came across baby shower gift ideas. I love making baby shower gifts and this soon followed-

The first gift, Ice cream in a bowl is just little wash cloths. I tried to use a blanket but it gets too thick at the bottom. I wrapped them around one another and secured them in place with scotch tape.
The flower bouquet was made with baby socks and onesies. The bottom of the bouquet is wrapped with a baby washcloth.

Thanks to Pinterest I'll probably be posting more baby shower gifts in the future, I hope you enjoy making these!