Christmas Vacation Christmas Card

image

This was actually Tony’s idea. He pitched it for our Christmas card and I loved it! I was only introduced to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation a few years ago and I’ve loved it ever since. Of course to prep for the photos, we had to watch the movie in October to pick our shots.

image

Tony, of course wanted the iconic moment of plugging in the lights. Easy enough to set up: you need an extension cord, winter wear and a ball cap.

image

I chose the kitchen cleanup, with the added bonus of a guilty looking dog. This involves a little more setup: tipped over trash can, an empty trash bag and pieces of garbage. I made sure I had some non-disgusting trash to spread around my kitchen floor. I tried to include both dogs, but my husband’s dog took one look at the mess and ran away, afraid to get blamed I guess……

image

Arthur’s was fun too, involving very little prep work. Take some lights and roll them up. I wrapped 3 strands of these lights around a winter hat to give it a fuller look. Then make sure you have a ski cap and you’re all set.

image

Chiara’s I think was the cutest one, as far as least disastrous anyway! We did a little twist on Ruby Sue’s enjoyment of The Night Before Christmas.

All in all, Tony had a great idea for a Christmas card and it came out beautifully. Way to go honey!

Elf on the Shelf 2015: Installment Four

image

Iroh played some pretty silly games his last week with us this year. He tried disguising himself as a present under the tree. The kids needed help finding him!

image

This was a grab and hide, I guess. Just somewhere to watch the goings on in the house. This is the ice/water dispenser on the refrigerator.

image

Iroh found Tony’s iPod and Chiara’s headphones sometime the night before. He was just rocking out on the couch when we got up that morning!

image

Apparently you do not upset the nutcrackers! They don’t get mad, they get even. Thankfully they used painters tape! I’d be mad if they messed up the paint in my living room!

image

Holy cow Iroh! What were you thinking?! Although, ziplining does look fun. I might want something a little more secure than a candy cane though……

image

First the nutcrackers, now Queen Elsa? Why do you keep making people mad Iroh? At least he thawed quickly, Chiara was a little upset over him being frozen.

It’s been fun Iroh! I can’t wait till you come back next year…..

Elf on the Shelf 2015: Installment Three

image

It’s tough to see Iroh in the picture, but he put himself in the toilet paper roll and rolled around the tree a few times. The kids were completely dismayed at the mess he made.

image

I had so much fun with this one! I got to dig into my Longaberger baskets and yarn collection. I used a balloon, taped to the ceiling, and a nail through the slats of my basket to pull this one off. The kids were amazed at Iroh’s engineering!

image

The sack race was a big hit! Iroh pulled in a few of Chiara’s babies and set up a race across the kitchen, using paper bags. Chiara helped them finish the race after school.

image

Iroh got into Chiara’s stickers. This was very funny because of Chiara’s reaction. I wish I would’ve had a camera ready to catch her shock. Her whole attitude was one of, “Those are my stickers!” She then peeled them off, declared them ruined and threw them away.

image

Peeking at presents? That behavior will land you on the naughty list Iroh!

image

Iroh making another pitch for oral health? I guess it must be important!

I can’t wait to see what Iroh does in his last week with us this year!

Reindeer Party Game

image

The holidays are so much fun. They mean decorations, presents, parties, and of course, party games! Enter the reindeer party game.

We attended an amazing Christmas party this past weekend and this game was just as much fun as I had hoped. All you need, for each team, is a pair of panty hose, a bunch of balloons (these need to be small enough to go into the legs of the panty hose), and as an optional bonus, you can get a blinky reindeer nose.

This game is for all ages, so you don’t have to worry about people being left out.

image

After you have your teams, start the timer, then have the teams blow up the balloons and fill the legs on the panty hose.

image

Once the hose are filled up, get the waist of the panty hose over your reindeer head, add a blinky nose for fun and you have a winner!

I’m so glad Theresa wanted to play this game, as we all had a blast playing, even though I was on the losing team…..

Elf on the Shelf 2015: Installment Two

This month is just flying by and Iroh is keeping busy!

image

Iroh dug into the kids bookshelf and built himself a little tower of books to make sure he had a good view of the living room. It’s a great way to keep an eye on the situation!

image

Iroh brought in supplies for this one. He brought a bag of sticky bows and decorated around the tv screen. Chiara loved this one, actually borrowing some of the bows to decorate in her room.

image

This was a quick and lazy night for Iroh. He apparently was playing around with our nutcrackers. He was really enjoying the view from the tv side of the room. Three nights in a row!

image

I think this was my personal favorite! Chiara started dance class this year and Iroh had to show off his own moves. This involved a Monster High stand, coffee filter and a tiny hair tie. Nothing like a pretty ballerina!

image

This one stumped the kids for a little bit. They looked everywhere before seeing him on our family picture wall. Our clocks are a little small for this one, but it was still funny!

image

The cat kennel was brought upstairs to deal with our new kitten, he was being overly feisty, and apparently Iroh got himself stuck overnight. Silly Iroh!

Keep a lookout, more from Iroh coming soon!

Holiday Cheer 2015

image

Christmas has rolled around again. I’m never quite sure how it comes so fast, but I love it every year. We have our little family traditions that we’ve developed over the years, and some that we’re still adjusting to suit our family.
One tradition that we’ve been very consistent with is setting up our tree shortly after Thanksgiving. Depending on work schedules, we set up our tree sometime between the day after Thanksgiving and the first of December. We’re very serious about keeping our holidays separate. Halloween / Thanksgiving / Christmas. We don’t do Hallothanksmas!
Another tradition we’ve stuck to is a new ornament for everyone each year. As the kids have gotten older, they get to pick out their own, and they love it! We stick to Hallmark, as they have such beautiful ornaments.

image

There are a few ornaments I get even though the kids don’t choose them. For instance, the Rapunzel ornaments, we’ve gotten them each year (I still need to get this year’s) because I love sets. We don’t exactly do themes for our trees, so it’s a nice eclectic look!

image

Window snowflakes are a tradition that we started last year, and the kids love it! At first they looked a little silly because I was folding the paper weird. After a few forays onto Pinterest, I found a good folding technique to get these awesome six-pointed stars. Almost any time the kids get bored around Christmas, they’ll bring me paper and ask, “can I make a snowflake?”

image

I think one of my current favorite traditions is our Elf on the Shelf, Iroh. He started visiting us last Christmas and the antics just keep going! It can be difficult with my new third shift schedule to keep him in motion, but it stays fun, especially with Pinterest to help me!

I don’t have a picture to go with this one, but it’s a tradition of ours that just sort of evolved since Arthur was little. Presents had to stay hidden, mainly because Mr. Man kept opening them, or tearing at the paper, like any child will at that age. The presents remained hidden until he went to bed on Christmas Eve. Now that the kids are five and eight, they know I have the presents in the basement. They’ve seen my wrapping station and even the pile of wrapped presents when helping me do laundry. It remains exciting though, even knowing they’re coming, to see that impact Christmas morning of all the presents “suddenly appearing” like magic!

Another one we started last year is the decorating of gingerbread houses. The kids loved this! We usually do it the week before Christmas so that we can demolish and devour them within a day or so of Christmas. I can’t wait to do this this year because Arthur is getting a train gingerbread kit!

I’d love to hear about different Christmas traditions you have with your family.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Hot Starbucks Butterbeer

image

Ready for a sweet shot of deliciousness? This is the drink for you!
Start by taking a trip to your local Starbucks and order the following:

Grande whole milk steamer
2 pumps caramel syrup
2 pumps toffee nut syrup
2 pumps cinnamon dolce syrup
Top the drink with salt, caramel and whipped cream.

If you prefer a tall drink, order 1 pump of the syrups. If you want a venti drink, order 3 pumps each.

This drink is very, very sweet. It startled me at first, but I liked it enough to go back for more since then. It is, sadly, a Christmas time drink, as the cinnamon dolce is only available during the holidays.

For other ways to enjoy Butterbeer:

Cold Starbucks Butterbeer
Homemade Hot Butterbeer
Homemade Universal Studios Butterbeer

Salt Dough Paw Print Ornaments

image

I’ve been having fun with salt dough, especially since I found a simple and reasonable recipe for it! We’ve made handprint snowmen, and we had some fun with the neighbor kids a few days ago, that may or may not end up as a blog. So I decided to go another step with it.

Our dogs are part of our family. They drive us crazy, and sometimes make traveling a little complicated, but they are our fur babies! Juliet is our oldest dog. She was eight years old when we adopted her from the rescue. A lab/rot mix, she is very sweet and was very well trained! It was hard to believe she was abandoned. We’ve had Juliet for six years now, making her a very old fourteen year old dog. She has some health issues, and I worry every time Christmas rolls around, that it may be her last. I wanted to take time to make a cute ornament this year with her pawprint.

Taking some of the salt dough:
•1 cup flour
•1 cup salt
•1/2 cup water
Mixed to a playdough consistency
Roll it flat on a piece of aluminum foil. This recipe is a little sticky, which can make it difficult to avoid clinging fur. The best way to avoid this is to sprinkle a layer of flour over the top of your dough.

Be gentle with your fur babies, many of them do not like their paws played with! After you get a good impression, you may have to press firmly, poke a hole in the top for hanging purposes and let it dry completely. This take time, up to a week to set completely.

After it has dried, use a sharpie, or other permanent marker, to write the dog’s name and the year on the ornament. Then you string a pretty ribbon through the hole and you are all set! A cute ornament to go on the tree and show everyone how much you love your dog.

Happy crafting all!

Elf on the Shelf 2015: Installment One

The kids were very excited to have Iroh come back this year! They love having our own family elf! Iroh has been up to his usual antics, making the kids laugh, while keeping Santa informed about their behavior.

image

Iroh arrived, bright and early, December 1st, just like last year, and brought the kids some new jammies. He also spelled out a message in yummy chocolate kisses.

image

December 2nd, Iroh just found a good place to observe everyone. He stashed himself in one of my baskets hanging from the curtain tiebacks.

image

On December 3rd, Iroh was checking on the oral hygiene habits of the kids. There was some concern from friends on how we would brush our teeth with Iroh in this position. Our elf’s magic isn’t dependant on not being touched. He is allowed to travel back and forth to the North Pole as long as he doesn’t talk to the kids.

image

Iroh had a little fun with some bananas and a marker on the 4th. He drew funny looking Minions. Chiara spent a few minutes explaining that we don’t draw on our food!

image

Iroh started playing Jenga in the early hours of the 5th. Chiara has wanted to play several games since then. She was only a little bummed that Iroh couldn’t play with her.

image

Iroh was feeling a little lazy on the 6th. He crawled into the tissue box to take a nap!

Iroh has been pretty feisty so far this year, and I’m looking forward to some more shenanigans this year!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake

image

I had such high hopes for this dessert. It looked amazing on the original site, but I was not super impressed with the turn out. My pictures never look as pretty as the originals, but even the taste of this one was a little underwhelming.
It was a lot of work! This cake requires planning ahead, which I don’t mind. You make the cheesecake at least a day in advance.

image

I’ve never made cheesecake before, so this part was kind of fun. It also gave me a chance to visit a friend that I haven’t seen in a while, as I needed to borrow a springform pan.
After you have the cheesecake layer made, you have to make the two chocolate cake layers. Then put your cake together:

image

I was getting excited at this point. How freaking yummy does it look? Delicious, right?
Then you make the frosting for the cake, which, after following the recipe, was runny and impossible to use:

image

I checked the notes on the blogger’s site, and they said you may have to add more powdered sugar to get a good texture. Recipe called for 4 cups of powdered sugar, and I ended up using almost a full two pound bag to get the right texture.
The ganache had an overly thick texture, also difficult to use. But we persevered and finished the cake:

image

We finally dug in on Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving was on Friday thanks to work, and the overall opinions were:
Chiara ate the frosting and ganache.
Arthur ate everything except the cheesecake.
Tony enjoyed it, but said he’s had better cheesecake and the frosting was really thick.
I ate one piece and was unimpressed.

The best part about this recipe was the link to her caramel sauce recipe. This was delicious! Caramel sauce was needed for this recipe for both the frosting and the drizzling on top. I have been using the excess for apple dipping!

I’m not posting the recipe as I usually do, mainly because it is super involved. I will not be trying this cake again. It looks amazing on the original site, and I am very disappointed it didn’t come out as intended. It’s a lot of work for a dessert!

So for the moment, I’ll be sticking with chocolate caramel pie, French silk pie or pumpkin pie for my holiday desserts!