Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Homemade Gingerbread Christmas Tree Ornaments

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Since we are home for the holidays, my son wanted to help my mother "Oma" make gingerbread Christmas tree ornaments in her kitchen. He is "Mr. Big Helper" these days, and I am loving his enthusiasm for all things Christmas. We followed Nick Malgieri's gingerbread recipe via Kitchn and Martha's Stewart's Royal Icing recipe via Kitchn's "How to Make Gingerbread Christmas Tree Ornaments" post.

We followed each recipe to the t, and the final product was a beautiful and aromatic cookie that we enjoyed decorating. 

Baking with Oma

Baking with Oma

*Baking Tip: It is important to keep your dough cold so that the butter doesn't melt and ruin the consistency of the cookie while it bakes. 

To make the holes for the tree, take 1 toothpick and break it twice. Then place the toothpick about 1 inch from the top ensuring you made a hole all the way through. Keep the toothpick in place while the cookie bakes so your hole doesn't close shut. 

*Baking Tip: Once you remove the cookies from the oven, slide the parchment paper on to the countertop or cooling rack to stop the baking process. Also, take the toothpicks out so they don't get stuck as the cookies cool. 

As I mentioned before we used Martha Stewart's recipe for Royal Icing. In lieu of a piping bag, you can use a zip up plastic bag like below. Spoon the icing into the bag and twist one end of the plastic bag. Then cut a small piece off of one of the bottom corners. 

From here you can choose to decorate with the Royal Icing and by adding special embellishments like edible sprinkles, candy, etc. 

I know my limits and I am not an expert decorator. So, when I saw these beautiful Vintage Santa wafer papers from Fancy Flours I was hooked. I knew these images would add a sense of elegance and whimsy to my tree. As a nod to the quilters in my family, I also purchased these red and white cross stitch squares.

Fancy Flours includes a set of instructions that were also very easy to follow. 

I hope you get to enjoy some time with your family doing things that you love this Christmas season. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Children's DIY Wrapping Paper

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I really enjoy picking out wrapping paper with the right embellishments for my loved ones for Christmas. However, with two little ones at home I didn't get the chance to browse our local craft store for goodies to adorn presents this year. So, instead I decided to involve them and created an extra special and unique wrapping paper this year. 

For this project, you will need: 
  • Kraft Paper. I purchased Boardwalk Kraft Paper via Amazon. I like this version, because the paper wraps really well. It is very crisp, but it is easy to cut because it isn't too thick or bulky. I am also excited, because I know I can also use it for more children craft projects in the future. 
  • Washable and Non-Toxic Paint. I knew I couldn't go wrong with Crayola's Arcylic Paint. I kept the theme classic with red and white paint. However, please feel free to use any and all of the colors your or children's hearts desires.
  • Craft Paintbrushes. Or your child's toes and fingers to apply the paint. 
  • Embellishments like Baker's Twine, Ribbon and Bells. 

Tips before you start:
  • Do the project outside or on a surface you are not afraid of getting dirty. The same goes for your child's clothing. The best thing about this project is watching your child use his/her creative liberties and enjoy the process.
  • If you are doing this project outside, ensure the weather is calm and sunny. You don't want the paper to fly away, and you need for the paper to dry before you roll it up.
  • Once you roll the kraft paper out, tape down the edges with painter's tape to avoid fly-away paper.
  • I splattered some paint on the paper for the children to run their fingers and toes through to help start them on the painting process. 
  • Paper may crinkle and that is okay. I believe imperfection makes this present perfect.
It is so fun to watch your child experiment with the blank canvas.

Have fun with the wrapping. I like to add a surprise embellishment. This year I chose bells, because my son loves singing to "Jingle Bells." My husband especially loved hearing about 40 bells ringing in the backseat during our two-hour journey to the country for Christmas. Either way, I think my son and daughter's grandmother will enjoy the gift they made for her below.  And I hope you enjoy wrapping with your children this year. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Wassail

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Christmas can be a busy and stressful time for many. However, once all of the holiday hustle is somewhat managed in my life I try to embrace Christmas as a time to reflect and enjoy the beautiful things in my life. 

Drinking Wassail gives me that same reflective feeling. Wassail evokes memories of being with my family and enjoying each other's company. This ancient drink has beautiful roots that ultimately means to be "full of health." Recently my days, like many others, have been busy, and I wanted to take some time to slow down and I thought this drink would do the trick. I wanted to make a modern version, and I loved what Jen did with her simple Wassail recipe. I added a little more spice to my concoction and as you can see below this recipe was very simple, yet it gave me the same nostalgic feeling I was after. This recipe not only tasted fantastic, but it made my house smell like Christmas.

For Christmas Wassail, you will need:
  • 8 Cups of Apple Cider
  • 2 Cups of Orange Juice
  • 1/2 Cup of Lemon Juice (Juice of 3 Large Lemons)
  • 5 Whole Cinnamon Sticks
  • 15 Whole Cloves
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg

*Simple Tip: If you are squeezing the lemons place your hand under the lemon flesh so that you catch any seeds before they enter your juice. 

Combine all of your ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for about an hour. 

As Jen mentions, you can certainly half this recipe if it is too large for you. I placed my leftovers in a pitcher and enjoyed a mug the next day. 

I hope this Wassail allows you some time to relax this holiday, and that it brings you good health this season. 

You can find my Magnolia Market Campfire Mug here

Monday, December 12, 2016

DIY Felt Christmas Tree for Children

Thank you for visiting. I now have a new home at I hope you will find me there.

Last year, Chelsea from Two Twenty One inspired me with her colorful and detail-oriented felt Christmas tree. With two toddlers to entertain this year, I thought now would be the perfect time to create my own version. 

This project was a winner, because it only took about one hour to create (nap time), and it was inexpensive. Above all else my children now enjoy decorating their own tree. 

For this project, you will need:
  • Felt. I used 1.5 yards of 70 inch wide green felt, and a .5 yard each of red and white for the ornaments. I went with classic colors to match our large tree, but you can choose any colors that speak to your heart's desire. 
  • Hot Glue Gun with hot glue
  • Chalk or Washable Marker for the template designs. Chelsea used chalk, but I couldn't find chalk in the house so I used a washable marker. 
  • Scissor
  • Ribbon for embellishing the ornaments (optional)
  • Stencil for the ornaments. Chelsea has some beautiful templates, however I used a coffee mug to get the circular ornament that I was after. 
  • Tacks to attach the tree to the wall

The first step is to create your tree. Make sure that you keep the natural fold (from the fabric store) of the material in place so you only have to cut one time and the tree is symetrical. You can certainly use a ruler to space the tree limbs out properly. However, I chose to do the guide marks for the tree limbs freehand. I decided to eyeball my guide lines, because 1) I wanted to have fun with this project and didn't want perfection to play a role, 2) I think the curved and jagged lines give the tree a more authentic and whimsical feel which is perfect for my children. I started my freehand process at the bottom, then made a mark in the middle and slowly made my way up the tree to ensure I used my fabric to its full extent.

Once I was happy with my guide marks I decided to bring the tree to life. Felt is very forgiving to work with, but it can also be very bulky. Therefore, I cut from the side of the fabric so the felt would stay flat. 

Once I reached the tree branch I cut my way up, and then backtracked (as you can see below) so my branches would have a nice point to them. 

After I completed my tree, I started on my ornaments. As you can see below I used a coffee mug I received from a beautiful friend as a template. If you are going to use household items as stencils for your ornaments ensure that your marker is washable and non-toxic. Since I live with two toddlers, washable and non-toxic are the only markers we have available. 

To save time, I placed four pieces of felt together when I cut out the ornaments. 

For the ornamental embellishments I hot-glued felt and ribbon with wire to the ornaments. The only rule here is to make sure that your embellishments are light weight so that your ornaments are not too heavy and can stick to the tree. 

I hope you get to use your creative liberties and enjoy this project as much as I did. I know my kids are enjoying the final product, even if it isn't perfect.  

FYI, I purchased both Ms. Belle's Pajama Set and Mr. A's Pajama Set at Target. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

DIYing Again

I am so happy to announce that Country Peony will feature new content this Monday. The elves (my children) and I have been working hard to get some DIYs your way, just in time for Christmas.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I look forward to DIYing once more.

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