My Friday Five – ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

It’s hard to believe we’re less than a week out from Christmas. Where does the time go? I still have some last minute shopping to do and a lot of things to finish up at the office before I’m off for the holidays. With that, here’s this week’s Friday Five.

1. Pretty Lights – It gets so dark early this time of year. I almost don’t mind pulling in the driveway after work in the darkness though because we’re greeted by the beautiful Christmas lights on our house. I also like our monogram holly berry wreath that I made a few years ago.

outside-lights

2. Vintage Finds – For the last few years we’ve had our departmental holiday party at West End Architectural Salvage. You may recognize the name from their show on the DIY network. It’s an amazing place – 4 floors of reclaimed, salvaged and recycled finds. They are a really talented group and incredibly nice people who are great hosts for events too.

West End Architectural Salvage

3. Mailbox Moments – It’s fun to go to the mailbox this time of year and see who we’ll find holiday cards from. I’m sure someday these will go by the wayside, but I really love getting pictures of everyone’s kids and families through something besides Facebook. Our card tree is really filling up!

card-tree-sm

4. Super Elf – This is the third year we’ve done a zipline with our elf Chippy. We have a loft area in our house so it’s really easy to string it from there to the tree. Carter loves it. He has anxiously been awaiting it. This morning when he woke up he said “I knew it, I knew you would do my favorite thing again Chippy!”. (This is actually last year’s picture, my picture from this year didn’t turn out well).

elf-on-the-shelf-zipline

5. Inspiration Fail – I went to the craft store the other day to look for inspiration for handmade gifts. As I stood in front of the remnant bin, I was still drawing a blank. This may just be a year of all store bought gifts. There is a reason I called this blog SOMETIMES homemade! I’m really a little sad to give up, but I’m not sure I can muster the creative energy.

remnants-sm

We have some family coming this weekend, I’ve got some shopping and wrapping to do, and I’m hoping to bake a little too. have a great weekend!

Linked Up At: Five On Friday; High Five for Friday

My Friday Five

It’s that time again – thank goodness. Friday.. Friday… Friday! I had a nasty virus that knocked me off my feet for a few days, so I’m happy to report I’m back to feeling mostly myself again. Here’s My Friday Five for the week.

1) Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town – My office has a holiday party every year for the employees’ children. They do such a nice job with it. I unfortunately had to miss the party since I was sick, but Todd took Carter. He is at such a great age for the magic of Christmas and was so excited to see Santa and tell him how good he’s been this year.carter-santa2) Spreading Cheer – We got most of our Christmas cards out this week. Since I notoriously dislike my handwriting, normally we print labels, but this year I decided to run the envelopes through our computer. Surprisingly it took less time and turned out great. (don’t worry, this is a fake address in the picture).

xmas-cards-20143) Festive Grumpy Cat – We have a new mascot in our office. He’s now bedecked with a little holiday “cheer”. I don’t know why, but his frowny face really makes me smile.

grumpy-cat

4) On the Mark Fix! I think I’ve mentioned before that I subscribe to Stitch Fix, an online styling service. I got a new “fix” this week and they really nailed it! Usually I keep 1-3 items, this time I’m keeping all 5!

stitchfix

5) Quick & Easy DIY – I made a few personalized kitchen towels to show my love for wine, baking, and what else… monograms! Makes a great gift – check out my tutorial.

DIY Kitchen TowelsIt’s supposed to be over 50 on Saturday. It’s December… in Iowa. You can bet we’ll enjoy it before normal cold temps hit us again. I’m okay if we don’t have a white Christmas!

Have a good weekend!

Linked Up At: Five on Friday; High Five for Friday

DIY Kitchen Towels

These easy to make diy kitchen towels are an inexpensive gift you can personalize in so many unique ways.

DIY Kitchen Towels

Last Christmas, I made some kitchen towels for my mom personalized with my grandmother’s handwritten recipes. It’s become a very popular post here, especially around gift giving holidays. As I was creating my recent gift guides for The Baker and The Wine Lover, I found many kitchen towels you could buy as gifts and of course thought – I could really make some.

Supplies:

  • Plain kitchen towels – I like flour sack towels, whatever you choose should be very smooth material.
  • Fabric Paint – I prefer matte finish.
  • Small craft paint brush (I found a firm bristle works well)
  • Stencil(s)
  • Cardboard – or other barrier to keep paint from bleeding through

I had tea towels left over from my last project. Mine were really large, so I cut them in half for this project and sewed the raw edge with a simple straight stitch.

After that I created my stencils on my Silhouette Cameo. These all came from outlines I found through simple searches and then I added “cheers” to my wine glass and “let’s bake” to my whisk. For the monogram, I just combined a scalloped circle with a simple “H”, because we all know I can’t resist a monogram! I used contact paper to cut my stencil on.

I folded my towel how I normally would to figure out which area I wanted to stencil on. Then I placed my stencil, making sure to press around the edges to “seal” it down.

kitchen-towels-stencilkitchen-towels-paint-stencil

I put a piece of cardboard underneath the first layer and started painting a thin but fully covering coat of  fabric paint. After the paint was mostly dry to the touch but not quite fully dry, I removed the stencil. After hanging up and letting dry fully I washed them per the directions on the fabric paint.

DIY Kitchen Towels

I’m really happy with how these turned out, so simple and easy to do and there are so many different ways they can be personalized to fit your interests or those of your gift-ee!

 

My Friday Five

Happy Friday! We had a fairly typical week with work, school and a few ounces of fun thrown in.

1. Twinkle Twinkle – While it’s always a bit of work to get the tree out and decorated, it looks so magical when it’s all lit up. We spent most of last Saturday cleaning up the house and getting our Christmas decorations up.

christmas-tree

2. Chippy is Back – Our Elf Chippy made his debut this week. We’re pretty lazy Elf on the Shelf parents, but I was pretty proud of that I got regrammed by Better Homes and Gardens this week showing off Chippy’s baking skills.

elf-on-the-shelf-kitchenaid

 

3. Snowball Fight! Carter and I ambushed each other in a snowball fight this weekend before the weather warmed up and melted all the snow. He seemed to get a little too much joy out of pelting me with snowballs!

carter-snowball

 

4. Love notes – Todd was traveling this week for work and he left me a little surprise on our dry erase grocery list/message board. It really made me laugh! One of the things I appreciate most about him is his sense of humor. If you don’t get it, you can check out the SNL skit.

more-cowbell

5. Holiday Shopping – the boxes were stacked up this week at my door. I did a bit of online shopping last weekend and the little elves delivered this week. I haven’t made much of a dent in my list. I really need to figure out what handmade gifts I’m making this year. As always, it will all come down to the wire. Some may call this procrastination, I call it waiting for inspiration.

Have a great weekend!

Linked Up At: High Five for Friday; Five on Friday

Elf on the Shelf Swap

Organize an Elf with the Shelf swap. Each person makes just one set of props, but gets several others in return  (like a cookie exchange). All the creativity with a lot less work!

Host an Elf on the Shelf Swap

For all of the things I like to be creative with, I’ve found Elf on the Shelf isn’t one of them. It’s already enough pressure just to remember move our little Chippy from place to place each night. Thus, my post last year for 2-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas.

My mom, the ultimate crafter, sent my sister in law and me a text a few weeks ago asking if we’d like her to create some things for our elves this year, without hesitation we both replied “yes please”! On Thanksgiving, my mom handed me a sack of 7-8 Elf props ready to go. My mom rocks!

For those of you who don’t have a crafty grandma in your life, I got to thinking about how you could benefit from some ready-made elf props. Then it came to me – host an Elf on the Shelf Swap, like a cookie exchange!

How to host an Elf on the Shelf Swap

  1. Gather a group of people interesting in swapping ideas and props to include in your exchange. It could be a group of co-workers, school moms, friends, family, etc.
  2. Assign each person 1-2 Elf concepts (or let them pick themselves).
  3. Have each person buy for and assemble their assigned Elf on the Shelf concept for as many people as are in your group. They can bag them up and label them with any instructions. (My mom printed a picture of each idea and put it in the bag.)
  4. Pick a time to do the swap. You can either do this as a fun get together and you can assemble your items at the same time, or if you’re pressed for time, just arrange a time to do the exchange.

What I really like about this is that you won’t have so much time or material go go waste. One of the things my mom made our elf was a little barbell out of marshmallows and a toothpick. Easy, right? If you don’t have marshmallows on hand though, who wants to buy some just to use two for your elf? Here you could make 10 of them in under 10 minutes and give 9 of them away in exchange for 9 other ideas. Less waste, less time!

The ideas can still be super simple and easy, like these bags my mom provided for Chippy to do a sack race with one of Carter’s other toys. Carter thought it was so funny that Chippy was beating Iron Man.

Elf on the Shelf Sack Race

Check out these ideas perfect for an Elf on the Shelf Swap.

If you’re like us, every night it’s a “game time” decision on what our elf will do, and we lack creativityat that time of night. We still have a rule that it can’t take more than about 2 minutes to set up or clean up, so with a few ready-made ideas, it will make things a lot easier – and our elf might do something other than move from shelf to shelf, at least for a few nights!

My Friday Five

Happy Friday after Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoyed a great feast and festivities with your families like we did! I was too busy stuffing my face and chatting to take any pictures, but here’s my Friday Five for the week.

1. Family Pics – we got our family pictures taken a few weeks ago after rescheduling from a perfect fall day due to Carter having a scraped up face. Our retake day was one of the coldest days we’ve had so far, but we still managed to get a few outside pictures.

Hoskins-Family-SM

If you’re in the Des Moines area, Janae Patrice Photography is awesome to work with! Now to order holiday cards! (P.S. Tiny Prints has 40% off holiday cards through 12/7! Coupon Code: TPCARDS40FS)

2. LEGO Fun – Last weekend we took a trip to Kansas City. It’s only a three hour drive from Des Moines and we’ve been wanting to take Carter to the LEGO Discovery Center there for a while. He really wants to go to LEGOLAND, but we had to settle for a closer option for now!

LEGO Discover Center - Kansas City

3. Personalization Heaven – We stayed on the Plaza in Kansas City, and as I was checking out a few stores I ran across HMK, which is an amazing store for personalized gifts. Really, where has it been all my life?! Unfortunately they don’t have online ordering, but I got lots of great ideas browsing through their store. Right now they only have locations in Kansas City, Dallas area, and Denver.

hmk

4. Pumpkin Love – I made these mini marbled pumpkin cheesecakes with gingersnap crust to take for the Thanksgiving dessert table. Post to come next week on my adaptation of this recipe. I also made my Best Chex Mix Ever (obviously!).

mini-pumpkin-cheesecake

5. Gifts for the Wine Lover – This week’s gift guide was for the wine lover on your list. Check out both Buy and DIY options.

Best Gifts for the Wine Lover  DIY Gifts for the Wine Lover

Speaking of shopping, I’m not much of a Black Friday shopper. I prefer buying from the comfort of my couch in my pj’s. I need to get on it though, so far I’ve bought nothing and I haven’t started on my handmade gifts either. Good thing I’m off work until Monday!

Enjoy your weekend!

Linked Up At: Five on Friday; High Five for Friday

Best Gifts for the Wine Lover

My round up of Best Gifts for the Wine Lover covers must-haves, wish list items, unique finds, personalized and DIY gifts any wine lover would love to receive!

Best Gifts for the Wine Lover

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’m a wine lover. Many of these gift ideas are things I either own or WANT to own. Don’t kid yourself, part of my reason for doing gift guides is to drop not so subtle hints! I’m always looking for new things, so if you have items you love that aren’t on my list, leave me a comment and let me know!

Some links may be affiliate links amazon.com and other trusted retailers.

1. Wine Cellar Sign (redenvelope.com)

2. Personalized Wine Bottle Chiller (personalcreations.com)

3. Oster Rechargeable Wine Opener and Chiller (amazon.com)

4. Wine Pairing Towel (UncommonGoods.com)

5. Wine Cork Coasters or Trivet Kits(amazon.com) – turn your corks into useful household items or your gift recipient can use their own corks with special memories.

6. Wine Fridge – I found two I like and had good ratings, but weren’t outrageous in price. NewAir 28 Bottle and Culinair 16 Bottle (amazon.com)

7. Personalized Wine Tasting Ktichen Towel (redenvelope.com)

8. Pottery Barn Classic Stemware – these are my favorite wine glasses. They have a great size bowl and have a good stem height. Personally I’m not a fan of stemless wine glasses. To each their own though!

9. Corkcicle – keep your wine chilled from the inside out. Hello summer patio!

Best Gifts for the Wine Lover

10. Anniversary Wine Box (UncommonGoods.com)

11. Musical Scale Wine Glasses (UncommonGoods.com) – unique glasses for the wine enthusiast who also loves music.

12. Wine Club – The gift that keeps on giving all year! Try Gold Medal Wine Club for a reasonable and well reviewed club. If I had wish list wine club, I’d enroll in one from Cakebread Cellars which has some of my favorite wines… someday!

13. Personalized Wine Tags (PersonalizationMall.com)

14. Wine Wipes (amazon.com) for the red wine lovers in your life. Wipe lips and teeth and get rid of telltale “red wine lips”.

15. Rabbit Aerating Pourer (amazon.com) We have this and love it. Great stocking stuffer!

16. Wine Wars Trivia Game (UncommonGoods.com)

17. Rabbit Cork Screw (amazon.com) So easy to use. Never break off a cork again!

18. Wine Bottle Cutter Kit (amazon.com) Make new things from your old wine bottles – glasses, vases, lighting, the options are endless!

DIY Gifts for the Wine Lover

It wouldn’t be a proper gift guide from me, if I didn’t include some DIY gifts. You’ll recognize some as mine and some are favorites from other blogs.

1. Wine Tasting Party Chalk Table Runner (pinterest) Turn a black table runner into a backdrop for a wine tasting party.

2. Custom Burlap Wine Bags (Sophisticated Yellow)

3. Wine Cork Holder Shadow Box (Sometime Homemade)

4. Chalkboard Base Wine Glasses (All Things Major)

5. Wine Cork Ball/Ornament (Sometimes Homemade)

6. Sweater Wine Bottle Holder (Sometimes Homemade)

7. Wine Barrel Inspired Tray (Lil Blue Boo)

8. Etched Monogram Glasses (Sometimes Homemade) I originally made these with mason jars, but the tutorial will work well on wine glasses too!

Soft Gingersnaps

These Soft Gingersnap cookies are a family favorite recipe from my Grandma Edna. If you don’t think you like gingersnaps, this recipe will prove you wrong.

Soft Gingersnap Cookies

Soft Gingersnaps

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp molasses
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp cloves (you can also do ½ tsp cloves and skip the cardamom)
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • extra sugar for rolling dough

Directions:

Combine margarine, sugar, egg, and molasses, beat until smooth and light. Separately mix together dry ingredients and mix together with egg mixture.

Roll a piece of dough the size of a hickory nut in white sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet Bake at 400 for 8-9 minutes. Pull them out when they seem not quite done.  They will bake on the sheet a little more. Let cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes and then move to cooling racks.

If you’re not sure what size a hickory nut is (my grandma’s description), here’s a visual on how big I make mine. In my experience any size will work fine, just make them uniform and watch in baking.

gingersnaps-rolled

While in the oven, cookies will puff up, but they will flatten out and get crinkled tops almost immediately after removing from the oven..

gingerbread-baked

These cookies went fast at work! This is a great recipe for a cookie exchange or holiday bake sale since they’re not as common as sugar cookies or other holiday cookie staples.

gingersnaps-2sm

Do you have any family favorite cookie recipes?