Monthly Archives: December 2011

Make It a Kid-Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration!

I’ve always loved ringing in the new year low-key style in my jammies on the couch with my main man, Dick Clark. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally get down with the sparkly excitement of a New Year’s Eve party. But this old soul is more “old” than “soul” these days as the clock hits midnight.

If you’re like me, ditching the babysitter and staying cozy at home with the kids this New Year’s Eve, here are 22 low cost tips to keep the celebration alive and fun!

1. Decorate. Make it feel more like a party by hanging paper streamers and balloons. Head to your local party supply store and stock up on fun decorations for the big night, or make your own.

2. Create your own balloon drop. Tape a paper tablecloth loosely to the ceiling, and fill it with inflated balloons. At midnight, pull it down for an exciting celebration.

3. Make homemade “confetti poppers”. Have the kids create “confetti” with colored paper and a hole punch. Fill deflated balloons with the confetti using a funnel, inflate and tie closed. At midnight, pop the balloons!

4. Make party hats. Nothing screams “I’m celebrating New Year’s Eve!” like wearing a goofy party hat. Have the kids decorate their own with glitter, rhinestones and other fun embellishments.

5. Make “gingerbread” party hats! Use upside down ice cream cones as the base for this fun edible craft. Little kids can cover their own cones with frosting, and then decorate them with candy for a tasty version of the New Year’s Eve tradition.

6. Do New Year themed crafts. You can find tons of fun NYE crafts, educational activities and free printables at the following links: familyfun.go.com, enchantedlearning.com, apples4theteacher.com and activityvillage.co.uk.

7. Have a sleepover in the living room. Many kids want to stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop, but just in case they don’t make it you can set up sleeping bags or an inflatable mattress so they can cuddle up and sleep when the time comes. Just remember, if they’re ready for bed before 12, kiss them goodnight and remind them that when they wake up in the morning it will be the new year!

8. Have a family game night. Play board games, Charades, Pictionary, card games, or family friendly group-oriented video games such as the Wii.

9. Watch a movie. Go see a pre-party matinee or hold an all night movie marathon (don’t forget the popcorn) in your living room.

10. Read books. Head to your local library and check out titles like Happy New Year Everywhere by Arlene Erlbach, Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller, Cecil’s New Year’s Eve Tail by Marie Fritz Perry, or Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for great non-fiction readers also!

11. Cook a family meal together. Include each and every small pair of hands in the process, and then sit down together to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

12. Opt for apps. Making finger foods and appetizers instead of a main course meal keeps the “party” vibe going. Tiny portions for tiny people = instant hit.

13. Bake a cake/cupcakes. Celebrate the “birthday” of the new year with a yummy treat.

14. Cheers with “mocktails”. Give the little ones sparkling juice (such as apple, grape or lemonade), ginger ale or even an alcohol-free version of our favorite celebratory concoctions & include them in the midnight toast!

15. Make a list of family resolutions or a family bucket list for the upcoming year. Think of all the things you might want to do or accomplish as a family and record them all. Post your checklist in a place where everyone can see them for motivation!

16. Reflect on your favorite moments. Sit down as a family and share the most memorable events of the past year. You’ll be surprised at what little kids remember or what memories they may cherish the most.

17. Make a family time capsule. Take a shoebox or similar sized container and fill it with your favorite photos of the year, pictures drawn by the kids, and letters written by every family member. Next year, open the box and enjoy all of the cool treasures, and create a new time capsule to open next New Year’s Eve.

18. Celebrate your way around the world. People all over the world celebrate the new year in different ways. Sit down with your kids and learn about the unique New Year’s traditions from different countries. Who knows, maybe you’ll decide to incorporate a few of them into your own family holiday traditions!

19. Celebrate at noon. Instead of doing a midnight countdown, counting down the minutes to 12 pm is more conducive to the earlier bedtime demands of young children.

20. Watch the Times Square NYE celebration… early. If you’re lucky enough to live on the West Coast, tune in to the Times Square celebration and have the kids in bed at a decent hour!

21. Watch the London NYE celebration… early. If you’re an East Coaster like us and can’t keep the kids up until good ole Dick Clark announces the new year, google “live London New Years Eve broadcast” and tune in to their version of New Year’s festivities 5 hours before ours start.

22. Reset the clocks. Part of the excitement of being little on New Year’s Eve is getting to stay up WAY past bedtime. If you’re not down with the subsequent grumpies that the following morning will bring, set the clocks ahead a few hours to celebrate early, and then get those sleepyheads in bed at a decent hour.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun and enjoy the night! I wish you a happy New Year and I’ll see you all in 2012!

I’m curious, will you be staying home or heading out to a party to celebrate the new year? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Monday Menu Plan: 12/26-1/1

Christmas is ovah. Hallelujah. I love all the cream filled dishes and comfort foods, but one can only eat so much hot chicken salad before exploding. I’m now on the annual mission to expand my repertoire of healthy recipes, so if you’ve got any waist-friendly post holiday dinner ideas, please share them with me!

Menu Planning

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt, scrambled eggs and toast

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chickpea salad sandwiches, fresh fruit and veggies, leftovers

Snacks: fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn, sour cream muffins

Dinner:

Monday

  • ravioli with tomato sauce
  • salad

Tuesday

  • Christmas dinner (round two!) at my dad’s
Wednesday
  • chicken and veggie fried rice
Thursday
  • black bean quesadillas
  • salad
Friday
  • roasted chicken
  • veggie medley (aka whatever needs to be used up in the fridge/freezer)
Saturday
  • corn chowder
  • oyster crackers
Sunday
  • slow cooker beef stroganoff
  • broccoli
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments section below!  If you blog your own menu plan, leave a link so we can check it out. And if you want  information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.
Did you like this article? You can get all the latest posts at Gingerly Homemaking in your email inbox by clicking the link below and entering your email address. Your address will only be used for mailing you new posts via Feedburner, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.
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The Complete Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide Roundup

Here’s a recap of my Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guides, all in one post for your crafting convenience! Click on a link to be redirected to its tutorial.

For Her:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Her

1. Friendship Bracelets

2. Dip Dyed Shirt:

10. Cabochon Post Earrings
      

For Him:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Him

1. DIY Monogram Mugs

2. Etch-a-Sketch iPad Cozy

3. Suitcase Table

4. Pegboard Tool Organizer

5. Homemade Zen Garden

6. 8-Bit Mario Blanket

7. DIY Comic Book Coasters

8. Upcycled Golf Club Cozy

A club head cover made from a sweater will dress up a golf game and keep an old sweater out of the landfill.

9. Etched Mustache Glasses

10.  Vintage Book E-Reader Cover

         
For Kids:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 1)

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 2)

1. Homemade Playdough

2. Recycled Crayons

3. DIY A-Frame Tent

4. Felt Play Mats

5. A Box of Rocks

6. Invention Kit Bags

7. I-Spy Bottle

8. Dollhouse Out of Drawers

11.  Cozy Car Caddy

12. Toy Soap

13. Car Mat Backpack

14. Doll Suitcase

15. On the Go Felt Storyboards

16. No Sew Tutu

17. Children’s Tool Belt

18. Homemade Watercolor Paint Set

19. Homemade Finger Paints

20. Hopscotch Mat

                

For Pets:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Pets

1. Recycled Cardboard Kitty Pad

2. Pup’kin Biscuits

Pup’kin Biscuits

3. Easy No-Sew Fleece Dog Bed

4.  Cardboard Cat Playhouse

5. Suitcase Pet Beds

6. 9 Fabulous Handmade or DIY Pet Beds

7. Bird Seed Ornaments

8. Catnip Fish Toys

9. Organic Homemade Pet Treats

2010_11_29_mchin01.jpg

10. Fish Tank Christmas Tree

Sweet and Savory Food Gifts:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: Sweet and Savory Food Gifts

1. Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

2. Peppermint Bark

3. Homemade Magic Shell.

magicshellsm

4. Beef Jerky

Picture of Beef Jerky Recipe

5. Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers

6. Homemade Granola

2009_08_06-Granola01.jpg

7. Eggless Cookie Dough Bites

cookie dough bites

8. Homemade Butterfingers

9. Hot and Spicy Pecans

10. Wine

And are a few more links to tasty gift worthy treats:


What homemade gifts have you made/are you making this Christmas? Share with us in the comments section below!

Did you like this article? You can get all the latest posts at Gingerly Homemaking in your email inbox by clicking the link below and entering your email address. Your address will only be used for mailing you new posts via Feedburner, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.  Subscribe to Ginger(ly) Homemaking by Email

Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: Sweet and Savory Food Gifts

Sorry for the absolute last minute-ness of this post, I’ve been sick with a case of the who-knows-what for the past couple of days. But an edibles gift guide I promised, so an edibles gift guide you all shall receive!

Instead of standing in line for ten million years (no joke) to purchase a random something at your local big box store for that last minute present-you-forgot-to-get, head to the kitchen and whip up a few budget friendly edible treats for gift giving this Christmas!

Here’s a roundup of 30 of the best homemade food gift recipes around. And don’t worry, there’s something for everyone on your list!

1. Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies: Paula Deen went and did it, she clogged my arteries for Christmas. My grandma and I made a few batches of these the other week, and let me tell you they are sinfully good. What I particularly like about this one is that you can use any kind of box cake mix, so if you don’t dig chocolate that’s a-ok. We used funfetti cake mix (my guilty pleasure) and they were just as amazing.

chocolate gooey butter cookies via foodnetwork.com

2. Peppermint Bark: This isn’t your average holiday peppermint bark. Some genius at the Martha Stewart compound decided to add puffed rice cereal (aka rice krispies) to the recipe. It brings this yummy treat from “oh hey” to “OH HEY HEY!”.

peppermint bark via marthastewart.com

3. Homemade Magic Shell: When I was little, I had a great grandmother named Mee Mee. I remember four very specific things about Mee Mee: she had her own couch, she loved those fiber optic light thingies, she gave me an opal ring when I turned 10, and she could make magic shell. I thought anyone who could make magic shell (Mee Mee) must be magic. I still do.

magicshellsm

homemade magic shell recipe via gerberadesigns.com

4. Beef Jerky: Beef jerky is expensive. And gooooood. And expensive. This one is a surefire guy gift (although frankly I’d love to receive some myself), and frugal to boot. I’ve used Alton Brown’s beef jerky recipe and let me just say, YUM. He builds a dehydrating contraption to make his, but you can use a regular dehydrator or even your oven to get the job done.

Picture of Beef Jerky Recipe

beef jerky recipe via foodnetwork.com

5. Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers: This goldfish-like cracker is a great savory alternative to the onslaught of cookie, candy and cake recipes that you come across when you google “homemade food gifts”. And waaaaay easy too.

homemade cheddar cheese crackers via homecookinginmontana.blogspot.com

6. Homemade Granola: Granola is great for gift-giving; it’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s adaptable, it stays fresh forever and it’s so darn tasty. My personal granola recipe is just oats, butter or oil, brown sugar, corn syrup or honey, vanilla and a few shakes of cinnamon, but the possibilites are endless and so are the recipe sources. I’ve linked to a basic recipe, but feel free to explore the internet in search of that “perfect” granola… or make up your own!

2009_08_06-Granola01.jpg

basic granola formula via thekitchn.com

7. Eggless Cookie Dough Bites: What’s that you say? You need a gift for a girl between the ages of 12 and post-menopausal? THESE. As my Aunt Wendy would say, “nuff said”.

cookie dough bites

eggless cookie dough bites recipe via family.go.com

8. Homemade Butterfingers: Prepare to have your mind blown. There are only three ingredients in this homemade candy recipe: chocolate, peanut butter and CANDY CORN. Don’t you feel like you just inherited the secrets of the universe?  Pass them on this Christmas and wow your gift recipients with a little homemade Butterfinger candy action.

homemade butterfingers recipe via inkatrinaskitchen.com

9. Hot and Spicy Pecans: Spice things up this Christmas with this recipe for savory spiced nuts. If you’re not a fan of pecans, change things up and use peanuts, almonds or even a party mix instead. If you’re not a fan of nuts or have a nut allergy, try this roasted chickpea recipe from thekitchn.com for similar results.

hot and spicy pecans recipe via allrecipes.com

10. Wine: Okay, so wine isn’t exactly homemade, but bear with me. If you’re not savvy in the kitchen, you can improvise! Gift a bottle of wine and wrapt it with a cute pair of knee socks for some homemade flair. See? Edible and homemade. It counts.

gift wrapped wine bottle via formalfringe.com

Here are a few more links to tasty gift worthy treats:

What homemade edible gifts are you making this Christmas? Share with us in the comments section below!

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Her

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Him

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 1)

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 2)

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Pets

Did you like this article? You can get all the latest posts at Gingerly Homemaking in your email inbox by clicking the link below and entering your email address. Your address will only be used for mailing you new posts via Feedburner, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.  Subscribe to Ginger(ly) Homemaking by Email

In the Kitchen: Potato Chip Cookies

Potato chip cookies - these are amazing.

Yesterday two of my favorite ladies came over for a holiday baking session. We gossiped, we laughed and we baked alotta cookies.

My lovely ladies & I = guaranteed shenanigans.

The original lineup included bacon chocolate chip cookies and beer marshmallows, but a slight change in plans had us whipping up a batch of potato chip cookies instead of the marshmallows.

Did you know that potato chip cookies existed? I most certainly did not. And it was probably for the better. Potato chips and I go together like Lindsay Lohan and drugs. It’s like that. As I write this it’s 10am and I’ve already eaten three. It’s pure insanity.

Not to shadow the bacon chocolate chip cookies, but these babies blew my mind. With only 5 ingredients they were ridiculously easy (the hardest part was bundling up the kids and walking down the block to the corner store for a bag of potato chips). They’re a shortbread type of cookie kind of like pecan sandies, minus the nuts since our corner store isn’t posh enough to stock pecans. Make them, love them, and feel free to curse at me for ruining your diet.

potato chip cookies

Potato Chip Cookies (adapted from THIS recipe)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5.5 ounce bag of ridged potato chips, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in potato chips. Add vanilla, mix well. Stir in flour just until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. 

3. Shape into 1 inch balls, place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 40 cookies.

Tips and Tricks:

*Bake these in the upper half of the oven to ensure that the bottoms don’t overbrown/burn. Don’t let them overcook, they will still be pale-ish in the middle and continue to cook as they cool on the baking sheet.

*I line my baking sheets with foil to make cleanup easier. You can also use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

*We kind of just squirted the vanilla into the bowl, so we probably added more than 2 teaspoons of extract (I wrote 2 to be on the safe side). Feel free to adjust the amount to your liking.

*If you want to add nuts, the original recipe called for 1/2 cup ground pecans.

*The recipe says to use ridged potato chips, but I’m sure you could get away with regular potato chips instead. However, I would strongly advise against using a different flavor potato chip, like say, sour cream and onion. That sounds a little gross (but if you’re gutsy enough to try it and it works come back and let me know!).

*Try your hardest not to eat them all right out of the oven. If you lack the self control, throw a few in a ziplock bag and save them for a later date. Cookies are notoriously wonderful for making ahead and freezing.

*I bet potato chip cookies would be fan-freaking-tastic half dipped in chocolate. Just saying.

*Please do not try to healthify this recipe. It’s a POTATO CHIP COOKIE. It’s not meant to be healthy. I know the thought may have breezed through your mind, and I love you anyways.

I know you’re wondering, so I’ll post the bacon chocolate chip cookie recipe another time. But for now, I promised my lovely lady friends that I’d post a shot of my hairdo. They were curiously obsessed with it.

Do you have a guilty pleasure cookie? Let us know in the comments section below!

Did you like this article? You can get all the latest posts at Gingerly Homemaking in your email inbox by clicking the link below and entering your email address. Your address will only be used for mailing you new posts via Feedburner, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.  Subscribe to Ginger(ly) Homemaking by Email

Monday Menu Plan: 12/19-12/25

Holy last minute holiday chaos, Batman! I am busy, busy, busy, getting ready for Sunday’s shenanigans. You’ll notice that there are at least 3 soups making an appearance at our dinner table this week. I was going to write a blurb about how I’m being healthy and frugal-minded leading up to the indulge-fest known as Christmas day, but the truth of the matter is that I’m defaulting to soups in an attempt to put meals on the table when I simply can’t comprehend any sort of food preparation past chopping and tossing in a pot. There are just too many cookies to bake and presents to wrap to be creative with the menu, so our dinners will mostly be make-ahead or fix & forget crock pot meals.

Our teeny tiny tree. No joke, it's a five footer with a lean.

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cold cut sandwiches, fresh fruit and veggies, leftovers

Snacks: fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn, veggie straws, cookies

Dinner:

Monday

  • roasted chicken thighs
  • salad
  • spaghetti squash (prepared over the weekend)

Tuesday

Wednesday
Thursday
  • crustless cheddar quiche
  • broccoli
Friday
  • ravioli with tomato sauce
  • salad
Saturday
  • chicken noodle soup (crock pot)
  • homemade rolls
Sunday (Merry Christmas!)
  • Breakfast: overnight french toast, Christmas breakfast casserole
  • Buffet dish for dinner at Gramma’s: hot chicken salad
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments section below!  If you blog your own menu plan, leave a link so we can check it out. And if you want  information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.
Did you like this article? You can get all the latest posts at Gingerly Homemaking in your email inbox by clicking the link below and entering your email address. Your address will only be used for mailing you new posts via Feedburner, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.
Subscribe to Ginger(ly) Homemaking by Email

Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Pets

Don’t forget about those furry, scaly and feathered family members this holiday season! Here’s a roundup of some awesome pet-friendly homemade Christmas present ideas and tutorials :

1. Recycled Cardboard Kitty Pad: Save the shipping boxes from all of your online Christmas orders to make a (free!) homemade scratch pad.

Recycled Cardboard Kitty Pad via designsponge.com

2. Pup’kin Biscuits: If there’s one thing I know about Rachael Ray, it’s that she loves her pups. If she deems this tasty treat recipe worthy of her own furry bestie, you know it’s got to be good for yours too.

Pup’kin Biscuits

Pup'kin Biscuits via rachaelraymag.com

3. Easy No-Sew Fleece Dog Bed: This tutorial couldn’t be easier, and by gosh, that puppy couldn’t be cuter.

Fleece Puppy Bed tutorial via craftster.org

4.  Cardboard Cat Playhouse: I almost want to adopt a cat now just so I can make it this cool cat playhouse.

Cardboard Cat Playhouse via marthastewart.com

5. Suitcase Pet Beds: I almost want to BE a cat now just so I can snuggle up in one of these suitcase pet beds.

Suitcase Pet Bed via thezenofmaking.com

6. 9 Fabulous Handmade or DIY Pet Beds: Here are 9 more cool DIY pet bed ideas for you courtesy of re-nest.com. I think if I were a dog or cat, I’d be inclined to lounge around in one of these all day. I’d be the laziest, most comfortable pet ever.

9 Fabulous Handmade or DIY Pet Beds via re-nest.com

7. Bird Seed Ornaments: They’re not quite for pets, but I remember making these when I was in preschool to hang outside for the wild birds and squirrels. You can find additional homemade bird treats HERE.

Bird Seed Ornaments via saltwater-kids.com

8. Catnip Fish Toys: So easy. So addicting. Your cat will love you forever if you make it a few of these.

Catnip Fish Toy tutorial via marthastewart.com

9. Organic Homemade Pet Treats: There’s a recipe for dogs and one for cats, check them out for some edible pet gifts that are sure to keep your furry friends happy and healthy this holiday.

2010_11_29_mchin01.jpg

10. Fish Tank Christmas Tree: Leave it to Martha to cover all the bases with this adorable homemade gift for your fish!

Fish Tank Christmas Tree via marthastewart.com

What homemade gifts are you making for the pets in your life this holiday season? Let us know in the comments section below!

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Her

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Him

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 1)

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 2)

Stay tuned to this blog for the upcoming DIY edibles gift guide!

Did you like this article? You can get all the latest posts at Gingerly Homemaking in your email inbox by clicking the link below and entering your email address. Your address will only be used for mailing you new posts via Feedburner, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.  Subscribe to Ginger(ly) Homemaking by Email