Monday, December 31, 2012

Have a Joy Filled New Year!

Dear friends, warm wishes for a joy filled new year!  This past year had it's ups and downs for most of us, I'm sure.  A new year always reminds me of a brand new clean slate yet to be written on.  Fill your slate this year with joy!

Even here in the desert, there is a freeze warning tonight.  Hot chocolate sure sounds like a good idea!  This is the tray that I prepared before Christmas as a hot chocolate "station".

For the 90 plus volunteers in my Nursery Program at church, I literally gave them "joy" for Christmas, but joy is a year round gift to all!

Using the computer to print a quote and deckle edge scissors to cut out labels, I made labels for a LOT of Almond Joy candy bars.  This is a personal favorite of mine and as it turns out, many of my volunteers expressed that it was their favorite as well.

The quote is from Luke 2:10, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all the people."
The label was simply wrapped around the candy bar and taped on the back using double stick tape.
A basket full of JOY!
Stay safe, stay warm and above all, stay joyful in 2013.  Good things are coming your way!
Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

DIY Vanilla

Dear friends,

I have been missing you!  For all of us, this is a busy time of year and I've been, well, busy doing many things, but not blogging.  While I was busy, I have had some things in the works that did not need my constant attention and finally got one of those finished.

Several weeks ago I decided to make some vanilla.  There were several blogs where tutorials were given so I combined the information and bought supplies.

I know nothing about brandy, so just bought a bottle.  I forgot to take a photo while it was still full. And, no, I did not drink it!  The beans I ordered from Amazon after checking the price at the local grocery store.  These were much more economical.  (The silver tray was given to me from my son who found it somewhere and thought I'd like it -- I do!)
The instructions I found agreed on using 1 cup of brandy (or vodka) to 1 bean.  I just used jars from bottled marinara sauce that had been washed and dried.  I slit the beans lengthwise to release the flavor and the seeds. Then, the waiting begins.  Most instructions said to wait at least 6 weeks while the beans flavored the liquor.  I waited more than that as I didn't have time to bottle the results until this week.

You can see the seeds in the empty jar.  I used a funnel to fill the bottles which were from Hobby Lobby and other places where I found pretty bottles.  I'm only showing three here, but there is MUCH more vanilla!
When I tasted the vanilla, it tasted like brandy to me, so I tasted the purchased vanilla I had in my pantry and -- it tasted like liquor as well.  All these years I've been using vanilla I had never tasted it except in the finished baked goods.  Who knew it tasted like liquor?


 I think the results will make lovely gifts to my baking friends and family, don't you?

I put a fresh bean in each of the bottles and will tie a pretty ribbon around the top.
Do you make any of your Christmas gifts?  I love the way these look -- hope my friends and family do too!
Blessings to you during this busy time of year.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The 25 Trees Of Christmas

What?  You don't have 25 trees for Christmas?  Actually, I don't either, but I've decorated 26 trees so far with two more to go.

However, 25 of the trees were only a foot tall and they were not for our house.  They were for an event we held for the kids and their families at our church. 

Here is one finished.
This gives a little more perspective to the size.
This is how the "good" trees started out.
Some needed a little help from a glue gun as the stands fell off.
Here is the "forest" fluffed and ready for the ornaments.  Funny how some of the foot tall trees were taller than others.
A few days later, they all had ornaments.
Yep, those little ornaments are 3/4" diameter.  There are 25 ornaments on each tree.
This is how they looked on the tables.
This event was to introduce "The Savior's CHRISTmas Tree" which is similar to the Jesse Tree if you are familiar with that tradition.  A scripture and family discussion to prepare for Christmas each day for 25 days.
This is the size the families were given to work with. We didn't make them do the tiny ones!  The Children's staff wrote the 25 devotions and prepared booklets for each family who attended.
There were other activities and snacks as well.  What's Christmas without cookies and cocoa and a rousing game of "bat the balloon"? The red team succeeded twice in getting more balloons across the rope to the green side.  Go red!
The families also teamed up to make human Candy Canes and told the Christmas story in a unique way with full participation of the kids.  Everyone had a great time.
And the trees?  they went home with some of the families.  I had the fun of making them -- they have the fun of keeping them and duplicating the ornaments as they do their devotional and activity each night leading up to Christmas.
Now, I can get back to the serious business of decorating the rest of my house for the holidays.
Sharing at:
Feathered Nest Friday  at French Country Cottage