Sunday, December 25, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: BONUS

I have a bonus post for my 25 Days of Christmas challenge. I also made Santa Hat brownies but ran out of days so you get a bonus post!

Favorite brownie mix or recipe
White chocolate chips

Mini brownie pan
Piping bag and tip

For these adorable treats, you start my mixing up a batch of your favorite brownie mix. Then divide it into the mini brownie pan. Once the brownies are cool, cut the stem off of each strawberry. Next, heat up a bowl of white chocolate melting chips. I used one cup for about 36 mini brownies. Next put the melted white chocolate in a piping bag and pipe a dot on the tip of each strawberry. Then proceed to put a large dot of white chocolate on the bottom of each strawberry and press onto the top of each brownie. The result is a delicious treat that is super cute and makes a great addition to any holiday party or family dessert table.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 25

For the final day of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I made a beautiful fruit Christmas tree centerpiece. This beauty was my masterpiece of the season. All you need is a styrofoam cone and toothpicks plus whatever fruit you think would look good. I went with kiwi, green grapes, blackberries, strawberries, melon and Craisins. I used a star cookie cutter to get the star melon on top of the tree. I cut up the rest of the melon as presents under the tree and also used cilantro as a garnish underneath. It's basically a free form project. You just start by putting fruit on and as it gets fuller, you pick which size fruit fits best. Once it started getting full, I started snapping the toothpicks in half to fit better.  The end result makes a beautiful fruit centerpiece for your Christmas dinner table or for a holiday party.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 24

For day 24 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I took a stocking stuffer gift I had received and made it more festive. Gary got me three clear candles and holders from Bath and Body Works. I had been wanting to do something with epsom salts for a "snowy" look and these were the perfect opportunity.

Supplies needed:
Tacky spray
Epsom salts
Jar, bottle, vase, candle holder, etc.
Paper plate

Pour some epsom salts on the paper plate and spray the outside of your candle holder ( or other decorative object) with the tacky spray. Then roll the object in the epsom salts until covered. If there are some blank patches, take a pinch of epsom salts and sprinkle over the spots. The end result is a pretty snowy look. You can display them on their own or make a centerpiece by putting them on a silver tray and adding some ornaments as decoration.

Friday, December 23, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 23

For day 23 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I made holiday cocktails for me and my friend. I honestly think you can make any red or green drink a Christmas cocktail if you want but cranberry is also a big holiday flavor so this drink tastes festive as well. Plus if you put it in the right glass with the right decoration whether it be a fun straw, garnish, etc then you've got yourself a holiday drink.

Ingredients needed:
1 cup of apple juice
1 cup of cranberry juice
100 ml vodka
1 cup of ginger ale

The recipe I found for this drink has you blend the apple juice, cranberry juice and vodka in a blender. I guess it gives it a fun frothy look but honestly the look doesn't last long so this may be a pointless step. I tried it because it was my first time but you could honestly just shake it over ice and strain if you don't feel like getting the blender dirty. Then you top it off with ginger ale at the end and pour over ice. I used mason jars because they're cute and fun to drink out of. Then I topped it off with a festive candy cane patterned straw. Whip up a batch at your next holiday party or family gathering, these cocktails are tasty and easy to make!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 22

For day 22 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I have another fun gift idea for the holidays. You can get this really cute snowman wrapper for free from Aimee Asher of you can design your own. Wrap it around a gift of your choice to make it more festive. You also use gloves for the hat so you could use it to make the gloves more fun if they are the main gift or you can buy a cheap pair at the dollar store and include it with another main gift. I chose to wrap it around microwave popcorn which is perfect to pair with a dvd or blu-ray gift.

Supplies Needed:
Snowman wrapper
Microwave popcorn (or you could use a chocolate bar, etc)
Pair of gloves

Simply cut the snowman wrapper to size and tape it around your item, in my case, the microwave popcorn. Next take your gloves and put one inside the other so the person gets a pair still. Then place the gloves over the top of the snowman's head. Next tie a ribbon in a bow around the gloves and you have a cute snowman with a hat! You can add a scarf using felt if you want but I chose not to. Pair with a Christmas favorite dvd or blu-ray for an awesome gift!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 21

For day 21 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I made a holiday photo booth. Photo booths are a fun addition to any party or get together. All you need is a back drop and a box of props. People can use their own cameras or you could include a Polaroid camera so everyone can have a souvenir. The iPhone also has a fun app called PopBooth that actually takes 4 pictures in a strip similar to an old fashioned photo booth. You can order actual prints for 2.99 or you can post them on Facebook and email the pictures for free!

For a backdrop, a streamer curtain works well. It looks festive and it's super easy to make. I took a piece of string and cut strips of streamers and stapled them to the string. I alternated holiday colors of red, white and green. Then loop the ends of the string and hook them onto thumb tacks to hang on the wall.

For the prop box, you can print out hats, glasses and mustaches and glue or tape them to sticks or a better idea is just to buy a few props at the dollar store. You can get Santa hats, elf hats and reindeer antlers as well as big sunglasses and fake mustaches. I glued the mustaches to bamboo chopsticks so that they can be reused multiple times instead of sticking them to one person's face.

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 26

Day 26: Close-up

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Love is Louder Project: JWOWW Edition

I just learned that JWOWW is supporting "Love is Louder" by auctioning off some her clothing that she wore on Jersey Shore. Check out her auction and support the cause! #LOVEISLOUDER

See also: Love is Louder Project and Love is Louder Project Continued

25 Days of Christmas: Day 20

For day 20 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I decided to whip up a batch of holiday sangria. The basis of sangria is a mixture of wine and fruit and the rest is up to you to come up with the right mix of spices, juice, liquor, etc to make your sangria complete. Because of this, sangria is one of those things that has limitless options of what you can do. There are so many recipes out there it's enough to make your head spin! I pinned a couple different holiday ones and this one sounded a little more festive to me so I gave it a whirl. This is another project that you need to start the night before because it needs 24 hours to seep.

2 bottles Merlot (or 1 large bottle)
1 bottle ginger ale
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 large orange cut up
1 large apple cut up
6 to 10 cinnamon sticks
1/2 bag of cranberries

Just now reviewing the recipe, I realize I accidentally did a full bag of cranberries and I thought it was a little much! Now I see that the recipe calls for 1/2 a bag which makes a lot more sense since I was going to suggest doing half a bag. But onto the steps.

Step 1: In a medium pot, combine Merlot, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Let simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved.

Step 2: Pour immediately into a sealed pitcher or other container. Chop apples and oranges and add them along with the cinnamon sticks  and cranberries to the mixture.

Step 3: Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Step 4: Add ice and ginger ale to serve.

I served this at a get together I had with my cousins and everybody loved it. It was delicious and had the perfect holiday spice. I forgot to take a picture of it all pretty in the punch bowl and in the cups but above is an up close of it seeping in the fridge. You can also bottle this up and it makes a great gift!

Monday, December 19, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 19

For day 19 of my 25 Days of Christmas I made a batch of eggnog cupcakes. Similar to holiday cookies, there are a million different options for holiday themed cupcakes. Last year I made these adorable Reindeer Cupcakes. This year, instead of picking a decorative cupcake, I decided to go for a holiday flavored cupcake. When I saw eggnog cupcakes on Pinterest, I just knew I had to give them a try.

Ingredients Needed:
1/4 cup dark rum or bourbon (I used Kraken Black Spiced Rum)
1 cup soy eggnog
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
scant 1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350F.
Step 2: Fill a 12-cup muffin tin with liners. (get holiday ones if possible, more festive!)
Step 3: In a small bowl, mix together rum, eggnog, vegetable oil, vinegar and vanilla.
Step 4: In a large bowl, mix together nutmeg, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Step 5: Pour in rum mixture and whisk until just combined. Divide evenly into muffin tins (a 1/4 cup measure is a good tool for this).
Step 6: Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed.
Step 7: Cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients Needed for Eggnog Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tbsp soy eggnog (or regular)
2 tbsp rum (I used Kraken Black Spiced Rum)
generous pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground
2+ cups confectioners’ sugar

Step 1: Cream together butter, eggnog, rum, nutmeg and 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Add in more confectioners' sugar if needed to make frosting stiff, but spreadable.
Step 2: Spread on cupcakes and garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Step 3: My holiday liners came with little decorative picks so I added these for a more festive look!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 18

For day 18 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I made reindeer and melted snowmen cookies. As you can see from my previous posts, there are a lot of cute options for both reindeer and snowmen when it comes to holiday baked goods and crafts. Although I could have made these two separate days, I decided to combine them under a holiday cookie post.

Ingredients for Reindeer:
Your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe
Chocolate covered pretzels, white chocolate covered pretzels or regular mini pretzels
M&Ms - red and green ones or red and brown ones

To make reindeer cookies, first make a batch of peanut butter cookies. You can use your favorite recipe or buy a mix or roll of pre-made dough. Once you take the cookies out of the oven, immediately press m&ms into the cookies. Use brown or green for the eyes and red for the noses. Then put the cookies on a rack to cool. I had originally read to also press the chocolate pretzels on immediately too but after trying this with the first two, I realized the pretzels were melting and looked sloppy. So I decided to wait until the cookies cooled and then "glued" the pretzels on for the antlers using a dab of white icing. If you're just using regular pretzels, you can probably press them in when you do the m&ms. I had a bag of white chocolate covered Flipz and a box of mini Godiva chocolate covered pretzels. I made a batch of each. I like the way the Godiva ones look better because they are smaller but I also really like the way white chocolate looks.

Ingredients for Melted Snowmen:
Your favorite sugar cookie recipe
White icing
Large marshmallows
Orange jimmies
Green, blue or black jimmies

These snowmen cookies are one of my favorite things I've ever made. They are just so darn cute! First start by whipping up a batch of your favorite sugar recipe, or buy a mix or pre-made dough. Once the cookies are cooled, cover each cookie with white icing. Next, place your marshmallows on a plate and put them in the microwave for about 20 seconds. I read a tip that you should coat your hand in cooking spray to help handle the marshmallows when you take them out of the microwave so I gave my hand a coat of Pam. Next take the slightly melted marshmallows and place them near the top of each cookie. Next decorate with jimmies. My bottle of rainbow jimmies didn't have any black so I picked out enough orange for the noses and a combo of blue and green for the eyes. I then took a bottle of Valentines Day sprinkles I had and picked out brown heart shaped ones for the buttons on each snowman. Place the buttons on the icing and press the nose and eyes into the marshmallow. The great thing about these is that they are supposed to look like melted snowmen so they don't have to be perfect at all when icing or placing the marshmallows and jimmies. Sloppiness just adds to their charm and helps them look more melted!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 17

For day 17 of my 25 Days of Christmas, I decided to make mistletoe jello shots. I am attending an Ugly Christmas Sweater party so I thought these would be the perfect treat to bring along.

Ingredients Needed:
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup of Apple Pucker Liquor
1 cup of vodka
1 box of lime jello (I bought a bigger box so this recipe is doubled, if you buy the regular box, use 1 cup of boiling water and 1/2 cup of each of the liquors)
Whipped cream or cool whip
Fresh mint leaves
Red hot candies

If you haven't made jello shots before, you follow the jello recipe on the box but replace the cold water with your alcohol. If you're using two different liquors like in this recipe, do half a cup of each or 1 cup of each for the bigger box. Then pour the jello into individual cups and put in the fridge for the recommended amount of time. Then when the jello is set, add a dollop of cool whip or squirt of whipped cream on top of each shot. Then decorate with two fresh mint leaves and two red hots on each one to look like mistletoe. These are super cute for a holiday get together and are quite tasty! It's definitely more fun to experiment with mixing flavored liquors with flavored jello instead of just using plain vodka in jello shots.

Friday, December 16, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 16

For day 16 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I decided to make a batch of sweet and salty treats. These are super simple and can be made year round for any occasion. See my Halloween Treats for a fall version.

Small pretzels (you can use round, square or regular)
Hershey Kisses (for a fun twist try candy cane kisses)
Red and Green m&ms (you can use regular ones also but red & green are more festive for the holidays)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and then line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Spread the pretzels out on the sheet and unwrap that many kisses. Then bake for about 3 minutes until the kisses are shiny. Once you take them out of the oven, quickly press the m&ms into each kiss. The mix of sweet and salty is the perfect snack for a party or you can put them in a pretty package and give them as a gift.

Sampleicious: Tea Tree Facial Wash from The Body Shop

I received this sample from Sephora and I love it! The word facial in the title might just be fancy for face but this stuff really did make me feel like I had just left the spa. When I was using it, it felt as if I was washing my face in a waterfall, in a rainforest, with a eucalyptus leaf. Now I don't know if that sounds appealing to anyone else but I mean it in the most amazing way. The cool minty tingle was awesome and my face felt completely refreshed and soft afterwards. I can't wait to pick up a bottle of this! I also looked it up on The Body Shops website and see that they have a whole bunch of tea tree products! I'm looking forward to trying more of them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sampleicious: Birchbox Edition: November & December Boxes

My November box was filled with fun samples to get me excited about my Birchbox subscription. Aside from the actual goodies inside, everything was wrapped so prettily in pink tissue paper.  I almost didn't want to mess it up but I was excited to see my samples.
Samples Inside:
Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee Cologne Absolue
A Firecracker Chuao Chocolate Bar
A bottle of nail polish from Zoya Gems & Jewels Collection

The only problem I can foresee with these samples is that if I really love something, sometimes the full size product is WAY out of my price range. For example, the vanilla cologne is $170.00 a bottle and the Jojoba night cream is $112 a bottle. The chocolate bars, sugar polish and nail polish however are more average beauty product prices. It is fun to get to try things you will never be able to afford but it could also get depressing if you fall in love with a product you know you'll never get the chance to try again.

Just as I feared, as soon as I took a whiff of the Vanille Cologne, I fell in love. The best way to describe this scent is intoxicating. I only dabbed on the droplets that leaked onto my finger when I opened the tiny vile to smell it, but the scent {thankfully} lingered on me the rest of then night. The sample came with a post card {pictured above} that truly shows what the scent is all about. The post card oozes luxury and class in New York City. While I'm sure I won't ever be able to afford the full size bottle at $170, I hope to save the sample and use every last drop, only on special occasions of course! As a side note, while this bottle is $170, it is a 200ml bottle which equals about 6.8 oz. Most perfumes are about half that size so it is an over-sized bottle that would last forever!    

My next November sample I decided to give a whirl was the Chuao chocolate bar. These Chocopods come in unique flavors and my sample was the Firecracker which is dark chocolate, chipotle, salt and popping candy. Needless to say I was intrigued. I ended up splitting it with Gary, giving him the bigger half. I soon began to regret sharing as I bit into the peppery treat. The dark chocolate, salt and chipotle paired together nicely for a spicy surprise. Then to top off the complete experience, the popping candy started crackling in my mouth like a fire on cool, crisp day. I am definitely planning on getting a full size bar of this for $6. You can also get an assorted pack of the chocopods for $8 to try other flavors! 

I sampled the Champagne and Shimmer scrub in the shower this morning. Body polishes and scrubs are something I definitely don't use enough but always feel refreshed when I do. Products like this are perfect to give you entire body a makeover in the shower. I mostly like to use it on my legs before I shave, but it's probably best to use it at least once a week on your entire body for a silky, smooth feeling. I was excited to try this champagne and shimmer one because it just sounded so luxurious. A mix of champagne and flicks of gold? Yes please! It smells delicious and works like a charm. The full size one is $36 which is about what a good quality scrub costs anyways so it is totally worth it. I have a whole Energy one from Bath and Body Works so I won't need one for a while but I will definitely keep this scrub in mind.

 I've never been one to use "night" cream but I am getting older so it's something I should probably consider. As soon as I unwrapped the colorful tissue paper surround this jojoba night cream, I was in love. When your sample comes in a tiny wooden pot {the full size one comes in a similar bottle} that's pretty darn cool. Plus I'm a sucker for things like safflower seeds and jojoba. They just sound fancy and like they'd do miracles for my skin! Of course the full size one is also $112 so it must be amazing. I shouldn't get too attached at that price but this did make my skin feel absolutely amazing last night. It has a pleasant scent and made my cheeks feel like a baby's bottom. I would also like to add that I tried a new facial wash sample before applying the night cream. It didn't come from Birchbox but it was Tea Tree Facial Wash from The Body Shop. While I can't afford this particular night cream, I will definitely be on the lookout for a more affordable option with similar ingredients. And I am definitely going to pick up a bottle of the face wash!

My final November sample is a bottle of Zoya nail polish in Noel. Noel is a very pretty, shimmery blue color. While it has a Christmas name, this color can be used year round. It's a sparkly jewel toned blue. I'm not great at doing my nails but you can see what the polish looks like on below.

My December box just came recently and it is also chock full of delightful surprises.And an added bonus? All of these full size products appear to be in a more reasonable price range!

Samples Inside: 

 I finally broke into my December box. I started by washing my face before bed with Befine Gentle Cleanser. This is one of those face washes that sounds really yummy, if you read the bottle it's made with sugar, mint, oats and rice. Not that I'd necessarily want to eat all of those things together, but beauty products that say they're made with food ingredients generally sound appealing for some reason. I was slightly turned off by this cleanser as soon as I opened the cap though. The formula is extremely liquified so it comes out quickly and doesn't stay on your palm very well. Before sitting down to write this blog, I read the information on the website and they do warn you that it's "liquidy" and recommend using a washcloth so perhaps I will try that next time.   Other than that I found this cleanser just to be okay. It didn't really blow me away and my skin felt a little dry if anything. I even tried it with the jojoba night cream from my November box and even that didn't impress me as much after using it with this cleanser. Therefore I think the real gem was the Body Shop Tea Tree cleanser that I had originally tried with the night cream. End result: I'll use this until the sample runs out but don't plan on purchasing a full size ever.

Next on the list in the December box was EBOOST. This is one of those typical powders that you add water to and it's suppose to boost your immune system and or give you energy. I've tried a few different similar products that I wasn't a fan of. Airborne is my go to but I don't think to take it unless I feel a cold coming on. I was pleasantly surprised by this product. It has a nice taste too it, something many of these type of formulas lack. I don't know if it necessarily gave me energy but it tasted good and it can't hurt! On Birchbox it's $28 for 20 packets so it's a little expensive but I wouldn't frown upon it if I found it for a good deal somewhere.

The other night I sampled Yogini by dabbing a little onto my wrists and neck before bed. While that might sound a little strange, this fragrance is meant to relax you, hence the name resembling Yoga. I would say at $55 a bottle for the full size, this wouldn't be worth purchasing just to wear before bed. Maybe if you make a habit out of going to Yoga classes or do some other form of meditation, this might be the perfect scent for you. For bedtime though, you can buy a relaxing pillow spray for much cheaper! It did smell quite wonderful though.

 The Jouer moisturizing lip gloss is a very pretty shade in Birchbox Pink which was the color given in the sample. The color is so popular that the full size is currently wait listed. I'm a big fan of lip gloss but never actually wear it. I might dab some on in the morning or before I go out but I am not someone who keeps a tube on me and constantly reapplies. I did like it a lot though, along with being a pretty color, it went on smoothly and wasn't sticky. For someone who actually uses lip gloss a lot with reapplying and everything, I would recommend this one for sure. For me personally though, there are a million lip glosses out there so I probably wouldn't bother spending $20 on a tube like this one costs but if that's your price range, this is a good pick.

I already use an oil in my hair after washes as well as the Miracle 10 product. I decided to skip both of these though to sample the Mythic Oil. You can actually use this on damp hair or a tiny bit on dry hair to control frizz. I tried it on damp hair first but will next try it to other way to get both results.

I haven't had a need for the fashion tape yet but hopefully it works well when the occasion arises. 

Not only does Birchbox send you awesome samples, you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and their blog for beauty tips, tricks and more. Also, if you clicked on any of the product links above, you can see that their website gives very thorough descriptions and how to use tutorials for every product. Another fun feature of being a Birchbox member is that you can log into your account and view all of your past boxes. This way if you ever forget what products you've tried, you can go back and check them out again. So far I've enjoyed my Birchbox subscription and I can't wait to see what samples they have in store for me in 2012! Like what you see? Join Birchbox today!

Sampleicious: Birchbox Edition

If you love samples as much as I do, then you'll love Birchbox! I originally read about them in Cosmo a while ago but kept forgetting to look into it. Then one day when browsing Facebook, I noticed an ad for Birchbox on the sidebar of my page. I remembered the name and immediately clicked on the link to check it out. Birchbox has a great subscription where, for $10 a month, you get a box filled with deluxe samples of their top products. If you like any of the samples, you can purchase full size ones through the website.  Check them out now at

I joined a couple months ago and just received my second box in the mail. I meant to start blogging with my November box but never got around to it. My first Birchbox blog will feature both my November and December boxes, then after that I hope to keep up with blogging monthly for each individual box. Stay tuned!

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 25

Day 25: Something pink

25 Days of Christmas: Day 15

For day 15 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I have another fun reindeer themed gift idea. This one can be used for a bath and body themed gift basket or to be paired with a spa, massage or nail salon gift certificate.

Supplies Needed:
Brown or tan wash cloth
Brown or tan pipe cleaners
Christmas colored bells (red, green, silver or gold)
Google eyes
Red pom pom
Hot glue
Bar of soap, nail polish or airplane size bottles of hand sanitizer, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc.

Take your bar of soap (or other accessories) and wrap up in the washcloth and tie with a ribbon, leaving some material at the top for "ears." Next stick a pipe cleaner on each side of the gathered material at the top for antlers. Cut smaller pieces of pipe cleaner and wrap around for additional pieces of the antlers. Finally add a bell or two if tiny onto the pipe cleaner for extra flare. Next glue on the google eyes and pom pom for a nose.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 14

For day 14 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I decided to make Candy Cane Vodka. I actually had to start the process on Day 12 because it needs to sit for two days.

1 cup of candy cane pieces
Mason jar

All you need to do is break up pieces of candy canes until you have about a cups worth. Next you put the pieces in a mason jar and pour vodka over them until the jar is full. Next seal the jar up and let it sit for 2 days.

After two days, you should have a red colored liquid. Add ribbon and a gift tag that reads "Candy Cane Vodka" if you are giving it as a gift. I used glitter letter stickers to spell out "Candy Cane Vodka" on the lid and tied a mini candy cane to the jar with a bow for added decoration. If you're keeping it for yourself, taste and enjoy! If you like this, you can try this recipe with a cup of your favorite sugary candy such as skittles or even candy corn for Halloween.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 24

Day 24: Animal

25 Days of Christmas: Day 13

For day 13 of my 25 Days of Christmas Challenge, I wanted to make peanut snowmen. These little guys {or gals} are adorable and can be used as a snack and a decoration or can be turned into an ornament or to add characters to your favorite holiday display.

Supplies Needed:
Bag of peanuts in shells
White paint
Black and orange sharpie
Ribbon, yarn or string - various colors
Acorn tops
Hot glue gun

You'll need to start by picking out decent looking peanuts out of the bag, I decided to make 3, but you can pick out however many you want to make. What I mean by "decent looking" is some peanut shells can look dis-formed and unless you want your snowmen looking that way, I suggest your classic peanut shell look. Next, paint your peanut shells white. You can do this with spray paint or with a paint brush. While you wait for the paint to dry, you will need to find some acorn tops outside. You'll need as many acorn tops as painted peanut shells you have, therefore I needed 3. Once your paint is dry, take a hot glue gun and glue the acorn top to the top of the peanut shell for his hat. Then take your black Sharpie and give your snowman a mouth, eyes, and buttons. If you're making any snow-women, use a red sharpie to give her sexy lips and rosy cheeks! Then take your orange Sharpie to make the carrot nose. Finally take the string, ribbon or yarn and tie around your snowman's neck for a scarf. You can take multiple pieces of string and braid them together for a fancier scarf.

If you're making a whole bags worth of snowmen and women, you can place the finished product in a clear or decorative holiday bowl for a cute display and a snack. You don't eat the peanut shells which is why they can still be edible, even after using paint and Sharpies! Crack 'em open and the peanuts inside should be unharmed. Or, if you're only making a couple like myself, you can tie a loop of ribbon or string around the back of the scarf and use them as ornaments. Or if you have a gingerbread house display or a holiday village, add these little guys as characters into your mini winter wonderland.

Monday, December 12, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 12

For day 12 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I decided to make mini marshmallow mugs. These make a great addition to any winter themed party including a hot chocolate bar or are the great starter to making your own s'mores,

Large marshmallows
Cookies (I used fudge stripe cookies)
Mini candy canes
Vegetable oil
Chocolate icing

First take the cookie, if you use fudge stripe like I did, place the cookie upside down. Then make a ring of chocolate icing around the middle hole and "glue" the marshmallow onto it. This is like a cup on a saucer. Then for the handle, break the curvy piece off of a mini candy cane and stick it into the side of the marshmallow. Next brush a tiny amount of oil onto the top of the marshmallow and top with sprinkles. The final result are adorable mugs. For a hot chocolate bar, toss the marshmallow into your hot chocolate and use the cookie for dipping. For s'mores, add another cookie on top and microwave for 10-15 seconds. You could also use these for place settings at Christmas dinner, stick a toothpick in the top of the mug and tape names onto the pick. The ideas are endless.

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 23

Day 23: Sunflare

Sunday, December 11, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 11

For day 11 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I have another gift idea to share with everyone. This is a fun way to make a simple gift like a 6 pack more festive for the holidays. You can use this for the beer lover in your life or for your friends that prefer non-alcoholic beverages, this also works on 6 packs of root beer, classic coke or other beverages that come in glass bottles.

Supplies Needed:
Brown or tan pipe cleaners
Red pom poms
Google eyes
Hot glues
Your favorite 6 pack

All you need to do is wrap a pipe cleaner around each bottle for the antlers. Then cut up smaller pieces of pipe cleaner and wrap a small piece around each antler. Then glue two google eyes on each bottle and one red pom pom for the nose. It's as simple as that and you have a cute pack of reindeer! For another fun reindeer idea, check out my Reindeer Wine Cork Ornament.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 10

For day 10 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I made dark chocolate covered graham crackers topped with peppermint.

Dark chocolate chips
Crushed candy canes
Graham crackers

All you need to do is melt the chocolate, dip the graham crackers, and sprinkle crushed candy canes on top. Then you let the chocolate harden and you have a delicious holiday snack! They look pretty and are quite tasty.

Friday, December 9, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 9

For day 9 of my 25 Days of Christmas I decided to make a Winter Wonderland Martini. This is the perfect signature cocktail for your next holiday bash.

2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1 oz White crème de cacao
2 oz White chocolate liqueur
1 oz Cream
½ Teaspoon of coconut flakes
1 White chocolate wafer stick

Supplies Needed:
Cocktail Shaker and ice
Martini Glass
Single and double shot glasses for measuring

All you need to do is add the vanilla vodka, white chocolate liqueur, crème de cacao and cream into a shaker and shake over ice. Strain martini into a martini glass and add half a teaspoon of coconut flakes. Stir martini gently with white chocolate wafer stick and voila, you have a winter wonderland in a martini glass!

On a side note, I couldn't actually find white chocolate wafer sticks so I got french vanilla ones. This martini is quite tasty but very sweet. It makes a great dessert drink that is meant for sipping slowly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 8

For day 8 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I decided to give myself a holiday themed manicure. As you'll see below, my technique is a little sloppy but hopefully the ideas are cute and people can execute them better on their own nails, or just give the ideas to their favorite nail salon for a more professional look!

My first, and favorite, nail design, is Santa nails:

Nail Polish Needed:
Sparkly Silver
Light Pink
Base & top coat, if desired

Start by painting your nails with a base coat or nail treatment polish that can be used as both a base coat and a top coat. Then paint your tips white. On your middle finger, give the white a slightly scalloped look as this is going to be Santa's beard. Next paint a stripe of silver on the bottom of the white polish on all fingers except the middle finger. Next paint the remainder of your nail red on each finger excluding the middle again. Then take the light pink and make a small circle directly under the white polish, this is Santa's nose. Then take the black polish and make two small dots under the pink circle for his eyes. If you have nail art pens, those might be best for the pink and black. Then paint the remainder of your middle finger red, closest to your cuticles. If you have space, you can add a white scalloped line to give his hat trim or I just added a small white dot on the side to look like the ball on the tip of his cap. Finally cover your nails with a top coat and you're done!

My second holiday themed idea is simply Christmas colored polka dots:

Nail Polish Needed:
Sparkly Silver
GreenBase & top coat, if desired

For this look, start with your base coat again. Then paint all of your nails entirely white. Then make circles or dots with each of the remaining colors. I made two dots of each color on each nail.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Health{ier} Baked Potato Recipe

I found a delicious looking baked potato recipe that I wanted to try with my Grilled Ginger-Lime Tuna Steaks. Here it is:

Whole Potatoes (1 per person)
Olive oil
Melted butter (I used 2 tablespoons equal to one tablespoon per potato)
Sea salt and ground pepper

First preheat the oven to 425. Then take a knife and slice each potato almost to the bottom but so it is still attached. Then drizzle olive oil and melted butter over each potato and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Then wrap each potato individually in tin foil and bake for 40 minutes. The final result is quite tasty and a much healthier alternative to the normal butter, sour cream, chives and bacon bits loaded baked potato.

baked potato recipe

25 Days of Christmas: Day 7

On day 7 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I decided to make a "gingerbread" house out of graham crackers. I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it was really cute. There are a lot of gingerbread house kits out there but this is an affordable way to make multiple houses without buying kits for everyone. You can make a village or use this for parties so everyone can make their own! For me I already bought a kit for a bigger one so this one might just be a cute dog house for Chloe!

Supplies Needed:
Graham crackers
White icing
Candy (I used mini candy canes)
Red and green writing icing (for additional flare)
Butter knife

This is so simple. All you really need are the graham crackers and white icing. The candy and additional colored icing is just to make it more fun!

I started by laying down some press and seal on my table to work on. Then I laid out and cut the graham crackers I would need with the butter knife; gently saw two pieces for the sides (cut about a fourth off each side piece), two pieces for the ends (cut to make a triangle at the top) and two pieces for the roof (leave whole).

Once you have all your pieces, you just need to construct your house using white icing to keep the "glue" everything together. You can decide what order works best for you.

Finally, after you have your house constructed, use your additional icing and candy to decorate it. I "painted" the roof white with the additional white icing and made cute heart shingles with the mini candy canes. I also added a door with the white icing and gave it a red knob and put a green wreath with red ribbon on it. I then made two green triangle windows.

Clean up was as easy as setting the house aside, putting away the extra ingredients, and peeling the press and seal off of the table. A few crumbs and sprinkles were left on the table but were easily solved with a wet paper towel!

I used a piece of scrap Christmas paper left from my advent calendar to display the house on, how cute does it look?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 6

For day 6 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I am sharing an affordable but super cute gift idea. This is a perfect small gift if you're looking to only spend around $10. It's a great idea if you're putting together multiple gifts to hand out to neighbors, co-workers, etc. I originally found this on a site that offered gift ideas for under $2 but I think it'd be tough to make this one for quite that cheap. This was also the only idea I really liked from that site, the rest were pretty dumb but this one was really cute.

Supplies Needed:
Handful of Hershey kisses
Cellophane - preferably with a Christmas pattern or winter design
Printable gift tag

The reason I say that I don't believe you can make this for under $2 is because I could not find a whisk at any Dollar Tree's. Looking around, most whisks tend to run $6-10. I ended up getting a set at Target that came with a big one and a mini one so I made two versions!

All you do is take the whisk and fill it with Hershey kisses. You can use plain ones, get the Christmas colored wrappers, or they have candy cane and mint truffle flavored ones which are fun for the holidays. Next you wrap the whisk in cellophane or a cellophane gift bag and tie it up with the ribbon. Curling ribbon looks best. Finally you add a gift tag that reads "We Whisk You A Merry Kissmas." The cute play on words on the gift tag is obviously what makes the gift!

Monday, December 5, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 5

For day 5 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I decided to make snowmen ornaments out of bottle caps. I like to try and save bottle caps and wine corks because there are a lot of creative ways to use them in crafts and projects.

Supplies needed:
3 bottle caps per snowman
White paint
Hot glue
Something for the face and buttons (black and orange sharpies work)

Start by painting the inside of the bottle caps white. You may need to do multiple layers depending on the type of paint you use. Once the paint is dry, cut a piece of ribbon that runs the length of 3 bottle caps, and hot glue it to all 3 caps, make a loop at the top so you can hang the ornament. Finally give your snowman some flare. Use the black sharpie to give him eyes, a mouth and buttons. Then use the orange sharpie to draw a carrot nose and you're all done! If you're a crafty person and have extra supplies lying around, feel free to get creative when decking out your snowman. You can use things like beads, buttons, paint, colored sharpies or markers, etc. to give him additional features and accessories!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 4

For day 4 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I have another creative centerpiece idea to share with you. I originally saw this idea as a wedding centerpiece and later saw a fun Christmas version of it. This one is so simple and similar to day 3, you can make it themed for any occasion. All you need is 1-3 wine glasses, small candles and some sort of floral. I chose to use 3 wine glasses, 3 white candles, and silver glittery fake floral pieces. You simply put a flower, leaves or piece of floral in the wine glass, flip it upside down and place the candle on "top" of the bottom of the wine glass. If you're using more than 1 glass, arrange them so they look nice on the table. You can use additional pieces of floral and Christmas bulbs to arrange around the glasses for a more festive look. I arranged mine on a black tray that I keep on my table. See my pictures below!

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 22

Day 22: Hands

Saturday, December 3, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 3

For day 3 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I duplicated the centerpiece I made for Thanksgiving by replacing the fall colored leaves with blue, white and silver snowflakes to make it the perfect centerpiece for all winter long. You can get all the supplies you need at the dollar store and Wal-mart for a $5 piece of art!

Supplies Needed:
Hurricane vase
Candlestick holder
Candle in a jar
Snowflakes (I used a couple packs of confetti I got at Wal-Mart, they were plastic and fit perfectly!)
Hot glue gun

You simply glue the hurricane vase to the candlestick holder. You then place the candle inside the vase. You can glue the candle in there but I prefer not to so you can easily replace the candle with a new one when it burns down.

Once you have your basic centerpiece, you can add the snowflakes or other holiday themed item to make it pretty.

For my fall one I only  had one package of fall leaves table scatter and I thought it might look better with two packages so this time I made sure to get two packs of  the snowflakes. As I said for the fall one and now proved with this one, you can make this centerpiece themed for all occasions by changing up the decoration inside. Have fun and get creative!

See my fall version here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 2

For day 2 of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge, I decided to make a cute Christmas card holder. This project is super simple and is a great way to display all those holiday cards you receive throughout December. To start off, you need a rectangular sign with a fun Christmas or holiday themed phrase on it such as "Merry Christmas" or "Tis the Season." You can get creative and make your own or find plenty of pre-made options in the holiday section at stores such as Wal-Mart and Target. I actually found something that works perfectly at Dollar Tree. They had a variety of different signs with various phrases. If you make your own, you can get as creative as you want with stickers, paint, ribbons, rhinestones, etc. You'll also need some sort of ribbon or string to hang the sign. Next you need to cut two long strips of either thick ribbon or felt. I think choosing a fun red and green striped or polka dotted ribbon would look best. Then you simply attach the ribbon or felt to the bottom of the sign using a hot glue gun. Glue one strip on each end as if you were giving the sign legs. Then take small clothespins and clip them onto the strips, spacing them out along the way. Finally, find a spot to hang the holder and as you get cards in the mail, clip them onto the strips using the clothespins!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 1

For the first day of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge I decided to make an advent calendar. There are a lot of fun ideas for advent calendars but one I really liked was to use a cookie sheet and make magnets out of cute Christmas shapes with numbers on them.

Supplies Needed:
Cookie sheet
White Spray Paint
Magnets or magnetic tape
Christmas scrapbook paper
Holiday shaped stickers or di-cuts 
Calendar template
Sticker Numbers 1-25

To make mine I spray painted a cookie sheet white using primer, then I used Christmas themed scrapbook paper, red and white stripes and polka dots, and glued the paper to the cookie sheet. I then added a Merry Christmas sticker and a foam Santa sticker and Christmas tree for decoration. You could also cut out shapes or use letter stickers to spell out something. I then printed out a blank calendar template and cut out 25 squares from that. Next I took random foam Christmas shapes such as stars, bows, gifts and ornaments and added glittery numbers 1-25 on them. Finally I attached magnet tape to the backs and added a bow at the top and whala: an advent calendar!

Finally I got a mini stocking to keep the numbers in so I can add one at a time each day until Christmas! An advent calendar makes perfect sense for Day 1 of a "25 Days of Christmas" challenge. Stay tuned tomorrow for what's in store for Day 2!

See another fun and simple way to Countdown to Christmas.

25 Days of Christmas

Even though Christmas stuff has been in stores since before Halloween, Black Friday often marks the official day that everyone starts taking out their decorations and begins to check off their shopping lists. However, December 1 truly marks the first day of the Christmas spirit for me. I've listened to a few Christmas songs on the radio but now I feel it's safe to officially whip out my Christmas cds and listen away while I decorate my apartment and continue to organize my holiday shopping list. It also marks the first day of ABC's 25 Days of Christmas where they play Christmas themed shows and movies every night until Christmas Day itself. Check out this year's schedule here. In the spirit of this, I am going to attempt my own version of 25 Days of Christmas by doing a Christmas or winter themed craft, recipe or gift idea each day from December 1-25. I'll keep track of everything on my blog including instructions, recipes and pictures. I wanted to do something similar last year but started late and therefore decided to shorten it to a classic "12 Days of Christmas." This year I'm taking on the full 25, stay tuned tonight for Day 1.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas

Last year I did a 12 Days of Christmas series on my blog. Check it out and stay tuned for my attempt at the 25 Days of Christmas this year. Let's see if I can keep up!

I need to update Day 8 with more songs for the mixed cd and I was late on Day 12 so hopefully this year I can do better even though I'm taking on the bigger task of 25 instead of 12! Wish me luck!