Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deal Alert: 75% off Christmas at Target

I was at Target early this morning and they were marking down all their Christmas merchandise 75% off! They had TONS of stuff left and I certainly didn't leave empty handed. Happy shopping!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Christmas Table and Centerpiece

I know Christmas is over, but I thought I would share pictures of our Christmas table. I used a deep green tablecloth with silver chargers and my mom's red dinner plates to add some Christmas color (yes, we used plastic cups. Not my first choice but at least they were red :). I kept the centerpiece simple:

A white cake plate standing on a white platter. Add sprigs of fresh greens ($6 for a bundle at United), red berries pulled off some picks from Hobby Lobby, a box of silver ornaments from Dollar Tree, and...

Some glass votive holders with a white votive nestled in some fake snow. A simple and thrifty, yet beautiful centerpiece.

There's nothing like a beautifully simple table, amazingly good food, and being surrounded by family to make Christmas special. I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as ours!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Reader's Recipe Request: Chocolate Eclair Cake

One of my blog followers requested this recipe - and I aim to please my readers! Her husband stopped by the other night as I was serving this for dessert at our family dinner. Naturally we served him up a plate to share with his wife. I guess it is safe to say that they liked it :) ?

I have seen variations of this recipe many times over the years but this was the first time I had actually made it. My friend, Mikasa, shared this recipe at a recipe exchange and I had printed off almost the exact same recipe from a few years ago. If you are looking for a dessert that is simple, yet a big crowd pleaser, look no further.

Chocolate Eclair Cake

2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 cups milk
1 (16 ounce) package graham crackers
1 (16 ounce) container prepared chocolate frosting (I didn't use this. I made my own frosting. I'm kind of a store bought frosting snob :). See the bottom of the recipe for the instructions to make your own.)

In a medium bowl, combine both pudding mixes and the milk with a whisk. Let stand for a minute to begin thickening. Fold in the container of whipped topping. Arrange a single layer of graham cracker squares in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. You may have to break some of the squares to cover the whole pan. Evenly spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers. Top with another layer of crackers and the remaining pudding mixture. Top with a final layer of crackers.

Soften the chocolate frosting in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make it easier to spread. Spread the frosting over the whole cake up to the edges of the pan. Cover, and chill at least 4 hours before serving. Giving enough time to chill is very important! It gives the graham crackers time to soften and be more "cake like."

If you want to make your own chocolate frosting, beat together 3 tablespoons hot water, 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Adding Some Christmas Pizzaz to the Picture Wall

Do you remember the picture wall I put together for my in-laws? You can see more details HERE. I decided it needed a little touch of Christmas so here it is looking a little more Christmasy:

It was so easy - I just wrapped a few of the picture frames with Christmas wrapping paper (I'm a polka-dots kinda girl) and added a bow. It doesn't take much wrapping paper and if you are like me, you shop the after Christmas sales and get wrapping paper cheap! So easy, fast, and thrifty and it gives just a little touch of Christmas cheer to this wall. I also tied another glittery reindeer ornament, like the one I used HERE from the Dollar Tree, onto the big 'D' with a red ribbon.

Add a sparkly "Merry" ornament and your finished...

Just the right touch of cheer and whimsy for the holidays!

A New Christmas Tradition

I love that my son is old enough this year to be really enjoying Christmas! He keeps saying things like, "This is the BEST Christmas!", or "It's Christmas time, Mom!", with all the enthusiasm his 3 year old body can express. My son also really enjoys reading stories. Every night as part of his nightly routine we read 2 stories together.

So we decided to start a new tradition this year, and follow in the footsteps of my favorite blogger Melissa. You can see Melissa's idea HERE. I went through our book collection and picked out all the Christmas/Winter books we owned. Then I wrapped them all with Christmas paper (no bow or ribbon, not the greatest wrap job, but it works.) and put them in a Christmas basket next to my son's rocking chair. Spencer gets to open one every night through Christmas Eve and we started about 2 weeks ago. HE LOVES IT! He gets SO excited to open a book every night for story time. And the nice thing about it: you can wrap just as many books as you have, and start that many nights before Christmas - don't think you have to have a ton of Christmas books to do this. Here are some of the books we've been reading:

My favorite? I Believe in Santa Claus. It is our first Christmas reading it and I love the message it shares. I also love Snowmen at Night and The Tale of Three Trees. And of course we will be reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. It was a tradition in my family growing up...

Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite Christmas story is. I would love to have some ideas for future Christmas book purchases... Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Dollar Tree Hurricanes make their Christmas debut...

The Dollar Tree hurricanes are back and dressed for a Christmas party!
They served as the centerpiece for the party my parents hosted at their home this past Friday night. I continue to be amazed at how versatile they are... add a few Christmas fillers and they simply glow!

My favorite fillers were the 69 cent fat, candy cane sticks from Dollar Tree and the glittery reindeer ornament (also from Dollar Tree) and 99 cent green glitter tree from Walgreen's nestled in some fake snow.
I love them.
Festive and beautiful, yet simple and cheap.
Have you made your Dollar Tree hurricanes yet?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Cranberry Punch

I thought I would share an easy punch recipe that I like to serve around the holidays. So easy it only has 3 ingredients. I served it at our Thanksgiving dinner in my pretty, white, ruffle serving bowl. It was beautiful if I do say so myself!

Holiday Cranberry Punch

1 - 2 liter bottle Diet 7-Up or Diet Sprite
1 - 64 oz. bottle cranberry juice
fresh cranberries

Mix together the 7-up and cranberry juice in a punch bowl. Float fresh cranberries on top. Serve over ice.

How easy is that? Just the right amount of sweetness. And it adds a festive touch with the red cranberries...I love it! Try it for your next holiday get-together and see how it disappears!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nativity Exhibit

I have been a little MIA lately when it comes to blogging. Want to know where I've been?

I have been straddling a ladder to decorate a 9ft. Christmas tree, arranging nativities, arranging more Christmas trees, collecting money for poinsettias, caroling with youth outside our church, walking around with special friends to see nativites, listening to heavenly music, etc. All things for the Stake Nativity Exhibit at church this past weekend. Here's my Christmas tree all lit up...

It was beautiful. More than I could have imagined. A feast for the eyes. Visually stunning. A spiritual boost. A perfect beginning to the Christmas season. I had the privilege of working with some amazingly talented women and men. There were over 400 nativities displayed with 75 countries represented. Here are just a few pics from the event, but you really had to see it for yourself to get the full impact...

(My friend Ashlee's nativity from Uganda. She is not a member of my church but was kind enough to loan it for this event. I thought it was so unique and different!)

I hope we can all remember the reason for the season...Merry Christmas!