Thursday, December 18, 2014

DIY Gift: Russian Tea

Growing up with two parents who were teachers I had a strong appreciation for all that they went through. So around Christmas time I would make cookies and Russian tea for my favorite teachers. Yep, I was always a baker and DIY'er. 

I was recently reminiscing about those days, when I realized it had been a good many years since I had made my mothers Russian tea recipe. So I bought all my ingredients and whipped it up (seriously, it takes less than a minute!).

You know what? It's still just as good as I remember. So don't be discouraged by the ingredients until you've given it a try. I half-ed the sugar by doing a 50/50 blend of Splenda and Sugar and couldn't tell the difference.

 So if you have some last minute gifts you still need to give, buy a pretty jar or three, and mix up some Russian tea goodness. I'll even throw in a cute printable label just for you. 

Russian Tea Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 90-100

2 cups Tang Orange Drink
2 cups of white sugar 
1 cup Country time Half and Half
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together and store in air tight containers. 

To serve: Mix 1-3 tsp. with 1 cup boiling water. (It depends on taste and how sweet you like it). Serve hot. 

** You can sub. 50/50 Splenda Sugar blend, just follow the directions on the bag for the equal measure. **

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

RePurposed Christmas Pillow

A few weeks back my sister and brother in law were helping an old friend run an estate sale. Knowing my love of all things old they sent me photos of items they thought I might like, and naturally I fell in love with two of the items. I was so excited when my sister gifted those exact two items to me for my birthday. She looked a little dismayed handing me these two grubby little aprons, and assured me if she knew how to clean them with out damaging them she would have. 

Sis, I got this. 

From the moment I saw these things all I could think was how awesome would they be as a Christmas throw pillow. The colors are pretty festive I mean come on, red and green? So I set out soaking them in Woolite and baking soda. Seriously, these things were so disgustingly dirty. They went through five soaks each one a little less dirty than the last. After drying and ironing I simply sewed the two aprons together and then sewed on a red ticking fabric to the back. 

It goes really well with the red grain sack pillow I found at the Barn a few weeks ago, and the best part? I can stow the remotes in the pockets when not in use. Two for one! I love it! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cookie Advent Calendar

Around this time last year I made some awesome smelling cinnamon cookie ornaments to hang on my tree. I ended up loving them so much that I decided to bring them back this year with a little twist. 

This project is so easy it doesn't even really require a tutorial so I will just give you a quick recap on how to make one of these so you can count down the days til' your celebration too!

The Cookies: Start by making your cinnamon cookie ornaments, you can find the recipe here. Allow cookies 24 hours before decorating with puff paint. 

For the board: I had extra plywood lying around, so this piece was around four feet long. I painted it with chalkboard paint and after decorating each of the clothespins I hot glued them in place. 

I've been having so much fun counting down the days, I guess I had completely forgotten how cool advent calendars are! What ways do you like to count down? 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Celebrating Scandinavian Style

My great grandmother was the first child to be born in the US most of her family had already been born and immigrated from Sweden. We weren't raised with Swedish traditions but I always loved the pageantry of Saint Lucia's Day

So in honor of that heritage I thought I would try my hand at making some Lussekatter buns. 

The recipe was easy enough to follow, I wanted a little variety in my buns (try not to giggle) so I did half my batch with saffron and the remaining buns with orange zest. They both came out about the same with no real issue. Lussekatter buns aren't overly sweet, (more like scones) but you can always make a powder sugar icing to drizzle over them for added sweetness. 

Lussekatter Buns
  •      1/4 cup hot water*
  •     1/4 tsp crushed saffron threads*
  •     1 cup very warm milk
  •     1/4 cup sugar
  •     1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
  •     1 tsp salt
  •     1 egg
  •     2 tbs active dry yeast
  •     3 1/2- 4 cups flour
  •      One beaten egg, for brushing
  •      Toppings*

*If your substituting Saffron with Orange, simply zest 1 tbsp and instead of 1/4 juice the orange. I heated the zest and OJ in a small pot removing right after it started to boil. *
*Toppings: Rasins, dried fruits, poppy seeds, sugar, icing
  1. Start by crushing your Saffron threads. Add your crushed saffron into the hot water, and let it seep for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, In a large mixing bowl, mix your milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg, yeast, and saffron water. Next, Add the flour slowly while you mix.
  3. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes, on a lightly floured surface and then place it in a well oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap to rise. You should let it rise for about an hour.
  4. Punch the dough down, and gently shape into your saffron buns. The most traditional shape is a backwards “S” shape. Once shaped, cover with plastic wrap and let them rise again for about 15 minutes. Then, brush the top of each bun with beaten egg, and garnish as desired.
  5. Bake at 350 F in a preheated oven until golden brown (about 12 minutes) and serve immediately. If any cookies remain, freeze them!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014 Christmas Cards

With all of my Christmas cards sent, I thought I would share with you my design for this years 2014 Christmas card. I was feeling a little bit more traditional when it came to the design this year, mainly because we managed to have a photo taken that I actually liked! It certainly needed some excitement so I added the curly glitter letters, before topping it all off with a red stamped envelope. Pretty simple huh? 

I hope your holiday plans are going smoothly! 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Fake Snow Recipe

Growing up in sunny Florida where the sun shines and it never snows I got pretty used to seeing canned snow that people spray on their windows. I was never a fan of fake snow really but this recipe sort of takes the cake as far as fake snow projects go. Even though we do live now in a place where it snows, for us that time won't arrive until well after Christmas. 

Not only is this project incredibly cheap and easy to whip up, but it actually does a fairly convincing job of looking like real snow or frost. Since your working with soap, clean up is incredibly fast and leaves your kitchen smelling fresh and clean to boot. Be Warned! I had only planned to do the out door greenery with this stuff but had so much fun pretty much everything in my house is now coated with 'snow'. At one point Mr. Major came down stairs to find my hands covered in white before he shook his head and headed back into his office. He knows better than to question me in the throws of a creative whim. 

So grab your supplies and get snowin'. 

Ivory Bar Soap (I found mine at the $Tree) 
1/2 cup Ironing Starch
3 Tablespoons of Hot Water
Optional: Crystal / White Glitter
Optional: scent
Items to snow-ify

Start by grading your bar of soap, use the fine grate part, you don't want your snow to be too lumpy.

First add in your starch and begin whipping on med-high scraping the sides frequently. Add the water and keep whipping and scraping. Add extra starch until it reaches the right consistency. If you've ever over whipped heavy whipping cream to where it's lumpy that's about what your looking for. If your adding scent whip it in now. I did cinnamon scent, but you can do Christmas tree or just leave it as soap smell.

I just put a ball of the flocking in my hands and smooshed it around before wiping them on the items I wanted snow on. Wipe artfully people. :) Dust with glitter while it's still wet so it sparkles like ice crystals.

It thins when it dries, so don't be shy with your wiping and smooshing.
That's about it. Go snow crazy! 

Monday, December 08, 2014

2014 Christmas Cookie Tins

You might remember my Christmas Cookie tin's last year where I gave old cookie tins a second life. This year I came across these adorable candy cane tins at the dollar tree and I couldn't pass them up. By the time I got them home I was already brimming over with ideas on how I would jazz them up a little more with my own little twist. A little glue, stickers, glitter and sharpie magic and voila! 

I seriously love them! And they took around an hour or so to create 6 of them start to finish. Interested in how I did it? 


Cookie Tins (I got mine at $ Tree) 
Chalkboard Labels (I got these at the $ Tree too!) 
Printer for designs
Sharpies (gold and black) 
Exacto knife
Fine Paint brush

If your not brave enough to try free handing a design, you can print these designs ( here ) and use your exacto knife to cut them out. 

Next trace your design onto your tin. 

Glue over your design, I used a tiny paint brush to move the glue into the finer details.

Glitter like crazy, once try use a paint brush to get off the excess glitter from your design. 

On some of the tin's I added these chalkboard labels and added glue designs around them for fun. These are especially good if your giving cookies away as gifts or want to label the different types of cookies in each tin. 

For the writing design I just wrote in black sharpie around the edges with Christmas songs that corresponded with the glitter designs. 

That's it! So easy and fun you'll have tons of these done before you know it! 


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