Tuesday, November 3, 2015

{ Sea Salt Sweet Book Review }

Today my friend, Heather, of SprinkleBakes, has her second book hitting shelves.

Her first book, SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist, was gorgeous and amazing & I can promise you that her sophomore release, Sea Salt Sweet: The Art of Using Salts for the Ultimate Dessert Experience, is just as amazing.

Heather brings an absolute artistry to desserts. You know the old adage that you eat with your eyes first? Heather's recipes are definitely ones you want to gobble up just by looking at them.

The book, of course, focuses on adding salts to your sweet treats. Salty and sweet? YES, PLEASE.

Heather has recipes such as Sel Gris Pecan Sandies, Cashew Caramel Corn, Ale and Pretzel Soft Caramels, Peanut Butter Coca Cola Cupcakes with Sel Gris, Ricotta Fig Phyllo Cups,Chocolate Malt and Fries Ice Cream Cake, Bacon Fat Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy (her grandmother's recipe, which I cannot wait to make!) and so, so much more.

I mean... LOOK AT THAT.

And yowza! These Chocolate Chunk Kettle Chip Cookies? YES and PLEASE.

You are sure to impress with any recipe from this book.

At the beginning of the book, Heather takes you through a little lesson on different  types salts (there are so many!), and how to use them. This section is very useful and informative. 

Heather is also giving away a CIA Professional Series Vitamix  on her blog today!  Head over there to enter and be sure to check out the book, it's stunningly delicious! 


Monday, November 2, 2015

{ Holiday Tradition Ideas }

It seems like the holiday season drags on forever, yet it's over before we know it.

I've complied a little list of ideas for holiday traditions. I'm sure you've seen many before, but maybe not. Maybe you'll stumble upon an idea that is just right for your little family. My family has enjoyed all of these over the years. I hope your family will enjoy some as well! Take time to savor the moments this Christmas.

Fun Traditions for the Holidays

Watch:  Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving together while munching on the 'feast' from the show: popcorn, toast, pretzel sticks, jelly beans, and ice cream sundaes!

Find: a tradition from another country and make it yours. We have celebrated St. Nicholas' Day since Bean was 3 years old.

We also have traditional British crackers on Christmas Day. These are sometimes hard to find in stores in the USA, but you can buy them online.

Have a Cocoa Bar-: make up different flavors of cocoa, and have a fixins bar with things like: chocolate chips, caramel sauce, whipped cream, crushed peppermint, brewed coffee (for mochas), chopped candy bars, sprinkles, and marshmallows (there are many flavors of marshmallows on the shelves this time of year!). Great for Christmas Eve! You can make this little marshmallow guy with a swizzle stick, three mini marshmallows, an orange jimmie, a gum drop for his hat (shape with your fingers), and a food writer for his eyes, mouth, and buttons.

Baby Jesus:  Make Baby Jesus cakes to celebrate the reason for the season. You can make a regular sized cake, mini cakes, or even cupcakes. We always did this on Christmas Eve just before bed. We sang Happy Birthday to baby Jesus and blew out candles.

a yearly ornament. We started this with Bean the year he was born. It's fun to look at his ornaments now and see what he was into, or what milestone he accomplished that year.You can see below things like the year he started kindergarten, got a puppy, discovered Harry Potter, visited Disney World, etc.

Let your kids sleep beside the Christmas tree. Bean used to LOVE doing this during the Christmas season. Never on Christmas Eve, of course- Santa might trip over him!

Sparkle: I'll admit, this was NOT one of my husband's favorites, but Bean loved it. When he was very small, I told him any where Santa went, he left sparkles behind. I sprinkled glitter on his presents, around the tree, on the cookie plate, etc. I even used body glitter and touched it on Bean's cheek. He still remembers when Santa kissed his cheek! Yes, it's a little messy, but a quick Christmas morning vacuum is worth the memories!

Hunt: Long before Elf on the Shelf, we looked for elves at our house too. However, much like Santa, we were looking for sparkles. I'd sprinkle glitter on the outside of our house and on the outside of the window sills. Bean would go out with his flashlight (because they only appeared at night) and hunt for glitter. If he found it, he knew that the elves had been watching him!

My Bean Circa 2002
Connect: Take at least a few minutes to spend a Christmas moment with friends/family far away via FaceTime or Skype

Enjoy a different Christmas movie every weekend from Thanksgiving weekend until Christmas Eve.

Next Stop: Have a Polar Express party! When Bean was 5, we invited his little friends to come and have a party with us. Everyone was to show up in their PJs, of course, we played games, and I read them the book while they drank cocoa. This was before the movie, which you could now watch.

Lights: go on a Christmas Light Drive. Make up a scavenger hunt list to make it more exciting. Things like: Find a giant Santa, spot a nativity, find a house with all red lights, etc. I've attached a printable here. Right click>Save as. Enjoy!

Host an Ugly Sweater Party, Ornament Party, or a Cookie Decorating or Swap party.

For an Ugly Sweater Party, just invite everyone to show up in their most excellent Christmas garb. The tackier the better. Offer up snacks or  have everyone bring something to munch on. Offer a prize for the "best" sweater.

For an Ornament Party- have everyone bring an ornament to swap, then gather craft supplies to make one while you are all together.

For a Cookie Decorating Party- make up a bunch of sugar cookies and colored icings, have lots of sprinkles and candies on hand. To make it easier, buy either plain sugar cookies already baked or place and bake cookies. Tint canned vanilla instead of making your own.

For a Cookie Swap Party- have everyone  invited make up 1/2 dozen cookies for each person invited. So, if you have 4 people coming, everyone should bring 2 dozen cookies. Then swap cookies with the other party goers. You'll go home with 4 different types of cookies!

Photo Tradition: Have a photo tradition. A photo in the same spot/doing the same thing each year. Here is an example of Bean and our cat, Fairley, the last four years.

String a popcorn and cranberry garland

Count Down: make a count down to Christmas chain, remove a link every night before bed.

Drink: Celebrate Christmas Eve with an old worldly Wassail!

Craft Christmas ornaments together. We still have some on the tree from when Bean was 2 (craft foam that he helped glue buttons on, and his hand print).

Construct "Gingerbread" Houses: Gingerbread House Tips and Tricks

Christmas Eve Box: Make up a Christmas Eve box: New pajamas, a new Christmas movie, and snacks. We've done this for several years now.

Photograph 'quiet moments'.

Grown Ups Only: Have a special 'grown up night's out'. This is something I hadn't done in, well.. maybe ever. Last year my friend Lori and I decided to go out to a fancy restaurant, just the two of us, no husbands, no kids. This is now our Christmas Friend Tradtion. We don't exchange gifts, we just go out to eat together at a local Inn.

Be Neighborly: Make treats for neighbors and friends

Help: Put together food boxes for needy families and drop off at local food pantry/church. Let your children help pick the items, express the need for healthy foods for the boxes, but with a treat or two.

Give: In addition, seek out a place to give to the needy. A great place that we have found to give to through our church is Children's Services. Our teen group has gathered gifts for local teens in foster care for the last couple years. The head of Children's Services in the local county told us that fosters often get little to no gifts at Christmas. Teens are the ones who get the least, because toys are donated more often. You can also look for an Angel Tree or ask at your church if there is a family in need.

New Year's: After Christmas, leave your tree up as a New Year's Tree. Click the link to read more and see what the balloons are filled with.


New Year's Day: It seems like by the time New Year's Day rolls around the fun has disappeared. Extend it by one more day by starting a tradition for New Year's Day. Have family over for dinner, play board games, or make it a special treat day. In our family, we have fondue on New Year's Day! We call it Fondue Year's Day ;) 

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