Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Chocolate Fudge Caramel Sauce

One of the reasons I love Christmastime is because I get to make A LOT of this chocolate fudge caramel sauce. It makes the perfect gift for family, friends, teachers, co-workers, party hosts, etc. This is my favorite recipe and it is so easy. You can easily double, triple, or quadruple this recipe to fulfill your needs.


2 cups light corn syrup
1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup salted butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. In a medium pot, combine the light corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and butter together. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, mix ingredients together until butter is completely melted.

2. Add the chocolate chips. Continue stirring about 10 minutes or until chocolate is melted and mixture just begins to boil. Remove from heat.

3. With an electric mixer, beat the hot chocolate for 2 minutes on medium-high speed.

4. Fill clean and sterilized mason jars.

5. Fit lid and ring snuggly. Quickly move jars to a safe location where they won't be jostled. Jar lids will seal within a couple hours. Jars may be moved after they have been sealed.

Drizzle over ice cream, brownies, cheesecake (or just eat it out of the jar with a spoon, like I do).

Refrigerate after opening. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 3 months.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

DIY: Gift Bags from Wrapping Paper

You can make gift bags, treat bags, or lunch bags from any kind of paper. These are especially handy if you're trying to save some cash or have a particular paper design you'd like to use to match a party theme. Here is a step by step guide on how to make your own decorative bag.

It looks a little overwhelming at first but it is really easy. After you do the first one you'll get the hang of it and you'll be able to make bigger bags or smaller bags.

You will need:
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape (I used invisible gift wrap tape- I'm too impatient to let things dry. Invisible tape works great and looks fine or you can use double sided tape on the inside of the seams for an even cleaner look.)
  • Paper (to make a lunch bag size, cut your paper into a 14"x17" rectangle

TIP: Target sells rolls of wrapping paper in their dollar section every now and then. It already measures 17" in width. You can get a lot of bags out these cheap rolls. (I love Target!)

What you're going to do:

1) Start out with your paper faced down on your table- long sides of the rectangle at the top and bottom, shorter sides on the right and left.

2) Bring the right and left sides together in the middle, overlapping one of the sides slightly (about 1/2"). When your seam is all lined up, press the sides down flat and tape the seam shut.

3) Roll the taped middle seam to the right about 1.5" and press sides down to create a new side seam. Roll the original taped middle seam back to the middle then roll it to the left about 1.5". Now you should have 3 side seams on each side.

4) Push the middle side seams inward and flatten your "bag" down.

5) Now we'll work on the bottom of the bag. Fold the last 2" of the bag upward.

6) From the 2" fold mark, fold the bag up one more inch. (This will be important when you collapse your bag)

7) Unfold the bag and open the bottom to create a rectangle. Push the sides of the rectangle in, as though you were wrapping a gift box without the box. It makes it easier to fold the bottom if you stand the bag upside down with the bottom part up.

(I'm switching over to this white paper because it's a little easier to see how this works.)

8) Line up the seams so you have a crisp base on your bag.

At this point you can collapse your bag down to make it easier to tape (or glue) down.

9) Tape the side with the original middle seam up first.

10) Tape the side with no seam down second.

Open your bag!

Here's a way you can create "windows" in your treat bags.

I'm using this wrapping paper because it has a circle I can cut out quite easily.

Cut out your window shape and then glue (or tape) cellophane over your window. Proceed to follow steps 1-10 above.


I love this red and white polka dot paper. Can you imagine how cute it would be for a Minnie Mouse themed birthday party? Or, add a pretty green ribbon for the holidays!

Dating at Home: Letters to Santa & Wish List

I love Christmas! I love everything about it! However, it can get very busy with gift shopping, meal planning, cooking, cleaning, visiting friends, families, neighbors, etc. Don't forget your spouse in all the hustle and bustle. Spend some time alone together and enjoy the holidays!

Here are a couple of date ideas that focus on just you and your spouse during this fabulous time of year.

1) Write a letter to Santa about how nice (or how naughty ;) your spouse has been. Brag to Santa about your spouse. Read your letters to each other when you're done writing.

For example:

Dear Santa,
My sweet husband has been extra nice this year. This year he...

Dear Santa
My super hot husband has been naughty this year. This year he...

Click HERE to print a blank Letter to Santa.

2) Create a wish list for your spouse. This isn't an actual Christmas list. It's more of a "dream" list. If you had all the resources in the world, what would you get for your spouse for Christmas? Clip pictures out of magazines or print some off the computer of specific things you would get for your spouse for Christmas. Think of your spouse's interests, hobbies, dreams, goals, etc. They could even be funny, unique gifts. Put all the pictures in a box. Take turns sharing your "gifts."

Here are a few things I would get my husband.

His own art studio in our dream home!

Grass blade bookmarks. Still waiting for these to be sold in the US.
Face mug. He loves milk with his cookies.

Happy dating!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

DIY: Scratch-Off Christmas Activities Advent Calendar

I LOVE Christmas and I LOVE advent calendars! This year I decided to do something different for my 3-year old daughter. I made a scratch-off activities advent calendar with scratch-off stickers. I made it super simple, since it's going to be used by my 3-year old, and made it for only 12 days. Since I have circular scratch-off stickers, I am going with a Christmas tree theme to blend in like ornaments. You can order scratch-off stickers from multiple sites on the internet.

Create your calendar: I folded a large piece of construction paper in half and drew half a Christmas tree. (You could do whatever kind of picture you'd like. You could cut the stickers into any shape you'd like too.)

I opened my paper and then I actually ironed it out a bit because I don't like the fold down the middle. If I were a better artist I wouldn't have a fold at all. ;)

I used a stencil to plot out my activities that will be covered by the scratch-off stickers and wrote out the actual activities with a pen.

Cover the activities with scratch-off stickers. You could number the stickers if you have specific activities that you'd like to be revealed on certain days.

Decorate! I wanted to make this calendar super cute with decorative scrapbook paper and all sorts of cute embellishments but it's going to be used by my 3-year old.

We ended up with this simple tree using ornament stickers instead.

I can't wait to see what will be revealed!

Here are some activity ideas for kids:
  • Build a snowman
  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Decorate gingerbread houses
  • Bake and decorate sugar cookies
  • Visit a neighbor or friend
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Go sledding
  • Visit Santa at the mall or other location
  • Make an ornament or pick out a special ornament that represents a special occasion from this year
  • Sit by the fire and play a game
  • Have an indoor snowball fight
  • Do something nice for someone else
  • Reenact the nativity
  • Go to a Christmas tree lot and find the "perfect" tree
  • Read the Christmas story from Luke 2
  • Donate an old toy or book
  • Check out some Christmas books at the library
  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Send a special Christmas card to someone that might need some extra holiday cheer
  • Take a Christmas Train ride
  • Read your favorite Christmas book
  • Go see Christmas lights

You could also make a special advent calendar for your spouse to spice things up for the holidays. Along with other activities that you've already thought about, here are some extras:
  • Take a picture of yourselves together to remember this year
  • Make a Christmas wish list together (pretend that money doesn't matter)
  • Back massage
  • Watch an old Christmas classic
  • Bake your favorite holiday treat
  • Browse books at the bookstore (check out vacation spots in magazines)
  • Have an indoor snowball fight or outdoor snowball fight
  • Build a unique gingerbread house/building/landmark together
  • Relax in the tub with your favorite drink
  • Foot massage
  • Sit by the fireplace and sip hot chocolate or play a game
  • Send a Christmas card to each other
  • Sculpt something with snow
  • Send a letter to Santa about the other person
  • Go ice skating
  • Go sledding by sitting in large black trash bags instead of using a sled.
  • Go see a local performance of "The Nutcracker"
Have an activity idea? Please share!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Snowballs For An Indoor Snowball Fight

If the weather outside is frightful or delightful, these snowballs are a hit!

You will need the following three things to make these:

1) Scissors

2) White or cream-colored nylons- I buy the cheap $1 pair at Walmart. (In the photo are knee-highs that I already had on hand. A full pair works better and you'll get a lot more out of them.) One knee-high can produce up to 5 snowballs. One leg of a full pair of nylons can produce about 10.)

3) Poly-fil to stuff the nylon.

What you're going to do:

1) Grab a handful of the Poly-fil and stuff your stocking (just enough for one snowball). Then make a knot.

2) Make ANOTHER knot after the one you JUST made, leaving a little space between the two knots.

3) Cut between the two knots.

4) Repeat steps 1-3. Below is something you can do but you MUST remember to do step 2 or else you will waste a whole snowball.

Here's what you'll have:

We made hundreds of these last year for a Christmas party we had.


If you are going to have a snowball fight, divide the group of people into two teams and divide the snowballs equally between the two teams.

Create boundaries. You can either put some masking tape down on the carpet to divide the room in half, or play on an indoor basketball court, or anywhere that has a boundary line. The teams must stay on their side of the line and cannot cross it.

Set a timer. Let them fight for 5 minutes or however long you'd like the fight to go on. You can have "rounds" of fights if you'd like.

At your signal, the teams will begin to throw snowballs at the other team. When time is up, each team will count the remaining snowballs on their own territory. The team with the LEAST amount of snowballs on their side is deemed the WINNER! (I like this part because they have to clean up the snowballs to see who the winner is.)

This is a great game for preschool, play dates, Christmas parties, birthday parties, office parties, or at home with your own family.