Cheap DIY Christmas Gifts From Your Kitchen

Cheap DIY Christmas Gifts From Your Kitchen

The bests gifts I receive are always homemade ones.  It means that the giver cared enough to take the time to DIY Christmas gifts.  I specially love homemade candies and cookies.

Here is a round up of easy and inexpensive DIY Christmas gifts from your kitchen.

Homemade mints in pretty jars are great hostess gifts anytime of year.

They look pretty, you can make them any color and shape you want.   Learn how to make these cream cheese mints here!  [spacer height=”-20px”]

Gifts From Your Kitchen

DIY Christmas Gifts in a Jar are always a yummy hit!

You can put almost anything in a jar and make it look good, seriously!  It’s a convenient and inexpensive way to package DIY Christmas gifts, or gifts for any other time of year.

Here are a few suggestions:

Ice Cream Topping and other gifts in a jar from Mom Laughs.

For my cookie mix gifts and free printable click here!

For my cappuccino mix and free printable click here!

Gifts From Your Kitchen

An orange wreath!

Grab a case of clementines from the fruit market to make these cute and healthy clementine wreaths.  No cooking or baking involved!

For instructions click here!

 

 

Gifts From Your Kitchen

Divine Caramel Sauce is very versatile!

It can be used to top ice cream, pancakes, and more!  I love it for my homemade bread pudding!

For recipe click here!   [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Cookie dough

Frozen Cookie Dough, another great idea!

You can use you’re own cookie recipe or even buy refrigerated cookie dough from your local grocery store.

click here for recipe!

 

 

For more ideas follow me on Pinterest!

 

 

Thick and Fluffy Santa Hat – Free Pattern

Thick and Fluffy Santa Hat – Free Pattern

There are many patterns for Santa Hats out there. This is one of my favorites.  I love the thick and fluffy trim!

I made two of them for my twin grand kids, Harper and Sadi. Loved it so much I made some for the other grands and my sister-in-law’s grandkids as well.  I used the free pattern from Creatiknit which I accented with Holly Leaves and Berries.  I added a cute gingham bow to Harper’s hat. I tied a large jingle bell at the tips so the kids jingle when they walk.  FUN!

The pattern uses #6 worsted yarn and a Size N hook, the stitches work up very quickly!  Instead of using #6 worsted yarn for the hat body I used one strand of #4 yarn in red and one strand of #4 Caron Simply Soft Party yarn in sparkle red.  I held both strands together while making the hats.  For the white trim I used Bernat Baby Blanket Super Bulky #6 yarn in white.  I used this for the pompom too.  The holly leaves and berries are made with #4 yarn in green and red.  I made the bow using 5/8″ ribbon.

Hook Size N 9mm

#4 worsted yarn in red, sparkle red, and green

#6 bulky yarn in white

Yarn needle

Click here for Santa Hat Pattern from Creatiknit!

Click here for Holly and Berry Pattern from Ravelry!

 

Santa HatDon’t have time to make this hat?  No worries check out my Etsy Shop!  I’d love to custom make one for you!
Want a thinner Santa Hat?  Here’s another free pattern I used to make a thinner version, click here!

 

Plan Your Cool Christmas Photo Cards Now!

Plan Your Cool Christmas Photo Cards Now!

Do you love to send Christmas Photo Cards like we do?  You know those personalized cards with pictures of your and the family?

 

We love to send Christmas Photo Cards, it’s a great way to give family and friends updates.   I love to receive them too!  It’s always a pleasure to see how everyone is doing and wonder how much the kids have grown from year to year.

But many folks tend to make Christmas Photo Cards at the last minute donning  Santa hats and calling it a day.  Then they wonder why their cards didn’t turn out awesome.  Well, not so in our family!

Sure you can pop a Santa cap on everyone’s head, and maybe even dress them in Christmas T-shirts or frilly dresses. Then you all can stand together by a Christmas tree and have someone snap a photo.  Or hop over to the photo studio at Walmart or Target and have them take your photos.  Yes, you’ll have Christmas Photo Cards to send, but will they be awesome?  Probably not, they’ll be just like everyone else’s family picture in front of a Christmas tree or fireplace, in short, mundane and possibly boring.

Christmas photo cardsBut with a little bit of thought and planning you can send out awesome Christmas Photo Cards this year.  It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, you probably already have the props; it just never occurred to you to use them in your Christmas family photo.

And yes you can take your own photo at home, have a friend or family member do it, go to a photo studio, or hire a photographer.  Do whatever feels comfortable for you and your family and what fits your budget.

Here are some ideas and tips on how you can take send out the most awesome Christmas Photo Cards this year!

christmas photo cardsThink & Plan

Think about how you want your picture to be.  Formal, fun, scenic, or whatever fits your family’s personality.

Think about where you want your photo taken.  Sure you can do it at home or at a studio, but think outside of the box.

How about outdoors?  If you live by a park or green area you can do a photo shoot there.  Or maybe an ice skating rink,  playground, or a nice block in your neighborhood.

Once you decide where you want to take your photo you plan on the time to take it.  If you’re going to a photo studio then book your appointment as soon as possible.  If you decided to shoot outside then you may want to wait until Christmas decorations are out, usually by Thanksgiving, so you have plenty of time to take your photos.

Decide on your wardrobe.  PJs are great if you’re going for a Night Before Christmas look.  Sweaters are a must if you’re shooting outdoors in cold weather.  If you don’t already have the outfits you can buy or borrow some.  Don’t forget to check out thrift stores and resale shops for kids’ Christmas outfits, they’re generally worn once and outgrown; you may find some treasures at a resale shop!

Gather your props.  Gift boxes, ornaments, gift bags, and even strings of lights make great props.  Best of all you probably have them tucked away in your closets!  If you need cool Santa Hats check out my crocheted ones here!

christmas photo cardsGet it done!

Once you decided on place, time, wardrobe, and props all that’s really left to do it to get it done.

On the day of your appointment be sure the kids are well fed and dressed comfy on the way to the studio or photo location.  You don’t want cranky kids in scratchy clothing grumbling and crying before you take pictures.

Remember to bring your wardrobe and props.  If you’re going to a studio or have hired a professional photographer you may not need to bring your own props, but check with them before hand.

When you arrive at the studio or location get everyone dressed and ready to go.  Then smile!

You’ll want to take several poses, and even different groupings.  That way you’ll have  lots of photos to choose from!

And remember have fun during the photo shoot!

 

Christmas photo cards

Roasting the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Roasting the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

This time of year I get hungry for a juicy turkey dinner!  It’s no wonder, Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  It’s about the only time of year that I roast a whole turkey.

I still remember my first time roasting a turkey, I had no idea what to do.  Over the years I’ve perfected it, and my family expects a Thanksgiving feast every year.

In recent years deep frying turkeys have been real popular.  I’ve heard deep fried turkeys are delicious, but in our family you don’t experiment on a Thanksgiving turkey.  So I’ve always roasted my turkey in the oven using the brown bag method.  I’ve been roasting my turkeys this way for over 30 years.

It’s easy, no basting involved. You just place the turkey, roasting pan, and rack, in to a brown paper bag, slide it in to the oven and roast for the required time. You tear off the bag about 30 minutes before it’s done to get the nice golden brown color.  When the timer rings take the turkey out of the oven and let rest for 15 – 30 minutes before carving.

Trust me you’ll end up with a delicious juicy turkey everytime.  You’re family will love it!

Here are instructions for Savvy Nana’s Brown Bag Roasted Turkey!  Psst!  There’s a roasting chart on that post too!  Believe me it will come in handy!

My 24 pound bird last year.  Perfect!

Last year’s Thanksgiving feast at my house.

Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house in Colorado.  Smaller bird cooked the same way, perfect every time!

Brown Paper Bag Roasted Turkey

Brown Paper Bag Roasted Turkey

Thanksgiving foodMany years ago as a newlywed I was faced with making my very first Thanksgiving meal for myself and my new husband.  This of course entailed roasting a turkey.  I was clueless!

Seriously, in my single life Thanksgiving meals were prepared by mom, grandmas, and aunties; I think they took turns hosting the family for Thanksgiving each year.  Whatever the case may be I just popped in to where ever it was served and stuffed myself with all the yummy stuff they made.

Alas that year it was not to be.  Mom had moved back to New York where all the relatives were and I was alone in Hawaii, yup, just me and new hubby left to fend for ourselves on Thanksgiving. These days it probably wouldn’t have been a problem, one can just order a Thanksgiving meal for the entire family from one of the local restaurants or supermarket.  But back then this wasn’t an option.  So if I wanted a Thanksgiving meal I would have to figure out how to make it myself, starting with the turkey. (Yes that meant I had to stick my hand into the bird’s cavities and pull out its innards, seriously gross!)

Luckily I had a neighbor who showed me how to roast a turkey using a brown paper bag.  I was hesitant at first thinking the bag would catch fire, burn the house down, and we would be homeless on Thanksgiving day.  After all it was me roasting this bad bird and I could barely make toast unsupervised at that time!

Well my kitchen disaster never happened and I’ve been using this method to roast turkey ever since.  The only issues I’ve run into in recent years is finding large brown bags!

Years ago groceries were packed in large brown bags, perfect size for this roasting method.  The emergence of plastic grocery bags made it nearly impossible to find the paper ones.  Never one to give up I used brown craft paper when I can not locate large brown paper bags. Recently our state outlawed the use of plastic grocery bags and most supermarkets have started selling us large paper bags when we don’t bring our own grocery bags.  Umm that would be me, I always forget to bring the bags I have in my trunk into the stores so I end up purchasing even more bags.

I should mention however that I’ve only ever cooked using electric ovens, I’m told you can still use this method in a gas oven, just be sure to keep paper away from the flame.  I haven’t had the opportunity to try this so I would advise caution if you are going to try it in a gas oven.

Here’s how I do this using 2 large brown paper grocery bags or a very large shopping bag:

1.  Clean and wash turkey.  Be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the cavity.  Refrigerate giblets if you will be using them in your gravy.

2.  Salt the turkey cavity with about 2 tbls of salt

3.  Place a whole peeled onion in the back of the cavity.

4. Rub butter on top of the thighs, wing tips, and the breast; anywhere the turkey may come in contact with the paper bag.

5. If you will not be stuffing your turkey then place it on the rack inside the roasting pan.

If you will be stuffing your turkey then loosely place stuffing in both cavities.  Do not pack in stuffing.  Stuffing expands during cooking and you will have a big mess in the over and no stuffing.
Truss turkey using lacers and twine.  Place it on the rack inside the roasting pan.

6.  Insert one end of the roasting pan into the first brown bag.*

7.  Work the second brown bag onto the roasting pan.  Make sure the bag overlaps with the first bag.*

Brown bag
8.  Place the whole package in the oven using the chart below from allrecipes.com.

Bag in oven

9.  30 minutes before the turkey is done carefully tear off bags and remove.  Don’t jiggle the pan too much, you don’t want the drippings to spill, you will need the drippings for gravy.  Leave turkey uncovered to brown.

10.  When turkey is done remove from the oven and let rest on the rack for 30 minutes.  Do not transfer turkey on to serving tray immediately after cooking, it will fall apart.  Using turkey lifters makes transferring the turkey easier.

11.  If your stuffing is in the bird scoop it out onto a serving bowl before carving the turkey, it’s just neater than having everyone spoon stuffing directly out of the bird.

These times are based on placing the whole turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C ) oven.

 

 Weight  of Bird

 Roasting Time (Unstuffed)  Roasting Time 
  (Stuffed)
10 to 18 pounds 3 to 3-1/2 hours   3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours
18 to 22 pounds 3-1/2 to 4 hours   4-1/2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 pounds 4 to 4-1/2 hours   5 to 5-1/2 hours
  24 to 29 pounds 4-1/2 to 5 hours 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours

The only true test for doneness is the temperature of the meat, not the color of the skin.

  • The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. To get an accurate reading, be sure that your thermometer is not touching the bone.
  • If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing; it should be 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
  • When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, and makes for easier carving.

* If you can not get large brown bags you can use brown craft paper.  You can buy a roll at Walmart or any discount store.  Wrap the paper around the whole roasting pan.  Staple shut on both ends and on the top.

My Turkey

This is my turkey cooked using the brown bag method. This bird weighed 24 pounds.

Jaime's Turkey

My daughter in Colorado uses my method to make her Thanksgiving turkey. This is a small turkey weighing about 15 pounds.

Creative Kids’ Halloween Costumes

Creative Kids’ Halloween Costumes

You know Fall’s arrived when you walk into Walmart or other discount store and are greeted with racks of Halloween costumes and piles of treat sized candies.  Yes, there are lots of costume choices out there, ranging from the classic witch costume (I always seemed to be a witch for Halloween when I was a kid) and the newest popular cartoon characters.  And this year there are of course those frightful masks of the politicians running for President.

In our family those generic store bought Halloween costumes just won’t do.  We don’t like running into the same exact costume while we’re trick or treating on Halloween night.  Ever since my kids were young I’ve always made them homemade costumes, now I make them for the grandkids.

Here are some Creative Kids’ Halloween Costumes I’ve made over the last few years.  I hope they inspire you to get creative and make something cool for your kids this year!

creative kids' halloween costumesIf you haven’t heard already Pokemon is big this year!  Thanks to the recently launched game Pokemon Go you’ll be seeing a bunch of pint sized Pikachus this year.

When we asked my 3 year old grandson Jett what he wanted to be this year he immediately said Pikachu!  So instead of buying a generic Pikachu I hauled out my Singer and started sewing.  In fact we took it a step further.  I made Pikachu costumes for Jett and my 2 year old grandson Sadi, and a Jiggly Puff costume for his twin sister Harper.

This picture shows the twins trying on their costumes, it was hard getting them to stand still long enough to take pictures.  I’ll post Jett’s picture as soon as I have one, I had to send his costume to Colorado.

I used Minky Fleece material I ordered from Fabric.com for these costumes.  I lined it with a coordinating cotton blend fabric.  For a bit of fluff I used heavy cotton batting in between the outer fabric and the lining.  The ears, tail, and curl are stuffed with polyfill.  The shoulder straps have snaps for easy on and off.

I made my own patter by tracing the twin’s onesie and Jett’s romper.  I just made my tracing an inch more all around.  I also deleted the sleeves.  I found a hood pattern from the web, there are many you can use.  The stripes on the Pikachu costume are appliqued on using brown fleece.  I cut the strips freehand.

This costume requires sewing skills and a sewing machine.  It took me about 4 hours to make each one.

creative kids halloween costumesLast year Jett was “Eye Candy”.   I crocheted this Candy Corn Hat and sweater and attached crocheted “eyes” on both.

He won first place in 3 Halloween costume contests with this one!

I posted the pattern for this costume last year.  Click here for the free pattern!

This Creative Kids’ Halloween Costume doesn’t require sewing skills, but you must know how to crochet.

 

 

 

 

 

creative kids' halloween costumesLast year the twins were Minions.

This was pretty simple, most beginner crocheters can make this beanie.  It’s a basic beanie pattern appliqued with crocheted eye or eyes, and a bow for the girly Minion.  The costume is completed by denim coveralls with a “G” pinned on the front.  You can either crochet the “G” or use felt.

Click here for the Minion Hat crochet pattern, it’s free!

 

 

 

 

 

creative kids' Halloween costumesA couple of years ago Jett was a “Chick Magnet”.

This costume requires no sewing skills!  All  you need are felt, scissors, and hot glue.  The “feathers” are glued on to a pair of sweat pants and sweatshirt.   The chick cap does require basic crochet skills.  Again it’s a basic beanie with the beak appliqued on.  The eyes are large wiggly eyes you can find at most craft stores.

Click here for free instructions and pattern!

 

 

 

 

creative kids' halloween costumeOne year Devon was Noisy Boy, the fighting robot from the movie Real Steel.

This costume require absolutely no sewing or crocheting skills!  It’s made by cutting shapes out of a cardboard box and gluing them together.

The pieces are then spray painted purple and the symbols were painted on with craft glue.

Just before heading out to trick or treat the makeup was applied on Devon’s face.  We worked from a picture of the robot to make this costume.

 

 

creative kids' halloween costumesNot to be out done that year, Dion was Two Face, a movie villain.

This costume was made by literally destroying the Tuxedo he wore to my daughter’s wedding that spring.  The “logic” being he was outgrowing the tux anyway and this was a good way to use it one more time.

Half the tux was singed using a lighter, my son had the honor of doing this.  Be careful you don’t burn the house down.  We did this outside in the back patio.  All you have to do is touch the material of the tux with a hot lighter, the long ones used to light barbecue grills, the polyester material will shrivel up and burn.

Then just before heading out for trick or treating the textured makeup was applied to half his face.

This costume requires no skills, just lots of caution!

 
halloween cards