Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas- Week 12: Braided Holiday Bread

Hello everyone! And Merry Christmas Eve!

I know I'm really down to the wire here, but I wanted to make sure I finished up the 12 Weeks of Christmas gifts! And I wanted to finish off  by baking some bread.

I know that many of us are spending time with family or friends or wrapping last-minute gifts tonight, so I'll keep this short and simple. I got the instructions for this braided bread from Chef In You. For some reason, I just thought it was so fancy and perfect for Christmas. I think we're going to make some blackberry jam to go with it too! You can go to the original website for detailed instructions, but here are all of my pictures from the process! Enjoy!!

I think this homemade bread would make a great host/hostess gift!

I hope you guys enjoyed these projects as much as I did! It really helped me to get out of my crafting comfort zone and try new things!

Merry Christmas to you all from the Sanders family- we hope you have the best one yet!

Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas- Week 11: Personalized Coffee Mug!

You know how sometimes you think a project will be really hard and then it turns out to be basically the easiest thing ever? THIS is one of those projects.
You will need:
  • A porcelain coffee mug
  • A porcelain marker from the craft store
That's all you need! You just draw whatever you like on your mug with your porcelain pen- words, doodles, patterns- let the ink dry overnight and then bake it for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. THAT'S IT!

I just wrote some words in different font styles on mine like "hot chocolate, coffee", and "good morning". I think it turned out pretty cute!

I actually made another really cool project using my paint pen, but I don't want to ruin the Christmas surprise on here. Maybe I'll share it later!

You should really try this craft project. It's so simple! By the way, they also make glass pens so you could do the same thing with clear glass items! The pens are so good and they make your creations dishwasher safe!

Oh my goodness, we only have ONE PROJECT LEFT! And I will be doing it sometime later this week! See you then!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas- Week 10: Salted Caramel Sauce

A friend of mine called me yesterday to ask me some questions about this salted caramel sauce I always make for parties and gifts and what not. I'm so glad she called because she reminded me that I had planned on sharing the recipe on the blog for Christmas! (Well, I'm also glad she called just because she's cool )

First off, the recipe is not my own. I use this recipe from the Cooking Channel's Kelsey Nixon:
Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe

The recipe is actually pretty simple and doesn't contain any particularly special ingredients. It's mostly just made up of things you probably have around the house.

You will need:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher or sea salt (not regular table salt)

And put a spoon in your freezer....I'll explain later...

Ok, so if you want to some amazingly delicious salty- sweet caramel sauce, here's what to do:

First, put the sugar and water in your largest saucepan. I use a larger saucepan because hot sugar can be super dangerous. Don't start to heat it until both ingredients are in. Then, heat the mixture on low and whisk to combine.

Now take the whisk out and resist the urge to stir the mixture any further. Turn the heat up and allow the mixture to reach a boil.

Here comes the magic. Let it continue to boil until the mixture turns a deep amber color (5-10 minutes).

The color is starting to change...
Just about there.....
Here's where I stopped it. It will be deep amber on the sides, but probably never turn the full color in the middle because you can't stir it to evenly distribute the color. But it's ok- it's SUPPOSED to look like that.
I allowed this batch to get a little darker than I usually do, but it ended up tasting amazing! You want to let it get nice and dark, but don't let it start to burn or smoke. If you do see a little smoke starting, take it off the heat imediately.

Now that we're done boiling the sugar and water, take the pan off the heat. Pour in the heavy cream. A little warning: this step can be a little terrifying the first time you do it. It foams, bubbles ,clumps up and makes crazy noises. But once again, don't worry- it's supposed to do that.

Whisk in the cream very carefully. It will look something like this after you've whisked it:

Now just toss in your butter. I don't pre-soften mine or anything because the mixture is so hot it will melt the butter in a minute or less.

The last step is to add some salt. The salt is what really makes this sauce super special. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, but I probably use more. I don't measure it.

I suggest starting with the one teaspoon and then carefully taste testing it and adding to it if you want.

Are you wondering how to taste test sugar that's been boiling without burning your tongue? That's what the spoon in the freezer is for! The coldness of the spoon allows you to taste it while the mixture is still hot. Still, proceed with caution.

And that, my friends, is all there is to it. I promise- it is a very easy recipe. This recipe usually yields about 1-2 jars (depending on the size of the jar of course). I don't typically double the recipe or anything. If I want to make multiple batches, I just do it one batch at a time for safety reasons.After the sauce has cooled, put the lids on your jars and refrigerate them immediately. The recipe says it will stay good in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

I hope you'll try this recipe out! It's SOOOOO GOOD!

P.S. Wondering what you can use the sauce for? Anything really but some of my favorite choices are ice cream or apples! I've also used salted caramel in baking recipes and to make salted caramel buttercream!

Or you could just eat it with a spoon. I won't tell.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas- Week 9: Ornaments Part 2!

So if you've thought ahead about my 12 Weeks of Christmas, you would notice that we have 3 projects left and only two weeks to do them! So be expecting two in one week either this week or the week before Christmas. I can't believe it's coming so soon.

So here's the story about today's DIY project. Last Christmas, I mentioned to Bryan how much I LOVE to receive handmade gifts. Don't me wrong, I love to get store bought gifts too, but something is so special about someone spending time to make something especially for you. And guess what? Bryan made me a present!

He made me a Christmas ornament! And it means SO much to me! Crafting isn't usually his thing, but he did it just for me!

How did he make it?
 Well he was very resourceful....

The main part of the ornament is a jar lid. He used photoshop to write a super sweet message to me (this step is optional). He measured and cut the picture to fit the jar, and mod-podged it into the center.

For the top, he took one of the little jingle bell ornaments from our tree and removed the top. Then he attached the top to the lid. You could use ribbon or something instead, but I think this makes it look really professional!

FYI: It is super easy to twist the tops off of the bells.

I am so thankful for my husband. He is always such a thoughtful gift-giver!! I really want to make more of these picture ornaments to personalize our tree even more, and to capture each year's memories.

I hope you all are having fun getting ready for Christmas! We sure are!

P.S. Didn't Bryan do a great job on the tree this year?!?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas- Week 8: Mini Christmas Stockings!

My mother-in law is really great. She is super crafty and can make just about anything (like our WEDDING CAKE for instance). But I really love something else that she's crafted- she has made home made stockings for every member of her family. I was so honored when she made me one! She has made one for all of her children, all of their spouses and all of her grandchildren! And they're so fancy...embroidered names, with cute little Christmas characters sewn on.

The stocking she made me has a bunny with a scarf on! So yeah, it's pretty amazing.

Well, feeling inspired by those stockings, I decided to make some mini-stockings. They're perfect for filling with little treats and giving out to friends. They're not nearly as beautiful as the ones she makes, but they are a very fun and easy project.

Let's get started!!!

Step 1: I printed off this pattern from Martha Stewart. It completely belongs to them, I do not own it. Bryan helped me enlarge it to the size of a regular piece of paper. If you want that template I can e-mail it to you! I'm having a hard time posting it to the blog, but I'm MORE than happy to share.

Step 2: I traced and cut out two stocking shapes from the template.

Step 3: After I was done with template, I decided to cut the top off of it so that I could have a template for the top "rim" of the stocking.

Step 4: I cut out two of those rectangles for the rim of the stocking and sewed them to the tops of the stocking shapes. Make sure to think through which way the fabric will face as we are going to turn it inside out later. I used fleece for my stockings and honestly, the sides don't look all that different.

Step 5:
I pressed the "rims" to the outer side of the stocking.
Step 6:  I "sandwiched" the pieces together. The sandwich should look something like this:

Step 7: Time to sew! Sew all around your sandwich EXCEPT for the top! You don't want to sew your stocking closed! ;)

P.S. You could do this with a machine, OR by hand. It won't take too long either way.
Step 8: I cut little slits in the fabric where the round parts are (the foot and the heel). This helps them to look rounder when we turn them out.Just be sure to not cut through your stitching!!
Step 9: Then I just turned it all inside out!
I realized that I didn't sew in a little tab to hang the stocking with so I just quickly cut a small piece of fabric and hot glued it into the stocking. You could totally sew it in, but you will probably want to sew it in before you sew the whole stocking together because at this point you would be sewing through too many layers.

Thanks for reading!!! I hope you all are getting in the Christmas spirit! We sure are! Bryan put the tree up today! WOOHOO!!!
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