Dec 01

How to Make Festive Christmas Bath Bombs

christmas-bath-bombsBath bombs are an excellent choice for a handmade Christmas gift or stocking stuffer. It’s a good idea to make a big batch at the beginning of the Christmas season to keep on hand for hostess gifts or last minute office gift exchanges.

There are a lot of creative ways to decorate your bath bombs to turn them into really special gifts. Your local craft store will likely carry a variety of Christmas themed soap molds that are a great way to make bath bombs. You can also find lots of soap mold options online.

If you don’t want to spend the extra money on holiday molds (or you’ve procrastinated and it’s too late to have them shipped!), there are lots of options for decorating plain round ones.

Shea butter makes wonderful “icing.” Soften it in the microwave in a small bowl until it has the consistency of lotion. If it’s too runny just let it sit for a couple of minutes until it thickens back up. When the consistency is right, dip the bath bombs in it about ¼ of the way in so just the tops are covered.

You’ll have a couple of minutes to work before the shea butter hardens, so do 3 or 4 at a time and decorate them. While the shea butter is still soft, sprinkle “toppings” on the bath bombs. I like the colored sugar you buy to sprinkle on cookies as they give them a festive look. Other options include grated chocolate, dried rose petals and dried spice such as a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg.

You can make bath bombs that are small in size (1 ¼”) and decorate and package them to look like truffles. Buy the small candy papers at your grocery store and put a small bath bomb in each one and put them in a candy box for a super cute gift. Just remember to label them as not edible!

There are lots of options for scents. Cinnamon and vanilla both evoke festive feelings and are great to get into the Christmas mood while relaxing at the end of the day.

Also keep in mind that if you’re giving them to someone on Christmas day, it might be a good idea to use a nice relaxing scent like lavender. A nice unwinding bath to recover from the Christmas season is truly a wonderful gift!

Here is my favorite Christmas bath bomb recipe. The gingerbread scent always puts me in a good mood.

Festive Gingerbread Bath Bombs

Ingredients

  • 2 c. baking soda
  • 1 c. citric acid
  • 1 c tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp. shea butter, melted
  • 15 drops cinnamon essential oil
  • 15 drops ginger essential oil
  • 8 drops nutmeg essential oil
  • 8 drops clove essential oil
  • Spray bottle of witch hazel

Directions

Sift dry ingredients together in a large glass bowl. Combine shea butter and essential oils, drizzle over dry mixture and mix with hands. Spritz with witch hazel as needed to hold mixture together. Pack into molds, pressing firmly.

Allow to dry 24 – 48 hours before decorating.

For more information and great recipes for making bath bombs, visit www.makebathbombs.com

 

Coralynn Gehl has written several articles and eBooks on alternative health care issues as well as making spa and body products at home. Her website is www.makebathbombs.com.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Dec 01

Four Festive Cranberry Recipes for the Holidays

Oh, the possibilities with cranberries!

Oh, the possibilities with cranberries!

I love cranberries. They are one of the foods I like to indulge in during the holidays. If you, too, are a cranberry lover, why not stock up on fresh cranberries and cans of cranberry sauce during the holidays when they are on sale and save them for later? Fresh cranberries will freeze well for several months.

Cranberries are very versatile, and can be used in salads, breads, and even stuffing. Give these mouth-watering recipes a try and infuse your holiday cooking and baking with the taste and aroma of cranberries!

This first cranberry salad recipe I have made for our last two Thanksgiving meals and I plan to make it again for an upcoming holiday brunch. People love it and always ask for the recipe. It has become a new family favorite.

Festive Cranberry Salad

  • 1 can (20 ounce) crushed pineapple in juice, un-drained
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 (3 ounce) boxes raspberry or cranberry flavored gelatin
  • 2 cans whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 medium apple, chopped

Drain pineapple, reserving all liquid. Add enough cold water to the reserved juice to make 1 cup liquid. Bring to boil, remove from heat. Add gelatin, stir at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Add cold water and let cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, combine cranberry sauce, crushed pineapple, and chopped apples. Stir until well blended. Stir in cooled gelatin.

Pour into serving dish and chill until firm. Garnish with sliced apples, if desired.

Cranberry Sweet Potato Bake

  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) cut sweet potatoes, drained
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade, warmed

Place sweet potatoes in a greased 11x7x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cranberries and pecans; spoon marmalade over top. Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, and pumpkin, mixing well. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the batter and add the pumpkin. Stir in cranberries. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour.

Fresh Cranberry-Cornbread Stuffing

  • 1 (8-1/2 oz.) pkg. cornbread mix, baked and crumbled
  • 1/2 of a (13 oz.) pkg. stuffing mix
  • 1 (lb.) fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, crushed
  • 1 cup butter, melted

Wash cranberries and drain well. Combine with all remaining ingredients adding butter last. Toss to mix and stuff lightly into neck and body cavities of the turkey. Truss and roast as desired.

Note: Use this stuffing with a 14 pound turkey or larger.

 

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What’s for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For more recipes, gardening, organizing tips, home decorating, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Dec 01

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce for Christmas

chocolate-sauceIf you are looking for an easy, inexpensive gift to give to family and friends, you can’t go wrong with homemade hot fudge sauce. Seriously, who doesn’t like hot fudge!? I am making 12 jars of fudge sauce this year, to make sure I have something on hand to give to anyone I need an inexpensive gift for.

You may already have everything you need on hand to make a couple of jars of hot fudge sauce. I figured that even if you have to go out and buy canning jars to put the hot fudge in, you are looking at less than $2 a jar for this delicious, homemade treat. One container of baking cocoa makes approximately two batches.

Hot fudge is not just for ice cream…it can be put in chocolate milk, hot chocolate, even coffee!

Here is what you will need:

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup baking cocoa
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a sauce pan, stir together white sugar, brown sugar, baking cocoa, flour, and salt. Add margarine and water, stirring well. Slowly bring to a boil, and continue boiling for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla. The hot fudge sauce will thicken as it cools.

After it has cooled, pour the fudge sauce into pint sized canning jars, and decorate as desired.

This recipe is very forgiving. I accidentally put in 3 cups of white sugar and the sauce turned out very thin. I added another 2 tablespoons of flour and cooked it for another 10 minutes, and the sauce still thickened and turned out great.

This recipe makes enough for approximately 1 1/2 pint jars, so if you double the recipe, you will have enough for 3 pint jars.

This hot fudge sauce makes a very attractive gift. You can tie a ribbon around the jar lid, or add a scrap of fabric under the jar ring for decoration. Give the jar by itself or as part of a gift basket containing other items for ice cream sundaes. After your friends taste this hot fudge sauce they will never buy it from the store again!

Note: These jars need to be stored in the refrigerator, so make sure to mention this to the person you are giving the gift to.

 

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of five. For recipes, gardening, organizing tips, home decorating, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Dec 01

Two Easy Reindeer Crafts for Kids to Make

candy-cane-reindeerChristmas crafts are fun to do with your kids when they are home from school during the holiday season.

These reindeer crafts don’t require a lot of supplies and are very inexpensive to make. You may already have some of the supplies you will need to make them at home. They are also easy to make, so if your children have short attention spans, these crafts will only take a few minutes for them to put together and enjoy.

Reindeer Popsicle Stick Craft

  • Three popsicle sticks
  • Two wiggle eyes
  • One red pom pom
  • Red ribbon
  • Hot glue gun

If you have young children, you will need to supervise this craft and help them with the hot glue gun.

Lay one popsicle stick horizontally on the table in front of you. Place the other two popsicle sticks in the shape of a “v” on top of the first stick. This will form the reindeer’s face and antlers. Glue the sticks in place.

Glue two wiggle eyes on top of where the sticks you just glued on sit on top of the first stick.

Take a red pom pom and glue it to the tip of the reindeer’s face for the nose.

Cut a length of red ribbon (approx. 12 inches) and tie to each side of the reindeer’s face, close to the eyes.

That’s it! Your child’s reindeer craft is ready to hang. Makes a great Christmas tree ornament or present for grandma!

Reindeer Candy Canes

These reindeer candy canes are an old time favorite. They are great to sell at holiday bazaars, and also make great crafts for children’s holiday parties. We will be making them for our cub scout Christmas party next week.

For this craft you will need:

  • Candy canes
  • Wiggle eyes
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Small red pom poms
  • Hot glue gun

Fold a pipe cleaner in half and place a little hot glue in the bend you just made. Place underneath the hook of a candy cane and press firmly for glue to hold (see photo). You can also wrap the pipe cleaner one time around the candy cane to keep the pipe cleaner in place. This will be the reindeer’s antlers. Twist the pipe cleaners to look like reindeer antlers. I bent ours into a zig zag pattern.

Glue two wiggle eyes on the front of the hook of the candy cane for eyes, and glue on a red pom pom for the nose.

These are fun to make and hang on the Christmas tree. You could also use them to decorate Christmas presents or to put in holiday gift bags. Children love them.

 

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of five. For recipes, gardening, organizing tips, home decorating, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Dec 01

Classic Quotes from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

a-charlie-brown-christmasThe Peanuts characters have been an integral part of my holidays ever since I can remember, as well as for many Americans. Every year when the Charlie Brown specials come on TV, the family naturally gathers for the event.  “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted in 1965, and it’s still welcome in our living rooms year after year.

Here are some of our favorite lines from the lovable characters in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”:

snoopy-300x300

Charlie Brown: Stop the music! All right now, we’re going to do this play, and we’re going to do it right. Lucy, get those costumes and scripts and pass them out. Now the script girl will be handing out your parts.

charlie-brown-christmas-300x300

Shermy: Every Christmas it’s the same. I always end up playing a shepherd.

Lucy: Pigpen, you’re the innkeeper.

Pigpen: In spite of my naturally outward appearance, I shall try to run a neat inn.

Linus: Gee. Do they still make wooden Christmas Trees?

Sally Brown: All I want is what I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.

lucy-charlie-300x300

 

Lucy: You DO think I’m beautiful, don’t you, Charlie Brown?

Lucy: You didn’t answer me. You had to think about it first. Didn’t you? If you really didn’t have to think about it you would’ve answered me right away. I know when I’ve been insulted. I KNOW WHEN I’VE BEEN INSULTED.

Charlie Brown: Good grief.

linus-300x300

 

Charlie Brown: I guess you were right, Linus. I shouldn’t have picked this little tree. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is all about.

Linus: Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo the angel of the Lord came down upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

snoopy-and-charlie-brown-christmas-300x300

Linus: I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.

Nov 30

Double Decker Peanut Butter Fudge

Double your delight with peanut butter and chocolate fudge

Double Decker Peanut Butter Fudge

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Refrigeration time: 3 hours

Makes: 36 pieces

Ingredients:

• 2 cans sweetened condensed milk (each 1 1/4 cup/300 mL)

• 1 cup (250 mL) peanut butter, preferably smooth

• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

• 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla

• 10 oz (300 g) milk chocolate chips

• 10 oz (300 g) peanut butter chips

• 3 tbsp (45 mL) peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:

1. Line an 8×8-inch (2L) square baking pan with aluminum foil so the edges overhang the sides. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 can of condensed milk, 1/2 cup (125 mL) peanut butter, and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Stir continuously just until bubbly. Remove from heat and immediately stir in chocolate chips and 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla. Scrape into prepared pan and spread evenly. Refrigerate while making peanut butter layer.

2. In a clean medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining condensed milk, peanut butter, and salt, stirring continuously just until bubbly. Remove from heat and immediately stir in peanut butter chips and remaining vanilla. Scrape onto chocolate layer, spreading to cover. Sprinkle with peanuts, pressing gently into fudge.

3. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm. Lift the fudge out of the pan and cut into small squares.

Find more recipes at www.peanutbureau.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Nov 29

Spread Holiday Cheer with Gingerbread Butter

Gingerbread Butter

Gingerbread Butter

‘Tis the season of baking delicious desserts and pastries filled with festive flavours. For many of us, it’s a time to bake and fill our cookie tins with the traditional holiday taste of gingerbread.

This year, try experimenting the flavours of gingerbread in more than just cookies. Follow this recipe to purée the perfect gingerbread spread. Made in less than 10 minutes, spread the sweetness of gingerbread butter on your homemade or store-bought cookies, toast, pancakes, and more.

Gingerbread Butter

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 2 minutes

Makes: 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) or 24 (1 tbsp/15 mL) servings

Ingredients:

• 225 g gingerbread cookies, about 8 cookies

• 1/2 cup (125 mL) icing sugar

• 1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut oil

• 1/4 cup (50 mL) water

• 2 tsp (10 mL) Club House pure vanilla extract

• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Club House organic ground cinnamon

• 1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground ginger

Directions:

1. Pulse cookies in food processor until resembles fine crumbs. Add sugar; pulse until just blended.

2. Heat oil and water in small saucepan on low heat until oil is melted. Slowly add oil mixture to processor while pulsing. Add vanilla and spices; pulse until just blended and refrigerate.

For more tips on preparing festive flavours and holiday feasts head to flavour.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Nov 29

Top 5 Gender Neutral Toys For Every Kid

Traditional gender roles are becoming a thing of the past as barriers continue to crumble for boys and girls. Today’s parents are looking for toys that offer kids the freedom to be who they want to be and play however they want to play. Give the little ones on your list the perfect present this holiday using this list of trending gender-neutral toys.

Lego Adventure Camp Tree House

Lego Adventure Camp Tree House

1. Lego Adventure Camp Tree House:

A favourite brand with both girls and boys since the 1940s, this Lego collection nurtures a child’s sense of creativity while developing basic building skills.

Fisher Price record player

Fisher Price record player

2. Fisher Price record player:

Parents will get a nostalgia kick with this blast from the past and children will love it for the classic nursery rhyme songs it plays.

Outer Edge Minions sled

Outer Edge Minions sled

3. Outer Edge Minions sled:

This simple sled creates a wild ride on any neighbourhood hill, ideal for the budding thrill seeker in your family.

Playgo My Carry Along Medical Centre

Playgo My Carry Along Medical Centre

4. Playgo My Carry Along Medical Centre:

Living with an aspiring doctor? Jump start your child’s career with a full doctor set complete with stethoscope. Let them learn about the tools of their future trade and have fun diagnosing every member of the family.

My First Craftsman/MD Deluxe Workbench

My First Craftsman/MD Deluxe Workbench

5. My First Craftsman/MD Deluxe Workbench:

Play tools are an early opportunity to explore and interact with craftsmanship on a child’s own terms. It’s an empowering feeling being able to build things by hand at any young age.

Find more toys at www.sears.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Nov 28

Christmas Waves a Magic Wand

cupcakes-and-squirrel-in-the-snow-forest

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

-Norman Vincent Peale

Nov 27

Christmas Plants Rooted in Centuries-old Histories and Traditions

Winter Holly

Winter Holly

Each Christmas decorated trees, twinkling lights and familiar carols take center stage in creating a festive holiday atmosphere. Certain plants play key roles as well: church altars banked with poinsettias, mistletoe hung over doorways, and holly adorning floral arrangements. Ironically, the histories of most Christmas plants have pagan roots (pardon the pun!), some dating back to the druids in the 13th and 14th centuries. Yet over the centuries they evolved into beloved Christian symbols.

Dr. Charles Aling, professor of history at Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minn., explains that Christmas plants such as holly, ivy, mistletoe and poinsettia became Christmas favorites due in part to their bright colors and evergreen properties. “Their coloration did a lot for the drab, cold and dark time of year when other plants had died and the landscape was colorless. Both the pagans and Christians saw these plants as bringing light and color into the season.”

Holly

Holly

Holly — Holly’s ability to look good in both winter and summer certainly helped its position in folklore, Aling explains. Representing immortality and seen as a good omen, holly was considered sacred by the ancient Romans and used as a gift during the festival of Saturnalia. Holly was brought into homes when winter began to shelter the elves and faeries.

During the early years of Christianity in Rome, many Christians continued to deck their homes with holly to avoid detection and persecution. Gradually, holly became a Christmas symbol as Christianity became the dominant religion. Because the holly leaf has sharp, pointy edges, Christians see the holly representing Jesus’ crown of thorns and the red berries representing the blood He shed on the cross.

Ivy — Aside from the familiar carol, “The Holly and the Ivy,” the ivy vine doesn’t have quite the Christmas tradition as mistletoe and holly, Aling says. It was associated with Bacchus the Roman god and thought to bring good luck, fun and ecstatic happiness. Growing the plant on the outside walls of a house was believed to be a deterrent against misfortune. However, if it died, it was thought that financial trouble was approaching. Like evergreens, ivy was also seen as a symbol of eternal life.

Because ivy symbolized prosperity and charity, it became associated with Christmas, a time to celebrate the rich rewards of life yet remember the less fortunate. Christian symbolists also consider the ivy’s need to cling to a support emblematic of man’s need for divine support, explains Aling.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe

Mistletoe — Legend explains that the tears of Scandinavian goddess Frigga saved her son after he was shot with an arrow made of mistletoe. When she ordered mistletoe never again be used to harm others, she made it a symbol of peace and love. It was also hung over doorways to ward off evil and bring happiness, health and good luck, and kissing under the mistletoe was thought to increase the possibility of marriage in the upcoming year.

When Christianity took a foothold in northern Europe, mistletoe was one of the pagan casualties. For centuries it was forbidden on Christian altars. Eventually, mistletoe found its way back into acceptance when the Victorians revived the ancient ritual of kissing under the mistletoe as a sign of love, romance and good luck.

Poinsettias — “While most Christmas plants date back several hundred years to Europe and the Mediterranean,” Aling points out, “the poinsettia is a relatively recent Christmas symbol based in the Western world.” Native to Mexico and cultivated by the Aztec Indians, the poinsettia is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who imported it from Mexico in 1828. After the Spanish conquest and the introduction of Christianity, the poinsettia found a place in Christmas rituals.

Poinsettia Flowers

Poinsettia Flowers

The legend of the poinsettia tells of a poor village boy in Mexico who wanted to give the Holy Child a gift, but had no money. In desperation, he picked some weeds on his way to church to leave as his gift. He prayed to God to help him show his love and God answered by turning the weeds into a beautiful star-shaped flower with bright red leaves. The poinsettia has been a Christmas symbol ever since signifying how Jesus meets the needs of His believers.

Even though most Christmas plants are short-lived, basic care helps them last through the holiday season.

“Holly is actually a shade shrub that is quite plentiful in England. The shrub should be planted in the spring,” explains Dr. Jerry Beilby, professor of biology at Northwestern College. “Cut holly lasts longer indoors if treated like cut flowers, placed in cool water, and kept away from excessive heat.”

Ivy is more of an English Christmas green than an American one, he says. “It’s a very popular houseplant in the United States since it’s relatively easy to grow. It takes low water, either direct or indirect sun and even thrives in the shade.”

Mistletoe is actually a parasite that feeds off trees and shrubs, Beilby says. “Plants bloom in the summer and produce white berries during the winter. Mistletoe is often hung upside down and dried during the holidays.” The berries are poisonous, so keep the sprigs out of the reach of children. Many commercial firms now market mistletoe with artificial berries for safety.

A poinsettia can last for weeks beyond the holidays when placed in indirect sunlight at least six hours a day,” he explains. “Keep it away from cold drafts and excessive heat. Water when it feels dry, and after the blooming season use an all-purpose fertilizer once a month.”

Beilby adds that the belief that poinsettias are poisonous is a misconception. Scientific evidence of the plant’s safety is ample and well documented. Poinsettias are actually helpful in removing pollutants from indoor air.

Courtesy of ARA Content