Felt Christmas tree

Christmas time is such an exciting and fun time for little ones.  There are so many fun activities for kids this time of year and decorations help children get even more excited.  Some little kids love to help decorate the Christmas tree by putting on ornaments.  Why not let them have this experience all season long.  I made this felt board activity for a Felt swap.  Each person picked a month to make a felt activity and then we swapped with each other . We now have a fun felt board activity for almost each month of the year.  

It is best to buy felt at JoAnns when it goes on sale for 50 or 60 %off.  For the light bulbs I glue the yellow light bulb to the black part with tacky glue.  Everything else, I just cut out.  

Let the kids enjoy decorating the tree all season long!

Hot Chocolate Bar

One of the first things that come to mind when I think of winter is "hot chocolate."  I love sipping hot 
chocolate on a cold winter night.  It always tastes better with a little bit of toppings.  My favorites are peppermints and whip cream.  

We had a fun activity at our church for all of the ladies.  Afterwards, we had a hot chocolate bar.  

Hot Chocolate Bar goodies:

Hot Chocolate
Cream Puffs
Peppermint candy and crushed peppermint
Cinnamon sticks (Bulk at Winco is cheapest)
Peppermint Taffy
Whip Cream
Pretzel bites (pretzels with chocolate)

Recycled baby wipe container + milk jug lids = toddler entertainment

I always wonder why we spend money buying toys when most of the time our young children just want to play with the kitchen utensils, household items, and everything except toys.  When my son turned one years old he became a lot more interested in playing with toys for longer than 30 seconds.  The early toddler age is when they love to fill containers up and dump them out.  
I made a toy that my son loves out of a recycled baby wipe container and lots of milk jug lids.  Since the time my son was born I have been saving all of our milk jug lids for a variety of learning activities and game.  
I was amazed at how interested my son is in this little activity.  My son loves to put the milk jug lid in the hole of the baby wipe container one by one.  He loves to dump the lids out and start over again.  
While making dinner, I have put him in his high chair with the milk jug lids and baby wipe container.  He keeps himself entertained for quite some time.  

100% FREE & 100% TODDLER FUN

Freezer Apple Pie Filling

Did you know that you can freeze applesauce and apple pie filling?  I didn't!  My mother-in-law was in town and we decided to make applesauce and apple pie filling with apples I picked from an apple orchard.  I wasn't in the mood to go through all the work of canning when it would only make about 10 jars of applesauce and pie filling.   That's when I found out that you can freeze applesauce and apple pie filling. I was a little unsure about it, but after tasting my frozen applesauce, I'm a big fan.  Frozen applesauce that has been defrosted in the refrigerator taste the same as if it had never been frozen.  

Below are the instructions for making and freezing apple pie filling.  The recipe I used was from Easy Frugal Living.

24 cups thinly sliced apples
4 tablespoons lemon juice ( used some lemon juice mixed with sprite to keep em white!)
5 cups sugar (I used 2 cups brown and 3 cups white)
1 cup cornstarch 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 cups water 

1. Peel apples and cut into thin slices.  Place apples in a bowl with lemon juice and set aside. 
2. Pour water into a large cooking pot, over medium heat. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add to water.  Stir well.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Stir constantly. 
3. Add apples and return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender. This took about 30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. 
4. Scoop 4 1/2 cups into freezer ziploc bags. Cool at room temperature.
5. Place in freezer.  Apple Pie Filling can be frozen for up to a year.  

I can't wait to taste my first homemade apple pie on Thanksgiving day.  What are your favorite things to make with apples? 

Inexpensive Christmas Party Table Centerpieces

Sometimes I daydream about how I would decorate my home and for parties if money wasn't an issue and there was no budget involved.  However, that is never the case.  I was in charge of decorating for a church Christmas party.  We had less than 50 dollars to spend on decorating tables for 200 people.  With little money and lots of table centerpieces needed, we had to be creative.  Many of the supplies we used for the centerpieces were reused items.
We put wrapping paper squares on top of the table clothes to add more color and variety to the tables.  Half the tables had wrapped presents and the other half had Santa cans with evergreens and berries.

1.  Presents:
     Wrap empty boxes with pretty paper and tie ribbon around them.  This looks great and is very expensive when you have to decorate a ton of tables.

2. Evergreen Santa Cans:
    I got emptied number 10 cans (large metal cans that contain food) from an elementary school kitchen.  I spray painted them red.  It took 2 coats of paint.  Then I cut a long strip of black felt for Santa's belt and attached it with glue to the can.  Next, I cut out a gray square with an empty square in the middle for the belt buckle.  I glued the buckle on top of the Santa's belt.  That's all to make the can.  For the greenery, I used the extra pieces from our Christmas tree that we cut down.  We still didn't have enough greenery for all the tables, so we went up to the mountains and collected some more evergreen branches.  I bought the berries from Michaels craft store.  

 What do you do with all the centerpieces when it's done?

       I took all of the wrapped presents to the elementary school I taught at.  They put them under their huge tree which is used for kids to throw gloves and scarves on that they are donating to people in need.
I emptied the Santa cans and used the cans to put gifts in.

Caramel Apple Snickers Salad

     I went with a friend and picked apples from an orchard.  I was lucky enough to get about 5 grocery bags of apples.  With these apples I made applesauce, apple pie filling, caramel apple snickers salad, and ate lots of fresh apples.  Caramel Apple Snickers Salad is the perfect summer or fall dessert. It is not only quick and easy, but so delicious. 

* 3 apples
* 12 fun size Snickers or 6 full size Snickers 
* 1 cup milk
* 1 large package vanilla instant pudding (not made)
* 1 16 oz. Cool Whip (I like a little less cool whip in mine)

Mix milk and pudding in a large bowl.  Add cool whip.  Cut the Snickers and apples into small pieces and add to the mixture.  

This dessert is best if you make it close to when it is being served.  I wouldn't recommend making it the night before.  

Enjoy!  Don't feel bad if you go back for seconds.  It's just that good.