Mulled Wine

mulled wine

There is nothing more comforting during the holidays then a glass of mulled wine.

Watching the snow fall with a piping hot mug of this scrumptious beverage feels decadent, like you are relaxing at a chalet in the Swiss Alps.

Of course then you snap back to reality and realize that there is chaos all around you and it becomes an excellent and comforting way to deal with the stress of the holidays.

A friend of mine makes this regularly throughout the winter and was kind enough to share her recipe with me.

You can make this in a crock pot on low or on the stove. Do NOT let this boil!

Here is what you need

IMG_1635

1 bottle of good red wine

1/4 cup Candied ginger

3 Cinnamon sticks

2 Clementines peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon Allspice berries

1 teaspoon Cloves

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

Wrap the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice in cheesecloth.

IMG_1638

Put it in your pot with the sugar and chopped up clementine.

IMG_1639

Add the entire bottle of wine

Fill the empty wine bottle with water and add to your mixture.

Let simmer for 2-3 hours

You don’t have to use the best wine you can find, just find one that tastes good and has a mild and fruity flavour. I found this bottle of Cupcake wine from California for $10. It was delicious!

IMG_1634

For an extra bit of “fortification” add an ounce of Grand Marnier to the bottom of your glass. This not only amps up the alcohol content but it also adds an extra burst of flavour.

IMG_1649

Top up the glass with the mulled wine and enjoy!

 

 

 

Brie and Jam Appetizer

appetizer pic

Last Saturday we had plans to go to a friend’s house for dinner.

We were asked to bring an appetizer.

The days leading up to Saturday were chaotic at best. We had just gotten home from Quebec, I had dozens of cookies to make and ice and work was quite busy.

I didn’t have the time or brain power to make anything complicated

So I came up with this gem using Provisions fruit pastes. I mentioned Provisions Food Company as one of my favourite things in a previous post.

It is so simple and quick. It took only 10 minutes to make 2 dozen of these little bits of heaven

You only need 4 ingredients

Phyllo pastry

Brie

Fruit paste or jam

Melted butter

Heat your oven to 375 degrees

Using a pastry brush cover one sheet of phyllo in butter

Cover your remaining phyllo with a damp cloth. Phyllo dries out very quickly and will become flaky and impossible to work with.

Take a second sheet of phyllo and lay it on top of the first sheet. The butter helps the sheets stick together and helps to add flakiness.

Using a paring knife cut the phyllo into 6 slices

IMG_1892

Put a piece of brie and a teaspoon of fruit paste on the end of each slice

Take one corner and fold it up towards the other side to make a triangle

IMG_1889

Repeat until you get to the end of the phyllo

IMG_1890

Cover in melted butter and make for 5-7 minutes or until they are golden brown

IMG_1910

Word of warning… let these cool off for a few minutes before you dive into them. They are hot!!!

Not bad for only a few minutes of work.

IMG_1912

If you need a quick, easy and inexpensive app to bring to a holiday party I think this one hits the mark.

Gift wrapping ideas for Christmas

PicMonkey Collage

Wrapping paper is my arch nemesis. I always cut it too big and then have to hack away at it once I have already started folding

The paper is easily ripped so I need to patch it

I can’t cut a straight line either so everything is wonky and crooked

By the end it looks as though my five year old wrapped the present

Actually Callum would probably do a better job than I would

So in an attempt to avoid wrapping shame this year I decided to use brown craft paper to disguise my inability to keep a pattern straight. It is also harder to tear which is a bonus.

I wrapped all the presents this way and wrapped them in red ribbon that I got from the dollar store or red and white twine that I got from Ikea.

IMG_1796

I am trying to steer clear of gift tags as well so I wrote the names on the paper with a metallic Sharpie.

I think it looks classic and still very Christmasy

The kids made the ornaments for all the presents using this recipe

They decorated them with glitter glue

IMG_1797

I put together a collection of what I think are amazing ways to wrap presents. This is what I aspire to!

Simple White Christmas Gift Wrap 3w

Simple and elegant from Love That Party

chalk board wrapping

Amazing idea from Going Home to Roost

christmas-scrabble-name-tag

A good way to put the Scrabble game to use from Craftionary

doily

This is a great way to use up scraps of yarn and doilies that you may have laying around from HGTV

candy

Brown paper packages tied up with string and candy! Yes please. Great idea from Crafting in the Rain

photo_gift_wrap

Love this idea from New Nostalgia

tags

Simple and sweet from Apartment Therapy

santa

I could never pull it off but I think it is a great idea from Craftionary

Maybe one day when I get some patience I will be able to wrap presents as creatively as these bloggers did. Until then I will continue to fake it with my craft paper and ribbon.

Faux Fur Tree Skirt

tree skirt

Every year I get more and more frustrated by the amount of cat fur left behind on our tree skirt

As soon as the tree goes up the cats immediately gravitate to it and refuse to leave for the next month.

I am getting pretty sick of the clumps of hair

IMG_1654

I decided that this year I would stop fighting it and make a tree skirt that could conceal their mess

Faux Fur is easy to work with, inexpensive and looks and feels snuggly warm

I bought the fur from Joann Fabrics it was only $6.49 a yard!

I used two yards

I used my old tree skirt as a template.

IMG_1653

Fold in half once and then fold in half again so it looks like this

IMG_1657

Fold the fur the same way and cut out around the template

IMG_1658

As you can see the cats are already obsessed with the fur

Cut up one side so you can wrap the skirt around the tree

This whole project took a grand total of 3 minutes

I stuck some Velcro on the sides so it wouldn’t slide around as soon as the cats were on it

IMG_1669

As you can tell the cats are big fans of their new comfy spot

IMG_1663

 

 

 

Holiday Traditions

holiday

 

When I was growing up we always had a real Christmas tree.

My parents would drag me and my brother out to a Christmas tree farm so we could experience the joy of picking out our own tree and cutting it down.

What usually happened was that my parents would find a tree they thought was okay but they weren’t sure if it was the best one so they would ask me to stand guard while they kept looking. My brother would end up standing guard next to another tree.

It seemed like hours until they finally returned announcing they had found the best tree. In reality it was probably only 5 or 10 minutes.

When we got home my brother and I were always eager to decorate the tree right away, but we had to wait until my parents leveled the bottom, put the tree in a bucket, knocked the tree over and spilled all the water out of the bucket, exchange a few interesting words with each other and then finally put bricks in it to keep it from toppling over again.

Then the decorating would begin.

Decorating with my family while listening to Christmas carols was our family tradition.

It’s those traditions that make each year exciting.

I have started some new traditions with my kids

Due to Sofie’s pine allergy we always have a fake tree. I love it. Easy set up, no pine needles giving me hives and the tree is pre lit so I don’t have to worry about stringing lights.

Every year I tape the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the kids so they can watch it while we decorate.

We sing and dance with the performers and the kids are always thrilled to see Santa at the end of the Parade.

We also try and make out own ornaments each year.

This year we used cinnamon scented pine cones and glitter to create some real beauties.

Callum’s use of glitter has been restricted due to his urge to spill everything that is incredibly hard to clean up so he used glitter glue instead.

IMG_1648

We started with pinecones from Michaels. It was $5.99 for a bag of 20 but I had a 40% off coupon.

The glitter, glue and jute twine came from the dollar store.

Grand total for the ornaments was $6.59!

We started by hot gluing the twine to the top of the pine cone

IMG_1647

Sofie was in charge of smearing white craft glue on the edges of the pine cones with a foam brush

IMG_1645

Then we sprinkled the glitter all over

I left them to dry over night

In the morning I tied a bow onto them for a little extra cuteness

The kids are so thrilled with how they turned out

Extra bonus, the whole house smells like cinnamon goodness

IMG_1672

 

We started a new tradition this year. I’m not sure how long it will last but for now it is pretty fun to see the kid’s reactions.

While scrolling through Pinterest one day I found a link to grow your own candy canes. I was intrigued to say the least.

I told the kids that about it and they were sceptical but willing to give it a try.

We started by planting our peppermint seeds

IMG_1643

We watered them every day and they started to grow

Every day the kids were amazed at the changes and that their candy canes were actually growing.

IMG_1716

Her reaction was priceless!

IMG_1690

This is what the holidays are about. Watching kids experience the magic and joy of something so simple.