Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

YAH: Baby Shower Ideas

While I was with my family over the holidays, they threw me and my husband a baby shower.
It was very casual but we had a lot of fun so I thought I'd share some of the things we did with you. My sister Suzie made the bathtub/shower cake.
She made the cake in a bread pan and the shower head is the top of a small plastic champagne glass glued to a straw. The water is ribbon. It even had "claw" feet, which I didn't get a picture of. She made those with golf ball rings. And it tasted great -- pink lemonade! I also got my own cloth diaper cake (which I showed you how to make here) and baby booties (which I shared with you here).
My sister Sarah made hot chocolate sticks with marshmallows and snowman Peeps!
They were so cute! And my sister Suzie made us some onesie cupcakes!
They were onesies rolled up with a sock in the middle and they were in cupcake liners. Adorable!
We also played a few games. For the first one, everyone had to blow up a balloon to the size they thought my belly was, then put it under their shirt to compare it with mine. The kids loved this.

But the adults had fun with it, too.

My mom won that game. Another game involved cutting a piece of ribbon to the size they thought my belly was. Then everyone wrapped the ribbon around me to see if they were right. I didn't get any pictures of that because I was busy getting wrapped up! My 3-year-old niece won. She was right on. My husband, however, cut his ribbon way too long. It was almost able to go around me twice! Hmm....
The third game I want to share with you is a drinking game. But not that kind! Little plastic babies were put into lemonade ice cubes. When we had punch, each person got an ice cube for their glass.
The first person whose ice melted so the baby floated freely yelled, "My water broke!' My brother Peter got the prize for that game!
And there was one last surprise that caught me off-guard. My family sang us a song. We have a tradition of singing songs as a "gift" either for a wedding or a 40th birthday celebration. So I was not expecting one at the baby shower! It was sung to the tune of "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills & Nash, but the words were changed to fit our situation. It was written mostly by my sisters Kate and Sarah and my brother-in-law Kurt played the guitar.
And of course I ended up crying through the whole thing, even though there were some funny lines.
I think part of it was the surprise and being the center of attention (I'm not very comfortable with that), but also part of it was that I honestly never thought I'd make it this far in my pregnancy. I just kept thinking of everything we've been through to get to this point and I couldn't stop the tears. But it was wonderful and I feel truly blessed to have such an amazing family!

Friday, December 21, 2012

YAH: Homemade Caramel Corn

My mom has made caramel corn for Christmas for as long as I can remember. It's been a favorite holiday treat in our family. A few years ago I made it with her and realized how easy it was. Ever since then, I've been the one in charge of bringing the caramel corn to our family christmas get-togethers. I've made several batches already this week and so I decided I might as well take some pictures along the way and share the recipe with you!
Baked Caramel Corn
5 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
Paper grocery bags (I always stock up this time of year)

Pop corn first.
Pour the popcorn into a paper bag. I make sure not to dump the whole thing in there because I want to avoid the seeds at the bottom of the bowl. I also cut the tops off the paper bags to make it easier when I have to stir in the caramel.
In a sauce pan, melt butter over low heat.
Then add brown sugar, salt and corn syrup. Turn heat up to medium and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Boil 5 minutes without stirring.
While you are waiting, get your vanilla and baking soda ready. When the 5 minutes are up, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir while you slowly add in the vanilla and soda. If you are going to burn it, this is when it usually happens. Make sure you are stirring when you add the vanilla! If my husband is around, I have him pour it in while I am stirring. It will puff up fairly quickly.
Pour the caramel over the popcorn in the paper bag and stir. Be careful! Caramel will be very, very hot!!
Don't worry about it being completely coated at first. Close the bag and put it in the microwave for 1 minute. Make sure the bag is spinning in the microwave and doesn't get stuck.
Give the bag a little shake, open it up and stir again. Fold it back up and put it in the microwave upside down for another minute.
Give it another shake and stir some more. If it's still not coated you can put it in again for another minute, but in all the years I've been making this I've never had to do it a third time. Dump out the caramel corn into a roasting pan or cake pans to cool.
Use a spoon or your hands to break up the clumps as it cools. And feel free to taste it while it's warm! When cooled, store in an air-tight container,
or give away to friends and neighbors!
Some tips:
*Always use a clean bag for each batch to prevent caramel from burning.
*I rinse or wash out the pan between batches.
*Pop all your corn first, no matter how many batches you're making. It gets pretty crazy if you have popcorn popping, caramel boiling, and caramel popcorn spinning in the microwave all at the same time!

If you want all the directions in a nice paragraph, here you go:
Pop corn first. Pour into large paper bag. In sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Turn up the heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and quickly stir while you slowly add vanilla and baking soda. Pour over popcorn in bag and stir. Close bag and microwave for 1 minute. Shake up and stir caramel corn. Close bag and return to microwave with bag upside down for 1 more minute. Shake and stir again and pour caramel corn into pans to cool. Continue stirring or breaking up clumps with fingers until completely cooled.

So there you have it! Trust me, everyone will love it!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Painting with Candy Canes

Schools were closed again today due to snow, so I thought I'd share a project we did earlier in the week. It doesn't really need an explanation, other than: swap out those paint brushes for some candy canes!
I kept the wrapper on one end so the kids wouldn't get their fingers sticky. And I told them to be gentle with them so they wouldn't break.

Most kids just had fun putting paint on their paper,
but there were a couple kids who painted pictures.

Because I have another day off, I'm going to make even more caramel corn! I will be back tonight to share the delicious recipe with you!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cute-as-a-Button Wreaths

I wanted to share what my kids made as a holiday gift for their parents. I don't have any step-by-step pictures (it was a crazy day!), but it's pretty easy. I cut the middle out of small paper plates and the kids painted the rims green. When the paint was dry, they glued on some festive buttons. These were the same buttons we used for our Glittery Snowmen craft. I put a picture of the kids in the middle of the wreath and added a paper bow. It's a coloring sheet of a bow that I printed really small on red and green paper. And after seeing the cute-as-a-button idea that Little Illuminations did, I knew I had to add that saying to our wreaths. So I used PicMonkey to add the words to the bow.
These wreaths are very similar to ones we made last year, except we used beads to decorate them. And those were turned into ornaments. So this year I decided to put magnets on the back instead. They turned out really cute!