gallamore west: December 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

Merry Christmas!  

I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating, filled with family, friends, food, and time to reflect on all of your blessings.  

Christmas always seems to fly by in the blink of an eye, doesn't it?  It's been quiet around here on my blog because I've been busy trying to soak it all in.  

Just yesterday my boys looked like this...
Now these two look like this...

Plus they now have a little brother 
who squirmed away from the camera...

and another little brother squirming away inside my belly!

Don't you wish you could just slow down time?  Yeah, me too. But since I can't, I'm trying to soak in all the memories I can with these sweet guys.  I cannot wait to see the excitement in their eyes and their cute little squeals when they see what Santa brought them!

Merry Christmas everyone!!  xoxo

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rudolph Cake Pops!

When I saw Rudolph cake pops on Pinterest,  I knew I wanted to make them for my son's 1st grade classmates!  

I thought they came out pretty cute :)  I attached a little tag from The Tomkat Studio {it was a free download last Christmas and I still had some...perfect!} 

Here's how I make my cake pops:
1 box Betty Crocker cake mix
2 spoonfuls frosting
1 box Wilton candy melts
For these Rudolphs, I also used a small batch of royal icing for the eyes, and mini m&ms for the noses.

Bake the cake as directed in a 9x13 pan.  Let cool completely.  Crumble it with a fork and stir in a couple spoonfuls of frosting.  Form into a big ball {it should stay in a ball, but not be too mushy}.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Once you've made all your balls, freeze for about 10 minutes.  Melt your candy melts and dip one lollipop stick in your melted chocolate, just about a half-inch or so, then stick it into a cake ball.  Repeat with all of the balls.  I put them back in the freezer for a few minutes here because if they're too soft, they'll fall right off the sticks when you dip them.  Once hard again, dip one ball in the chocolate, tap it gently on the side of the chocolate bowl to remove excess.  If using m&ms, put it on right away.  Royal icing can be used for decorating once the cake pop is dry.  

Note:  I used to use a very popular recipe that calls for an entire can of frosting, but my cake pops were a mushy mess.  Just a couple of spoonfuls of frosting with a moist cake is plenty!  :)

I'm linking up to tatertots & jello!

Salt Dough Christmas ornaments

My boys and I made Salt Dough Christmas ornaments recently.  We made some for Valentine's Day and loved it, so we were excited to make them again.  We made snowflakes, and the boys chose their favorite shapes, plus they made a few initial ornaments for the boy's cousins that they're exchanging gifts with this year.

Salt dough ornaments are one of our favorite crafts around here because they are fun, easy and inexpensive to make!  Here's the recipe I use:

Salt Dough Ornaments
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/ cup warm water

Combine all ingredients in Kitchen Aid and mix with bread hook until well-combined.  Knead in mixer for about 5-7 minutes until a smooth ball forms.  Sprinkle counter and rolling pin with flour generously, then roll it out and use your favorite cookie cutters to shape.  Use a plastic straw to poke holes for threading ribbon later.  Bake in preheated 250 degree oven for 2-3 hours, until hard but not browned.  Once cooled, paint and glitter your heart out! :)

I'm linking up to tatertots and jello!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Easiest Christmas Toffee!

Long before it was pinned like mad on Pinterest, my sweet friend Melanie made this "toffee" and I went crazy for it!  It is so delicious, and also happens to be one of the easiest and least expensive Christmas treats out there.  I made some for a friend last night and sure enough, it got rave reviews. 

Saltine Cracker "Toffee"

It's almost embarrassing how easy this is... 

About 1 and 1/2 sleeves of Saltine crackers
2 sticks butter {I used one stick salted and one unsalted}
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips {although next time I think I'd use 1 and 1/2 cups of milk chocolate chips instead}

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a jelly roll pan {cookie sheet with 1 inch sides... it's GOT to have sides!} with foil and spray generously with non-stick spray.  Cover entire sheet with a layer of Saltine crackers; set aside.  Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil.  Boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately pour over crackers, spreading to coat.  Bake for 5 minutes {it gets all gooey and bubbly}.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Wait about 5 minutes and then spread the melted chocolate chips to cover the whole pan {I popped mine back in the oven for a couple of minutes to melt them quicker}.  Cool completely, then break into pieces and try not to eat it all yourself! 

Christmas Trees: A Link Party!

Last week was my 1st Link Party I've hosted and it was so fun to see some great Advent Calendars out there... so many different ways to make them (or even store-bought ones) and I love seeing what activities and goodies they're filled with!  I honestly was hoping that if maybe 5 people linked up, that would be a success so I was thrilled to see more than 5.  Thank you to everyone who took the time to link up! 

This week we're linking up Christmas trees.  
To start, let me say that I seriously should NOT be showing your our tree this year because it's hideous!  :) 

I used to have a fancy tree- a "Department store tree"- full of beautiful, shiny, color-coordinated ornaments.  And I loved it {even if the star wasn't straight in any of these pictures!}




Where, oh where is our 2010 picture?  I have no idea :(

But as our boys starting going to preschool, they were so proud of their handmade ornaments they brought home and I love seeing their excitement as they decorated the tree with their gorgeous creations.  

So now our tree is a complete mess hod-podge of homemade ornaments, broken garland and our ornaments are all slowly making their way UP the tree {because a 1-year old and Christmas trees are a lovely combination, right?!} 

These "elves" love to decorate the tree and seeing them admire their work is precious.

So I tell them it's beautiful and I don't move a single ornament, except for moving them up higher to save them from Luke.  Even though Jake pointed to a big clump of ornaments bunched together the other day and said, "Look, there's a candy cane party over here!"

But if I didn't let the boys put up their handmade ornaments, we wouldn't get to smile every time we see this little fish.  Jake made it when he was in the Ocean Room at preschool last year, and it's my favorite ornament on the tree.

You know your tree is sad looking when your Elf toilet papers it and it actually improves its appearance :)

Soooo, on that note... show me your beautiful tree and/or some of your favorite ornaments, tree from past years, whatever you'd like really :)  The party will be open for a week... next week we'll show our mantles and/or favorite shelf and tabletop decorations!

Have a GREAT weekend!
Laurie :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Our Elf on the Shelf Adventures: Part 1

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf?

This is the first year that Senor Elfie has come to our house, and ohhhh, do the boys love him!!

Here's what Senor Elfie has been up to so far this season...

{day 1: He showed up at a special breakfast!}

{day 2; Senor Elfie loves to read Christmas stories}

{day 3: Oh, Senor Elfie!  He toilet papered our tree!}

{day 4:  Senor Elfie was driving Santa's sleigh pulled by reindeer}

{day 5:  Senor Elfie made chocolate chip cookies, but was so busy sneaking chocolate chips that he burned some cookies...  lucky boys had cookies for breakfast!}

{day 6: Senor Elfie was keeping watch over Baby Jesus and the manger}

{day 7:  Senor Elfie was eating popcorn and m&ms while watching his favorite movie.  What's his favorite movie?  Elf, of course!}

What has your Elf been up to?  Leave a  comment or you can link to a post on your Elf!  :)

And thank you to those of you who have linked up your Advent Calendars... it's still open if you'd like to link up.  This Thursday will be Christmas trees & favorite decorations!


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