Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homemade - Thoughtful, Pretty, Quick & Easy!

Celebrating the holidays is wonderful and exhausting all at the same time. If you are like me, you want to be able to relish in each moment without getting lost in the shuffle of it. I am always amazed by friends who spend days, even weeks, before the holidays baking delicious and beautiful treats to give to their friends and family. I always think I will do that. . . . .one day.

I recently found a pin on Pinterest for Pumpkin muffins with ~ get this ~ two ingredients! Really?? Two ingredients? And they actually taste good?? I was skeptical, but since it seemed so easy, I decided it would be worth a try. Here is the original recipe from "Sweet Verbena's" blog and here are the two ingredients. One cake mix, I chose butter yellow and one can of pumpkin. No liquids, no eggs. Easy, peasy!

Pinterest Pin from "Sweet-Verbena's" Blog!

A few pinners who had tried this recipe said that the pumpkin flavor was very subtle. Since I like pumpkin a lot, AND I can't do any thing as directed, I added three of my own ingredients. . . . . Just to make sure it really tasted like pumpkin bread!

Three extra ingredients!

1/2 cup Chopped Pecans (or other nuts you may enjoy); 1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice; 1/2 tsp. Saigon Cinnamon. I just love the flavor and aroma of Saigon Cinnamon. It is heavenly. If you don't have Saigon Cinnamon, plain 'ole cinnamon is just fine!

Mix the spices and the nuts in the cake mix before you add the canned pumpkin. Mix the ingredients well. The recipe says use a mixer, but my wooden spoon and a little elbow grease worked just fine. The batter will be thick. You will need to spoon it into your paper muffin cups. Instead of muffin cups, I used silicone baking molds. I love my Wilton baking molds! They are a great way to make an individual portion size without conforming to the usual cupcake. Here is the silicone mold I used.

Step 2 - Wilton Christmas themed silicone mold

Spray the mold with cooking spray before spooning in the batter. Only fill the cups about half full. Bake them at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Let the treats cool for about 20 minutes before popping them out of the molds. Cool them completely on a wire rack. Once cool, they are ready to wrap up!

Step One: Grab your supplies - the cooled treats, Plain paper muffin cups and Treat Bags. I found nice holiday treat bags at Hobby Lobby on clearance last year.

Step 3

Step Two: Flatten out the muffin cup and put your treat on it. Then wrap it up in the treat bag and cut off any excess bag at the top.

Step 4

Your finished treats will look like this. Aren't they lovely?

Step 5

Once all your treats are wrapped, find something you love to put them in. I am partial to traditional Christmas red, green and gold. I had this pretty Christmas tin with handles. I used a damask fabric napkin to line the tin. You could also use any fabric or a tea towel that would coordinate with your container. Put your own creative twist on it!

Step 6

Fill the container with your treats. Since my husband was taking this for a get-together, I also added some festive paper napkins. I fanned them along the back of the tin before I added the treats. It was functional but it also added an extra pretty flair! Here is how it looked when I was finished. Ta Da! A beautiful, homemade gift to give a neighbor, your child's teacher, a co-worker, or friend!

Wa La! Easy to make treats and lovely paper napkins

Fill with easy to make treats!

If you like making things but don't think you have time, try this! This recipe is super simple and best of all the results are delicious! The texture of the treats is more "cake" like than "bread" like. I made the treats in the evening and let them cool overnight. I wrapped them up and put them in the tin the morning my husband needed them. The whole process took about an hour, not counting the baking and cooling time. Most of my shopping trips take at least three hours!

Just a few ingredients from your pantry and some supplies from your craft stash will produce an awesome homemade gift! This is also a perfect project to do with your kids and it is a great way to begin teaching them the art of thoughtful, homemade gift giving.

Two ingredients. Simple.

I am all about handmade gifts. I love them because they say "I care enough to take my time to make something special just for you". The fact that it was quick and easy can be your little secret! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Are you ready for Christmas? I'm not! Well, let me rephrase that. My heart is there, but my mind and body just can't keep up. I have lists of things I need to do, need to finish. Gift making, decorating, baking, cleaning, wrapping, and the lists go on.

We got a lot of snow earlier this week and it has been really cold. This usually puts me right in the Christmas spirit. My boys had two snow days and my plan was to get our tree up and decorated, hang the garlands and finish the gifts I am making. It's now Wednesday and I have had Christmas music playing, but just can't get motivated to "Deck the Halls". Would all this snow inspire you to decorate your home? After shoveling, I was kind of pooped. 14 inches is a lot of snow! I felt more like sitting by the fire with my cup of Hot Cocoa and Bailey's.

First snow of the season

Since I seem to be looking for ways to put off digging out all of the decorations, I thought I would take a minute to tell you about a great give-away over at Plumrose Lane. If you have never visited Sharon's awesome blog, you need to Stop. Don't read any further. Go there now! Sharon has the most awesome free vintage inspired backgrounds and blog elements. I just love Sharon's art and am grateful she shares her talent! Her designs work wonderfully with Blogger and if you are new to blogging like I am, she has many tutorials to help you navigate. If you are looking for a blog "make-over" and love the look and feel of all things whimsical and vintage, visit Plumrose Lane right away. You won't be disappointed!

While you are there, enter to win one of five awesome prizes in this great give-away! There are many ways to enter. When you place your entry, please make sure you tell Sharon I sent you! Include my name in your comment and she will give me an extra entry! See? We both have a chance to win! :) The last day to enter is Sunday, December 11th.

PrL Holiday Giveaway

Okay, I am off to dig the boxes out of the garage. As long as another "snowset" doesn't distract me. What's a "snowset" you ask?

A perfect "snowset"!

THIS is a "snowset"! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even if it's only outside! :)