Christmas Cookie Recipe and Gift Idea: Santa’s Sleigh Cookies

There is still time to make this treat as a nice gift for any child. This year, I made some cookie sleighs! You can involve your little ones like I did, by giving them some cookie dough to make the cookies with cookie cutters or let them help with the festive decoration or fill the sleighs with goodies!

ready sleigh
All ready sleigh!

You will need:

  1. Your favorite sugar cookie or gingerbread recipe, or use mine
  2. Sleigh cookie cutters or a template. I will give the link to that at the end of the post.
  3. Your favorite icing, or use mine
  4. Candy canes
  5. Decorations such as colorful sprinkles
  6. Food coloring (optional)
  7. Little treats to put into the sleighs

Eggless cookie recipe:

I used my favorite cookie recipe which is egg-less:

–          370 g flour

–          165 g sugar which has been through the food processor or blender

–          ¼ teaspoon salt

–          2 teaspoons vanilla extract

–          225 g butter, cold

–          30 g cream cheese

In a large bowl, mix the first four ingredients. Now add little by little the butter and knead with your hand. It will be a crumbled mix first. When you have added all the butter, mix in the cream cheese. Now, part the dough into two and wrap in clear wrap foil. Chill the dough for about half an hour. Roll the dough out as thin or thick as you like and cut out your cookies either with cookie cutters or using the template for the sleigh (which you can find here)

Put the cookies on a backing paper lined baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven for about 180 degrees C for about 8-10 minutes, until their light brown. Let them cool completely before decorating the cookies or assembling the sleigh.

This recipe is quite healthy, just as I want my kids’ snacks to be!

For icing I used my recipe, but any icing you would like is fine. Even store-bought is great, as long as it is usable as “glue” for the cookies. My recipe is a little runny, so it was a little troublesome to assemble the sleigh. Maybe using some other recipe is better, but I like mine since it has no raw eggs.

My favorite icing recipe:

–          5-6 tablespoons of meringue powder (I buy meringues and powder it in the blender)

–          250 g confectioners sugar

–          About half a cup of water

Use your stand mixer to mix all the ingredients, but add the water little by little to see how much it will take to have a thick icing. Thickness is crucial for using as glue, while thinner icing is used for decorating. If it gets too thin, use more meringue powder or confectioners sugar.

I assembled first and then decorated the cookies. It may not be the best idea if you want to make some more fancy decorations. I am a simple girl, so my décor is simple, too J

Steps to assemble the christmas cookie santa sleighs:

Step 1: Let your pieces cool down completely

sleigh step 1
Everything ready to begin the assembly

Step 2: Put some icing on the bottom of the sides pieces and glue the to the bottom piece. Hold for as long as necessary until they stay in place. Let it dry for at least half an hour.

sleigh step 2
Glue first the two sides to the bottom piece
sleigh step 3
Let it dry until everything is secure

Step 3: Put some glue on the three sides of the last pieces and slide them to the front and the back of the sleigh. They should be glued with a slight angle, so there will be more space for the candy. Keep them in place for 1-2 minutes and add icing if needed to close any gaps. Let it dry for at least 1 hour.

sleigh step 4
Assemble the back and the front of the sleigh

Step 4: Turn the sleigh upside down and glue on the two candy canes which you will have unwrapped before. Let it dry for half an hour and turn it on the correct side. Let it dry a little longer to be sure. I recommend putting the sleigh on a piece of cardboard for secure transportation.

Step 5: Decorate in any way you want. Let it dry and put in some candy.

ready sleigh
All ready sleigh!

Step 6: If you want, wrap it up and ready is your gift!

sleighs ready
Gifts ready!

The template I found at Lila Loa, here. You will find also great step by step instruction to make their beautiful sleighs if you have the talent!

Here another photo with a cute idea:

sleigh with reindeers
Sleigh with reindeers (image source)

Have fun making these!!! I wish to each and every one of you a Merry Christmas! Enjoy these happy season to the fullest!

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Kids Christmas Craft With Carboard Paper Tubes

We have been busy the last days, since Christmas is on our doorstep! One of the craft we did was making some christmas people out of cardboard paper tubes! Those are so versatile, I did never thing about them that way.

You can use whatever tubes you can find, from paper towel rolls to toilet paper rolls everything goes. We also used some googly eyes, but you can paint the eyes on. So, you’ll need, other than the tubes and colored paper, glue and scissors and maybe some items for decoration.

figures out of tubes
Figures out of tubes (image source)

When you’ve decided what you want to make, measure the paper and cut it the length of the tube. Then put some glue on the tube and wrap it with the paper. If you don’t have colored paper, just paint on some plain white paper. Or you can paint directly on the tube or even use it as it is.

The tubes can also be used to create wreaths or ornaments and some even use them as gift tags, napkin holders or treat or gift boxes; when they are beautiful crafted and decorated that is.

This beautiful wreath is easy to make. Who could imagine what you used for them?

Wreath out of tubes
Wreath out of tubes (image source)

If you take just one of those “flowers” and use some glitter, they can become ornaments for your tree!

tube ornaments
Tube ornaments (image source)

Here are some instructions on how to make little santas to use as gift tags or ornaments, even to hold some treat or gift themselves. You can see also a little gift package out of a plain tube tied beautifully with a ribbon. Aren’t they just adorable??? And they are so simple to make!!!

how to make some santa ornaments
How to make some santa ornaments (image source)

And finally!!! My son’s creations with a little help from me cutting the paper pieces.

My boy's tube creations
My boy’s tube creations

Try it and have some easy, inexpensive, creative fun making these or try making easy Christmas ornaments from dried fruits!!!

Beautiful Christmas Decorations And Ornaments Out Of Dried Fruits

Here I am again with my dried fruits! I already have written about dried fruits ornaments and flowers made out of citrus peels. What can I say, I just love the look of them and how easy they are to make! Did you know that you can use apples and pears as well as citrus fruits? And some people cover the slices after drying with clear craft varnish or decoupage glue, to keep them for a long time.

You can use the dried fruit for making a beautiful christmas wreaths and spiced, with cinnamon or cloves, ornaments. Those dried fruits are great additions to garlands and they smell beautifully! I really suggest to dry them on the radiators now that it is winter. That way you save money from burning your oven.

dried fruits
Dried citrus fruits, apples and pears (image source)

Wreaths

dried fruits wreaths
Dried fruits wreaths (image source)

Ornaments

citrus and spice ornament
Citrus and spice ornament (image source)

Ornaments, bells and favors

Dried fruit bells
Dried fruit bells (image source)

Garlands for your homes decoration

dried fruit and spices garland
Dried fruit and spices garland (image source)

And another idea

christmas garland and wreath
Christmas garland and wreath (image source)

Such beautiful ideas!!! Give it a try!

Healthy Toddler Snack: Whole Wheat Apple Muffins Recipe

Apple muffins
Apple muffins

Sunday afternoon is increasingly becoming cake time lately. Or muffin time! Of course, always with the help of my kids. They get really excited every time, they just love to help! And what great helpers they are! I searched for an apple muffin recipe, which would be on the healthier side. After finding some recipes, I decided to go with the one from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/04/whole-wheat-apple-muffins/ , which I adapted a bit to fit my taste and the ingredients I had at home. They came out delicious; we loved every bite of them.
So, here is the recipe for about 15 muffins

Ingredients for this healthy toddler snack:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ or less teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 medium eggs
¼ cup milk
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon dark chocolate
1 teaspoon butter

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 220o C. Line your muffin tin.
In a bowl, mix together the first six ingredients. In another bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until somewhat fluffy. Next add the eggs and mix well. You might need to scrape the sides. Next add the dry ingredients, the milk and the apples and combine, taking care not to over-mix the dough.
Divide the dough into the muffin cups and bake for about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to about 200o C and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the famous toothpick comes out clean. Take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Then take them out of the tin and let them cool on a wire rack.
Melt the dark chocolate and combine with the butter. Scoop the chocolate into a polybag and cut off the tip. Drizzle the chocolate over the muffins and enjoy!!!

DIY Penguin Finger Puppets Craft for Kids

ready pinguins
DIY penguin finger puppets

This one was shared by a close friend of mine and her kids! They did a wonderful job, I can tell you that! Thank you so much for sharing!!! We can’t wait to make some craft together, soon!

So, it is quite simple to make the penguins and a lot of fun, too!!! You will need stuff that you will have probably already in your house:

–          Black cardboard or paper for the pinguin’s body

–          White cardboard or paper for the eyes and belly

–          Orange cardboard or paper for the nose

–          Other colors of cardboard or paper  and yarn if you’d like to add some more details

–          Paper glue

–          Scissors

–          A black or other color marker for the eyes

–          A pencil for tracing, if you need to

To get started, you’ll need to cut out of the black cardboard the pinguin’s body and cut out two holes for the fingers. The shape of the pinguin’s body is quite simple, you will not have any trouble with it, but if you want, first trace the shape of the body with a pencil and then cut it out Out of the white cardboard cut some oval eyes and the belly, like shown in the image. Also, cut a small triangle out of the orange cardboard.

Pinguin and items
All ready items to be glues on the penguin’s body

Now, you can glue all elements on the pinguin’s body. You can make him take on any expression you can think off.

pinguin2
One penguin
pinguin3
Second penguin

Now, take the marker and draw some details on the eyes to make your penguin alive, and ready you are to begin playing with them!!!

You could also add some other decorations to them, if you would like to. A scarf, a hat or funny hairs out of yarn, would be a funny addition, don’t you think?

Have fun!!!

The original inspiration came from here: http://www.mamakid.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1107:2010-11-11-21-05-39&catid=97:2011-02-24-21-29-16&Itemid=164

Great hand-made gift idea: DIY Heart-Shaped Mini Album

heart shaped mini album
Heart shaped mini album (image source)

This idea is just beautiful, especially as a gift for the grandparents. It has some work involved, though, but I guess it is worth the effort!
I guess you could make it somewhat more long-lasting, like covering it with some self-adhesive foil? I don’t really know.
Anyway, you will need some 12×12 kraft cardstock, glue, a scissor, patterned papers, photos and embellishments.
Fold the cardstock four ways and draw a half heart and then cut it out. This you will need to do two times, so in the end you will have 4 hearts. The next step is to make hearts out of the patterned papers, using the cardboard hearts as a base. Then, glue the cardboard hearts together, so you will have a 3D heart. Now you can glue the patterned papers onto the cardboard hearts. Finally, decorate your pages with photos, dried flowers, whatever you think would look nice and are worth being there or are telling a story. Now you could ( Note: this is just an idea that I thought of, I haven’t tried it or seen it!!!) use self-adhesive foil in order for the album to become longer lasting.

Step-by-step instructions
Step-by-step instructions (image source)

Is that a great gift for Christmas for your loved ones or what?
For the original post and detailed step-by-step instructions and images, click on this link:
http://americancrafts.typepad.com/studio/2011/03/heart-shaped-mini-album-tutorial-by-leslie.html

Romantic Dried Fruit Decoration Idea: Orange Peel Roses

dried orange peel roses
Dried Orange Peel Roses (image source)

Romantic Dried Fruit Decoration Idea: Orange Peel Roses

Orange’s peels are very versatile, as it seems! Remember the Toddler Fun Making Ornaments With Dried Citrus Fruits article? Here is another idea on how to use the peel. Make amazing flowers out of them. And the kids can easily help at any stage. Just the peeling will be have to be done by a grown up. And maybe when you need to stabilize something with a toothpick, you should do that, too, if your kids are not old enough. All the other stuff – making the oranges, arranging them, dust them with some confectioner sugar, and eating the oranges, of course (lots of vitamins and Vitamin C!) – all can be done by the kids! So, here is how to do it and some ideas to display them. And if you’re interested in making dried fruit ornaments for cheap christmas decorations that are natural and earthy, take a look at our related article.

How to make orange peel roses

It is really easy. Peel the oranges carefully and then just roll them up. Ready are the roses!  When they are fresh, they are great decor for salads or other dishes, and if you let them dry, they can be used for decorating your home. By adding some essential oils or cinnamon sticks, they will make the room smell wonderful.

How to make orange peel roses
How to make orange peel roses (image source)

Decoration ideas

They can become pieces of art

Framed orange peel roses
Framed orange peel roses (image source)

Roses of other citrus fruit peels

You can use other citrus fruits as well. Then you will have a nice variety in flower sizes and colors!

Roses out of citrus fruit peels
Roses out of citrus fruit peels (image source)

Other flowers out of citrus fruit peels

And lastly, by cutting the peel on the one side (zick-zack or curves) and then rolling them up, you will get some beautiful flowers, even other than roses!

Various flowers out of orange peels

Various flowers out of orange peels (image source)

 

DIY balance beam for toddlers using carpets

rolled carpets
Carpet rolls (image source)

This one was discovered by my kids. Here in Greece, most of us have winter carpets and – not that necessary – summer carpets. So, the time came for us to roll out our winter carpets, as annoying as it is to try to get some play dough out of it. We rolled the first one out, but, something – I don’t remember what – happened and we let the second one rolled up on the floor. The minute the kids saw it, the fun began! Up and down, back and forth, crawling, running or balancing, they couldn’t get enough of it!!! It is kind of safe, since it has almost no height and we have it on the other carpet, so even if they should fall – which has not happened yet – it won’t be a hard fall.

It is so funny! You go out and buy all this stuff for them, only to find out that an everyday item could be so much more entertaining. And it is good for gross motor skill and balance skill development, too!!!

So, we let the carpet a few days rolled up, luckily the weather is warm enough until now. And also, the carpets are so old, we don’t mind if they get fed up some more… after all, it’s highly unlikely that they will survive the next few years.

If you have somewhere an old carpet, bring it into the room, tie the ends with some tape so it doesn’t roll open, and let your kids enjoy it!

DIY balance beam
DIY balance beam

Ikea Hack: How To Make A DIY Kids Bookshelf

diy books shelves
Our children’s new book shelves

Ikea Hack: How To Make A DIY Kids Bookshelf

I didn’t have any place to arrange my children’s books, and I certainly didn’t want to spend

Our DIY books shelvesa lot of money to store them. While surfing the web one day, I came across this idea and the day came to make it! In that post they painted the shelves white, we on the other hand thought to make them cheerful and colourful!

What did we do to make these kids bookcase?

First of all we bought some inexpensive selves used for storing spice containers. We used the ones from IKEA, which cost 3.49 € each here in Greece. I am sure there are other selves suited for this as well, but those were used also in the original article I got the idea from, so I used them, too.

ikea bekvam shelf
Ikea shelf (image source)

Next, we bought some plastic colours – they were cheaper than the made for wood ones. We went for the colours green, yellow and red and our super-dad painted them.

shelf and paints
Everything is ready to start painting

After they were complete dry, our dad put them together. Although first we wanted to make one shelf green, one yellow and one red, our dad assembled it using different colors – brilliant!

Ready shelfs
All colourful, dry and ready

Then he got his drill and put them up on the wall. Come to think of it, all the hard work was done by my hubby. Thank you so much for that!!!

And here is the result! Colorful, vibrant kids bookshelfes, perfect for any kids room! Aren’t they great?

childrens book shelves
All ready children’s book shelves

The kids loved them, they immediately wanted to start reading their books!!!

Fun and Healthy Kids Recipe: Meatballs on a Stick

meatballs on a stick
Meatballs on a stick

So, that is a photo of meatballs I made following my meatball recipe. As I have said in another post, my kids like their food on a stick, so that is exactly what I did! Now that my little girl is a little older, I cooked them in the oven.

I am a little reluctant to upload my own photos, since I am really not in any way a good photographer, nor am I a – even remotely close to – professional cook. I have no idea how to place dishes, how to arrange the food, how to use light, etc. Really, no clue whatsoever!

But, despite that, I will from time to time post some photos of the things I cook or make with my kids, asking you not do judge them too harshly 🙂