Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hot Cocoa Cup Cookies

Every year our family takes some fun food to our "Christmas Crunch" time at church or other times during the year.   You can see some of our other fun foods here.  
Fun Foods We Have Made

This year, I had seen cute little cups made of marshmallows on pinterest, so we experimented and made some.  They were very popular-especially with the little ones. :)

The first step is to make or buy some cookies that will work as a "saucer" for the cups.  I wanted them to be about 3" in diameter and thankfully, I had a cookie cutter that size.

I used the next smaller size cookie cutter to press a design into the edge, although I ended up covering it up with frosting. 

 I wanted to have a scalloped edge of some kind... and this worked.  Plain circles would work fine... or buy some cookies at the store of a similar size. 

Next, spread some chocolate on the top, as shown in the picture. It could be chocolate frosting.... or I used some homemade fudge that didn't set up quite right.  :)

I didn't know what to do about the little marshmallows on the top... I was figuring this out as I went....  I ended up just tearing off little pieces from a big marshmallow and it worked fine. I put 3 little marshmallows into each "cup". 

Next, I used a sharp knife to dig 2 little holes in the side of a regular sized big marshmallow-not a big hole, but enough to allow the broken candy cane handle to go into the marshmallow.

 I had to shop around to find little candy canes... a couple of places had some that were too big, or the arch was too much for these marshmallows...  Finally, we found some that would work.

Just break off the end, so there is a U-shaped piece. Push into the side of the marshmallow. Yes, it can make it a bit oddly-shaped. and the bottom wasn't flat, but it worked.

See how we used the leftover pieces of broken candy cane here....
Easy Edible Doors!

I got tired of doing these one at a time, so started a bit of an assembly line method...

 I put a layer of white frosting on each cookie-saucer, then decorated it and put some matching decoration on the cup.  I did have some decorations - the stars were from some after 4th of July sales, but I did also buy a package of 4 different candy decorations. If you have time and desire to do it, you could use only frosting also, but I was in a hurry.

 I put extra frosting on the bottom of the "cup" before I put it on the saucer... and we learned to use that frosting to make the cup as level as possible.  The bottoms of the "cups" weren't flat due to the candy cane handles.

We had so many comments on these... and the younger kids LOVED them and even used them as play food before they ate them. 

 Are these simple and easy and fast? Well.... no... but they aren't hard either... just a bit time-consuming.  We got a lot faster as we went and as we figured out how to do them.  We made 29 of them, so that took a while, but we were very glad we made them.

   These are great for Christmas or New Year's, but they would also be wonderful for a sledding party or Valentine's Day or a summer garden party.... or a little girl's tea party.  :)   There are so many possibilities with these.

We served them on stands, but they would also be great served in other ways. They can be made all the same... or varied as we did.

By they way, you don't have to be too fussy with these... as my son reminded me, "It won't take long for the kids to eat them.":)

Thank you for visiting my blog today... and I hope you and your family remember to give thanks to God for the wonderful gift of His Son, Jesus, during this season. What a blessing that Jesus came, and lived, died and rose again...defeating death and sin... so that we could have eternal life. That is the best gift ever.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Apple-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

My family really loves cinnamon rolls and I also like to experiment. Last year, I experimented and came up with these:
Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls

That post  has been my
Number 1 post on my blog! My family also loved it which is why I posted about it.

Well, this year... I experimented again! :)  Instead of using apple butter, I decided to use apples and pecans... and these are also a hit at our house.  The in-house reviews are totally positive and these do not last long at all. They are moist and full of wonderful rich buttery flavor and pieces of apple and pecans. Such a delicious roll.  I love it when an experiment works. :)

So, I am sharing my new experiment with you. We still love the Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls too, but I think these new Apple-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls are my new favorite. I love the bits of apple and especially the wonderful crunch of pecans in the rich cinnamon roll flavors.

The first step in making these is to start with some bread dough. You can buy frozen bread dough or make your own. I like to use this easy recipe:
Basic Homemade Bread Recipe

Choose how much of it you want to turn into cinnamon rolls and roll it out. I love having lots of rolls in my cinnamon rolls so I use a large sheet of dough, as shown.

This would probably be about all of the dough from one batch of the above recipe.

Here are the apple pieces... I mixed them with cinnamon and let them sit in a bowl until I was ready for them.

That worked great, but the next time, I skipped this step and just put the diced apples on the cinnamon roll dough and that worked just as well and saved a step... and a bowl to wash. :)  I love cutting corners on dishes when I can.

I use the diced apples from about 3-5 apples for this amount of cinnamon rolls. 

The next step is to spread butter all over the dough.  I probably used about 1 1/4 sticks on this amount of dough... it was about 24" x 24", so it was quite large. You can use more or less butter... depending on your preference. 
 This picture shows 3 steps...
1. Sprinkle with white sugar all over the buttered dough....
2. Put brown sugar all over that layer and flatten it a bit....
3. Sprinkle lots of cinnamon all over.

 Note: the picture shows my first time of making these Apple-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls and there was cinnamon on the dough AND on the apples. The next time, I only put cinnamon on the dough, so I used a lot more cinnamon than shown here. Again... it is up to your taste.

The apple pieces... with or without cinnamon.... go on next.

Then sprinkle pecan pieces... lots of them are wonderful. I did less the first time and more the second and the second batch was definitely better with the extra pecans.

Time to roll the dough... start and one end and start rolling. If it sticks, use a pancake turner (as shown) to loosen the dough and keep rolling... 

Yum..... lots of good flavors packed in there. 

Keep rolling all the way... 

Now there is one "log" of cinnamon roll dough. 

Just a big roll...

Time to cut... use a sharp knife and cut slices... I did mine about 3/4"-1" thick. 

Put the slices into a greased baking dish. You can see here that there is space between the rolls... that is okay... they will rise.  It may take an hour or two.

Here they are after time to rise... they have filled in those empty spaces nicely.

I bake the cinnamon rolls at 350 degree for about 30 minutes or so... sometimes a little less or more. 

After they are baked, take them out of the oven and let them cool.

Mix up some glaze or thin frosting and drizzle it all over... I use powdered sugar, pinch of salt, vanilla, a little milk and some butter. Mix it all up until it is rather runny and drizzle with a fork or spoon. I was in a hurry and used a spoon... as you can tell.  :) 

That big cinnamon log roll I started with made 3 of these 9" x 13" pans of cinnamon rolls. 

 The frosting can be put on the cinnamon rolls after they are completely cooled... or when they are still warm. I like to do it when they are still warm since it goes down inside a bit and adds to the moist goodness.

 I hope you get a chance to try these. Don't worry about exact measures...  they are tasty with more or less sugar... and the apples add some sweetness also.

These CAN be frozen and used at a later time. It is a good idea and I have done that before...what a treat to put a pan of frozen cinnamon rolls in the oven to warm for a wonderful breakfast snack. In my house; however, they usually do not make it to the freezer any more as they get eaten so fast. :)

 Thank you for visiting today. I hope you have a wonderful week. :)

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Money-Saving Tip for DOORS

  We all have doors and they tend to be used a lot.... especially in a home like ours where there is a big family. Those door latches really get a workout and we expect them to keep working well.

  Once in a while, the hinges may start to squeak and it is easy to oil them and stop the squeak.... thankfully.

Other problems can also arise... like having trouble getting the key into the lock... or getting the key to turn and unlock the door. Did you know that the problem can many times be solved very simply by just lubricating the lock?  Just spray the lubricant into the lock, put the key in and work it a bit... maybe repeat... and it can work great again.

This has worked on different types of locks... and it works great.

Sometimes the latch can stick also... and with a bit of lubrication added and then moving the handle back and forth, it can start to work smoothly again.

I knew these things... after all, I grew up with a dad who can fix "anything".  His way of doing things is rapidly becoming rare and will eventually become extinct, though.  We live in a culture of "throw it away and buy a new one".  Though I resist that thought, it has actually become something that is hard to avoid as it can be more expensive to fix some things anymore than it is to just buy a new one. Also, many times we don't know how to fix whatever it is on our own, so we give in and buy a new one.  Sigh.

We have had a door knob on the bathroom door that would sometimes lock when the door shut.... not just when we actually locked it. This knob didn't have a key, only a button that turned to lock or unlock... It worked most of the time, but sometimes needed to be turned a couple of times to work.

 This was a bit frustrating, but it worked... until the day we faced an uncertain length of stay in that bathroom since the lock engaged and would NOT disengage, no matter how many times we turned that handle or the lock button.  After a few moments of panic, it finally opened. Whew.  I immediately put some strong tape over the latch to hold it in and keep the door from latching again.  It became urgent to get a new doorknob.... but since this was the master bathroom, not the main one, we used it that way for a few days.

Then, my parents visited... and Dad noticed the tape and asked if there was a problem, so we explained. He said he could probably fix it, but we doubted it this time.... we had given that door knob enough chances! We humored Dad though.... and he fixed it.  He said it just needed a little lubrication... or a lot of it in this case. He sprayed it into the latch area and around the lock area and moved the parts until they worked smoothly again.   I hadn't known the lubricating would help the door lock on this type of door as well, but it did... and it saved us the cost of a new door knob.

Dad said this is the stuff he likes to use... no, I am not selling it, nor am I getting anything for showing this brand.... just sharing what my Dad has found works well for him. I am thankful to know that and not have to shop around on my own for a good product.

I plan to buy a can for our house... and I am thinking it would be a good idea to periodically lubricate the door latches and locks as a preventative measure to keep them working well for a long time. I like that thought better than waiting until we are locked in... or out... of someplace.  :)

 I thought this may be of help to some of you also.  I know I sure appreciate those little tips that save money here and there. Thank you for visiting... and I hope you have a great week.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Garage Sale Series-Hints & Tips

Garage Sales are such a blessing...  and we have had a LOT of garage sales over the years. We have tried this and that... and learned much. In this post, I am sharing some hints and tips about having a garage sale.

Garage Sales are not all the same... and they shouldn't be either... we are all unique and the way we sell our stuff can be also. We can learn from others, but I encourage you to develop your own style.

I don't have any specific order to these hints and tips... and they are not hard and fast "rules".. just things that have worked for us. :)

~One thing we always try to do is to have music going during the garage sale...  I hate going to a sale where everything is totally quiet and anything I touch in the garage sale is easily heard... it is very uncomfortable. I want my customers to be comfortable while they look... music helps.

~Do not play music overly loud... it doesn't need to be soft, but I have been to sales where the volume of the music hurt my ears... and my kids also complained that it hurt their ears... we left. 

~Don't cease talking to the person helping you man the garage sale when people come to the sale, so that there is an uncomfortable silence-you can continue to chat a bit, but be very aware of anything your customer needs. Do NOT stare at or watch the shopper very obviously either!!!!  Be ready to speak to them and say hi, but allow them a sense of privacy as they shop even as you do watch a bit.

~Don't comment on every item your customer touches and tell them the story and try to sell the item. Respect your customer's ability to shop and don't intrude on their shopping... I have had people do this to me to where I didn't want to look at anything else.. and I left. Allow your customer to shop in peace and they may buy more. There's no need to "strong-arm" them.

~Be aware of any trip hazards in your sale and remove them.. or identify them with a sign or colored duct tape or something. Give warnings... like "watch your step".

~Price every item in some way... either with tags or signs.
~Do not put fragile glassware on a card table... use sturdy surfaces for that.

~Put jewelry, cell phones or easily stolen items near where you check people out.

~Have a specific table area for checking people out. Also, realize that some people may want to "make a pile" while they continue shopping... that can be done on one end of your checkout table.

~Have plenty of light... use lamps or extra fixtures and highlight tables and items. If you have plenty of light, people can see things better... and we find we sell more... stuff looks better with enough light.

~UNPLUG GARAGE DOORS after they are opened for the sale.  We always do this as the thought of someone accidentally pushing the garage door button and the door coming down during the garage sale... on someone or scaring someone is not fun and could be very dangerous.

~Post several signs saying "Not Responsible For Accidents" prominently.

~Save up grocery bags... or ask for some from family and friends... this is helpful for those who buy a few things. If you are short on them, don't use them for only 2-3 items.

~ We post signs saying "No Smoking" "No Pets"

~Do not let your dog (or cat) out at your sale... they can be a trip hazard and they can also bite... EVEN if it is a dog that "never bites".  My son was bitten by a dog at a sale,... a dog the owner said, "never bites anyone", but it was the 2nd day of the sale....  The dog may be overwhelmed with so many people... and may feel protective, etc. Also, not everyone loves dogs.... and since my son was bitten at a sale and we are no longer willing to trust that an owner has complete control of their animal, we do not shop at any sales where there is a dog. If you have your dog out, you will probably lose some customers.

~By the way, one really weird thing that happened to me... and I'm sure you would know better.... but these people didn't...  I walked up toward a big garage sale and there was a teenage guy with a scarf around his neck. I though that was odd with the warm weather, but some people are strange, so I continued up. When I got close enough, I realized the "scarf" was a big snake all wrapped around his neck!!!!!  I immediately turned and left.. he and his mom said he would put it away, but there was NO WAY I would shop there after that. Keep the pets away from the garage sale.

~Tablecloths are great to put on the tables...  plain or simple patterned tablecloths work best. A tablecloth that is too busy can look overwhelming with lots of stuff on it.

~Tablecloths (plastic or cloth) or sheets can be used to cover items on the walls and shelves of the garage that are not for sale.... we use clothespins to do this.

~Though a garage sale CAN be put together quickly in a couple of days, it can be helpful to start weeks before the garage sale... put items you want to sell into a tote in a certain spot and keep adding to it as you find items as you are doing your regular cleaning. Sometimes I will price them and put them into totes early... then on garage sale set up day, things are much easier. This year, due to my greatly decreased energy, I started about 6 weeks early and kept piling up totes as I did a little on different days. It really helped conserve my energy.  This pile of totes is stuff for the garage sale... and it is all priced. Whew. :)  This is not ALL of the garage sale stuff though!  :) Yes, this is the same garage where we had the garage sale.. this is before we set up, obviously. :)

~Have change on hand... lots of ones and fives, a couple of tens, some quarters, dimes and nickels... and maybe a few pennies.  We usually try to have $100 worth of change... it doesn't take long to need that much... especially when we have several people give us a $20 bill to pay for $3.50 or $2 .. it is better to have too much change than not enough.

~Use good signs to direct people to your sale.

~A canopy cover is helpful... great to shield from the heat and sun... or from rain.

~Boards can be used to make a backdrop to your tables... and shield stuff that isn't for sale... a lattice board is great for this... and we have just pinned a tablecloth to the back of it.... and it looks great. Check the garage or basement for what you have and use that... no need to buy things especially for the garage sale. A board with a tablecloth over it can look great.

~Use what you have... make tables from dining room chairs facing each other with a board on top of the seats of both...  a door works too.... For several years, we always took the basement door off and used that for a table. :)   Benches to the table work also... or patio furniture.  Empty totes with lids can be tables.

~People will notice things more when they are not on the floor... putting them up on tables or boxes gets items to an easier height for people to see and shop.

~It works well to sell in increments of 25c... for example 25c, 50c, 75c, $1.00, $1.25, $1.50, $2.00.  I used to sometimes mark things 5c, 15c, 35c and my husband hated it, so I stopped. It is really easy to add things up when you do it in increments of 25c... and we do also have many 10c items.  

~We have sold popsicles for a couple of garage sales when it was REALLY HOT out.... Bad idea for us... there were only a few who did this, but those few ate (or allowed their child to eat) the popsicles while they shopped... and got sticky drops on the floor or garage sale items. We don't do that anymore. :)

~Putting like things together can make it easier to shop... like housewares together, etc. More on that in  Garage Sale Series-Displays

~Take large bills into the house

~Have at least 2 people "manning" the sale at a time... this helps with safety and security.

~Use a "fanny pack" or some other way to keep the money on your person.  If you use a money box, do NOT EVER leave it unattended - they do get stolen. I would never leave it with a child either... robberies do happen and a child would look like an easy target.

~Sometimes people will work together to distract you while someone else will steal something. You can't watch everything... and theft does happen, but it does help to be aware.

~Folding screens can be helpful for the garage sale... and we use them to form "doors" to close off our living area... We just pull the folding screen closed before we open the house door to go inside... here, the house door is closed and the folding screens are open. It does help to preserve privacy for the family.

~Don't just sit and wait and watch customers... stay busy tidying tables and filling in empty spots... don't let your sale look "picked over" or people won't look as much.  Take down tables, if you have too little to fill them.

~Advertising on Craigslist is free and easy... and many people look there for garage sales, so it can increase the number of people at your sale.

~Take your signs down after the sale...  we also take ours down each night, but that is a personal choice.. unless your city bans leaving them up overnight... check the city code for sales.

~A free pile helps... it helps to draw people and it also helps with getting rid of some things that you don't want to bother selling.... we tend to add to our free pile as the sale goes on. :)

~Rearranging your sale a bit can change the whole look... and people will notice things they didn't see before... this especially helps for the people who make more than one trip to the sale.

~The last hour or so of the sale is a good time to "consolidate" items... move things, tidy up, restock the inside tables to make things look more interesting inside the garage and doing this before you close up helps as it removes some items from outside and you have less to box up for the night. It also helps because that last hour that may be slow, but this makes it still productive and your sale will look nice and fresh for the morning. 

~If someone buys something and leaves to get a bigger vehicle... planning to come right back to pick up their large item... like a table, dresser, etc.... always get their name and phone number. If they don't return, you have a way to contact them... sometimes people forget how to find your sale... especially if they plan to come back after the sale closes.

~Clothes can be put on tables or hung up... they get noticed better when hung up, so as something sells, it helps to put more up.

~We keep batteries on hand to test anything that takes batteries, but we do not sell the items with the batteries inside.

~I alert everyone who is manning the sale that we do not give the hangers, lightbulbs or batteries away with sale items.

~I also let them know that the picture stands do not go with items... they are either sold separately or they are not for sale. 

~Be friendly, smile and have fun. I hope you have a great garage sale. There are so many other possible hints and tips... feel free to share yours in the comments. :) 

Garage Sale Series

Garage Sale Series-Selling Jewelry

Garage Sale Series-Price Tags

Garage Sale Series-Displays

Garage Sale Series-Signs

Garage Sale Series-Hints and Tips

#Garagesale #yardsale #sales


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