Monday, December 17, 2012

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark is one of my favorite gifts to give during the holiday season. It is absolutely delicious and because it's truly a seasonal treat, it feels extra special to enjoy this classic candy. The past years I've always picked up peppermint bark from stores like William & Sonoma, but this year I decided to try and make it on my own. I was surprised to find that it's very easy and my husband and I even tinkered with a recipe to make it even better! 

-16 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips or bars(you can use different chocolate to render different flavors depending on what you want)
-16 oz white chocolate chips or bars
-12-20 candy canes(miniature work best)
-Peppermint Extract
-Vanilla Extract

Double Broiler Set-up
20 Inch pan

-In a plastic bag, place the candy canes inside, crush up and set aside for later

~In a double broiler, place the semi sweet chocolate chips in the double broiler and set the stove to a LOW setting. If the setting is too high, you will burn the chocolate

- Intermittently stir the chips with the spatula until all the chips are melted and smoothed over

-Place approximately 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tsp peppermint extract in the melted mixture and stir well

-Removing from the broiler, pour the contents onto the pan and smooth over with the spatula so that it is evenly spread 

-Place the pan either in the freezer or outside(if you are somewhere where it gets pretty cold) for about an hour

-After about 30-45 minutes you can start the next phase

-This involves the exact same process only with the white chocolate 

-Once the white chocolate is melted and the vanilla and peppermint extract have been added, bring out/in the pan and pour the white chocolate on top of the other chocolate and spread evenly 

-You can also choose to sprinkle some crushed candy cane inside the melted chocolate and stir it up to add some extra pepperminty-ness!

-Once it has  been poured, sprinkle the crushed candy canes from earlier, place back inside the freezer or set outside for another 3-5 hours for best results

-After done freezing, take out and cut into squares and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Decor

As usual, I found this amazing tree skirt idea on Pinterest and had to make it for our home! It is our first Christmas where we will not be traveling to visit family, so I decided to go all out this year. The tree skirt may look intimidating, but I promise that it is actually not difficult at all! The one thing about it is that it does take time and it requires about 30 hot glue sticks! 

What you need:
Old or inexpensive tree skirt
4 yards of burlap
4 yards of a cream linen fabric (or color of your choice)
Glue Gun and glue sticks 
Rotary board and cutter

Using the rotary board and cutter, cut 3" strips of the fabric (both the linen and burlap), don't worry about the length. Then take your old tree skirt and remove any emblems or decor that's attached to the skirt, so that you have flat fabric to glue the ruffles onto. You will begin the skirt with the linen fabric and make a small line of glue before beginning to fold the ruffles.

Image from The Johnston's Blog
Once you make your first line of glue, you will take the fabric and begin to pinch a small section of the fabric and press it down into the skirt, so that the pinched portion overlays the previous ruffle. I also thought of it as folding the fabric and overlaying it on the previous ruffle. 

Image from The Johnston's Blog
Image from The Johnston's Blog 
You will do this all the way around the skirt until the first layer is completed. Placing the burlap ruffles is a similar process; however you will want to make the ruffles before you glue them onto the skirt since the glue can be very hot. To do this, you will fold them the same way as you did with the linen and then stick pins in to hold the ruffle. You will not take the pins out until the strip has been glued down and the glue has cooled down.

Image from The Johnston's Blog
You will continue this process until you have covered the entire skirt. What I did with my tree skirt was take twine and make a thick braid to cover the edge of the skirt, which is the area that hugs the tree trunk. To make the braid the perfect thickness, cut 9 pieces of the twine and take three strings per section and begin to braid. I made the braid longer than the area it needed to cover, tied it off both ends, glued it down and then cut off the leftover braid. 

You can also close up the ends of the tree skirt by utilizing the twine. You will need to take a yarn needle and thread the twine through to create ties that can close up the tree skirt. 

Image from The Johnston's Blog

Not committed to creating a tree skirt, but love the look of burlap for Christmas decor? 

I also made this candle holder for our kitchen table, which is very easy to make. You just need to make a trip to Michael's (don't forget to go online for coupons) and pick up a simple glass vase, pine tree leaves with pine cones from the floral section, a candle, burlap and a cute, festive string. I actually found this string at Target recently and liked how the red gave the candle a pop of color.

Warning - I would not recommend that you light the candle as I could see this being a potential fire hazard!