Archives for posts with tag: holiday

It has become a holiday tradition for my friend and I to spend a weekend making chocolates for family and friends, but we were lacking the needed inspiration this year so decided to take a break. I couldn’t quite let it go completely so decided to have some friends over for an evening of hot cocoa and cider and it was so much fun!

Jess (of chocolate making fame) happened to be down to visit a couple days before the party so I roped her into helping me try homemade marshmallows. We had a Smitten recipe so I was confident, and it was justified. They came out perfectly and were the hit of the night.

marshmallows

The night of the party I had a ton of fun prepping toppings and putting them into little bowls. Then I heated up some almond milk and melted a serious amount of bittersweet chocolate.

melting chocolate

Adding melted chocolate to hot milk never quite works out the way I want. I stir forever and it still doesn’t quite come together. So I risked a pot full to the brim and used the magic stick (stick blender, that is) and tada! hot chocolate perfection! It was silky smooth and delicious. Incredibly rich, but delicious. I paired that with a second pot of hot cider.

One of the easiest parties I’ve pulled together and it was a perfect, mellow evening in the midst of holiday craziness.

the spread

Toppings included some absolutely incredible pumpkin spice liqueur (that appeared after the photo) that made hot cider magic, maple bourbon, Bailey’s, marshmallows, peppermint sticks, cinnamon sticks, candied ginger, orange zest, chocolate shavings, salted caramel, sea salt (the most popular topping) and my personal favorite: star anise. The great thing is that most of the toppings worked with either the hot chocolate or the hot cider.

toppings

We kept the servings small so everyone could try a few versions, then enjoyed a night of yummy drinks and good conversation.

Advertisements

There hasn’t been a lot of sewing in my world this past year. But I did manage one crafty weekend to whip up a couple holiday gifts for two of my favorite kiddos.

First up a stocking upgrade by request. A friend had a stocking for his daughter that was missing one very important thing – her name! Now this is a girl after my own heart when sparkle is concerned so I knew where to start – red glittery felt. Then came the hard part – finding the right letters. After an intensive internet search, I found a font that reminded me of the curly elf shoes – perfect for a stocking. Printing, cutting, tracing and more cutting and the result was a super cute (as my nephew would say) Christmas stocking.

IMAG0605

Somehow that project reminded me that my youngest nephew is missing something his older brother has – his own superhero cape. Since I went overboard the first time, I still had plenty of fabric on hand (I think this is the fourth cape from the original purchase – and finally used up almost all the cape fabric). I had to go back and check photos to make sure the color combo was different and a few hours later, a super hero cape for Christmas.

IMAG0608

Branches, pom-poms and a glue gun – that combo was my holiday obsession this year. A little pinterest inspiration turned into a serious pinterest win and lots of fun crafting times!

It all started with two friends willing to humor my excitement over the idea of pom-poms on branches 🙂 I drug (literally) a pile of branches home after a wind storm, then it was off to buy pom-poms. Sparkly was not the plan, but it ended up a happy accident when that was our only option. Then an evening of wine, friends and a baby that just had to be part of the action.

sticks and pom-poms

This is my kind of craft – quick, fun and not a lot of patience and no measuring 😉

Here’s the finished product from round one:

sparkly!

Then it was time for round two. Since the first one was so tall, I needed something else for my hot chocolate party centerpiece. Back to the store for white poms and no luck – more sparkly, just slightly smaller. So I picked out the white & silver ones for round two. This one did take a little more time and patience, since I involved by other crafting favorite – glitter & glue! I added spots of “sparkly snow” to the branches and then added poms. And on this one I learned patience has it’s place when working with hot glue – ouch!

winter sparkle

Round three happened because my friend braved the craft stores for me and found… all white poms! Teeny tiny ones, and some slightly less tiny. I made calendars for friends and family this year and was inspired to keep going with the branch and pom-pom theme to wrap them. First up, wrapping the calendars in kraft paper and baker’s twine. And then… more hot glue and poms. I have to admit these teeny tiny poms had me gun shy after the previous mishap. But putting the glue on the branch instead of the pom kept my fingers out of danger (just one very close call).

ready...

The finished product…

a moment of zen

Wrapping presents is one of my all time favorite things, but I do think this was my best work. Little moments of holiday zen.

The sightly larger white poms were perfect for the rest of the gifts.

more

I did mix it up for my nephews wrappings. All in all a very satisfying year of the holiday pom-poms!

best wrapping yet!

Last year we thought we ruined the chocolates and they were perfect. This year we got lazy and paid the price…

We were both over whelmed, feeling the stress of the holidays and decided to try and be nice to ourselves during the chocolate making process. We sat on the couch and talked now and then, we ate three meals of real food and there may have been wine. And there may also have been chocolate that wasn’t well tempered. The problem is, you don’t know how the tempering process went until you’re 10 hours in and there’s no going back. It was time to take the chocolates out of the molds and well, they didn’t come out. There was mild panic as we tried again and then as the realization sunk in that they might not come out at all the real panic began. After some freezer sessions and some serious banging of the molds outside where we could make more noise, we finally got (almost) all of the chocolates out of the molds. They weren’t perfect, but at that point at least they existed and we new that our friends & family would appreciate the story, appreciate that we tried to enjoy the process and most of all appreciate the fact that they still tasted amazing!

The adventure begin early this year - testing various combinations for the centers. Here are two versions using Apple Cider Syrup. One was apple cider caramel and the other an apple cider, vanilla and white chocolate ganache. We went with the ganache - aka Apple Pie Alamode (although I forgot to add the cinnamon to the final batch).

The adventure begin early this year – testing various combinations for the centers. Here are two versions using Apple Cider Syrup. One was apple cider caramel and the other an apple cider, vanilla and white chocolate ganache. We went with the ganache – aka Apple Pie A la mode (although I forgot to add the cinnamon to the final batch).

Next up - my favorite chocolate combination - Passion Fruit! I tried four, passion fruit gelato jell and the most incredible passion fruit jam. Each with white and milk chocolate. The passionfruit jam with milk chocolate was the clear winner (and I think the overall chocolate winner of the year, but I'm biased)

Next up – my favorite chocolate combination – Passion Fruit! I tried four: passion fruit gelato jell and the most incredible passion fruit jam, each with white and milk chocolate. The passion fruit jam with milk chocolate was the clear winner (and I think the overall chocolate winner of the year, but I’m biased)

The four centers: Apple Pie A la Mode, Passion Fruit, Burnt (really burnt - oops) Caramel, and a Dark Milk Chocolate to pair with the Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

The four centers: Apple Pie A la Mode, Passion Fruit, Burnt (really burnt – oops) Caramel, and a Dark Milk Chocolate to pair with the Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

Five pounds of beautiful bittersweet chocolate.

Five pounds of beautiful bittersweet chocolate.

Four molds at the ready.

Four molds at the ready.

Getting there - Shells have been set, fillings are in, sealing them and then futile attempts to release them are still to come.

Getting there – Shells have been set, fillings are in, sealing them and then futile attempts to release them are still to come.

While the chocolates set, we used the extra to dip Swedish Fish (addictive!), pretzels and apricots. And to make bark: peppermint candy, dried nuts & fruit, and cashew, toffee & sea salt.

While the chocolates set, we used the extra to dip Swedish Fish (addictive!), pretzels and apricots. And to make bark: peppermint candy, dried nuts & fruit, and cashew, toffee & sea salt.

We blame the wine, for this year's not so perfectly tempered chocolates.

We blame the wine, for this year’s not so perfectly tempered chocolates.

My other favorite part - packaging them up!

My other favorite part – packaging them up!

To continue the chocolate theme, I had a Hot Chocolate Bar set-up for friends as they came to pick-up their chocolates.

To continue the chocolate theme, I had a Hot Chocolate Bar set-up for friends as they came to pick-up their chocolates.