Monday, November 26, 2018

Candied Tradition

     One of my most favorite things to do during the holidays is bake! Anything with lots of sugar and makes my home spell scrumptious is on the list. Last week I made one of my all time faves...Cinnamon Sugar Almonds in the crockpot...mmmmm!! If you're like me, I love to give to everyone, the mailman, my hairstylst, co-workers and so on. I've found over the years that some sort of baked good can please almost all. I've done caramel apples, the ingredients for Chocolate Chip Cookies in a mason jar, chocolate covered pretzels, and sugar cookies with no complaints thus far. 
     This year I opted for the never failing candy coated almonds. These are so easy I almost feel guilty about not putting more effort in but let's be real, who really has a lot of extra time during the holidays. I just want to make sure everyone gets a little something so they know how special they are to me. All it takes is a few common ingredients and you'll have gifts to go around.
     This is all you'll need. The complete recipe is at the bottom.
     
     First, you'll mix together both sugars, cinnamon and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. 

     Whisk the egg white and the vanilla together until they're a little frothy and then pour in the almonds to coat, and coat well. Next, pour the almonds into the sugar mixture and stir making sure to coat all of the almonds. Thoroughly Spray the inside of the crock pot with a non-stick spray and pour the sugar almonds in. Here's what it looks like, a little weird but just trust me, the magic is about to happen.
   
     Cook on low with the lid on for 3-4 hours stirring every 20 minutes. At the last hour, stir in the water. The will give them the crunchy coating. After adding the water, continue to cook for an hour still stirring every 20 minutes.
     Get ready, here comes the yumminess!
   
     Dump them out of the crockpot onto a baking sheet to cool, separating any of the almonds that might have stuck together. 
     Now it's time to be creative. I chose clear, cone shaped Cello bags I found at Hobby Lobby. Fill each bag with the sugar almonds and add a festive ribbon to top it off...voila! Adorable gifts to spread the holiday cheer.

     Complete Recipe:
                          1 1/2C. Sugar
                          1 1/2C. Brown Sugar
                          3 Tbsp. Cinnamon
                          1/8 tsp. Salt
                          1 egg white
                          2 tsp. vanilla
                          3C. Almonds
                          1/4C. water

     In a medium sized bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In another medium sized bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla until a little frothy. Add almonds. Make sure almonds are thoroughly coated in the egg white mixture. Add almonds to the cinnamon mixture and toss until coated. 
     Spray crock pot with non-stick spray and add the mixture of almonds and sugar.
     Cook on low 3-4 hours stirring every 20 minutes. In the last hour, add the water and stir well. Make sure to continue stirring every 20 minutes for another hour after the water is added.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Mischievous Elf on the Shelf

    The Elf on the Shelf tradition is based on a children's book written by Carol Aebersold and Chandra Bell to explain how Santa knows who's naughty and nice. 
    The story describes how "scout elves" hide in people's homes and watch over the daily events. When the family has gone to bed, the scout elf flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa the activities, good and bad, that have taken place throughout the day. Before the family wakes each morning, the scout elf flies back from the North Pole and hides. By hiding in a new spot each morning, the scout elf plays an ongoing game of hide and seek.
    Scout elves get their magic by being named and loved by a child. There's only one rule you must follow and that is not to touch the elf as the magic will disappear and Santa won't hear all that was seen. Although it can't be touched, they may speak to the scout elf and tell all of their Christmas wishes so that the elf can report back to Santa accurately. 
    Since the elf moves daily from Thanksgiving until Christmas, parents have found some creative ways to make him hide. My long-time friend, Mandy Engelbrecht, has to be one of the most creative Elf on the Shelf masters I've ever seen. Her pictures of their mischievous elf named Chippy are featured in this blog. Even after a long day of "momming" where I'm sure she would just like to go to bed, she always comes up with a fun way for her kids to wake up and find Chippy waiting. What an awesome tradition her kids will remember always!


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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Favorite Holiday Traditions

What is your favorite holiday tradition? The one that I love most is designing and planning my annual family photo Christmas card. Now that my family is grown I include my kids, grandkids and even my granddogs. This is something I've done for over 40 years. I look back in awe as I see the way everyone has changed over the years. 

I'm not really sure how I got anything done before Pinterest but it is definitely my go-to for any and all ideas in every aspect of my life. The possibilities are endless! Whether you want to include your entire family, just the kids or even your furbaby, follow my Christmas Card board to find your own inspiration. Now is the time to start planning the perfect holiday greeting!
The first known personalized Christmas card was sent in 1891 by Annie Oakley, the famous American sharpshooter and star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. She was in Glasgow, Scotland at Christmas time that year and sent cards back to her friends and family in the states featuring a photo of her on it. 
As you can see in the photo, honoring her time in Scotland, she's wearing a tartan (a pattern consisting of criss-crossed, horizontal and vertical bands). Annie reportedly designed the cards herself and had them printed by a local printer. We found this great story at whychristmas.com.
Stay tuned...each week we'll be blogging on all of the wonderful and unique traditions during this magical holiday season.



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Thursday, September 20, 2018

The History of Salt Dough Ornaments

The art of the salt dough making is an ancient one, dating back to Egyptian times. In Europe, mainly Germany, this craft became very popular. The art was used widely in home decoration, especially at festive times, much like today.

When immigrants started moving to the United States from Germany, a common place they located to was Pennsylvania. They were known as the Pennsylvania Dutch and created ornaments out of salt dough, wood, glass, fabric, metal and many other materials.

In the late 1970's personalized salt dough ornaments became sought after across the country. 1981 was the year I started my venture making salt dough ornaments but at this time the ornaments had a more primitive look. Here are a few of my first creations. Quite different, right?!

In the beginning, I sealed the ornaments with polyurethane which eventually yellowed over time. Later in the 80's I switched to an epoxy finish. It is a hardener and resin mixed together and gives them a clear, high gloss shine and discoloration is minimal.

Over the years products and methods have greatly improved turning this craft into beautiful pieces of art. We are constantly developing new, modern designs to keep up with the trending times. 

I've included the recipe for the dough so you too can try your hand at making your very own ornaments to treasure!

Salt Dough Recipe:

1C. Flour
1/4C. Salt
1/2C. Warm Water

Instructions:

1. Add salt and flour to bowl, gradually add warm water.
2. Mix together until dough forms. If it is sticky, roll in some loose flour and kneed.
3. Roll onto cutting board and use cookie cutters to form desired shapes.
4. Bake at 220 degree for 5 hours or until hard.
5. Paint and decorate with acrylic paints and glitter.
6 Spray with a clear sealer to protect.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ornaments in the Carribean

I recently visited the island of Curacao on vacation. It is a Dutch colony with unique and unusual culture. The water was turquoise and the sun was warm! On one of our island adventures we went into Willemstad to do a little shopping. The buildings of old architecture are beautiful. They were painted in vibrant colors...blue, turquoise, green, yellow and orange...amazing! They have a wonderful shopping district. 

We went into two stores and I was shocked to find many of my ornaments! It was so surprising but really neat. Always remember a personalized ornament is the perfect way to have a memory of your vacation or each life event. Check us out online at ornamentsforkeeps.com to see the entire line.

As I return and settle back into the cold, I will start designing and making our new collection of bread dough ornaments for Christmas 2018. We will keep you updated! Happy February!

Christmas is only 315 days away!



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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Personalized Christmas Ornaments for Everyone!

No matter who you are buying for, whether it be for family, kids, weddings, a new baby, good friends, a special hostess, a sports enthusiast, a Mizzou Tiger fan, or a snowman, angel or santa collector, Ornaments for Keeps has the perfect personalized Christmas ornament for you. Christmas is only 1 month away and we can feel the Christmas spirit. Who LOVES preparing for Christmas? We know we do. If you are struggling to find the perfect gift for someone, search no further. We've got your Christmas gift covered. Our family owned ornament shop is here to give you examples of the different types of ornaments we have for different types of people. We will explain why these personalized Christmas ornaments make for the best presents, no matter who are gifting them to.




 Personalized Christmas Ornaments for Everyone



Ornaments for Newlyweds or Couples Celebrating an Anniversary


People finding their true love is something to be remembered and celebrated. Commemorate that memory with a special personalized ornament for the happy couple. If you know a couple who is hard to buy for, now's your chance to get them the perfect Christmas present that can warm their hearts.


Ornaments to Remember Someone Special


The holidays can be so hard when you are missing someone special who has passed away. If you know someone who suffered a loss in their family, you may really touch their hearts by giving them an ornament to honor how special that someone was.



Ornaments for Sports Fans


Basketball, baseball, and footballs fans alike can all enjoy personalized ornaments commemorating their favorite sport. If your son won the championship this year or your daughter made the track team, give them an ornament that they can remember this special time in their lives.



Ornaments to Recognize Your Pet


Who loves their fur babies? Our pets deserve presents too, don't they? In addition to the treats you are probably getting this Christmas, show how much you love your fur baby and get an ornament that represents them for your tree.



Ornaments to Honor Your Family


Family is everything! We make customized ornaments for families. These ornaments are so special because they can commemorate all of the memories you make with your family on Christmas. We enjoy our family traditions at Christmas and we invite you to either start new traditions with your family or continue your very own personalized Christmas ornament collection with us.

Each year as our family decorates our Christmas tree, the personalized family ornaments we hang bring smiles and reflection. When our children grew up and left home, we gave them their personalized ornaments to start their own family Christmas tree tradition! We enjoy providing personalized Christmas ornaments for other families to do this too. Browse through our website to find the perfect Christmas present for whomever you may buying for. Make it a Christmas they won't forget!



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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Holiday Baking With Your Family

Here at our family owned ornament shop, we enjoy baking the holidays. Baking can be a form of art. Baking can bring a family closer together because you can enjoy baking new recipes together and trying your finished product with one another. Ornaments for Keeps is a huge fan of baking around the holidays, we create a lot of our Christmas ornaments by baking them out of bread dough. In the spirit of baking for Christmas, we found 2 awesome recipes that you and your family may enjoy!



Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gingerbread-house-recipe-1963254

Gingerbread House


Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
For assemblage and decoration:
Melted white chocolate or Royal Icing, recipe follows
Gumdrops, licorice, and peppermint, as desired
Royal Icing:
1 pound (3-3/4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
1 to 2 large egg whites, or substitute 4 teaspoons packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon almond extract, vanilla or lemon juice


Directions

For assemblage and decoration:
Gingerbread House: 

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house template: 

Two rectangles, 3 by 5 inches, to make the front and back of the house. Two rectangles, 3 by 5 1/2 inches for the roof. Two pieces for the ends of the house, 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom. Four smaller rectangles, 1 1/2 by 1 inch for the roof and sides of the entryway. And one piece, 2 inches wide at the base, 1 1/2 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 2 1/2 inches from the bottom for the front of the entryway. 

Roll gingerbread dough out to edges on a large, rimless cookie sheet. Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight-edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, but leave pieces in place. 

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm. 

Place patterns on top of the gingerbread again and trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged sharp knife. Leave to cool on baking sheet. 

Place royal icing into pastry bag with a writing tip and press out to decorate individual parts of the house, piping on decorations, windows, door, etc., as desired. Let dry until hardened. 

Glue sides, front and back of house together at corners using royal icing. Place an object against the pieces to prop up until icing is dry (it only takes a few minutes). 

Glue the two roof pieces to the pitched roofline of the house. Then, similarly, glue the sides and roof of the entryway together with icing. Attach the entryway to the front of the house. 

Continue decorating the house, gluing on gumdrops, licorice, and peppermint, as desired.

Royal Icing:
Mix all of the ingredients together using an electric hand mixer, until the icing is smooth and thin enough to be pressed through a pastry bag with a writing tip. Add more lemon juice, if necessary.


Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/warm-sticky-figgy-pudding-recipe-1918585


Warm Sticky Figgy Pudding


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chopped dried pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
2 cups water
1 teaspoon baking soda
100 grams (3 1/2 ounces or 7 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
75 grams (2 1/2-ounces) dark chocolate, grated
Butter, for coating ramekins
Ice cream or whipped cream, for garnish
Sauce:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
200 grams (7-ounces or 14 tablespoons) butter
Fresh figs, quartered, for garnish
Vanilla ice cream, optional
Whipped heavy cream, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the dates, dried figs and water to a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then add to a blender and puree.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat well. Fold in the flour, the pureed date mixture and the chocolate.

Put the mixture into 4 buttered, 1-cup individual ramekins, filling halfway or slightly under. Put in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Prepare the sauce by stirring the sugar, cream and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until incorporated.

Remove the ramekins from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. May be served in the ramekin or unmolded onto a small serving plate. With a paring knife cut across in the top of the puddings for the sauce.

Pour the sauce into the cross in the center of each pudding, then pour more sauce over the puddings and it allow to soak in slightly. Top with fresh figs and vanilla ice cream or heavily whipped cream. Serve warm.


We hope you enjoy these 2 fantastic Christmas recipes. If you are interested in continuing or starting your very own collection of homemade bread dough Christmas ornaments, grab a cup of hot cocoa and browse through our ornaments on our website. Enjoy!




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