Merry Christmas From Our House to Yours…


Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas

(Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, or other holiday) and a Happy New Year!

We hope the next few days are filled with warm memories,

family, friends and fun!


I will be taking a few days off to spend with family.  I will see you back here soon with the

January 2014 Photo-a-Day Photo Prompts and the Top 13 Idea Room Posts for 2013!


Peppermint Cinnamon Rolls

Do you have a Christmas Morning Breakfast tradition? We do!  We always have some HOT and FRESH Cinnamon Rolls.  The kids love how tasty they are.  I love how easy they are.  Seriously.


This year I decided to add a tiny bit of Peppermint Oil into the frosting and sprinkle the frosted Cinnamon Rolls with crushed candy canes…and they were a hit.  (I had to test them out before the actual morning)!  You can make them a day or two before and keep the dough in the fridge until you are ready to make them.


If you don’t like Peppermint…no worries…just omit the peppermint oil and the crushed candy canes.  This is my very favorite Cinnamon Roll Recipe, and one of our favorite Christmas family traditions.

Cinnamon Roll Recipe


2 Tbsp. dry active yeast

1/2 cup of lukewarm water (add pinch of sugar and set aside)

In a large bowl:

2/3 cup shortening

2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup mashed potato

1/2 cup water potato was cooked in

4 to 6 cups of flour (the less flour the better, but you must be able to handle the dough)


4 Tbsp. butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. cinnamon

3/4 cinnamon chips (optional)


4 Tbsp. butter, soft

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

milk (enough to get desired consistency)


Mix the first three ingredients: shortening, salt and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat them in.  Add mashed potatoes, yeast, milk, potato water, and mix together.

Add flour: 3-4 cups, mixing well then add more flour until the dough can be handled.  Knead well on a floured surface.  Place in a large greased bowl, cover and let rise until it has doubled in size.  Lightly knead then then roll out.  Add filling.  Then roll and cut into cinnamon rolls.  Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.


*To ensure my dough rises well, I like to pre-heat oven to about 200 degrees (no higher) and then turn the oven off.  Then I place a pan of water that has been boiling on the bottom rack.  I place the dough in a large, greased mixing bowl on the top rack and cover it with a damp clean dish towel.  (I get the dish towel wet and then ring out all of the excess water).  This will allow your dough to rise in a warm and moist environment and does so pretty quickly.

**After the dough has risen and doubled in size, you can make the rolls right away OR you can cover the bowl of dough and store it in the fridge for later use.  After removing from the fridge, let the dough sit out and warm up for about 20-30 minutes so that it is room temperature.

To make the cinnamon rolls:

1.  Knead the dough, on a flour coated surface, just a bit to incorporate the air bubbles from rising.

2.  Roll out the dough in a long rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

3.  Sprinkle the filling (melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cinnamon chips if using).

cinnamon-roll-frosting    cinnamon-rolls-3_edited-1.jpg

4.  Then roll the dough from the long side and make one long roll.

5.  The easiest way to cut them, in my opinion, is to use a thread.  I learned this from my Grandmother and Mom years ago.  Cut a long piece of sewing thread.  Slide it underneath the roll and then pull up both sides and cross the ends of the thread.  Pull until the thread pinches all the way through the roll.  Be sure to cross the threads so it cuts nicely.

cinnamon-rolls    peppermint

6.  Take the section of roll and place it onto a greased 9×13 pan (you might need two pans depending on how thick you make them).  Be sure to leave some space around them because they will increase in size when you bake them.

7.  Bake them at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes till they are a nice golden brown.

8.  Let them cool before adding the frosting.

To make the frosting, I use an electric beater.  I add the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla and pour in a little bit of milk.

*If you want Peppermint Cinnamon Rolls add 2 drops of Peppermint Oil and mix in the frosting.  Just a little bit so it is not too overpowering.  Some peppermint oil is stronger than others so a taste test might be a good idea.  Sprinkle candy canes after the icing is on the rolls if desired.

Then while mixing, I pour just a little bit of milk until the frosting reaches my desired consistency.  Then spread generously over your cooled cinnamon rolls.

cinnamon-rolls-8_edited-1.jpg    cinnamon-rolls

The entire family looks forward to eating them on Christmas Morning.  What is your favorite Christmas Morning Breakfast?


Christmas Gift–North Pole Produce

I have one more really simple Christmas gift idea that I hope you like.  This gift is a bit healthier than some of the other gift ideas I have shared on here…*ahem!  That is a good thing…if you worry about all the sugar that is around during the Holiday Season and the sugar melt downs that can sometimes accompany them.


I thought it would be fun to give someone some fruit from the exotic “North Pole Greenhouses”.  Oh…you didn’t know there were Greenhouses on the North Pole?  Well, there are…and most Christmas Oranges, poinsettas, holly, mistletoe and Reindeer Feed are grown right there.  Pretty awesome right?!


Why not give someone the gift of some tasty and healthy North Pole produce.  Each piece of produce grown in the greenhouses comes with an authentic North Pole Greenhouse sticker certifying their “authenticity” (I use this term lightly because…well…you know) and is placed lovingly by one of the elf gardeners.  Simply wrap up the produce in a nice wooden crate like the one we made in this tutorial for the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh Gift Set.


If you don’t want to go to the extra trouble of making a cute little wooden crate (and seeing that Christmas is only 3 days away) you could put some fruit in a simple basket or even a bag and attach the gift tag to it.


You can also add these North Pole Greenhouses produce stickers to any fruit that may end up in the Christmas Stockings.  I always love the fun little touches and surprises that just add to the Christmas magic.


The printables I have, can be printed on sticker paper…or simply printed out on your printer on white paper.  I punched them out with a 3/4 inch paper punch, the same that I used on these Reindeer Nuggets, and then glue them onto the outside of the fruit.


A little dab of Elmer’s White Glue should do the trick.  Just be sure to remove the sticker and wash the produce really well before eating…which you would hopefully do anyways.


This is perfect for neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, friends and family.  If you are going to a Christmas Dinner…this would also be a fun hostess gift.


If you would like to download the North Pole Produce Stickers and/or the Gift Tag, click on the link below.

{North Pole Produce Gift Printables}

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I grew up with getting an apple and an orange in our Christmas stockings and have continued the tradition with my own family.  This year they will be from the North Pole Greenhouses.


What about you?  Does Santa leave you produce in your stocking on Christmas morning?

Christmas Candy Gift

You know my LOVE for these cute bottles (Starbucks Frappuccino Bottles)…so you must have know I would have to come up with another Christmas gift using them.  I wanted to make something that would be fun to give to the kids friends that were cute and pretty inexpensive.


I came up with a Santa’s Sweets and a Reindeer Nuggets version based loosely off of these Easter Bunny Gift Jars and the Monster Munchies that I shared earlier this year.  I kind of enjoy the challenge of creating something new for each holiday.

I added a mixture of red Sixlets and red Gumballs in the Santa’s Sweets jar to represent Santa’s red nose.  (I figure after riding in the sleigh on a wintry Christmas night his nose has got to be red).  Then I included a little gift tag that reads:

“He “NOSE” if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”

You can also substitute the red noses to go in Rudolf’s jar to go along with Rudolph’s red nose.  Whatever one you prefer will work with this I think, don’t you?


For the Reindeer Nuggets, I took some gold foil Rolo’s and added these festive Rolo Christmas stickers I made, based on my Valentine Kiss Stickers and Father’s Day Kiss Stickers that were also shared earlier this year.


To make them, you simply print the free download on white paper or white cardstock.  Then take a 3/4 inch punch (found in scrapbook section of craft stores) and punch out the individual circles.  Then simply glue them onto the bottom of the Rolos (or the candy kisses) with a glue stick.  My kids always LOVE to help me with this job and I am happy to let them help!


Now that you have finished with the candy part…you can make Santa and Rudolph’s heads!  I have provided you with a free downloadable pattern that you can use to make your own out of colored scrapbook paper.

Christmas-candyJust look at these pictures to see how I put the faces together and what color of scrapbook paper to use for each pattern piece.  You can choose to make Santa a different ethnicity too…just pick a different color of scrapbook paper.  You will also need to cut a strip of paper that measures about an inch or so in width and is long enough to wrap around the bottle and be glued together.  This is what you will glue the heads onto.


If you would like to download Christmas Candy Gift Printables you can click on the link below.

{Christmas Candy Bottle Gifts}

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Christmas    As always, please use these for your own personal use.  They are not to be sold in your shops or to be reposted on your sites.  Please send your friends and family back here to get the printables and tutorial!  This enables me to keep them FREE!  Thank you so much!


Santa’s Key

Looking for a last minute Christmas gift idea or some Christmas Décor?  I have one for you that you can literally put together in just a few minutes…Santa’s Key.


Have you heard of Santa’s Magic Key?  The legend states that any old key, with Santa’s Magic, can open any door.  This allows Santa to get into homes who do not have a chimney or a fireplace.


Hang the key on a door handle or display it in your home and Santa will be sure to find his way to deliver his gifts.  This is not a new idea, I just wanted to put my own twist on it.  I thought it would be nice to be able to display the key on our Christmas mantle.


I simply took an old scrap of wood left over from this North Pole Crate I shared with you earlier, and cut it so that it fit the poem.  Then I sanded the wood down on the sides and the top and bottom so that it didn’t have any rough edges.


Then I mod-podged the Santa’s Key Poem onto the wood block with a matte Mod Podge.  Wrap a pretty ribbon around the block with the key attached and tie it in a bow to hold it in place.

Or hang it from a door knob to display it in your home.  You can also just attach the poem and the Santa’s Magic Key tag and set it in a prominent area in your home.


I think any young child or family would enjoy getting this unique gift.  And…it is something that can be given really inexpensively.

I couldn’t find the original source of the poem I used, and would love to link back to them if any of you know where I can find it.  I would love to give credit where it is due.


If you would like to download the poem and/or the Santa’s Key tag you can click on the link below.

{Santa’s Key Tag and Poem}

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As always, I love to hear when you use on my these ideas.  I would love to see or hear about them.  Six more sleeps ‘till Christmas!


Cookies For Santa

ONE WEEK…Seven more sleeps till the man in the red suit will come delivering Christmas goodness.  Can you even believe it?  Every year on Christmas Eve the kids make sure we leave cookies for Santa.


I have been obsessed with these wood tree slabs the last few months.  Have you seen them around?  I snagged me a couple from Michael’s a while ago and have been mulling around different ways to use them.  I ultimately, decided to paint one of them with some black chalkboard paint.


I simply took the blank tree slab and then painted two layers of chalkboard paint on them.  You can pick up chalkboard paint at your craft stores or Lowes.

cookies-for-santa 21

I also have a recipe for making your own Chalkboard Paint if you want to make your own.

{Chalkboard Paint Recipe}


Then I simply cut out some white vinyl the words “Cookies for Santa” and then attached it to the chalkboard slab.  Why not write on the chalkboard with chalk?


Well…I tried that…and my handwriting was bugging me.  So I opted for the prettier version.


You can then either keep the vinyl on, or remove it and then use your chalkboard slab…well…as a chalkboard.  Keep it in the kitchen and leave sweet messages for family members or turn it in to a daily menu or a grocery list!  So many fun uses for it!


I just love how fun and unique it is instead of just a plate of cookies.  And…wouldn’t this be such a fun and unique gift for neighbors, friends and or family?  I LOVE it!  I am going to be making more for sure!


Santa for sure will enjoy taking a little snack break after delivering his presents at your house.  If you are interested in trying my favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe, which are pictured above, you can find that recipe here.

{Sugar Cookie Recipe}


And…because I was so busy…I just used a store bought icing.  Yep! It’s been that kind of a week, and I am totally okay with that.


One more thing…does Santa wrap your gifts or just leave them under the tree?  At our house they are left under the tree unwrapped.


How to Sew an 18 inch Pillow Cover

I made something else out of that Canvas Drop Cloth…yes…the same Canvas Drop Cloth I have used for these other projects.  Can you believe I still have some of it left.  Ha!  This time I am sharing with you a Christmas Pillow Tutorial today.  I went through all my Christmas décor and donated several items that I had been using for years which included most of my Christmas pillows.  So I wanted to make some more updated ones to go in my home.


I discovered a simple a quick way for how to sew an 18 inch pillow cover that is so simple to make when I made this green pillow for my daughter’s room a couple of months ago.  So I thought I would share the tutorial here with you.  I am also sharing the stencil and file for the Reindeer Pillow and the Red Berry Wreath Pillow so you can make your own of those if you would like.

I didn’t get this post up earlier because for the life of me, I could not find the pictures I took of the pillow making process.  I will look for them and add them when I get a second to track them down.  I like to actually see a photo when I am sewing since it is not something I am really that great at (which is why I stick to beginner sewing projects ;))!


How to Sew an 18 inch Pillow Cover (Envelope)

1.  For an 18 x 18 inch pillow, I cut a rectangle 18.5 inches by 42 inches.  This will result in a 4 inch overlap for the envelope on the back of the pillow. 

2.  Hem both short edges of the fabric by folding the fabric over 1/2 inch and then over again another 1/2 inch.  Iron and stitch down the side.

3.  With your fabric right side up, fold over one side toward the center.  For the 4 inch overlap, make the fold about 10″ from the hemmed edge.  The first side you fold over will be the side that shows on the back of the pillow.  Keep this in mind if one side looks better than the other.

4.  Now fold over the other side, so the fabric measures 18 by 18.5 inches.  I use my quilting ruler or a yard stick and measure so that with both ends folded in, the width of the cover is 18 inches. 

5.  Sew a 1/4″ seam along each side of the folded fabric.  Be sure to pin before sewing so that your material does not slip or you may end up with some fabric that does not get sewn properly. 

6.  Turn the pillow cover inside out.  Place your pillow insert inside the pillow.


For the Reindeer Pillow, I cut the reindeer head and the Ho, Ho, Ho out in some fun gold iron on material.  I LOVES it!  If you don’t have that ability, you can cut it out in a stencil and paint them gold (or your preferred color).

I used Cricut® Iron-on Glitter, Gold and its awesome!


With the Red Berry Wreath Pillow, I simply stenciled on the pillow cover with some red fabric paint.

You can download the pillow patterns here:

{Reindeer Pillow}

{Red Berry Wreath Pillow}

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Interested in checking out other Idea Room projects that have used a Paint Drop Cloth?  Check these out:

Thanksgiving Table Linens

Monogrammed Table Runner

Thanksgiving Hostess Gift

Monogrammed Bottle Gift Bag

Christmas Gift Bags

Neighbor Cookie Mix Gift

Candy Cane Popcorn & a Giveaway

One of our favorite family traditions each year around Christmas time is to sit down together and watch one of our favorite Christmas Movies.  Because Christmas time is special, its fun to add a little extra pizzazz to our popcorn.  This year I decided to make some White Chocolate Candy Cane Popcorn and throw in these fun, festive-colored Sixlets from SweetWorks.


I just love Sixlets…don’t you?  Sixlets always remind me of growing up.  My 4 siblings and I used to walk (almost 2 miles one way) down to the Old Fashioned Drug Store on the occasional Saturday and buy candy (for a penny or 5 cents—Did I just date myself?).  My sisters and I would always buy a little sleeve of Sixlets.


I was recently contacted by Sweet Works about doing a giveaway and was excited to see one of my favorite childhood candies in all sorts of fun colors.  And you know how much little things like this make me happy!  And, colorful chocolate candy additions make this Candy Cane Peppermint Popcorn that much more perfect!


Want the recipe for your family?

Candy Cane Popcorn

12 oz. of white chocolate, melted (I prefer the chocolate blocks but chocolate chips or white candy melts will work too)

1/4 cup of un-popped popcorn (measure it un-popped and then pop it)

1/2 cup of crushed candy canes

2-3 drops peppermint oil

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

dash of salt (optional)

Red and White Sixlets (or candy of your choice)



1. Pop your popcorn and make sure to remove all the un-popped popcorn kernels.  Place in a large mixing bowl with ample room to mix. 

2. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  White chocolate melts better and more smoothly for me when I do it in a double boiler.  (Or in a pan over a pan of water on the stove…you can google it if needed).

3. Add crushed candy canes and peppermint oil to melted white chocolate and stir quickly.  Pour over popcorn and mix it so that all the popcorn is covered.  It is helpful to have another set of hands for this part if possible. 

4. Spread out in a jelly roll pan and then while still sticky,  the candy over the top of the popcorn.  Add a dash of salt over the popcorn.

5. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over the popcorn.  Set aside and let the chocolate harden.

6. Break up into bite size pieces and serve up in a bowl or a gift bag.


Want to win your own set of candy from SweetWorks?  SweetWorks is giving one Idea Room reader the following:

  • 14oz. bag of Celebration by SweetWorks Christmas Mix Sixlets
  • 8oz. bag of Celebration by SweetWorks Christmas Mix Gumballs
  • 5oz jar of Celebration by SweetWorks Red/White Shimmer Pearls
  • 5oz jar of Celebration by SweetWorks Christmas Mix Pearls
  • Sixlets Christmas Cane
  • Niagara Chocolate Santa
  • Niagara Chocolate Rocking Horse
  • Ovation Dark Mint Filled Break-A-Part
  • 3.5oz box of Mint Ovation Sticks
  • Milk Chocolate Orange Balls


If you would like to be entered for a chance to win this gift package, please follow the directions in the Rafflecopter Box below.

*If you are on a mobile device, you may need to enter on a computer for the widget to work properly.  Depending on your internet speed or the busy-ness of the widget, you may need to wait a few seconds for it to load properly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



This is going to be a quick one so be sure to enter ASAP.  The winner will be contacted and have only 24 hours to respond before a new winner will be chosen!!  Giveaway will end on December 16th at Midnight (MST).


Want to make this Candy Cane Peppermint Popcorn and give it away this year?  Here is a FREE Printable Gift Tag for you to download if you would like.

{Candy Cane Peppermint Popcorn}

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*Fine Print: Giveaway ends at 11:59pm (MST) on December 16, 2013 . One winner will receive the candy items specified above.  Must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of the U.S.A. to enter. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook or Pinterest. Facebook and Pinterest will be completely released by each entrant. One entry per person. Entry includes filling out the Rafflecopter form above. Winner will be chosen using and will be notified via email within a few hours of the giveaway closing time. Winners will be announced on the post, not on Facebook. The winners must respond within 24 hours of receiving the email or a new winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary. **This is a sponsored post on behalf of Sweet Works.  However, all statements and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Four Tips For Handling Christmas Chaos


Here we are. December.

It should be the most wonderful time of the year. Yet so many of our families are over scheduled, tired and stressed out. We head into January exhausted, missing out on the real meaning of the season.

It can seem as though there is so much to get done. But all that “stuff” can actually keep us from the wonderful holiday season we dream of. Here are four tips to help make all your dreams come true this holiday season.

family christmas story

1. Identify Your Vision

Take a few minutes by yourself, to write down what you want for your family this holiday season. If you could have the ideal December, what would it look like? Think through your traditions and activities and how you spend your time. Imagine an ideal and then put that on paper.

It is so easy for all of the requests and parties and activities to take over and keep us from actually enjoying our time together as a family. We all fight it. We look around and see all the things other families are doing and think, “We need to do that too”. Really we don’t.

Trying to do too much actually keeps us from spending any quality time with our families at all. And rushing and multitasking actually keep us from our goals. Not to mention, seeing all the wonderful ideas online can become a distraction and stress, making us feel like we have to do EVERY tradition and make every recipe.

Establish your vision. Do away with traditions that are not making your family stronger. Commit to fill your family holiday time with those things that bring you closer together.


2. Create a tradition that helps you spend time together each and every day.

We want to do this every day of the year, but especially during this magical month, make it a goal to spend time together each and every day. Design a tradition or ritual that happens every day, so you guarantee that the season doesn’t take over your family life.

For us, we have an advent calendar that has a different scripture reference to read each night coupled with an activity. They are not long. It only takes a few minutes, but it guarantees that our family will sit together for at least 10 minutes each night. It gives us a chance to put everything away for just those few minutes to be a family.

We should have these every day of the year, but during this holiday season, instead of letting the demands take over, plan family time into your life and make sure it happens.


3. Go easy on the gifts.

Gifts are great, but they can also take away from the sprit of the season. Consider cutting back. Even taking some of the money you would spend on gifts and instead, put it towards a family vacation, or a night out together as a family.

Research actually shows that what we do together as family, specifically, family vacations and activities, mean more and have a longer lasting impact on our children than gifts. Which means the camping trips will make for better memories than the new skateboard or Wii game. It really isn’t about the gifts. It is about our time together.


4. Let go of perfection, it’s a family affair.

This one is really hard for me. I want things to look a certain way, so I have a hard time letting the kids help with things. For example, the ornaments on the tree have to be evenly distributed. Positioned a certain way. Right? You know what I mean. But when I let the kids help, that doesn’t always happen and I find myself sneaking back down to the tree to rearrange when they are asleep.

When I don’t let anyone else help, because I want things to be perfect, I give myself more work and exclude my family from making memories. Which goes against everything I want for the holiday season.

So what if there are two snowmen ornaments on the same side of the tree. So what if the frosting on the cookies isn’t perfect. What is more important, the frosting, or the memories our family makes as we frost together? Let it go and let your family get involved. It will lighten your load and bring you closer to one another.

This time of year is meant to be most wonderful. Time to get back to basics and really remember the reason for the season.
What is your favorite tradition to do with your family?

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Family Volley





Reindeer Feed Gift Idea

Three years ago (THREE years ago…how has it been this long?) I shared with you a fun little Christmas gift idea with you…Magic Reindeer Feed.  This is not a new idea, but I have been wanting to update the packaging from my earlier version.


I love to give this to my little nieces and nephews at our annual GingerBread House Making Party for them to sprinkle on their lawns or snow on Christmas Eve.  They love it!  My kids have even given this to their friends for a little Christmas present.  It is such a simple gift, but one that most kids love to get.


If you are unfamiliar with Reindeer Feed…the premise is that you sprinkle it on your lawn on Christmas Eve night.  It guides Santa’s Reindeer to your home.

To make the Reindeer Feed for the sacks, simply fill with Rolled Oats and some colored sprinkles (do not use glitter as the wild life may eat it and it can do serious damage to them).


I simply stenciled some small linen bags, which I purchased at Michael’s, with the image of a Reindeer on one side of the bag and the words “Reindeer Feed”.  I am sharing the files for both stencils if you would like them.



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rudolpfIf you don’t want to make the little bags for the Reindeer Feed, you can simply put the Reindeer Feed in a little plastic gift bag and attach the reindeer feed gift tag.



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