Pick Me Up Instant Gingerbread Latte Recipe

I’m so behind on my Christmas preparation schedule that it doesn’t make sense. Three days til Christmas and my decorations are pretty bare.  Not to mention, I’m supposed to be spending today preparing my special cookie doughs for our family tradition of Christmas Eve cookie baking and decorating.

With that in mind, I’m going to have quite a bit to do  over the next couple of days.  Today, while my twelve year old does laundry, I’ll be putting some time into making the family room a Christmas room. It’s the room where we have our main Christmas tree. (We also have a tree in the foyer surrounded by red poinsettias.) However, the family room is where our family will spend the most time doing Christmas activities so I’ll be really putting my efforts into that room today.

I’m looking at it now and it’s got a grim look to it. Christmas tree is nice but it’s just so dull in that room. I’ll be adding some fresh garland around the fireplace, hanging stockings, and putting up more poinsettias. Then I’m going to place a few soy candles in the room. I like a blend of Christmas fragrances so I’m going to do a blue spruce, a cranberry, and a sugar cookie.  Since our tree is artificial, the blue spruce will give that wonderful pine fragrance that brings in the fragrance of winter. The cranberries will offset the sweetness of the sugar cookie fragrance that will travel throughout the house. I think that will get everyone’s senses ready for Christmas!

While I’m doing my last minute preparations, I’m going to share a wonderful instant latte that I make during this time of the year and keep on hand for guests. I call it Dawn’s Gingerbread Latte. Here it is:

Dawn’s Gingerbread Latte Recipe

Mix together in a blender:

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon powdered vanilla (optional)

1/2 cup sucanat (my choice) or brown sugar (*note that the taste will vary with brown sugar)

1/2 cup raw sugar

1 cup instant coffee

1/2 cup powdered creamer or milk

This makes enough for a crowd because you only use two heaping teaspoons per 8 oz cup of water. It has really good gingerbread flavor with the sucanat because of the molasses in it. You could also add about a half teaspoon of molasses in the mix after you blend all of the dry ingredients first. The molasses is the key ingredient in gingerbread (besides ginger) so you don’t want to overlook it. The other thing is I love a sweeter coffee. This one; however, is not as “sweet” as I like my coffee but I make it lighter on the sugar so that others can adjust it as they see fit.

Off to begin my mission of Operation Family Room. All the best in your day!

Make it or Bake it Christmas Gifts

This year (okay every year), I’m going to be baking and making my Christmas gifts. There are so many things I want to do but I realize there’s not nearly enough time to do it all so I have to start now. With only nine days until Christmas, I’m quite late with gathering my ideas  but all hope is not lost.

I don’t ever give something I wouldn’t want myself so some of the baked ideas that I like to do include:

  • Chessecake brownies
  • Baked bread
  • Decorated cookies
  • Mini quick bread loaves

I wrap these up in plastic wrap and put them in a box, basket, or something attractive for gift giving. Almost anything will work.

This year I have a few extra things in mind. Alongside of some of my soy candles as gifts, I’ve cooked up some cute little room sprays that I’m putting on the store shelf right now. These sweeties are the cutest things. They pair very nicely with the prim styled candles.

These have such a yummy fragrance, and they linger.

Some of the other things I plan to make as gifts include:

  • Matching kitchen items (aprons, hot pads)
  • Delectable soaps
  • Body scrubs
  • Linen sprays

This will definitely be a busy week, especially since I’m still not finished shopping for my children. Also, I want the goodies I’m giving to be fresh so most of my gifts won’t be baked until the day before I give them. Speaking of which, I only have tomorrow to get my sister and brother-in-law’s gift prepared for them.

Well I hope that gave a few last minute ideas for gift giving. Until next time, have a blessed (but not stressed) Christmas preparation season.

Soy Candle Stocking Stuffers

For a limited time, Everything Dawn is offering 2 ounce soy tin candles for only $.99 plus the cost of shipping. It’s the perfect size to try the candles and see how wonderfully they can fill a room. There’s so much to love about these little guys as they’re just the right size for stockings. The candles are 100% soy, which give a soot free yet fragrance filled burn. They’re also a good “green” choice for candle burning.

Soy Tin Candles 2 oz

Everything Dawn 2 oz Soy Tin Candles

I’ve placed these in my powder room and have received great compliments on the fragrance. They’re very cute and smell great. Each one comes like you see above. Ribbons do differ a bit but they’re quite charming in my powder room. So if you’re into soy candles and you want a cost effective candle that gives you a longer scent, try these. You won’t be sorry.

Free Groceries With The Grocery Game

There’s a method to coupon shopping that will save you more than you probably could have imagined and it’s easy peasy.With a few easy steps, I’ve been able to cut my grocery bill considerably, and with a family of ten, that’s big.
There is really cool website called The Grocery Game that I’ve been using for a couple of years now where I can get the scoop on what my local stores have on sale. Not only does it tell me that but it color codes the items to show me what’s a good price, what’s not expected to get any lower and should be stocked up on, and then then what’s free. The homework is all done for you. Not to mention, the site will tell you which coupons will come out on a given weekend (Red Plum, etc.). Then it will tell you which coupons from which Sunday paper (given by date) can be used in conjunction with your local sales to save you even more money.

When I first started doing this, I found there were many coupons I’d missed that were on the list. Some were from a month or so prior to my starting. Even still, there may be a day when I miss my Sunday paper. So that’s where The Coupon Master comes in. The Coupon Master clips thousands of coupons and places them on their website. You can easily search the site for coupons you may have missed, order the number you need and use them when you shop. There are sometimes limits on the number of coupons you can order but I’ve found that it’s completely worth using the site. There is a nominal fee of a few cents per coupon for The Coupon Master and that’s simply for the labor of cutting out the coupons. Then you pay a mailing fee and that’s it! My coupons have arrived in as few as two days after I’ve ordered them. Again, with a family of ten, we usually need more than one of everything we buy. So The Coupon Master comes in handy for me.

The Grocery Game also works in conjunction with your bonus and savings cards, will tell you how many coupons you will need to make the sale work for you as well as how many items you will need to purchase to get the best deal. If you didn’t know it, you absolutely can purchase more than one Sunday newspaper and use more than one coupon for more than one item. For instance, if you wanted to purchase two apple juices and had two coupons for them, you could use them at the same time. Then, if your store doubles or triples coupons, you’ve saved yourself even more!

The cost for The Grocery Game is only $10 for the first store you choose and then $5 for each additional, and you’re billed bi-monthly. That’s a small price to pay for big savings on your grocery bill. If you decide this sounds like something you’d like to do, please go on over to www.thegrocerygame.com and tell them you were referred by thecharmingcottage@live.com.

Fall Cheer and Prim Pumpkins

This morning I wanted to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed. I wanted to feel exuberant in the sense of being able to cheerfully greet my children and jump right into the day with a sense of cheer. Instead, I awakened at 4:45 a.m., a full fifteen minutes before my alarm clock was set. I have to admit that it was a little disturbing because with a newborn, every little bit of sleep counts. Honestly, I knew that if I went back to sleep I’d completely over sleep but I took a chance and went right back to sleep. So much for bright eyed and busy tailed.

I finally got out of the bed and it was 6:30. That may not seem to bad but, for me, I absolutely need my quiet devotional time before my little darlings awaken. It just makes the day easier. So at 6:30 I’m waking up my eldest three and trying to scurry downstairs only I’ve been having a great pain under my big toe for the last few days and now my foot is swollen. Well, there went my scurry. It was more like a wobble. But the joy of the Lord shall prevail!

Well, despite the quirks of the morning, I’ll be focusing on putting up some of my little pumpkin candles in our store and finishing up some of the pumpkin ornies. Here are a few of the ones I finished up a couple of weeks ago.

Prim Pumpkin Ornies

They are all prim! I think they show personality. Some of the ones (not pictured) have twisted mouths and others a look of surprise. The vines on top sort of give them an appearance of having hair. They have cracks to show their “age” and odd shapes like true pumpkins.

The pumpkin candles are pumpkin souffle and are all the combination of pumpkin and spices. I wanted a twist on the regular pumpkin pie. Truth is I wasn’t as pleased with the fragrance my vendor offered and since I’d had so much success with pumpkin souffle last year, I figured if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Here is one of the 16oz candles.

16oz Prim Pumkin Candle
Fall is here so I’m gonna be wobbling around today getting more of these items finished so they can be placed in the store by next week. This should be fun!

Tutorial For Making Dairy Goodies

About a week ago, I posted on making your own yogurt. Today I want to share one of our new store videos with regard to that topic. It’s a home making video by the West Ladies titled, “Homestead Blessings: The Art of Dairy Delights.” This video explains the benefits of making your own dairy delights while giving step by step instruction for making homemade butter, ice cream, yogurt, and cheeses.

My family has been making homemade yogurt for awhile now and we’ve loved how economical it is. Now the girls are eager to begin butter and cheese making. I think the West Ladies make it look easy enough for them to actually want to jump right in and I know these are skills they’ll be able to use for life.

So here’s a little clip of the “Dairy Delights” video so you can get a glimpse of the warmth and charm of the West Ladies. We absolutely LOVE their videos because of the charm in their presentation (as well as the fact that they show you how easy making things from home can be). If you’re interested in this, we’ve just gotten them in the store so feel free to place an order directly from our online store and we’ll ship it to you free this week.

http://www.youtube.com/v/cu2LzRvy_4s&rel=0&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x703e21&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1

Cloth Baby Diapers – Cute and Economical

Who says cloth diapers are old fashioned? Well, I’m here to tell you that cloth diapers are not only an economical choice, they’re earth friendly and down right cute. Cloth diapers are nothing like the ones you used to see with the almost hourglass form and bulky diaper pins. Cloth diapers will make a baby bottom cute enough for you to show it off.

I’ve heard some talk about reasons a person might not want to use cloth vs. disposable. The main reason is always the smell. Well, I’ve used both and, frankly, all diapers smell. Whether in a pail, a “genie,” or a regular old garbage can, diapers are smelly. I don’t think that using cloth makes them any more smelly than using disposable.

With a newborn, I have plenty of diapers to change, and I have to admit, I love my little cloth diapers. They breathe better than disposable, they actually force me to not leave an over wet diaper on my baby, and I can use them over and over, saving tons.

Here’s a picture of one of the diapers I’m currently using. These are pretty absorbent but will need a diaper cover to prevent wet (or soil) from leaking into baby’s clothing. You can see the first picture shows the diaper has diaper pins and bottles in the pattern of the fabric. The second shows the elastic around the legs for a nice fit. You can’t really see the Velcro closing on either but that’s what keeps the diaper nice and snug. The Velcro actually makes the diaper more adjustable for a longer fit.

This one is a picture of my all in one diaper. It has the PUL waterproof covering so I don’t have to use the plastic pants. These are the ones I use when I’m going out and at night. I have baby Josiah modeling his all in one. He didn’t mind too much since he was sound asleep. But here you can see the fit and the diaper before wear. It fits very snug around the legs and is also adjustable around the waist. I haven’t had any leaks with this one.

These are small sized, velcro fastened diapers and Josiah’s a little dumpling so I have the fasteners adjusted to the largest that a small diaper would allow me to adjust it. This is one of my own patterns that works out really well for me. I also have used PooPockets One Size Diaper Pattern by New Conceptions, which has gussets. There are also Bummis and Baby Beehinds (who offers covers in a variety of fabrics like hemp and wool).

There are many other free diaper patterns online. If you’re up to the challenge, this is a very good, cost effective project to take on. Bottom line (no pun intended) cloth diapers are a cute, economical way to diaper your baby.

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