a thoughtful DIY gift

A couple of years ago, I came across Heather Bullard on Instagram. She is amaaaazing. She is a prop stylist and everything she does is gorgeous, so naturally I was an instant fan. She shared her recipe for Organic Madagascar Vanilla Extract and I was like oh yes, I must do this! I love to bake and I really like thoughtful gift ideas, so this was perfect. Finally, two summers ago, a friend and I decided to try it out. It’s so easy, but you must have time. Time is the key ingredient here, because you have to let the vanilla cure for 6+ months, the longer the better. Mine has been curing for a year and a half, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally bottle this stuff up!! I highly suggest you visit Heather’s page for all things beautiful and inspiring and for lots and lots of recipes. (Note: I am not afiliated with Heather at all, I just am sharing what inspires me and oh my gosh does she ever!)

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For the finishing touch, and to make it extra festive, I simply tied some baker’s twine around the top of the bottle and added a couple of cinnamon sticks. I think it’s beautiful and I can’t wait to give these as gifts this year. I had an extra bottle so I am stashing that in my pantry for holiday baking! 😉dsc_2797dsc_2807dsc_2809

festive gingerbread men

Christmastime is my all-time favorite. I’ve always loved the season – decorating, listening to Christmas Carols, drinking egg nog out of Christmas glasses, hot chocolate with peppermint sticks, looking at Christmas lights, extra family time…I mean, all of it, I love it! And this year, I wanted to make some gingerbread men ornaments. I found thee perfect recipe from McCormick’s. It’s easy and your home will smell fantastic! You need to try it, get your kiddos involved and have at it!

Ingredients:

3/4 c. applesauce

2 of the 2.37 oz bottles of ground cinnamon

Cookie Cutters (we used gingerbread, but I plan on doing some more with hearts and stars and trees #obsessed)

Drinking Straw (I used festive ones of course! 😉 )

Ribbon

Directions:

Mix your applesauce and cinnamon together until a dough ball forms (I used my hands, it’s easier). Once it’s mixed, separate the dough into four separate dough balls. Place one of the dough balls on a sheet of plastic wrap and then cover it with another sheet of plastic wrap (this trick is wonderful!). Use a rolling pin to roll out each dough ball to 1/4 – 1/3 inches (per the recipe…I just eyeballed it, though) and cut out shapes with your cookie cutters. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough. Once you have a full sheet of ornaments, use a straw to poke a hole at the top (or two in the center if you want to make garland like I did). Bake at 200 degrees for 2 1/2 hours (your home will smell SO good!). Once baked and cooled a bit, string ribbon through the holes and you’re all set! You could even decorate them if you wish. I wanted mine plain for the garland.

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We had one extra, so we strung some baker’s twine through it and made an ornament for our tree!dsc_2825

my little deer

For Halloween this year, the girls were matching fawn. I came up with the idea last winter and looked to Pinterest for how-to’s.  I thought it would be fun to make their costumes this year (with the help of a couple Etsy shops for the leotard and tutu!). Plus, not sure that Madelyn will want to match her baby sister next year! 😉 Of course, Kora wouldn’t wear her antlers, but she enjoyed her tutu and matching her sister! She even let me paint her nose, but that was as far as I could get with her! I snapped a few photos before we headed out for trick-or-treating! I meant to share this last week, but better late than never, right? 😉dsc_2390dsc_2396dsc_2401dsc_2413dsc_2426dsc_2431dsc_2433dsc_2435dsc_2437dsc_2442dsc_2451

And Caleb had his own little costume he wore… I wore him in my sling when we walked around our neighborhood, he slept the whole time and missed out on trick-or-treating! 😉

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