Be Prepared for All of that Candy

When the girls were young, to prevent them from overindulging in all that sugar they’d received each Halloween/Samhain, I had a plan in place to be ready for the bombardment of all that candy.

I realize that there are readers who believe children should have free reign over these treats; I simply do not agree. Sugar highs are not good for children, or those caring for them. Too much sugar in one day is not good for their health. And allowing them to binge eat like that can cause serious problems later on.

* I assure you, they had their treats. They enjoyed them. They simply had them in moderation. And they got tons of candy.

(Update 2017) Even though I am trying to eat healthier myself, and this blog is about frugal, healthy eating (for the most part), I completely understand the fun that comes along with this time of year. And I can’t wait to take Little Man out trick-or-treating some day.

Have these supplies ready:

cookie jar or other container

2 large bowls

freezer bags or containers labeled Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentines Day

trash can

  • Go through all the treats that each of your children received. Throw out any that does not look right.

While going through the candy, separate it all into the containers as such:

  • Popcorn balls, pretzels, fruit snacks, and other snack type items will go into one of the large bowls, along with any actual fruit.
  • Place chocolate candies in the other large bowl.
  • Put other types of candy into the cookie jar.
  • Candies with red or pink wrappers should be placed in the Valentine’s Day container.
  • Candies with blue, green and silver wrappers should be placed in the Christmas container.
  • Candies with brown, yellow or gold wrappers should be placed into the Thanksgiving container.
  • The three holiday containers are then placed into the freezer, and the rest are placed in a location that is not easily accessible to the children.

A week before each holiday, take the candy from the freezer and place it around the home in decorative plates. You do not have to buy candy for these holidays now.

  • These holiday candies are obviously not to be used as gifts. They were given to your children.

Have a Happy Samhain/Halloween!

Shannon

 

 

Apple Napkins

These napkins will add a decorative touch to any holiday table, as well as to every day settings, and will go with the Apple Placemats we made a last week. These can be made or decorated with minimal effort and time, and will add a certain charm to the decor. The napkins can be created with pre-made placemats, if desired, making it an even easier project.

Materials:

apple stencil

napkins, premade or homemade (Choose an off white color.)

parchment paper

fabric paints: red and/or green

2 paint brush

  1. Wash and dry the napkins. Iron if needed.
  2. Put paints on parchment paper squares.
  3. Use the stencil to paint the apple onto the napkins.
  4. Allow to dry thoroughly before using.

Tips:

  • It is okay to use more than 1 size apple stencil per napkin, to create a apple tree, basket of apples, or whatever you desire.
  • You could use different shades of the same color paints on the mats.
  • Get creative: Outline the napkins with another autumn color paint, create a grouping of mini apples placed to the side of a tree, etc.
  • Use these napkins for every day table settings, or for holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.
  • These can also be used for Samhain.
  • Use cotton fabric.
  • This craft is easy for children to help with.

Share your apple crafts with us in the comments.

Happy crafting!

Shannon

Pumpkin Napkins

The napkins will add a decorative touch to any holiday table, as well as to every day settings, and will go with the Pumpkin Placemats we made a couple of weeks back. These can be made or decorated with minimal effort and time, and will add a certain charm to the decor. The napkins can be created with pre-made placemats, if desired, making it an even easier project.

Materials:

pumpkin stencil

napkins, premade or homemade (Choose an off white color.)

parchment paper

fabric paints: orange, and green or brown for the stem

2 paint brush

  1. Wash and dry the napkins. Iron if needed.
  2. Put paints on parchment paper squares.
  3. Use the stencil to paint the pumpkin onto the napkins.
  4. Allow to dry thoroughly before using.

Tips:

  • It is okay to use more than 1 size pumpkin stencil per napkin, to create a pumpkin patch, pumpkin grouping, or whatever you desire.
  • You could use different shades of the same color paints on the mats.
  • Get creative: Outline the napkins with another autumn color paint, create a grouping of mini pumpkins placed to the side of a tree, etc.
  • Use these napkins for every day table settings, or for holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.
  • These can also be used for Samhain.
  • Use cotton fabric.
  • This craft is easy for children to help with.

Share your pumpkin crafts with us in the comments.

Happy crafting!

Shannon

Homemade Honey Butter

Zowie and I like honey butter. We once made this for a Thanksgiving party we threw for the daycare when the children were young, though it can be used any day: Holiday, Sabbat or not.

The recipe can be halved for normal table use. For larger gatherings, this recipe serves well.

(Update 2017) I don’t usually eat butter, but this is a holiday favorite.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1/2 cup honey

  1. Place the butter and the honey in a bowl.
  2. Mix with an electric hand mixer, and then place the mixture into a smaller bowl.
  3. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. Remix with a fork before serving.

Tips

  • Use real butter and raw honey for the best results.
  • Wait for sales to save money.
  • Store in a canning jar in the refrigerator.

Serving Suggestions

  • Spread on a warm Paleo biscuit.

Shannon

Our Favorite Cheesecake

This is a favorite at all holiday and sabbat celebrations in our home. Everyone loves it, even though it’s not your traditional cheesecake. Anyone can make it, even a child. It is quick and easy to make, and tastes so good.

This recipe is for two cakes, but you can halve everything for one if you don’t need that much. We always make two so that there is sure to be enough for everyone.

Ingredients:

2 packages of cream cheese

16 ounces of whipped topping

2/3 cup sugar

2 graham cracker crusts

  1. Combine the first three ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
  2. Pour the filling between the two crusts, and smooth out to the edges.
  3. Place the crust pan covers over the ‘cakes’ and place them in the refrigerator for an hour, or until you need them.

Tips

  • To save money, I buy all store brand items for this recipe.
  • Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the top of the cheesecake.
  • Add strawberry slices around the outer edge, and a whole strawberry in the center.
  • Place cherries around the outer edge, and a dollop of whipped topping in the center. Place another cherry into the center of the topping.
  • Purchase mini graham cracker crusts for making mini cheesecakes so that each person can have their own. Top these with cherries, strawberries or kiwi, and a dollop of whipped topping.

For the holidays:

  • The holiday cheesecakes I made (pictured) have five dollops of whipped cream, one at the center.
  • One cheesecake has peppermint Hershey’s kisses pushed into the dollops, and dark chocolate shavings covering the top.
  • The second cheesecake has Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate (half) squares pushed into the dollops, then a drizzling of chocolate syrup.

What toppings do you enjoy on your cheesecake?

There’s nothing healthy about these cheesecakes. They’re made only for special family occasions because people love them. They are not a typical dessert item for me. I do make allowances for special family recipes once in a while, when an occasion calls for it, even though I try very hard to eat healthy most of the rest of the time.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Food Gifts for Yule and Christmas

I know. I know. This is the second unhealthy food post I’m making today. Let’s face it, though. Sometimes we are going to treat ourselves (Or I am, anyway!). And my people do enjoy receiving candies and other treats at the holidays. So, until I learn to make the best-tasting healthy alternatives, this is what it is going to be.

Not worrying about the occasional unhealthy food experience is something I am working on, as long as I can keep it healthy most of the time. I am trying to not be to obsessive, which would be unhealthy in other ways.

Once all the candies have been collected, and the baked goods made, these treats need to be packaged festively to be given as gifts. These ideas will guide you along this path, but be as creative as you like. Switch things up. And share what you come up with in the comments below, or in a personal email to me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. Pictures are welcome!

There are a number of ideas below, so keep scrolling until you reach something you would like to try.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.1. The directions for these ornaments are here. They are easy enough for children to make, and are a quick project when there is not a lot of time to spare.

For something a little different, add some curly ribbon to the inside of the bulb, along with the candy or gum.

Each ornament will cost about $2.00, but the price will go down the next year if the ornaments are reused.

2. These stockings are small ones. Filled minimally, they could be hung from branches on the tree. They Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.might  be tacked to a wall or mantle when filled with heavier treats.

Simply place the candies into the stockings, and you are done. To get a little more decorative, write recipients names on the white, or attach a tag to the loop, and add some curly ribbon.

Stockings come in different colors, and some have felt shapes attached, such as bells, bulbs, or trees. It may be possible to find a different stocking for each child.

Look for stockings at a price of about .25 each, and fill with candies that do not cost a lot. To make 4 of these, it will cost around $3.00. What isn’t visible is the little chocolate balls that fill the toes of each stocking. That is .75 per gift.

These are the stockings I put together for 3 of my nieces, and 1 of my great-nephews. (He is not quite 1 yet, so only gets soft treats that he will not choke on.) Notice the gold coins, a throwback to my childhood. There are small candies and suckers in the stockings for my nieces. These go along with another gift I put together for each of them.Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.3. Mugs can be filled with candy and other items. Use an over-size mug for this, that can later be used for a big cup of hot cocoa or some tasty soup.

The article Easy Ways to Package Food Gifts on Bangor Easy Meals explains how to creatively wrap food gifts. Suggestion number 3 explains how to package candy bars, like in the photograph below.

Fill the mugs with candies for children or adults. The filled mug to the left was less than $4.00 to put together. The penguin was $1.00, the mug $2.50, and the tissue paper was reused from a gift received last year.

The one to the right cost just under $6.00. It is for an adult, and the candy bars are good quality chocolate and costPhotograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014. $3.00 for 3 bars. The tissue paper was not reused, but the gold bow came off the actual plastic package the bars came in. The curly ribbon came as a set of three for .99.

A couple of hot cocoa packets, some mini marshmallows, and chocolate dipped spoons would also make a great gift.

What would you fill mugs with for gift-giving? Tell us about it in the comments!

Photographs by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.4. Holiday tins filled with goodies are always a nice treat, whether the treats are homemade or not. Here are mini cupcakes, a good size chocolate Santa, a candy cane, truffles, and other small candies.

The tin was $3.50, but can be reused for years to come. The tissue paper was reused from a gift last year, and the ribbon and bow came already attached. The treats inside wouldn’t cost more than $3.00 if the cupcakes and frosting were homemade.

I put together one of these tins for a nephew. It cost about $8.00http://www.examiner.com/article/easy-food-gift-ideas-candy-jars to put together, but only because I bought him a box of quality peanut butter cups to go inside. He is older than the little ones, an adult, but he still likes the candies.

This is the most expensive gift I put together. I hope he likes everything!

How to Fill Tins for the Holidays, and What to Fill Them With is another article on Bangor Easy Meals that you will find interesting. It gives more ideas for filling tins, and not all of them have to do with sweets.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 20145. Small holiday bowls can also be filled with goodies. Again, the tissue paper used in this example was reused from a previous years’ gift. The bowls were on clearance after Christmas last year, a 4-pack for .99. And the estimated total cost to make all four of these gifts is $3.00. That is .75 per gift.

Simply place tissue paper in each bowl, and fill with an assortment of candies. Simple.

6. And these little boxes are also easy to fill with different goodies. I made 3, but the package actually had 5Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014. boxes for $2.50. The curly ribbon bunches came 3 to a package for .99. The total cost for the 3 presents was only about $3.00, because of the cost of the truffles. That is just $1.00 per gift.

The design on each box is simple and able to be used for either Yule or Christmas, a plus for gift-giving in my family.

What I actually made for my older nieces and nephews was slightly different, and are meant to go along with another gift they will each receive. So the cost about equaled out to what I spent to fill the tin for my other nephew. They cost about the same per gift as the example ones to make, and look nice.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.7.  I fell in love with this box when I saw it at K-Mart, so I picked it up despite the $1.99 gift tag. It is adorable, and I will use it each year in my decorating efforts, so the cost is actually minimal.

Simply place a wad of tissue paper in the bottom of the box, and top with small candies. Cover, and add some curly ribbon. That is it!

Look for cute little boxes on clearance, and these could be thrown together for less than $2.00 per box.

8. This glass tree-shaped container was given to me for Christmas one year, filled with candies. The curly Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.ribbon cost .33, and the candies cost only a few dollars. So this was created for a little more than $3.00.

Fill the container with candies and cover, then stick a bundle of curly ribbon to the back, bringing a few strands to the front to tie loosely.

Butter mints or peppermints would work well in one of these jars, as would truffles.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I am not giving away my tree container though. I like the container, and it goes nicely on my holiday shelf. Filled with simple candies, it sits on my shelf – and I give most of the candy away. The ribbon is not added.

Next year I might put hard butterscotch candies in it, or maybe other old-fashioned candies.

What homemade goodies might be placed in this or another differently shaped glass container?

9. Small gift bags, filled partially with reused tissue paper, are easily filled with candies or homemade Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.cookies, and given as gifts. The bag used in this example cost about .50, and the candies about $1.50. So, for $2.00 this gift bag holds a good size chocolate Santa, 2 candy canes, 2  suckers, two chocolate marshmallow snowmen, and a few little candies. Add curly ribbon for about .33, and a tag.

Not bad for the price, but it will likely cost less if the treats are homemade.

You may also enjoy:

Candy-Filled Ornaments and Tags

I hope these ideas are enough for you, and help you to make the holidays a little more special. There may not be more posts before the new year, though you never know. It depends how busy things get. So, just in case:

Blessed Yule, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

And heartfelt blessing for any other holiday or sabbat you may celebrate.

I wish you all

Warm and safe holidays, and safe travels.

*Shannon*

Candy-Filled Ornaments or Gift Tags

Whether celebrating Yule or Christmas, these ornaments will make good gifts hung from branches on the tree on Christmas Eve, as well as a nice decoration. They might also be added to a wrapped gift. The candy can be eaten once the sabbat or holiday has passed, and the ornaments refilled the next year.

I know candy is not healthy, and that we really shouldn’t be eating it, but I have family members who don’t limit such things. So yes, I give sweets at the holidays. Also, I don’t think it is necessarily bad to treat yourself once-in-a-while. You just don’t want to make a habit of it.

The ornaments are so easy to create that children can make them.

Materials

Clear plastic ornaments

Ribbon

Candies – small enough to fit through the neck of the ornaments

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

  1. Wash the ornaments in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Allow to dry completely.
  2. Take the tops off the ornaments carefully, so as not to bend them out of shape.
  3. Fill each ornament about 1/8 to 1/4 of the way. You don’t want them ornaments to be too heavy to hang from branches on the tree. (Note: Smaller ornaments may need to be filled all the way.)
  4. Tie ribbons to the ornament tops for hanging.
  5. Put the tops back on the ornaments.
  6. The ornaments are ready.

This simple craft will take little time to complete, and will make little ones very happy when they find them on the tree.

Tips

  • Reuse ornaments year-after-year to save money.
  • Buy dollar candies for filling.
  • Write recipients names on the ornaments in green or red permanent marker, and use them as tags on gifts. Attach them to the gifts with curly ribbon.
  • Fill with small pieces of gum for something different.
  • Use gold ribbon to use these as place markers for your New Years Eve celebration.

You may also enjoy:

Food Gifts for Christmas and Yule

Share your simple food crafts in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Happy Holidays!

Shannon

Festive Hot Cocoa

Every so often, even I like to have a treat. Now that the autumn holidays are over, I’m craving hot cocoa. I wont have it often, but once in a while I will sit to relax and watch a movie, with a hot cocoa.

This simple recipe is what I  usually use. Depending on taste, you may not need the agave nectar for sweetness once the candy cane is added and has a chance to melt just a bit.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

Ingredients

1 – 13.66 fluid ounce can full fat coconut milk

2 level tablespoons full unsweetened cocoa

1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)

1 candy cane

  1. Shake the can of coconut milk before opening, to break up the cream that rises to the top.
  2. Pour the milk into a saucepan, and place the pan on the stove. Turn the burner to medium-high heat.
  3. Whisk 2 level tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa into the milk while heating, mixing until completely combined, then until warmed through.
  4. Once hot enough that you will have to let it cool for a bit before drinking, add 1/2 teaspoon of agave nectar, if using it.
  5. Pour hot cocoa into a mug, place a candy cane into the cup, and let sit until it is just warm enough to drink.
  6. Some of the candy cane may have already melted into the hot cocoa. Stir with the rest of the candy cane every so often, while enjoying your cocoa.

Tips

  • Top with mini marshmallows, or fluff, instead of, or with, the candy cane.
  • Try using different types of milk, such as almond, cashew, or hazelnut.
  • Use coupons on the ingredients to save money.
  • Buy the candy canes after the holidays, while on clearance.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a festive dessert, such as gingerbread cake with whipped cream, iced sugar cookies, or brownies.

(UPDATE 2017) Now that I’m trying to eat a mainly Paleo diet, wont really be adding candies and such to my hot cocoa. I will be switching the agave out for honey.

Happy holidays!

Shannon

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Watermelon Stars

These snacks are so easy to make, and are great fun for children to help with. Be sure to do the cutting with the knife yourself, then set them to making the stars while you prepare the cream.

You will need a medium size star cookie cutter, or a set of different size ones. Set the stars out on a platter, or a large sheet of cardboard covered with aluminum foil.

Ingredients

1 medium watermelon (Because the children will want to eat some while helping!)

1 can coconut cream concentrate

1+ tsp pure vanilla

1/2 to 1 pint blueberries

  1. Rinse the fruit, and pat dry with a clean towel.
  2. Cut the watermelon into slices thin enough so the cutters will go all the way through.
  3. Use star-shaped cookie cutters to cut stars from the watermelon slices, and place on a lined platter (or cardboard!).
  4. Pour the cream into a bowl and add some vanilla. Whisk or beat for a couple of minutes to combine well.
  5. Spoon a little cream on each star, smoothing it out evenly.
  6. Top each star with a few blueberries.

Tips

  • Try doing the same with honey-dew or cantaloupe sometime.

Serving Suggestions

  • These make great appetizers, or even snacks.

You may also enjoy these patriotic holiday recipes

Red, White, and Blue Parfait

A Simple Food Platter

Berries and Cream

Fruit Salad

Berry Parfait

Don’t forget the take the kids outside with their own watermelon slices, and have a seed spitting contest!

Happy Fourth of July!

Shannon

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: A Simple Food Platter Idea

What would a Fourth of July celebration be without a food representation of the US flag? This simple platter is placed out at the beginning of the party or picnic, for everyone to snack on until the main foods are brought out.

You are simply going to fill a rectangular food platter with red, white, and blue foods, in such a way that finished platter resembles the US flag.

Ingredients

1 pint blueberries

small watermelon

1 pound strawberries

2 pints raspberries, or another red berry

cheese cubes, enough to fill white lines – mozzarella/provolone/another type

  1. Cut the watermelon into slices. Chop into (about) 1 inch squares
  2. Rinse the berries, and use a towel to gently pat them dry.
  3. Hull the strawberries, and cut them in half.
  4. Place the blueberries into a square, white bowl, just big enough to hold them. Put this bowl in the upper left corner of the platter.
  5. Cut a few cheese cubes into quarters, to place on the berries to act as ‘stars’.
  6. Beginning next to the bowl, at the top of the platter, you are going to add lines – red and white stripes. Start with a line of watermelon for red, then a line of cheese cubes. End with a line of watermelon for red, and a line of cheese cubes above that. In between, use the strawberries as red lines, raspberries as red lines, and watermelon if you need to. Do these separately, so only one type of fruit is in each line. (The order does not really matter.) The white lines will all be cheese cubes.
  7. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Tips

  • Place on a table and let everyone enjoy while hanging out.
  • Cut expenses where possible. Look for coupons on cheese. If you notice a sale, most cheeses freeze. A sale combined with coupons will save a lot of money. Some fruits, such as watermelon, can also be bought when on sale and frozen.

You may also be interested in

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Fruit Salad

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Berries and Cream

Easy Burger Options

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Shannon