Best New Year Wishes Card

So here it is, almost the end of the year, and I have some really exciting (or at least life-altering) news…I’m going back to college full-time…to be a high school math teacher. Yep, it’s been twenty-five or so since I’ve been a college student, but on January 1, I start my journey.

While I’m really looking forward to being a student again, I’ve realized something’s got to give in my life as I know it….and, unfortunately, I think it’ll be this blog. Chaos Served Daily became my creative outlet when we moved to semi-rural Wisconsin and I had much more time on my hands than I had in the past. I’ve loved writing five posts a week, but am anticipating only writing once or twice a week in the new year. I hope to still share crafts, recipes, and, of course, tales o’chaos with you.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am to all of you for reading and commenting and sharing with me, and I know I’ll miss that daily interaction. But until I’m in a “battle rhythm” with school, I need to concentrate on fitting that into my schedule. I know you’ll understand, but I still feel a little guilty…and sad, too.  Of course, my kids can now eat whatever I make without asking if I need a photo for the blog first, which I’m sure they’ll appreciate!

Speaking of the hooligans, Christmas break begins tomorrow for them, and my favorite GI Joe is on half days (which really means he works from 0600 to 1500), so I’m taking the next two weeks off completely from blogging, to spend time making memories with them. I hope you are surrounded by family and friends this Christmas and New Year’s, and make all sorts of wonderful memories yourself!

I made one last card for the year…a New Year’s card…that I wanted to share with you…New-Year-ChaosServedDaily

This uses a single stamp, Best New Year, gold Encore ink, gold embossing powder, Whisper White and Crumb Cake cardstocks,and Island Indigo ruffled ribbon. I just had to use some products from the new Occasions catalog, available January 1: the Scallop Tag Topper punch and mini gold clothespins. There are two tag topper punches in the new catalog, and I love them both…scalloped and angled. The clothespins are an assortment of gold and silver.

The sentiment is stamped in gold ink, then embossed in gold.  In person, it’s very, very pretty.  To make the confetti gold dots, I used a pencil eraser and the gold ink…cool, right?  My kids love to stamp with pencil erasers and other household objects, so they thought this was a perfect way to decorate the background.

Anyway, this card says it for me, but I’ll say it again:  I wish you all the merriest of Christmases and a very blessed 2014!

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Delightful December (Baker’s) Dozen

Here it is, practically Christmas, and I still have lots of projects I wanted to show again this year.  They’re favorites from the past (along with a few you might have missed this year), but still perfect for this season, too.  I hope you find a little inspiration!Christmas Collage

Pieced Christmas Tree Card

Simply Christmas Nativity Ornament

Ornament Stamped Coasters

Jingly Joy Glass Block

Sugared Cranberries

Wreathed in Peace Card

Nativity Pallet Art

Christmas Collage 2

Orange-Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

Marshmallow World Free Printable

Russian Tea Mix (with Printable Labels)

Year of Memories Ornament

Merry Munch Snack Mix

String of Lights Card

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Comfort and Joy Wall Words

Each year, I try to incorporate a new holiday decoration, and last year I bought 9” tall chipboard letters spelling out “Comfort and Joy.” I’d wanted to do this for a few years, but could never make up my mind as to what words, but finally decided that, for me at least, the holidays are all about the comforts of home and family and the joy of Jesus’ birth, spending time with loved ones, and the wonder in little ones’ eyes…it’s a lot of joy!

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I waited until the letters went on sale for half price, and it really wasn’t too expensive…I think a little over a dollar per letter. I used Command poster strips to hang them, and they stayed securely but came off easily with no damage when the season was over.

This took all of ten minutes (minus the shopping trip to buy the letters) and I love that as guests left our home, the words would be the last thing they saw before walking out the door. Usually I have a sign up there that says “What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?”  I’m not saying that’s not more appropriate for our house, but it’s nice to portray a calm facade once in a while.

I even found a spot in our house this year for them…over the kitchen window.  Since I spend most of my days in the kitchen this time of year, it’s a perfect location so that I see them all day long.

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This year our mischievous elf, Joe, cut out a new letter “E” and changed it to “Comfort and Joe” one night. The kids thought it was so funny…I really wish I could get credit for some of these ideas instead of them thinking I’m an old fuddy duddy. Which I probably am, since I just wrote “Fuddy duddy.” Whatever.

I’m thinking of drilling holes and adding lights to make them marquee letters next year, but I may or may not do that.  I really like the natural kraft color, especially in my non-glitzy Christmas décor. Because the hubs won’t let me use glitter in this house, since we’re staying in it forever. Again, I say, whatever.

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No-Sew Printed Burlap Placemats

Look what I made this weekend…festive, simple burlap placemats for my winter table. But first, tell me I’m not alone in this…I go to the fabric store for one thing, and end up getting material to make at least three other projects, as well. But I am loving these No-Sew Printed Burlap Placemats I made for our everyday table.

I saw this fun snowflake and glitter printed burlap on the shelf, and I knew I had to have it for SOMETHING. So I decided on placemats, easy-peasy. All the printed burlap was so enticing…gold dots, paisley, all sorts of things…but I loved the glittery snowflakes on the blue background.Placemats-ChaosServedDaily

I bought a yard and a half and it made 6 placemats, 17” x 14” before I fringed them.  I simply used my rotary cutter to make them the correct size, then raveled a few strings from each edge to make about a half-inch fringe.

They were a little wrinkled, so I ironed them on a cotton setting with steam, printed side down.  The print didn’t come off on my ironing board, but I didn’t want to take a chance that it would stick to my iron.  I ran a bead of fabric glue along the edges on the back side (working with wax paper under the placemat to catch any drips) to keep them from unraveling further and let that dry thoroughly before using them on my table.

With my red Christmas dishes and some simple cranberry-and-candle filled glasses, they make a whimsical setting for the table…and I can use them even after Christmas, with the snowflakes and general wintery design. They fit in perfectly with our “everything in the house is distressed” look (thanks to my three hooligans), as well as lending a bit of the red, white, and blue we Army folks use so often!DSC_0005

Now, really, doesn’t your table need a dash of fun for the cold, wintry days ahead of us?

Kidcraft: Washi Christmas Tree Canvas

Yep, we’ve been trapped inside for another weekend while the hubs was off in an exotic locale on an exercise. So we crafted, of course! Specifically, we made Washi Christmas Tree Canvas decorations for their rooms.

I found a fun set of kid’s paper craft tape at Target recently, so I kinda sorta turned them loose with that and some canvases to create their own designs. .

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Aren’t those cool tapes?  They were in the kid’s crafts section, with crayons and posterboards.Tapes-ChaosServedDailyThis tape was easier for my kids to work with than washi is, I think because it’s thicker and easier to tear straight across.  I used some gold foil sticker paper from Silhouette and a Stampin’ Up! die to cut the “Peace and Joy” and we punched stars out of the foil using a paper punch.

They loved this tape so much, we had to find something else to do with it…so we made cards to send to soldiers in Afghanistan.  We have a friend deployed over there, so we sent a bunch marked “To Any Service Member” for him to pass out amongst his troops.

Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph their masterpieces before mailing them, but here they are, hard at work:

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I admit, my eye was a little twitchy, seeing all this messiness as we were crafting, but they enjoyed it so much, I got over it. And they were super helpful about cleaning up. Seriously, they were. I was amazed. I think we ended up sending almost 20 cards, so hopefully they will cheer up some soldiers’ holidays.

I hope Target has a new set of tape designs out soon…I think they were $10 for the set of nine tapes, and I’d much rather the hooligans craft with these than with my washi tape hoard…I might need that someday!

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Beef Stew with Pub Bread {& a Menu}

Oh my goodness…you would have thought two winters in Wisconsin would have prepared me for the cold this year, but that’s not the case.  It was a scramble to find hats and gloves for everyone the first day the highs dropped below freezing, and I still resent having to even wear a coat. So I don’t, but I do carry it in the car with me, just in case.

But, anyway…I needed hot, comforting food this week, and my favorite made-from-scratch bread, Pub Bread, along with my mom’s Beef Stew, really hit the spot!

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There’s no photo of the stew, because, really, who can take an appetizing photo of stew?  Certainly not I!  This bread takes a few hours because of the rising, but the hands on time is less than thirty minutes, so it’s a completely doable indulgence. What smells better than a loaf of homemade bread baking, I ask you?

Pub Bread

  • 1 bottle dark beer
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter (unsalted and softened)
  • 1 package dry yeast ( 2 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/3 cup very warm water
  • 5-6 cups flour

In small saucepan, heat beer to boiling. In large bowl, combine oatmeal, salt, butter, molasses and hot beer. Let cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in water and add to oatmeal mixture. Stir to blend, then stir in flour, 2 cups at a time, stirring well after each addition.

Turn dough onto well-floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat entire surface. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about an hour, until doubled. I preheat my oven to 175, then turn it off before starting the dough. Then I set my bowl in there to rise.

Punch dough down, shape into loaves, and place in 2 ungreased loaf pans. Cover and again let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 (remove the loaves if they’re rising in there!). Bake 30-45 minutes, until loaves sound hollow when tapped on top and the sides start to pull away from the pan. Remove from oven and cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack.

Smother it with butter while a little warm and enjoy! This makes two loaves, so you can freeze one (if you have that much willpower).

Click here for the printable Pub Bread recipe

Click here for my mom’s Beef Stew recipe (it totally rocks!)

And here’s what was for dinner this week:

  • Monday: Beef Stew with Pub Bread
  • Tuesday:  Chicken and Butternut Squash Tagine with Pine Nut Couscous (from a mix) and Cucumbers with Oikos Yogurt Dip
  • Wednesday: Brisket and Havarti Melts on Ciabatta Rolls (openfaced) with Veggies and Dip
  • Thursday: Back-of-the-Box Lasagna (made with soy crumbles) and Chopped Salad
  • Friday: Make Your Own Pizza

Let it be known that my favorite GI Joe has been in Japan for the last two weeks on an exercise (which was in the newspaper, so I’m not violating OPSEC), so I have been completely unmotivated to cook actual meals. Fortunately, when I did make these fairly simple meals, the hooligans praised them to the heavens, so I got my motivation back!

The brisket was leftover and frozen from Thanksgiving. To make your own, rub the brisket with Liquid Smoke, then heavily season it with seasoning salt, lemon pepper, and garlic. Cover the pan tightly with foil and roast at 275 degrees for 45 minutes PER POUND of brisket. This is amazing, y’all…I cook a big brisket, then portion it out and freeze it for future meals.

Enjoy your weekend!

Nativity Pallet Art

Look what I made: this simple, yet gorgeous Nativity Pallet Art!

Nativity-Pallet-ChaosServedI love it…and I have to give it away. I designed and crafted this Nativity Pallet Art for a gift exchange at my Bible study group, but when I saw that it actually looked as good as I thought it would (that doesn’t happen a lot of the time!), I decided I want one of my own. And I’m going to make one as soon as I have a spare hour. So, let’s say….for Christmas of 2043? No, I’m kidding…I’m making one this weekend for myself.

To make yourself one, you’ll need a few supplies:

  • Wooden stakes (sold in a bundle at the hardware store)
  • Craft Paint:  Metallic Gold, Metallic Blue, and a lighter blue…I used Plaid’s Light Periwinkle, but I’ve had it for years so they may not even make it anymore
  • Stencils  or vinyl (I downloaded a manger one from Silhouette and the words are in Keep Calm font, cut on my Silhouette as well)
  • Foam paintbrushes
  • A gold spritz pen or an old toothbrush and some of the gold paint

1. Cut the wood pieces so that you have 9 that are 12” long and 2 that are 13” long.  Mix a stain with about a teaspoon of light blue paint and 4 Tbsp water and brush it on the front and edges of the 12” long pieces. Let dry.

2. When dry, use E6000 or similar adhesive to glue the longer pieces to the back, as shown:

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3. When that is completely dry, cut your stencil and place it on transfer paper. Transfer it to your “pallet” and paint with metallic paints.  Carefully remove stencil, touching up if necessary. (if you’re using a store-bought stencil, you’ll need to spray the back with a light adhesive, lay it on your pallet, and then paint, being careful not to get paint under the edges of the stencil.)

4. Use the spritzer to add a little glitz to the light blue background, or, if using a toothbrush, get a bit of gold paint on it and run your thumb along the brush to create a spatter. Practice this on newspaper or scrap paper first!

5. When all the paint is completely dry, attach two small eye hooks and hanging wire to the back, like so.

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If you don’t have a die-cutting machine, you can probably find a similar manger scene already cut at a craft store, or, if you’re better with a craft knife than I, you can make your own stencil from clipart.

I hope whoever gets this at the swap loves it as much as I do…and I hope I find some time to make another!

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One Delicious Gift: Jezebel Sauce

I’ve blogged about Jezebel Sauce a couple of times before, but always as an appetizer, poured over cream cheese and snacked on with crackers. But, y’all…it makes a wonderful gift, as well, for your neighbors, for a hostess, or just for someone you really, really like and want to make smile!

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In this photograph, I’ve used it in one of my favorite ways:  on biscuits with ham and cream cheese. They’re fabulous for a brunch buffet, because they can be served at room temperature and are simply delicious.

One batch of this makes 4 half-pint jars, and takes about five minutes to whip up. Really.

Jezebel Sauce

  • 16 oz apple jelly
  • 16 oz pineapple jelly (or apricot-pineapple)
  • 4 oz prepared horseradish
  • 4 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 2 Tbsp ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth and well blended.  Spoon into jars and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

If you’re giving this as a gift, make a note on the tag that it must be kept refrigerated. It’s fine out of the refrigerator for a few hours so you can deliver it, but don’t wrap it and put it under the tree!

And, because I’m feeling the Christmas spirit (and want to make it easy on you to give this amazing sauce to your friends), click on the image below to download a sheet of labels.  They’re sized to fit a 2” circle punch, and you can print them on white cardstock, punch them out, and glue them back-to-back to make a faux chalkboard tag. Jezbel-Labels-ChaosServedDa

{click directly on the image to download the labels}

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Pecan, White Chocolate, & Cranberry Pie Bars

Shut the front door, y’all! These Pecan, White Chocolate, and Cranberry Pie Bars deserve to be made today, immediately, without delay!  I combined two of our favorites, classic pecan pie bars and a pecan, cranberry, and white chocolate tart, and, shazaam! My family members were begging for “just another small piece, please?” (I was attempting to save enough to take to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house.)

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Pecan, White Chocolate, and Cranberry Pie Bars

Crust:

  • 1- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Filling:

  • 1-1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, butter and sugar in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press crust mixture evenly onto bottom of ungreased 13×9-inch baking pan. Bake 18-22 minutes or until edges are very light golden brown.
  3. Combine all filling ingredients except pecans, white chocolate chips, and cranberries in bowl; mix well. Evenly sprinkle the pecans, white chocolate chips, and cranberries over hot, partially baked crust. Evenly (and carefully) pour corn syrup mixture over. Bake 30-35 minutes or until filling is set and knife inserted 1-inch from edge comes out clean. Cool; cut into bars.

Click here for the printable recipe

Now, seriously, go make a pan of these! (They freeze beautifully, too, if you have the willpower to do that!)

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Washi Tape Votive Gifts

I’m sure you’ve seen the cute tealights wrapped with washi tape for various holidays…and if you haven’t, kudos for you for resisting the pull of Pinterest! I wanted to make some of the tealights, only partially to justify the growing collection of washi tape I’m amassing, but mainly because I thought they would be perfect little gifts for a “Merry and Bright” Christmas.

But…when I looked for tealights at the dollar store, they were really shallow pans, so I didn’t think my washi would fit well. And then I spied some little glass votives, really a bit skinnier than votives, packaged three in a clear container and tied with a bow. I snagged all they had (only six packages) and hurried home to washi.

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How cute are those?  And here’s all I needed to make them:

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These simple little Washi Votives will make perfect gifts for teachers, neighbors, and friends this holiday season and convey just the right message…May your Christmas be merry and bright!

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