holiday

Recipe: Peppernuts

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I've been posting pictures of them on Instagram & unless you know me personally or live in an area with Swiss/German Mennonite roots, you've probably been wondering: What in the world are peppernuts??? 

I hear that a lot. 

They're a tiny cookie made with Christmas-y spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and anise oil. 

Though a bit labor intensive, I beg you to give these a try, especially since it's an ideal activity to make with help. Now that my girls are old enough to actual offer up USEFUL assistance, we've made it our tradition to roll out the dough over a Christmas movie. I've also thought it would be fun to invite some friends over to chat, drink wine & roll peppernut dough. (Want to join me?)  

My Grandma has been making these as long as I can remember, making them in time for Thanksgiving and not letting the peppernut jar run dry until after New Year's. I didn't even realize what a novelty they were until I moved away, and have since enjoyed making the tradition my own. 

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Melt in Your Mouth Peppernuts

1 cup butter
1 and 1/2 C. sugar
1 beaten egg
2 T. dark syrup
3 and 3/4 C. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. anise oil (or 2 t. anise extract)

Cream butter, sugar, syrup and egg. Add dry ingredients and anise oil.

The dough is really stiff, so for the sake of your mixer, don't make a double batch. I personally just follow one batch immediately with another. The dough will also look a bit crumbly. If you're worried that it's not going to stick together at all, you can add a little water, one Tablespoon at a time – but would not add more than 3 Tablespoons.

Divide the dough into 3 or 4 balls & then chill the dough.  

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This is the part where it's fun to have friends or at least a movie. :)

Working with 1 dough ball at a time (the rest stay in the fridge), roll out into long snakes the size of your little finger. Again, sometimes the dough can be a bit crumbly. The trick is to develop a smoosh-roll technique. Roll it out gently, if it starts to crumble a bit, smoosh it back together and then keep rolling. It's taken many years to perfect. ;)

Keep chilled. I like to roll out all my dough at once, piling it high on a rimmed cookie sheet in the freezer. Putting them in the freezer makes them a bit easier to work with.

Slice into small pieces and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on paper towels spread out on your counter. 

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One more weird fact for you: This is probably the only cookie that isn't better directly out of the oven. I know. Weird, right? 

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They're amazing by themselves, but try them with coffee. Trust me.

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So. Good. And addicting. You've been warned. :) 

Let me know how you like them!

xoxo—Lori

In case you'd like to know more about these little cookies, here's some more background information I've dug up: 

Like most baked goods, there are many variations of peppernuts. While most recipes call for cloves and cinnamon, some also use nutmeg or anise. A Danish recipe for pebernødder requires white pepper, while most recipes don’t use pepper at all. Some versions of the German pfeffernüsse contain pecans, ginger, or cardamom.

In the Netherlands, St Nicolas, patron of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam, arrives by boat from Spain with his white horse and his helpers, chimney sweeps called Petes, to assist him. It is a busy time for St Nick, crossing the roofs with his horse while the Petes take the presents down the chimneys. Traditionally, the Petes also scatter “pepernoten” around for the kids.

German Mennonite women used to make the dough several weeks before Christmas and let it chill for up to a week in a cold cellar to let the flavors mellow.

Years ago, a reader on my blog, excited to see a photo of what she called “our peppernuts”, shared that her husband’s grandmother made them every year. Her mother-in-law didn’t share the recipe with her until she had been married for 25 years as it was a closely guarded family recipe that they knew had been in the family for at least 150 years. She was told that each village or family had their own shape and version of peppernuts, and the recipes were never shared outside the family.

Printable Olaf Valentine's Day Treat Topper

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If you've sees much of my work over the years, you'll probably agree that this isn't the most awe-inspiring thing I've created. However, it is making Munchkin & Peanut quite happy, and sometimes, that really is the point! Remember, we did name our puppy Sven, after all. ;) We filled our treat bag with a melted Olaf – 3 marshmallows, 2 mini-marshmallows, 2 pretzel sticks, 3 chocolate chips, and a candy corn), but any candy would work and still get the sentiment across.

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If you've got Olaf fans at your house, perhaps you'll appreciate this years' printable as well. If not, check out our previous years here and here. Click on the image below to download the printable file.

Happy Valentine's Day!! xoxo Lori

Printable Valentine's Treat Bag Topper

Last year we started the tradition of making our Valentines & it's a choice I fully enjoy! The girls get really excited dividing up the candy, filling the bags & putting them all together, and I think they take a lot of pride in giving their friends something they helped make. Plus, this way we can be sure we won't be the 5th girl to be handing out Frozen cards. :) Important? Not really. But we do like to encourage individuality over here! As much as I liked last year's card, I think the design we came up with this time is even better!

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And on the back is lots of room for the girls to write out their friends' names. ( I love kindergarten writing!!) 

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So, if you're still needing to get your Valentine's together, I've made a printable just for you! These toppers fit the Spritz favor bags that you can pick up at Target, but you will need to fold the bag over a couple of times. Enjoy!!

Click on the image below to download:

DIY Star Christmas Tree Topper

Last year, I found & pinned a tree topper offered by Land of Nod. This year, I decided I was ready to buy it, but of course, they no longer offer it. :(

So I did the only thing I could: Made my own — with a couple of changes to suit our family's style.

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It is a little hard to see in the photos, but I added a bright pink star under the white one &  hand-stitched the smaller stars and circle to the large main star with a decorative blanket stitch. I think it adds a bit of whimsy to a somewhat folksy design. And since I just can't help myself, I made up a pattern to share with you. You can download the pieces here.

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Once you have the pieces of felt cut out, Stack the two stars & circles, securing with fusible tape or similar. Repeat with the second set.

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Center the stacked stars & circle onto the large star, securing with fusible tape or similar. Stitch around edges of each small star & the circle with a sewing machine, or hand-stitch with a decorative blanket stitch. Repeat with the second set.

Place triangle piece on the front of the star and stitch 1/2 inch from the edge.

Clip curve. Repeat with the second set. 

Fold triangle to the back & iron to press in place. Repeat with the second set. 

Place both stars together, front to front. Sew around the perimeter, 1/2 inch from the edge, dot to dot.

Align the triangle pieces & sew together 1/4 inch from the edge, starting where you stopped on the star and continuing all the way around, leaving the space between the dots open. 

Turn the star right-side-out through the hole left in the triangle. Use the eraser end of the pencil, or other blunt object to help push out the star points.

Stuff the star with fiberfill, pushing it into the star points, leaving room in the body portion to push the triangle into it.

Hand-stitch the opening on the triangle closed using a ladder stitch. 

Push the triangle up into the center of the star, creating a cavity that you can slip over the top of the Christmas tree, securing your Star Tree Topper in place.

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Get some help and put the star on your tree & enjoy!!!!

I'm loving the way our family room looks this Christmas. I even added my new Christmas canvases to our walls. They were the PERFECT finishing touch.

Printable Valentine's Treat Bag Topper

No judging here, but I think making Valentine's is so much more fun than purchasing them, and it's a great opportunity to spend some quality time with my girls. Plus, I think they take a lot of pride in giving their friends something they helped make. Besides, how can I claim to be a "Maker of Things" if I don't make our Valentines???? (You don't realize the pressure & expectations that come along with such a moniker! Ha!) I had considered buying the pieces since I didn't have a lot of time this weekend, but nothing really struck our fancy while we were out. So instead, we bought clear treat bags & some candy, with plans of making & printing tags to go on top.

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If I'm allowed to say it, I think they turned out stinkin' cute!

I left plenty of space for my Kindergartner to write out her friends' names and sign her own. She loved that part — systematically checking of the girls and then the boys names. Tomorrow night we will be decorating a box in which to collect her Valentines. We've consulted Pinterest and Big Sister has decided that she would like to make her box look like a mail box. I'm debating how in depth I want to go with this. . .  (I'm telling you! That "Maker" title sets the bar high!! It can be a real curse sometimes.) But, in the meantime, in case you're still scrambling to put together Valentine's for your kids class, I thought I'd share our tag with you. And just because I realize not everyone is going to like the multi colors, I've given you a pink option too. Consider it my Valentine's gift to you. :)

xoxo Lori Danelle


Click the images below for a downloadable pdf file.

Hello Monday

This weekend I decided that the house needed a little Valentine's Day love.

I also decided that these two needed a craft project.

So I broke out the ole' melted Crayon between sheets of wax paper craft and was deemed the "Coolest Mommy!" Go me!  :)

By the way, don't forget to put paper under and over your wax paper when ironing. The crayon wax has a tendency to ooze out the sides. I remembered, but still got red crayon wax on my iron. ;) But just a tad. Also, please ignore the wall that is still only partially painted. We'll get there. Maybe.

I finished sewing my Christmas present fabric into curtains this weekend as well!!! I've purchased supplies to make my curtain rods so that I can hang them, but that's as far as I got.

I seem to be un-capable of just going to the store and purchasing something that is already made, finished and ready to be used. That's just how we roll in our house. We like to make things difficult.  ;)

So, hopefully by next weekend I'll actually have new curtains to go with my snazzy V-Day decorations. Fingers crossed!! What have you got planned for the week?

xoxo Lori Danelle

DIY Candy Corn Bean Bag

Last week Mr. Maker shared with you how he built the boards for a bean bag toss that we used at the Fall Carnival. Today I'm going to show you how I made the bean bags that go with it. I loved the idea of making them look like candy corn — that way the kids could "feed" the pumpkin and the ghost! 

For 4 bean bags, you'll need 

6" strip of white fabric
6" strip of yellow fabric
6" strip of orange fabric
6" strip of canvas fabric
coordinating thread
bag of beans
Download Template

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You'll start with three stripes of white, yellow, and orange fabric. At stores like JoAnn's you can get as little or as much as you'd like cut, whereas non-chain stores will probably have a minimum cut of an eighth of a yard. However, I wouldn't trust JoAnn's to cut the fabric straight, so I always get more than I need. Cut the white & yellow fabric into 3" wide strips the entire width of your fabric, and the orange fabric into a 2.5" strip.

Pin your white & yellow fabric together. Sew with a .5" seam allowance. Pin the orange fabric to the yellow fabric & sew, again with a .5" seam allowance. Iron, pressing all seam allowances the same direction.

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Sew the whole strip to canvas, for extra support. I figured that since these things were going to be thrown around, we'd better be safe than sorry! I started on the white edge and sewed .25" from the edge. Then, because I pushed the seam allowance toward the yellow strip, I edge-stitched 1/8" from seam, on the yellow side. Repeat for the orane section, and then again .25" from the raw edge of the orange strip.

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I transfered the template to chipboard so that I could trace around it better, but that's not necessary. You can just cut out the template from a sheet of paper. Align the bottom of the template with the bottom of the orange strip. Trace around it with a fabric pen. Flip the template, align the edge of the template with the edge you just drew and trace again. Repeat all the way across your fabric.

Yes, I realize that some of the "candy corn" will be up-side-down, but my dislike for wasting fabric won-out over my dislike for things not being correct! :)

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With a ruler and rotary cutter, if you have one, cut along the straight edges. Then, cut the curves of the corners with scissors.

Match orange bottomed triangles with orange bottomed triangles, and white with white. Place with right-sides together and pin.

Sew together, using a .5" seam allowance, starting and stopping on the red dots from the template. Starting and stopping in the same place, zig-zag around the raw edge. Clip the curves, if you wish.

Turn the bean bag right-side-out.

Fill with about 1/2 cup of beans. Add or take away until it meets your desired fullness.

Fold the opening inside the bean bag and pin shut. Typically, I'd tell you to hand-stitch them closed, but because these are bean bags and not a throw pillow — and I was going for speed over aesthetics, I just went ahead and sewed them shut with my sewing machine. Not that noticeable on the white fabric, and had I had orange thread on hand, I would have used that on the orange bottoms. But I promise, while using them at the carnival we heard lots of exclamations on how cute the bean bags were, and none about the fact that I had machine sewed them shut! Whew!

Now isn't that just crazy cute!? And just in time for all the Halloween festivities coming up!

xoxo Lori

DIY Fall Carnival Bean Bag Toss

Can you believe it's October already?? I cannot. However, we're doing our best to embrace it and even decorated our house for Halloween this weekend. (The key is to buy the $2 bag of spider web. Major bang for the buck!) We're also getting ready for the Fall Carnival at my daughter's school. As Nate is a Room Mom ( I refuse to call him Room Dad) he's played a very large role in getting things together for Big's class — including building a very cute set of bean bag toss boards. As you'll soon see, I'm not the only one who's crafty at our house. Mr. Maker and I usually do building projects together, but since this one was all his, I thought I'd let him share with you. And if you've been around here for any length of time, I think you'll quickly understand why the Mr. and I make such a great team! ;) xoxo Lori

This year I was recruited to be my kindergartner's school's first ever Room Dad. About two days after volunteering I was pushed right into the biggest fundraiser of the year, the Fall Festival. Okay, you may be thinking "big deal, an elementary school Fall Festival." Well friends allow me to tell you this is no ordinary Fall Festival; these people are serious about some fundraising. Here are some of the highlights.

  • First the PTO expects to net over $40,000 (this thing only runs from 9am-3pm.)

  • Over 4,000 are expected in attendance.

  • Carnival concessions, games, rides, and prizes.

  • Live and Silent Auction

I am a "type A" kind of guy, so I hit the ground running. I thought a bean bag toss, and the idea was confirmed by another room mom. Rather than spend $15-30 I thought about my scrap wood pile, and dumpster diving (as I do many times a day.) My reasoning for not buying something is the same as it always is; I can do it bigger, better, and cheaper, and as an added benefit I intend to use these as decorations for this Halloween. If you want to build a Halloween Bean Bag toss for a Fall Festival, party, or for whatever this is how I did mine. Here is what you'll need:

  1. Some paint for your design, I like Beher Premium Plus. It seems to hold up to the abuse of the munchkins that live in my house as well as, or better than the more expensive professional brands.

  2. A drill, drill bit big enough for the jig saw blade, and #2 Phillips bit

  3. Jigsaw

  4. 2" coarse threaded screws

  5. (2) 2x4 sheet of wood

  6. material to make 4 feet

Difficulty: I'd rate this project easy. You don't need to be a master with a jigsaw. I have never seen a pumpkin, or ghost without a crooked mouth.

How I did mine: This first thing I did was drag out a scap piece of MDF (2x8) left over from our old house's kitchen remodel. I knew I'd need it one day, so I stashed it in my mom's detached garage who lived just down the street, unbeknownced to my mom of course, she never goes in there anyway. Next, I simply cut the board in half to make (2) 2x4 pieces.

My board happened to be primed already; I tested a paint sample, and it didn't stick. Out came the belt sander, which I saved from a dumpster years ago; it only needed a new cord!

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Next was to get my beautiful artist wife to sketch a pumpkin, and a ghost. After that it was time to cut out some holes for the toss. First thing first, you will need to drill a hole to fit the jigsaw blade into. After you drill some holes, cut out the shapes with the jigsaw, and file or sand down any rough cuts.

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First up was the ghost. I cut him out then painted the body black, and then mixed black and white paint together to get grey, and a black back ground. This was recommnded by Lori to give him a translucent look.

Next was the pumpkin. He's pretty straight forward. I game him some coats of "pumpkin patch orange" and a black background.

After painting I needed a way to stand my creations upright. I dug through my scrap pile on the lumber rack. As I was coming down from the ladder I spotted some 7" triangles (7" rise x 7" run = 9 7/8" hypotenuse, if you want legs of different measurements use Pythagorean theorem)  left over from building some stairs which Lori had rescued from the bonfire pile. "Those would be perfect! Oh man! I can't have those, Lori is going to do something with them. Did I burn the others last weekend? I better go check." I thought to myself. I frantically hurried off to the lumber pile where, SCORE! Attaching the feet was easy. I made sure the 2" coarse threaded screws wouldn't puncture the front of the bean bag toss. Pre-drilled the holes at the determined angle, to prevent cracking the feet, and sunk the screws. I then painted the feet black as well.

What is cool abut the triangle feet is you can lay it down like corn hole, or stand it up for a baseball pitch.

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The only thing left is the bean bags. Lori, isn't sewing in your department?

-- Nate