Chocolate Peanut Butter Bon Bons – Last Minute Christmas Goodies!

Hello all! It’s only two days until Christmas and I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far. I haven’t been able to post the last little bit due to being sick as a dog and then having family up to visit us but I wanted to share a recipe with you today! These are great little chocolates that you can whip up as home made gifts or to take as a dessert to Christmas dinner.

To make the Peanut butter filled chocolates you’ll need:

  • Your favorite type of chocolate (I used milk chocolate but this would work really well with dark)
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 2-4 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • candy mold in the shape you’d like. The mold I have is actually for cherry cordials but I like making bon bons from it.

Your first step is making your peanut butter filling. I used natural creamy peanut butter but you can use crunchy or regular smooth. Take about a half a cup of peanut butter and add in a teaspoon of vanilla and about 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and mix them together. If it’s still a little thin you can add in some more powdered sugar. You want it to be a consistency you can roll into little balls without it sticking to your hands. It’ll look something like this:

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It should also taste like the filling for a Reese’s cup and I had to hold myself back from just eating it right out of the bowl. Now that the filling is done you can start on your chocolate. You might be tempted to have the chocolate melting while you make the filling but don’t. Just wait and do it separately because it’s easy to accidentally scorch your chocolate. I used the double boiler method, but I’ll explain how to melt your chocolate in the microwave as well.

For a double boiler:

Take a medium saucepan and fill it about a third of the way up with water and set it on medium/low heat. Take about two cups of your chocolate and put it into a large mixing bowl and then set the mixing bowl onto the saucepan, like this:

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Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water in the saucepan. You want the steam from the water to gently melt your chocolate. You don’t need your water at a boil either, I tried to keep mine just shy of boiling. Another word of caution, if you can use a bowl with a large lip on it like the one I used, definitely use it. You want to keep the steam and water away from your chocolates at all costs, otherwise the chocolate will seize up and it will be unusable.  It took me about seven minutes to get from this:

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to this:

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I used a whisk but it would be better to use a spatula to keep the chocolate from getting caught in the center of the whisk and melting slower. I also used chocolate chips but you can get molding chocolate wafers that melt much nicer that just plain chocolate chips.

Microwave method:

If you are melting your chocolate in the microwave start out with about 15 seconds, take it out and stir, then pop it back in for 10 second increments stirring in between until the chocolate is all melted.

After your chocolate is all melted its time to start filling your molds. If you used wafers and your chocolate is nice and thin you can use a spoon to fill each of your chocolate molds, let it set for a few seconds, and then pour the excess chocolate back out. My chocolate this time was a little too thick to pour in and out so I just used a pastry brush and brushed the insides of my molds to create a chocolate shell. Let the shell harden a bit while you separate out some peanut butter filling. Roll small pieces of your peanut butter into a ball and drop it into the center of your mold. You want them small enough that they don’t stick up over the top of your mold. Here are all my molds filled with peanut butter:

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Next you simply want to spoon a bit of chocolate over the top of each mold to seal in your peanut butter. After you’ve covered all your chocolates you need to tap your mold repeatedly onto the counter top to get rid of any air bubbles. This also helps the chocolate to settle around the peanut butter a bit better and makes sure your mold is completely filled. Finally either let your chocolates cool and harden at room temperature or stick them into the freezer for about ten minutes and they should be hard enough to pop out of your mold. You can wrap them in colored foil or put them straight into a decorative tin for a Christmas dinner dessert!

If you’d like you can also make a simple chocolate ganache filling. You simply heat one cup of heavy cream in a saucepan until it’s steaming, but not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and pour it over 8 oz of your chocolate. You can let the mixture set up, then spoon out small pieces to drop into the center of your chocolates, or you can chill the chocolate shell while the ganache cools a bit and then pour the ganache into the center, let it set up and then put the bottom layer of chocolate on. The ganache does take a bit of time to set, let it sit in your fridge for at least 1.5-2 hours.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and that you have a wonderful Christmas. I’m going to do my last exercise blog this week to wrap up how I felt about the 30 day shred and then I’m going back to doing my once a week posts because life has been hectic lately with holidays and the weather!

Stay warm and I’ll see you next post!

Amber

Ten easy crafts to do with your kids this holiday season

Hi friends! Today I’m going to share ten different projects and ideas I’ve collected from around the internet that you can do with little ones to get excited for the holidays. You can find pins about all of these ideas on newlyweds Pinterest here:

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1. Plaster hand print ornaments and salt dough ornaments

 

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image via roxycraft.com

   Using plaster of paris sets or making your own salt dough is a great way to preserve little hands, feet, and fingerprints for years to come. Your basic salt dough recipe is one part flour, one part salt, and half part water. Another great example of salt dough ornaments is this evergreen ornament I found at roxycraft.com. Simply poke a hole in the top and bake them at a low temperature or let them dry out overnight before stringing them up and hanging them on the tree.

2. Hand print wreaths

 

handprint wreath

Lots of kids make these in school but it’s fun to put a twist on them and make them at home, too. You can use thumbprints to add holiday berries and try out different colors and glitters to match the rest of your decor at home. Plus what kid doesn’t like squishing their hands around in paint? I love this example but can’t find  what site it’s from other than the pinterest pin. If you know where it’s from let me know so I can give it credit.

3. DIY personalized ornaments

 

image via thenerdswife.com

image via thenerdswife.com

There are so many different ways to make ornaments. I love these personalized ornaments that I found on thenerdswife.com. (plus what an awesome site name, right?!) You can also use clear ornaments to insert holiday family photos, small vacation keepsakes, confetti, anything you might want that’s small enough to fit. Another great idea for small children is to use a wooden abc block with the first letter of their name. Let them decorate it up and paste a photo of them on front. you can drill a hole through the corner and tie it to a ribbon to easily hang it up on the tree.

4. Decorate sugar cookies

The possibility of decorating cookies are about as endless as the possibilities of what to stick in your ornament. Let your kids help you make up the dough, and after they’ve cooled set a few aside just for them to decorate. You can even use my sugar cookie recipe here for allergy free cookies! For some extra fun stock up on some edible pearls, metallic dragées (those shiny silver and gold balls), different types of sprinkles, licorice, jujubes, chocolate chips and kisses, the list goes on. Then just sit back and watch as your child creates a giant sugary monstrosity of a cookie, lol. To keep things a little less hectic you can tell them they’re decorating for Santa, and that they need to keep it neat and make nice cookies for him!

5. Reindeer ‘food’

 

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I think that this is absolutely adorable for small kids to do that still believe in Santa Clause. Make a mixture of oats, glitter, and birdseed and seal it up in a small baggy. On Christmas eve go outside together and scatter the reindeer food. When my brothers were little one year I went outside and left tracks in the snow to make it look like Santa and his reindeer came to see the treat we’d left outside. You can make reindeer prints easily by taking a piece of cardboard and cutting it into a hoof print shape, then hot gluing a dowel onto the back to easily press it into the snow. If you wear some big boots while you walk around it will look like Santa got out of his sleigh and walked around while the reindeer had their snacks. This is another image I couldn’t find a link back to, but clicking on it will take you to a printable pdf version in Google docs.

6. Elf on the shelf

 

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image via midgetmomma.com

 

I’ve heard so much about this little elf this year it’s crazy. Apparently it’s been around for a while now but it seems to have just made a comeback. You can get your own elf here at elfontheshelf.com. Each night your elf comes alive and flies to the north pole to report back to Santa about who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. He’s full of Christmas magic, but he can’t be touched or else his magic will fade away. When the kids wake up each morning the elf is in a different place and up to something mischievous! This page from midgetmomma.com has 60 different ideas for how your curious elf can entertain your kids throughout the holiday season.

7. Design your own stockings

 

image via atcompanyb etsy store

image via atcompanyb etsy store

 

If your Christmases are anything like mine were growing up, the first things to get tackled Christmas morning are the stockings. We all had the same stocking each year growing up and I love the idea of a home made, personal stocking. They don’t have to be sewn and made from scratch either. You can find plain stockings at craft stores and dollar stores and use no sew fabric glue to attach ribbons and trim. Use puffy paint and glitter paint for designs and add buttons and bows. You can do this each year or every few years and look back and see how your child’s creativity has grown over the years.

 

8. Design Christmas/Holiday cards

 

image via beautyandbeard.blogspot.ca

image via beautyandbeard.blogspot.ca

 

Christmas cards are another thing that is fun and are super easy to make. I love these from beautyandbeard that use paint chips and sequins to make cards. Some other good things to use on your cards are buttons, beads, craft paper, newspaper, ribbons, acrylic paint, stamps, pipe cleaners or stickers. You can find blank cards or card stock at just about any craft store for cheap. Add a holiday family photo to the front and have everyone add their signatures to the outside wishing others happy holidays. To keep short attention spans on track you can make each card different, or do just a few cards to send to close family members.

 

9. Snow globes from mason jars

 

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image via craftaholicsanonymous.net

 

This project generally involves using hot glue so it isn’t necessarily ideal for small children, but it’s a great way to let their creativity shine. You can make any scene that you’d like inside these and they are really fun to shake up and watch all the glitter/snow fall to the bottom. Plan out ahead of time what scene you’d like to create or go shopping together at the craft store to pick out items together.

10. Discuss what Christmas/ the Holiday season is REALLY about

To me, this is the absolute number one thing we should be doing with our children each year. Regardless of our religion, race, gender, income or where we live in the world, it is of the highest importance to teach our children compassion and respect. Even more so nowadays when holidays are looked at as a stressful time when people rack up hundreds or even thousands of dollars in debt and seem to become more obsessed with material possessions than any other time of the year. Life goes by fast, stress builds up and sometimes we tend to overlook the little things that really make life meaningful.

The memories that stick with me from my Christmases growing up aren’t of each and every gift I got, it’s of my grandmother making us all sit in a big circle and telling us the story of Christmas. Teaching us to love, respect, and forgive each other because that’s what was done for us. I remember the giant family dinners we used to have at my great grandmothers house and playing with cousins and second cousins after scarfing down huge amounts of chicken and dumplings and mashed potatoes. When you take away all the material things, the only things we have left are each other. This year don’t just make these gifts and projects with your children, make memories with them. Teach them that the love and cheer we all want to spread during the holidays is something we should strive for year round.

Til next post,

Amber

Christmas Decorating Ideas

Hello friends! I just wanted to share with you guys how I did my centerpieces for my coffee table and side tables in the living room, as well as my fireplace decorations. That will cover just about all of the Christmas decorations that I have up so far.

Here’s the runner that I have on the coffee table. It came with a big ugly crease down the center. I don’t own an iron, but I do own a straightener, and at the lowest setting a hair straightener will work just fine!

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Here’s the arrangement that I made for the center of the coffee table. I was super happy when I found the silver and gold balls at dollarama. I just laid them around the candle on the decorative plate. If you have kids, or pets like me you may want to anchor them down. I ran out of hot glue so each of them are tied together with a thread and then the thread is wrapped around the candle. That way little hands (or paws) can’t knock them off. I try to use the same ribbons throughout all my decorations, so I wrapped the candle and made a little bow with the same ribbon from my holiday wreath. A green or other holiday themed candle would probably work better but I absolutely love this candle and leave it out all year round.

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For my side table I took another vanilla candle and tied a ribbon around it into a bow. instead of leaving the ends of the bow hanging out, I folded them up and under the create a big bow. I then just added sprigs and pine cones around it to make it a little more festive and fill up the decorative plate.

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Here’s the entire side table all together. The tree was originally just colored glittery thread in the shape of a tree. I took some garland and wove it into the threads to make it look like an evergreen tree, then added ribbon and beads as well as some miniature ornaments. Our apartment is too small to have a real tree, so this is as close as I can get!

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Then my absolute favorite part of the whole apartment, the fireplace!

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I added garland around the front with two pine cone ornaments and bell ornaments in the center. The vase has small ornaments stacked on the bottom with a poinsettia garland wrapped around the center. I found a pretty noel ornament and wrapped some ribbon around the vase and attached the ornament to it. Here’s a close up view of the vase:

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That’s all I have for now, but all of December I have posts dedicated to spreading the holiday spirit! Starting This week every Monday will be a craft related idea and each Friday will be a holiday themed recipe. Till next post!

Amber

Holiday Wreath With Lights

Hello again!

As you know I went to Michael’s and Dollarama yesterday to get some new goodies for Christmas decorations and I may have went a little overboard, lol. But… that just means more cool stuff to share with you guys! The first Christmas craft post I’m going to do is for a lighted wreath. I found little battery operated holiday lights at the Dollarama for $2 and decided they would look adorable around my wreath.

The wreath itself came from Michael’s for $4.99 as well as the ribbon I used which was originally $6.99 but I used a 50% off coupon that you can find here until November 21st. For the US coupon you can click here. Everything else I used came from the Dollarama. I got the lights, a poinsettia garland and a holiday berry garland.

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First off I wrapped the berry garland around my wreath. I realized after I got home that I was down to my last stick of hot glue so I just wound it into my wreath. The stem has wire inside so it stayed really well, but you’ll probably want to hot glue it down.

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Next, I pulled off all of the decorations that were on the poinsettia garland because the plastic stems to me look a little tacky, plus it didn’t wind around the wreath very well.  I put them all in a big pile next to me then started hot gluing them onto my wreath one by one.

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I tried put leaves under each flower and berry cluster and made sure to leave a gap where I wanted the ribbon at the top to be.  Then I took my ribbon and cut lengths just long enough to wrap around the wreath once. Any bare section got a bit of ribbon. I took my lights and poked them through the wreath from the back in order to hide the wires and tucked the battery box into the side. Lastly I made the big bow at the top and a loop to hang it on the wall and it was all done! Here it is with the lights turned off and with them on.

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Christmas Decoration Haul!

Hey all!

Today I just wanted to share with you all the goodies that I picked up and give a little sneak peek at some of the Christmas decoration ideas I have planned to show. Over the next week or two I’ll be posting up all about the decorations I’m doing for Christmas time. I got super excited while I was out because I found so many awesome things to use. Tomorrow I’ll share with you guys how I made my wreath that’s hanging over my fireplace.

Here’s some things that I already had in my holiday trunk as well as all the stuff I picked up today and where I got it all:

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Here’s all the stuff I got out shopping today:

From Michael’s: Wreath: $4.99, Ribbon: $3.50 (after coupon)

From Dollarama: 2 Poinsettia Garlands: $2.00/ea, Berry Garland: $1.00, Lights: $2.00, 2 Gold and Silver Ornaments: $1.00/ea,

Noel Ornament: $1.25, 2 Gold and Silver Decorative Balls: $1.00/ea, Red Table Runner: $2.00, Decorative Plate: $2.00, My cat Tucker freaking out over the glitter: Priceless.

Things I had already:

I had quite a few things left over from last year that I absolutely love.

20131117_205916 Justin’s mom got us these for Christmas last year, I have them on top of our tiny tree.

20131117_205908 These are the other decorations I have on our little tree, along with the red beads and ribbon you can see in the background. There’s other silver ones but they’re shiny and you can see the camera, lol.

20131117_205612 My snowman night light. Justin’s mom got this for me for Christmas last year as well.

20131117_205526 I picked this up at the Dollarama last year, but I can’t find the same ones this year. I love this one more than what’s currently out.

20131117_205718 Justin already had this when we moved in together, but I absolutely love it. Mainly because Santa is holding a bunny, lol.

20131117_205805 The quirky snowman potholder that was a gift from Justin’s mom. She loves snowmen like I love bunnies, lol. I’m too nervous to put any hot pans on it so it’s a decoration in the living room.

20131117_205500 20131117_205451 Little bells and a pine cone decoration I picked up at Dollarama. They decorate the garland around the fireplace.

20131117_210051 And the decoration that’s over our entryway. You’ll have to excuse the giant piece of packing tape, I ran out of less obvious scotch tape but I still wanted to put it up, lol. I just used two little sprigs I picked up from the Dollarama and added gold bells and ribbon from Michael’s.

And that’s all I have for now! I’ll have my wreath tutorial up tomorrow and Wednesday I’ll see you guys again for an update on how my workouts are going.

Till next post!

Amber