10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Nine


Welcome to Day Nine of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today I’m here to share a really quick and inexpensive holiday treat recipe… homemade peppermint bark!

Each year during the holiday season, we love taking Christmas goodies to neighbors, friends, piano teachers, debate coaches, UPS drivers, mailmen… and pretty much everyone else in our lives! My college kids also like baking for their friends, roommates, girlfriends, professors (or anyone else they want to impress!). Unfortunately, the problem with making so many goodies all season long… is that eventually, we just need a recipe or two that is fast, easy, cheap, and delicious! This one serves those needs!

After many years of trying recipes, our family finally found one for Peppermint Bark that fits the requirements — and the best part is it’s so simple that kids of all ages can make it themselves!

Peppermint Bark

INGREDIENTS

— 1 pound vanilla-flavored candy coating (cut up into smaller pieces)
— about 24 hard peppermint candies (more or less to taste!)
— 1 tsp peppermint extract

Yup, that’s it! Just three ingredients!

And the best part is… it’s not only easy, but flexible, as well. What do I mean? Well, if you want me to be honest, I’ll tell you that my mommy brain has kicked in more than once in the past, and I’ve forgotten to buy the peppermint extract (additionally, my college kids have elected to save money and not buy it, either, at times… so we’ve left the extract out multiple times and no one has truly known the difference). On the flip side of that… we tend to be a really “pepperminty” family, and so at other times I’ve actually used more candies than listed above — a tweak that not only makes it taste great, but also affects the crunch factor. 🙂

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or wax paper (we never have wax paper on hand, so I use aluminum foil).
  • Crush the candies. I have a food processor, and we use this… but my college kids just place them in a gallon bag, cover it with whatever they have nearby (towels, or dirty clothes, haha), and smash it with hammers, books, or anything else that’s heavy. As long as it’s not their laptops or cell phones, I’m happy.
  • Melt the candy coating in a microwave-safe dish for 1 minute on high. Take it out, stir, and put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds on high. Keep repeating this until the candy coating is smooth and melted. *TIP* make sure you truly do take the time to stop and stir, as simply heating it on high for 2 minutes + may or may not result in a smelly and inedible glob. Don’t ask me how I know this.
  • Next, mix in the crushed candies and peppermint extract… and then spread the melted candy onto the prepared cookie sheet. *TIP* the thinner you spread it, the further the recipe goes.
  • Freeze for 30 minutes or so and then break it into pieces. The candy can be stored at either room temperature or hidden in the freezer where children can’t find it — and either way it tastes great!

See how easy this is? No oven required, not many dishes to wash, and the total recipe costs less than $5. You can’t ask for more than that!

Now, you can certainly make this candy fancier by using both chocolate AND vanilla candy coating. Just make sure the first layer (usually chocolate) is hard before adding the second layer (usually vanilla). Adding this second layer often makes the bark look prettier (and who doesn’t love chocolate?!)… but it’s important to note that adding the chocolate candy coating, also, makes the process take longer and makes the recipe slightly more expensive. Thus, our family often just sticks with plain vanilla (unless we really, really like you 🙂 ).

Have fun with the recipe, and feel free to change it to your liking!

 

If you’re thinking of giving this recipe a try… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


Robin

About the author  Robin is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. A wife of 25 years and a mom of 4 crazy children (3 in college and 1 still at home), she says that her life occurs mostly in the car as she transports said crazy kids to their many, many homeschool activities. When not driving, Robin loves to make her family cringe by pulling out her camera again (and again, and again…).

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Eight

Welcome to Day Eight of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Stefanie here today, bringing you a fun (and adult-friendly!) recipe for the milk and cookies you leave out for Santa. 🙂

As part of our family’s holiday tradition, we leave out a side plate with some milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. I don’t know about your Santa… but the one who visits our house is usually very tired and in need of a pick-me-up… so why not treat him to an adult version? We call them ‘milktart shooters,’ and we serve them up with some yummy crunchies on the side.

Here are the recipes…

Milktart Shooters

INGREDIENTS
— 375ml vodka
— 395g tin condensed milk
— 375ml tin evaporated milk
— ground cinnamon to serve

 

INSTRUCTIONS
— Mix the ingredients together and shake well
— Store in a bottle in the fridge for up to 4 days

Crunchies

INGREDIENTS
— 1 cup oats
— 1 cup cake flour
— 1 cup white sugar
— 1 cup dessicated coconut
— 165g butter melted with 15mls syrup; then add 5mls bicarb, pinch of salt*, a squirt of lemon juice* and 15-30mls boiling water*

*optional

INSTRUCTIONS
— Mix dry ingredients well.
— Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients; mix well and press down firmly into a rectangle-shaped oven pan.
— Bake at 180C for 12-15 min (but check often, as it can burn quite easily).
— Cut into squares while still warm (let cool for about 5-10 min after removing from the oven before cutting).
— Will keep well in a sealed container for at least 4 days.

 

If you’re thinking of giving one (or both!) of these recipes a try… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


small avi

About the author Stefanie is a member of The Digital Press creative team and a stay at home mother of three older children living in Cape Town, South Africa with her hubby of 29 years, two of their three children and 3 cats. She loves photography, traveling and digital scrapbooking, documenting the good and the ordinary everyday.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Seven

Welcome to Day Seven of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today I’m here to show you how to make these adorable pom pom photo ornaments… with QR codes that link to video clips!

Every year I try to make at least one handmade ornament with my kids. They love it… and I love it! Each year when we decorate our Christmas tree, it is always so much fun to unwrap past handmade ornaments and remember the fun times we had creating them. I usually try to incorporate a photo or a hand print or something that shows how little they were when the ornaments were made.

This year’s ornament has a fun twist! Instead of leaving the back of each ornament plain, I created a digital element containing (a) a holiday sentiment, (b) my child’s name, (c) the date, and (d) a QR code! The QR code is a way to link straight to a video clip that’s stored online (think: YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). Why? I really want to take more videos of my kiddos. Time is moving way too fast, and I want to remember the silly way they mispronounce words… their sweet, raspy voices… their jolly holiday jokes… and their joyful smiles.

Therefore, I recorded a short video of each of my kiddos (and I also threw a Santa hat onto each, because they hadn’t gotten ready for the day yet and I was battling major cases of Bed Head! LOL). I uploaded the videos to Vimeo (where I host all my videos and slideshows), and then I used this site to create the QR code (I also use this app to scan/read the QR codes with my phone).

How To Create the Ornament

Supplies Needed:

1. First, create a file in Photoshop (or photo editing program of your choice) using 1.5″ circles… and clip photos to the circle shapes (in Photoshop, using the “clipping mask” function; a.k.a. Ctrl-Alt-G)…

2. Next, print your document onto plain white cardstock paper…

3. Use a circle punch to cut out the circles (or, you can use scissors and fussy cut the circles, if you prefer)…

As you can see, I decided to add an optional white border around each photo (shown above).

4. Next, I used a recycled box to cut larger circles that I could affix my photos to, as shown below…

My larger cracker box circles are about 3″ in diameter…

5. After attaching the photo to the cardboard, I stapled a jute string onto the cardboard to create a hanger. Then, I had my kids glue pom poms onto the cardboard portion to create a wreath shape…

Here’s a look at what the finished ornament looked like after my kids finished gluing the pom poms on to create wreaths around their photos…

How to Create the QR Code and Video Clip

1. Take a video clip (clip can be of your kid making the ornament… or saying something funny… or sending holiday greetings to family members who live far away… etc. Anything goes!). Upload your video to a video sharing service of your choice (I use Vimeo).

2. Create a QR code to link to the video (I use this site to create mine).

3. Create another file in Photoshop with 3” circles and clip patterned paper onto the circles. Then, add a smaller white circle on top of that (about 2.5″ or so in diameter? It depends on how much of a patterned paper border you prefer. Mine, below, is about 0.5″ border and 2.5″ white circle)…

4. Add the QR code image to the white circle, along with some text (optional). The text can be a date… a holiday message… information about the creator of the ornament… etc.

5. Print on white card stock and cut out. Adhere to the back of the ornament, as shown here…

And that’s it! Easy peasy! 🙂

 

If you’re thinking of giving this a try and making your own… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


 

About the Author  Krista Lund is a mom of 3, married to her high school sweetheart and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of her favorite things are brownies, chips ‘n’ dip, taking pictures, and documenting her family’s story.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Six

Hello, and welcome to Day Six of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I am going to show you how to decorate brownies into cute little Christmas trees. It is really simple, but I think they look so sweet (pun intended)!

You will need a batch of brownies, some green icing (or perhaps you could try red, or yellow if you prefer), candy canes (ideally the mini ones) and a small selection of sprinkles or small sweets, like the ones in the photo below…

Once you’ve gathered all of your ingredients and supplies, there are just a few simple steps.

Step 1

Bake your favourite brownies!

Step 2

Once your brownie batch is almost cool, cut it into small triangles. Mine are about 7cm along each edge, but if you are using larger sprinkles, you can cut larger triangles. While you have your knife handy, you can also cut a small (approx. 2-3cm) straight section of candy cane, and put this aside for later.

Step 3

Some stores sell green icing in little tubes, ready to use, which is the simplest option! Sadly, I couldn’t find any when looking this time around, so instead I colored some plain white icing with food coloring to create a nice festive green, and then I popped it into a piping bag. Pipe your icing in a curvy zig-zag, starting at the top of the “tree”, and going from side to side to the bottom of the tree (see photo down below).

Step 4

Next, add some sprinkles (I used the tiny ball sprinkles that were available in festive colors), a star for the top of the tree (or an m&m in this case), and any other decorations you want to add.

Step 5

Take your candy cane piece and push it into the bottom of your brownie tree, to look like a tree trunk…

And that is it! Seriously, how easy is that?! 🙂

I hope you have a chance to give these a try! They might make a fun gift for a teacher or neighbor, or just something different for your dinner one night. The best part is, no matter how you decorate them, they taste simply delicious!

If you’re thinking of giving this a try and making your own… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


CorrinAbout the Author  Corrin is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. She is a fan of the Big Bang Theory and a lover of cozy pajamas. She lives in the breezy South of England with her husband and 4 crazy kids, who regularly discover & plunder her secret chocolate stashes! She is still trying to get the house straight after moving nearly 3 years ago. Who knows… maybe this will be the year she reaches the bottom of the laundry pile!

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Five

Hello, and welcome to Day Five of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I am going to show you how to use your digital scrapbooking supplies to make a holiday memory album. It’s much easier than you’d think… and so much fun!

Supplies Needed

  • Digital scrapbooking kit (or kits) of your choice
  • White cardstock paper
  • Scissors or cutting machine
  • Other physical scrapbooking supplies, as desired (optional; for adding extra dimensional embellishments, etc.)

For my album this year, I primarily used the digital kit Hello December By Dunia Designs, as shown here…

Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, there are just a few simple steps. I’ve broken down what I did on a page-by-page basis, below…

Album Cover

  • I chose a patterned paper for the cover, and trimmed it a little bit smaller in order to create a border around that patterned paper background.
  • I also chose two pocket cards and re-sized them in order to fit to my cover as embellishments on top of the patterned paper background.
  • Next… I re-sized, printed, and cut some cute elements and word bits to add on top of the cards from the last step.
  • Finally, I added a piece of pompom ribbon and two enamel hearts (I like to finish a lot of my hybrid projects using some traditional scrapbook supplies; they add more interest and texture to my projects).

Inside Cover / First Page

  • I used a piece of vellum paper behind my front page to soften the first page view and to give more depth and interest to my album.
  • Next, I chose a banner-shaped page from my physical supply stash and decorated it with a card and some elements. I re-sized both the card and the elements in order to them fit to my banner page without making it too full/busy.
  • Finally, I added some washi / glitter tape.

Inner Pocket Pages

  • For the first of my inner album pages, I chose two pocket cards from the digital kit and printed them to fit into my pockets.
  • I added some digital sequins to my 3×4 digital card (see right page, below) and this created a new card. I also glued a border onto my 6×4 card, in order to give balance to the spread.
  • I re-sized some digital elements (including the cute flair button on the right), and I glued these outside the pockets.
  • I typed my journaling before I printed my 6×4 card, and I used a piece of word art as a title.
  • Finally, I added some traditional embellishments… like a cute Christmas tree, a clear holly sticker, a clear word art sticker, and some other bling.

  • For the next spread of pages, I used a page with lots of pockets on the left (to include lots of little individual photos, etc)… and I made a tag insert using a very beautiful patterned paper on the right.
  • I also chose a 3×4 card, which I embellished with a cute printed border.
  • Additionally, I chose some printed elements and put them into all of the non-photo pockets (see below, left side) along with some traditional embellishments like the sequins, the glitter stars, the cute bow, the Christmas twine, a word sticker, etc.
  • I printed my little photos slightly smaller than 2×2, because I wanted to leave a white border around them.

  • Here’s a look at the back side of that fun tag (from above), where I added some journaling…
  • I also decorated my page with pompom ribbon along the right edge/border.

  • Here’s a closer look at some of the small pockets, so you can get a look at the contents I added into each tiny pocket before sewing them shut (as you can see, I chose some patterned papers to be the backgrounds for some of the flat circular flairs that I printed… and the same elements I used in the front of the page. I glued them back to back as well. I used one more cute glittery Christmas tree to create a focal point almost in the middle of the page)…

  • And here’s another closer-up look…

You could repeat different variations of these last few pages I’ve shown you… in order to accommodate as many photos/pages as you like in your own album! You’ll find that it’s so fun to fill the pockets with little decorative objects.

And that is all there is to it! Wasn’t that easy?! 🙂

I hope you have a chance to give this project a try! If you’re thinking of giving this a try and making your own… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


About the Author  Andrea Albuquerque is part of the Hybrid Creative Team here at Digital Press. Andrea has been a scrapper since 2010 and a photographer since 2012. Although she adores the flexibility and creativity of digital, she can’t resist playing with paper, paint, and embellishments… so hybrid scrapping is the perfect medium for her! She lives in Brazil with her hubby.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Four

Welcome to Day Four of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today I’m here to share instructions for making simple, gorgeous (and even kid-friendly!) glitter ornaments! The project only requires a few supplies — all of which are readily available this time of year!

Supplies Needed

  • Clear ornaments (I buy plastic #becausekids & they are found at any craft store during the holiday season)
  • Your choice of glitter
  • Mopping solution (I use whatever I happen to have on hand — today it was Murphy’s oil soap)
  • A dropcloth (not required — but as you can imagine, glitter is messy! I simply laid down some old wrapping paper over our table so I could throw the whole thing in the trash when done)

 

Instructions

  • Take hanger tops off of the ornaments & set them aside.
  • Pour a bit of mopping solution into the ornament & swirl around to coat the inside (this is what makes the glitter stick).
  • Set the ornament upside down to drain (I use an old egg carton) and/or simply pour extra solution into another ornament.
  • Once the excess solution has drained… simply dump in your glitter! (I’ve learned that if you use different types of glitter like we did — use the larger-sized glitter first, and then add the finer glitter last to ensure that the larger pieces have enough surface to stick to on the ornaments).

 

 

  • Shake, tap, swirl your glitter around to coat the inside!
  • Dump extra either back into the glitter container, or onto a piece of paper.
  • Repeat as desired! (I also have my kids ‘sign’ and date their ornament, as it’s fun to look at their previous year’s signatures!) 😉

 

 

  • Voila! Beautiful glittery ornaments in less than an hour (clean-up time included!).
  • TIP: I let mine ‘dry’ overnight before replacing the hanger tops, to ensure that all of the glitter stays in place.

 

 

  • After they’re dry… simply hang on your tree!

 

How gorgeous is that with the lights shining on it?! 🙂

If you’re thinking of giving this a try and making your own… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


AmieAbout the Author  Amie is a craft-loving dental hygienist who lives in Washington state. She loves her husband, her two kids (ages 9 & 6), and her English Bulldog… as well as coffee, baking cupcakes, daffodils, glitter & sprinkles, reading a good book, and lip gloss — not necessarily in that order.