The Life of Jennifer Dawn: November 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

DIY Stamped Clay Ornaments

Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been included to help guide you to the perfect products for making these stamped clay Christmas ornaments.

These stamped clay ornaments inspired by the book Winter Days in the Big Woods are a fun and unique handmade craft to make with the kids this holiday season. Each one features a snowy scene that you and your child can stamp and design. Gather the kids for a crafting session because this is a Christmas ornament craft you aren't going to want to pass by!
Each year the kids and I have a BIG crafting session where we make a new handmade ornament inspired by a children's book. It's become a tradition I look forward to year after year. Of course, we make other crafts and ornaments throughout the holiday season, but there is always one that's dubbed the special ornament of the year. I must be in a mood for all things woodsy and rustic because not only did I decorate our Christmas tree in a rustic farmhouse theme, but it also seems to be the direction our handmade ornaments took this year. I love these little ornaments so much that I dove right in with the kids and made a few for myself. You won't be able to resist making some too--right along with your sweet kiddos!
Have you seen the My First Little House Books? There are several in the series including A Little Prairie House, Christmas in the Big Woods, Going to Town, and Winter in the Big Woods which inspired these clay stamped ornaments. Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic books are able to be enjoyed by a younger audience with these beautifully illustrated storybooks. They collectively tell the story of a little pioneer girl whose family traveled across the Midwest. Each one also shares stories of friendship, family, and love. They're sweet tales to cuddle up with and read to the kids during the cold months of winter..or anytime!
"Outside it was cold and snowy, but the little log cabin was snug and cozy. Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary, and Baby Carrie were comfortable and happy in their little house in the Big Woods."

Can't you just see it?! That cozy house sitting among the tall trees and drifts of snow! That's exactly the image that plays out on these sweet clay ornaments. Twigs and stamps create the scenes on an oven-bake white clay. You and your kids create the memories as you mold, stamp, cut, and bake snowy white clay into beautiful ornaments that you'll cherish for years.

Ready to make one? Awesome! But I have to give you fair warning. You won't be able to stop at just one. Let's get started...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Creative Christmas Tree Crafts & Weekly Link Party

O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree! How lovely are these Christmas crafts!

The tree is up and the ornaments are hung. Now it's time for some Christmas crafting. Celebrate the season with these cute Christmas Tree Crafts! They are perfect for both kids and adults alike. Whether you're hosting a craft party for a group of friends or just getting creative on your own at home, these fun ideas are sure to put you in the holly jolly spirit!
1. Felt Christmas Trees / The Country Chic Cottage
How cute are these?! This whimsical craft is perfect for holiday decorating!

2. Faux Stained Glass Ornament / Resin Crafts
This adorable ornament uses a technique I can't wait to try! And why stop at just trees? The possibilities are endless!

3. DIY Advent Calendar / Just Measuring Up
Looking for a creative advent calendar idea? Here's one of the most creative ones that I've ever seen! And the best part is that it can be reused year after year.

4. Wood Spool Christmas Tree Ornament / Live Craft Love
With just a few simple supplies you can create charming ornaments for the tree. Click on over to see how this was assembled out of little wooden spools. So neat!

5. Christmas Tree Serving Tray / Hazel + Gold Designs
Various cuts of wood all come together to make this wonderfully designed serving tray. So impressive!

You might also like these Painted Wood Slice Ornaments! Happy crafting!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Potato Corn Chowder

Made with generous portions of potatoes and corn, this chowder is the perfect comfort food for a cold day.
Brrr! The first day of winter is still a few weeks away, but temperatures have already dropped. Warm up with a large bowl of this Potato Corn Chowder. As a starter or a meal on its own, this soup is a hearty, delicious dish that's a cinch to pull together.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Holiday Brunch Recipes and Weekly Link Party

They'll be turkey or ham, eggs, and a sweet loaf bread. Oh, and there will most definitely be pancakes! Those are my little Caleb's favorite food. Yes, we're having a holiday brunch for Thanksgiving this year. I think that's why I had brunch recipes on my mind when trying to pick the features this week. It only made sense to share some of my favorite brunch recipes that you all had linked up as I planned and prepared for our own meal.

Why are we trading the turkey with all its trimmings for a Thanksgiving brunch this year? I know that most families traditionally plan their holiday brunches around Christmas, but we're in a bit of a different situation than most. You see...last Thanksgiving was the first one without my younger sister. If you've followed along for awhile, you probably know that she passed away in May of last year. The November that followed was our year to travel and visit with my husband's family. This year is the first one back here at home without her, so we've decided to do things a little differently.

When my mom brought up Thanksgiving a week ago and asked what I wanted to do, sadness gripped my heart. We're still in that fragile stage of grief. Defensively I wanted to just ignore the holiday, but that's certainly not the right approach. I know that! It was just that in that instant, I couldn't bear the thought of following all of our same traditions without her. Something about it just made the void seem that much greater. The holidays are hard when you're grieving. Anyone else navigating this?

I've realized that instead of letting my heart dwell on the ones who won't be sitting at the table this year--my dad and sister--I need to focus on the ones who will be there--my husband, kids, brother-in-law, and mom. New traditions are still in order. And that's where the idea for a Thanksgiving brunch comes in. Brunch was Allison's favorite type of meal, so it feels like the perfect way to celebrate the day while still honoring her. I'm sure there will be some other new traditions that we'll begin this Thursday, but brunch it is for the meal.

A holiday brunch is a perfect opportunity to gather family and friends together to enjoy warm, delicious comfort food and wonderful company. Most of you are probably doing the traditional turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving Day this year. But perhaps you have a brunch with family and friends planned for earlier in the day? Or maybe on a day closer to Christmas? Or even on Christmas morning! Anytime from now until New Year's Eve grants opportunities to host a holiday brunch filled with all your family's favorites. Enjoy taking a peek at the recipes these bloggers have shared. You might just find a new favorite to serve at your next brunch!
1. Cherry Christmas Loaf / Gluesticks
Here's a recipe I can't wait to try! It's a braided loaf bursting with fruit filling and drizzled with vanilla icing. Who could resist?

2. Oatmeal Casserole / Simply Stacie
This baked oatmeal is BIG on taste but not on time. With only three steps, it's a cinch to pull together. And it looks amazing!

3. Mini Apple Cheesecakes / Shibley Smiles
Two classics--apple pie and cheesecake--come together for this decadent treat!

4. Caprese Quiche / Pretty Extraordinary
This colorful quiche is simple, delicious, and filled with fresh ingredients! What more could you want in a quiche?

5. Amish Cinnamon Rolls / Little House Living
Whether you top them with the suggested caramel sauce or the cream cheese frosting, these sweet rolls are sure to become a recipe you'll make again and again!

6. Pumpkin Spiced French Toast / Marilyn's Treats
From the sugar and spices to the amaretto sauce, what's not to love about this recipe?! Oh, and don't forget to also check out Marilyn's pumpkin pancakes topped with a cinnamon mousse.

7. Pumpkin Bread Pudding / Simply Stacie
Don't you just love unique twists on timeless recipes? I sure do! This fun variation of bread pudding is sure to become a family favorite.

8. Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bread / Little House Living
Yum! This recipe has two of my favorites--cream cheese and chocolate chips! And who doesn't love chocolate chips, right?! It's a simple recipe that's sure to be a crowd pleaser.

9. Cheesy Crustless Quiche / The Life of Jennifer Dawn
Looking for a crustless version of quiche? From our family to yours, here's a recipe we've been enjoying for decades!

10. Zucchini, Walnut, and Cranberry Salad / 5 Minutes for Mom
I love how colorful this side dish is, and it only requires a few simple ingredients!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Easy Mini Cheesecakes

These decadent mini cheesecakes are sure to make a statement at your next holiday gathering. And no one has to know that you had a little help making them--unless you want to share our little secret. Keep reading to learn about a fun baking hack that will turn delicious cheesecakes into a no-fail, stress-free treat for the holidays!
Let's face it! As magical as we want the holidays to be, stress can creep in between the budget strains from holiday shopping and the overwhelming to-do lists. Somewhere along the path to getting older, the magic of the holidays that once held us spellbound now has us frazzled and running short on time. There are extra chores, extra things to buy, extra things to make... I always feel like I need some extra BIG help to get through this extra special time. Maybe it's just me, though. I've always taken a must "do it all", DIY, made-from-scratch approach to things. Does anyone else put these kinds of pressures on themselves during the holiday season?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Cheesy Crustless Quiche

There are certain recipes that are so deeply rooted in our holiday traditions that they even taste and smell like the holidays. Do you know the ones I'm talking about? They're the recipes that the holiday season just wouldn't feel complete without. Perhaps for you, it's that pie recipe with the perfect flaky crust that goes back multiple generations. Or maybe it's your grandmother's recipe for sweet potato casserole. We all have them--scribbled on recipe cards or lovingly tucked away in a kitchen drawer.
One of those recipes for my family is the cheesy crustless quiche my mother made every year on Christmas morning. "This is a recipe traditionally served for Christmas breakfast. It was one of Joey's favorites. It just wasn't Christmas without quiche. We have carried on the yearly tradition." That's the personal note that's printed beside the recipe in our family cookbook. Joey, my dad, passed away from pancreatic cancer five years ago, but his favorite dish still hits my table every Christmas morning--and other mornings too!
That first holiday season without my dad was a hard one. He had passed away mid-October right on the precipice of what should have been the most joyous time of the year. In an attempt to surround myself with as much joy as possible, I had the house decorated for Christmas before the trick-or-treaters had even come around that year. On a whim, I even baked his quiche on a morning that was weeks away from Christmas. As it bubbled and baked in the oven, a comforting aroma filled the kitchen. It was as though I had brought the feeling of Christmas morning to a dreary October day.
Our crustless quiche recipe is not exclusive to just the holidays now. I've continued to make it whenever I've needed a delicious, warm helping of cheesy comfort food. Its appearances have increased even more since my sister tragically left us too. Sometimes you just need comfort food that feels like home--especially when home feels so far away. Right?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Apple Recipes for Fall & Weekly Link Party

Happy November! Now that Halloween is over, the attention is shifting from candy and costumes to turkeys and pies. Do you have some scrumptious recipe plans for this month? Maybe plans for a pie? Or a loaf of warm bread baking in the oven?

Some of my family's favorite things to enjoy during this season are delicious apple treats like apple crisp, homemade bread smothered in apple butter, apple pies, and homemade applesauce. Apples really are fall's favorite fruit!

Usually, we keep things pretty traditional, but isn't it fun to get creative in the kitchen from time to time? That's just what the bloggers being featured today have done. Each of their recipes have a common theme--apples! But there are some creative twists that make the recipes truly unique but also delectable.
1. Apple Butter Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Glaze / Strength & Sunshine
This cake looks both beautiful and delicious--making it the ideal confection for fall entertaining. Here's the fun twist! It's also gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-friendly.

2. Italian Apple and Fig Polenta Torta / All That's Jas
Here's a unique and tasty twist on apple cake. Apples? Check! Cinnamon? Check! But there are some other ingredients that you'll find unique and satisfyingly delicious.

3. Baked Apples with Dried Fruit and Pecans / Marilyn's Treats
Spices and cereal are baked in an apple bowl making it a treat that's tasty, unique, and healthy.

4. Slow Cooker Apple Butter / Strength & Sunshine
Do you love the idea of homemade apple butter but aren't sure where to start? Here's a great recipe with no apple peeling require and the slow cooker does most of the work.

5. Cinnamon Apple Cupcakes / Looney for Food
Cinnamon cakes with butterscotch frosting and apple pie filling on top? YES, please! It's always a good time for cupcakes and these are perfect for the season!