holiday

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MeAndMyTea #CollectiveBias

The days seem to be getting colder and colder around these parts. Jack Frost has visited a time or two and Santa will be here in just a couple weeks. With the weather getting cooler out that means for me I switch from drinking iced tea to hot cups of tea. For me there is something about drinking a hot cup of tea. There is nothing better than sitting down and getting all warm and cozy with a cup of tea. It is one of my favorite ways to take a break and relax.

With it being time for Christmas I have been trying to figure out what to get everyone on my list. There are just so many people on our families list. We have not only our immediate and extended family but people like my kid’s teachers. I have had to get creative over the years and one of my favorite and cost effective gifts to do is make our own gift baskets. This year my gift baskets will be focused on staying warm and cozy this winter. Really, who wouldn’t love a Warm and Cozy Gift Basket? I know I would.

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl Gourmet

My idea for the gift basket is centered on one of my favorite ways to warm up and relax, drinking a good cup of tea. Tea is at the heart of warming up, just holding a cup or mug of tea is all I need some days. So I headed down the road to Walmart to pick up some yummy, Bigelow Tea and to get the basket started.
DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl Gourmet

Bigelow has so many different great flavors it was hard to decide on a single flavor so I picked a combination of their classic, Constant Comment, fall favorite, Pumpkin Spice and their yummy, Salted Caramel.

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl Gourmet

Since I was doing multiple gift baskets I created my own tea bag holders. They are VERY easy to make and take simply minutes to put together. The tea bag holders can serve other functions such as photo and gift card holders as well.

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl Gourmet All that is needed is 12×12 Scrapbook Paper, Jute Twine (or ribbon), Scissors, a Ruler and tea of course.

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl GourmetTo start I placed my tea bags on the scrapbook paper so I could visualize their placement. You don’t have to do this but I can be OCD. Next I cut my scrapbook paper in half. I used my ruler to make sure it was exactly 6 inches and as a straight edge.

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl Gourmet

Next, I folded the paper 1.5 inches  to create the pocket where the tea bags would be placed.

If desired, glue the edges of the fold.  Next I added the tea bags and evenly folded creating a 3 pocket tea folder.

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl GourmetNext I tie up my folder with the jute twine like a package. Since I did not glue the edges this will keep everything in the folder.

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl GourmetIt also looks like a tiny Christmas gift! Perfect for adding to a gift basket!

Now all I need was to  put my gift basket together!
DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl GourmetEverything in my gift basket was purchased at Walmart except for the scones. I made those. I thought a yummy homemade baked treat would be a great addition to the basket. The Warm and Cozy Gift basket includes a Bigelow Tea Sampler folder, plush fleece throw blanket, some cozy socks, a mug , honey bear, homemade treats and strawberry candies. Total cost was approximately $25. There are items in the basket that will be used again for other baskets also.

All I had left to do was to put it all together so I crumpled up some tissue paper at the bottom of the basket and got to arranging.DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl GourmetI think everything in the basket is perfect to keep you warm and cozy this winter. Some cozy socks to keep your feet warm, a cuddly blanket to wrap up in and then the perfect cup of Bigelow Tea with a snack. I know that it would warm me up! I hope the receiver of this gift loves it as much as I would!

What type of Bigelow Tea do you drink when you want to relax? 

DIY Warm and Cozy Gift Basket | Country Girl Gourmet

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TrickOrSweet #CollectiveBias

We are now 10 days out from Halloween!  It is one of our favorite times of year with all of the fall festivals, trunk or treats, zombie walks (and runs) and of course the big one, trick or treating on Halloween. My boys may be too big for trick or treating on Halloween but they still dress up. This weekend they will be zombies and they plan to dress up like zombies again on Halloween to hand out candy.  To get ready I have been perfecting my zombie makeup skills.

Last year was my first time creating a zombie kid. I searched Pinterest found a tutorial and thought I was all set to go. I found a pin-fail though and had to scramble to figure out how I was going to pull things off. With some quick thinking I came up with a pretty easy zombie look for my son and today i’m sharing my Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial with all of you!

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

To create a zombie look it takes a few things you probably have laying around your house. Tissues, school glue, paint brushes, a little makeup and then for some scary fake blood.

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

Step 1: Start with a clean face. Isn’t he handsome!

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

Step 2: Take your tissues and separate in the layers. Cheap 2 ply tissues work best for this. If you can find plain unpatterned toilet paper it will work in a pinch but all of the toilet paper I found had some sort of design imprinted into it.

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

Step 3: Tear of pieces of tissue and apply to the face using washable Elmer’s Glue. I use a cheap paintbrush to apply the glue.Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

 

I also like to lightly glue over the tissue. I chose to use Elmer’s Glue because as a kid I use to put glue on my hand and then peel it off. It was like peeling dead skin.  That’s the look we are going for so it is perfect!

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

A big thing to remember about applying the tissue is it does not need to be perfect! You can also “play” with the tissue creating holes for bullet holes and scratches. Make weird faces and let the wrinkles come out. The more imperfect looking the better.

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

Step 4: Let the tissue dry to your face. If desired to speed up things use a blow dryer on the low and cool settings.

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

Step 5: Now it’s time to get creative! It is time for makeup! Once the tissue is dry we want to turn the tissue into something that is flesh toned. I like to use a lighter color than our skin tone. Use pressed powder and a make up brush and evenly go over the face making sure that the tissue is evenly colored.

 Now it’s time to get creative. Using black eyeliner and black/gray/white eyeshadow (use matte unless you want a sparkly zombie) and start shading and coloring in features on the face. I like to use eyeliner to fill in and outline scars and wounds. I use the eyeshadow on the eyes to darken them. I also darken the lips. I prefer this over typical halloween make up. It’s also easier to wash off!

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

Step 6: Set your make up! If you want to give your look staying power add Colorless Setting powder. You can find it with halloween make up for less than $5.

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

Step 7: Add fake blood and voila you have a zombie! I wait until we are ready to leave to add the fake blood to prevent smears. I also like to apply it with a paint brush and let it drip a little.

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

The whole look doesn’t really take that long to do which is great so we can put our favorite Hershey’s candy in the bowl and head out the door. Seriously, you have to have Reese’s cups on Halloween!

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

Hershey’s make picking up Halloween candy easy. All I had to do was go to Walmart and grab a couple variety bags and go.

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

 

My usual Halloween candy buying involves debating how many bags to buy.  I always worry, will I buy enough or will I have candy leftover? Then there is the what all should buy? I always buy Reese’s but what about kids that don’t like them (is that even possible?) or cannot eat them. I always have to make sure I buy a large variety. The Hershey variety bags all have a good mix of chocolate and some with non-chocolate candy allowing a little something for everybody plus they are the perfect size!  I have a bag for this weekend and another for Halloween for my boys to hand out. I am all set and ready. Their large bags have made this Halloween easy for me. I have plenty of Reese’s for parents to take as payment for taking their kid’s out, then some Kit-Kat’s,Twizzlers and Jolly Rancher lollipops too!

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

I think we are ready. Is it Halloween yet?

Easy Zombie Makeup Tutorial | Country Girl Gourmet

What are you dressing up as for Halloween? What is your favorite Halloween candy? Don’t forget to check out Walmart for all of your Hershey favorites!

Reindeer Food

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is Reindeer Food. On Christmas Eve my kids sprinkle throw Reindeer Food all over our front yard to help guide Santa’s reindeer to our house. Santa’s reindeer are attracted by the glitter that sparkles in the moonlight and the smell of the oats. Hey, Santa get’s cookies and milk, I think the reindeer deserve a treat as well. After all pulling Santa’s sled all night long has to make them hungry.

Making Reindeer Food is simple. You only need Oatmeal, Glitter and a Jar or other container.

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

First add your oats

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

and then your glitter

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

and then shake

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

and maybe shake a little more

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

until the glitter is evenly distributed

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

If desired make up a tag for your reindeer food. I made this in Word and cut with scrapbooking scissors.Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

Magic ReindeerFood

On Christmas Eve, Sprinkle this magic reindeer food on your lawn. The shiny glitter will spark in the moonlight and the smell of oats will guide Rudolph to your home.

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

Reindeer Food is perfect to package up and share with your child’s friends and classmates. If you do not want to make your own printable you can find several on Pinterest.

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

Reindeer Food

Ingredients

1 cup oatmeal

1 TB glitter

Directions

1. Add oats and glitter to a bag or jar

2. Shake well

3. Spread all over your yard on Christmas Eve to guide Santa.

Reindeer Food / 12 Days of Homemade Christmas, Day 8

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

For the first day of homemade Christmas we have Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments! These ornaments smell great and are super easy to make. Plus they are cheap! You can find everything you need for them at the dollar store. From the applesauce and cinnamon to decorations. Kids love helping make these ornaments too!

Step one: mix 1 1/2 cups of applesauce (this is 3 individual cups) with 2, 3 oz bottles of cinnamon

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

be careful pouring the cinnamon to avoid cinnamon dust going everywhere.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Mix well and form a doughCinnamon Applesauce OrnamentsCinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Use a rolling pin to roll out dough thin.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Cut using your favorite cookie cutters. This was one of my grandmas.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

poke a hole in tops of ornament large enough to put twine/yard or ribbon through. Next allow to air dry for a couple days or bake at 250 for 2.5 hours.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Once dry add twine through the hole so ornament can be hung.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Decorate to your hearts content. The possibilities are endless!

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

We kept ours simple.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups applesauce

2 3oz bottles of cinnamon

Directions

Mix applesauce and cinnamon together until it is thick and forms a dough.  Roll out mixture on a flat surface and cut into  shapes with cookie cutters. Place ornaments on a parchment line cookie sheet.  Make hole with a toothpick to hang ornaments. Dry 2-3 days or place in a 250* oven and bake for 2.5 hours

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover

What happened to the day of regular old birthday parties? I know it can’t be just Pinterest driving every mom out there to make their child’s better than the next. What child seriously needs such an over the top party. Yes, as parents we want to give our children everything we can but that doesn’t mean we need to break the bank. Call me frugal or even cheap but I don’t think so and I know so. My daughter recently had an old fashioned sleepover for her birthday that she and her friends loved. Her sleepover was budget friendly and easy enough to put together that anyone could do it.

 

Streamers and tape that is all this takes and your doorway is transformed into a magical gateway to party land.

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

 

 

Who needs Helium? Hang balloons upside down by a ribbon.
Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

Pink plastic tablecloths are about $1 a piece and perfect for covering tables and even deep freezers. Table scatter can be bought for 1.99 to decorate the tables.
Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

My daughters favorite color is pink so we went for pink candy and decorations highlighted by Hello Kitty. Party City sells candy by color. You can buy it by the bag or the piece. At 5-10 cents a piece it is often cheaper than the bag. I kept dishes pink except one pack of plates and one pack of napkins.
Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

Make some extra special colorful chocolate covered strawberries. You can find the colored wafers at Party City, Hobby Lobby, Walmart and other stores.
Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

How about a photo booth? Walmart sells a kit for under $5 and you can go to the Dollar Store and Party City for extra props. You probably have stuff laying around the house too.

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

 

Photobooths are fun. Email parents the pics after party or print and write Thank You’s on the back.

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

We did arts and crafts too. The girls made birthday crowns. The foam crowns can be found at various stores like the Dollar Store or Hobby Lobby
Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

The girls ate pizza and watched movies

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

Instead of a cake they decorated their own cupcakes.

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

painted each others nails…

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

Watched more movies and ate popcorn until they fell asleep.

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

Breakfast was kept easy. Cereal, Fruit and the mini donuts that I never let my daughter have.

Budget Friendly Old Fashioned Sleepover |Country Girl Gourmet

The party was a success. The girls had fun and that is the important part.

It’s not easy being tall on Halloween

Halloween time is one again upon us. Time for our children to dress up and go trick or treating. A right of passage for any kid, a night they look forward too. After all when else are you allowed to go door to door asking strangers for candy? It is the time of the year social media sparks up in blogs about healthy candy alternatives, being mindful of children with special needs to age limits for trick or treating. Which brings me to my question, what about the children who are tall? With my own children I have learned it is not easy being tall on Halloween.

It's not easy being Tall on Halloween | Country Girl Gourmet

The picture above was taken in 2011 when my oldest was not yet 12 years old and well i’m 5’6″, my son next to him was 5 feet-ish tall. Alike his brother that year would wind up being his last year going trick or treating. He was 9 years old and in the 4th grade. The exact same age and height as his brother was the last time he went trick or treating. The same age (and height) as the cutie in the orange shirt is now. What happens at this age is when my kid’s go out trick or treating people skip over them when handing out candy. They will give to the siblings but not them. They are left standing waiting as the candy giver retreats back inside. They are in a costume, say Trick or Treat, they are polite, my kids are the kids that tell you thank you after given a treat. So what gives?

I honestly couldn’t figure it out. I trick or treated (in costume) with my friends until I was 13. I was dumbfounded until I started reading various postings on social media sites asking, “until what age should kids trick or treat?”  The majority were in agreement that kid’s should stop once they hit the age 13/14 or have started high school. People also said they go based on how big the kid looks. That is when the aha moment set in. No one has ever accurately guessed the age of one of my children. My husband is well over 6 foot tall and people keep telling me that I am tall for a woman. We have tall kids, plain and simple. At the kindergarten concert you see that super tall kid that is a head above all their classmates and has to look down at them. That is my kid. All 4 of my kids to be exact.

tallkiddo
As a parent I am going to ask those of you participating in halloween treat giving this year to rethink your methods for handing out candy. Please think about the tall kids and their parents who have to explain why you didn’t give them a piece of candy but gave to their siblings. Let them experience this rite of passage like their friends. They are still kids, just a little bit taller than other kids their age.  It’s not easy being a tall kid, please don’t give another reason why.

It's not easy being Tall on Halloween | Country Girl Gourmet

Halloween in an Instant

Time has flown by and it’s that time of the year again, Fall! The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are changing color (well in most places) and it is time for the holiday season to start. I’m not talking about Christmas but Halloween!

October is full of fall festivals and different Halloween celebrations. Food is often involved too. There is so much that can be made to help celebrate the fall season.  An obvious choice is cupcakes and cakes like these yummy Harvest Pumpkin Cupcakes from Argo.

I made these tasty pumpkin cakes for my one son’s school’s Fall Carnival and they went fast! Pumpkin cupcakes are always a good call in the fall. They are also awesome with Caramel Frosting instead of cream cheese.

Not feeling like cake? How about these little gems?  Individual Pumpkin Pies.

Just note for the Individual Pumpkin Pies the vanilla wafer crust does become “soggy” instead of crust like. I am working on a solution for this and will let you know what I come up with.  Even with the soggy crust these babies went fast as well. They are oh so yummy. Perfect for fall festivals and classroom parties.

Looking for something with a little bit of crunch? Maybe some sweet and salty? Try Caramel Corn!

This Caramel Corn by Karo is extremely easy to make as well as addictive. I don’t think it lasted 24 hours in my house.

Looking for a little change to your Caramel Corn try Caramel Corn Treat Bags and add in your favorite treats, nut’s , candy, pretzels, whatever makes your tummy happy. This recipe will not disappoint and is sure to be a crowd pleaser at fall carnivals and in the classroom.

Growing up on Halloween my mom always made us chili for before we would go out. Having something warm and filling  before going out is perfect and I think I may have found our pre Halloween trick or treating meal, Argo’s Chicken and Corn Chowder. This soup is delicious and filling and my entire family loved it. The only way to make it better would be to add some potatoes. Try it out, it doesn’t disappoint.

Are you looking for more Halloween ideas? Check out my Pinterest page! I have a bunch of great ideas pinned.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Respect the Holidays

Back in September I was in shock when I found this:

On September 17th. The next day I saw inflatables up at Walmart across the street.

I then saw this a couple weeks later-

I did half expect to see this. After all Hobby Lobby is a craft store. Those who make holiday crafts tend to start a month or two in advance. While I did expect to see Christmas crafting supplies I did not expect Christmas trees.

Then I had to go to the mall-
This is at Sears at Cielo Vista Mall

This I did not expect to see before Halloween-

Oh and yes this was up before Halloween! Come on people Respect the Pumpkin!

These pictures were all taken around El Paso, Texas.

What has happened? It seems as soon as the School supplies are put away the Christmas decorations come out to play. I love my holidays each and every one, individually. They each get their own special attention. That is why I am asking you to take back Thanksgiving and Respect the Bird.

I am a military wife so each holiday my husband is home it is extra special. In this life you never know if your soldier will be home the next.  We love to cook and well, eat. We even try to cook together, well sometimes. I am the head chef and he is my sous chef,lol.
Last Thanksgiving we took an adventure into frying turkey. I brined our turkey as usual with my own turkey brine and then he did the rest. He watched video, DVR’ed Alton Brown…. He was ready and on turkey day he was ready to tackle the bird by himself.

He made up a system to lower the bird into the oil and was ready to go

no puppy, that Turkey isn’t for you!

fry, turkey, fry!

Fried Turkey!

My husband finally after years of talking about it fried his first turkey.  The whole commotion that surrounded frying the turkey definitely made the day an adventure and memorable. A good memory, happy memories that I can look back upon today.

Today a day when my husband is on the other side of the world in Afghanistan for his 5th deployment. This year his Thanksgiving will  most likely consist of him and his platoon in their sand bunker, with no running water, heat, etc. eating who knows what. He and others do this so hopefully their children do not have to one day, so their siblings don’t have to, so you and yours don’t have to. They do this to protect our freedom to live free and make our own choices. For this I am thankful. Words cannot express my gratitude to these soldiers and the sacrifices they make so the rest of us don’t have to.

This year I ask you to make the choice to Respect the Bird. Take back Thanksgiving, take back the day and what it’s suppose to mean. It is about Family not Black Friday and taking a nap as soon as dinner is done to prepare to be in line at Walmart as soon as the doors open to get the best deal. I ask you to spend time with your families, love a little and make memories do it for all the military families that can’t spend the day with their loved ones.

Brining a Turkey

One of the best things you can do to ensure a nice juicy turkey is to brine it. Brining is Easy! Just gotta plan ahead a lil.

Country Girls Turkey Brine
1TB Rosemary leaves
1TB Thyme leaves
1TB Black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
6 cloves of garlic
1 onion, halved
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar

water (like 1.5-2 gallons)
A container big enough for your bird (such as a cooler)
ice

In your container mix all ingredients and then add turkey (be sure to remove innards first). Cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 12 to 24 hours. Remove the turkey then drain and discard the excess brine and pat dry and prepare your turkey as desired.

Brining a Turkey |Country Girl Gourmet

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