Thursday, December 10, 2015

Homespun Holidays:Fall and Winter Review

Have you ever had a book that you opened and you just couldn't put down?  One of those books that you flipped through and you get so many great ideas you have to set it aside for awhile and think about only to open it again and read it cover to cover again?  I received one of those books the other day in the form of an e-book.  I was asked to review Homespun Holidays: Fall and Winter from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  I can honestly say I am super excited about this e book!  It is packed full of great ideas, crafts, recipes, and meaningful articles.  I have read it cover to cover at least 4 times and I can't wait to sit down and read it again.  It is really that good!

I received this title to review for free from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  You can purchase this title for yourself at The Old Schoolhouse Shop where they have tons of great materials.  You can purchase Homespun Holidays: Fall and Winter by clicking on the title that I have linked or by clicking here:  Run and get a copy of this book for yourself, if you are like me, you will not regret it.  Keep reading to find out why I love this book so much.

As I read through Homespun Holidays: Fall and Winter, I found several projects that I wanted to try with the kiddos.  The projects are quick, easy, and the supplies were things I had on hand already.   I might have more craft supplies than the normal person, I can admit that I have an addiction to crafts, but I also have a lot of craft supplies for homeschooling and the homeschool group we are a part of.  I finally decided on trying the Trash Bag Wreath.  I picked this craft to try because it is something I thought that my daughter and the little girl I babysit for could do mostly by themselves and I was right.  The only part of this project I helped them with was shaping the hanger, cutting up the trash bags, and I tied on the ribbons at the end for a "pop" of color.  The wreath was the perfect project for them to work on when they finished school and I was still working on school with my son.  It kept them busy and it was easy for them.  They finished the whole wreath in about 2 hours.  It probably would have been done sooner, but the girls decided they wanted a really "full" wreath so they kept tying on trash bag strips.  Now the biggest question is who do we give this beautiful wreath to?
A wreath from common household supplies?
Tying on the strips

The finished wreath
The Homespun Holidays: Fall and Winter e book has many great recipes from their contributors in it too!  You all know that I am always on the look out for great recipes.  There are recipes for meals, desserts, and even for gift giving included in this title.  I loved reading through them because the recipe authors told the story behind their recipe.  I love knowing that!  It makes me much more likely to try a recipe if I know more about it - like the story behind it or if real families love this recipe.  I don't know why that appeals to me so much, but if I know it is a "tried and true" recipe I am twice as likely to try it.  This book includes so many great recipes I had to pick a place to start.  I am putting Autumn Soup on my January menu plan, even though the recipe says Autumn, I think this soup will be great year round.  I am also adding the Lentil Soup recipe to my January menu plan.  We love lentils in our family so this is a definite, must try for us.  I also found a few of my favorite recipes in here with a spin on them.  I have a recipe that my family loves for Hash Brown Casserole that is very similar to Tony's Hash Brown Casserole from the book so I am going to try Tony's recipe that is improved from my recipe with his spin on it and I know that my family will devour it.  I also found a recipe for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip.  I have never made this dip, but it is one of my favorite desserts that someone brings to church carry-ins.  The only problem is that it is usually gone by the time I get to it at the carry-in and I barely get a taste, but I do love it.  So I am excited to have this recipe that I can make now and I will finally get more than a taste of it.

I was also excited to find recipes in this book that we can use for our Holiday Tradition.  Every year we spend one Saturday baking cookies and treats for neighbors, friends, and Sunday School teachers.  We have our tried and true recipes that we use every year like Sour Cream Cut Out Cookies, but each year we like to try new recipes too.  There were several in this book that are perfect for our baking day and I have already added them to this list.  I plan to try the recipes for Mountain Cookies, Christmas Popcorn Balls, Caramel Corn this year for our platters we hand out.  I was also delighted to find a recipe for gift giving in this book.   It is the dry mix for Peppermint Cocoa.  I can mix the ingredients, put it in a cute little jar, and quickly type up the instructions to print out and include with each jar.  These cocoa jars will be the perfect gift for friends that we want to show some love this time of year.

I did try a couple of the recipes from Homespun Holidays: Fall and Winter.  I couldn't wait until our baking day and the authors of the recipes made them seem so easy, I had to try them.  I tried Brown Sugar Squares first.  The list of ingredients was very simple and they are pantry staples for me so I had to try it.  Oh my!!!  These cookie squares are DELICIOUS!!!  They are sweet, gooey, and have the perfect amount of crisp to the crust.  I will definitely bake these again, whether or not I share them is the hard question.  They took me 5 minutes to whip up and bake in about 20 minutes.  The hardest part of this recipe was waiting for them to cool and then trying not to eat them all.  I would buy this book just for that recipe, honestly.  The other recipe I tried was White Chocolate Snowball Cookies.  These cookies remind me of Mexican Wedding Cookies.  They are delicious too, a perfect companion to a cup of coffee.  Again I had all the ingredients I needed in my pantry and they were simple to throw together.  This dough is thick which makes it easy to roll into balls.  The dough took me about 5 minutes to whip up, another 5 minutes to roll into balls, and then they took about 17 minutes to bake.  When they are cooled a little, you roll them in powdered sugar and they are CUTE!!!  They are going on our Christmas platters this year too.  I did not have my children help with making these as they were working on school while I made them, but I did feel that I could hand them the recipes to these two cookies and they could easily make them.  The kids will definitely help next time.

Ingredients for the Brown Sugar Squares

Finished Brown Sugar Squares (pardon my use of an oval pan, my square pan is MIA)

White Chocolate Snowball Cookies in the oven

Finished White Chocolate Snowball Cookies - they are so CUTE!

Overall Homespun Holidays: Fall and Winter is a fantastic resource.  The crafts are perfect for kids of all ages and skill levels.  The recipes were simple and had common ingredients so you don't have to go to any specialty stores for ingredients.  I really appreciate that because that is what I need my recipes to be simple, hearty, and good.   I feel like I could hand my 12 year old any of the recipes from this book and he could make them.   I also loved the simple reminders to take time and enjoy this time of year.  The reminder of what the season is truly about.  I will definitely be flipping through my copy time and time again and trying much more of the recipes and crafts in it.  My daughter and the little girl I babysit for were excited that they could do the craft with very little help from me.  They both asked me what our next project will be, so now I have to decide that....decisions, decisions.  

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