December 2012Occasionally Crafty: December 2012

Monday, December 31

Making My Own- Enchilada Sauce


Now that the holidays are over, it's time to start up the Making My Own Series again! If you're just joining us, you can see the things I've already made by clicking on the Making My Own category on the right hand side of the blog.

When you're on a budget, Mexican food is often the best bang for your buck. We love to make enchiladas, but I don't know about you-- paying $1.25 for a can of enchilada sauce just bugs me. I mean, if you're in a pinch it's not the worst amount of money you could spend, but anywhere to save money is great in my book.

I searched around for awhile and found this recipe for homemade enchilada sauce at Clean Green Simple. I actually didn't have any tomato sauce, but had a can of tomato puree, and it still worked out great.

This just happens to be another one of those recipes that you are likely to have everything on hand for, which also means if you are meaning to use enchilada sauce in a recipe, but realize you forgot to buy it, you can make it from scratch easily! The recipe made about 2 cans worth of enchilada sauce.

Wondering how to use your new enchilada sauce? Try these easy Chicken Enchiladas.

Enchiladas                                                                                          325 degrees- 15 minutes

2 chicken breasts, shredded
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 can of enchilada sauce
1 can diced green chilies
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Thaw, boil and shred chicken. Mix cream cheese, chilies and about ½ can of enchilada sauce until smooth. Add shredded chicken. Place about 2-3 TBSP of mixture in center of a tortilla. Roll and place in an 8x8 pan. Once full, put remainder of enchilada sauce on top and top with cheese. Bake until warm throughout and cheese is melted.

Everyone in my family agreed that these were super yummy, and even better than the canned stuff we usually use. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Saturday, December 29

YOUR Favorite Posts from 2012


It's been a big year for Occasionally Crafty.  We have a new co-author, a new blog design, and lots of new readers. It's fun to look back at where we were in January and how our year has gone.  Having my sister join me in writing has really helped me find a better balance between blogging and real life.  I don't think I'm all the way there yet, but she's been a great help!  I hope you are enjoying her posts too!

We appreciate all our new readers, and even those who just pop by for a visit.  Here are the top 12 posts YOU enjoyed this year- if you missed one, we'd love you to take a look!

12.  Thrifted Frame to Earring Holder

11.  Stenciled Wall Sign

10.  Ballerina Party

9.  Bow Tie Baby Shower

8.  Stenciled Bathroom

7.  Lego Man Shirt

6.  Winter Bucket List and Clipboard

5.  Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Rice Krispy Treats

4.  Sour Apple Bars

3.  Sheet Music Wreath

2.  Ballet Vinyl Wall Art

And your favorite post of 2012?

1.  The Best Snickerdoodles Ever!

Huh- maybe we should have been dessert bloggers?

Actually, it's fun to look at this list because I always say we do a little bit of everything here at Occasionally Crafty.  This lists sure proves it- it has home design and decor, printables, party planning, crafts, and recipes!

Thanks for being part of our community this year.  We hope 2013 will be a wonderful year for you and for us.  Cheers!

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Friday, December 28

A Handmade Christmas


When you're known for being crafty, it just seems natural to do handmade gifts for your family. It's a great way to give something personal and to save money. I did quite a few handmade gifts this year and wanted to share a few with you! (I know Valerie did some too!)

Both of these are wood plaques that were painted and then vinyl was used as a stencil for the lettering/designs. I just love how they turned out, and so did my mom and dad!

I also handmade my Christmas cards. Didn't they turn out cute?

Did you make handmade gifts this year? I'd love to hear what you did!

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Monday, December 24

Christmas Eve Traditions

I know that it is Christmas Eve, and it's been a full holiday season, but we just wanted to share a few of our family Christmas Eve traditions with you and hope you'll do the same! It's never to late to start a tradition and help make your holidays even more merry.

Laura:  Our holiday season has been full of traditions like making paper snowflakes, Christmas crafts, watching Christmas movies, baking, delivering goodies, singing and even a little shopping. When Christmas Eve rolls around, hopefully there's not much left to do but enjoy family time. We LOVE to drive around the neighborhoods on Christmas Eve to see all of their lights. This year we may even use Valerie's scavenger hunt sheet: what a good idea!  Once we're back at home it's time for some hot cocoa, christmas pajamas, and our annual ornament exchange. You can see the ornament I'm giving my boys here, but I just love giving them one each year to add to their personal collection. We've also been reading one scripture story about Jesus every night since December 1st, so we will finish our list and all of our advents. Then it's bedtime, wrapping presents time and the nervous excitement that comes before Christmas morning. I just can't believe it's here already!
Valerie:  For us, Christmas Eve is a big family day.  I usually spend the day cooking and baking our big Christmas Eve dinner.  After we eat, we play a game, read the Christmas Story in the scriptures, and then our siblings exchange gifts.  Each sibling buys for one other, and it alternates every year.  The kids really enjoy picking out something special for their brother or sister.  We end our night by putting out cookies and milk for Santa, and send the kids off to dream of sugarplums-- or Legos, at least!
     This year we are going to let the kids act out the nativity.  They are really excited to try this out, and I hope it will become a fun new tradition!
If you are still looking for that special something to do on Christmas Eve, maybe some of these ideas would appeal to you:
How about watching a classic holiday movie?  I just watched White Christmas for the first time this week!

*Updated- our old link was broken so here's some more great ideas! shares 50 great ideas here.  I love the idea of "camping out" in front of the Christmas tree one night.  My kids would LOVE that! has another great roundup here.  My favorite:  A Magic Key for those without a fireplace! has some more great ideas.  I love the reminder to spend some time serving others.
Whatever you do this Christmas Eve, we hope you have a wonderful day with your family.  We'll be taking most of the week off to spend time with our own families, so we'll see you in a few days!  Merry Christmas!
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Friday, December 21

Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook: Southwestern-Style Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

Our post is a bit long today, but it's for a great cause!  Please read it all if you can!

Last Friday was an awful day in our nation's history. 20 children and 8 adults lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary and it has affected us all.  When tragedy strikes, our impulse is to offer help somehow, but we often don't know what we can do.. Fortunately the blogging community is a friendly community, and there have been some great ideas of how we can join together to help this grieving town.  Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook was born out of a discussion on this very topic..  Our "mission" is twofold:  Honor the fallen children with a cookie or a craft in their memory, and hopefully raise funds for those working to help that community heal.  Many shops and blogs are even donating a portion of their proceeds for the day to help.  You can donate below:

We  have 3 elementary aged children and 2 more very close to it, so of course the tragedy hit home with us.

Like everyone else, when news of the shootings spread, we went home and held our children closely, knowing that this could easily have happened to any of us. So today, in memory of those innocent lives lost, we share with you some crafts we've done with our kids.   Crafting together is a way to share what we love with them, and, of course, to spend more of that precious time together.

Please click on the button below to find out how you can help, and thanks for joining us today in remembrance of  those in Newtown, Connecticut.

Laura: Sometimes it's just about the simple crafts and the time spent together. My son and I spent an hour or so making paper snowflakes and then hung them above his bed. He will be able to look at those and think of the magic of Christmas and hopefully the time spent together.

Valerie: One thing we love to do with our kids each year is to travel around a neighborhood known for its amazing Christmas light displays.  We ooh and aah over the creative decorations on each house, then finish up with some delicious hot cocoa.

I've seen a few Christmas Light Seek-n-Find printables this year, but I wanted one that fit with our Southwestern decor.  When I moved here I was taken aback by the cactus (cacti?) wrapped in Christmas lights and palm trees lights wrapped around their impressively tall trunks.  But now I treasure it as part of our Arizona culture.  If you're like me and live somewhere in the Southwest or maybe even one of the other warmer states, you might appreciate my Southwestern Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt Printable:

Southwest Style Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

I made sure to include images for the younger set:  my son is still learning to read and needs a little help!

You can click  here to dowload the printable.

This year, words cannot express how thankful I am that I have my children home safe with me to share this fun tradition with.

If I have time (ha ha!) I may link this up to some of these parties- come party with us!

Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook is brought to you by the following blogs and shops.  Please take time to visit them (and buy from them!) today!

This event is brought to you by: Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks, The Red Headed Baker, Real Housemoms, Crazy for Crust, Something Swanky, Life After Laundry, Two Kids Cooking, Frugal Foodie Mama, The Doctorate Housewife, Heather's French Press, Operation Dinnertime, Lovely Pantry, What's Cooking Love?, Cupcakes and Kale Chips, Occasionally Crafty, Pint Sized Baker, Pineapple and Coconut, Wine & Glue, Lemonsforlulu, A Sweet Baker, Mom On Timeout, The Freshman Cook, Sweet Twist of Blogging, A Family Feast, Julie's Eats & Treats, Eat at Allie's, Here Comes the Sun, The Kitchen is My Playground, Just My Crazy Kitchen, The Sweet Chick, The Tasty Fork, Wholly Delicious Dishes, Chocolate, Chocolate and more , Yours and Mine ARE Ours, Kitchen Meets Girl, Daily Dish Recipes, Sweet Bella Roos, Mom's Test Kitchen

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Wednesday, December 19

Scrappin' Wednesday- Our Christmas Card


Every year, we make our own Christmas cards.  Here's what we came up with this year:

I used my digital scrapbooking software to create this cute card.  In this case, it was My Memories Suite.  Did you know they have released a new version?  You can purchase it by clicking on the link in my sidebar.

The pictures of my kids were taken at The Polar Express in Williams, AZ.  We had a blast riding the train, drinking hot chocolate, and meeting Santa himself!

We have a fun post coming on Friday as part of the Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook.  Don't forget to check out the details here and spread the word!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Tuesday, December 18

Neighbor Gift: Mini Loaves and Free Gift Tag Printable


Today I'm sharing a delicious gift you can share with your neighbors, friends, and your children's teachers this holiday season.

I'm a sucker for anything mini (well, except mini-skirts!)  There's something so cute about something in miniature.  So, these mini loaves of bread, paired with a fun card, make a perfect gift.

I like to give something that fits the season, so I make this Cinnamon Applesauce Quick Bread, though you could of course you any bread recipe you like.


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2.  Spray your loaf pan(s) with baking spray (preferably the kind with added flour)
3.  In a large bowl, whisk together first 4 ingredients
4.  In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients
5.  Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients stirring just until moistened.
6.  Pour into loaf pan and smooth top
This tastes great with some extra sugar sprinkled on the top.
7.  Bake for 55-60 minutes for one large loaf or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
(For mini loaves, I baked eight at a time for about 30 minutes, and it was perfect!)

Now, I bake it right in these ceramic loaf pans (I bought mine at Michaels).

I let it cool for about ten minutes, then remove the loaves to finish cooling.  Then I wash out the pans and use them in packaging.  I wrap the loaves in saran wrap, then put them back in the ceramic pans and tie everything up with ribbon for the perfectly presented gift.

I attach a gift card with this note, which you can download print out below: "No matter how you slice it, you're an awesome friend/neighbor/teacher "

Just right click on the images, then save to your computer.  I usually open them in Word or Publisher and copy the image for each loaf I make.

Don't forget to make a few extra loaves for you- it's delicious, if I do say so myself!

Have a wonderful day!


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Monday, December 17

Stepping Away Today

*Note* We will be participating in the Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook on Friday.  You can read more about it here.  We'll see you tomorrow with our regularly scheduled post.

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