Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Frosted Ginger Creams

The recipe for today is Frosted Ginger Creams and comes from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. It’s sounds like it’s supposed to be a bar, but this batch got higher, like cake. Regardless, the smell of these bars/cake baking will get you in the Christmas spirit – the scent of the spices and molasses – heaven!

If you’ve noticed the lack of posts again, I had another bout of pancreatitis and hospital stay the week  before Thanksgiving. Yes – I was actually on a feeding tube for Thanksgiving. My family stepped up and took on the meal duties while I seriously tried very hard not to curl up in the fetal position in a corner somewhere. That was a rough one.  Hopefully I’m finally on the road to recovery. This is taking waaaaay too long in my opinion, but Ebenezer (that’s what we’ve named my carmudgeon-ly pancreas – he does get better in the end) is really trying very hard to get better and stop giving me pain.

Anyhoo – back to posting. I realized that I haven’t shared an old photo in a while, so here’s one from my first Christmas. This was spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm where we were living at the time because my dad was stationed in Turkey in the Army.

I love how they thought I wouldn’t leave the tree alone, so it was put up on a table. Obviously they forgot to put the presents up and out-of-the-way!

This is another of my new favorites! You can see the “Good” connotation again here!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Frosted Ginger Creams

Cream together:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

Add:

2 eggs

Beat.

Add:

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup molasses

Mix well.

Mix together:

1 cup hot coffee

1 teaspoon baking soda

Add coffee/soda to first mixture alternately with:

2 cups flour

Stir in:

1 cup chopped raisins or dates

Pour into 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The batter is pretty straightforward for this one, as is the frosting.

Make sure that if you’re going to make them pretty with sprinkles, you need to put them on right away or the frosting will be too dry and they won’t stick.

Perfect with a cup of coffee!!

So festive, so pretty, so fragrant, so good!! This was another great recipe from one of those old church cookbooks! They just don’t get any better. Try these Frosted Ginger Creams, let the spices and molasses waft through your house during the baking process, and get in the Christmas spirit!

 

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Merry Christmas, 2016!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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I think I was 2 years old in this photo, and I can tell by looking at the ornaments on the tree behind me, that I still have some of them on my tree right now!

I wish you the happiest of holidays with your friends and family – and furry friends!

 

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Christmas Cookies

Christmas can be traumatic for kids, as you can see by the photo I’m sharing today. This is when I was 3 years old, and Santa made an appearance at the house. I always felt that way about Santa – scared to death!

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I’m not sure why, but that’s just how I always felt. That is sheer terror on my face! My mom doesn’t seem to be terrified. In fact, she seems to be enjoying MY terror! Ha! The really funny this was that Santa was actually my Grandpa in a Santa costume. If I had only known!

I found this recipe in Grandma’s file – it’s another clipping, maybe not from a newspaper, but from some publication. She’s written some notes on it, so I thought we’d give it a try. The actual name of these cookies is cut off, but she gives instructions for what she did to make them Christmas cookies, so that’s what we’re going to call them – Christmas Cookies. This recipe is another one that can be made a couple of months ahead and kept in the freezer for whenever you need them. I could see making a batch of these in about October and having them all ready in the freezer. As long as you’re mixing up cookie dough, you might as well mix up a batch of these for next month. They aren’t just for Christmastime, but for anytime you need a quick treat. Note the “Real Good” connotation on this one!

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From the phrase at the top of the recipe, it sounds like these maybe delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Christmas Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup shortening (I used butter)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Add:

2 cups oatmeal

With your hands, mix in:

1 cup coconut

1 cup walnuts, chopped

(For Christmas cookies add – 1 cup red and/or green maraschino cherries, chopped)

Chill slightly (I chilled the dough about 10 minutes) and roll into 2 logs about 2 inches in diameter.

Wrap tightly and freeze.

To bake:

Slice in 1/4 inch slices and bake on ungreased baking sheets at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

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I split the dough in half to make the two logs.

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I used parchment to wrap the logs, labeled them, and into the freezer they go! I love these recipes that you can make ahead and have ready whenever you need them.

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The recipe suggests using an electric knife to slice the frozen dough, but I used my serrated bread knife and it worked just fine.

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The logs sliced right through, even though they were frozen solid.

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Put the frozen slices right onto a baking sheet and bake. Easy peasy.

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The cookies come out crispy and delicious.

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There’s nothing better than cookies and milk. Nothing.

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Grandma’s note says that these cookies are “Real Good” – she was right! The cookies are delicious and festive – just what you need in a Christmas cookie. I’m keeping one of the logs for sometime in January when we’re ready for sweets again. Make a batch to use when last-minute guests come, or just in case you run out of cookies over the holidays. We can’t have that. 10-12 minutes and you’re golden – and the cookies will be, too!

 

 

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Ritz Cracker Cookies

The recipe for today is one that my mom probably got from a co-worker years ago. She worked at a bank in town, and is still friends with some of those co-workers today. I used to love going to the bank when it was time to pick her up from work. To pass the time until it was time to go home, she would usually have me help with some mundane chore like stamping her tickets with her initial stamp. Or maybe I would go check out the lunch room downstairs and watch TV until it was time to go. At Christmastime, the bank would play Christmas music and have a HUGE flocked tree in the middle of their lobby. That was not something we usually had in our home (we maybe had a flocked tree once), but it was so big and so gorgeous at the bank – I was amazed by it. I have to say, these Ritz Cracker Cookies are one of my favorites. She used to also make them with Wheat Thins crackers stacked 3 high, almost like a petite-four. They are incredibly easy to make, they’re fun and festive, and they’re absolutely delicious. And addictive, did I mention addictive? Yes, they’re very addictive.

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Yes, these are taaasty. And addictive. Did I mention addictive? I think I did.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ritz Cracker Cookies

Melt together:

1 package of chocolate almond bark

1 12 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4-1/2 cup paraffin wax, chipped finely

Spread creamy peanut butter between 2 Ritz Crackers and dip in chocolate mixture.

Put on waxed paper.

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I found it easiest to make the cracker sandwiches first, before melting the chocolate.

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Next, melt the chocolate almond bark, chocolate chips, and wax.

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The chocolate is shiny and ready to go.

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Put your dipped treats on waxed paper – if you put the whole works on a baking sheet, it’s easier to move them around if you need to.

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I put Christmas sprinkles on top – because it’s Christmas. You can decorate according to whatever holiday or occasion you want.

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Aren’t they beautiful?!!

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Man, I love these. Did I mention that they’re addictive?

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Try these tasty treats as part of your cookie tray – they’re a quick and easy addition to it. Just make sure to make plenty of them – they’re very addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fantasy Fudge

The recipe for today came from my other grandma. She loved Christmas, too, and made a lot of goodies every year. She had a sister-in-law who made a lot of candy, and that’s probably where she got a lot of these Christmas candy recipes. I used to sit for hours in front of Grandma and Gramp’s big silver Christmas tree watching the color wheel change colors over and over and over again. They had blue decorations on it and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would lay right down under the bottom branches and watch the glittering branches change from red to blue to green to yellow. I loved that tree. Gramp had a sweet tooth like no other, and at Christmastime he would come home with many different kinds of Christmas candy. That may be why Grandma made so many different kinds of candy at that time of year. I know that she got this recipe for Fantasy Fudge from a family member sometime in the 1970’s, and that’s how long I’ve been making it, too. This does make a big batch, which is good, cuz it doesn’t last long. Just sayin’.

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Oh man, does this bring back memories of Christmas back in the day!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fantasy Fudge

Combine in heavy pan:

3 cups sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk (5 oz. can)

3/4 cup butter

Bring to a full boil.

Boil 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in:

12 ounce package of chocolate chips

Stir until melted.

Add:

7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme

1 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t add nuts because not all in my family like them)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until well blended.

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Cool at room temperature.

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Again – pretty simple ingredients that add up to a delicious treat!

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Get the syrup boiling away.

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Add the chocolate chips.

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Mix in the vanilla and the marshmallow crème.

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Pour it into a baking pan.

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That’s it! A huge batch of fudge that will last you into the new year. Maybe.

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This is another ridiculously quick and easy recipe that makes a lot – perfect for gift giving or as part of your cookie tray. If you want this to last until into the new year, I guess I would hide some. That’s what I have to do in my family, or there just won’t be any left. If you don’t hide it, it’s just too handy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

 

 

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Day 12 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Rosettes

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Today is the 12th and last day of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing all of the Scandinavian treats, crafts, and fun things I’ve posted here for you! There are so many more to share – I may have to do it again next year! I’ve saved the trickiest thing for last. Today we’re tackling Rosettes. These are a fried treat that are kind of a cross between a donut and a cookie, and while they aren’t necessarily hard to do – they can be a bit tricky. When I pulled out the recipe, I had clipped an extra piece of paper to it with some “helpful hints” on it. There will be more on the “hints” as we go along. Ok – deep breath – here we go . . .

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rosettes

Beat:

2 eggs

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 drop almond flavoring

Add:

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

Mix until smooth.

I let the batter sit about an hour before starting to fry.

Fry in hot oil (about 375 degrees) on rosette iron.

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This is another recipe with incredibly simple ingredients.

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Once you have the batter mixed smooth, let it sit about an hour. I have read that “hint” somewhere since the last time I made these, and as far as I’m concerned, the more “hints” you have to help you out with these, the better.

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Dip the iron in the hot oil first for a few seconds, then dip it into the batter – being careful NOT to dip it more than 3/4 of the way up the iron or it won’t come off. I had some trouble getting the batter to stick at first, so I held it in the batter for about 5 seconds and that worked great. One of the “helpful hints” that was on the sheet clipped to the recipe, to not hold the iron in the batter very long. This is what’s so funny about making rosettes – sometimes one thing will work and the next time you make them, it may not. It’s total trial and error from time to time. I just might not make them often enough. This was a treat that my dad made with my sister when we were growing up. It ended up being their “thing” because they had the system DOWN.

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Hold the iron with the batter on it in the hot oil until the bubbles slow down a bit – about 30-40 seconds, and if you don’t keep it under the oil, it will fall off of the iron. We had a little trouble with that a couple of times (my daughter helped me and made some of her first krumkaka – it took her awhile to get the hang of it).

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I usually have a knife handy and use the point to help get the krumkaka off of the iron and onto a paper towel to drain and cool.

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My family likes them to be dipped in sugar. Grandma did this right before serving, but we decided to try it right away AND before serving if they need more.

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It made a nice tray full. I never had such good luck making them – especially the star ones – it must have been help from the ancestors!

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Rosettes are the quintessential Scandinavian thing, as far as my family is concerned, and it was the perfect way to end the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas! I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have during the last 12 days! Thank you so much for reading and following along on this journey!

God Jul!

 

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Day 11 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Ice Lantern

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We are at Day 11 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas, and today we’re making Ice Lanterns. You can do these several different ways, but I made this one by freezing it in an old tin mold. You can also freeze water in a balloon (don’t forget to tie the balloon shut so you don’t lose the water out of it) and freeze it halfway so there is a hole left in the middle – that’s where you put the candle. Be careful – if you let it freeze too much, you won’t have the hole to put the candle in. Not that I have any experience with that or anything. Freezing it in the mold is really fun and pretty foolproof, so let’s get started!

Here is the lantern as I made it:

Ice Lantern

Find a mold that you want to make into a lantern – I have used a bundt pan and a tube pan in the past. You can also use containers of two difference sizes, using the smaller one to make the center hole where you’d put the candle.,,,

Decide what festive decorations or ornaments you want in it – you can leave it just plain clear water if you want to, but I tend to want to make it more festive looking with bits of evergreen and fresh cranberries. You could add any decoration that won’t be destroyed by the freezing process.

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I start by putting the greens and berries in the bottom of the mold.

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Then I put just enough water to cover the greens and berries and set it out on our deck (if it’s cold enough) or into the freezer to freeze. If you fill it with water, the goodies will float to the top, therefore being on the BOTTOM of the mold instead of the TOP of it where they show up better and are pretty when you add the candle’s glow. Once that part is frozen, fill the mold with water as full as you want it and freeze until it’s firm.

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I put the frozen lantern out on our deck. It seemed like it might not show up very well, so I initially put it on a white plate, but I liked it better without the plate.

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They glow so nicely when you add the candle. I have lined our front steps and driveway with these over the years. It’s so much fun to do when you have guests coming over for the evening.

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You can see the evergreen branches and fresh cranberries showing through the ice. The glow of the candle shining through these ice lanterns is so special and welcoming. It isn’t just a Christmas thing – these would be great to do for any gathering all throughout the winter. This reminds me so much of our trip to Sweden and Norway where there were candles everywhere. I think it’s a very Scandinavian thing to do!

 

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Day 10 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Swedish Sausage

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It’s Day 10 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas, and today we’re making Swedish Sausage. I’m not sure if it’s really Swedish, or if that’s just what they call it. Regardless, Grandma and Grandpa had this every year for Christmas, and if we weren’t able to be together with them on Christmas, we’d have it whenever we got together this time of year. It’s one of those things where if I have it once a year, I’m good. It’s getting hard to find now, but I called around and found a store that carried this Swedish potato sausage. I remember this so well from the growing up years. Grandma would be standing at the stove in her holiday apron, being so careful with it, making sure it was cooked just right. She was dead serious about her heritage and this was one of those things that seemed to be a big part of it along with lefse, all the Scandinavian cookies, and her stories of her family and their traditions when she was growing up. She loved to tell the stories and she had a rapt audience in me!

swedish-sausage

Funny thing – when she says that it’s from the “store” here, she means the store in the tiny town one mile from where they lived. They must have gotten the sausage there until the store closed sometime in the early 1980’s.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Swedish Sausage

Cook sausage in a glass pan in 300 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Cover for the last half of cooking time.

Cut into pieces and fry in pan (she must have originally just left it in the oven but turned the sausage half way through the cooking time but I know that in later years, she would cut it and fry it in a pan).

Serve.

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When putting it in the pan for the oven, I pricked it in a few places with the tip of a knife so there would be no blow-outs. Halfway through she said to cover it, so I used a bit of foil.

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After baking, it’s time to cut it into pieces and brown it in the fry pan.

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It wasn’t exactly the same flavor as I remember, but it was good. I’m sure every place that makes it has their own recipe and spices that they use.

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Try this delicious and spiced sausage, and you’ll be trying a bit of Swedish heritage. It smelled so good in the oven and for a few minutes it took me back to Grandma’s kitchen at Christmastime. I got a bit emotional, but I still enjoyed the warm and wonderful fragrance of the Christmas memory.

 

 

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Day 9 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Krumkaka

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This is Day 9 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas, and we’re going to revisit a post I did last year about Krumkaka. Check out the link below to learn how to make them

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Krumkaka

 

 

 

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Day 8 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Stamped Gift Wrap

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It’s already Day 8 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas and we’re getting crafty today. We’re making Stamped Gift Wrap with rubber stamps. Of course, I’m using a few Scandinavian stamps today, but you really could use stamps of any design. In my case, it’s a very economical thing to do, and as I’m writing this, I’m wondering why I haven’t done more of this in the past. There are piles of paper in the office downstairs that my husband brought home from work over the years for the kids to use for art projects. Wrapping paper is expensive and if you have access to free paper – do it! You can get rubber stamps fairly inexpensively at most craft stores, and ink pads can be used hundreds of times. Come to think of it, you can stamp with objects you have around the house – you wouldn’t even have to buy a rubber stamp. You could make a stamp of a star from a potato, or use household objects like the end of a spool of thread or the bottom of a glass, or even use a cookie cutter as a stamp! Whatever gives you a nice, graphic look on the paper. I don’t think you’d want to make gigantic pieces of wrapping paper with a stamp, but for smaller gifts, this can really be cute. There isn’t any recipe or real instructions for this – you just go for it, start stamping, and have fun!

Here is the gift wrap as I made it:

Stamped Gift Wrap

Find some paper – my husband has gotten paper from the company he works for over the years. Sometimes they would be upgrading equipment and they couldn’t use the paper they had anymore. Instead of just throwing it away, he’d take it home and our kids would have tons of paper to use for the millions (and I’m not exaggerating here) and millions of pieces of artwork they would constantly work on. Finding a piece of paper that fits the gift you want to wrap would be perfect.

Get out all of your rubber stamps – they can be Christmas stamps or just stamps that look cool together and make a nice design.

Find the color of ink you want to use on your stamps – of course, I love red, green, silver, or gold for this time of year.

Lay out your paper, ink up your stamps, and go to town!!

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Collect all the things you’ll need before you start – I hate having to stop and run to get things once I’m rolling on a craft project. I have, in addition to my paper, a stamper that lets you write a phrase, my Scandinavian stamps, and red and green ink pads.

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I started with a dala horse stamp and made a pattern. Here’s his close-up – isn’t he cute?!!

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Next I added some snowflakes in a different color – so cute!

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On my second piece of paper, I used a pretty star stamp for an over-all pattern and then used the stamp that lets you write a phrase to add the God Jul.

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10 minutes later – yes, it’s that quick – I have 2 pieces of wrapping paper all ready to go!

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One of my favorite things in the whole word – wrapping gifts!!

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I think they turned out very pretty! Coordinating ribbon to “tie” it all together, and  you have a very nice package. Try this for a fun and inexpensive Christmas craft project. Do it with your kids or grandkids – they’ll love being able to add their creativity to the gift giving process. It will also keep them busy for a few minutes while you get a couple of things done. Get them set up and let them go nuts! Giving the hand-stamped wrapping paper as a gift is also a very nice thing, maybe even as a hostess gift. Lovely.

 

 

 

 

 

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