Saturday, December 31, 2011

Name Days and Indispensable Helpers

Today is the last day of the year. Its a good day to think about resolutions. As Emma's Lunch I resolve to visit and comment on more blogs. 

But besides it being the last day of the year it is also my mother's name day. So in this post I resolve to honor her. My biggest and most indispensable helper, supporter and cheer leader. She stands behind any crazy party idea I decide to do and is there 100% ready to help in any way possible. I really wouldn't be able to do all that I do without her help. 

my mom

Whether its to babysit at a moment's notice, to come and hold Lia while I decorate my pops, or to work on one cake while I finalize another, to roll out the icing... Whatever it is, my mom is there whenever I need her and copes very well with all my perfectionist desires. So thank you mom, for being there and happy name day.

And Happy New 2012 everybody!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Lunch - Recipes & Ideas

Christmas was very special for us this year...  It was Lia's very first Christmas so we decided to have the Christmas lunch at our house.  Just as we did for Emma's first Christmas.

We had a lovely time, great company, lovely food and most importantly the look on Emma's face when she came downstairs and saw all those gifts under the tree.  It was the first time she really grasped the idea of Santa Claus, I think this video from Santa really reinforced the whole concept.  She was mesmerized.  This was also the very first year we put gifts under the tree for her to find them on Christmas morning.

Christmas Tree

It was quite a challenge to keep her from opening them all... She got to open just one gift and the rest were to be opened after lunch, luckily this only happens once every few years, usually when lunch in not at our house we open our gifts first thing in the morning. 

So lets get down to the details.  This time I even created an invitation, so that all Lia's grandparents, aunts & uncles could save it as a keepsake.  It was very simple to make.  I printed the text on white paper, cut it out and glued it to red paper.  Nothing to it.

Christmas Invite

We prepared as much as possible before Christmas morning so that on that day, just the minimum cooking and organizing had to be done.   I prepared the table a day in advance, and went with a red & white theme.  There was a place setting for everyone as well as a place card for each guest.  The place card was the same style as the invitation.  I will post a tutorial on how to fold this type of napkin.  The flower arrangement are white Chrysanthemums in a short vase filled with cranberries and water.

Christmas Table

Christmas Table

Christmas Table

In addition to this, children had their own place settings which included red card paper as the place mats and Christmas tree shaped crayons to draw with, in order to keep them entertained during lunch.

The food was lovely, if I may say so myself! :)  For appetizers we had the Caprese Salad served individually on sticks.  It looked wonderful and had a very festive feel.

Christmas appetizers Caprese salad

We also had warm mini bread balls with garlic butter, although that's the one thing that wasn't made in my household... I ordered the lovely half baked bread balls from Marzano and finished baking them just before serving.  They were delicious!

Everyone also got a serving of eggplant, fresh mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce baked in small individual sized bowls.  Unfortunately I didn't manage to take a picture of that when served, but you'll be able to catch a glimpse of it in a photo below.

For main course we had very young lamb meat, expertly prepared by my wonderful husband and a turkey.  The turkey also came out so well, so very juicy. It is the second time I use this recipe.  The trick it to cook the turkey breast down.  That way, that giant breast will be soft and succulent.  Truly delicious! My husband did the main turkey carving and I finished the delicate part of slicing the breast.

Christmas Turkey

Christmas Turkey

Maybe you can see the individual eggplant portions on the left side of this picture?  That's the best shot I've got of them!  Sorry about that, but I promise, a recipe is to follow.  It is usually prepared in a large pot but I decided to serve it individually this time.

In addition to the meat, we had potatoes, delicious Sauerkraut (which I can't get enough of I'll make sure to share that recipe as well) and my grandmother prepared a traditional Croatian side called "milnci" but the best I can describe it as is home made sheets of pasta, which get haphazardly broken up into many pieces, covered with boiling hot water for a minute or so until softened, drained and then cooked in the turkey drippings once the turkey has been taken out.  I think I'm overusing the word delicious in this post, but really, its just so delicious. 

There was also a broccoli Christmas tree.  Various salads, one of which is my sister's incredible recipe which includes so many veggies, nuts, avocado, pomegranate, chilly flakes all chopped in different ways for texture and as a cherry on top grated beetroot which gives it that wonderful deep red color.  I will attempt to share this recipe as well, although I have never tried to make it myself.... there is just too much chopping involved.
Christmas FoodTomato Salad
I also created Jamie Oliver's tomato basil salad.  This picture above is taken from his book, but that's just what it looked like! Its so simple, jet incredibly tasty and it went along with my color theme.  I used a white platter, it was a great contrast to red tomatoes and the green basil dip.

And finally we reach deserts.  I had so much fun with those, and they by far needed the most work. So here we go.  I made Red Velvet Cake Pops Christmas edition! So I created snowmen, Christmas trees and Rudolphs.  They were a lot of work but I loved doing them.  Mainly because I cannot explain to you the look on Emma's face when she first saw the snowmen...  She wanted to help me make them, and she did! She placed the hats!

Snowman Pops

Rudolph Pops

Christmas Tree pops
In addition to the pops, there was a Christmas tree shaped Doukissa (duchess cake) a recipe for which is to follow. 

Doukissa chocolate cake

And a couple of ideas I found on Pinterest which I thought would be perfect for Christmas.   The jello chocolate wedges and the white chocolate covered cherries!

Jello Chocolate boats

Chocolate covered cherries

Once we were done with the food, it was gift time! The kids got a lot of presents, and since we are such a big family we also had Secret Santa gifts, in addition to that we as hosts wanted to get a gift for each of the visitors so we bought as many gifts as there are people and had everyone play the gift game where each guest picks a number, and each goes to take a gift from the pile.  But if you like a gift that has already been opened you can take it from that person and they would have to either take a gift from someone else or take another gift from the pile.  This was so much fun! Everyone got involved and at some point gifts were being taken even by my 80 year old grandmother! But in the end, most people left with the gifts they liked!




Each guest also got a gift from Emma and Lia.  Everyone received a Hand print Santa Christmas Card with Emma's hand print and a hand print Angel Ornament with Lia's hand prints.

We really had a blast, even though we needed quite a few days to recover. 

Merry Christmas everyone and a very Happy 2012!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Tree Shaped Crayons

Christmas is so much fun!  Yesterday Emma and I pealed a whole bunch of crayons and made them into Christmas trees.

Christmas Tree Shaped crayons

What you'll need?
Silicone form

We got a large cylindrical container of crayons from Jumbo.  The good thing about it is that it was pretty cheap and each color of crayon repeats 4 or 5 times.  So I didn't feel bad to use them.

Christmas Tree Shaped crayons

Peal the paper off the crayons or use old scraps of crayons, break them into small pieces and place into the silicone mold.

Christmas Tree Shaped crayons

Next place in the oven to melt at 110C or 230F for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let them cool and remove from the mold once hard.

And that's it! You've got a perfect, fun, Christmas crayon! On Christmas day provide a paper place mat for the kids and have them use these to draw during the holiday lunch.  These colorful crayons are perfect when you are making them for many children.  Each child would get many colors.
Alternatively, you could keep similar colors together.  That way you'll be left with a tree for each color.  You could even mix only two colors if you like. You could also shape these into pretty much any shape you like.

For more inspiration, early childhood education degree is a great resource for fun and educational activities.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Infant Handprint Angel Ornament

We've been making a lot of things this month, every year we create Christmas ornaments and cards for all Emma's aunts & uncles and grandparents.

This year is no different, although this year Lia is with us and we want to include her as well.   I love handprint crafts because believe there is no better gift for family.  It captures that particular moment in time.

christmas angel

What you'll need?
White card paper
Small styrophoam ball
White ribbon
White pipecleaner
Silver glitter
Blue paint
White paint
Small plate or compass

Make light blue color by mixing blue and white and take your baby's handprints. Once dry cut them out.

Use a plate or a compass to draw a half circle on the white card paper.  Cut it out and roll it into a cone.  Glue to keep the shape.  Next loop a ribbon, tie it with a knot and pull it through the hole on the top of the cone.  Drop some glue in the center so that the ribbon stays put.

Next take a Styrofoam ball and make a hole through the middle.  One side should show just the simple little hole and the other side should have more of a wide opening (see below pic).  The wide opening is the part which should be stuck onto the cone.
christmas angel

christmas angel

Once that's done apply glue to the body of the angel and have your older child sprinkle the silver glitter all over it.  When dry thread the ribbon through the head and attach it to the body, glue two wings on the back of the angel and cover the angel's head with glue.  Sprinkle it with silver glitter.
christmas angel

Create a loop with the white pipe cleaner and glue it to the back of the head to make a halo.  And that's all.  A gorgeously simple handprint angel ornament keepsake.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Advent Calendar

I was planning to create an elaborate advent calendar for Emma, full with sewn felt pockets and embroidered numbers but then I woke up and realized I've got a preschooler and an infant.... This will be a project for next year.

Emma was home today recovering from a cold and we decided to do something fun.  In bed! Luckily a few days ago I came across a great idea on Pinterest for a fun, simpler version of an advent calendar, something Emma would like much, much more.  We totally made it our own and I think I like the outcome quite a bit more :)

Santa Advent Calendar

What you'll need?
Black board paper
Red felt
White felt
Peach foam (paper or felt will do)
Large goggly eyes
Large white pompom
Medium red pompom
Number circles click for a printable (best results if printed on thick white paper)
Countdown poem click for a printable (best results if printed on thick red paper)
25 white pompoms or cotton balls

Cut Santa's hat out of red felt do the same for the mustache and hat trim. Cut out half face out of peach felt.

Santa Advent Calendar

Glue first the hat to the black paper, then the face, hat trim and finally the mustache. Next glue the goggly eyes, red pompom for the nose and the white pompom for the hat.

Print the date circles, cut them out and arrange for a beard. Print the countdown poem and glue to the bottom of the black paper.
Santa's beard is very bare.
On his chin, there is no hair.
So each day add one puff of white.
And when they're all on, 
He'll come that night!

All that's left to do is add a white pompom or a cotton ball as the days near Christmas.

And here is my little patient & helper, the reason all these things get done :)

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Hearts

Here is some hearty fun!

muffin tin monday hearts

Emma loved this tin, we made this quite a while ago, but I thought I'd share it again because its just so much fun!

What's in the tin? Chicken pieces, yoghurt, waffles, cucumber hearts, rice with carrot hearts and berries!

Muffin Tin Monday at

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Paper Snowflake

We're working on winter crafts in our household. We are hoping to fill up our Winter Wall, as we've done with Spring, Summer and Fall!

We decided to make paper snowflakes!

I remember doing this as a child and Emma had just as much fun with it.  Its a classic, old school winter craft and much more fun if you add glitter!

paper snowflake

What you'll need?

Take a square piece of paper and fold in a special snowflake way, cut chunks out of the triangle you created.  Open and marvel at your creation!

Next get your child to apply glue and glitter to the snowflake. Tie a ribbon and hang on your wall or Christmas tree.

If your child is old enough they can also do the cutting.  The key?  Use thin paper so that it would be easier to cut once folded.

Happy decorating!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Handprint Santa Christmas Card

Emma and I have been busy creating Christmas cards.  We have a large family and we need to make quite a few.

handprint christmas card

What you'll need?
Hard paper (A4/Letter size of any color, Emma said green is the most Christmas-y!)
Mini red pompom
Small white pompom
2 goggly eyes
Red felt
White felt 
Black marker
White paint

Fold the paper in half, color your child's hand in white and press it on the paper (make sure the hand is facing down).  Next cut out a hat from red felt and trim from white felt.  Glue it carefully to the card.  Glue the goggly eyes and the mini red pompom for a nose and the white one as a tussle for the end of the hat.  Draw the mouth using a black marker.

That's all it takes.  Fill in the card and give it to grandma, she will love it!

For other Handprint Christmas card ideas take a look at the Handprint Rudolph Card and Handprint Christmas Tree Card.

Happy holidays everyone!

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