Candy Christmas gift


I saw this candy in a glass creation on Pinterest posted by I don’t know much about the blogger, but she has great ideas. Her three candy bouquets featured Jolly Ranchers, Tootsie Rolls, and mints. I went for the mints because they’re easy to make in red and white for the holiday season.

I made this one as a birthday gift with possible Christmas gift giving in mind.

The original suggested hot glue to fasten the candy to a styrofoam ball, but I used pearl-headed straight pins which would make re-gifting with new candy really easy.

I hope to make more of these. Except for the candy, I was able to gather all supplies at Michael’s. The total cost was wine glass ($2.99–but I could have purchased an interesting glass from a yard sale or antique shop if I had been patient), 100 pins ($3.99), styrofoam ball cut in half $.50–but I had to buy six balls in a package for $2.99), and mints ($13.00–I figure I could make at least four with the huge package I bought. The smaller package was $2.99, and that would have been enough. The red ball and ribbon were things I had at home. Let’s say that adds another $1.00. Total cost under $15.00, but with planning, I could get well under $10.00.

What other candies would look great for the holidays? How about mint balls or fireballs?


More on Trees!

As I shared on Tuesday, I have become more interested in knowing about the business of Christmas trees in the US.  I have started doing more research into the subject and I am hooked on the specifics!  On Monday during our interview at Gaver Farm Laura shared a little about the differences between firs and pines.  Blue Spruce, White Pine, Douglas Fir, Scotch Pine.  If you’ve shopped for a real Christmas Tree you’ve heard or seen these names.  I wanted to know what all my options were for trees so I turned to the web.  Some of the best information I found came on the website Christmas Trees and More created by the University of Illinois Extension office.  Guess how many types of Christmas Trees are grown in the United States- 8? 10?  There are more than 20 varieties produced here in the US.  I’ll share just a little about that with you now.

The first group includes Deodara Cedar, Eastern Red Dear and Leyland Cypress.  These are more popular in the Southeast and the Cypress is a really good choice for those with allergies.  Next up are the Pines.  Afghan Pine (big in Texas), Austrian Pine, Red Pine (it’s actually green and bushy), Ponderosa Pine (may have 10″ needles!), Virginia Pine (strong aroma), and White Pine (largest pine in the US and state tree of Michigan and Maine).  The Scotch Pine rounds out this group and is the most popular tree in the states.  The Spruces are a third group to consider and include Black Hills Spruce (stiff needles), Norway Spruce (watch out for falling needles), White Spruce (state tree of South Dakota), and the Blue Spruce (state tree of Utah and Colorado and might live to be 600 years old!!).  The final group is the firs made up of Grand Fir, Fraser Fir, Nordmann Fir (very popular in the UK), Concolor Fir (strong citrus scent), Balsam Fir (this tree’s resin was used to treat Civil War wounds), Noble Fir (sturdy and used for wreaths, swags, and garland), and the popular Douglas Fir (great scent and can live to be over 1,000 years old!).


Spirit wear for the spirited season

All of my friends’ children and two of my own are headed back to college this week.  Facebook is buzzing with photos of dorm life and new classes.  Now is the time to stock up on college spirit wear for holiday gift giving.

The college bookstores are bulking up on spirit wear and unique items to offset the fact that they are struggling to compete with online book sellers and textbook rentals. (Read this article in Publisher’s Weekly.) Often, the stores on campus offer a “move in” deal of a t-shirt and baseball cap  in a two-for-one deal.  Also, another route is to shop at discount stores near the college campus–Walmart, Kohl’s and Target to pick up college apparel and accessories including towels, waste baskets, and office supplies with the desired logo.

I remember a dozen years ago when anything with a Duke logo would satisfy my teenage son at Christmas, even socks.  I went to great lengths to find items, even contacting alumni near the campus.  Of course, shopping for these items online is easy today. I love two websites, and, which offer a world of infant and toddler-sized merchandise for the future fan. I even found a set of Duke crib bedding at Walmart–where was that 20 years ago?

With items purchased from college campuses and discount stores, you could create a magnificent gift basket for almost anyone on your list from parents to be to the impossible teen.

So Many Christmas Trees!

Yesterday we visited a local tree farm and discussed many parts of the Christmas Tree industry.  The discussion we had with Laura really got my interests going.  I wanted to know more about the Christmas Tree business in the US, so I did a little reading to find out more.  It is quite interesting stuff!  Here’s some of what I learned:

The first commercially sold Christmas Trees were purchased in 1850 and the first Christmas Tree lot was set-up in New York in 1851.  Today in the US trees are grown in all 50 states, even Hawaii.  Oregon sells the most trees with over 6.5 million trees going out each year.  There are over 21,000 tree growers in the US and over 12,000 cut-your-own farms operating.  These growers have over 1/2 billion trees growing on their farms and will plant over 70 million new trees in a year.  The Christmas Tree industry employees over 100,000 people.  About 25% of homes in the US are expected to have a real Christmas Tree in 2012.  These trees are purchased from retail stores, tree lots, and the actual farms.  I was surprised to find that last year around 150,000 people ordered real Christmas Trees online and had them shipped- sight unseen!  I love having a real tree in my house but not too sure I would trust a site to just bale it up and ship it to me.  I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who has purchased a tree this way.  Was it a good experience?  I will be sharing more that I learned about trees later this week.  Did you know there are 21 varieties of Christmas Trees grown in the United States?  More on that later!

Podcast #32- 125 Days to Go!

Podcast #32- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- A Visit to the Tree Farm!

This week we sit down for a talk with Laura Gaver House.  Laura is a member of the Gaver Family that owns Gaver Farms.  One of the many facets of their farm operation is the Christmas Tree business.  Natalie has been dreaming of visiting with Laura since we started the Yule Log.  We caught up with Laura at the farm during a particularly sever thunderstorm.  Laura talks about the planting and care of the trees and the excitement of running a large Christmas Tree farm.  Find out about the types of trees and so much more.  The tree farm is open for business starting November 23, 2012.  Check out the website for all the details on how you can get your very own fresh-cut 2012 Christmas tree at the Gaver Farm.

Laura preps to drop a new tree into the trench made by the tractor.

Laura gets one of the saplings ready for planting.

Week #6 Song- Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

This week we take a closer look at a little lighter holiday song offering.  Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree is ranked as high as Number Four on some Top Christmas Song lists.  The song was penned by Johnny Marks in 1958.  Marks also was the one responsible the song version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  Marks was trying to come up with a chart topper to rival the previous year’s hit, Jingle Bell Rock.  The singer was teenage newbie, Brenda Lee.  Lee was just 13 years-old when she recorded the song.  She was tiny lady (only 4 foot 9) but had a big voice.  Rockin’ had simple lyrics but a catchy tune, more country than rock, with a great saxophone solo section.  Unfortunately the song didn’t fare too well in ’58.  Elvis had THE Christmas song of the year with Blue Christmas.  Rockin’ would hit it big years later as Lee’s star rose.  She became such a huge act that even the Beatles opened for her as she toured Europe in the early 60s.  Lee’s version of the song is the best know but there are some other interesting ones as well.  Take a minute to listen to some of them:

Brenda Lee Original– the 1958 version.
Grand Ole Opry– This live performance features three powerful country ladies in a great version of the classic.  
Amy Grant– A little more modern version, but still with the twangy country feel.  
Partridge Family– This recording from the TV show family has a more relaxed, laid back sound to it.  Definitely not rock!
Mel & Kim– A comic parody from a pair of comedians in the United Kingdom.
Chicago– This video features an odd little story resulting in the musical entry from Chicago.  Not sure what to make of this…