I say it every year…”I wish I had started earlier!” or “Next year I’m going to start earlier on Christmas!”

Well, this year I actually did it! Hooray for me!

I am a sucker for Christmas craft books! Just look at that cover! The bright green just grabs you doesn’t it?

The Spirit of Christmas 2005

This little gem from 2005 is chock full of great ideas.

One of the projects involved recycling a Pringles can. I like those something-for-nothing kind of projects.

I’ve spray painted Pringles cans before and filled them with goodies. That was easy enough. This project was a bit more involved and not just because I made 20 of them!

Aren’t they cute? Now, let me say this…the book is from 2005. Apparently the Pringles company changed the size of the can sometime between 2005 and 2012. This little template didn’t quite fit the can. I improvised and put a label on the bottom–as if he is standing on something.

nutcracker army

Naturally, you could make these any color you wanted. I made these for the folks at my husband’s work. Blue is the company color, so I went with that. I did toy with the idea of making them all different. Glad I came to my senses!

During the Olympic this past summer, as I watched track and field or swimming, I mindlessly cut out mustaches and eyebrows, etc.

Nutcracker faces

I knew I would never get twenty nutcrackers done for Christmas if I waited until the last minute–like I usually do.

assembly line

Putting the nutcrackers together was fairly easy. Well, mostly. The faces weren’t too bad. I put some of them together during craft days with my friend Joanna, so the time passed quickly.

When I first got started on covering the cans,  I used a large sheet of scrapbook paper. I didn’t like the way it looked. I was able to find some cheap red wrapping paper and thought I had hit a home run. When I wrapped the can with the paper, it was too thin. The words showed through. So, I had to double the paper. When I was down to 2 cans left to go, I ran out of paper. Fortunately, Walmart still had some in stock.

pringles cans

When it came time to actually adhere the nutcracker pieces to the paper-covered can, I was nervous! I tried strapping everything to the can with rubber bands. It seemed like it was a good way to keep everything in the right place and glue a piece at a time. It wasn’t. Besides that it squished the face a little. (Sidenote-The rosy cheeks are made by using a cotton swab and some pink chalk.)

holding on the face

These are the arms. I just rolled the rectangle on a pen to get the curve.

nutcracker arms

Then I just glued the arms on the sides. I used Tacky Glue for the whole project, except for the can. I used double-stick tape there.

gluing on nutcracker arms

The little jacket and belt were a little tricky to line up just right. If I make these again, HAHAHAHAHAHA, I would probably cut the jacket as one whole piece.

Nutcrackers

Lookin’ pretty cute, huh? I had a hard time finding just the right sized beads for the hands. I thought about just leaving them off completely. Then I found these.

wooden hands

They were perfect! I didn’t even paint them. I just squirted some glue up the nutcracker’s cuff and shoved in the little wooden ball.

nutcracker hats

The hats turned out really cute.

Here is a little video of how I made them. Aren’t you impressed at how “hi-tech” I am-ha!

Actually quite the dork! I had the camera strapped to my neck with a headband!

FYI-I did not poke myself with that corsage pin.

Of course there had to be something tasty inside these cute little canisters, and it HAD to be nutty! I thought about making sugared pecans or something like that. Since I was making 20 of these things, that seemed a little expensive. I came across a great recipe for caramel corn that you make in the microwave! It turned out great! The hardest part was finding a grocery store that still uses paper bags!

almond caramel popcorn

You can make your nutcrackers as simple or as fancy as you like. Glitter and trim are fun! I wish I had had time to put a little red glitter on there.

nutcracker army

I realize you won’t have the Olympics to watch this summer, but if you are like me and “say it every year” you might want hit the Red Box and get started soon!

Nutcracker template

Keep in mind the canister size!

While making Christmas goodies for my husband to take to work, I stumbled upon a good idea.

Now, it may not be a new idea, very few of them are. It was new to me though.

I was making chocolate dipped pretzels-the long kind. I didn’t want to lay them on waxed paper to dry because I didn’t want them to be flat on one side. I know. I’m weird.

Besides that, when you lay them out to dry, the coating kinda oozes off the pretzel. So then, not only is it flat on one side, but it also has a strange shape jutting out from the side.

Quite the dilemma! Don’t you think?

I could stick them in glasses. No. They would squish together and stick to the glass.

I had to find something more shallow than a glass. A coffee cup?! No. The pretzels would fall over.

But wait!

What if I put some dried beans in the bottom of the cup?! And what if the cup were actually a bowl?!

Ta-da! Looks like this is gonna work!

I guess you noticed that I used other vessels as well. I did have to choose carefully. The vessels with flat bottoms worked best. The pretzels had to find their way to the bottom of the beans and rest on the bowl.

I dipped some pretzels in white almond bark and some in brown. Sorry, I couldn’t say white and chocolate. Vanilla and chocolate, yes. It’s like milk. Why do we call one by its flavor and one by its color?! Sorry, I got off track for a minute there.

After the dipped pretzels were dry, I drizzled them with red and green candy melts like these.

Some of the chocolate pretzels got sprinkles. You have to add the sprinkles before the chocolate dries-duh.

I put the finished products in a little clear bag with a wrapping paper topper.

I ended up making about 100 pretzels. I hope his co-workers like them!

Sunday night during potluck my friend, Jan, brought up the topic of popcorn balls. I know, that sounds strange. We were talking about all kinds of recipes and such. I’m sure the guys were thrilled.

Anyway, I mentioned that I had made popcorn balls a couple of years ago at Christmas time.

Today I got a message form Jan asking for my popcorn ball recipe. It took a bit to unearth it, but I found it.  It was the last recipe in the box. I thought maybe some of you might like to have the recipe, too.  Looks like I clipped it out of the newspaper at some point.

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture. I looked and looked to see if I had one. No such luck. That was before my blogging days.

They did turn out pretty cute though. I added red and green M&Ms to make them look a little more festive.

You have to work pretty fast making popcorn balls otherwise it will just be a big clump in the pan.

Buttered hands are key as well.

I also used my tube pan to make popcorn cakes for a few folks.

Good luck, Jan. Let us all know about your experience.