Mamatoga's 12 Days of {Local} Gift Guides: Baby Edition

baby4baby1baby2baby3baby51. Chill Baby Volume Dial Pacifier Next Summer 2. SmartWool Baby Booties Mountain Man Outdoor Supply Company

3. mimiTENS Mittens The Bundle Store  4. Clemmy Soft Blocks G. Willikers

5. Baby Bogs Boots Mountain Man Outdoor Supply Company  6. Little Hip Squeaks Organic Blankets The Bundle Store

7. Baby Holiday Hats The Bundle Store  8. Plan Toys Bear Stacking Toy The Bundle Store


Mamatoga DIY: Boxwood Holiday Peace Wreath

wreath6I've always loved boxwood, and especially for the holidays it can be a more subdued, slightly more sophisticated stand in for the traditional balsam for decorating. It's easy to work with and turns out beautifully. This holiday season, I wanted to put a new twist on my holiday wreath and send out a message of peace and love, so I went with this super easy DIY boxwood wreath that has both a modern and timeless feel. wreath9Yesterday on Shop Small Saturday as my mom and I were browsing around downtown looking for holiday gifts we stopped in one of our favorite shops, Hidden Gardens, and picked up a bunch of boxwood clippings for around $20. This was WAY more than enough for our wreath, and I already have a bunch of smaller crafts planned with the rest of the clippings. At AC Moore I got the wreath frame (plus a couple mini ones for the kids to make their own) and some green floral wire and that was all I needed.

wreath10wreath7The cuttings come in different lengths, so you will want to pick ones out that have the most leaves on them and trim off any branches that are missing leaves. Cut a bunch of wire into u shapes that will be used to "pin down" the boxwood branches onto the frame. These can be in a few different sizes. It helps to have a little pair of pliers as well to help you bend the wire as it can get a little tricky with the smaller pieces of wire.

wreath5Start by simply weaving the longest and fullest pieces of boxwood right into the wreath. The AC Moore frame was easy to use because it had spots to weave the branches under to keep them in place. Before you fill it completely in, if you are making the peace sign wreath you will need to secure those wires to the frame first. Simply take a long piece of wire, secure it to either a branch that has been woven in or the frame itself. Add the two smaller pieces of wire next. Don't worry if they slip around a bit at first, once you add the branches they will be more secure. I decided to use just one sprig of boxwood for the middle part of the peace sign, but you can fluff it up a bit with more. Just use a small u shaped piece of wire to secure the sprigs to the wire, and then a small one to secure all three together at the middle part of the peace sign.

wreath2wreath3After those are secure and you have filled in the entire wreath by just weaving longer pieces in, you'll need to start pinning the branches down with the wire. Gently smooth out the branches around the frame, find a central location to get as many branches under it as possible, and use a u shaped piece of wire over the top of them, securing it in the back of the frame. You will probably have some pieces that stick out, simply trim them down to the frame width so they blend in. Be careful to not secure the wire down too tightly, you want it to be secure but leave just enough room to slip some tiny sprigs in if need be. Also, if there is a little bit of room you can flip some of the leaves out to cover up the wire.

wreath1At this point the wreath should be almost complete, but if there are any spots that are left open, trim some sprigs to just poke in to fill in the spots. You can also use a glue gun to dab just a tiny bit of glue to keep bigger pieces secure.

There are so many simple and cute things you can do with any leftover clippings. I plan on making a centerpiece wreath with the leftovers and poking a tiny sprig through a place card for holiday dinners. You can make a garland or a kissing ball, or place sprigs along the mantle with the stockings. You can also preserve your boxwood before you make a wreath to make it last longer. Traditionally, you can expect a fresh boxwood wreath to last about a month. Need more holiday ideas? Check out the Mamatoga Holiday Guide, our area's best resource for doing the holidays in the family style. xoxo


Mamatoga Magazine's Gingerbread Jockey Cookie Recipe

gingerbreadjockeysI wanted to come up with something really Saratoga for the cover of the Holiday Issue and something really cute, and nothing sounded more cute Saratoga holiday than gingerbread jockey cookies. My good friend, the lovely and talented Deanna Fox from Silly Goose Farm rolled up her stylish sleeves and created these amazing (and adorable) gingerbread jockeys that were just perfect for the cover (no word on which one of her two super cute kiddos bit off the leg of that one). Here is her recipe so you can make your own gingerbread jockeys, or make your own gingerbread family! The fun part of these cookies is how you decorate them, give each kiddo a few to create on their own. Gingerbread Cookies Makes About 75 Cookies

INGREDIENTS 1 1/2 cup dark molasses 1 cup packed brown sugar 2/3 cup cold water 1/3 cup shortening 7 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground allspice 1 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon Zest from one orange

METHOD Mix together the molasses, brown sugar, water and shortening. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Slowly add to the molasses mixture and mix until just combined. Turn dough onto plastic wrap and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to one day.

Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the dough into fourths. Working with one fourth at a time, roll out dough to 1/4" thick on a well floured surface, being sure to continue to flour the surface and rolling pin and rotate the dough to keep it from sticking. Dip cookie cutters into flour, then press into dough (dough scraps can be pressed together and re-rolled). Place cookies about two inches apart on a lightly greased cookies sheet. Bake until no indentations remain when pressed lightly with a finger, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly on the sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack. Decorate as desired.

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Do This: BOO! {your neighbors}

A couple weeks ago around dinner time the doorbell rang at our house, and by the time we got to the door no one was there. What WAS there, however, was a basket full of Halloween goodies and decorations, and a note explaining we had been "Booed" by one of our neighbors. This was the first time we had gotten Booed, and the kids just loved it. halloween-boo8In our basket we had some candy, some cute Halloween decorations, some fun spider rings and glow sticks and three more "Booed" instructions, including two signs. One "We've Been Booed" sign for us, and another one for the first house we chose to Boo. The instructions were simple. Put the "We've Been Booed" up in your window so you don't get hit twice, then pick two (or more) houses to spread the fun to. You give them their own basket along with the sign and instructions and then they pass it on. I just loved it, and the kids really got into it too. We shopped for some fun treats, put the baskets together and plotted out how we would Boo our neighbors without getting caught. Part of what I loved about it was that the kids were excited about getting cool stuff for OTHER kids, rather than wanting to buy it all for themselves. The idea of spreading the fun and making someone else smile, even if you didn't get to actually see them finding it because you were trying not to get "caught" is just so contagiously fun.

Also, I love how this easy trend helps build community in our neighborhoods. Maybe you find a new family to Boo as a way to welcome them to your area. Maybe there is a family with a new baby and you can do a Baby Boo (throw some diapers in there) or a grown up Boo (bottle of wine and some popcorn to watch a movie? I'd take that). The idea is to just spread a little fun, and it definitely will bring a smile to someone. So this week, while you're buying your candy to get ready for the big night, maybe just pick up one extra Boo basket and start this little trend in your own neighborhood. xoxo

This is the perfect time to get those Boos in, and here is a super cute (and free) printable to include in your Boo Baskets.