Cider Beetles: A Teacher Gift

cider beetles

Before staying home with my kiddos I used to be a teacher. I was always very spoiled every holiday by my student’s parents and received so many gifts, too many to remember. But I will always remember one year when a student made me a Cider Beetle attached to Apple Cider. It was so stinking cute that I told everyone about it. I decided this year I would re-create this adorable little gift.

cider beetles

I was so happy to find the recipe on the Imperial Sugar website. Imperial has a great Christmas page full of recipes and craft ideas you can do with your kids! They are also running a Kids Cookbook Giveaway that runs through Dec. 19th.

The boys did almost all the work here and LOVED it! I love boys who love to cook :)

cider beetles

How to made your own Cider Beetles:


  • 12 oranges
  • 5 cups Imperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 24 (1 1/2-inch) stick cinnamon
  • 24 small whole nutmegs
  • 48 large whole allspices
  • 192 whole cloves (8 legs on each beetle)


  1. Slice oranges in half crosswise; scoop out the pulp, and reserve for other uses.
  2. Place orange half shells, cut side up, on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 250°F for about 2 hours or until dry and hard. Let these cool completely before assembling the beetles.
  3. Pack brown sugar firmly into each orange shell, mounding it slightly. Arrange spices in brown sugar to resemble a beetle, pressing slightly into the sugar. Use cinnamon sticks for bodies, nutmegs for heads, allspices for eyes, and cloves for legs. If not using immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap secured with a ribbon. Store in the refrigerator.
  4. To use, unwrap beetle and drop into 1 1/2 quarts apple cider or straight apple juice, simmer 30 minutes. Remove rind and spices to serve. Store the unused cider in the refrigerator.

We started with our oranges.

cider beetles

Remove all the “insides” of the orange.

cider beetles

Then place them on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for about 2 hours.cider beetles

Then for the fun part… making the beetles! Pack the orange full of Imperial Brown Sugar.

cider beetles

cider beetles

cider beetles

Then you arrange all of the beetle parts.

cider beetles

cider beetles

cider beetles

cider beetles

I wrapped them in plastic wrap as soon as we finished and tied them up with a rubber band.

cider beetles

Then I just attached some ribbon around the apple cider and attached the beetle to the top for a perfect little teacher gift! I also attached some directions on how to brew it but I forgot to attach that before I took this picture. Brewing them is the best part because of the smell :) I hope you guys love making these as much as we did!

cider beetles

cider beetles

Salt Dough Napkin Holders


It’s almost Thanksgiving here in the States so that means it’s time to fill your calendars with family, food and crafts :) These adorable Salt Dough Napkin Holders are not only a pretty way to set the table but also super fun to make! My boys are only 3 and 5 and they did almost everything here. I found the salt dough “recipe” at Imperial Sugar. They have a whole section of their site dedicated to holiday crafting and baking with your kids, not to mention a million great recipes. They also have free coloring and activity sheets for your kids to do over the break!



  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • Tin foil covered baking sheet
  • Red, yellow and orange food coloring
  • Leaf shaped cookie cutter



Stir salt into 1/2 cup of water in a medium saucepan. The boys LOVE measuring so this craft is right up their alley! Cook over medium-low heat until hot then remove from heat.PicMonkey Collage1

In a bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 cup of water with the cornstarch until smooth.

PicMonkey Collage2

Add the cornstarch mixture to the salt mixture. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook, stirring constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens into the consistency of stiff mashed potatoes.


Turn mixture out onto a glass plate and cover with a damp towel.


Allow to cool, then divide dough into 3 equal parts. Add red food coloring to one, yellow to the second and orange (often a combination of red and yellow) to the third batch.


PicMonkey Collage4Flatten the dough with a rolling pin or with your hands.  Use the leaf cookie cutter to cut out multiple shapes.


Bake the leaves on a tin foil lined baking sheet at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours until completely hard.


Let cool, then attach to cloth napkins with ribbon, twine, or tulle.




The boys and I had so much fun making these!! They even helped me set the table for our Friendsgiving that we are having this week. It will be a cute little favor to take home too! Hope you all have a fun and safe Thanksgiving!

PicMonkey Collage5


This post was sponsored by Imperial Sugar, all thought and opinion are my own.

Macho Nachos

Tracking PixelThis is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Wolf® Brand Chili. All opinions are my own.


I don’t know what it’s like at your house during the week but we have a serious case of  “what’s for dinner” over here. With the boys in school (and the addition of a third child) I love dinners that are easy to whip up. Wolf® Brand Chili is a delicious go-to for us because it’s quick and easy for busy week nights. I’m always a fan of one-dish meals so we usually make Corn Chip Pie with our chili but last week my mom reminded me of a meal she used to make us :) Macho Nachos!! They are so easy and a huge crowd pleaser. They are also super customizable if you have picky little eaters.


  • Wolf® Brand Chili (which is definitely our favorite authentic Texas flavored chili)
  • shredded cheese
  • chopped tomatoes
  • green onions
  • tortilla chips
  • cilantro
  • any other favorite  toppings like avocado, Greek yogurt or sour cream, jalapenos etc.


Start with a chip mountain. The best thing about this meal is you can load down a huge pan or make one small plate for an afternoon snack for hungry boys :) Is it just us or do your kids come home from school starving everyday?? What is that about?


Then add your bold Wolf® Brand Chili. I just heat mine in the microwave for about 2 minutes but my mom always heats hers up on the stove top.


Right after that add the cheese so it will melt then add all of your other toppings. This would also be fun for a “build your own” type dinner. I can’t live without cilantro. I also love them with shredded iceberg lettuce but my grocery store was out this week.


Bam! There you have a delicious and easy dinner that is ready in minutes but bursting with flavor!! Woo Hoo! What would be your go to toppings?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Wolf® Brand Chili. All opinions are my own.

Holiday Card Giveaway with Minted!


It’s my favorite time of year! The time when I plan and obsess and devote a full day to making my family pose for photos so I can send them out on a Holiday Card! Kidding. Kind of. We actually took real family photos last week and I can’t wait to see how they turned out! We had pictures taken a few years ago too so I’m thinking were on the every-third-year-I-will-spring-for-a-photographer plan. Photos are so important to me and I’m not in very many of them so I have to jump in there every once in a while :) You also better believe I have already picked out my favorite Holiday Card options on So, I’ll be ready when my pictures come back! And today is your lucky day because one very lucky TaylorMade reader is going to win a $150 Minted credit toward your Holiday Cards!! (or anything else Minted has to offer)!

I have picked some of my very favorites… Now it’s voting time which one should I pick?MIN-Q55-HYC-001CHRISTMAS_A_PZMIN-2A5-HYC-001JCHRISTMAS_A_PZ MIN-5GH-HYC-001HOLIDAY_A_PZ MIN-833-HYC-001HOLIDAY_A_PZ MIN-AGP-HYC-001HOLIDAY_A_PZ MIN-RH3-HYC-001NCHRISTMAS_A_PZ MIN-X36-HYC-001HOLIDAY_A_PZ MIN-X23-HYC-001JHOLIDAY_A_PZ

If you know my boys… how perfect is this last on?? I have ordered so many things from Minted and I’m always blown away by the quality in the paper and envelopes. And speaking of envelopes, how amazing is it that they will address them for free?! Now its your turn to enter…

CLICK HERE to win a $150 Minted Credit!

now hurry go enter! Good Luck!!

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