Monday, 31 December 2012

Top 10 Favorite Posts of 2012 & Thank You!

'Tis the season now for a roundup of what was popular on Echoes of Laughter in 2012. These posts are chosen by you...the reader! Some posts were a total surprise to me and others were not a surprise at all. Number one was a total surprise to me....and if you had asked me when I wrote it, I would have guessed it to be a total dud of a post. The Accutane post...another surprise to me! That's the thing about these roundup posts...when you look at your posts...there are still surprises! Here we go!
Top 10 Favorite Posts of Readers for 2012
1. How I Stopped Killing Plants & Learned To Grow Something.
I would never have guessed this post would be so popular. I am sooo not a gardener!
2. Potato Boat Dinner.
The week of camping recipes that I shared in the summer was a huge hit...with this one being the most popular!
3. Vacation Memory Jar.
This post was not a surprise because I think we all love to display cherished memories in fun ways.
4. 10 Ways To Save Money On Groceries Without Couponing.
This post is a must read for household managers trying to feed a family on a budget. I am so glad that this post has been so popular.
5. Teens, Acne & Accutane.
This post was a total surprise to me. And so many readers shared their own stories of acne and accutane, and it was so wonderful to hear that many have had their acne cleared by this amazing drug.
This post was another popular one from my week of camping recipes.
The cute packaging on this gift helped to make this post popular.
8. Family Documents Binder.
One of my organizing posts from this year...I think every family should have one!
9. 12 Easy Organizing Projects for January.
Last January, I shared a roundup of easy organizing projects and I will be sharing another similar post later this week!
10. 11 Best Camping Tips & Recipes.
Apparently, lots of people love to read and find new ideas and recipes for summer camping trips!

So, which of these posts were your favourite, or did you have another post that was a fav?
I cannot believe that the last day of the year is already here. And another year of blogging comes to a close. I want to say a huge, mushy THANK YOU to all of you who come here and read and share and make this blogging journey so fun for me! I am so VERY GRATEFUL for YOU!  I would not be here without your continued support and wonderful comments !I want to thank each and every one of you for your kind KIND & THOUGHTFUL LOVELINESS and all the best for 2013!!

This post is linked to these parties:
Skip to My Lou, Someday Crafts, Gingersnap Crafts, Savy Southern Style, 36th Avenue, Tatertots and Jello, Six Sister's Stuff, Funky Junk Interiors, I Heart Naptime, It's Overflowing, Craft-O-Maniac, Under The Table & Dreaming, Somewhat Simple, The Frugal Girls,

Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Year's Eve Party Favors...

Today I have been working on more pretty party favors for our New Year's Eve dinner party tomorrow evening, while watching my own little marathon of Downton Abbey to get ready for Season 3 starting on January 6th. I made 2 party favors~New Year's Treat Bags and New Year's Straws.
These things were totally inspired by my New Year's Ideas Pinterest Board and one of my very favourite blogs, Tatertots and Jello.  I have been reading and admiring this blog for years and I love all of the Jen's projects! I am happy to share the links so that you  may whip up your own as well!
 I took some festive paper straws  and added some darling flags for our drinks. I simply printed these flags onto white cardstock and cut them with a paper trimmer and scissors, gave them a swipe of adhesive on the back and pressed them  around the straws. You can find the flag template on this lovely blog here.
I also packaged up some Ferrero Rocher chocolates in lollipop bags and added this adorable bag topper from one of my very favourite blogs, Tatertots and Jello. This whole idea was completely inspired by Jen at Tatertots and Jello, and you can print your very own bag toppers and more by visiting her beautiful post on New Year's ideas here. I printed the bag toppers on white cardstock {they print 4 to a sheet}, cut them out and then stapled them to the lollipop bags filled with 2 chocolates. You could use any sweets treats you like!
Now our party will included pretty straws for drinks and a cute take home treat!
Be sure to visit my post on our New Year's Eve Party here.

And be sure to visit my New Year's Eve Ideas Board on Pinterest here.
And in case I don't get back here tomorrow, I wish you a wonderful New Year's Eve!

This post is linked to these parties:
Aalderberry Hill, Under The Table & Dreaming, Craft-O-Maniac, Skip To My Lou, Someday Crafts, Gingersnap Crafts, Savy Southern Style, 36th Avenue, Six Sister's Stuff, Funky Junk Interiors,
Somewhat Simple,

Friday, 28 December 2012

New Year's Eve Dinner Party...

Hello friends! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and things are somewhat returning to normal at your house! I had a nice week long break from blogging and I filled my time with hanging out with my family, friends, taking naps and reading.  But boy...does my house now need a good top-to-bottom cleaning. I think tomorrow will be a day of cleaning & organizing before friends arrive for dinner and merriment at 5 pm.
We always like to spend New Year's Eve with our children, so we often plan a night of family fun. This year, we have invited another family over to share the celebration and  we are ordering Chinese food. We usually ring in the New Year around 7 o 8 pm so that the kids can join in the fun without staying up way past their bedtime. Our teenage daughter is planning to go out with her friends, but she will be eating  New Year's Eve dinner with us and hanging out for a bit before she heads out with her friends.
 I am hoping to inspire you with our simple New Year's Eve table which I quickly and easily put together with things from I  already had. I decided on a traditional colour scheme of white, gold, silver and black. I took a white ceramic tray and created this arrangement of candles and ornaments. I tied black ribbon around the candles for a festive touch and  to tie the colour scheme together. I'm sure if you checked around the house, you could probably gather up gold & silver items to create a pretty tablescape as well!
 I got out black & white straws for the martini glasses and added a gold paper doily underneath for a pop of colour. I also tied white napkins together with noise makers using white & black ribbon and added 2 gold-wrapped Ferrero Rochers chocolates to each plate for a treat. {I had the chocolates already in the house for  Christmas.}
Simple & festive, but it works. I love that I didn't spend any money since the noisemakers were left over from a previous year.
Sometimes it's the small touches that can take a celebration to a new level.
I love making guests and my family feel special!
What are your plans for New Year's Eve?
Staying in or going out?

This post is linked to these great parties: Tip Junkie,
Tatertots and Jello, Craftberry Bush, Six Sisters, It's Overflowing, Aalderberry Hill, Under The Table & Dreaming, Craft-O-Maniac, Skip To My Lou, Someday Crafts, Gingersnap Crafts, Savy Southern Style, 36th Avenue, Six Sister's Stuff, Funky Junk Interiors, Between Naps On the Porch,

Friday, 21 December 2012

Coping with Super Cold Weather...& George's Cream Giveaway!

When I woke up this morning, the temperature outside was -19 C, with 20 km winds, which makes the temperature feel like -30 C. And we have had full blanket of snow since the middle of October!

As presented in Exhibit 1: Check out the snow below! Yes it's COLD.

 There are several ways we cope with COLD weather here. They include:
Flannel sheets and flannel jammies.
Bed socks at night.
Hot drinks and hot soups.
Lots of fresh fruit.
Creams and lotions for dry skin.
Warm hats, gloves and balaclavas.
{And just in case you are not familiar with the term balaclava, here is what they look like:}
One of the hardest things for me in winter is that the air is so dry that it makes my skin extremely dry that I often suffer from dry, cracked & bleeding knuckles. It is painful, stings and just plain hurts.  I am constantly searching for hand creams to soothe my poor knuckles. And I can't use just any cream or lotion because my skin is extremely sensitive and cannot tolerate a lot of chemicals. The folks at George's Cream contacted me and asked if I would like to try their product and I agreed. I have been using their product for over a month now and look at my hands:
Can I just say that I honestly love George's Cream! It is perfect for soothing my dry, cracked hands and it is nice and light. I have the pump of George's Light Moisturizing Cream right beside my bed and I use it every night. It is light enough that I can look at a magazine afterwards and my hands aren't  too greasy for turning pages. I have seen this cream on the shelf at the drugstore and I could kick myself for not trying it sooner!

George's Cream was developed by a pharmacist, George Doherty,  right here in Alberta. He made it in the kitchen using his wife's caker mixer over 15 years ago. He was looking to create a cream that would help those suffering  from the harsh effects of dry winters and other skin conditions such as: eczema, psoriasis, windburn, cradle cap, radiantion therapy, winter itch, swimmer's itch, cracked skin and tough skin areas.

Things you should know about George's Cream:
  • Was created to soothe skin and provide lasting relief.
  • Great for Adults, Kids and Babies
  • Is available without prescription.
  • Contains no urea, lanolin, or parabens.
  • Hypoallergenic. Fragrance Free. NO additives, irritants, or colouring.
  • Is recommended by dermatologists, pharmacists and physicians.
  • Available at grocery stores and drugs store such as Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart & London Drugs.
  • Not tested on animals.
  • Is a small private Canadian company.
George's Cream and George's Light Moisturizing Cream are available in several sizes, and range in price from $2.99 to $14.99. I highly recommend picking up some for a stocking stuffer! It is such a good cream and it works!

George's Cream Giveaway!

To Enter:
If you would like to try George's Cream, please leave me a comment telling me how you cope with cold weather. This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only!
What You Could Win:
A prize package of George's Cream products that includes full size & travel size products.
I will leave comments open until January 15, 2013, and if you win, you can look forward to receiving your prize package sometime in the new year!

{I was not compensated for this post, but I was provided with George's Cream in a 90g tube, and George's Light Moisturizing Lotion in a 360ml pump to try and review. All opinions are my own, and my hands truly feel so good!}

Eggnog Cranberry Bread...

Cranberries and eggnog are two of my favourite Christmas flavours, and these two make a perfect duet in this quick bread recipe.  I love quick breads, but I don't make them as often as I would like. I thought I would mix up a few for Christmas since they make such a nice treat with a cuppa!
Eggnog Cranberry Bread

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup eggnog {I used our fav store bought eggnog}
1/2 cup butter melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4  cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cranberries {I use frozen. I like them because they don't mush up when you stir them in.}


1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray bottom of 9 x 5 inch  loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Beat eggs in large bowl. Add sugar, eggnog, melted butter, and vanilla. Blend well.

3. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Stir until ingredients are just mixed. Do not over mix.
Gently stir in cranberries.

4. Pour batter into greased loaf pan.

5. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.

6. Cool loaf for about 20 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely. Wrap with foil and place in fridge. {Tip: Quick breads always taste better and cut more easily the next day!}

This loaf tastes and smells delicious. If  you purchase foil pans in mini-loaf sizes, this  will make 3-4 loaves, which is excellent for gift-giving!


This post is linked to these parties:
It's Overflowing, Gingersnap Crafts,

Thursday, 20 December 2012

13 Deliciously Easy Christmas Cookies...

 Today I want to share with you my easy go-to recipes for Christmas Cookies.You know a little trick of mine? I like to take my normal repertoire of cookie know...the familiar cookies that you have made many times and you are good at making and then 'dress them up' in some way for adding special things like chocolate, drizzles or frosting.
This trick keeps things simple and stress free.
I am not left trying unfamiliar recipes at a busy time of year!
If you think about it, I am sure that you, too, have tried & true recipes that can be dressed up for Christmas!
 Here are my FAVS:
 1. Easy Drop Sugar Cookies. This is my Grandmother's recipe and I have made it so many times! I love them because they are not only easy, but very tasty and delicious as well. Here the cookies are dressed up with some Christmas-coloured sprinkles.
2. Poinsettia Cookies. These are simply easy drop sugar cookies dressed up with frosting & cherries to make poinsettias.
 3. White Chocolate & Cranberry Sugar Cookies. Easy drop sugar cookies with white chocolate drizzled on top with diced craisins. 
4. Reindeer Cookies. Here I have used the easy drop sugar cookie recipe again, along with pretzels and candies to make the reindeer. 

5. Chocolate Dreams. This is a drop cookie that is soft and chewy and so good. Here the cookies are dressed up with drizzled white chocolate and crushed candy canes.

6. Chocolate Dreams with Christmas-coloured M & Ms.
7. Gingerbread Softies. This recipes makes a nice soft cookie with a wonderful flavour.

 8. Gumdrop Cookies. A fun drop cookie made with colourful gumdrops.

9. Confetti Squares. These are very easy to make...just melt some ingredients on the stove top and pour into a pan.

10. Cherry Balls. These are perfect if you are not a baker. This is a filling wrapped around a cherry and rolled in graham cracker crumbs.

11. Pretzel Hugs. I have made these little gems with my kids for years. We have given them out for teachers' gifts. Another perfect project if you are not a baker!

12. Easy Cinnamon Bun Christmas Tree. This is a great project for kids. It uses a can of purchased cinnamon buns cut into pieces and rolled into balls to make the tree. Simple dimple!

 13. Cinnamon Bun Snowman. Another great creation for kids to try. A can of cinnamon buns cut into pieces to make a snowman decorated with candies.
I love making cookies and giving them as gifts...especially for
 friends who are not bakers or
who have little ones and not much time for baking.
What is your favourite Christmas cookie?

This post has been linked to these parties:
Tidy Mom, Somewhat Simple, The Frugal Girls, Craftberry Bush, It's Overflowing,

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

8 Fantastic Last Minute Homemade Gifts...

With Christmas now only 1 week away, I thought I would do a round-up of projects from the last 2 years on Echoes of Laughter that can be made fairly quickly and easily.
Most of these homemade gifts require only a trip to the grocery/craft store and less than 1 hour of time.
1. Candy Cane Sauce. Super easy and only takes 3 ingredients.
2. Peppermint Foot Soak. Requires only 2 ingredients...epsolm salts and peppermint essential oil. No baking required!
3. Strawberry Butter. Just butter, icing sugar & strawberry jam. Great for biscuits or cookies, or bars!
 4. If you have a bit more time, this Gourmet Cookie Dough is a wonderful gift.
And if you don't have canning jars, or are worried about breakage....the mix can also be packaged in paper bags! 
5. This project is from over 5 years ago, but Pretzel Hugs make a great gift for children to make for their teachers, coaches, their little friends or neighbours. Pretzels, Hersheys Hugs and M&Ms and a cookie sheet are all that is needed!
6. This family vacation Memory Jar is wonderful gift for children or grandparents. Just use a jar, pictures and few objects.
7.If baking is not really your thing, this Grape Jelly can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes, and just requires grape juice, sugar and a pouch of  liquid pectin.
8. Homemade Granola takes a little more time than some of the other projects, but it makes a wonderful gift for a family or neighbours.
I hope you have found something here that inspires you if homemade gifts are what you are looking for!
There is still time....gather your supplies, put on some music and get busy.
You only need an evening and some determination! 

This post is linked to these terrific parties:
Savy Southern Style, Gingersnap Crafts, Lil Luna, Clean & Scentsible, Someday Crafts, The 36th Avenue, Tidy Mom, Somewhat Simple, The DIY Dreamer, The Frugal Girls, Craftberry Bush,
It's Overflowing,
that give mcdonalds coupons and 
breakfast coupons you also can find recipe from