Candy Bar Trains for Christmas

Make candy trains for Christmas! I’m SO excited to share this post with you guys! Did I say that yesterday too? Well, this year I am sharing a bunch of really fun holiday things that mean a lot to me. You know, like wine cake and such. Because cake with wine is VERY exciting. And today I’m sharing these awesome candy bar trains! This is something me mom made when we were growing up. And while I don’t remember making my own, I think these are the PERFECT alternative to gingerbread houses. Gingerbread houses can be so hard!!! Unless you glue gun the walls together, they often collapse and seem a bit fragile.  But these trains are a little bit easier and such a fun idea for families to do together at the holidays.

Make candy trains for Christmas! When I told my mom that I wanted to do a post on her trains, she searched her archives and came up with these written instructions for how she made them including a supply list. And then she left on a cruise. So I poured over her instructions and started gathering materials. And then got busy and put off making the actual train. And weeks later, my mom was back in town and I was finally ready to take photos of the candy bar train making process. So I invited her over to help me put it all together! I love having my mom help with posts! We pretty much followed her instructions this first go round but I can’t wait to make more and really get creative!

Make candy trains for Christmas! We got everything together and did a little mock-up before starting glueing things together with the royal icing. In doing so, we learned that candy has changed a bit since she first made these. Some things are larger and some things are smaller. Feel free to use whatever candies you think are best and please you, aesthetically. Also, she used to make a train track out of thin black licorice laces. I couldn’t find those anywhere! I also had a hard time finding rolls of Lifesavers (which we didn’t end up using anyway) and the larger Tootsie Rolls which make perfect logs. I feel like you can’t go wrong by buying the candy that looks fun to you and then see what you come up with. And if you have kids, the extra candy certainly isn’t going to go to waste…

Make candy trains for Christmas! We made (I say we, but really my mom made it) royal icing which would act as the glue to hold the train together. We probably could have used a little less of the icing but we wanted to make sure that things stuck really well.

Make candy trains for Christmas! My mom’s diagrams were very detailed about the front train car. But the rest of the cars can be whatever you want them to be. Have fun with it!  This is the back of the first car by the way.

Vintage Christmas miniaturesA few years ago my mom gave me her tin of vintage miniatures that she used for her trains and a few other food crafts she made.  So many memories in that tin! It was awesome to go through and remember all the old plastic figures and show them to my kids.

Make candy trains for Christmas! We let my son decide where Santa should sit. I think he made the right decision.

Make candy trains for Christmas!Our second train car holds a bunch of presents and toys and the final car is the log car. It dawned on me that it would have probably looked a little bit more like logs if we stacked another row in the center and on top of the bottom row. But it’s been probably 30 years since we’ve seen one of these trains so…we forgot. I just love how it came out!

Make candy trains for Christmas! How fun is this tree?! I added a little more royal icing to look like snow.

Make candy trains for Christmas! And of course we added edible glitter to have even more of a snow-like look although it is pretty hard to see. Like gingerbread houses, these are edible, but since all of the candy has been manhandled I wouldn’t recommend eating them. My kids asked so incessantly that I finally said they could eat their cars. Turns out all the different flavors of candy don’t taste that great together. So they stopped eating them instead of picking the candy off individually…dummies. (Yes I just called my kids dummies. But as a joke. That is kind of ironic. Especially since my 3rd grader had to go ask his teacher how to do one of his homework math problems since I couldn’t figure it out…)

Make candy trains for Christmas! I think this will be a tradition that we do with our kids every year. And I can’t wait to share it with the cousins and friends!

Make candy trains for Christmas!I put my train on a cake board that I got from the local craft store. It came in a pack of 5 so you could easily have each kid make their own mutli-car train.

Make candy trains for Christmas!When my youngest son got home from school he skipped lunch (truth be told he had candy for lunch) to make his train. He was so excited! He’s almost 6 and this was really easy for him. Where we had used a piping bag and decorating tip, we gave him a little paint brush to use with the royal icing and it worked really well. In hindsight, we probably would have had a cleaner look if we had used the paintbrush.

Make candy trains for Christmas!This would be a super fun idea for a family holiday party. I had only bought 6 of the large candy bars but the candy used to decorate was very plentiful. I could have made a ton of train cars by just picking up a few more Snickers bars, which is what we’ve always used. I guess you could use a different kind. But you would ruin Christmas…so…

Make candy trains for Christmas!We ended up having a last-minute playdate after school that day so my older son and his friend decided to make them too. Turns out, with a little imagination, your train car can be a sports car.  And a new tradition may be born.

Here is a very general list of what you might need to make a candy bar train with 3 cars like I’ve made above:

Large Snickers bars for the train cars (so 3 Snickers bars for the full train I made)

Fun Size Snickers bar for the front car

14 Peppermint candies for the wheels (note: the first car has 2 extra wheels – and they probably aren’t called wheels are they…)

1 gummy fruit slice for the corn catcher at the front of the train

4 Werther’s or several Lifesavers for the front of the train car

1 JUJU Bee for the light on the very front of the train

1 Gum Drop for the front train car

1 Lifesaver and 1 Rolo for the smoke stack on the first train car

Thin licorice laces to connect the train cars. Can also be used for the train tracks if you decide to add them to your cake board

14 M&M’s for decoration on the wheels

Several Tootsie Rolls for the log car.  The full size work best but you can also stack the Midgees if you can’t find the regular ones.

White edible glitter for snow

Royal Icing and a pastry bag and tips. You can also use a smallish paintbrush instead or if you have a young child where a pastry bag might be too hard to manage.

Assorted Miniatures

Tweezers might also come in handy (if you want to be all type-a about it)

To make Royal Icing: 

3 level TBSP Meringue Powder

4 cups powdered sugar

6 TBSP water

Put all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a mixer for 7 to 10 minutes.

If you make one share it with me on instagram!!!! Tag me at @cupcakescutlery and use the #cupcakesandcandytrains

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Sherry Wine Cake Recipe

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe. One of my newer holiday traditions. Perfect for Christmas morning breakfast. I’ve been meaning to share this recipe with you for years. But posting near the holidays gets to be too much sometime. There are so many things to share and so many extracarricular activities with family and school that I usually run out of time. But this year I made a point to start early so I could share with you one of my newer traditions. Sherry Cake. Yes. Cake made with wine. Oh, and it is also a cake I eat for breakfast. I was introduced to this cake years ago and fell in love with it. It just tastes like Christmas. So I decided that I would make it for Christmas morning breakfast. I think I may be the only person to eat it. But I love it and will continue to have it on the roster.

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe. One of my newer holiday traditions. Perfect for Christmas morning breakfast. This sherry cake recipe couldn’t be easier. It uses boxed cake mix as the base, vanilla pudding mix, oil and eggs. Basic, right? Then you add fresh nutmeg and sherry wine. I don’t know anything about sherry wine. I bought this one at the grocery store, but the bottle I previously had I got at a wine shop and it had a hint of orange to it that I really enjoyed. Sherry is a fortified wine (alcohol added) and it is a really nice, warm flavor. There are tons of different varieties and I can’t see how you could go wrong with any of them. It adds a depth of flavor to the cake that is really lovely. And between the wine and the pudding, the cake is nice and moist.

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe. One of my newer holiday traditions. Perfect for Christmas morning breakfast. I bought this bundt pan specifically for this recipe. I can’t believe I didn’t have one before!

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe. One of my newer holiday traditions. Perfect for Christmas morning breakfast. You mix all the ingredients together. Totes easy.

 

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe. One of my newer holiday traditions. Perfect for Christmas morning breakfast. Put the batter in a greased and floured bundt pan. And bake for about 50 minutes.

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe. One of my newer holiday traditions. Perfect for Christmas morning breakfast. The sherry cake, once inverted, is a dark, gingerbready color. The house smells of nutmeg and vanilla cake. And Christmas. Simply top it with powdered sugar and dig in.

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe. One of my newer holiday traditions. Perfect for Christmas morning breakfast. This is a great cake to bring to a holiday party because it is totally unexpected. It is straight out of the 70’s and I love that about it too.

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe. One of my newer holiday traditions. Perfect for Christmas morning breakfast. Doesn’t the powdered sugar look like snow?! Have you ever had a wine cake before? Let me know if you try this!!!

Sherry Wine Cake Recipe
 
My favorite thing to eat on Christmas morning.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast/ Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 box Yellow cake mix
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding (3 oz)
  • ¾ cup oil
  • ¾ cup Sherry (I think you are supposed to use Cream Sherry)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated)
  • 4 eggs
Instructions
  1. Mix cake mix and pudding.
  2. Add oil and Sherry.
  3. Beat at high speed.
  4. Add in one egg at a time, beat in between.
  5. Beat for about 5 more minutes after the last egg.
  6. Add nutmeg.
  7. Oil and flour a Bundt pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and test.
  9. Watch carefully - do not over bake.
  10. Turn out of Bundt pan immediately.
  11. Let cool completely.
  12. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  13. Then eat your face off.

 

3 Ways to Use Corn Husks in your Holiday Entertaining

Corn husks bring a harvest touch to your cheese plate. I love corn husks. I’m not really sure why. But I do know I love the color, I love the texture and they instantly make me think of fall. They are pretty dang versatile and can be used in tons of ways. Today I have 3 ways to use corn husks in your holiday entertaining.

3 ways to use corn husks in your holiday entertaining.You can find corn husks at your local supermarket in the Mexican foods aisle. They are usually by where the packaged spices are. There are a bunch in the bag, enough for several crafts.  They come stuck together so you have to pull them apart once you take them out of the package. They can be a bit gritty and dusty so give them a good shake over the trash before using. You can also quickly run them under water. If you soak them, they just become more pliable so you won’t damage them.

Tuck corn husks on to your serving platters. 1.  you are most likely going to have a cheese platter at your holiday parties. I mean, it’s cheese. People like cheese. You don’t want to disappoint the people, do you?  Sure you could just plop the cheese on a plate or platter but what is the fun in that. For this cheese plate I laid down some corn husks and then some leafy greens to add more color. By tucking them in the corner it also added a little bit more height which pleases the eye. And it kind of looks like this cheese plate is wearing a crown, doesn’t it? Crowns are fun.

Corn husk wrapped candles create a warm glow for your holiday entertaining. 2.  Candles provide great ambiance when you have people over. To make the candles more seasonal, just wrap the glass container with corn husks and trim them. I imagine these are highly flammable so make sure that the flame is not coming to the top of the vessel. I used kitchen twine to tie on the corn husks but you could use just about anything. How cool would a leather cord look? The answer is cool.

Use corn husks to wrap a candleholder to add a festive fall touch.And when the candle is lit, a glow shines through the corn husks and is super warm and inviting. Wrap all different sized candle holders and place them all down the center of the table. Super cheap, super simple and totally classy and holiday inspired.

Corn husk feathers add a lightened up fall element to a place setting. 3.  Corn husks can be easily cut and shaped so you can really do just about anything you want with them. I have even used a curling iron on them to curl them when making corn husk flowers…Here I made a feather for a place setting add-on. Since the corn husks have little ridges, writing on them didn’t really work but you could still use them as part of your place setting. I’ll be sharing this tutorial over on Babyshower.com later this month!

Corn Husk feathers for holiday place settings.You could even make these feathers in to a garland and hang it on your wall or from your mantle. Have you used corn husks before? How do you use them?

10 Ways to Put Your Style in Your Holiday Decor

Use a color palette that you love, don't be dictated by what decor the stores have to offer. #ad*Today’s post is sponsored by Thymes, but my love for their Frasier Fir collection is all my own! My pine addiction is pretty much lifelong…

Holiday decorating is always hard for me. I don’t love holiday decor. Can I confess that the holiday fragrances are more magical to me than the decor? And I also don’t love that unless you go on a real hunt for cool, less traditional decor, you are stuck with whatever look the stores are selling that year. Thank goodness some of the larger stores are really stepping up in the design area and there are usually some good finds. Over the last few years I have been taking the time to go through the decorations in the garage and getting rid of the things that were bought on a whim, but I don’t love. (A few things I am holding on to simply because the smell reminds me of some awesome childhood memories). I’m trying to grow our collection to include things we are really drawn to and fit our personal style. Today I’m sharing 10 ways to put your personal style in your holiday decor.

1. Pick a color palette that YOU like. While most stores bombard you with decorations that are green, white and red, you can go in a different direction. Whites and silver, with a little sparkle, like in the image above) make for a super wintery look. Similarly, if you love hot pink, add it! Either diy something store-bought or let your friends and family know what you are looking for so they can help you scout out those harder to find decorations.

Make sure you add in your own style to your holiday decorating. #ad2. Don’t pack away the great pieces that you love the rest of the year. Figure out how to incorporate the pieces you love and still have your house feel holiday ready. Create little vignettes for visual interest. And see if there are ways to play up the holidays. Done right, a sleigh bell swag draped on this horses’ neck would be awesome and seasonal appropriate.

Mix in unusual plants to give your house a festive feel. #ad3. Try new plants and flowers in your home that have a holiday feel. Whether they are real or faux, go for something different. Look for berry-like stalks or even forgo flowers and use just greenery. Trader Joe’s is the best for finding unusual, seasonal plants and flowers. Even using just a small amount, mixed in with your usual decor will change the look of the room and have it feel more festive. And that simple Thymes Frasier Fir Pine Needle candle adds the perfect winter look to pair with unexpected foliage.

Add small touches to the things you have around your house all year to bring them in to the holiday spirit. #ad4. Look for great vessels, that match your holiday decor aesthetic, and use them to house your favorite succulents. Tuck in a few berries or even rosemary sprigs to take them from summery desert to wintery and lush. The modern looking white woodgrain soap dish from the Frasier Fir collection would be perfect for a succulent arrangement!

Use your log holder or magazine tote for holiday greens for a festive touch. #ad5. Add some flair in unusual places. Pine branches and glittery, decorative picks add warmth and whimsy to a room and is unexpected when placed in a magazine holder. Skip the usual mantle garland and instead add your greenery around the room at different visual levels. While most things are set on tables or shelves, don’t forget to survey your floor space to see if you can style something on the ground as long as it won’t impede your usual traffic.

Your Christmas tree isn't the only place for ornaments, especially ones that are fragrant. #ad6.  For a lot of us, our trees go up much closer to December 25th (here in CA they dry out and die if you get them too early) which means that we don’t get a lot of time to enjoy our favorite ornaments. There is no rule against using ornaments on house plants. And you get to have your favorites up earlier so you can enjoy them longer.  This Botancial Ornament does double duty as both decoration and room fragrance.

Think outside of the box with your decor.  #ad7.  There are standard phrases used to share holiday cheer, like Noel, Merry Christmas, etc. But I took a cue from my kids, and their excitement for the season, to use a new word for our wall decorations.  I mean, with all the presents and the treats and fun events that happen over the holidays, could there really be a better word? Also these mini mylar balloons are a super fun, celebratory way to decorate. They make your room feel like a party.

Tuck holiday candles throughout your normal decor. #ad8.  Tuck holiday themed candles around your living space to play up the season. Candles, like this one from Thymes, are really nice looking and don’t steal the attention from the style of your room but rather blend in with it. They special holiday scents with a variety of decorative candles so I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that fits in with your style. Some of the gingerbread items come in this gorgeous amber-colored glass!

Choose a signature scent for your house during the holidays. #ad9.  Choose a signature holiday scent. For me, I’m a pine girl all the way. My soaps, candles, etc. are all in this scent. This year I’m using Thymes Frasier Fir collection. The scent is a mix of fir needles, cedarwood and sandalwood.  All of the products layer nicely together to bring a subtle scent to the house all season long. They even created home care products in this scent so even my cleaning can feel more seasonal. I love this reed diffuser set for the smell but also because the reeds mimic the pine needles to me. And like I mentioned in number 6 above, we don’t get our trees for a while. I have to get my pine fix in! And the smell just makes me happy. Yes, I could use it year round, but for me, pine IS the holidays. But if it isn’t for you, they also have gingerbread with spicy notes of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, yum.

Smells always evoke memories for me, but especially around the holidays. I can easily think of the various smells found in my mom’s boxes of holiday decorations. There’s the Avon candle from when she sold their cosmetics. There is the smell of the ornaments and the tissue they are wrapped in. There is peppermint from the candy canes that get put away with all the other decorations, inadvertently, every year. And there’s pine. Always pine. The scent that I look forward to all year. It signals the holiday season and the joy that I get to share with my own family now.

Don't forget to add a holiday touch to your kitchen. That is where you spend a LOT of time at this time of year! #ad10. Don’t forget the kitchen! I don’t know about you, but the kitchen rarely gets decorated for any holiday. BUT that is where you spend a lot of time during the holiday season with all your baking and holiday hosting. So from this year on, I will be switching to my favorite scent in the kitchen too. And this white, faux wood holder, that this sink set comes in, is sleek and chic but feels wintery. While I can’t say that this will make me look forward to doing the dishes, I  do know when I smell the Frasier Fir, I will have a moment of joy.

Thymes holiday studio sample kit with purchase of $25. #ad Head over to the Thymes site to check out all their amazing scents and shop for yourself or others on your gift list. Once there, you can redeem your exclusive offer for a free Fragrance Studio Sample Kit with any purchase of $25 of more! Thymes creates fragrances that are a mix of familiar and intriguing rooted in botanical perfumery. Drawn from nature, their unique formulations are artfully crafted to create products that are skin-compatible, environmentally friendly, effective and a pleasure to use.

Thank you for supporting the brands, like Thymes, that let me keep blogging. Especially the ones that make the most glorious pine-y fragranced products that make me swoon.

Easy Halloween Decor Ideas

Bright and white Halloween decor. #sponThis post is sponsored by King’s Hawaiian. Head to their site to learn about “The Legend of Hallowaiian.”

My kids are so excited about Halloween this year. They have been wanting to decorate for the last few weeks. But since Halloween is my least favorite holiday I have been stalling. Then we found this awesome neon green skeleton. He reminded me that the decorations don’t need to be so gory and dark.  And because the decorations are only kept up for a short period of time I like easy Halloween decor ideas. And if they are inexpensive, that’s even better. When I saw these colorful, cheap, plastic vampire teeth it just made sense to do something with them. This super easy Vampire Teeth Garland couldn’t be easier.

Bright colored plastic fangs for an easy Halloween garland. #sponAll you need is some string and a pack of plastic vampire teeth. The teeth come in all kinds of colors depending on where you buy them. They even have a glow in the dark version which would work great if you had darker walls.

Yarn and plastic teeth are all you need for quick and easy Halloween decorating. #sponInstead of tying a knot, I did a simple loop around each side of the fangs with the yarn.

Black, white and bright Halloween decor. #sponAnd then I simply tied the other ends to my backdrop poles. This set up would work really great as a photo backdrop for your Halloween party. And of course you should set out extra teeth to use as props in the photos. Just make sure each person takes their teeth with them after they’ve used them. Because, ew. You can easy just keep these as garlands on the wall by adhering them with some washi or masking tape. How adorable would a black and white striped tape be with these?!  When taping your garlands, just make it look intentional. Create a small “x” with two pieces of tape on each end. Not only will this help to hold the string a little better, but no make it look like you designed it that way and didn’t just stick it up on the wall with tape.

Easy Halloween Decor with plastic fangs #sponThese teeth are always a favorite in my household. The persona my youngest son takes on when he has these in his mouth is hilarious. What do I not enjoy? The slobber.

Vampire teeth garland for cheap and easy Halloween decorating. #sponNeed some other quick and easy Halloween ideas? Here are some of my past posts:

Fang Mobile

Easy Wire “Boo” Sign

Clove and Orange “Pumpkins”

Neon green skeleton for fun Halloween decor. #sponI don’t know if you have seen it yet, but King’s Hawaiian launched “The Legend of Hallowaiian” at the beginning of October. It is fantastic! From the moment I saw their pineapple carved like a Jack-o-lantern, I fell in love! Their Hallowaiian.com site features TONS of fantastic Halloween party ideas for everything from the food (because, duh, it’s King’s Hawaiian and you want to eat at much of that as possible) to party decor ideas. They have created such a fun campaign with these aloha-inspired concepts. It’s so clever and full of fun – a true representation of the Taira family.

Vampwich sandwich idea from King's Hawaiian's "Legend of Hallowaiian"I mean, how cute are these vampwiches?!  And what is even better? You could win a trip for 2 to Hawaii just by sharing your own Halloween party! Just upload a few photos from your big bash and you might just win a glorious trip to the beautiful island of Lanai!  See full contest rules here.

For serious, this campaign makes my heart so happy and I’m glad to share it with you. Thank you for supporting the brands, like King’s Hawaiian, that let me do what I do.