Organized Christmas

House and Holidays Plan Week 1: Planning and Paperwork

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 31, 2014

Are you ready to make a plan ... to celebrate Christmas in a clean and organized home?

This week, we kick off the House and Holiday Plans, a week-by-week program to help you clean house, cut clutter, and prepare for the holiday season.

When it comes to moving toward better organization at home, one job comes first: organizing planning and paperwork. Where do you go to pay bills, keep a calendar, or handle the mail?

Whether it's a dedicated home office or a rolling file cart under the dining table, it's time to declutter, organize and clean the planning area.

A holiday prep bonus: we'll set up a Christmas organizing planning center this week, so we can move ahead with holiday season preparations. We'll begin printing a Christmas planner, and take the first steps toward a serene and stress-free season.

Ready? Time to tackle planning and paperwork in the House and Holidays Plan!

Planning and Paperwork Week Assignments

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Holiday Grand Plan Week 1: List Week

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 31, 2014

Week One is List Week at the Holiday Grand Plan!

During this week, we kick off holiday prep with lists, lists and more lists. We'll print helpful calendars and forms for Christmas organizing and begin to create a Christmas notebook.

This week's cleaning focus is the front porch: We'll clean and organize the area around the front door so that our home will be ready to welcome visitors during the holiday season.

Ready to jump into List Week? Let's get organized with the Holiday Grand Plan!

List Week at the Holiday Grand Plan

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Dust Pan Cookies

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 30, 2014

A sweet and simple gift celebrating friendship, Dust Pan Cookies are easy to make and give.

With a humorous poem and an unexpected presentation, this all-occasion gift is suitable for family, friends and neighbor gifts.

Free printable gift tags containing the Dust Pan Cookies poem makes it easy to share!

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Cut the Crazy: Choose a Holiday Plan

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 28, 2014

What's the best road to calm and joyous holidays? It's all about the plan!

Preparing for Christmas with the help of a step-by-step plan makes quick work of seasonal chores, and leaves plenty of time, energy--and money!--to celebrate the season.

Here at Organized Christmas, we're home to the Web's oldest holiday plans: the Christmas Countdown and the Holiday Grand Plan. We're also bringing you two newer plans for Christmas organizing: the House & Holidays Plan and the Rudolph Club.

Which plan is right for you? Check out these options to get ready for a stress-free Christmas:

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Adult Journal in a Jar: Make-Ahead Gift to Print

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 27, 2014

Looking for an easy make-ahead holiday gift? It's a journal in a jar!

Jumpstart journal writers with a quart-sized canning jar filled with folded strips of paper. Each one contains a single thought provoking journal prompt. Paired with a pretty blank book, a Journal Jar makes a great gift.

We've made it easy to craft your Journal Jar. Free printable journal prompts have colorful legends and graphics to make a pretty gift. Add a free printable gift tag for a professional touch.

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Too Early to Think Christmas? Starting Now Makes Sense!

Ah, September! The month brings brisk mornings, fall colors, back-to-school ... and deck the halls?

In a word, yes. Summer's end is the perfect time to think ahead to the holiday season; start Christmas planning now, and you'll reap abundant benefits come December.

Here at Organized Christmas we hear a deafening chorus of objection: "But it's too early to think about Christmas! I can't get ready until I feel the holiday spirit!"

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House and Holidays Plan begins on Sunday!

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 26, 2014

Labor Day weekend ahead! School bells are ringing, football fills the airwaves and September looms. Will the holidays be far behind?

Sure, you're dreaming of the perfect Christmas--then you open your eyes to reality. Looking around the house, it's hard to imagine how to cut the clutter, manage fall cleaning and prepare for Christmas all at once.

How will you bring the current state of domestic chaos into holiday readiness: clean, organized, prepared?

It's time to kick off the House and Holidays Plan! Week by week, we'll deep-clean, declutter, and prepare for the holiday season in small, sustainable bites.

Along the way, we'll create a personalized Christmas planner to simplify the holidays--and online HHP communities provide motivation, inspiration and fun.

The fun starts Sunday, August 31! Will you be ready?

House and Holidays Plan

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Make Confetti Bean Soup In A Jar

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 18, 2014

Savory Italian herbs spark this hearty, easy bean soup. Paired with Texas Cornbread Mix, this duo is just the thing for cold winter weekends!

Better, it's a good keeper, so make this gift-in-a-jar ahead for holiday giving. Unlike cookie jar gifts, Confetti Bean Soup won't go stale in storage.

Makes 12 gift jars at a cost approximately $2 per jar.

Includes free printable gift tags.

Make-Ahead Holiday Gift: Melt-and-Pour Soap

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 14, 2014

You've seen them everywhere from crafts fairs to bath boutiques: pretty handmade gift soaps. Clear and colorful or rich with natural additives for beautiful skin, they're a welcome holiday gift.

Best of all, they're easy to make using melt-and-pour soap. Heated in the microwave, clear or opaque glycerin soap base is combined with colorants and fragrances, then poured into molds to harden. When cool, soaps pop right out of the molds, ready to use.

Follow the soap-making tips and soap starter projects linked below to help you master this squeaky-clean craft.

Patriotic Gift In A Jar: Red, White and Blue Brownies

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 13, 2014

Three cheers for the red, white and blue ... brownies in a jar!

Looking for a quick summer gift with a patriotic theme? Try this recipe for Red, White and Blue Brownies In A Jar.

An easy-to-make holiday or hostess gift from Ball's summer crafts ideas, you'll be the hit of the Labor Day celebration with this sweet treat:

Red, White and Blue Brownies In A Jar

(In .pdf format; you'll need Adobe Reader to view file)

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Dreamsicle Cookies In A Jar

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 8, 2014Description

A favorite hot-weather sweet sparks a great gift in a jar: Orange Dreamsicle Cookies!

Taking the name--and flavors--of a cool summer treat, Orange Dreamsicle Cookies are punched up with vanilla baking chips and a burst of citrus.

Layered and decorated with a pretty gift tag, Orange Dreamsicle Cookies In A Jar are perfect "just-because" gift or gift basket item.

We make it easy with a free printable gift tags.

Ingredients 1⁄2 cup powdered orange drink mix (Tang) 3⁄4 cups granulated sugar 1 1⁄2 cup vanilla baking chips 1 3⁄4 cup sifted flour, all purpose 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder 1 canning jar, quart-size with lid and ringInstructions

Sift flour before measuring, then stir in baking soda and baking powder.

Layer the ingredients in a clean glass wide mouth quart sized jar. For each jar, layer 3/4 cup granulated sugar, then 1/2 cup powdered drink mix, then 1 3/4 cup flour (mixed with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder), then 1 1/2 cups vanilla baking chips. Tamp the first three layers firmly to compact ingredients.

Attach a copy of Orange Dreamsicle gift tag, or create your own tag using the recipe instructions below.

Orange Dreamsicle Cookies Recipe

Preheat oven to 375°.

Empty jar into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg (slightly beaten)and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix until well-blended

Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until tops are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack until completely cool.

Makes 2-1/2 dozen


More information: Tips to Make Gifts in a Jar

Printable Gifts in a Jar Gift Tags Orange Dreamsicle Cookies Gift TagHoliday Recipes: Seasonal Gifts & Crafts: 

Santa Saves: Six Back-to-School Bargains for Holiday Giving

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 6, 2014

With summer winding down, school is on the way--and so are rock-bottom prices on back-to-school needs!

During late summer, office supply stores engage in penny price wars, while discount stores bring racks of school supplies front and center ... and cheap!

Back-to-school loss leaders--products sold below cost to attract sales--are hot and heavy in the supermarkets these days--and even the crafts stores offer a variety of binders, stickers and backpacks at sharply reduced prices.

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Holiday Grand Plan or House & Holidays Plan?

Which Holiday Plan is Right For Me? Posted by Cynthia Ewer on August 4, 2014

The question has been asked about our Christmas organizing plans quite a bit in recent days.

What is the difference between the Holiday Grand Plan and the House & Holidays Plan ... and which one should I follow?

Right off the bat, I'd say there's no "should" about which plan to follow. Which plan, no plan, custom plan--it's all up to your personal choice. But I did want to write about what the differences are, so that each one of us can make the right choice for ourselves.

Unlike the Christmas Countdown, which covers only holiday prep chores, both the HHP and the HGP are ambitious, all-autumn Christmas organizing plans. Both of them seek to move through the house on a weekly basis, with decluttering, deep-cleaning and organizing assignments designed to bring the whole house to a ready state by the time December rolls around.

History of the Holiday Grand Plan

As many of you know, the Holiday Grand Plan is the Web's oldest Christmas organizing plan. It grew out of a very early online "get organized" community on the old Prodigy service: Homelife - Get O.

In 1993, our group worked together to create the Cleaning Grand Plan; but most of the authoring was done by my good friend Katie Leckey. When autumn rolled around, Katie added a holiday prep component to the Cleaning Grand Plan, and that became the HGP we know today.

This history explains why there are a few puzzlers when it comes to the HGP. For instance, the front door/entryway portion comes at the very start of the plan, and many people noted that, "Hey--my front porch needs cleaning AGAIN" by the time they made it to December. Other objections are that this plan presumes an average suburban home, and doesn't really encompass alternate living arrangements very well. Still other people wondered, "Why on EARTH are we spending two weeks cleaning the attic and garage right in the middle of the holiday season?"

Simply put, the HGP grew out of another plan, and wasn't designed just for the holiday pre-season.

Behind the House & Holidays Plan

By contrast, that's what I sat down to do when I wrote the House & Holidays Plan: create a more realistic cleaning focus and flow for the pre-holiday months.

I also wanted to break down the plan into "areas", rather than "rooms". Some weeks, like Bed and Bath week, the "area" may be spread across two or more rooms in the house--but the idea is that assignments are focused on a single function, rather than a geographic area. By thinking about ALL bathrooms at the same time, you'll find it more efficient to deal with the chores on the list.

So, rather than a pretty rigid "front door to back door" approach, I went for something of a spiral. The plan starts with planning, creative areas, and the master bedroom--all "personal" spaces. Tackling them first gives the planner a place to go to create, relax and rejuvenate as she works the rest of the plan.

Then the HHP moves into family spaces, such as kids' rooms, guest rooms or the family room, and only then begins to take on more public areas ... and we END with the entryway/front-door area. The idea is to start with yourself, move on to the family, and only then tackle those areas and functions that will see guests, visitors or entertaining.

The second goal I had with the HHP was a more realistic and natural pace to holiday planning. On the HGP, there are a LOT of pre-season assignments dumped in the first two weeks, and for many of us, that's just too early--not to mention that the first two weeks of both plans overlap summer's end, Labor Day and back-to-school. On the HGP, we had lots of second-week dropouts as people decided that this was just too hard.

Instead, I tried to space HHP holiday prep assignments over many weeks, letting people move into seasonal planning more gradually.

So we START a Christmas planner, but we don't print off the world in a day or two. We BEGIN making gift lists, but we won't complete them for several weeks. The idea is to have a lot more wiggle room for busy weeks, vacations or simple personal "I can't think about this yet!" preferences.

Finally, I looked at what a lot of people do, which is combine a longer-term plan like HHP and HGP, with the Countdown, once it rolls in at the end of October. Knowing that many of us fall off the rails on the longer plan, then catch up with the Countdown, I tried to make sure that there was an easy transition from where we are on HHP to where we start with the Countdown, to account for this.

The Choice Is Yours!

So, which one is right for you? It's all a matter of your own preference--but since some of you have asked, I hope I've answered questions about the "whys" behind both plans.

--Cynthia Ewer

Summer Craft Ideas For Gifts In A Jar

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on July 31, 2014

It's summer and canning jars, like fresh produce, are in season--but you can do a lot more with them than put up tomatoes for winter!

Savvy holiday planners know that gifts in a jar are easy, welcome and fun to make, so check out these summer-inspired gift-in-a-jar ideas from

You'll find a great round-up of gifts in a jar, mason jar recipes and crafts projects to celebrate summer holidays ... or for no reason at all. Check 'em out!

Summer Gifts in a Jar

Need more ideas? Visit our Gifts In A Jar page for recipes, inspiration and easy gifts:

Gifts In A Jar Index

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Cash In! Do-It-Now Ways To Save Money For Christmas

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on July 30, 2014

Think "Christmas" ... in July? Sure, if you want to make it an all-cash holiday!

Holiday spending can be hard on the pocketbook--and bought on credit, "Christmas Day" can stretch into the new year for weeks or months.

Ease the Christmas cash crunch with creative ways to save money for Christmas! Financial institutions offer dedicated Christmas clubs for the disciplined, but savvy holiday planners have found other ways to accumulate cash for holiday spending.

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July Rudolph Club Meeting

Choose A Holiday Plan! Posted by Cynthia Ewer on July 25, 2014

Welcome to the Rudolph Club: your once-a-month meeting to simplify your holidays and get organized for Christmas!

At Organized Christmas, we know that the holiday season can be fast and furious. Solution? Take a day once each month throughout the year to plan and prepare for a more-organized holiday season.

On the 25th of each month, we'll bring simple assignments and easy tips to try now for a simpler, more joyous season. Over the year, you'll tackle planning and preparations to make the season lighter, brighter and less stressful come December.

July Assignment: Choose a Holiday Plan!

To cut chaos and simplify your holidays, you've got to have a plan. July is the time to take stock of the year's preparations to date, and consider how you'll organize holiday prep in the coming weeks.

Take A Breath!

It's only natural to begin to panic when the holidays come to mind; the preparations most of us make for Christmas can seem overwhelming if you don't keep them in perspective. The best antidote? Take a deep breath and consider all the progress you've made.

Have you begun to purchase gifts on sale and stock up on stocking stuffers? Is a Christmas newsletter begun in a file on your computer? Even if you're only beginning to ponder the coming season, you're ahead! So relax! "Christmas in July" or not, you've taken your first steps toward an organized holiday season.

Choose A Christmas Organizing Plan!

Some folks prepare for Christmas instinctively: throughout the year, they stock up on gift items, tuck away baked goods, and organize decor storage as a matter of course.

Then there are the rest of us, who are stuck watching these enviable organized ones from the sidelines.

The solution? A Christmas organizing plan. Part reminder, part countdown, with a holiday organization plan, you'll be nudged, reminded, and motivated to begin preparation at the right time for you and your family.

If you join a plan, will this be the year you "do it all"? Gosh, I hope not! These plans are created to be guidelines--and we all fall off their wagon! The good news is that any progress, no matter how small, bears fruit in the form of holiday stress relief ... so consider, today, which plan you'll follow.

Get Ready For Christmas with the Christmas Countdown!

The Christmas Countdown is a simplified, no-nonsense holiday organization plan. Beginning on October 26, 2014 it's a six-week set of daily reminder messages, printable Christmas planner pages, essays to make you think, and fun--and frugal--gift, craft and baking ideas.

The Countdown is for you if you want to simplify your holidays and prepare for the season in a gradual, low-stress manner. With no major cleaning or decluttering assignments, the Countdown is a streamlined path to an organized holiday season.

Bring The Holidays Home With The House & Holidays Plan

Need more help to prepare your home for the holidays? The House & Holidays Plan is a comprehensive organizing plan to ready the entire house for the holiday season: decluttered, organized and clean.

Once called the House & Holidays Plan, this 18-week program has been rewritten for 2013, with a fresh new emphasis. Authored by Organized Home editor, Cynthia Ewer, this whole-house plan includes both home cleaning and organizing assignments, designed to take you week-by-week to a Christmas-clean home.

Along the way, the HHP breaks down holiday chores into small, achievable weekly steps. You'll create a Christmas planner, get a jump on gifts and plan scrumptious holiday meals. Working together with friends makes the journey fun!

What if neither one of these plans feels right for you? Some readers who celebrate alternate holidays or who have other unique circumstances develop their own plans. Other folks use both plans, beginning work on their homes with the House & Holidays Plan, and swinging into high gear for holiday prep when the Countdown begins in October. Make these plans work for you by making them your own!

Ready? Deep breath! It's Christmas in July--time to decide how you'll get organized for the coming holiday season. Whatever plan you choose--or create--you'll be among friends!

July Rudolph Club Reminders:

Craft check! Have you planned to make hand-crafted gifts and decor items this year? Summer vacations, kid sports practices and lazy summer evenings are a great time to add crafted gifts to your stash, so haul out April's Gifts to Make printable planner form and get crafting.

Keep adding to your Holiday Letter. As outlined in the February Rudolph Club assignment, open a computer word processing file labeled "Holiday Letter". Once a month, add a quick summary of the latest month's events, memories and achievements. When November rolls around, you'll have a complete and contemporary record of the year's high points to include with your holiday cards. Set aside any photos that you may wish to include with your cards or letters.

Keep up with the Christmas Club Savings Plan. Check with your local bank; many financial institutions offer "Christmas Club" accounts that make saving easier. If not, begin your own Christmas Club by writing a check, however small, to yourself on the 25th of each month. Deducted from the running balance in your checking account, but not cashed, this practice can help create a welcome cushion for holiday expenses.

Monitor the progress of the Gift Closet. Have you added gifts this month? Record them on the free printable Gift Closet Inventory in your Household Notebook or Christmas planner notebook. It's a one-page reminder of what's tucked away for Christmas.

Frugal Finds for July Shop The Sales!

Now is the time that summer clearance sales offer the deepest discounts on summer merchandise. Spotted on the clearance aisles this week:

  • bird feeders, pet toys and doggie coats at rock bottom prices at the pet store
  • summer toys, decor and gift items at crafts and housewares stores
  • "Christmas in July" crafts materials and at fabric and crafts stores
  • clearance specials on patio furniture and plant stands

Back-to-school shopping isn't just for school kids--it's for frugal holiday gift-givers, too. Stock up now on loss leaders like crayons, markers, notebooks, stickers, calendars, planners and small electronics. Dorm room specials include clocks and small appliances, on sale now. Gift wrapping will fly if you add a few pair of scissors, rolls of tape and a gluestick or two!

Last source for great summer gift specials: catalogs and online merchants. Before the busy holiday season, these retailers offer discounted gift items as they clear away discontinued items or limited quantities. Make a point of stopping by your favorite online retailers to check summer clearance offerings; many include Christmas ornaments, decor or gift items in summer sales. Ditto mail-order catalogs!

Does your Christmas gift list include gifts in a jar? These popular layered baking mixes or journal companions require quart-sized canning jars. Buy canning jars now, while stocks are readily available for garden season.

Need more information about these popular make-it-yourself gifts? Find recipes, printable tags and tips here:

Holiday Plans: 

Back-to-School Craft: How to Make a French Memory Board

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on July 24, 2014

It's pretty place for photos, cards and mementos: a French memory board!

If you can sew a button and wield a stapler, you can make it.

Begin with a stretched artist's canvas, add batting, cover with cotton fabric, then criss-cross with ribbons.

Novelty buttons secure ribbons to the memo board's canvas and add a bright touch.

Light, pretty and oh, so easy!

To make your gift special, select fabric, ribbons and buttons to create a personalized memory board. Choose a child's favorite cartoon character and add bright ribbons. Carry out a sister's decorating scheme with coordinating fabrics and buttons. Give your favorite sports fan a place to display ticket stub and programs, done up in fabric displaying team logos.

Materials and Supplies
  • 16-inch by 20-inch stretched artist's canvas
    (find artist's canvas at crafts stores, art supply stores or the crafts section of Wal-Mart)
  • 2/3 yard lightweight cotton fabric (45 inches wide)
    (makes two memory boards)
  • 2/3 yard polyester batting (45 to 60 inches wide)
  • 4 1/2 yard woven ribbon
  • 5 novelty buttons with shank
  • 5 flat buttons
  • heavy-duty upholstery thread
  • tapestry needle
  • staple gun

1. Cut one 20-inch by 24-inch rectangle from cotton fabric. Press.

2. Cut two 16-inch by 20-inch rectangle from polyester batting.

Stack batting layers on top of artist's canvas. Place fabric rectangle over the canvas and batting; carefully turn the stack over to the back side.

3. Using the staple gun, begin stapling the cotton fabric to the underside of the artist's canvas.

Staple all four sides at the center of each side, pulling the fabric taut but not tight.

Work toward the corners, stapling every inch or so.

4. Carefully fold the fabric around each corner, mitering fabric to fit. Staple to secure.

5. Begin attaching ribbon by stapling to the back side of the memory board.

Start by stapling one strip of ribbon diagonally from corner to corner, stapling at one end.

Pull the ribbon taut but not tight. Staple at opposite end.

Add a second ribbon diagonal to make a large "X".

6. Add four more strips of ribbon, running them parallel to the first pair of ribbons to create a criss-cross pattern.

Staple each ribbon on the back side of the memory board.

7. To attach buttons, thread needle with upholstery thread.

Insert needle through one hole of the flat button, then from the back of the canvas to the front at the intersection of each ribbon pair.

Thread the needle through the novelty button, then back through the canvas and the flat button.

Tie the ends of the thread tightly.

The two buttons will "sandwich" the canvas, batting, fabric and ribbons.

Repeat at the other intersections between the ribbons.

Crafts by Occasion: Crafts By Category: 

Beat the Heat: Make A Cool Tie!

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on July 17, 2014

Beat summer's heat with this sew-simple craft project: a cool tie!

This bright cotton neckerchief has a summer secret: a filling of water-absorbing polymer granules from the garden center.

Soaked in water, the cool tie's polymer granules absorb more than 200% their weight in water. Tied around the neck or worn as a headband, a cool tie provides all-day cool relief through evaporation.

A cool tie is simple to sew, requiring only a straight-stitch sewing machine. It makes a great gift for gardeners! Printable Cool Tie gift tags adds a splashy note to your hot-weather gift.

  • 1/4 yard 45-inch wide lightweight 100% cotton fabric
  • 2 teaspoons Watersorb-brand polymer granules
    (to order Watersorb-brand polymer granules, and for more information about making cool ties, visit's Cool Ties page)
  • thread to match
  • sewing machine
  • pins
  • scissors or rotary cutter
  • bamboo or plastic point turner
  • copy of gift tag

  1. Cut cut a 7"-by-45" rectangle from fabric.

    For simplest cutting, fold fabric crosswise (selvedge to selvedge) and use a rotary cutter for a straight cut.

  2. Fold fabric strip in half lengthwise, right sides together.

    To form pointed end, cut a 45-degree triangle from each folded end. Cut back from the fold toward the selvedges.

  3. Locate the lengthwise center of the folded strip.

    Place 2 pins 1 1/2 inches on each side of the center of the strip.

    The pins mark the area to be left open to reverse the tie.

    Sew from point to center on each side, with a 5/8th inch seam allowance. Leave the area between the pins open.

  4. Using scissors, carefully notch seam allowance next to the tie point.

    Use a plastic or bamboo point turner to turn the tie inside out through the center opening. Press.

  5. Measure 10 inches up from each pointed end, and mark location with a pin.

    On each side, sew directly across the tie from end to end, backstitching at the beginning and end of the stitching line. This stitching creates a pocket for the garden polymer granules.

  6. Insert 2 teaspoons Watersorb-brand polymer granules into center of the tie through the opening in the seam.

    (Yes, that is correct: only 2 teaspoons. The polymer granules swell nearly 200 times their size, and will completely fill the tie when wet. One pound of polymer granules will make more than 55 cool ties!)

  7. Stitching close to the folded edges, sew the opening closed.

    For gifts, attach a copy of free printable Cool Tie gift tag.

  8. To use, soak cool ties in water for about 45 minutes.

    After the granules have fully expanded, pat the tie gently with a towel to remove excess water.

    Tie around neck or head for cool relief!

Safety Note: According to Ted Douglas, Watersorb/Polymers, Inc., polymer granules used to construct cool ties are non-toxic and meet EPA standards for potable drinking water. While non-toxic, dust from polymer granules may lead to irritation if inhaled. Mr. Douglas recommends wearing a dust mask while filling cool ties.

Printable Cool Tie Gift Tags Crafts by Occasion: Crafts By Category: 

Fun BBQ Recipe: Beer Can Chicken

Posted by Cynthia Ewer on July 16, 2014 Description

In the Ewer household, it's a "can-do" barbeque treat: a whole chicken cooked on a hot seat. Grilled upright. while seated on a half-full beer can, Beer Can Chicken is steam-basted. from within, grilled a smoky golden-brown without.

The unusual cooking method, combined with a spicy rub and aroma from smoker chips, creates a tender meat, dripping with tangy juices.

Nobody cooks Beer Can Chicken better than our local expert, Dr. Steve Ewer. Here are Dr. Steve's tried-and-true recipe and his best tips. Happy grilling!

Ingredients 1 cup hickory or smoke chips 1 12-ounce can of beer, divided 1⁄4 cup dry barbeque rub (McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning) 1 3.5 to 4.0 pound chickenInstructions

In a 2-cup bowl, pour half the beer over the wood chips. Set aside to soak for 1 to 4 hours, adding water if necessary to cover the chips.

Using a bottle opener, make three more openings in the top of the beer can. Add 1 tablespoon spice rub to the beer remaining in the can. The beer can should be half-full of liquid. Lightly oil the exterior of the can with salad oil.

Remove fat from chicken, then wash inside and out, patting dry with paper towels. Sprinkle one teaspoon dry rub inside the crop (neck) cavity, and two teaspoons inside the main body cavity. Rub the outside of the chicken with remaining dry rub.

Set up gas or charcoal grill for indirect grilling. For charcoal grills, mound briquettes into two piles on opposite sides of grill. . Light. Preheat only one side of gas grill, at a temperature of 350 degrees.

Stand the beer can on an aluminum pie plate, piece of aluminum foil, or special beer can chicken roasting pan. Carefully ease the chicken onto the can, and spread drumsticks away from the body to support the bird in a tripod position.

Drain wood chips, and place them directly on charcoal, or in a smoker box for gas grills. Add chicken, locating the bird between the two piles of charcoal on charcoal grills, or on the side away from heat on gas grills.

Cover the grill and barbeque chicken over indirect heat for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the breast meat reaches 165 degrees. Remove chicken carefully, as there may be hot liquid remaining in the can.

Makes 4 servings.

Holiday Recipes: Main Dish Recipes