Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crafting for Christmas

For the past 12 years, as a married couple, we haven't really decorated for Christmas (other than a tree and lights on the house). No stockings hung, no tree skirt, no snowmen or other things decorating the house. And each year we would get a Noble Fir tree.

This year everything is different. We bought our tree the weekend of Thanksgiving (a first!), we bought a Douglas Fir, I decorated the inside of the house, I made a tree skirt, stockings and wreaths. And our house was fully decorated by Tuesday...before December 1st.

I have to say, I love it. And (almost) everything was made from things I had around the house. So affordable and reusable. Love it!

Stockings. I was going with a red, gray and white color scheme this year so I used material from my fabric stash for these. The gray and red ruffle is for Miette, the solid red and gray is Brian's and the gray and white with red flower is for me. They are so cute and I'm excited to fill them all! Now, to figure out where to hang them...

Ruffle tree skirt. Made with material I've had for over 10 years, that belonged to my grandmother. We always had Christmas at her house so it's a great reminder of her and all our wonderful years spent together.

Yarn wreath. I had a wreath making party with a few friends and I love how each of our wreaths was so unique! I made this little one for Miette's room.

I like getting a fresh wreath for our front door but don't like spending much money. So, when we got our tree I picked up a few scrap branches to make a wreath. I got a wreath form for $2.50, Miette and I picked pine cones at the park, the holly is from a tree in our yard, I added some cranberries and a burlap bow. I spent $2.50 instead of $20 and I love it so much!

I'm looking forward to seeing White Christmas, the musical, with my mom in a few weeks as well as lots of time with friends, family and holiday baking!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's New...

I'll be honest. I haven't had the motivation to blog. I've been busy at home creating. Cooking, baking, making jam, craft projects. But every time I think about doing a blog post, I get overwhelmed.

If I want to take pictures of the food or craft project, I need to think about how I want the finished picture to look. Then get the props out and decide if I want to take the pictures during Miette's nap or if I would rather do laundry, nothing or take a nap myself.

My computer isn't working at its peak so its more of an ordeal to turn it on, upload the pictures, edit them then think of what to write! And when I have a little more time at night I have more decisions about what to make for dinner, cleaning up the dishes, hanging with the husband and how to spend the rest of my child-free evening.

So, I guess at this stage in my life that my blogging with be infrequent. But I'll still try to get on every once in awhile to share a bit of my life.

What's new with me? Well, I have a new addiction. Making homemade jam. My first batch was a strawberry-balsamic jam and it was so amazing I had to try others. This summer in addition to the strawberry-balsamic I also made triple berry and peach-raspberry. I gave so many jars away that my stash was down to only one jar of each! So, I started making some Fall jams. Apple, pear, plum spiced jam, pear-raspberry and pear-orange marmalade are my recent concoctions. And they are all amazing!

My new fall wreath.

I spend a lot of time with this wonderful little girl.

Mini cake donuts. On top of chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting. Delicious!

This year, I decided to make Miette's Halloween costume. Inspiration from Pinterest, of course. I love how it turned out!

Miette didn't want to wear the mask but I think she looked just as cute without it.

This kid LOVED trick-or-treating. Seriously. She was running down the street and saying "candy" over and over again.
Family pumpkins. My first pumpkin carving, ever. I carved both owls and Brian carved the funny face. It was so much fun.
November 1st. Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sewing: Messenger-style Bag

The other day I went for a walk with Miette. Just around the block. And as I started gathering my phone, tissue, keys (just the necessities) I realized I needed some small bag to carry these things. Not my big diaper bag. Not my purse. Something that I could throw over my shoulder and have both hands free.

So while we were walking, I designed this bag. I came home that night and cut all the fabric then sewed the next morning.

It's the perfect size and I just love how it turned out. There are a few things I would change next time around but for now this is just perfect for our walks around the block!

Well, I'm off to stuff some cloth diapers! Happy Thursday!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Decorating: Kitchen Inspiration

Decorating. Does anyone else have trouble committing to a particular color or design for your house? For some reason, I've just never felt confident enough to officially coordinate and decorate our house. We have lived in our house for 10 years and I am just now starting to decorate! And I have to say that Pinterest was a big help to me. I have a lot of gray in the house as well as orange but I wanted to incorporate other colors.
I saw this inspiration photo and color chart on Pinterest and loved the color combination. I went to the paint section at Lowe's to find some color chips that matched as well as a few other complimentary colors. This way I don't have to stick with just one or two colors.

I'm planning to make some curtains, a cake stand to hold my dish soap, painted mason jars for the dish soap (both inspired by things I saw on Pinterest), pillow covers, potholders and who knows what else!

To start, I incorporated some colored cookbooks into a corner of my kitchen topped with a pedestal to hold fruit. Oh, and an adorable owl.

And the second project was to cover a few coffee cans (these have been sitting around my house just waiting for me to decide what to make with them). Instead of one large container to hold all my utensils, I divided them up into three and it is so much easier to find what I am looking for!

I took a few empty coffee canisters and covered them with craft paper, added a few other embelishments and voila! New utensil holders.

I love how they turned out and if I get tired of the patterns I can easily change them out! Now onto the next project...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Creating the Sugar. Blog Sugar 2011.

(photo by Megan of Fairly Fabulous)

My kitchen is finally clean, the dishes are done, the oven is ready for its next job. I'm still finding sprinkles here and there (those little guys are hard to sweep up!) and decompressing from a busy weekend.

In January, Rachel asked if I would be interested in making desserts for the third Blog Sugar and I said absolutely! Immediately, I knew what a few of the desserts would be but it took me a few more months to figure out the rest. I wanted to have variety and to have something for everyone. A little chocolate, a little citrus, an old fashioned treat, and something new. Oh, and I also wanted to coordinate with the color scheme. Orange and pink!

(photo by Ruthanne Photography)
(l to r: Andrea, Rachel & Jen)

So on Sunday, I packed up my car and drove to Westminster to set up the dessert table for Blog Sugar, which was organized by my good friend Rachel as well as Jen and Andrea. I am in awe of what they put together.

Laura and Erica from Proost Events did a fabulous job on the design and decorating! Almost everything was hand made. Oversize orange and pink balloons adorned with decorations, hand painted canvases with pink and white stripes, beautiful flowers, it was perfect.

Just under 200 women (and a few men) came out on Sunday to hear speakers, socialize, meet new friends, enjoy delicious food (and desserts) and be encouraged. I was so busy running around and putting the finishing touches on the desserts that I didn't have a chance to hear the speakers during the breakout sessions. Fortunately, I was able to hear from the keynote speaker, Meg, and that was wonderful.

Sometimes I can be quite shy, well most times. So I sort of stayed in my comfort zone the majority of the day. I wish I had been a bit more outgoing and talked to more people, but I was so happy to meet a few of my "online" friends in real life!

(photo by Megan of Fairly Fabulous)

My friend Mary and I were manning the cotton candy machine and it was so much fun to see everyone enjoy those pretty pink swirls of cotton candy. And it is way more difficult that you think to get a picture perfect cotton candy!

(photo by Megan of Fairly Fabulous)

With the help of a few wonderful friends, we set up the dessert table and as soon as we did, pictures were being taken of all the sugar! And as soon as it was announced that dessert was served, there was a mad dash and a very long line! We had to start refilling the platters immediately and desserts were disappearing as quick as we could put them out.

Here is what I made:

Lemon curd tartlet with a cookie crust topped with a fresh raspberry
Caramel fleur de sel truffles and coconut tea ganache truffles
(photo by Mel at The Larson Lingo)

Strawberry whoopie pies rolled in sprinkles
(photo by Mel at The Larson Lingo)

Salted brown butter crispy treats dipped in white chocolate
(photo by Mel at The Larson Lingo)

Chocolate cupcakes topped with coffee frosting and a mini donut
(photo by Mel at The Larson Lingo)

If you were at Blog Sugar, I hope you enjoyed all the treats!

Note: I was so busy making sure I had everything I needed for that day and I overlooked bringing my camera! Fortunately, there were so many talented photographers taking pictures and I was able to convince a few to let me use their photos. Thanks!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Favorite Breakfast

Growing up breakfast was usually cereal, malt-o-meal, pop tarts or toast. On occasion, we would have pancakes for dinner but not for breakfast (which my husband thinks is strange and I still love!). It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered plain yogurt. Not flavored yoplait but unsweetened, thick, creamy yogurt. I fell in love. Drizzled with honey and topped with strawberries, banana and granola. I found a new favorite breakfast. Don't get me wrong, I still love malt-o-meal, pop tarts (plan to make my own, very soon) and of course pancakes, eggs, bacon, potatoes...the list goes on and on. But for a quick, satisfying breakfast I always turn to yogurt.
This past year has been about making (more) foods from scratch. Foods I never thought about making but now can't imagine buying from the store!
So I made Greek yogurt, granola and roasted strawberry jam. And put them all together for a delicious breakfast. The yogurt and jam have been on my "to do" list for awhile, I've been making granola for a few years.
I found a simple recipe for Greek yogurt and just made my second batch yesterday. And it was even easier the second time around! The great thing about making it from scratch is the price. I used organic milk for $3.79/half gallon and it made 1 quart + 2 cups of yogurt. Organic Greek-style yogurt is around $8 for 1 quart. And this tastes so much better. Oh and I also made frozen yogurt and strawberry jam pops, which are in the freezer, and will be consumed this evening!
Roasted Strawberry-Balsamic Jam. No boiling, no stirring, no canning. So simple and tasty. I'm going to try freezer jam and canning but I wanted something quick and this did the trick. While the strawberries are roasting, you will walk around the house exclaiming "This is the best smell in the world, I wish there was a candle that smelled just like this!", at least I did.
I've tried a lot of granola recipes. And this one is wonderful (and her pictures are amazing!). I love that it doesn't use too much butter but still tastes rich. So I don't feel guilty for piling it high on my yogurt.

I would say that breakfast is definitely my favorite meal of the day.

I'll save the most amazing pancake mix and caramel buttermilk syrup for another post. ;)

What do you eat for breakfast?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Coconut, Peanut Butter, Chocolate

Happy Monday! I'm enjoying this beautiful day and reflecting on a fun weekend. A birthday weekend. My husbands birthday was yesterday. On Friday we took M to the Long Beach Aquarium and had so much fun watching her get so excited about the fish. I love seeing things through a child's eyes. They just soak everything in and are so joyful! Saturday B went to a friend's bachelor party, at the beach, and was able to get lots of surfing in. While he was enjoying the beach, M and I celebrated a friend's birthday. Then on Sunday we relaxed and celebrated with a BBQ and these amazing desserts. I told him to pick any dessert and I would make it. He chose two ;) Stuffed peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and coconut cream cake.
These cookies are truly delicious. Sandwiched in between two peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, is a whole peanut butter cup. The original recipe can be found here. In addition to the chocolate chip cookies we added peanut butter and butterscotch chips. Next time I am going to make them a bit smaller and stuff them with the peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's. And yes, these were gone in a matter of minutes (as I knew they would be) so before the party I made sure to freeze a few so we could enjoy them later in the week!

Isn't this a pretty cake? I'm not really a fan of coconut. I don't mind the flavor, in fact I love coconut milk, but I just don't like the texture of coconut. My husband, however, loves coconut! This cake was a bit time consuming, and didn't come out perfect but was so tasty that even I liked it! Slightly sweet coconut cake, coconut cream filling, white chocolate frosting and topped with unsweetened coconut curls. The coconut pastry cream recipe can be found at Leite's Culinaria. The coconut cake and frosting recipes are taken from the Macrina cookbook. My sister-in-law lives in Seattle and she is able to eat all the wonderful treats from this bakery. She gave me the cookbook and I am able to bake them in my home. And everything I have tried is amazing! I highly recommend the book and if you are in Seattle, make a visit to the bakery!
Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blog*Sugar 2011

Hello! I am so excited to be attending BlogSugar this year. I had so much fun at the first one but missed the second one last year (new baby!) so I'm looking forward to September. I'm also excited because I will be making the delicious desserts for everyone to enjoy! I can't wait to meet everyone and share my yummy treats.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sewing: Fabric Sash Tutorial

This fabric sash has been on my project "to do" list for awhile. And it was so simple I don't know why I waited so long! A few years ago I purchased a few Calvin Klein dresses from Marshalls, each were around $40. Fully lined, simple, great fit. But a little plain.

This yellow one is my favorite. And I have the cutest shoes to wear with it but it needed a little dash of color. I rummaged through my fabric stash and came across this material from Alexander Henry called "coriander". Navy, yellow, white and gray. A beautiful combination.

I found this tutorial on how to make a fabric sash and since I'm a visual person I thought I would photograph each step. This is a first for me so please excuse any mistakes! I hope its easy to understand and follow!

Since I didn't really measure to see how long I wanted the sash I figured too long was better than too short! I didn't trim it so the length is an odd size. You can, of course, make this as wide and long as you want!

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:

Step 6:

Okay, before you go to the last step take a minute and make sure there are no gaps. You may be able to sew in a straight line and line up the material just perfect. But I can't. And you don't want to pull the whole sash right side out only to find a whole where you didn't sew! Trust me.

Step 7:

Love! I'll be wearing it to a friends wedding on Saturday!

And I have another idea for a sash to go with the yellow dress and these shoes!


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