Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Change of plans...

This is a ridiculous post, but here it goes...I mentioned a while back that I was planning to use the West Elm free printable gift tags that I saw mentioned on How About Orange.  Then I came across this post and thought I wanted to go in a different direction. Finally, I saw these free printable gift tags when I came across this post and decided to stop looking!  :)  Here is what you can download:

I used the same glitter paper I planned to use originally and will still use glossy white paper and some simple metallic, rubber band-esque ribbon.  The colors didn't come out as bright when I printed them, but them I remembered that they are gift tags that get thrown away, so I got over it, grabbed my supplies and made these:

And they match our Christmas cards, so we will be having a color-coordinated holiday.  :)

I am signing off until next year so I can spend some much needed time with my family and friends!  I hope you have a wonderful rest of December and if you celebrate, a very merry Christmas!!

See you next year!  :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Since my last post...

...this has been my motto:

This Too Shall Pass print
When I wrote that post (the night before), I thought my son just had a cold.  The next morning, he was gasping for air and I went into complete panic mode.  Having asthma myself, I know the exact feeling of not being able to take a good breath and the fear that comes with it.  That is something I would never wish on anyone, but especially not on my baby.  :(  He is completely fine now, but we had a few very scary hours, a chest x-ray (which seemed like a form of torture and I wasn't even allowed to stay in the room with him), a diagnosis of pneumonia and bronchiolitis,  a breathing treatment regimen, antibiotics, and several rough nights of sleep.  Needless to say, nothing I had been stressing about (Christmas preparations) mattered at all.  All I wanted was for my baby boy to be better.  As I tried to sleep with him on my chest, I finally felt a sense of peace.  It did pass and I now have all that I could ever possibly need for Christmas.  :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I just love this song...

I have nothing more today. I am sick and so is my son, so we are going to just chill out and get better! I'll be back when I can.

Have a great day!! :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cone trees!

I really want to make these:

...but have absolutely no need for them.  If you are interested in making your own rock candy cone trees, be sure to check out this post with the steps by HWTM!  They would be so fun to have at a party!  Too bad we aren't having a party!  Maybe next year.

Then I saw these by Danielle Thompson and felt (no pun intended) like I had to have them:

...but since I am still up to my eyeballs in felt circles for my (still unfinished) advent calendar, I decided to pass.  They are so great, though!!  Ahh!!...I just LOVE them!

I did make my own magazine tree, following the steps in this post by Green Eyed Monster.  What a fun, festive way to use up that mile-high stack of magazines I have in almost every room of our house!

Here is mine in our guest room:

I'd love to make more, but it is quite time-consuming.  I honestly think I just need to refrain from looking at other blogs and sites for a while.  ;)  I need to stop adding projects to my list when I still have tons of unfinished ones!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My poor baby!!

He was scared to death.  He chewed his little finger raw, just in the few seconds it took to get a picture.  Poor thing!!  :(  It was also 80 degrees out, in case you are wondering why he is wearing shorts.  :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why I have no business baking...

Happy Monday!!  I hope you had a great weekend!  Last Monday, you may remember that I attempted to make peppermint bark brownies and they turned out ok. They were kind of gross at first, but after being refrigerated overnight, they actually were great.  I still wanted to redeem myself and try another holiday recipe and saw Lauren Brennan making these on GMA.  They looked ridiculously good and easy, so I thought I'd give them a shot:

  • 1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 family-sized box brownie mix
  • 2 (8oz.) packages cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract, divided
  • 4 candy canes, crushed
  • Make brownie batter according to package directions, but add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract.
  • Bake according to package directions and set aside to cool.
  • Spray a 9-by-13” rectangular pan with non-stick cooking spray and spread cookie dough along the bottom, creating an even layer. Bake cookie dough according to package directions, until edges are golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  • Once brownies have cooled, remove any hard edges and discard (or eat!). Scrape the rest of the baked brownies into a large bowl. Combine brownies with cream cheese to create a thick mixture that is generally uniform in color. Scoop this mixture onto the baked and cooled cookie dough. Smooth the top.
  • Over a double boiler, melt white chocolate and 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract. Spread melted chocolate over the cookie-brownie mixture, sprinkle with candy canes and let cool. Once chocolate has hardened, cut into bars and enjoy!
  • Scoring the top of the melted white chocolate before putting it into the fridge to set will help prevent the chocolate from cracking.
Seems easy enough, right?  When I got to the cookie dough at the grocery store, I didn't know if I needed the small or large roll.  I thought surely it must be the small one, but wasn't sure.  I almost bought both just for good measure, but opted for the small one and came home.  Looking at that video again and scrutinizing her pictures of the ingredients, I thought for sure it was the large roll!  Ugh!  I was so ready to begin and my son had just gone down for his nap, so I thought I would just make a smaller batch, using a smaller pan.  I  followed the directions and took a peek in the oven and it looked like the cookies were going to bubble over the top of the pan.  Sheesh!  Realizing that the recipe must have been calling for the small roll in the large pan, I quickly dumped the boiling hot cookie dough into the larger pan.  I also managed to burn my wrists because hot dough slid down ME before hitting the pan.  Yikes.

While the cookies baked, I started the
brownies.  Somehow I managed to think the recipe called for 1/2 cup of oil, not 1/3 cup and didn't realize it, until I had already poured it in.  I can't even get a box of brownies made correctly.  What is wrong with me?  I baked them anyway and they were super moist and not greasy, so oh well.  :)

Once the cookies and brownies were done, I was ready to get going on the fun parts:

These things are amazingly delicious!  It's a cookie with chocolate cheesecake topped with peppermint bark! If you like all of those things, you will love these and must give them a try!!  Also be sure to check out Lauren Brennan's blog for more recipes! 

Have a great week!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh my goodness...the mustard seed co.!!!

I feel like I say this often, but I have found my new favorite Etsy shop: the mustard seed co.  I just love these fun necklaces with rosettes!...and the prices!  Oh and I think the names of each piece are just adorable too!

There are many more styles and accessories, but these are four of my favorites!  I think any one of these would be great with a fitted top and jeans and heels or with a simple dress!  They would make great gifts too!!  If I had found this shop sooner, several of these pieces would absolutely have been a part of my color-coded gift ideas post!!  I still have lots of shopping to do!  I need to get crackin'!

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree

This very book shown to the left has been our family for years and I cannot wait for it to become a new tradition with our son!  Written by Robert Barry, it was first published in 1963 and I am pretty sure it has been in my family for that long.  I remember it being on a book shelf at my parents' house and while reading it wasn't really a tradition of ours, I remember loving the book.

To briefly summarize... a wealthy family receives their Christmas tree, but it is too tall, so they snip the top and toss it.  That tip is given to the maid who has to snip the top because it is too tall to fit where she wanted to place it.  That tip is tossed and found by a gardener...and on and on.  It is such a wonderful story!

I managed to snag that old copy from my parents when I moved away from home.  I read that book to my husband every year and while I felt silly doing that, he really saw how much I loved that book.  A few years back, he ordered me the revised edition for Christmas.  It was such an amazing gift from him!!  We now have both copies on our shelf and while it is a bit too long for our son's attention span, he does enjoy looking at the pictures!

Soon enough, it will become a regular part of our holiday preparations.  I cannot wait!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So simple and delicious.

We have made this many times, but for some reason it was better than ever last night!  Unfortunately my camera battery was charging when I wanted to photograph our full bowls, so I had to use the one shown with the recipe.   If you haven't made this before, you must.


  • 5 large tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Leaves from 3 or 4 large fresh flat-leaf parsley
      sprigs, coarsely chopped


1.  Peel and seed the tomatoes, then cut them into small dice. If the tomatoes are very juicy, drain them for about 10 minutes in a colander. Set aside.

2.  In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until just starting to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the stovetop and add the vodka. Return the pan to medium heat and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well and add the pasta to the fry pan.

4.  Add the cream and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the pasta is well coated with the sauce, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Pour into a warmed large, shallow bowl. Add the parsley and toss briefly. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Pasta, by Erica De Mane (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A few little projects...

Happy Tuesday!!  This time of year has me feeling crafty and somewhat cheesy. Here are a few little things I have been working on:

1.  family garland:  I wanted to start adding something personal and handmade to our tree every year.  This year, I busted out my cookie cutters, glitter card stock, and pencil and started tracing:

I liked the trees, but decided to go with a gingerbread family:

2.  gift tags:   Last week I saw on How About Orange that West Elm was offering free printables on their site for cards, tags, menus, etc..  Since I adore wrapping gifts, I thought these would be the perfect tags.  I was a little disappointed when I printed them on regular paper, so I thought they needed glitter.  :)  I haven't glued them on yet, but I like how they look so far.  You will also see how I plan to wrap gifts this year....just plain white paper with the sequin garland.  While I love the look of some of the really beautiful, earthy wrapping designs I saw linked from this post, I wanted something that represented us.  ...so bright and crazy and cheery it is!  :)

3.  advent calendar:  This is more of a confession than anything.  Remember when I said I wanted to do an advent calendar?  I am still working on that project.  I ended up going in a different direction from what I posted originally and it is taking forever and is stressful!  I do know how ridiculous that sounds, but it has been the most time-consuming thing ever and if I am lucky, it will be done in time for next December.  Did I mention it is the tackiest thing ever?  I am clearly obsessed with that sequin garland and was kind of going with that theme for the calendar. Each day would add another piece  to the garland and the last day would be a Santa...maybe...honestly, I haven't gotten that far yet.  Here is some of what has been going on with this project:

4.  recipe for Christmas:  This is the cheesy part I mentioned.  :)  Using parts from some of the West Elm gift tags, I put together a "recipe for Christmas" to help me calm down when I get crazy thinking about gifts and traveling and baking and random projects like the ones above.  I have this on the island in our kitchen:

Mix peace with joy with love.  :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Peppermint Bark Brownies!

When you have these things in your house, there is only one logical thing to make:  peppermint bark brownies!  I thought for sure there had to be a recipe for this online and I was right.  I found this, and while they look absolutely fantastic,  they seemed a bit too complicated for me, so I did my own thing and came up with my own version...which I am sure also exists out there, but I did not look to see.

I wish I either used my go-to brownie recipe or cheated with these, because the ones I made weren't really that great.  :(  I usually mess with recipes because I have a hard time with authority, I guess...but this time I followed it exactly, just omitted the nuts, and they are so thin and almost dry.  I even took them out of the oven 10 minutes early.  Oh well...I still love the idea of this, just not the recipe I used.

Mistake #1:  They are so thin and seem dry.  :(

Mistake #2:  I am not at all sure why I thought this would be a good idea.  If I need to put all of the chocolate on top, why waste some by putting it in a bag and why waste my time when it is just going to be spread with a knife?  Duh...dummy!

After spreading the melted white chocolate and sprinkling with crushed candy canes, at least it looked the way I wanted:

Despite their mediocre taste, at least they look ok, right? Hopefully Santa won't mind.  ;)

I suck at baking!  ...Happy Monday!!  :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Gift Ideas...by color!

~A Few  Holiday Gift Ideas~

2.  gift tags, set of 10...$18.00
3.  on-and-on loop...$38.00

1.  dahlia necklace...$18.00
2.  set of 14 pens...$20.00

2.  Sicilian pistachio macarons...$1.60 each

1.  waffle-knit crewneck...$44.50

2.  bernard driving cap...$39.50
3.  hands bowl...$50.00

It's no secret that I love color, so I thought it would be fun to put together some gift ideas grouped by color.  I adore giving gifts, but stress myself out completely trying to find the perfect thing. Then when I give the gift, before the recipient even opens it, I am either explaining what they may dislike about it or detailing why I thought it was perfect. Sometimes I just need to shut my mouth! :)

I have not purchased one gift yet and I am starting to freak out! Since we travel during Christmas, I either need plan ahead and have our packages shipped to our destination or buy things easy to pack...Ahh!! I do love the madness of this time of year, though.  I hope you are a little more prepared than I! [or should that say more prepared than me?...I looked it up and I still don't know. Ha!]  I am taking a brief blogging break to work on a few projects.  See you back here on Monday!

Happy Shopping!!