Tag Archives: holidays

life

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hope everyone is having a lovely day today!  My husband had the luxury of working from home today so he picked our little one up from pre-school and took her on one of their little adventures while I am home getting things ready for our mini party.  Ava will have to find heart-shaped things around our house, leading her to a few sweet surprises.  A Valentine Scavenger Hunt!

The husband and I have no big plans … we are just looking forward to putting Ava to bed, pouring some glasses of red wine, lighting up the fireplace, and watching a movie.  Peace and quiet and a bit of relaxing.  I know, boring … but it has been a long week and we can get all fancied up and go out anytime.  I’ve got everything I need right here.

Lalalove!!!! XO!

Uncategorized

I Tried To Bake It: Cut-Out X-Mas Cookies

I always helped my gramma or mom frost cut-out sugar cookies every Christmas.  We would spread the creamy frosting onto wreaths, santas, angels, trees, and candy canes before stacking them into tins and eventually eating them.  These are the cookies my brother and I would leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve.  This year I decided I would carry on the tradition and whip up a batch for Ava to enjoy.  I found a simple recipe to follow and started mixing up some dough …

IMG_8638My bowl wasn’t really deep enough and using the mixer turned into a giant mess so I had to reach in and finish it off with my hands.  So much for keeping things neat and simple.

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It tasted pretty good so I must have done something right.  I put the dough in the fridge to chill, cleaned up the counters, and had a glass of wine.  Ahhhhhhhh.

Two hours later it was time to get the cookies rolled and cut and into the oven.  I enlisted Mike’s help for this.  We realized we do not own a rolling pin so we had to use cans of diced tomatoes to roll out the dough.  We got the first batch in and out of the oven, but then we were either working too fast or impatiently because our gingerbread men starting losing heads.  Let’s just say the majority of our cookies looked more like blobs than snowflakes, candy canes, and gingermen.

Finally it was time to frost!  I must have used too much milk because it was pretty thin, but I was out of powdered sugar so we had to work with it.

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“OOOOO.  Cookies are hard.”

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A few of them came out looking okay I guess …

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But in the end we just gave up, piled all the cookie pieces onto a plate and drizzled icing over them.

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I know for a fact that Santa won’t mind.  Will I be making these again anytime soon?  No.  Will they all get eaten?  Yes.  Maybe things will turn out better next year.  Happy Holidays! XO

cooking

Christmas Cookie Roundup

It is no secret that I love cookies.  In fact, I have a few almost every night with a glass of milk while relaxing with Mike on the couch after Ava finally goes to bed.  My favorite – chocolate chip – and I cheat by baking up batches of Pillsbury’s Simply Cookies [as you will find out in tomorrow’s post, I am not a baker].  Growing up, we always had trays and tins full of cookies to eat at Christmastime.  My gramma must have been baking them in her sleep.

One of my holiday favorites are Russian Tea Balls [or Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes].  I have lost more than one of these in my glass of milk.  Nutty, cakey, little balls of goodness covered in powdered sugar … and fairly easy to make!  I found a great recipe for these at Peppercorn Press.

[Click image for recipe]

russianteaballs

How cute are these little gingerbread houses?!?!?!  Thanks to Megan of Not Martha you can print out a pattern and start building your own tiny houses to accompany your mugs of coffee, hot chocolate, egg nog, etc.  Mike and I were thinking this recipe would be great to make little Santa’s to hang on your mug or snowflakes or candy canes or whatever.  Maybe one day I will give it a try and if you do, I would love to see the results!

[Click image for recipe]

ginhouses

While we’re on the subject of gingerbread, check out this recipe for Gingerbread Man Cookies [on a stick!] created by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.  Kids will LOVE these!

[Click on image for recipe]

gingonstick

Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking? is to thank for these Chocolate Snowballs.  It’s basically a delicious chocolate cake and some cream cheese frosting rolled into cute little balls of goodness and dusted with powdered sugar.  Mmmmmm.

[Click on image for recipe]

devilballs

Now, this next recipe isn’t exactly a cookie, but it is a major Christmas sweet treat staple for my family [Ohio].  Buckeyes aka Peanut Butter Balls.  Sugar coma, here I come.  The family recipe Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker [or her old blog, Sugar & Spice] uses is pretty close to the Buckeyes my gramma makes.

[Click on image for recipe]

buckeyes

I love chocolate and Mike loves candy canes, so these Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies are perfect for us.  Just looking at them makes my mouth water.  Get the recipe from Susan at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy.

[Click on image for recipe]

chocopeppermint

Who can resist the crunchy creamy goodness of an Oreo?  Not me.  And even better?  A Homemade Oreo from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  OMG these look amazing.  Milk!!!  I need milk!!!!!

[Click on image for recipe]

oreos

And to wrap things up … I couldn’t have a Christmas Cookie Roundup without including some fruit and nuts.  This recipe for Cherry Chocolate Nut Cookies comes from Sybil Brown, via Taste of Home.

[Click on image for recipe]

cherrychoc

So there you have it.  Eight amazing Christmas treats to fatten up Santa [and your friends].  If you have an awesome Christmas cookie recipe, let me know and we can share it!  XO!

creativity

Alternative Wrapping Paper Ideas

I’ve been buying gifts like crazy online today, trying to get my orders shipped so they arrive before the big day.  Pretty soon, the boxes will start piling up and I’m going to need to bust out the tape and ribbons and rolls of – WAIT!  NO!  There’s got to be a better way.  I can’t see all that paper getting shoved into trash bags and tossed in the garbage this year without feeling guilty.  [Thanks to an article I read on Earth 911 informing me that most wrapping paper cannot be recycled due to dyes, additives, the tape, etc. and that around 4 million TONS of wrapping paper and shopping bag waste is produced during the holiday season.  This is definitely going to lead to a post on ways to reuse wrapping paper.]

Know someone that loves to sew?  Wrap their gift in old sewing patterns!  Even if they don’t sew, the idea is still really cool – I’m stealing this one for sure!  Read the full tutorial by Rikkianne at Creature Comforts.

rikkianne

This idea is similar to the one above, but with a masculine touch.  Recycled architecture plans [via re-nest]!  Now, where can I get my hands on some of those?  [Andy Taylor, are you reading this?  lol]

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These wrapping alternatives are even better than the traditional wrap if you ask me … so much more personal and creative.  I love the idea of wrapping up wine bottles with tea towels – two gifts in one!  These lovely designs are from Studiopatro in San Fransisco.

teatowelstudiopatro

A burlap sack?  Yes, a burlap sack.  It never looked so good thanks to Faded Plains [there are some other great wrapping ideas to check out there as well!].

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So what have we learned?  Traditional wrapping paper usage is wasteful.  Tea towels, burlap sacks, old sewing patterns or blueprints, newspaper, wallpaper scraps, old book pages, magazines pages, shopping bags … geez – almost anything is a better alternative.  Take a look around your house and wrap up something unique.  Then send me a picture. XO!

ELholidays300x150

Uncategorized

I Tried To Make It – Pom Poms & Snowflakes

I kept seeing these pretty tissue paper pom poms in all of my crafty RSS feeds and thought, “Those look simple enough even for me to make.  How hard could it be?”.

image via my whimsy [flikr]

pom

I had visions of little pom pom garlands wrapped around our tree and hanging festively in the windows so I went out and picked up some red and gold tissue paper.  I found a great tutorial at Imperfectly Beautiful with pictures big enough I could see what I needed to be doing.  I wanted them to be all different sizes, so I got busy cutting squares and stacking them.  Then it was time for the simple accordion fold.  “This is so easy!  I’m going to succeed at a something crafty!”  Instead of using floral wire, I used string to tie around the center so I could easily keep adding to my garland.  Then you are supposed to trim the ends in a round or pointy shape [something I forgot the first two tries – yes, I failed] and start carefully pulling away the layers one by one until you have a fluffy pom pom.  I was pulling too hard and some paper ripped and then they just ended up looking like flowers [they weren’t very round].  I kept telling myself, “Come on, Shannon.  This is kid’s stuff.  You can do it.”.  I gave my first tries to my daughter [who is one and probably more competent at making these than I was at this point] who shredded them all over the floor so I could have the joy of finding bits of tissue paper all over the house.  [Yeah, I should have seen that coming, but I was too busy trying to make just ONE of these things.]

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Eventually, I got one pretty nice pom pom and one smaller flower looking pom – not exactly a garland.

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They are still sitting on my dining room table just daring me to try again.  In the end I sat down and started cutting snowflakes [based on this tutorial].  You really can’t go wrong there.  I put a few on the tree and in the window and called it a day.  [The little fence is so Ava and Biggles {our cat} can’t get to the tree – not very festive, but sometimes practicality wins.]

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Where do the crafty people find the time?  They must not have small children or maybe they stay up all night like little elves thinking of cute stuff to make that will make someone like me feel inferior.  But if I can’t make it, someone can and then people like me can just buy it.  If any of you are interested in doing a guest blog craft tutorial, let me know!

Happy Holidays! XO

creativity

Christmas Tree Inspiration

I am so excited about Christmas I can hardly stand it!  Last year we just had a mini [fake] pine tree, daintily decorated and placed on a side table … our place was tiny and we couldn’t accommodate a full sized tree.

2008 tree

Ava was only a little over a month old and spent most of the day sleeping, completely oblivious to the mound of presents waiting to be opened.IMG_1927

This year she is running all over the place and into everything, so I am chomping at the bit to get our tree and finish putting up all of our holiday decorations.  Despite the fact that I am trying to be more eco-conscious this year, we are going to pick out our [real] evergreen today.  I want the house to be filled with the scent of pine and a big full tree and memories of Christmas’ of my youth.  My dad was a big pine tree fanatic – he planted them all over our property and I’m all for planting trees too – at sites like goevergreen.org you can ‘plant’ a pine for $35.00 – good stuff!

Now we have tons more space and I am going to take advantage of it!  I’m still deciding how I want to trim our tree and spent some time looking at other people’s decorations on Flikr for some inspiration.  Here’s what I found …

via boopsie.daisy – so bright and colorful!  and love the sweet stuffs on that sofa, turning formal into fun!

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via craftybeaver – the tinsel tree looks great w/ those walls – so retro!

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via floodinpdx – great alternative tree … such a natural look … and i’ve gotta have those lights!

branchtree

via ATLITW – i would keep this up all year round … genius!

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via dottie angel – very crafty, very inventive, very awesome

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via Super*Junk – so adorable for a kids’ room … and i just love that rug.

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via Simple Tess – so simple and some would say bare, but i really like it.  sometimes less is more.

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via matt-pearson – another simple, yet very elegant look.

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creativity

DIY Bows, Plantable Gift Tags, & Holiday Cards!

I love the holiday season!!!  Twinkling lights, festive decorations, and of course PRESENTS!!!  This year I want to be a little more eco-conscious than in years past, so I’ve been searching the internet for creative ways to top my gifts and send out my holiday greetings without wasting tons of paper and going through endless bags of bows.  [And don’t worry … I’ll be talking about wrapping paper solutions later in the week.]

Check out this tutorial on making your own bows from magazine pages from Talk Crafty To Me [they also have tons of fun holidays crafts!].  I think they look even prettier than store bought bows and the customization possibilities are endless!  I am going to be making some of my own bow creations this week and will definitely share the results with you.  How about you?  Will you be making your own bows?  What are you using to make them and CAN I SEE THEM??bow

I am really digging [no pun intended] all the plantable cards and gift tags hitting the marketplace.  Grace Graphics in Eastern Oklahoma turns out these plantable creations using recycled fibers and soy & vegetable based inks.  She has quite a selection of Christmas and Hanukka cards available and I just love the “Seeds n’ Greetings” phrase printed on the gift tags!  1 dozen gift tags for $11.50 and cards are $3.75 each.

seedsngreetingsletitsnow

I came across a lovely little blog today called ormolu, belonging to Kaitlin Sheaffer who is a mom who loves paper, handmade, and interior design.  She has an Etsy shop filled with all sorts of wonderful things like these A is for Angel Alphabet Gift Tags – 26 for $8.00 …. and these Love Song Paper Chains [that I completely ADORE], which would make an excellent garland [there are also some Christmas themed chains available] – approx. 1 yard for $4.50.

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As I perused through the holiday cards on Etsy, I smiled and maybe even chuckled a little when I saw this letterpress print by Paper Elixer.  I laaaave it!  $4.00.peacejoylaaave

Be sure to check out all of the great holiday deals at Earth Lover!

earth lover

creativity

Really Awesome Advent Calendars!

I can remember opening the little paper windows on an advent calendar every December when I was younger.  Sometimes I would sneak a peek a few days ahead and steal the chocolate goody that was waiting for me.  I want to start the same tradition with my little Ava and I found some great ideas to inspire me.  Pretty soon I will be counting down to everything!

This calendar is so cute and colorful!  Felt circles and little numbered coins to pull off as the days pass by.  For more info on how to make your own, visit She Knits Shiznits.

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This Christmas Countdown Kit, put together by a mother and two daughter team called Sweetwater contains everything you’ll need [fabric, thread, rope, iron-ons, pattern] to create these delightful pouches you can fill with treats of any sort.  $23.95.

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There is a great tutorial for this pretty advent tree on The Red Thread [by Lisa in Sydney, Australia].  It’s such a simple idea and blends beautifully into the decor of any home.  This one is my favorite.

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These little beauties were made by Ashley of Nouveau Designs in my former home city of Brooklyn.  Inspired by the cityscapes of Brooklyn and Amsterdam … get one of your very own for $20.00.

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And just for fun I thought I would include this photo I found on Flikr of a Beer Bottle Advent Calendar … just be sure you don’t drink yourself to Christmas all in one night!

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fashion

Holiday Inspired [Handmade] Jewelry with Year Round Appeal

With the big holiday season approaching, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some selections inspired by major holidays that can be worn all year.  There is nothing like a great piece of jewelry to add a little flair to your outfit.  Jewelry can be very personal or just for fun. Like a necklace I have had since I was small with a tiny ruby hanging on a tarnished gold chain or a big chunky colorful bracelet that makes me smile.  Since baby Ava loves to tug on my necklaces and earrings [ouch!] I have been wearing more bold rings and bracelets … but still find it hard to resist a killer necklace.

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I’ll start with this Wishbone Necklace by Lanyapi Designs.  Make a wish and this gold charm could be yours for only $23.00.

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I debated whether this Candy Corn Lariat should be part of the Halloween inspired jewelry, but the autumnal colors made me lean more towards Thanksgiving.  Hanging on an antiqued copper chain, these agate stones are lovingly strung through a hand hammered brass and copper ring by Sally Stearns of SASessories$39.50.

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I cannot believe Christmas is next month. There are some people in our neighborhood that already have their decorations and lights up – ridiculous!  If you can’t wait for that yuletide cheer, adorn yourself with this awesome “made from vintage” piece by That Jewelry Girl.  A rhinestone button attached to a brass locket and strung with a medley of brass chains make for an eye-catching piece.  “Hanging of the Greens” can be purchased for $32.50 [free shipping for November!!].

greens

I looked at hundreds of snowflake jewelry trying to find something that didn’t look so ‘tacky Christmas’ and it was no easy task.  Finally, I found this charming little necklace by CrArt.  I love the copper patina snowflake pendant falling down the side towards the bluest of blue teardrop briolette.  It looks so delicate … just like a snowflake.  $29.00.

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Next on our journey through the holidays is Valentine’s Day.  A day easily associated with jewelry.  I am hoping that this “Yes No Maybe Love Me Love Me Not” charm bracelet by A Likely Story will BE MINE soon!  Charm bracelets are so fun … I would wear it all the time [hint hint, Michael].  $39.95.lovemecharm

I had to include these beautiful earrings by Royal Princess Designs – they are made from REAL ROSES preserved in thin layers of resin.  How cool is that?!  $42.00.

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All Those Threes is to thank for this gorgeous Love Mandala necklace.  Handcrafted from 99.9% pure silver and hanging on a fine sterling 17″ chain.  $58.00.

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There are so many icons associated with Easter – crosses, colorful eggs, lilies, and of course bunnies. This adorable little bunny charm created by Mariska goes by the name of “Tumsy”$28.00.

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This wonderful Easter Lily Bracelet was made from antique spoons [circa 1907]!!  Village Boutique, in my home state of Ohio, turns vintage silverware into amazing pieces of jewelry!  $44.99.

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The Fourth of July doesn’t have to be all Red, White, and Blue.  Rebecca Dubay of Vernon Bea Studio created this Patriot Necklace – a hand cut star and stamped tag hanging from a 16″ sterling ball chain.  Love it!  $53.00.

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Halloween is such a fun holiday.  Pretty much anything goes.  Maybe that’s why I was so taken by this steampunk “Gothic Owl” Necklace by Cosmic Firefly$45.00.

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And the final piece of jewelry inspired by a holiday is this “Death by Citrus” piece, which conjures up images of Dia de Los Muertos [Day of the Dead].  I love the color in this necklace – that vintage enamel flower is awesome!  It can be your very own one of a kind Bionic Unicorn creation for $76.00.

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