Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oh. My. Sweetness.


If you are obsessed with cupcakes, candy, baking, decorating and just all out gorgeousness you have to see this post by Bakerella. Chances are you already follow her...but just in case. I had to stop for a while as her "eye candy" felt like it was going directly to my hips. All I ever wanted to do was eat cake. Not always a good thing, right? I popped over to her on a whim today and found this amazing post about her friend's home. Run over and tell her to get that girl a blog. I need to see her whole house now. It is completely magazine worthy and then some. The photo above is just the playroom, not the fab Christmas party that the post is really about. I'll stop my rambling, just run over there and see for yourself.

"You'll Thank Me" Muffins


Yesterday morning I decided that I should make the kids muffins for breakfast, with fresh squeezed OJ. The muffins were a big hit, especially with this little guy. The OJ, not so much. The girls aren't used to pulp, but WOW the taste just can't be beat.

By the time I got the camera he had snagged himself another muffin.


I can't blame him really. They were oh-so-yummy.


If you like seeing big smiles on their faces, you might want to make them too.


I found the recipe at All Recipes, but made the changes one reviewer suggested, so here is what I did.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 C Flour (I used half whole wheat and half regular)
1/3 C + 3 Tb Sugar
4 Tb Cocoa Powder
1 Tb Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla
1 C Mashed Bananas (about 3 reg)
2/3 C Oil
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 C milk
1 C Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder.
In another bowl, blend the bananas, oil, vanilla and eggs together. Add to dry ingredients, mixing just until blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into a greased muffin pan, filling three-fourths full. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

*These would be great even without the chocolate chips, or with white chocolate chips instead.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A bottle? Really?

On Saturday I ran a quick errand and found myself at the check-out in Old Navy where I heard this conversation.

Employee #1: "What are your plans for New Year's Eve?"

Employee #2: "Just me and a bottle, how about you?"

Employee #1: "Probably the same. Just going to a bar."

Employee #2: "I wish I could go to a bar."

Employee #1: "You can..."

I didn't hear the rest, but obviously #2, the girl ringing up my purchase, was underage.

I can't even tell you how sad this made me feel. A bottle? Really? Is this what teenagers and young adults aspire to do? Is this the best they can think of to have a"good time?" I've never understood the allure of alcohol. I don't mind a glass of wine with dinner (if you are over 21), but to drink just to get drunk is something I've never done and have never had a desire to do. And it makes zero sense to me.

I wish young women thought more of themselves than to think that getting drunk is an answer to anything. It's not the answer to having forgetting your make people like anything.

So many thoughts were swirling around in my head after I heard their conversation...just too much to put in writing, but I thought about those two girls the rest of the day and still today. And of course I thought about my own girls, at home playing with their baby dolls, and what their world will be like when they are teenagers. I thought about all that I want to do to protect them and point them in the right direction.

My darling daughters, I pray it is never your desire to spend time with a bottle for any reason other than to play with your baby dolls or your daughter's baby dolls or your granddaughters baby dolls.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Verry Merry White Christmas

*For all my Southern friends. :)

Christmas Eve we received the most beautiful covering of snow. It fell consistently through Christmas Day, though I never did hear the final count in inches. I love fresh fallen snow, everything seems to stand still and there is a quiet in the air like no other time. The world just feels insulated. Which is a good thing when it's slippery and you almost take out a railing at the mall, and several mailboxes between your house and Grandma's. Those huge snowbanks are ever so helpful. Winter is really quite amazing and one of the reasons we love living in Minnesota. Especially when it means a White Christmas.

This is what I saw Thursday morning. It took David an hour and 40 minutes to shovel the whole drive. We've got the longest driveway in the neighborhood. Not such a good thing when your snow blower is in the shop for another couple of weeks. Again. I highly recommend purchasing the warranty, because we have found out that saving the extra bucks doesn't really {save the extra bucks}. We've used it maybe 5 times in the past 3 years and it's been in the shop almost as many times. It's more like a really expensive gym membership.


Thankfully he had some little helpers.


They were surprisingly very good helpers.




A little bit of fun was thrown in for good measure.




This guy creates the most work, leaving a huge pile at the end of the driveway.


But then again...we've got good helpers.


While I made yummy cocoa on the stove, little man was just getting up from a nap.


He is seriously happy all the time. Unless you cross him. Then watch out, he's a biter.


He can't wait for his turn with the shovel.


Soon, my Rocket Boy...all too soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry CHIRSTmas


About the only thing we missed this year was a Christmas card/letter to family and friends. Our 2nd year in a row. But other than that...carols are playing, the house is cozy warm, two feet of snow is expected to fall over the next two days, the stockings are ready to be filled, the presents are wrapped and under the tree, two batches of cookies will be baked tomorrow morning, a HUGE ham will be delivered to Mom for our Christmas Day feast, along with two little girls who are excited to decorate Boppa & Kiki's tree tomorrow morning, Baby Jesus is ready to make his appearance in our stable (he is already in our hearts), Luke chapter 2 is ready to be read, the grocery shopping is done, a lovely Christmas breakfast feast is planned, clothes are washed and ready to wear to our Christmas Eve service...we are ready!

And if none of that were done, if we had no where to go and no presents under our tree, we would still have a Merry CHRISTmas in just the remembering of God's love for his creation. That he loved us so much, he sent his own son into this world, to live a perfect life and die a perfect death. That by his resurrection, he conquered death and paid the penalty for our sins. For all have sinned and are in need of a Savior. And for that we are eternally grateful and couldn't possibly ask for anything better.

Merry CHRISTmas from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Room Re-do: Part III {What a difference a day makes}


Eight hours later, exactly 2 gallons of Behr Pismo Dunes 340C-3 (not a drop left) and our room feels all warm and glowy. It's perfect, we LOVE it! Thank you so much Sara for the help and the fellowship. Love you lots and lots!


Next up, silhouettes of the kids, picking up that black mirror and choosing curtains (white I think?).


I went to JoAnn on Sunday to buy the oval frames and found the perfect ironing board cover. I love it when you happen upon something you didn't know you needed, in a place you wouldn't expect. You just have to buy it, don't you? David likes it too since he reminded me that the ironing board seems to be a permanent fixture in the room. I think he was being facetious, maybe. ;)

I should probably pick up more of these photo boxes I found there too. I'm thinking it would be nice to free up some of the drawer space in my closet of all those sewing supplies like thread and ric rac, of which I have tons.


And just when I thought it couldn't get any better around here...the girls both slept through the night and stayed in bed until 7:00 this morning. I think this is the first time they've done that since moving from a crib to a bed, over a year ago. There was no waking up to use our bathroom at 2am (and asking me to wipe her bottom) or getting out of bed for the day, at 5am. I'm so well rested I could cry. We started a new reward system last night. They each earn a sticker for staying in bed until they see the 7 on their clock. After they each get 10 stickers we will take them to the toy store to pick out a new princess dress to wear to the Princess Ball in January. I am beyond excited that it worked. Somebody pinch me!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Room Re-do: Part II {Before}

Here is our room before the big paint job tomorrow. I decorated it from my Eddie Bauer Home Store days back in 1997. I was all about country cottage back then and couldn't wait to get this bedding. I actually found the duvet cover at one of their warehouse sales. It was a King that I cut down to a Queen. Possibly my first sewing project ever, without the help of Mom.

*The duvet and the curtains really are the same color, the flash just makes the bed look lighter. Not that it matters, because this stuff is outa here.

I love the little nightstand/shelf on my side. This was a Christmas gift from my parents, from Pottery Barn, years ago. I still love it, so it's staying right there. The mirror (also PB and a gift the same year) will be moving to another spot. I'm not sure where yet, but I'm tired of it always being crooked and adorned with the littles fingerprints.

Instead, I will hang three, black oval frames with silhouettes of the kids. I hope to make them next week-end. I might use scrapbook paper as their backdrop instead of just the traditional white. They have the potential for being my favorite part of the re-do.

Oh and those lamps are going. I'll be looking for a black base with white oval or cylinder shades today.


Here is one of the sets of ugly closet doors. I can't wait to replace them with raised panel white doors soon. The woodwork in our house, unfortunately, has an orangey tone to it. So not pretty.

I'd also love to replace the ceiling fan with something else too. But have no idea what. Maybe a chandelier? We never use the fan, but when we replaced it for some reason we thought we had to replace it with another fan. It's not terrible and believe me it's a whole lot better than what was there before. We might just keep it, for the sake of not spending money.


Working my way around the room, here is another eye soar. The intercom system that has no business being in a house of this size. Honestly, you can hear everybody, everywhere, all the time.

We've thought about replacing it with a new white system. But that's about $1,000. Not happening! I think we'll just remove it and patch the holes. But for now, this mirror (on my Christmas list...hehe) should cover it perfectly.

This room is filled with all sorts of crazy angles, but the one next to the door to the bathroom is a nice spot for the desk and shelf I have there. The shelf is hung too high now (it was over a tall dresser earlier) so I'll lower it and then paint both pieces red, in the spring. I think drawer pulls like this would be fun. And I'd love to paint the black chair white with largish red polka dots. How cute would that be, eh? And the red will be fun against warm yellow walls.

Yes, we chose YELLOW!!! Thanks everyone for your help! We decided that aqua would be too close to what we've already got and wouldn't feel like enough of a change. And khaki was just too much brown. You did notice that second pair of closet doors, didn't you? TOO MUCH BROWN! And not a good brown.


Speaking of strange angles, here is the one that causes us the most trouble. Why in the world did they not just extend the closet all the way to the front wall, or cut it off straight so you could put a built in desk there with a window over it. The closet is on the Southside of the house and the only windows we have on that side are over the kitchen sink and the washer/dryer.

This whole room is pretty strange if you ask me. There is only one place to put the bed and a King size would never fit in there. But the room is quite large. The people that built it didn't have children, nor did they plan to, so they took what would usually be 2 rooms and made it one big room. I would have preferred the 2nd bedroom, personally. Oh well...


Here is where my sewing desk is currently. We will be bringing up my long white dresser and putting it back in front of the window. The black desk will sit at the foot of the bed, in place of the cedar chest (that's going in Sam's room). I'll store my machines in the closet and just pull them out when needed. I like the idea of painting my dresser black (thanks for the idea Jessica!), but then what should I do about the black desk? Maybe I'll just repaint it black to freshen it up and put drawer pulls to match the white desk, on it. Or maybe I'll like the gold pulls again after the walls are yellow?


And back around to the beginning...


Can't wait for tomorrow! Now to take everything off the walls and patch holes. I love to paint and I'm a really swell cutter-inner if you ask me. Sara and I spent three nights, just before Thanksgiving, painting her sisters new house, until 2 in the morning and it was a lot of fun.

18 Days of Christmas

Whew! My 25 Days of Christmas, turned 12 Days of Christmas, ended up as 18 Days of Christmas. It was pretty fun to do, but next year I think I'll be more organized from the get go so as not to end up in the middle. Thanks for tuning in. Up next...Room Red-do part II.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 18: Just for Fun

Because this video was just so much fun to watch last year, here it is again. It's by littlebrownpen, here is their blog. It looks like they haven't had the items shown here for sale this Christmas, but the video is still fun to watch. You'll want to turn your volume on, but turn my playlist off (see sidebar).

So, in case you missed it last year...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 17: Santa's Favorite Cookie

I came home with 8, different dozens, of cookies last night. I am definitely doing this again next year. The surprise favorite for me was this little beauty.


I say surprise because I generally do not care for coconut. But this cookie is amazing! And the ingredients couldn't be more surprising. It has a chewy bite, but I don't cringe like I usually do with the texture of coconut, so the ratio must be just right.

Raspberry Macaroons (though they taste more like a chocolate covered cherry)
1 pint raspberry sherbet, or any other flavor
2 tsp almond extract
1 box white cake mix
6 cups flaked coconut

Mix everything together until blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2" apart onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until edges are browned. Remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Dip
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Oil (vegetable or olive)

Melt some chocolate chips and add just enough oil so that when you lift your spoon up the chocolate drizzles evenly off the spoon. Experiment with a little bit at a time. Sorry I don't have measurements for this part.

*Try these with orange sherbet for Halloween or Lime for St. Patrick's Day. Or use white chocolate chips for Easter.


The big guy will thank you for leaving these on his plate Christmas Eve.

*Wow, can't believe I've made it to Day 18!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Room Re-do: Part I {help me pick a paint color}

Our bedroom has been needing a re-do for a while now. We've had the same look for 11 years and I'm ready to change things up. I'll post before photos as soon as I clean it up (no one wants to see piles of laundry and wrapping paper, do they?).

Here is the bedding I've already purchased. I found the checkered quilt for $20 and the striped euro pillow shams were $2/ea. They were the only pieces left in the stores, as this collection was on clearance (at way better prices than on-line). Then I found a 20% coupon to use (by googling "JC Penny coupon" Do you do that too?) and bought the rest of it. I love this set! It's so me and David said he would like anything I like, so it's him too. ;)



I had a difficult time choosing between this set and a more trendy aqua and brown set that looks more modern. So glad I went with this one even though overall it was more spendy. It just fits my house better. We have mostly, red, black and khaki in our house with splashes of green and yellow here and there (except the girls room of course) so this will fit right in.

So, I'm thinking that I've got a few options for wall color. Khaki, yellow or aqua.

We currently have the perfect shade of khaki (Urban Putty by Sherwin Williams) in our living room, hall, stairs and playroom. I think it would look great in our room too but not sure I'm ready to paint another room the same color. If I do, I'll go either a shade darker, or a shade lighter and I'd for sure need to paint my dresser red. I think. Or should it be black? Maybe aqua? Jona has the same dresser/mirror combo we have (I've got a nightstand too), and I love how she's painted hers turquoise. Aqua and red are my favorite combo by the way.

Here is my inspiration for yellow. Just imagine the khaki on the bed and the yellow on the walls instead. At least it shows me that the 2 colors can be in the same room and look good. Maybe we can paint the bedroom to match the yellow I've already got in the adjoining bathroom (it's very similar to the coverlet shown here). At least I have some of that left, so I can paint a test wall.

Photo from Midwest Living
(my most favoritist magazine ever, well only since ME's Home Companion is out of print).

Just saw this room with the yellow actually on the walls. This one is really speaking to me! You can see more of this room here. That little red table is so darn cute!


Here is my inspiration for aqua walls. It's from Domino, but blogged about here. This room doesn't have any khaki in it, but a lot of white instead. Most every room I ever like, has white woodwork. I so need a house with white woodwork. But alas, we've got 1980's oak. Maybe it can still work though. I plan on buying plain white curtains and adding red pom-pom fringe to the inside edges. And we will eventually replace the ugly brown oak double width folding closet doors (of which there are 2 sets). So there will be 2 windows and 2 closets that will be white and then a short wall with a black chunky framed full length mirror on it. I'm hoping there will be enough white to warrant the aqua paint. What do you think?


I've also got a long dresser and a desk that I will be painting as well. So depending on the wall color those pieces could end up either red, aqua, black or white. Way too many decisions for a Tuesday morning.

I would love for you to chime in and give your opinion on what paint color you think would be best for the walls. My best friend, Sara, comes into town this week and it was her idea to paint the room together, next Monday (one more reason why I love this girl!).

The walls are currently a darkish sage green, that has been the wrong color since day one. But at the time, anything was better than the primer they had on the walls. We even lived in this room with trashed pink carpet, with white paintbrush and roller marks on it, from the previous owners fab paint job. I shudder to think exactly how long we tried to ignore it. Maybe 4 years? We also lived with their torn blackout roller shades for over a year. Yikes!

Oh, did I ever tell you that we bought a fixer-upper? The house had been a rental. It was left abandoned. In July. With cats in it. We didn't get our hands on it until Halloween and have been working on it (or planning on work) ever since. That was 10 years ago. We're exhausted. We've redone every surface in this house, including the walls, floors, lighting, roof, furnace, air conditioner, every appliance (some twice now), windows and garage door and we still aren't done (we need to build out a linen closet downstairs and re-tile the kids bathtub/shower). In trying to get the house sellable again, the previous owners had even painted over a wallpaper border at the top of our vaulted ceiling (that extends over the stairs) too. David risked his life getting up there scraping and spackling. Hopefully there are no more vaulted ceilings in our future, or wallpaper. Oh, and how about the wallpaper that was put directly over sheetrock? No primer! I spackled and sanded the dining room wall at least a dozen times and still had to hang a giant mirror there to cover most of it up.

I could go on and on, but I'll just say that sometimes a "good deal" isn't really. We are pretty housepoor now because of all the money we ended up putting into it. I want my next house to be move-in ready (just paint needed) and brand spankin' new would be a HUGE bonus. Although we did come away with lots of new skills like tiling, roofing, and electrical know-how, it still wasn't worth it. If anyone needs to borrow a wet saw, we have one! We found that it's hard to do things on the cheap (like for a flip house), when you actually live there. Anyone need a smallish house with gorgeous Pella windows, granite counter and half stainless appliances? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Please leave a comment about paint color and help a girl out. Meanwhile I need to go rescue some socks out of the girls water cups...on my wood coffee table no less. Don't ask...

Day 16: Cookie Swap

One of my favorite things to do in December is spend hours in the kitchen, cooking and baking up a storm. The cooking, I've been doing, so I thought I should get a start on the baking. Yesterday I had 5 kids in my home and we attempted to make frosted sugar cookies. What was I thinking? I did most of the work. I should have stuck with the pretzel wreaths so the kids could be more involved. I still would have had Sam screaming in highchair (in a good way of course). any tips of getting a one year old not to scream so much? He loves his voice and screaming is his favorite. it's cute to a point, but not so much in a restaurant. We can't take this boy anywhere!


Well, this was about as far as we got on the cookies. It took lots more time then I had allotted for. I made the frosting, but only had time to frost about 9 of them. The girls loved cutting out their favorite shapes. We'll try to finish these up today.

I am so thankful to have the opportunity to participate in a cookie baking night at our Church tonight. They'll have the dough already made (I believe) and we'll just bake them off and decorate as needed. Oh, and don't let me forget to take my cookie tins with me! I can't wait to see what varieties we'll be making. And the chatting and merrymaking will be the highlight I'm sure.

I love the idea of a cooking baking party, where you actually do all the work together. I did this once at my aunt's house with all the ladies in the family and it was a lot of fun. We gathered on a Saturday and brought our own ingredients to make our favorites. But another easy way to swap cookies is to host a party where everyone brings 3 dozen cookies (already made) and then you all circle the table taking one cookie from each plate until they are all gone. You'll have a big assortment and will have only spent time making your favorite one at home. Here's a quick run-down of how to host a cookie swap if you've never been to one. I personally enjoy the making part and can't wait to do more of that with my kids as they get bigger.

So, have you ever held (or been to) a good ol' fashioned cookie swap? I'd love to hear how you did it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I cried like a baby...

...and my nose ran a marathon.


Any tips for chopping onions and still being able to see your knife? That's very important you know. Maybe I could set up an onion chopping station for my hubby on the weekends? For some reason they don't affect him. Could be because he's almost a foot taller. I even keep them in the fridge, as cold onions are supposed to be easier on the eyes. Man, this one got me baaaaaad yesterday.

I'd love to hear your ideas.

Tearful in the Frozen Tundra

Day 15: Little Trees

I hope you find time this year to decorate more than just one room in your home. This is the first year we've put a little tree in the girls' room and next year we'll add one to Sam's too. I can tell the girls have already moved some of the ornaments around, as it's a bit bare in the front. I found this little tinsel tree at Target for under $10. For lack of a better idea this year (or time to hunt down the perfect ornaments) I bought a few basic bulbs from Target ($5) and then just tied ribbons into bows and added a fabric remnant (Heather Bailey's Freshcut to match their room) for a tree skirt. They love having this in their room.



Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 14: The Vintage Pearl


Need a last minute gift? Purchase a gift certificate from my friend Erin at The Vintage Pearl. She'll e-mail you the certificate to print right away. What could be easier than that? Your friend or loved one will enjoy picking out their own special treasure after Christmas. And right now she is running a special, for every $25 gift cert you purchase, you'll receive a $5 credit to use in 2010. See here for more details.


While you're at it, run over to her blog today and enter to win a necklace of your choice, as she is debuting this lovely new font called "whimsy."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 13: Ornament Wreath


I saw this craft posted and thought it was so pretty. Looking at it, I would have no idea it was made this way, so I thought you might enjoy looking under the hood too. I'm tucking this one away for next year. You can find it here by Eddie Ross.

Day 12: Dreamy Hot Cocoa

Oh me, oh my! If you love chocolate, then you have to make this. It's seriously better than anything you'd get at a coffee shop. You won't have to brave the cold weather or fork over your life savings for it either. You can make it whenever you like and chances are you have everything you need already in your pantry/fridge. It'ss ridiculously easy to make. You will never go back to Swiss Miss again.


Dreamy Hot Cocoa
⅓ cups Cocoa Powder
⅔ cups Granulated Sugar
⅓ cups Boiling Water
6 cups Milk (whole If You Have It)

Add boiling water to cocoa and sugar, in a saucepan. Whisk until fully combined. Then bring to a boil. Lower heat and add the 6 cups of milk until scalded. Don’t let it boil or it will get a yucky skin on top. Keep warm on the stove. Makes 6 cups.

Garnish options: whipped cream, mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, mini Andes mints.

*For a printable version of this recipe, find it here at Tasty Kitchen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 11: Pretzel Wreaths

OK, so I'm cheating here a little and posting this recipe from last year again. I actually got the idea from Kacy's post last night. My Thursday didn't go quite as planned so I couldn't finish what I had in mind for today's real post. But that's ok, right? It probably just means I'll end up posting more than 12 days. And these really are a fun treat to make with kids of all ages.


*Previously posted on December 10th, 2008.

"This morning the girls and I started making gifts for our neighbors. This year we are giving them bags of the yummiest pretzel candy treats. I chose them for how kid friendly they are to make. And it was fun to talk to the girls while we were "baking" about why we give gifts at Christmas.

If you've never made these, run right now to the store and whip some up tonight. They are super easy and oh so yummy. Just remember when you eat one that you are eating a whole Hershey's's easy to forget and 20 or so later...yeah, been there, done that.

You'll need
1 bag of ring pretzels
2 bags of kisses (hugs are fun too)
1 bag of M's
2 cute helpers don't hurt either

Helper #1


Ok, so the "don't smile at better not smile at me" trick works. But now I just need to get them not to open their mouths with every smile.

Helper #2


Getting ready...


M's make a great diversion to keep the kisses from being eaten.


Now line your cookie sheet with pretzels and top each with a kiss. One bag of kisses will fill one sheet with 25 to spare.


The perfectionist in me only allows me to use the most perfect looking pretzels (and I even make sure they are face up). The rejects all end up here ready to be crushed for Strawberry Pretzel Salad.


Bake for 5 minutes at 200 degrees. The kisses won't change shape, but they will be melted and ready for you to push an M into the top to make it fill up the pretzel.


Put in the fridge to cool. Then hide them or they will be gone too soon!"

Eggs and Bacon alternative
Place 2 small pretzel rods a bit apart. Top with a white chocolate candy. Melt and press only yellow M's into the chocolate candy.

For an easy-to-print version of this recipe, find it here on Tasty Kitchen.