Archive for November, 2011

I say it all of the time, but I’m addicted to Pinterest. Like, addicted may not even cover what I have. Our internet was out last night and I was so disgruntled that I couldn’t go on Pinterest that I went to bed at 8:30!! I just love finding new and exciting (and random) things to love on there. One thing I found recently were these adorable twig stars. I knew instantly that they would be the perfect accompaniment to our rustic holiday décor and since I had tons of precut twigs from the wedding, I got started immediately.

The process was easy…

  1. Gather twigs of a similar size (or cut them)  — mine came precut
  2. Arrange them in a star figuration
  3. Tie each intersection/joint together with twine/hemp. Start with the 5 inside intersections and then move to the 5 outside points.

I only had 28 branches so I was limited to 5 stars, unfortunately. The directions were quick and easy and took less than 5 minutes total to create each star. While I liked the idea of the start being a wall decoration as it was portrayed in the Pin, I couldn’t fathom putting any additional holes in the walls downstairs so I sprinkled the stars in random areas of decor…


On the mini tree


In a floral arrangement above the sink

On some artwork with ornaments

On the shelves

How would you use these?


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I love my Zoku popsicle maker, so an ice cream maker seemed like an obvious thing to put on our wedding registry. It was one of my favorite gifts, but Joe contended that I would never use it. Looks like he was right… Until now! I found a top-rated recipe for Pumpkin Ice Cream on the Willams & Sonoma website: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/pumpkin-ice-cream.html, and I knew it would be the perfect tasty treat to make in my ice cream maker for the very first time!

It was beyond dreamy. The spicy sweetness was not too over the top because the texture was so creamy and rich. I’ll be honest though, it was a lot more work than I expected. I should have known better than to just look at the ingredients… I completely disregarded reading through the entire recipe and I surely regret that. I dirtied a lot of pots and bowls, and there was so much cooling time necessary as you can’t put hot items into the ice cream maker. Unfortunately, I started this 2 hours before we were supposed to leave for supper so I rushed things along with multiple ice baths.

Ice baths alone are a headache! Do they specially make bowls for this? If so, I really needed a set on Thursday. I have nesting glass bowls so I figured it would be easy … not so. My problems arose from water sloshing around while I was stirring the hot custard to cool it faster. My solution? A cookie cutter at the base of the bowl! It allowed my hot mixing bowl to sit in the ice water with enough of the bowl sitting above the water level so I could stir without worry.  It also provided a sturdy, elevated base that meant I could go hands free without dropping the bowl into the ice water. I guess I no longer need those special bowls, do I?

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Every year, I make a Christmas card to send out to all of our friends and relatives. Before we were married, it really made our family unit feel “official” for the holidays. I absolutely love doing it and this year is such a momentous year for us (married and new home!). I’m looking forward to having 10+ years worth to create a  timeline of Christmas cards that will show our family’s progression over the years. My favorite site by far is Pear Tree Greetings but this year the sales only applied to orders $75+. Well guess what? The whole point of using a coupon code is to NOT spend that much! Snapfish had emailed some great offers (40% off cards sitewide, free shipping, and 20% off entire order) that I could not refuse. So despite my love for Pear Tree’s high-quality cardstock, I decided to move myself over to Snapfish.

Creating a card is not a quick process, there is a lot of back and forth and editing that takes place. I already accomplished the first step which is picking the site that you find to be the most user-friendly (or the one with the best deals if you are like me). In order to create a beautiful card online you must:

  1. Pick a couple of really nice pictures that you’d be happy to use. Preferably, some would be in a horizontal and others in a vertical format so that you have options when looking at the cards. 
  2. Figure out which of the adorable layouts works best with your photos of choice, taking colors, patterns, and style into consideration (this can be hard considering most sites have at least 200 cards to choose from).
  3. Edit the pictures (crop/sepia/b&w) and insert your text (font type, color, size, position, etc.)
  4. Finalize it. This means examining the proof, zooming in and out to review the details as well as the “big picture”, and to doublecheck spelling.

Following these steps was simple. We have gorgeous wedding photos that I decided to use, which meant that Aubrey was not included. Snapfish is awesome though and they allow you to put a photo on the back of the card as well… Problem solved! I saw the most adorable picture on Pinterest of a little boy wrapped in some Christmas lights and thought it would be perfect for Aubrey’s Christmas picture. Not so…

After taking about 20 unsuccessful shots, and Joe laughing hysterically at my attempts, I finally gave up. I added some pictures and found some attractive girly fonts on the site and just went from there. The card turned out very simple and jolly if you ask me. I cannot wait to share our Christmas card! Since it’ll be a surprise, here’s a preview of our little Grinch on the reverse side of the card 🙂

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The holidays are in full swing so I have had little time to blog, but there are SO many things I want to share. I think I will end up playing catch up throughout this week covering some of my favorites from the past week.
  • Wednesday we had a little mini feast at work… I made mac & cheese “muffins”!
Yummy Mac ‘n’ Cheese Muffins!

First thing’s first… mac & cheese muffins! One of my coworkers sent the recipe to me and requested that I make it. Because I absolutely adore her, I couldn’t refuse; additionally, who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese?! (It’s a “white thing” too, Pat Robertson…) I would have followed the directions exactly but unfortunately I do not have mini cupcake tins nor could I find any elbow macaronis at Giant. I used pipettes instead, and rather than buying something I’d only use this one time, I used a regular sized muffin pan. Due to the larger size, I increased the cooking time to about 30-35 minutes. These little beauties were so easy and DELICIOUS! They had just the right amount of warmth (mmm, cayenne!) and were chewy and gooey on the inside. Perfection! 

I love making homemade mac & cheese and this was a great alternative for a get together (no serving utensils needed!). I imagine they would be even more convenient in the mini tins because they would be bite sized. I personally think that the normal size turned out great for a pot luck because it’s a good amount for a side. Even more importantly to someone like myself who tries to lose/maintain weight, it’s also a great means of portion control. You get to treat yourself to something cheesy and dreamy (and in NO MEANS healthy), but you can feel good afterwards because you limited it.

All in all, taste and convenience are definitely a 5 out of 5. I recommend you try it.

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All That Shimmers

…Is not always gold.

I love how whimsical glitter and sequins are but other metallic elements can be very lackluster. If you don’t know what I mean, think the red/gold/green wrappers that are around the poinsettia pots this time of year. BOR-ING!

I picked up the cutest rosemary tree at Home Depot to serve as our secondary Christmas tree (for the kitchen). It’s so quaint and perfect, except for the cheap wrapper around the pot. I was looking for something to go with our rustic, charming Christmas theme –more of that to come– but this screamed “plain-jane is trying too hard.”

Hmm… What to do? What to do? Luckily, I have some TONS of burlap left over from the wedding, so within moments I was chopping off a square from one of the table cloths. I layered that with a cheap ikea saucer to catch any water and then tied it all together with some elastic cording. It was only a matter of 4 minutes before my tree went from dull to darling.

Much better. This little baby will need to wait a few more days before it’s decorated with tiny wood ornaments and homemade garland; I simply cannot wait! Then again, come Black Friday, our real Christmas tree will be up and that will be even more fun to decorate.

‘Tis the season!

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The fact that I work all day tends to be my excuse for not pre-planning meals (when in reality, it should be the reason I do it). This generally leads to me cooking a dinner out of whatever is in the fridge, and some days that isn’t much — I can’t be the only one dreading going to the grocery store this week! I usually have a drawer full of produce that I buy at the beginning of the week, optimistically planning to use it in all of our meals. Generally that doesn’t happen so I’m left with a drawer full at the end of the week too.

One of my favorite things ever is roasted veggies. I like roasted cauliflower. I like roasted asparagus. I like roasted onions. I like roasted brussel sprouts. I like roasted potatoes. I like roasted broccoli… Okay, you get the idea right? I really like roasted veggies. What could be easier than cutting up some fresh veggies right out of the drawer and throwing them in a hot oven? Not much, that’s what. Roasted veggies are so flipping good but they’re also incredibly healthy. Considering that they develop their own rich flavors in the oven, it’s unnecessary to mask their depth of flavor with excessive sauces or butter. Major plus.

This week I had on hand: parsley, garlic, a spanish onion, tricolor fingerling potatoes, carrots, and frozen mixed veggies (corn, peas, and green beans). Harvest veggie roast? Sounds good to me! If you have a family, you’d want to double this but since it’s only Joe and I, I used:

  • a small handful of parsley
  • one clove of garlic (minced)
  • 7 fingerling potatoes (quartered)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 carrots (1 chopped and 1 made into ribbons)
  • a handful of frozen veggies

I threw those directly into a 9″ cake pan… Don’t ask me why but I love cooking in that when it’s food for just the two of us. I tossed in about 1.5T of olive oil and a pinch of garlic salt (Lowry’s is the BEST). Preheat the oven for 425 and bake for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.

This is what we ended up with… I just love the purple potatoes!

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a HEARTy breakfast

I’m not new to making special breakfasts. I love it. As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Valentine's Day Breakfast for Joe

See these adorable heart pancakes from way back in 2009 (our first holiday living together)?

I’m always on the search for cute ways to prepare breakfast. One of the most convenient and adorable ideas I saw on Pinterest was a cooked egg in the hole of a slice of toast. And what could make that better for the man I love? A heart-shaped hole of course!  I used regular white bread, a large heart cookie cutter, and scrambled eggs (the husband is not a fan of sunny side up). I thought it would be super simple and didn’t look up directions. BAD IDEA. Somehow it started off looking good, and then I don’t know what happened…

It definitely didn’t turn out as pretty as these. Martha Stewart always has the answer and it looks like I should have used a thicker slice of bread and then a cookie cutter as a mold for the egg. No matter… Joe thought it was delicious. He even requested it today, but I was in the midst of preparing another new breakfast for him to enjoy. Next time, I will follow dear Martha’s guidelines.

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