Friday, December 31, 2010

Lesson 142- Christmas Leftovers

Here is our Christmas in pictures

In his name the nations will put their hope.  --Matthew 12:21

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
And thanks for reading!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lesson 141- Post Christmas Craziness

For the first time in my entire life I am actually eager to take down our Christmas decorations.  Let me give you a little background info first.  I love Christmas decorations.  I know what you're thinking, everyone loves Christmas decorations.  But I was the girl who made her parents keep the Christmas tree up until after my birthday, which is in mid-January.  That's how much I love them.

And this year, in a twist of craziness, I am actually itching to take down the decorations now.  The day after Christmas I bought new decoration organizers at Target and I'm quite excited to get to use them...hence my eagerness to take down the merriment.  Oh...and our Christmas tree is staring to look a little rough...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lesson 140- Another For the Collection

I originally made this wreath a couple of years ago (in my pre-marriage, pre-blogging days) so I don't have a picture of the process or what it used to look like.  But it's a simple concept.  Take a plan wreath and hot glue ornaments, evenly spaced.  It was nice looking, but too simple.  So this year, I took some red ribbon (the same I used for this wreath) and wrapped it around the wreath in the spaces between each ball.  Now I think it looks so much better.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lesson 139- A Minty Treat

This isn't a cookie for my cookie collection (here and here), but it's a yummy treat that I'll add anyways.  It's Seven Layer Peppermint Bark and it's yummy!!!

* 2 cups white chocolate, divided in half
* 2 1/4 cups regular chocolate; divide in 3: 1 cup, 1 cup, 1/4 cup
* 2 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
* 7 full-size candy canes (approx)

You'll also need:
* 2 bowls for melting the chocolate
* blender or ziplock bag and mallet for crushing candy canes
* wax paper

1.  clear off a large space on your counter top.  Cover your counter top with wax paper.
2.  Crush you candy canes, either by hand in a baggie, or in your blender.  You'll need both chunks and powder.  Separate the two using a sieve.
3.  Put half of your white chocolate into a bowl along with 1/2 tsp peppermint extract. Melt it in the microwave. You can melt this on the stove if you choose to, but its so much easier (and quicker) to just follow the directions and use the microwave.
4.  Pour white chocolate on to wax paper, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Work quickly, because it will begin to thicken fast. It's ok if it's a bit bumpy, but try to smooth it out as thin as possible--but not too thin!
5.  Let it dry completely.  Totally and completely.
6.  Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the regular chocolate.  
7.  Before this layer dries, pour the candy cane powder over the chocolate.
8.  Let this layer dry completely.  Totally and completely.
9.  For the 4th layer, melt your other cup of brown chocolate, along with another 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint. Pour it over the top then smooth out.
10.  And let this layer dry completely.  Totally and completely.
11.  Melt the remainder of your white chocolate, with more peppermint.  Then spread it on top.

12.  Sprinkle the candy cane chunks on to the white chocolate.  Then gently press them into the chocolate to make sure they stay put.

13.  Now melt the remaining regular chocolate and drizzle over the top.

14.  Let dry totally and completely.  I left it over night.
15.  Once it's dry, pick up the bark and drop it allowing it to break into pieces.
 Sorry I wasn't very good about taking pictures on this!  But you should try it anyways!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lesson 138- A Cozy Christmas

All my days I have loved miniature things.  Doll houses-I love.  The library in my home town had an adobe doll house and I would just stare at it forever, or at least what seemed like forever.  I even love those little tents at Target to show you what the real tents look like.  But the Christmas villages have always taken the cake.  And all my days I have dreamed of having my own little village.

Last year my in-laws started giving me pieces to my own Dicken's village.  It is A-MAZ-ing.  Totally in love.  And this year it is my centerpiece.

It reminds me of the little town I lived in in England.  Christmas in England is so great.  If you ever have the opportunity to travel there over the holidays, I highly suggest it.

Happy Christmas!

Lesson 137- A New Cookie

As I mentioned I am in the hunt for my own Christmas cookie collection.  I found this recipe, and as a huge fan of egg nog, I thought it would be a good recipe to try.

* 1 1/4 cups white sugar
* 3/4 cup butter, softened
* 1/2 cup eggnog
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 egg yolks
* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
2.  Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
3.  Cream sugar and butter until light. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Do not over mix.
4.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake 20 to 23 minutes until bottoms turn light brown.

Turns out I didn't like them too much.  There was too much spice to them for my liking and the texture was more like bread than a cookie.  However, my parents really liked I sent the batch home with them!

Lesson 136- Those Wire Hangers Are Actually Useful

You know those wire hangers that are pretty miserable that the dry cleaners always return your clothes on?  I've finally found a great use for them...

...a Christmas wreath.  I used my very strong (and very handsome) Husband to undo the hanger to was just a straight piece of wire.  Then I started putting gold and silver ornaments on the wire.  I needed about 48 regular sized balls and 36 tiny balls to use as fillers.
Before putting the ornaments on the wire, I used hot glue to glue the tops on to the ornaments.  You don't want them falling off when you're opening or closing the door.
Once all my balls were on the wire molded it into a circular shape and had the Husband wrap the wire around itself at the top to close it.  To make it a little more secure I hot glued the sides of the balls to each other.

I used red ribbon to make a hanger at the top.  I recommend stocking up on ornaments at Hobby Lobby when they are 50% off.  This way you're paying for only half the ornaments you need.

Lesson 135- Sugar Cookies

I've decided that it's time I start making a collection of cookies to make each Christmas.  I figured sugar cookies would be a good place to start since you can cut lots of fun shapes and then decorate them.  And they're yummy too.

My recipe comes from a Pillsbury cookie book I bought at a book fair in Kindergarten and have held on to ever since (approx. 20 years now--and saying that makes me feel old).

* 1 cup rolled sugar
* 1 cup butter, softenend
* 3 tbsp. milk
*1 tsp. vanilla
* 1 egg
* 3 cups flour
* 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and egg; blend well.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.  Stir in flour, baking powder and salt; mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling.

Heat oven to 400*F.  On lightly floured surface, roll dough, 1/3 at a time to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut with floured cookie cutter.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets; sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400*F for 5 to 9 minutes or until edges are light brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheets.  Makes 5-6 dozen.

Once they are completely cooled, I take store-bought cookie icing and outline the cookie with icing.  Then with a butter knife, I spread the icing evenly towards the center.  Then I dip the cookie in a bowl of sprinkles.  Here's my first batch of Christmas cookies.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lesson 134- My Tannenbaum

I often dreamt of my own grown-up Christmas tree.  It would be glamorous, like something you from Martha Stewart.  Last year when I got married and it was finally time to have my own grown-up tree, Husband wasn't too thrilled about my 'designer' tree.  He'd rather our tree tell the story of us.  Although it took me some time to see his side, I have embraced the idea and rather like it now.  For special occasions we buy an ornament to put on our tree.  It's kinda fun.  We've even turned it into a game.  I decided to share this years version with you...even though you won't be able to figure it out because I don't feel like  taking pictures of very single ornament on the tree!
 I love our tree topper.  She was only $7 at Hobby Lobby.  We even have an ornament similar!


1.  Find two ornaments that commemorate our first married Christmas together.

2.  Find two ornaments from our 2010 vacation to England and Ireland.
3.  Find the ornament with a reading from our wedding ceremony. 
4.  Find two ornaments from Christina’s favorite cities.
5.  Find the ornament from our first anniversary trip to Santa Fe.  
6.  Find the ornament of the animal Brady and Christina have been arguing over since their first date. 

7.  Find the five ornaments from Brady and Christina’s New England/Canada honeymoon.
8.  Find the ornament that matches our tree topper. 
9.  How many Irish ornaments can you find?
10.  Find the three ornaments of characters played by Harrison Ford? 
11.  This ornament is from where Brady and Christina stayed on their wedding night.
12.  How many football decorations can you find?
13.  Find the two ornaments representing Christina’s favorite treat.
This one was a bridal shower gift from a dear family friend.

 This is Indiana Jones.

 This is one of my three favorite animals.

We found this guy in Nova Scotia on our honeymoon.

Cupcake.  Need I say more?!

This was made with the help of one of my preschoolers (when I taught preschool during my pre-marriage days)

P.S.  I have vowed to have a real tree every year of my life.  I'm really not a fan of the fakies...they belong in Hollywood.  This year we bought a Noble Fir at Lowe's on sale for $40!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lesson 133- A Magical Night

Saturday night Husband treated me to one of the best nights of the entire year.  He took me to see 'The Nutcracker' performed by Ballet Arizona.  This was so special for me because I performed in 'The Nutcracker' for nine years (from the time I was 8 till I was 16).  Before I was 8, I had seen it maybe three times (Mom, help me out here).  And I've seen it every year since, even when I was in England.

For me The Nutcracker holds more magic than Santa bringing presents on Christmas Eve.  It is simply beautiful and having the opportunity to see it performed by a professional ballet company was A-MA-zing!!!  The sets were perfect, the costumes stunning, and the dancing was breathtaking.  It was everything I could have dreamed for.  And it made me so thankful that I was given the opportunity to be a ballerina for all those years.

This was Husband's first time at the ballet and lucky for me he really enjoyed himself.  Now I know that we'll be able to make my tradition 'our tradition' and continue to go for many more years.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lesson 132- Blogger's Block

Remember when I told you I took a break from blogging and then I really missed it and I was ready to get back to blogging again?  And I wrote a post telling you that 'Blogcation' was over and I was gonna write lots of cool posts, with some cool Christmas posts?  And then a day passed and I didn't write anything.  And now we're on day two and I still haven't written anything.  And now I have Blogger's Block.  I do have some cool Christmas stuff up my (short) sleeve.  Sidenote: I really need to live in a climate where it feels like Christmas.  South of the equator will never be an option.  I truly despise 75-80 degree weather in December.  It makes it so hard for me to get into the Christmas Spirit.  Anyways...while I have babbling I decided that I'll share some cool pictures I have taken with my new Christmas present.  In case you missed it, Santa (in the form of Husband and my parental units) gifted me a Canon Rebel DSLR camera.

Please remember these are just practice photos.  I had only had it maybe 36 hours.

Hope you have a super dooper weekend!
P.S.  Does anyone else love sushi as much as I do?!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lesson 131- Another Blogcation

Hello my blogging pals!  Sorry I have been MIA the past month.  I have no excuse other than the fact that I was tired to blogging.  I had forgotten why I enjoyed it and it had turned into something I felt I had to do, not something I wanted to do.  Anyways, I think the blog did me some good, because over the past week I have really been missing it waiting for a chance to blog.

With that I'm going to try to recap what's been going on in the last month-ish.  In bullets.  With pictures.  Consider it easing back in to the blogging lifestyle ;-)

  • Trip to New Mexico for Homecoming '10.  The NMSU Aggies actually won for Homecoming!  I called it a Homecoming miracle!  And it was super fun to see lots of sorority sisters.
  • Trip to Texas for Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family.  We ate lots of yummy food and got to hang out with all my cool cousins.

  • New Canon Rebel for an early Christmas gift.  It was on sale the morning of Thanksgiving.  Can you believe stores are now having sales on Thanksgiving.  Black Friday is officially passe!

  • Monday Night Football Game: Arizona Cardinal vs. San Francisco 49ers.  You may remember I bought Husband tickets for our anniversary.  So thankful the 49ers won--and I got to see my Little during halftime!

I think that covers the major things for November.  I hope you all are well, had wonderful Thanksgivings filled with loved ones and yummy food and happy hearts.  I sure did.
And I hope you come back, cause I've got some cool stuff to share with you for Christmas!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lesson 130- White Washing

Starting Memorial Day weekend, Husband and I started our bathroom update.  Doing a full bathroom renovation was definitely not in the budget.  But I figured we could update the bathroom fairly inexpensively.  And thus started our summer long project of working on the bathroom.  But our summer quickly filled with lots of plans and our bathroom extended beyond Labor Day weekend into fall, but we still had summer temperatures, so I think it should still count.

This was the last major step we did in our bathroom.  It is high impact and I love the way it turned out!!!  Here is the before picture

We removed the doors and the drawers and got to painting.

 My strategy was to go nice and slow, with lots of drying time in between coats.  Husband's strategy was a bit different.  Let's just say one of us had a better strategy, but I won't tell you who cause I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.  But it wouldn't be my feelings that were hurt...

Once I was certain everything was dry we (and by we I mean Husband) put the cabinet doors back on and put the drawers back in.  While things were drying I also went through everything we had been storing in there and threw out a bunch and got the rest nice and organized!  We also attached silver knobs that we bought at Home Depot (I think.  I can never remember because they are literally just across the street from each other.)  And here's how they look now.

I LOVE it!!!  It makes such a difference in our bathroom and I think it's beautiful.
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